Small Potatoes and Tuesdays @ the Piggly Wiggly

Small Potatoes and Tuesdays @ the Piggly Wiggly

Several years ago I published a book by this title. It was a memoir that followed a thread of everyday happenings that impacted my life and the profound lessons learned. Today I start a new blog series with the same theme.

Small Potatoes and Tuesdays @ the Piggly Wiggly is subtitled “Discovering the Profound in the Mundane” implying that people, places, and things that seem insignificant (like the adage “small potatoes”) or routine experiences (like Tuesdays at the Piggly Wiggly) are impressions left in wet cement—a mosaic—creating a masterpiece. The canvas on which my life was created originates in a small town in the Deep South of the 1950s and ‘60s. Basically I grew up in Mayberry.

It was a colorful place. The county was dry, which meant no alcohol, and yet there was at least one town drunk, maybe more. There were a few kooks and a few ambitious souls and a lot of hard-working people, but not all. We had some who seemed to have an aversion to work and the rest of us shook our heads when we spoke of them. Women didn’t work outside the home except occasionally as schoolteachers or nurses. Mostly the fathers worked and the mothers stayed home with the children.

On Tuesdays, mamas flooded into the supermarket, The Piggly Wiggly, hoping to find sales on nonperishables and to get double S&H Green Stamps. Those stamps could be collected and exchanged for merchandise such as small appliances, dry goods, and even toys at the redemption center.

On summer days when I was out of school I tagged along with Mama so I could watch the people and marvel at the stamp dispenser that meted out bonuses in long perforated sheets. I’d hear “how-ya-doin’s” and “fine-thank-yous” often in passing, but occasionally we’d stop and “visit” as we call it in the South. During these extended conversations, I usually had the option of absorbing the latest gossip, suffering through the details of Maude’s gallbladder surgery, or excusing myself to the school supplies aisle. Yet always there was something fascinating to learn at “The Pig.”

***

This week millions of students donned academic regalia and walked across some stage to receive some piece of parchment indicating that they have achieved some level of competence in some subject. Congratulations to you all!

This season brought a memory that was also a lesson I learned from the experience.

We went to celebrate the college graduation of our oldest son. The ceremony was held in a large arena and we were to be joined by some other friends and relatives. We stood outside the arena waiting for the others in our party, but sent our youngest son into the venue to try and save some seats so we could all sit together. It didn’t dawn on us that youngest son might be hard to find in the arena that was filling up quickly.

We met the completion of our party and went inside to find youngest son and the seats he had found for us. There were already hundreds of people gathered and we didn’t immediately see the seat-saver. My husband gave a whistle, not loud, but loud enough to be audible to a few. Suddenly a hand went up. It was young son marking his location. That exact sound of the whistle was used to call our sons home when they were out in the neighborhood. They had heard that sound so many times and could identify that it was their father calling them.

It didn’t dawn on me until later. We’ll hear noises every day. Voices. Clatter. Whistling. When I hear God’s call, because I’ve heard it so many times and have learned to trust it, I can get home where I belong.

By the way, you can order the original book from Amazon

Where Have All the Churches Gone?

Hey everyone. This is an article I wrote a while back and it was published in a couple of newspapers. However, I haven’t ever shared it on my blog. Here goes:

Where have all the flowers gone/Long time passing/

Where have all the flowers gone/Long time ago?

Remember this protest song recorded by the trio Peter, Paul, and Mary in the 1960s? Its lyrics describe a sort of cycle of life… of flowers…picked by young girls…who take husbands…who become soldiers…whose bodies go to graveyards…that are eventually covered in flowers.

Occasionally a similar question comes up about the Church. “What’s happened to the church? Where has it gone? Will the church as we once knew it ever return?” These questions are usually referring to music and worship styles and are often asked by those who prefer the more traditional ways–of which they are more familiar. My answer is usually some mumbo-jumbo about trends, and relevance, and post-modernism and such. But in reality I have no idea what’s happening in the worldwide Church.

Through my six decades on the planet as a “church girl,” I’ve seen the Body struggle with itself (or against itself), in an attempt to make it more relevant. I am just now starting to see a pattern and trying to make sense of it all.

My friend and former pastor, Dr. Gene Mims, in his book Kingdom Principles for Church Growth[i] breaks down the Church’s role in the world into five functions: discipleship, ministry, evangelism, fellowship, and worship. It seems as though the Church hasn’t always seen these functions as equal to each other. We’ve had a tendency to focus on one individually instead of all of them as a group – even though they all share equal importance in our living out the Great Commission.

When I was growing up discipleship happened to be the big thing. Because of this push to teach and equip the saints, I was in Bible drills, Vacation Bible School, and other programs that emphasized scripture memory, helping me to “hide God’s word in my heart.” I’m grateful for that experience.

In my college days (early ‘70s) there was a call for a little less talk and a lot more action. We needed to be the hands and feet of Christ. Feed the hungry. Clothe the poor. Lift up the fallen. We needed to take off the Sunday school shoes and put on the work boots of ministry. Some great social ministries came from that movement.

Then came the 1980s and we discovered that just handing out food and clothing to the less fortunate wasn’t enough. We needed to also share the gospel. Schools of evangelism sprang up to teach us soul-winning techniques. I was a trainer in one of these schools.

Then we discovered that we needed to walk along beside those we were trying to reach. Fellowship. Support groups. Softball teams. Community events. We—and they—needed fellowship.

But there was still something missing. There had to be a reason why we hadn’t made a greater impact on the world. Why, at least in America, have our numbers dwindled? Oh yes. Worship. Let’s fix that!

And that’s where we are now – still trying to make a difference and still trying to figure out how to be salt and light. But like we did in decades past, we think if we teach the Church how to do one thing better it will make all things right; thus, schools of worship and master’s degrees in it.

So if this doesn’t work, what then? What will we do to make ourselves relevant? Will we go back around like the circle of life in the flowers in the folksong? All I can say is: If or when the church trend brings us back through the five functions one at a time, we can’t ignore any of them. They are all important – essential. And if the focus of an age is not one of our favorites let’s remember that the church isn’t ours anyway!


[i]  Mims, Gene. Kingdom Principles for Church Growth. Nashville, TN: Convention, 1994. Print.

Where Did You Park?

Goofy 5.

Mickey 10.

These were rows of parking designations we used to find at Disney parks.  There were signs with an iconic cartoon character on them and then a number so we could remember generally where we left our car when we entered. If we could remember that one character and that one number, we’d be able to return to our vehicles at the end of the day. Theoretically. Now, notice that we were not encouraged to remember that we’d parked between a white Chevy and a blue Ford. Why? Because these are not permanently stationary points of reference. Chevy Guy might decide to leave before we did and Blue Ford Lady may have been replaced by a burgundy van by the time we decided to exit. My insight into this is that we shouldn’t anchor ourselves to something that isn’t constant. The signs were anchored in concrete and not likely to move. The vehicles not so much. (Maybe the Disney reference isn’t appropriate here, but you get the point.)

I’ve heard people vow to someone they love (and I’ve done it myself) “I’ll always be here for you.” That’s so sweet, especially if it is genuine, but it is a sentiment that has no real basis in reality. What if I die one day? And I will. What happens to my promise to always be here? You can say that I’m with you in spirit—looking down on you from heaven. And, if that’s even possible, that is a comforting thought. However, the reality of putting all of our hopes into something or somebody so temporal, that is not permanent and eternal, will inevitably lead to disappointment and disillusionment—not to mention loneliness.

The writer of Hebrews calls our hope in Christ the anchor for our souls. It’s a metaphor that the writer uses (Hebrews 6:19) to help the readers understand that they should not attach themselves to something or someone that isn’t “nailed down.” And how there’s only one Someone who never leaves, never moves, never leads us astray. The Message paraphrase of this Hebrews passage says this:

“We who have run for our very lives to God have every reason to grab the promised hope with both hands and never let go. It’s an unbreakable spiritual lifeline, reaching past all appearances right to the very presence of God where Jesus, running on ahead of us, has taken up his permanent post as high priest for us…”

I guess it’s a little strange to refer to something as concrete when this is a rather abstract thought. But that’s how it often is with spiritual things. We have to dig into such ideas with nothing but faith.

“This hope we have as an anchor of the soul, a hope both sure and reliable…” Hebrews 6: 19 (NASB)

BTW, I read recently that some parking lots at Disney parks are divided into 2 sections: Heroes and Villains. The Heroes lots include: Woody, Aladdin, Peter Pan, Simba, Mulan, and Rapunzel. The Villains lots include: Zurg, Jafar, Hook, Scar, Cruella, and Ursula. Times are changing, huh?

Patting Ourselves on the Back

I’m preparing to substitute teach a Sunday school class this week. The lesson is from 1 Kings 18 and 19. You may or may not know this story, and I’ll admit it isn’t one that I learned as a child. It is a great biblical story with a profound lesson, nonetheless.

Elijah was a prophet and one of God’s favorites. He, apparently, was also highly revered by the Israelites throughout their long history. Elijah was the topic of conversation many years later in the Old Testament and in New Testament times. Some even thought that Jesus was Elijah coming down from heaven. And Elijah actually showed up in a heavenly body at the Transfiguration—he and Moses joining Jesus on the mountain.

In the time of the kings in ancient Israel, many had started worshipping a pagan god—Baal. Elijah is incensed by this and sets out to prove that Yahweh is the one true God. He instructs the prophets of Baal to build an altar to their god and offer a burnt sacrifice without benefit of external fire. The idolaters cannot get Baal to light their altar, no matter how hard they beg, and therefore the demonstration succeeds in showing that Baal is not the Living God. When Elijah offers the same kind of sacrifice to Yahweh, he douses it with water and God sends down fire from heaven, consuming the sacrifice, the water on it and around it to prove that He is in control. It was quite the show-down. What a spectacle that must have been! Many Israelites switched teams in that moment—going back to worshipping the One True God. Mission accomplished.

However, after this incredible display of God’s power and Elijah’s faith, Queen Jezebel (a faithful worshipper of Baal) vows to kill Elijah because the prophet has not only made a mockery of Baal’s power, but has the prophets of this false god slaughtered. Interestingly, Elijah fears this woman so much that he runs and hides. It’s like a huge Rottweiler cowering to a chihuahua. Elijah whines that he’s the only one left in Israel who is faithful (which isn’t true), and he wants to give up.

What happened? From revered representative of God to a scaredy cat? The story ends well, but only when God challenges Elijah to listen for His still, small voice.

So, the biblical prophet Elijah was not a doubter, but he was a pouter. What can we learn from him and his story? After a victory, the “highs,” are often followed with “lows.” Why do you think? Perhaps, in Elijah’s case, success had fostered a sense of pride in him, and he began to take his importance and his power too seriously. Perhaps he was looking for another “high” and when it didn’t happen, he sank so low that he even asked God to let him die.

Success can sometimes be more damaging to our lives than our failures. King Solomon found that out the hard way.  He writes in Proverbs 16:18 “Pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall.” Let’s be careful to recognize that our successes are from God’s providence and power.

Words to Live By

Every year or so, a few of my friends from long ago reunite. We all grew up in the same small Southern town and have known each other since infancy. One of the last times we got together we reminisced about Friday night football games, Sunday morning church, family dinners, and pre-teen campouts, and we marveled that we had lived through a golden age—a time when life was good and uncomplicated—and simple.

Lines were clean. Rules were enforced. Neighborhoods were safe. We were blessed.

This experience made me think of a poem that was found written on the wall of Mother Teresa’s orphanage in Calcutta. Though the Sister probably didn’t write the original poem, it has been closely tied to her for many years. It has borne two different titles: Anyway and A Simple Path. Anyway… here it is:

“People are unreasonable, illogical, and self-centered;

LOVE THEM ANYWAY

If you do good, people will accuse you of selfish, ulterior motives;

DO GOOD ANYWAY

If you are successful, you win false friends and true enemies;

SUCCEED ANYWAY

The good you do will be forgotten tomorrow;

DO IT ANYWAY

Honesty and frankness make you vulnerable;

BE HONEST AND FRANK ANYWAY

What you spent years building may be destroyed overnight;

BUILD ANYWAY

People really need help but may attack you if you help them;

HELP PEOPLE ANYWAY

Give the world the best you have and you might get kicked in the teeth;

GIVE THE WORLD THE BEST YOU’VE GOT ANYWAY.”

“Live simply, love generously, care deeply, speak kindly, leave the rest to God.” ― Ronald Reagan.

Marco. Polo.

Remember the game Marco Polo? We played it at the pool almost every day of the long, hot summers in Southeast Alabama. It’s basically a call-and-response game—on land called Blind Man’s Bluff. The point is there’s an outcast, the “it,” who with eyes closed, calls out “Marco.” The others play by responding “Polo.” “It” must close his/her eyes and find the other players by sound only. No peeking. And once a player is tagged, he or she becomes “it.”

Now, why this game is named after that 13th-century explorer is still a mystery. Wikipedia (which, of course, is a totally reliable source) suggests that the game was so named because Marco Polo had no clue where he was going. He just struck out blindly to explore the globe and drifted where the wind blew him. Okay. Maybe.  

The spiritual connection (and there always is one) is that when we can’t see God working in us or in the world, we must stop and listen. Eyes closed and opened ears.

Today it seems there are more and more societal voices than ever trying to drown out each other. Some are shouting and some are whispering to us, but they’re all vying for our attention. Not only do many of them want us to listen to them, but they want us to buy into their message. Follow their lead. So, how do we tell which voice to follow? How do we know which is the right way to go?

When bankers learn how to identify counterfeit money, they first handle the real thing enough times so they can know when the false bills come across their stations. In this context, listen to His voice, through reading scripture and asking in prayer, enough times that you’ll know it when you hear it.

Another analogy on this subject was spoken by Jesus Himself. It had to do with sheep. He said, recorded in John10 (The Message paraphrase):

“Let me set this before you as plainly as I can. If a person climbs over or through the fence of a sheep pen instead of going through the gate, you know he’s up to no good—a sheep rustler! The shepherd walks right up to the gate. The gatekeeper opens the gate to him and the sheep recognize his voice. He calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. When he gets them all out, he leads them and they follow because they are familiar with his voice. They won’t follow a stranger’s voice but will scatter because they aren’t used to the sound of it.”

The game of Marco Polo has another dimension: when “it” thinks that one of the other players has left the pool, he yells “Fish out of water!” That disqualifies the player. For believers, choosing to be on the periphery of God’s will is like being a fish out of water; it is confusing and makes it hard to hear Him.

So test the real thing enough times so that you can discern when the voice of Truth is speaking.

Back to Oz

I never saw the movie Wizard of Oz until I was a young adult. Not once. Even though the movie was released in theatres long before I was born, it would be shown on TV once a year on Wonderful World of Disney which happened on Sunday nights. But during my growing up years, we went to church—Training Union (we were Baptists) and Sunday night service. Always. No exceptions. I missed seeing the movie in its entirety every year.

Finally, there was a time when I made my own choices about Sunday nights and I vowed to watch this iconic film when it came on. I did. I was so excited—and then scared, especially when the wicked witch threatened sweet Dorothy and her adorable dog. Of course, we only had a black and white TV at the time, so her “greenness” was not apparent. Still, I was intrigued throughout the movie and absorbed its message. 

Dorothy wanted to go home, back to Kansas where she felt like she belonged. But her journey took a magical turn and she ended up in a place too grand to describe. She made new friends along the yellow brick road—experienced new perils, trials, and decisions. But Dorothy learned courage and fortitude and loyalty along the way, and by doing that helped herself and her friends complete their journeys of discovery.

One of the perks of getting older is that I can glance back at my rather lengthy road and see how perils, trials, and decisions placed mile markers of discovery. One epiphany I had while watching the Wizard of Oz movie is that Dorothy and her friends found that what they sought they already had. Security, courage, intelligence, and compassion. These attributes were already built into them, and yet, they had lost their awareness of them. They had fumbled around in fear and disillusionment needlessly. I need (perhaps you do, too) to reacquaint myself and reignite the gifts God gave me instead of continuing down the road in search of something else.

Apostle Paul writes in 1 Corinthians 12 (The Message).

God wants us to use our intelligence, to seek to understand as well as we can. For instance, by using your heads, you know perfectly well that the Spirit of God would never prompt anyone to say “Jesus be damned!” Nor would anyone be inclined to say “Jesus is Master!” without the insight of the Holy Spirit.

God’s various gifts are handed out everywhere; but they all originate in God’s Spirit. God’s various ministries are carried out everywhere; but they all originate in God’s Spirit. God’s various expressions of power are in action everywhere; but God himself is behind it all. Each person is given something to do that shows who God is: Everyone gets in on it, everyone benefits. All kinds of things are handed out by the Spirit, and to all kinds of people! 

Etched in Stone

Down here in the South, family is really important. That’s why family reunions are often major annual events.

A few summers ago, I went to my family reunion in L.A. (Lower Alabama) held at the “mother church” where there was food (to the tenth power), hugs, kisses, and, for me, reacquaintance with long lost cousins. I felt like I was speed dating when one cousin would sit and talk for a while and then be replaced by another one. This went on for almost a whole afternoon. Before dark, we walked through the headstones of the church cemetery where many of my ancestors are buried. Apparently the cemetery visit was a tradition at this event. Both of my grandparents and some of their children on my father’s side are buried in that cemetery, side by side, of course.

On that journey, I listened to the relatives talking about each aunt, uncle or grandparent as they would stop and say something (kind words, of course) about each one. I began to notice at a point, that some would stop in front of my grandfather’s headstone and smile. Not laugh out loud, but just smile. That was the day, I noticed for the first time the dates on my grandfather’s headstone.  Born June 8, 1898…died September 31, 1956. Wait a minute. September 31? Let’s see “thirty days hath September”…so there was no September 31…a mistake…and that’s what brought the smiles (which I was told would have pleased my jovial grandfather immensely.)

That reminded me that some mistakes are etched in stone, and they never go away. They’re always visible and accuse us every time we see them. However, sometimes etchings are merciful and removable like when the gulf rolls in and sweeps away a message or a castle. Which ones are which? Permanent or wiped clean? Earthly consequences of past errors in judgment and sins can last a long time. But all of our missteps can be forgiven (and even erased) by God’s grace. It’s called redemption.

My mother collected S&H Green Stamps at the Piggly Wiggly. (For those of you in another generation, that’s like bonus points or rewards that one collects with various purchases.) Anyway, the stamps worked just like today’s points in that when you had enough, you could redeem them. In those days, we went to the redemption center where we could turn our books of stamps in to receive “valuable” items such as small appliances, dry goods, and even toys. I was smart enough to figure out that this exchange was trading something of little worth on its own (the stamps) for something of great worth (at least to me). That’s where I learned what this scripture meant. God said,  

“Do not fear, for I have redeemed you;
I have called you by name; you are Mine!” Isaiah 43:1

17. The Ultimate Selfie: Getting to the Core, part 2 – FINAL CHAPTER

Hello readers. Thanks for following me and my journey into discovering who you really are. This is the last post in this series, but I plan to continue with the blog on another topic. Stay tuned. God bless you all!

If you’re still confused about who you are, it may be that you don’t know Him who made you. This could be where your identity crisis begins. It is not God’s desire that you don’t know your worth. In fact, He came to earth as Jesus to be a bridge that spans the gulf of disobedience that separates us from our Creator.

The process starts with recognizing Him for who He is, then realizing that you have a need, that you’re not completely in the center of God’s plan. Admit that you’ve done enough sinful things and had enough impure thoughts to separate you from Him.

The next step for you is to admit to these sins and then surrender them to God and ask Him to free you from them. Once you’ve joined His kingdom, He’ll teach you about yourself and how He sees you. The idea of self-worth and identity will become less and less of an issue once you let Him direct your thoughts and actions. It sounds pretty simple, but as I said before, surrender is hard, but it is necessary to be aligned with God and His plan for you.

 Do you know the One who created you–not just know about Him, but have a real connection? Can you talk to Him and know how to listen as He talks to you?

Are you afraid to trust God, whom you cannot see with your eyes?

Psalm 147:3 New American Standard Bible (NASB) says “He heals the brokenhearted. And binds up their wounds.”

Isaiah 40:26 (NASB) “Lift up your eyes on high
And see who has created these stars,
The One who leads forth their host by number,
He calls them all by name;
Because of the greatness of His might and the strength of His power,
Not one of them is missing.” If He can do that, don’t you think He can remember and renew you?

STOP: How do you feel about yourself right now?
Do you see yourself as having no value to the world?

LIE: Because you aren’t perfect in appearance, perfect in performance, or have a checkered past, you aren’t worth anything.
You must find significance in who you are with or what you have done.

TRUTH: Luke 12:6-7 New American Standard Bible (NASB)
“Are not five sparrows sold for two cents? Yet not one of them is forgotten before God. Indeed, the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Do not fear; you are more valuable than many sparrows.”
Isaiah 40: 11 “Like a shepherd He will tend His flock, In His arm He will gather the lambs. And carry them in His bosom…”

16. Ultimate Selfie: Getting to the Core

Let’s face it, during your lifetime…

You will get older…

You will get hurt….

You will be overlooked…

You could lose your influence….

You could lose your security….

You could lose your passion…

Then what?

When your sense of worth is dependent on your appearance and youth, your intellect, your strength, your significant other, you will find yourself wondering why you feel worthless.

Recently I was directed to a blog post written by an author named Sharon Hodde Miller. The blog referenced her book Free of Me: Why Life Is Better When It’s Not about You. I read the book in one sitting and the overall message immediately affected me. And I have to keep reminding myself constantly about the premise. The author’s idea is that humans are naturally self-absorbed or self-focused, which, of course, is no surprise. Then she tells how her runaway “self” robbed her of her joy. “It affected my marriage,” she writes, “my calling, and even my relationship with God.” Miller states another obvious point: our self-images are “shaped by people, possessions, and profession”[i] which doesn’t surprise me either. However, her thesis goes farther than the obvious. She believes, as I do, that the tiniest voices around us speak the loudest, especially when it comes to self-worth. In her book, Miller says, “Think about how you feel when a friend receives more ‘likes’ or more comments on her photos than you. It’s easy to compare…”[ii] and conclude that you are unworthy. A few little thoughts like that can be blamed for a negative self-image. But low self-image isn’t the problem. It is “self -preoccupation.” The only way to feel inferior is to focus on how you measure up to other people. The fight against self-preoccupation is continual. “There will always be more commercials identifying new flaws, more online tutorials teaching us how to improve [ourselves].”[iii]

A book from which Miller drew some of her conclusions, is written by Tim Keller. In his little book The Freedom of Self-Forgetfulness, Keller follows the trend of self-preoccupation:

Up until the twentieth century, the traditional cultures (and this is still true of most cultures in the world) always believed that too high a view of yourself was the root cause of all the evil in the world. What is the reason for most of the crime and violence in the world? Why are people cruel? Why do people do the bad things they do? Traditionally, the answer was hubris – the Greek word meaning pride or too high a view of yourself…But in our modern western culture, we have developed an utterly opposite cultural consensus. [iv]

Now we call it low self-esteem and so we try to make everybody feel good about themselves. That would fix the world’s problems, if we just felt worthy, right? Of course, we know this isn’t working either. Self-absorption is more rampant than ever. So, what do we do?

As Christians, we are encouraged to embrace and practice selflessness. Two gospel writers record Jesus as saying, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.” (NIV Mark 8:34 and Matthew 16:24). That, of course, is what is required of us in salvation. Surrender. But once we’ve done that, does that help us find our true value in everyday life? I believe it does. C.S. Lewis said, “Humility is not thinking less of yourself, it’s thinking of yourself less.”

Self (whether it’s disguised as hubris or inner loathing) is about focus. And focus leads to fascination, to fixation, to obsession, then to passion. And what happens when passion gets involved? It becomes driven and totally out of control! Many authors have addressed these issues, many of them Christians, but often these well-meaning self-help writings fall short of their goals because of focus. When the focus is on self, it will always miss the point. Again as Hebrews 12:1-2  states “Therefore, since we also have such a large cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us lay aside every hindrance and the sin that so easily ensnares us. Let us run with endurance the race that lies before us, keeping our eyes on Jesus, the source and perfecter of our faith.” (CSB)

Oftentimes it’s the difference between commitment and surrender. Our human spiritual DNA says to commit, not surrender. We are not taught or encouraged to surrender because it is  sign of weakness. As women, we’re urged to be strong, not vulnerable; to take charge, not submit;  to fight and never back down. And for Christian women, the message is the same. In many ways this is welcome and accurate and biblical, except in one area. Putting our “dukes” up when it comes to God, is counterproductive. God wants us to see ourselves in a way that He sees us, but we can’t if we’re constantly looking at our imperfections. In fact, one of the greatest paradoxes in the Bible is when Paul, the Apostle, writes that he had asked God to relieve him of a defect three different times. “But he said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is perfected in weakness.’ Therefore, I will most gladly boast all the more about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may reside in me.” (CSB  2 Corinthians 12:9). So in that one arena our greatest weakness, when surrendered to Christ’s power, becomes our greatest strength.

“When the majority of messages for women are about our beauty and self-worth, we gradually get the idea that Jesus came to earth and died simply to help us like ourselves.”[v]

In fact, I believe that Jesus came to earth to save us from ourselves.

“That’s why God calls us into a bigger story: to live for him, instead of ourselves. When we shift our focus off ourselves—our fears, our appearance, our success, our self-doubt—and fix our gaze on Christ alone, we encounter the freedom we were created to have. We finally learn to be free of me.”[vi]

Yes, the same Bible that says, “For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works…(Ephesians 2:10, NASB), also says “For [God] knows what we are made of, remembering that we are dust. (Psalm 103: 14, CSB).

In 1 John 3:1, (CSB,) we read, “ See what great love the Father has given us that we should be called God’s children—and we are!” (Romans 8:17) “…and if children, also heirs—heirs of God and coheirs with Christ.” (CSB)  But in James 4:10 we are reminded to, “Humble yourselves before the Lord….”(CSB)

Which is correct? Are we His children or not? Ephesians 6:6 and 1 Peter 2:18 refer to us as “slaves of Christ.” But Jesus Himself (recorded in John 15:15) says that we’re not servants, but friends. Is it possible to be all of these things? I think so—if we start to look at these references in context of who God is and then what role we play in His plan.

Who is God? Well, He is called Yahweh in the Bible. That word essentially means “Self-existent One” and that means that no one created Him or gave birth to Him. He just WAS. Our minds can’t grab that idea very easily, but it’s possible only in an attitude of faith. Once we accept that fact, the rest is easier to grasp.

Not only is He Self-existent, but He is the Creator of all things. Universes, galaxies, animals, plants, micro-organism, human beings. Everything that is created, He created it.

Another thing about God that might be a concept hard to grasp is the Trinity, the Three-in-One. In other words, He is the invisible, all -powerful, all-knowing, ever present Father, but He is the Spirit and the Man, Jesus. And though each of these entities has its own function, they are so intertwined that they cannot be separated. Look at Colossians 1: 15-20[NA1] .

 He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation.  For by Him all things were created, both in the heavens and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things have been created through Him and for Him. He is before all things, and in Him all things hold together. He is also head of the body, the church; and He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, so that He Himself will come to have first place in everything.  For it was the Father’s good pleasure for all the fullness to dwell in Him,  and through Him to reconcile all things to Himself, having made peace through the blood of His cross; through Him, I say, whether things on earth or things in heaven. (NASB)

So, God, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit are the same, but different. The thing that sets Jesus apart is that He was fully God and fully man. And He came to earth to die, yes to give up His life so that we could be united with God, the Father. In Old Testament context, a blood sacrifice, from an animal was necessary to cleanse the sinners of their transgressions. This practice is, of course, no longer used, because Jesus’ blood took the place of this practice. But a little Bible history lesson might help to explain why we talk about being “washed in the blood” or “cleansed by the blood.”

In Hebrews 9, blood sacrifice is reviewed. In verses 19-22, it says,

When Moses had proclaimed every commandment of the law to all the people, he took the blood of calves, together with water, scarlet wool and branches of hyssop, and sprinkled the scroll and all the people. He said, “This is the blood of the covenant, which God has commanded you to keep.” In the same way, he sprinkled with the blood both the tabernacle and everything used in its ceremonies. In fact, the law requires that nearly everything be cleansed with blood, and without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness.

STOP: Think. Are you focused on yourself much of the time? Is it difficult to see others because of your obsession with self?

LIE: If I don’t love myself no one will.

TRUTH: “Self-help is no help at all. Self-sacrifice is the way, my way, to finding yourself, your true self.”(Matthew 16:24)  


[i] Miller, Sharon Hodde Free of Me: Why Life Is Better When It’s Not about You Baker EBooks 2017

[ii]          Ibid

[iii]         Ibid

[iv] Keller, Tim The Freedom of Self-Forgetfulness, Tim Keller, 2012.

[v] https://www.thegospelcoalition.org/article/women-insecurity-and-the-self-help-gospel/

[vi] Miller, Sharon Hodde Free of Me: Why Life Is Better When It’s Not about You Baker EBooks 2017


 [NA1]Colossians 1: 15-20