Tag Archives: faith

Hubris: My Journey through Psalms (10)

Psalm 10

Hubris, the greatest flaw of every hero be it tragic, epic, or romantic, throughout literature and history excessive pride always goes before the fall of almost every man or nation.

Which begs the question: why do we still allow ourselves to be puffed up with egos the size of the Chrysler building?
Because it feels good. It feels right. It is our natural inclination.

But it is also our natural inclination to sin, so just because it feels good and feels right, doesn’t mean it is what is good and right for our benefit or for God’s glory.

In his pride the wicked man does not seek him [the Lord]; in all his thoughts there is no room for God. His ways are prosperous; your laws are rejected by him; he sneers at all his enemies. He says to himself, ” Nothing will ever shake me.” He swears, “Now one will ever do me harm.” His mouth is full of lies and threats. trouble and evil are under his tongue. […] He says to himself, “God will never notice; he covers his face and never sees.” Psalm 10: 4-7;  11
They say pride goes before a fall. True. But pride also separates us from the Lord, because when we puff ourselves up, we push out all the other things in our lives that used to have priority. The Lord is the first to go, because he is supposed to have first priority, now we do. Then our family, friends, and the things we used to love to make time for. Slowly our identity shifts and we barely recognize ourselves–though we still physically may be the same person we’ve been consumed by greed and pride and become a vile creature, unacceptable to God and to the people who once were so important in our lives.

Excessive pride isolates, changes and extorts from us the value and peace of our purposeful lives. And it doesn’t look pretty in the end.

Macbeth had his head cut off.
Oedipus scratched his own eyes out.
Arthur’s brains oozed from his head.
Beowulf was killed by a dragon.
Nebuchadnezzar wandered for over 5 years (7? 8?), insane in the desert.

All because of pride.

If nothing else, Psalm 10 teaches us to take a look at our own lives and see where the excessive pride is and eliminate it. Have we been struggling with a problem that we need help with but are too stubborn to ask for guidance on? Do we need to confess something to a life group, partner, or friend? Have we built up a personal empire and rely on that wealth to protect us rather than God? Do we put more faith in something other than God to sustain us? Where is the pride in our lives?


Questions to ponder:
It’s not a matter of if I have excessive pride but where is the excessive pride in my life?
Who can be an accountability partner to help eliminate and guard against the pride taking over my life?
Why is it important to continually guard against pride (especially in the first world)?

The Artist’s Way Week 5-6: It’s not a Cosmic Power Struggle, Ashley

“Most of us never consider how powerful the creator really is. Instead, we draw very limited amounts of power available to us. We decide how powerful God is for us” (Julia Cameron, The Artist’s Way).

I have very high standards for myself. Maybe sometimes too high, which is why when I see a job that needs to be done I assume that I am the only one who can do the job well or even right. Maybe that makes me overly critical of others, but what I know it does is point out my major weakness: knowing when to delegate. I tend to want to have control over the situation. Someone who looks at life more negatively might call me a control freak, but I like to consider myself a task-oriented perfectionist.

Stop rolling your eyes.

However you see or interpret these character traits, I know others struggle with similar habits. Personally, I struggle to see anything beyond the practical as being useful, which in turn makes my artist-self cry.

Why do I limit myself? Why would anyone limit themselves in this way?

“Drawing on the limited power available to me” is exhausting and, quite frankly, lonely (Julia Cameron, The Artist’s Way). This is why I find team work so empowering—sure, it frustrates me, but when we all put our limited powers together we can accomplish much more (that’s why group work can be powerful too—yes, there is always a weak link, but yes it is more effective sometimes. Students, stop rolling your eyes.).

Like Captain Planet (Yes, I’m stuck in the 90s—deal with it). Earth, fire, wind, water: When our powers combine…(and you’re welcome for having that theme song in your head for the rest of the day)

Alone, Earth is only able to accomplish tasks that require terra firma attention. But what about pollution in the oceans? He needs help! So they combine to form ultimate power: Captain Planet, taking pollution down to zero (not just 30% or whatever).

Beyond that, God is not Captain Planet. We don’t summon our own powers together to create Him. So if together we create a unique kind of power, how much more powerful is our creator when we stop “limiting our flow by anthropomorphizing God” (Julia Cameron, The Artist’s Way)?

God is not a “capricious parent figure” (Julia Cameron, The Artist’s Way). He has more power than we can imagine and when we open ourselves up to that possibility, God becomes less man-made. He’s no longer the Jesus with the nicely trimmed beard and white robes, blue sash and striking Bradley Cooper blue eyes. He’s rugged, raw and untamed. Most importantly He’s powerful—able to reach beyond the limited self-image you’ve boxed in for yourself and help you reach for the stars—or better yet, the Milky Way, because we might as well aim for a big cosmic goal with a God like that on our side.

Our society tells us that we have to have more—but what if more doesn’t mean “STUFF”—crap—made in Taiwan electronics that fill you with radiation, damage your retinas and rot your brain?

What if more means more of…you? More of a sense of self…of possibility of experience?

What if we stopped putting our faith in the dollar and started believing in something authentic?

If we really believed in this kind of authenticity, would our beliefs about God change? Would our beliefs about ourselves, our jobs, our futures—any of it change?

Which begs the question, how do we shift our perspective and our lives to start believing more in what is real and less in the constructed realities?

Local Paragons VIII: Krankies Coffee

Krankies Coffee is located at 211 East Third Street in Downtown Winston Salem, North Carolina (though there is a secondary location on Reynolda Road). Stocking, selling and re-selling specialty, high quality coffees, Krankies keeps Winston Salem honest about local brews and “support[s] farmers that forgo industrial agricultural and processing practices for lower impact methods that support soil health.”

Local Color: <3 <3 <3 <3 <3                    Food/drink: <3 <3 <3

  The door was propped open, allowing the crisp spring air to accompany Lucy into the dark coffee house where she had decided to take her mid-morning planning session. It was further down Fourth Street than Camino, but she doubted that Saul would be at Krankies this time of day and what she wanted right now was to be alone.

“What can I get for you?” the slightly bohemian barista slunk behind the counter and looked at Lucy through half closed eyelids.

“Americano,” she said. Today she would keep it simple.

“Right on,” he said slurring the two syllables into one mumbled monosyllabic response. Lucy paid with a five, then stuffed her change in her pocket and headed toward the back. Though the coffeehouse had been under construction for months, the room was taking on a nice shape, and perfect for getting work done—which is what Lucy needed to do.

She had been working for over an hour when the woman approached her asking simply, “May I borrow this chair, sweetheart?”

Lucy looked around and noticed the room had filled, but the woman clearly just wanted a place to read. Lucy nodded, then went back to her work as the woman took a seat, her long, flowing skirt settling around her ankles as she settled in to read. Purple fabric stood out against the wooden chairs, the peacock feather motif made Lucy feel as though a dozen eyes were probing at her as she worked. She tried not to look at the striking woman, but her gaze kept wandering to the other end of the small table. Her wrists were covered in silver bangles, resting solidly against her soft, wrinkled skin. The peasant blouse she wore tied in the front, and flowed as easily as her skirt, but this was nothing compared to her hair. Not just grey, but a brilliant silver, it fell in a silky cascade from the top of her skull all the way down her back so that she was almost but not quite sitting on it.

“You look like you need to talk,” the woman’s voice interrupted Lucy’s thoughts again.

“I beg your pardon?” Lucy looked at her, blushing and hoping the other woman hadn’t noticed her staring.

“You’ve been looking at the same page in your notebook even before I sat down. Something else must be on your mind.” Her book was still open, but she studied Lucy with eyes that nearly took up her entire face.

“I suppose,” Lucy began, thinking as she spoke. “I suppose I do have a lot on my mind, but I’m not really sure I’m ready to talk about it. Honestly, I came here so I wouldn’t have to talk about it.” She’d been avoiding Chris, and though she’d gone out with Saul once this week she was exhausted.

“Fair enough,” the woman nodded as she spoke. “But the offer is open if you change your mind.” And she went back to her book.

Lucy tried to concentrate on her own work.

“You know the last time I traveled overseas I took this same book with me. Didn’t get very far that time either.” The woman shut the book firmly. “I’m Rebekah.”

“Lucy,” she turned in her chair, resigning herself to the conversation and almost relieved. “Did you say you were traveling overseas?”

“Yes,” Rebekah nodded, the long slivery earrings jangling as she nodded her head. “I just got back from my last pilgrimage to Jerusalem.”

“Jerusalem?” Lucy’s brow lifted, impressed. “That sounds pretty much amazing.”

“Have you been?”

“To Jerusalem?” Lucy asked. Rebekah nodded, and Lucy shook her head. “Not me. I’ve never been anywhere.”

“You’re young,” Rebekah said, patting her hand. “You have plenty of time to see things like the Western Wall where my people gather each day to pray, swarming together as if of one mind, asking Yahweh to heal our troubled world.”

“That’s lovely,” Lucy said. “And haunting. It makes my life seem so insignificant—petty even.”

“No one’s life is petty, Lucy, but how you live it. Now that’s where you start feeling alive. And faith, real faith, has a lot to do with that.” Rebekah smiled, taking a sip of her coffee, then looking down into it she pursed her lips. “It’s kind of like this coffee. Everyone thinks Starbucks is the real deal when it comes to coffee, but it’s really too commercialized to be authentic anymore. It holds a shadow of what it once was. Don’t get me wrong, Lucy. Starbucks still tastes good, but it is too sugary and marked up to be real. Faith, true faith, is like coffee from a local place—authentic and earthy; you order a shot of espresso here and you feel something. It’s pressed straight and not watered down or sugared up. That’s what real faith is like. An authentic espresso is so strong it keeps you awake at night, makes your heart palpitate, and widens your eyes. Faith should do the same.”Lucy looked down at her espresso; the foam was circling the top of the cup.

“I can’t have that kind of faith,” Lucy said quietly. “My—friend—Saul, you know, we’ve had similar conversations. But I just, well I just can’t.”

Rebekah pushed up the sleeves of her peasant blouse and crossed her arms over her chest. She rested her hands on the table to study Lucy.

“God doesn’t, well, he doesn’t care about us—well at least not about me.”

“Where did you get a notion like that from, darlin’?” Rebekah looked genuinely concerned. Lucy swirled the espresso in her drink.

Lucy thought it was strange that Rebekah didn’t ask about Saul. She didn’t really want Rebekah to ask about Saul. She didn’t really want to talk at all.

“That’s alright,” Rebekah said. “You don’t have to say anything. But I want you to know how wrong you are—people don’t want to hear that, but God does love you, honey. Just remember that whatever happened to make you think otherwise is, well, is just a lie.”

Blinking, Lucy opened and closed her mouth, unable to respond.

“There I go again, my bluntness can be somewhat—“

“No, no,” Lucy shook her head. “I’m not of-offended. I just, I don’t really know what to say, Rebekah. I don’t, well you see, I don’t even know you.”

“Understandable,” she looked at her watch. Lucy noticed it was vintage Betty Boop. “How about we meet again? Let’s say—West End Café? In a week? Here’s my card.” She slid it across the table.

Lucy picked it up, studied it and then looked at Rebekah again. Nothing but sincerity shone back from her beautifully aged eyes.

“Okay,” she said, nodding her head. “Does 11:30 work for you?”