The 12 Steps of Humility

RECOGNIZE GOD'S PRESENCE

EACH MONTH IN THE 12 STEPS OF HUMILITY WE ARE CLIMBING SAINT BENEDICT’S LADDER OF HUMILITY.  WITH EACH RUNG WE COME CLOSER TO THE PERFECT LOVE OF GOD. 

THE LADDER IS OUR LIFE ON EARTH, IF WE HUMBLE OUR HEART GOD WILL RAISE IT TO HEAVEN. ~ ST. BENEDICT

 
 THE FIRST STEP OF HUMILITY:
A monk always keeps the fear of God before their eyes and flees from all forgetfulness. ~ The Rule of Benedict

To begin our heavenly climb we must humbly bow down and recognize the Presence of God in our lives.

Start with God—the first step in learning is bowing down to God; only fools thumb their noses at such wisdom and learning. ~ Proverbs 1:7

When we recognize God’s Presence, have a healthy, reverential fear of the Lord and give Him reign over our daily lives, we will find the freedom that comes from accepting our proper place in the universe. 

One of the biggest challenges is keeping our self-worth in proper perspective. Without putting ourselves down in our weaknesses or puffing ourselves up in our strengths, we see ourselves as God sees us, gifts and flaws alike. We must face our reality.

To get me back to reality took getting life ripped out from under my feet. Only then was I able to look up and start rebuilding my life based on who God says I am rather than who I thought I was in my own fantastic imaginations. 

Realize it or not, God is always present in our lives and aware of every thought.  It’s not hard to imagine God with us when we are being good. But to think of Him with us when we were doing something bad is uncomfortable. 

When we recognize God’s presence and put ourselves behind His lead we are less likely to fall. 

CLICK HERE for a beautiful worship song to enjoy as you meditate on the Presence of God.


RESOURCES:
The Rule of Saint Benedict by Saint Benedict, Edited by Timothy Fry, O.S.B.
Twelve Steps to Inner Freedom: Humility Revisited by Joan D. Chittister
The Twelve Steps of Humility and Pride by Bernard of Clairvaux
Living in the Truth: Saint Benedict’s Teaching on Humility by Michael Casey

Image credit: nexusplexus / 123RF Stock Photo

Celebrate Discipline :: SUBMISSION

IN OUR CELEBRATE DISCIPLINE COLUMN EACH MONTH WE ARE LEARNING A NEW SPIRITUAL DISCIPLINE, HOW TO APPLY IT AND HOPEFULLY GROW INTO THE PEOPLE GOD WANTS US TO BE.

SPIRITUAL DISCIPLINES: habits that nurture spiritual growth; exercises unto godliness.


SUBMISSION : aligning my will and freedom with God’s will and freedom; submitting to others in love and reverence for Christ.

“Offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God–this is your spiritual act of worship.” ~ Romans 12:1


The Discipline of Submission has been abused by our culture and by religion. When we make the Discipline the goal it puts the wrong emphasis on it. The Disciplines themselves are a means to an end. They themselves are not the goal. Their value is the means God uses to give us the freedom we seek.

The freedom that corresponds with the Spiritual Discipline of Submission is the ability to lay down the burden of always getting our own way. It helps when we realize that the world won’t end if we don’t get what we want. It may be painful today, but life does go on. It’s up to me to trust that what God wants is far better for me than what I want.


In Celebration of Discipline by Richard Foster we see Submission functions in several ways:

  1. The first act of submission is to the Holy Trinity: Father, Son and Holy Ghost. We are to yield our mind, body and spirit for His purpose; living each day in an attitude of surrender.
  2. The second act of submission is to God’s Word. As we submit ourselves to Holy Scripture we look to the Holy Spirit for interpretation and application to our life.
  3. The third act of submission is to our family. With a submissive heart family members graciously make allowances for each other, listen and share as required.
  4. The fourth act of submission is to our neighbors. By performing small acts of kindness, sharing food or tools, caring for children, we are acting with a submissive heart. 
  5. The fifth act of submission is to the Christian community. Just as in our family and our neighborhood, we are called to serve the members of the body of Christ. Serving poor, the sick, or simply working in nursery can all be acts of submission.
  6. The sixth act of submission is to the despised and broken in our world. Like Mother Teresa and others before her we must find ways to identify with those who are rejected.
  7. The seventh act of submission is to our world at large. We don’t live in isolation. Our environmental responsibility affects people around the world and generations to come. We must live daily with the future in mind.

While these six areas of submission are all vital, the primary one I’m focusing on is the first. I believe when we yield our mind, body and spirit to God the others will fall in place. 

There’s no doubt that submitting ourselves to God is the most difficult of all. For me it is a daily, sometimes moment by moment, challenge. But as we keep Christ front and center of our Spiritual Disciplines we will be drawn closer to his heart and He will make the rest possible.

JOIN THE CONVERSATION: What experiences with submission have you had?

If you can’t see the screen below CLICK HERE to watch this week’s music video by Aaron Shust.


RESOURCES: 

Celebrate Discipline by Richard Foster
Spiritual Disciplines Handbook by Adele Ahlberg Calhoun
So You Want To Be Like Christ by Charles Swindoll
The Spirit of the Disciplines by Dallas Willard



Photo credit: designpics / 123RF Stock Photo

The Road to Recovery :: Step 6

IN THE ROAD TO RECOVERY COLUMN WE aRE WORKING THE EIGHT PRINCIPLES OF CELEBRATE RECOVERY THAT ARE BASED ON The BEATITUDES Along with THE TRADITIONAL 12 STEPS OF RECOVERY AS THEY ALIGN WITH THE MONTHLY CALENDAR.

STEP SIX: We were entirely ready to have God remove all these defects of character. 

“Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up.”~ James 4:10


PRINCIPLE FIVE (Celebrate Recovery): Voluntarily submit to every change God wants to make in my life and humbly ask Him to remove my character defects.  

“Happy are those whose greatest desire is to do what God requires.” ~ Matthew 5:6

In the previous steps, as we began removing the addictions and dependencies from our life, we came face to face with our deeper character defects and discovered a lot of brokenness inside.  Facing our brokenness can be overwhelming and painful.  But if we’ve made it this far we must be ready for God to change us. 


Thankfully God doesn’t measure us on how hard we work. But rather on the condition of our heart. He wants us to mourn over our sins and admit our brokenness. When we bring our brokenness to Him, He promises to forgive us, comfort us and cleanse us. Along with this cleansing God will satisfy our emotional hunger and help us overcome our character defects.

To go forward we must die to our old coping mechanisms. These comfortable “friends” who carried us in troubled times can no longer be a part of our life. But with the loss of anything familiar they need a proper burial. We must turn away from our defective ways, cover the shame with God’s love and allow ourselves time to mourn the loss. 

I can look back with fond memories knowing my defects are no longer my friends.


A difficult part of working Step 6 is not knowing who we will be when our defects are gone. They may have caused a lot of pain and suffering in the past, but at least this defective person is familiar. 


Who will we be without our character defects? 

Will our friends and loved ones still accept us when we become this new person?
The bigger question we need to ask is: “Are we really willing for God to remove all our addictions and dependencies?” The truth is we can’t even become willing without God’s help!


We must be honest with ourselves and realize we may never be “entirely” ready for God to remove our defects of character. What’s important is that we stay close to God and keep moving in the right direction. As we do we will get as close to being ready as possible. When we do our part, God will meet us there and take us the rest of the way. 

In fact, by dying on the cross, Jesus met us more than half way! He went all the way for our faults, failures and addictions. It helps me to visualize my specific areas of weakness nailed on the cross with Christ.  

It is only on the Cross of Christ that our defects of character can be removed. 


Dear God, thank you for bringing me this far on my recovery journey. I ask for Your help to make me entirely ready to change all my character defects. Give me the strength to deal with all I have turned over to you. Allow me to accept these changes you are making in my life. Help me be the person You want me to be. In Jesus Christ’s name… Amen

CLICK HERE for our Road to Recovery theme song.


RESOURCES:
Life Recovery Bible
Celebrate Recovery Bible
The Twelve Steps for Christians

VIRTUES & VICES: 6 Steps to Humility




These last few months I’ve been reading books written by revered monks in Christendom: Saint Augustine of Hippo, Saint Bernard of Clairvaux, Saint Benedict of Nursia, Saint Thomas Aquinas, along with modern Christian mystics Thomas Merton and C. S. Lewis to name a few. I’ve learned that no matter what century people live in, they have the same personal issues and temptations we have today and those start and end with pride and humility.


VIRTUE: excellence of character that helps us live well as human beings; holy habits.


humility: noun 

1. the modest opinion or estimate of one’s own importance.


Humility is ultimately about our struggle to be fully human; to be rooted in our earthly self vs. deceived by our prideful false self.  


This becomes clear when we look at the origin of the word humble. The root is the Latin word humus, which means “soil” or “earth.” From this follows the practical definition: to be humble is to be down-to-earth. This root connects humility to humanity because to be human is to be made from the humus. After all God created the first man from earth. 

When we examine relationships gone wrong, we usually find a lack of humility or an excess of pride at the root of the problems.

VICE: corruptive habits that undermine our character and ability to live well.

pride: noun

1. an inflated sense of one’s personal status; the love of one’s own excellence.


Pride seen as the original sin is really the root of all vice. If we let it take hold, pride can get us in a world of trouble. 


Pride wants to be “number one,” head of the class, superior to others. Climbing over others in our ambition, we’re often acting out in greed, wrath, lust or other vices. Pride can also be a false front designed to protect an undervalued self.

How can we replace pride with humility?


Like most things connected to the inner workings of our heart, humility isn’t something we can make happen on our own; it’s a process that takes time and must start with God. Here are a few things I’ve learned to help us get started…

  1. Center Our Lives on God: By recognizing God’s presence in our lives and accepting His will, we learn our place in the universe and can embrace awareness.
  2. Find Power in Weakness: Appreciating others in the universe and learning from their wisdom and gifts, we find spiritual direction and gain strength to persevere.
  3. Shed False Images: Acknowledging our faults and living simply, we’re free to drop the masks and ignore the social pressures of consumption and indebtedness.
  4. Bond Our Relationships: Once we stop pretending to be what we’re not, we find the freedom to accept ourselves and others as well; creating harmony in our relationships.
  5. Quiet the Noise: Silence enables us to hear the noise within, brings us face to face with ourselves, tempers our arrogance and makes us kinder to others.
  6. Live in God’s Presence: A gentle presence brings a sense of the sacred to life. When we walk with God others are able to experience our serenity. 

As you can see, humility begins and ends with God at the center of our lives. Unless and until we have His presence present we will be miserable within and without. Humility seems like a simple thing because it’s a common word. Though simple it’s not easy, but so very important to our world.

“Humility connects us to the world and makes the world connected, a good and gracious space. Humility calms us and and calms others. It inspires, assures, enriches and enables. Humility gifts us with happiness and graces the world with peace.” ~ Joan D. Chittister 



God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble. (James 4:6) When Christ came He brought grace. So the humble person who knows the Truth will be given grace. Grace is also another word for favor or reward. Here are a few rewards for our humility:

Wisdom: Humility gives us the fear of the Lord which is the beginning of wisdom.

Wealth and Honor: The humble person has God’s favor which often means wealth and honor. 
Long Life: A humble person is teachable and more willing to live a healthy lifestyle.

As we listen to The Maranatha Singers http://youtu.be/sU8MAQKSbEI let’s ask God to reveal what’s keeping us from being the humble person He wants us be. 



Humble yourselves before the Lord and He will lift you up in honor. ~ James 4:10 NLT

Resources:
Christian Virtue by Patty Woodmansee
Virtue and Vice: A Dictionary of the Good Life by C. S. Lewis
The Heart of Virtue by Donald DeMarco
Finding Sanctuary: Monastic Steps for Everyday Life by Abbot Christopher Jamison
Twelve Steps to Inner Freedom: Humility Revisited by Joan D. Chittister
The Twelve Steps of Humility and Pride by Bernard of Clairvaux
The Rule of Saint Benedict by St. Benedict edited by Thomas Fry
The Greatest Virtue: The Secret to Living in Happiness and Success by Pat Robertson
Biblical Counseling Keys: Pride and Humility – The Prescription for “I” Strain  by June Hunt
Wikipedia http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Humility  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pride 

Photo Courtesy 123rf.com

Working the Steps: Step 7

Step Seven:  We humbly asked God to remove our shortcomings.



Step Seven is critical to the cleansing process and prepares us for the next stages of recovery. In the first six steps we became aware of our problems, looked at ourselves honestly, revealed hidden parts of ourselves, and became ready to change.




Step Seven is the opportunity for God to remove the hidden areas that need changing.If you’re anything like me, your list is long and painful to reflect on. That pain may bring us to our knees, but what better place to begin with the Lord than in prayer.


If we confess our sins to Him, He is faithful and just to forgive us and to cleanse us from every wrong. ~ 1 John 1:9

Don’t hold anything back. It’s only in surrendering everything to God that we will find healing and freedom. With our inventory list in hand, we prayerfully give each item to God. This is the painful beginning we must experience to reach the peace and joy we seek.
The list of shortcomings may cause us to dwell on our self. Meditating on Christ’s presence in our life helps change our state of mind. Soon we begin to care more for others and put our self in proper perspective. As we accept who we are today we find joy in becoming the person God wants us to be in the future.
To humble ourselves we must see ourselves as God see us. This can be difficult when our entire life has been spent seeing our self as a worthless piece of dirt. By reading and meditating on God’s word regularly we will find the value God sees in us and His plan for our life.
It takes faith and courage to ask God to remove our shortcomings. We must trust that God hears us when we pray and believe He wants to answer us. We may not feel or sense an immediate change, but in thankful expectancy we go forward confessing that God has heard our request and has begun the change in us. In time change will manifest itself visibly.
Empty of self, surrendering to God’s will and serving others; we fulfill His plan for our life.
Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me. Do not cast me from your presence or take your Holy Spirit from me. Restore to me the joy of your salvation and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me. — Psalm 51:10-12

Find strength to work with our theme song video by @Bryan_Duncan http://youtu.be/swNgb9ya6WM

Resources:
Life Recovery Bible
The Twelve Steps for Christians
Follow The Solid Rock Road: Pathway to Radical Recovery by Jamee Rae Pineda and Sherry Colby
Recovery: The Twelve Steps as Spiritual Practice by Rami Shapiro

Coming in July from Reaching Hurting Women!

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Working the Steps :: Step 7

In the first six steps we admitted powerlessness over our dependencies, turned our life over to God, looked honestly at ourselves, revealed hidden weaknesses, and became ready to change. Step Seven is the opportunity for God to remove our weaknesses. 




Feminism: Mystique or Mistake? (Renewing the Heart)

BOOK REVIEW: 


Feminism: Mystique or Mistake?

by Diane Passno


A candid look at today’s feminist movement and how it has affected every level of society.


                                                                                  



Virtues ~n~ Vices :: HUMILITY

Next to love, humility is one of the most important virtues. Without humility it’s impossible for us to grow, simply because we don’t think we need to!






Healing Hurts :: Damaged Self-Image

What do you base your self-image on? Media influence, peer pressure, latest fashion trends? I think it’s safe to say most women struggle with their self-image. Let’s confront this battle head on and find answers that will lead to healing.







Look for these articles punctuated by beautiful music each week in July! 


Blessings… Tamara

Working the Steps: Step 6

Step 6: We were entirely ready to have God remove all these defects of character.

Having completed Steps One through Five, we may be tempted to stop here. But some of the most important work is yet unfinished. In Steps One and Two, we recognized our powerlessness and came to believe in a power greater than ourselves. In Step Three, we turned our will and our life over to God. In Steps Four and Five we faced the truth about ourselves and then admitted that truth to God, ourselves and to another person.

We are now aware of our faults and realize the need for their removal. God can’t change us until we’re willing and so far we haven’t asked Him to change us. In working Step Six we become ready to have God bring about the needed changes in our lives. This step isn’t an action step but rather spiritual and emotional work, preparing us to release our weaknesses to God.

These needed changes require cooperative effort. God plants the desire and provides direction. We bring a willing heart ready for the action required. We mustn’t try this alone but instead let go and let God. He is the only one who can change us.

As we work the program one day at a time, our willingness to surrender will increase. We may be fearful of giving up our trusted coping skills; faulty or not, they got us through many painful times in our life. We must trust God to reshape us; He won’t remove any character traits we need.

God is working in you, giving you the desire and the power to do what pleases Him. ~ Phil 2:13

Take a moment. Close your eyes and put yourself in God’s hands.


Trust the Master Craftsman, He only wants the best for you. 

Take it Step by Step with @Bryan_Duncan http://youtu.be/swNgb9ya6WM 

Working the Steps–Step 7

Continuing my goal to work The Twelve Steps, one Step for each month of the year; focusing on Step 7 for July…

Step Seven:
Humbly asked God to remove our shortcomings.

Step Seven is critical to the cleansing process and will prepare us for the next stages of our recovery. In the first six steps, we became aware of our problems, looked at ourselves honestly, revealed hidden parts of ourselves and became ready to change.

Step Seven is the opportunity for God to remove these hidden areas. If you are anything like me, your list is long and painful to reflect on. That pain may bring us to our knees, but what better place to humble ourselves before the Lord in prayer.

We must not hold anything back. It is only in surrendering everything to Him, that we will find true healing and freedom. We must take the inventory list and give each item to God; only then will we experience the serenity that brings the true joy we seek.

Going down the list of shortcomings can cause us to dwell on our self. To take our mind off self, we can meditate on Christ’s presence in our life, on being free to live life following His example. We will soon begin to care more for others and put our self in proper perspective. We will begin to understand who we are and find joy in becoming the person God wants us to be.

To truly humble ourselves in the biblical sense, we must see ourselves as God see us. This can be difficult when our entire life as been spent seeing our self as worthless. By reading and meditating on God’s word regularly we will find the value God sees in us and His plan for our life. We must empty our self like Christ did, surrender to God’s will, serve others and thereby fulfill God’s plan for our life.

It takes faith and courage to ask God to remove our shortcomings. We must trust that God hears us when we pray and believe He wants to answer us. We may not feel or sense an immediate change, but in thankfulness we can go forward confessing that God has heard our request and has begun the change in us. In time change will come to our sight.

Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me. Do not cast me from your presence or take your Holy Spirit from me. Restore to me the joy of your salvation and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me. — Psalm 51:10-12

Originally posted January, 9, 2009

Working the Steps: Step 6

Having been out of town the better part of the month, I’m late posting June’s 12 Step work. Better late than never 😉 Blessings…

Step 6: Were entirely ready to have God remove all these defects of character.

Getting ready for God to remove character defects in itself is a process. Some character defects are like old friends, comfortable and available.

We can’t even get ready with out God’s help!

In Steps One and Two we realized our powerlessness and found God’s Power to be greater than ours. Step Three we turned our life and our will over to God. Steps Four and Five we admitted hard truths to God, to ourselves and to another person.

Now in Step 6 we wait for God to do some internal work on our hearts. It’s not an action step on our part, but rather preparation that will enable us to become ready to release our character faults when the time comes in Step 7.

This is not quick work. Most of our character defects have been deeply ingrained in us since childhood. These patterns of behavior were often used as coping mechanisms in a traumatic environment. It will take time and practice to switch from our comfortable character defect to trusting God and allowing Him to be completely in control.

We must see our faults not as comfortable friends but harmful behaviors that have begun to control our lives. Once we know the truth about our faults and what must be removed; we can overcome our fears and with God’s help, gather our self in readiness to go forward in recovery.

Humble yourself before the Lord and He will lift you up.~ James 4:10

Moldable Clay

I was raised in a dysfunctional home, with an alcoholic, womanizing father and a mother who seemingly stood by and let it all happen. I grew into a rebellious, promiscuous teenager moving from one sexual relationship to another searching for something, I didn’t know what. Having not dealt with the issues of my childhood, I unknowingly brought to adulthood a lot of anger and resentment. I was always a chameleon of sorts, trying to be all things to all people, to make everyone like me, to be the person I thought they wanted me to be. On the outside I appeared to have it together; I was pretty, successful and independent. Inside I had a determination that I was never going to let people take advantage of me like my mother had let others run over her. I had an I’ll get them before they get me mentality. Over the years my heart became so hardened, it’s a wonder I didn’t fall over from a heart attack. Through a series of events a few years ago, God allowed circumstances to take place that literally brought me to my knees; broke me and my hard heart into pieces. Shortly after, in December 2004, I turned my life and my crumbled heart over to Jesus Christ.

In recent years I’ve taken up Yoga. I’ve found it to be an excellent time of meditation with the Lord early in the morning before I start my day. Not long ago, during my yoga/meditation time, I was reflecting on my hard hearted days. I cried out to the Lord, to please not let my heart become hardened again; to keep me moldable in His hands. Later, I was thinking…

How do we keep our selves from becoming hardened? Can we prevent it in anyway? Once our hearts are softened, how do we stay moldable in our Father’s Hands? Can we keep ourselves from being tossed to the ground, broken, possibly reusable?

I don’t know that I have the answers to all these questions. Certainly, I welcome any comments from my readers. I can only speak from my own life experience, where I look back and find I became a dry, brittle piece of nothing the further I walked away from God. Sure that way of life may seem comfortable for a time, but eventually reality will set in and with it unexpected consequences. The Source of true love is a warm, welcoming place, but if we continue in our own way we can expect nothing but a cold, darkness that will only lead to death and destruction.

The way a piece of clay stays moldable is to be in the potter’s hands constantly being moistened, stretched and shaped. As human vessels of clay we must stay close to our Heavenly Father’s hands; regularly submersed in The Bible and in prayer. As we look into the mirror of God’s Word it reflects back to us the areas where we need change. Not that we can change ourselves, mind you, but once we are aware of the need for change, it becomes much easier and a little less painful as The Holy Spirit does the work in our hearts. Like a baby in the arms of her father, we will find unconditional love and acceptance, warmth and protection, guidance and security. When we step away from that security, we set ourselves up for the bitter winds of the world to dry our spirit into a hard, unchangeable rock.

I don’t know about you, but I’ve lived far too many years like that to take any chances again. Today, as most days, in my yoga/meditation time, I asked the Lord yet again…”Please keep me soft, pliable and moldable in your hands.” Whatever it takes, I don’t ever want to get far enough away that I even have a hint of dryness coming over me. It so much easier to make a correction during the molding process than it is after the clay has hardened. With our heart it’s the same way. I encourage you, if you don’t already, get into God’s Word. He has so many wonderful things to tell you and show you. You will be amazed. You will find Life!

I came that they may have and enjoy life, and have it in abundance (to the full, till it overflows). — John 10:10