SJB

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For today’s Ripple, I asked my good friend, Samuel J. Blandina, to write an account of an experience he had a few weeks back. [That’s him on the far right at one of our men’s retreats]

SJB here.  I was at the gym where I do some work out of two weeks ago, just working out on my own. As a corrective exercise specialist I often see BAD stuff in the gym, as in, awful form, poor exercise choice, etc. My greatest challenge is not to judge in arrogance, which breeds contempt, one of satan’s very effective tools. If I see the bad, and don’t speak His name–Jesus, I drop my shield and get reamed by evil as I judge the other into oblivion. In this particular instance of witnessing what I did not approve of, I said not a word, but my body talk was blatantly condeming near a trainer working with a client. And I was called out for it. Ouch!  The trainer said to me, “Go shake your head somewhere else.” I was crushed, ashamed, and felt like I’d been slapped in the face. It took about 60 seconds before I could hear Jesus, “Go now and humble yourself.” So I go up to this young man and tell him I was wrong and ask him to please forgive me. I almost left in shame right then, but stayed to finish what I intended to do for my workout. I was in turmoil.

All day long I could hear that rebuking sentence, “Go shake your head somewhere else,” and it just despaired my heart. It hurt deeply. I prayed for clarity and peace, as I was torn and restless. I heard scripture: “If you bring your gift to the altar, and have ought against your brother or sister, leave your gift there, go reconcile yourself to them, then come back and offer your gift.” OK.  So I went to bed. It took a bit to fall to sleep … I woke at 3am, and my heart was calm….Jesus.

I saw this person as I was working with a client later in the week. I thought I would call, or send a card to apologize, but knew face to face was the necessary, and hardest, thing to do. So be it. Face to face I confessed my unprofessional and immature behavior, and asked for forgiveness. He was most gracious and kind. A huge weight was lifted off me. And I realized that was the richest gift I could ever receive. And it came from the power under, the unseen, intangible, yep, His name again, Jesus. He has changed me.

Without saying a word we can cause as much harm (with our body language) as we can with words.

Keep that armor on.

We are at war….

Holy Affirmations

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One of my favorite authors, A.W. Tozer, set for himself what he called “holy affirmations.” These were agreements he made for himself that significantly enhanced his Christian walk.

He shared his own personal agreements, not to tell everyone to do the exact same, but to get you started on thinking of and crafting your own as needed specifically for you. Here are his:

  • Determine before God never to own anything. He did not mean here to literally have zero possessions. He lived by the principle that anything you are not willing to give up actually owns you. So to own nothing meant to be detached from all things, even if they are in your possession. “Take everything and say that God has it. Do not imagine for a minute that if you give God 10 percent, you are okay and can keep the remaining 90 percent. God must have 100 percent…If there is anything that you own that God cannot have, you cannot have God. God has a right to command whatever He wants the moment He wants it.”
  • Never defend myself. This is a tough one, particularly for Americans, Tozer said. To let God defend you. But I am telling you from my own personal experience, that it is the better way to go. There’s been a few times in which I was thought to have said or did something I simply did not say or do. Instead of defending myself, which usually ends up making you look guiltier than before anyway, I took it to God, gave it to Him, and trusted Him to defend me. And you know what? He did. This one time I’m thinking of, for instance, someone contacted me the day after accusing me of saying something pretty awful, and apologized, for he remembered that it was in fact not me who said it. Thank you, Lord! That went way better than trying to argue my case.
  • Never defame a fellow Christian. How important is this one?? To set a fence up against the toxic territory of gossip and slander of any kind against our brothers and sisters. “By this, I mean never believe evil about him or speak an evil report about him. Remember your past and your own tendency to give in to temptation. I think sometimes the Spirit of God shuts Himself up tight and cannot come upon us because we have defamed a brother or sister Christian. Such an evil report becomes a weapon in the devil’s hand.”
  • Never receive or accept any glory.  Oh how we love glory and getting credit. I love how Dallas Willard would advocate praying for the success of others, even those you don’t particularly like. And the spiritual discipline of secrecy–doing good that no one could possibly know about, and then not telling anyone! Just between you and Papa Yahweh. Kind of the opposite of Michael Scott for those of you who have ever watched “The Office.” There was an episode where he was talking about how he’d like to someday donate anonymously the money to build a hospital, and how we would plan to stand by the “Funded Anonymously” sign and tell passersby, “Hey, you know who did that? Me. I funded that.”

Praise

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Psalm 150

Let everything that has breath praise the Lord.

I came across the richest, beautifullest definition of praise yesterday.

Praise is the joyful recognition that we are not the center of the universe, and the grateful acknowledgement that Someone Else is and always will be.

I never really thought of it quite like that before. But that does seem to capture the beautiful essence of praise.

It is good to praise God. Not only is to good for us, but I believe it blesses God as well. Somehow, God is honored by our praise. Maybe it has to do with God’s self-limitation combined with His high value on relationship with us humans. Maybe it’s kinda like when a child compliments you or draws you a picture. You love it, appreciate it, are honored and affirmed by it, but you don’t really need it…or do you?

Perhaps as you are praising God today, however that may look for you, this naming of what you are deeply doing will inspire you and affirm just how important it is to do what you are doing.