Tuesday, July 22, 2008

don't waste your humor

Below are some quotes from C. J. Mahaney's recent talk "Don't Waste Your Humor":

Apart from humor and laughter, one would be vulnerable to unwise, unhealthy introspection, discouragement, and depression.

Humor cultivates humility.

The Bible tells us that only the humble are truly happy.

Those who are humble love to laugh at themselves.

"We should mind humiliation less if we were but humble." C. S. Lewis

Self-deprecating humor reminds us that we are not the center of the universe. It is a humble assessment of oneself.

The times when I do not engage in humor, I usually have a high view of myself.

Sin is not humorous and ought not be laughed at. I grieves the heart of God.

Monday, July 21, 2008

in each others business

Of course each individual is different, but I am amazed at how many people who are mourning or hurting truly long for people to be in their business.

John Piper's daughter-in-law recently wrote about her own experience with losing her daughter only days before she was meant to be born. She longed for people to talk to her about her daughter, ask her questions, give her an opportunity to share what she was feeling. My friend Cil, mentioned to me that some women who find themselves unable to have children feel as if their condition is the elephant in the room. They long for someone to ask them how they are doing, allow them to express their pain. But everyone seems afraid.

So often our culture encourages isolationism, as if we ought to bear each of our burdens ourselves and not bother anyone else about them. If for some reason we cannot cope with our own issues, there must be something wrong with us. But this is so counter to Christian culture. We are family, a body, fellow sojourners. We need each other.

As I was thinking about this, I realized that it is going to be extremely difficult for those so accustomed to isolating their worries to show the care and concern their hurting brothers and sisters need. If you have at one time found yourself in the situation of being hurt and have longed for someone to share the burden with, be the example for others. Show them what it is to rejoice with those who are rejoicing and how to mourn with those who are mourning. Teach them ... US ... by your own example.

Monday, July 14, 2008

a family that laughs

I learned this lesson when I was at university. I want very much to create a culture of laughter in my family, much like the Mahaney's.
In all this laughter, we learned humility. My dad led by example as he always laughed the loudest when the joke was on him. But whenever we did something silly (or can I say stupid?) he taught us to laugh rather than withdraw in pride. While it took the sons-in-law some time to adjust to our family culture, they now lead the way in pursuing humility through laughter.

Thursday, July 3, 2008

learning from trials

Yesterday, I was just beginning to read the book Sacred Parenting by Gary Thomas. Chapter 2 began with an Arab proverb--
"Sunshine without rain is the recipe for a desert."
Thomas then went on to describe how Abigail Adams bade her nine year old son, John Quincy, farewell as he left with his father on a diplomatic mission to Europe for a number of years.

In a letter, she wrote:
"It is not in the still calm of life ... that great characters are formed. The habits of a vigorous mind are formed in contending with difficulties. Great necessities call out great virtues. When a mind is raised, and animated by scenes that engage the heart, then those qualities which would otherwise lay dormant, wake into life and form the character of the hero and the statesman."
It is during those hard break-ups, disappointments, dashed plans for the future that carry so much uncertainty that I am convinced that God grows us the most. Our growth is somehow connected to how we respond to the challenge. Do we run to God or do we wallow in self-pity?

What is it that we believe about God at that moment? A.W. Tozer once said that what a person believes about God is the most important thing about him. It determines how we respond to blessings and trials. It characterizes what we value or detest. Do we believe he is a loving father who disciplines his children so they may learn from their wrongs and grow in knowledge and faith and virtue? Or is he a passive being who merely watches from afar? Or perhaps a cruel tyrant who takes pleasure in seeing man suffer?

(another parenting analogy ... it's the season ...)

I was watching one of those Super Nanny type shows last night and every time the 6 year old boy flipped out and through a tantrum, the parents GAVE IN! The coach took them aside and told them that this was stunting their son's growth. "He MUST learn how to cope with life! And he will! But you aren't letting him!"

God cares for us so much more than these parents could even attempt to. He is more touched by our suffering than these parents were when they saw their son "suffer" because he had to go to bed at 8:30. His love for us sometimes involves miraculously snatching us away from the fire ... or ... allowing us to experience the consequences of our actions. May we choose to grow during suffering or trials, rather than give into stubborness and throw tantrums. May we learn to love God and love others better through each trial we experience and not coddle or sulk within our self.

1 Peter 1:13-25

Therefore, preparing your minds for action, and being sober-minded, set your hope fully on the grace that will be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ. As obedient children, do not be conformed to the passions of your former ignorance, but as he who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, since it is written, "You shall be holy, for I am holy." And if you call on him as Father who judges impartially according to each one’s deeds, conduct yourselves with fear throughout the time of your exile, knowing that you were ransomed from the futile ways inherited from your forefathers, not with perishable things such as silver or gold, but with the precious blood of Christ, like that of a lamb without blemish or spot. He was foreknown before the foundation of the world but was made manifest in the last times for the sake of you who through him are believers in God, who raised him from the dead and gave him glory, so that your faith and hope are in God.

Having purified your souls by your obedience to the truth for a sincere brotherly love, love one another earnestly from a pure heart, since you have been born again, not of perishable seed but of imperishable, through the living and abiding word of God; for

"All flesh is like grass
and all its glory like the flower of grass.
The grass withers,
and the flower falls,
but the word of the Lord remains forever."

And this word is the good news that was preached to you.

How wonderful is it to know that these trials come from God for his good purpose and to shape and mold us into the image of His Son! How awful it would be if everything was just by chance! ... for no reason! ... there would be no hope. How much better it is to yield to God's work in our lives than fight it.