Tag Archives: Humility

12 Steps and Getting Unstuck

This is the series on the Christian lessons from the 12 step movement.

It provokes a number of questions for me – a lot of them that this is good, but then we have to look at what we are saying when we say this essentially theistic movement with its roots in Christian tradition (and in particular the Oxford movement, which is much criticised by John Stott among others) has some big lessons for us.  Once again, where is God in the place that is good but doesn’t name itself Christian.  Or does 12 steps also in a way have to admit it’s own faults and need of redemption, or is that a bit too meta.

Anyway, this is really interesting to look at, because the thing that so many of us want above all is change. Continue reading

The Shocking Secret Happy People Learn

September 21st 2014 – Transcript here.

Philippians 2.

Ortberg talks about the strata in Roman society and the way that the to humble yourself was almost unheard of, and yet the great secret is that happy people are people who have stopped trying to get up the social ladder.  Talks about how remarkable it was that Christ humbled himself.

Talks about how we try get upgraded and asking for a downgrade is almost unheard of, and yet this is what Jesus does.



A few quotes from Karl Martin’s book “Stand.” (which reveals an extensive and well indexed reading history).

Today you are You, that is truer than true.  There is no alive who is Youer than you.  – Dr. Seuss, Happy Birthday to you.

‘But what about all the miracles?  The healints? Raising people from the dead?  Doesn’t that prove that Jesus was God?  You know, more than human?’

‘No, it proves that Jesus is truly human.’


(The Shack, William P Young).

…eye contact is the most intimacy two people can have = forget sex – because the optic nerve is technically an extension of the brain, and when tow people look ito each other’s eyes, it’s brain-to-brain.  (Douglas Coupland, Hey Nostradamus)

Continue reading

Pope Francis – Untying The Knots

Francis often quotes the words of the German poet Holderlin
“may the man not betray what he promised as a child” (page 25)

Francis knew some familiar struggles

“One regular gripe was that vocations to the priesthood had fallen in Buenos Aires in his time” (page 121)

On Rafael Tello, the Liberation Theologian silenced by the Church
“Nobody who has opened up new paths leaves without scars on his body.” (page 138)

“Guilt by itself… is just another human resource.  Guilt, without atonement, does not allow us to grow” (page 146)

On going out to the peripheries (a now famous speech before the conclave and given here) the surge needs to surge forth to the peripheries.
“The Church is supposed to be the mysterium lunae, the mystery of the moon is that it has no light, but simply reflects the light of the sun” (page 155)

“It’s about a shift in our understanding of Church. The community which presides in love; that is putting the Pope back in the college.  It is ecclesiastically radical.  He has thought through what he is doing.  It is the produce of the many years of practical theology.” (page 166)

He calls for “a church that gets out in the street and runs the risk of an accident” rather than a church which “doesn’t get out and sooner or later gets sick from being locked up” (page 180)

Shame and Scarcity

She says there are three hallmarks of a culture of scarcity:

1. Shame: Is fear of ridicule and belittling used to manage people and/or to keep people in line?  Is self-worth tied to achievement, productivity or compliance?  Are blaming and finger-pointing norms?  Are put-downs and name-calling rampant?  What about favouritism?  Is perfectionism an issue?”


2. Comparison: Healthy competition can beneficial, but is there constant overt or covert comparing and ranking?  Has creativity been suffocated?  Are people held to one narrow standard rather than acknowledge for their unique gifts and contributions?  Is there an ideal way of being or one form of talent that is used as a measurement of everyone else’s worth?


3. Disengagement:  Are people afraid to take risks or try new things?  Is it easier to stay quiet than to share stories, experiences, and ideas?  Does it feel as if no one is really paying attention or listening?  Is everyone struggling to be seen and heard?”





Shame is getting laid off and having to tell my pregnant wife


Shame is having someone ask me “When are you due?” when I am not pregnant


Shame is hiding the fact that I am in recovery


Shame is ragin at my kids


Shame is bankruptcy


Shame is my boss calling me an idiot in front of the client


Shame is not making partner


Shame is my husband leaving me for my next door neighbour

Continue reading

Table Talk

On hospitality

Kathleen Norris tells a story said to originate in a Russian Orthodox monastery.  An older monk tells a younger one: “I have finally learned to accept people as they are.  Whatever they are in the world, a prostitute, a prime minister, it is all the same to me.  But sometimes I see a stranger coming up the road and I say “Oh, Jesus Christ, is it you again?” (page 84)

Joseph of Arimathea and the Inner Ring


Then as Jesus dies something happens – for centurion. It is s change in grabbing on to all that is essential. He goes boldly to Pilate. Joseph is now willing to risk everything to bury Jesus.

He is bold in his actions.

He is generous in what he has.

A tomb was a status symbol. A symbol of family wealth. He has brought Jesus into his family space. He is going to have to say to his family “Guess who we are going to spend eternity with?”

And he becomes humble. This buying of linen and wrapping of Jesus. It is a horrible thing to do. This is a cadaver which has been crucified. It is an awful, horrible job. It is normally the women who do this, certainly not the men and certainly not powerful men.

Joseph and Nicodemus are crossing lines all over the place here. The kind if people that the world needs.

This relates to the being born again of John 3. If you want to come in you are going to have to start from nothing. This is the reason good people hate Christians, why many Church goers refuse the gospel we are told that everything good that I do, but that everything I do counts for nothing. Can we not start as an adolescent or teenager. Can i start with a bit?  No you start as a baby, with nothing.

What is it about the death of Jesus that changes?

Joseph has a reality check. He has been trying to hold things in balance. When Jesus he sees thus world that he is clinging on to for what it is. That the works that he is investing  in is not the solution but the problem.

We are trying to keep Jesus in this radical gospel. Unless something radical changes, this is the road to hell.

Joseph took the body of Jesus – something profound in this. He is the one who first takes the body of Jesus. We have to take into ourselves to take the death of Jesus like the Eucharist.

Jesus is a member of the ultimate inner ring. The most exclusive club in everything.
From all eternity they have existed loving and adoring each other.

The doctrine of the Trinity  says at the heart if reality is not a hierarchy if service but a co-dependency of self giving love.

Jesus  left the inner ring. Mark 10:45 probably about the most important verse in Mark. If you want real power to change the world you have to do what I do.

Your job is not to be served but to serve.

Look at the quote from Lewis on the problem of pain.

“In self-giving, if anywhere, we touch a rhythm not only of all creation but of all being. For the Eternal Word also gives Himself in sacrifice; and that not only on Calvary. For when He was crucified He ‘did that in the wild weather of His outlying provinces which He had done at home in glory and gladness.’ From before the foundation of the world He surrenders begotten Deity back to begetting Deity in obedience. And as the Son glorifies the Father, so also the Father glorifies the Son…There is joy in the dance, but it does not exist for the sake of joy. It does not even exist for the sake of good, or of love. It is Love Himself, and Good Himself, and therefore happy. It does not exist for us, but we for it.” (C. S. Lewis, The Problem of Pain, pp. 136-38)

Three things that flow from this transformation.

1. Being a Christian is not a matter of being happy. It is if you being so transformed. This us about you being so bad Jesus had to die for you. It is about you being so loved that Jesus died

2. The church will be an odd community.

3. It is not about living with others circling around you but Jesus circling around you and this is the essence if what it is to serve Jesus.

The most important thing

Is there a greater thrill than to know someone’s life has been permanently transformed because you reached out to them?

It is sweet to know your sister was saved through your series of conversations, or that you helped to disciple a struggling couple whose marriage was headed toward an inevitable divorce, or that you preached a sermon that God was kind enough to use in someone’s spiritual awakening.

Each of those things are treasured experiences — but none of them are intended to sustain our joy.

Jesus’ chose 72 of his followers and sent them out in his name. And they found incredible success in healing the sick and in watching demonically sabotaged lives get radically and immediately repaired. The experience must have been intoxicatingly fun.

But ministry success wasn’t the most stunning thing, and Jesus warned his followers of that when they returned. He told them to look beyond the fruit and see an eternal foundation: “do not rejoice in this, that the spirits are subject to you, but rejoice that your names are written in heaven” (Luke 10:20).

Written in heaven. That’s what he wanted them to see and us to see. Our highest joy is to know that our names are written in heaven. Knowing we are heirs to the bliss of God’s eternal presence is the foundation for our greatest joys.

And knowing that means:

  • Pastoring is not the most important fact about the pastor.
  • Missions is not the most important fact about the missionary.
  • The spiritual gift is not the most important fact about the Christian.

In the Slump

But Jesus’ words apply to ministry “sag” just as much as they apply to revival.

By unplugging the disciples’ joy from their ministry effectiveness, Jesus likewise protects them (and us) from depression during seasons of seeming fruitlessness. Seasons of what appears to be effectiveness and ineffectiveness come and go. Seasons of revival are replaced by seasons of stagnation.

Perhaps we can include all of the fluctuations of life. Marriage, parenting, work, school — all areas of life where we are called by God to bear fruit. Our joy is not rooted in our successes, and it’s not extinguished by our failures. Our joy is rooted in the unalterable fact that in Christ our names are written on heaven’s roll-call.

Paul reminded his ministry associates of this point (Philippians 4:3). And I need that reminder every morning. Because whether ministry is flourishing or not, we need to remind ourselves, and remind each other, that our names are written in heaven. And it is in heaven, in the presence of God forever, where our joy is rooted. May God protect us now, in the bustle of life and the wins and losses in ministry, from losing the sweetness of that truth.

The way is humility

From May 30th, from Augustine:

The way to Christ is first through humility, second through humility, third through humility.  If humility does not precede and accompany and follow every good work we do, if it is not before us to focus on, if it is not beside us to lean upon, if it is not behind us to fence us in, pride will wrench from our hand any good deed we do at the very moment we do it.