God–My Witness, My Husband, Pt. II

A great flick, Shall We Dance, check it out. “We need a witness to our lives…”

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“We need a witness to our lives. There’s a billion people on the planet, what does any one life really mean? But in a marriage, you’re promising to care about everything. The good things, the bad things, the terrible things, the mundane things, all of it, all of the time, every day. You’re saying ‘Your life will not go unnoticed because I will notice it. Your life will not go un-witnessed because I will be your witness’.”

(excerpted from the film, Shall We Dance)

Today Mark witnessed my puny mood–hot steam burning my hand as I lifted the pot lid too rapidly (and whining–ouch!)–a good report for ministry completed–and finally getting the Netflix password to work (it was right all along…)

Not much. Not too significant. But because he’s here, my husband–showing up day in and day out–he’s my witness. I’m thankful. Hopefully, he’s thankful.

Husband here or not, as God’s child, you — me — we have a witness. Your life will not go un-witnessed…

Perhaps you’ve heard someone exclaim: “As God is my witness!!” And he’d be right – God is, was, will be–his witness.

He is the God who is there and here. Intimate, companion, friend – not only looking on, but looking in. Understanding what’s inside more than I do. Loving what He sees more than I do.

God, the one who sees–He is my witness. Sound scary? Only if you don’t want Him in on what you’re doing. Still, I’m comforted.

As John Ortberg wrote:

“God relentlessly pursues us because all he has ever wanted is to be with us.”

I heard of a sad marriage where the man wanted to be intimate with his wife but she’d only married him to have a child. Once she had their daughter, she stopped being his wife–in every sense of the word.

He was rejected. Wanted for what he offered, not for himself–and finally, discarded.

Sad. True too often.

God, my husband, can relate. Too often, I might come to Him, anticipating His gifts, blessings, promises–and forgetting the Main Gift: Himself.

I don’t want to do that.

As God is my witness. I want to want Him for Him alone.

Agree? Sign here_____________ (as a witness.) Join me in seeking God, thanking God–your husband, my husband (yes, in this case–we can share)–that He is One who is here, relentlessly pursuing because all He has ever wanted is to be with us.

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“LORD, you alone are my inheritance, my cup of blessing. You guard all that is mine.”

Psalm 16:5 (NLT)

 

Prayer for today:

Dear God in Heaven,

I’m not sure I think of you in terms of intimacy. I think I keep You off to the side of my life too often. I wear masks even though You see and know all things. Please forgive me for not allowing You into the deepest recesses of my heart. I repent of living for myself, by myself. I repent of not seeking Your presence. I repent of looking everywhere but You for my heart’s deepest enjoyment and pleasure. Remind me when I stray. Help me remember You have never left my side.

Thank You that you long to be intimate with me and that you continue to pursue me. Help me respond. I renew my vows to You now, great Lover of my soul. Thank You. Amen.

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LORD, you alone are my inheritance, my cup of blessing. You guard all that is mine. Psalm 16:5

You, alone. My witness.

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Feast on Friday: Chocolate Chip Banana Bread Knows No Borders

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It all began with a banana or six.

IMG_2431We grew up on Mrs. Cianfrini’s Banana Bread recipe – the secret was in the sour milk. My kids think the secret is in the chocolate chips.

Feast on Friday: Chocolate Chip Banana Bread Knows No Borders
Author: 
Recipe type: Tea Parties and After School Snacks
Cuisine: American as overripe bananas
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 1 loaf
 
We made our own "buttermilk" with a tad of vinegar in a bit of milk-- start this before making the rest and it's curdled in time. Easy to double, although one "recipe" makes these four mini-loaves - great for hostess gifts or for mailing to starving college students.
Ingredients
  • 1 cup sugar
  • ½ cup oil
  • 1 egg
  • 3 mashed bananas
  • 1 t. baking soda
  • ½ t. salt
  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 T. buttermilk
  • 1 t. vanilla
  • 1 cup chocolate chips
Instructions
  1. Make sour milk (see summary notes) if no buttermilk
  2. Mix sugar, oil, and egg
  3. Stir baking soda into the mashed bananas
  4. Add flour and salt intermittently with bananas
  5. Mix in vanilla and chocolate chips

 

Sometimes you just have to rewrite the recipe card so the legacy lives on.

FullSizeRenderDanny and Ivon love it best right out of the oven–wouldn’t you? A delicious bread without borders.

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Tuesday’s Taste & See: He’s Not Leaving

O, taste and see that the Lord is good; blessed is the one who takes refuge in Him.

Psalm 34:8

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Bonnie’s 5th grade class was off to Yosemite for a whole week. Parents–nervous parents, hovering parents–met on a Thursday night for last minute instructions. Many had questions. Apprehensive, uneasy questions. Their bright darlings had never been away from home for a weekend, much less a week.

I sat in their midst with nary a worry or question. I know. Not like me. For once, my hands stayed in my lap, a smile on my face. Cheshire-like.

Why?

I didn’t need to worry. Bonnie didn’t need to worry. Her daddy was going with her. (Yea!)

Mark–the designated camp doctor would be near-at-hand, closeby, at the ready for any and all her needs (and forty-five others.)

Plaid is contagious.

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Of course I wasn’t worried. If you had a Man-in-Plaid-Eagle-Scout-MD along–would you worry? Nope.

I wish I never worried. My Father in heaven is on every field-trip, excursion, and late-night call, 24/7.

I wish I always remembered. Taste and see (He’s not leaving.)

God said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.” (Hebrews 13:5)

I like that old-fashioned “forsake.” I also like the new-fashioned New Living Translation:

“I will never fail you; I will never abandon you.”

I really like that word never. I can’t argue with never. Nor can you. Well, we both can argue, but it doesn’t change the fact: God won’t leave.

Your dad may have left. Your mom. Your kids. Your spouse. Abandonment hurts. It leaves a deep hole. Easy to fall into. But even in the deepest, darkest hole–your Father is there.

Believe what He said. Bank on His character. 

“Faith, by its very nature must be tried, and the real trial of faith is not that we find it difficult to trust God, but that God’s character has to be cleared in our own minds.”

Oswald Chambers, My Utmost for His Highest (October 30)

O, taste and see that you’re not alone, ever; your Father in heaven loves you to the ends of the earth and back–He’s your refuge. He’ll never leave. Today’s Psalm 34:8

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God–My Maker, My Husband

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I’m a bigamist–in the best sense of the word. Maybe you are, too. (Is there a best sense?)

I have two husbands; one is perfect, the other one is not. Of course, as soon as I married the not-so-perfect one, I found out I also was imperfect. Funny how that works. Funny as in: it wasn’t funny at the time.

Married or not, how is God–our Maker–also our Husband?

One way is this: He’s our Provider and Protector.

When single, I met a younger woman who was very spiritual; she said she didn’t want nor need to get married because Jesus was her husband.

I thought that sounded a little strange, but I knew I wasn’t as spiritual as she was–I was still holding out for a human husband.

Shortly after that time, I was traveling (alone) and needed some practical husband-type help:

I had too much to carry. I didn’t know how I was going to get me and everything with me to my car after I flew into the airport.

I asked God to be my husband.

When I got to the airport, I found a cart just sitting in the middle of the aisle — I didn’t even need quarters!  And someone had left my car parked very close to the terminal. I smiled as I thought, “Okay, Lord, I asked, and You provided.”

A small provision? Yes. But God, my Husband, is into details. My details.  As someone said, “If it matters to you, it matters to God.”

 

One of the ways God is your husband is because He is our Provider and our Protector. So tiny, our needs sometimes, yet His provision so typical of His loving care.

Do you know God in that way? If so, you know Him as your Husband.

What are your favorite Bible verses that remind you of His provision and protection? You all need one! Ask God for one this week.

Here’s a good one–Psalm 91:1-7 (NLT):

Those who live in the shelter of the Most High
will find rest in the shadow of the Almighty.
2 This I declare about the Lord:
He alone is my refuge, my place of safety;
he is my God, and I trust him.
3 For he will rescue you from every trap
and protect you from deadly disease.
4 He will cover you with his feathers.
He will shelter you with his wings.
His faithful promises are your armor and protection.
5 Do not be afraid of the terrors of the night,
nor the arrow that flies in the day.
6 Do not dread the disease that stalks in darkness,
nor the disaster that strikes at midday.
7 Though a thousand fall at your side,
though ten thousand are dying around you,
these evils will not touch you.

Sometimes we just need to renew our vows.

Dear God, my husband,

I think I don’t rely on you enough to provide for me. I know that’s true because I still get anxious. I still try to do things on my own. I come to You last – or second or third. And when I come, I still don’t believe You will help me.

I repent of my lack of trust in Who You’ve said You are: my Husband, Provider and Protector. I re-commit my vows to you today: to believe You, to trust You, to live in the shadow of Your wings and not fret. Amen.

“For your Maker is your husband—the Lord Almighty is His name—the Holy One of Israel is your Redeemer; He is called the God of all the earth.” Isaiah 54:5

IMG_2344Centerpiece by Judi Peet; Grace Church, SLO Women’s Bible Study, 2015.

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Feast on Friday: Potatoes and Eggs A’la Butter

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I’m wondering if it’s a sin to post a recipe which boasts two cubes of butter?

It’s Hungarian. Does that make a difference? I never knew blogging food could include a theological controversy. God made butter–that is, cows– and, Hungarians. So I may be in the clear.

I had some thin-skinned white potatoes that needed using and a brunch to attend, so Google gave me this sinfully delicious dish – I dare you to try it. Add a cup of leftover Christmas ham to make it a main dish. Or try two cups of fresh spinach to assuage the butter-guilt.

I may next time. Then again, I’m under grace.

Here’s the two cubes melted with sour cream. I used vegan sour cream (a long story for another time – a long, long time)–does that help? At all?

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Feast on Friday: Potatoes and Eggs A'la Butter
Author: 
Recipe type: Rich
Cuisine: Hungarian (honest)
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 8
 
"Slice potatoes are layered with hard-boiled eggs and baked with a rich sauce of sour cream and margarine." --Allrecipes.com Make that butter and you'll be fine. The easiest part is the sauce. . . melt, stir and pour. I added about 3 pieces of cooked, crumbled bacon--just because I had it. Wouldn't you? I was serving young moms. They need bacon.
Ingredients
  • 6 potatoes
  • 8 eggs
  • seasoning salt to taste
  • 1 cup butter/margarine
  • 1 - 16 oz. sour cream
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven 350 degrees
  2. Bring large pot of salted water to a boil.
  3. Add potatoes and cook til tender but still firm, no more than 15 minutes.
  4. Drain, cool, peel and slice.
  5. Now this was a new trick: place eggs in a saucepan and cover with cold water. Bring to a boil and immediately remove from heat. Cover and let eggs stand in hot water for 10-12 minutes (I was nervous they wouldn't be boiled...they were. Hungarians know their eggs.)
  6. Remove from water, cool, peel and slice.
  7. In a 9x13 casserole, layer potatoes and eggs, sprinkling each layer of eggs with seasoning salt (Mom swore by Lawry's so I do that kind of swearing, too, especially if I don't have it on hand), ending with the potatoes
  8. In a small saucepan, over low heat, melt the butter with sour cream.
  9. Stir til smooth
  10. Pour over potatoes and sprinkle lightly with seasoning salt
  11. Bake 30 minutes.

 

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Served it alongside a simple stuffed French Toast. I found some pie cherries in the fridge along with some pecans and butter (shhh…) to round out the Hungarians with the French. Friends from years back, I’m sure.

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Here’s why: four different decades of women (Liz, 78- me, 62- Deb, 55-Molly, 47) pouring into young moms yearning to be the women God created them to be.

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All were sweet, vulnerable, honest and endearing. Ashley hosted because she has more toys than I do.

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A lovely morning. I suggest you all do one of these in the next two weeks. Invite one older and one younger and ask: “What are you crying out to God for right now?” Pure gold all around.

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The Hungarians would’ve been proud.

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Taste on Tuesdays: A Taste Worth Repeating

O, taste and see that the Lord is good; blessed is the one who finds refuge in Him.

Psalm 34:8

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I found my first copy of Hudson’s Taylor’s Spiritual Secret in my folk’s guest bathroom. They had two bathrooms – the big, pink one and the little green one – books in both. More obscure ones in the little one. Maybe Mom hoped we’d pick one up and read it and our lives would never be the same.

It worked.

When I finished  Spiritual Secret, I knelt at the rocker in the front room (no one was home) and cried. I’m sorry I’ve lost that original copy. I try and read it every three years or so, but I think it’s been more like five. I just got a new one:

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Some books are meant to be chewed slowly, page by page. Maybe even paragraph by paragraph. It’s a story, to be sure. One filled with history one shouldn’t miss. But it holds more than both story and history. I see a man so in love with God, so willing to do and be all for the sake of the people of China, so filled with self-denial and commitment and passion.

Life-changing.

At lunch today, I prayed my way through page 33 out on the front porch of Mission Thrift.

I’d forgotten I’d first heard this famous phrase from this humble man:

“Learn to move men by God through prayer alone.”

That’s a show-stopper. I stopped and prayed for those I loved. I needed an hour lunch. It didn’t happen, but I tasted God’s goodness through the life of Hudson Taylor. Again. And I will again, in three years or so. Seems I need the reminding. Besides, we have two Chinese living with us–much easier going than going–all the way to China in a slow boat, as they say and as Taylor did. Ivon and Danny take turns reading the “bread” verse every night before dinner. Praying the Word will do it’s work while they struggle through the English vocabulary. 

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I told Laurie to stock up on this book treasure at The Parable Bookstore – give her a call: (805) 543-6146.

O, taste and see how God was good to Hudson Taylor (and his wife Maria) in spite of the hardships (they counted them all joy) and challenges (they grew in faith believing); blessed am I when I see God as they did, count on Him, trust Him, run to Him for my refuge.

Today’s Psalm 34:8

What’s for lunch today? Try out this new taste. You might make it a yearly tradition.

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Praying God’s Blessing

FullSizeRenderPraying God’s blessing in your home. At your sink. In your garden. By the crib. At your desk. With your phone.

Invite Him in. Again. Today. Sometimes we just need to do that.

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We don’t have a priest who is out of touch with our reality. He’s been through weakness and testing, experienced it all—all but the sin. So let’s walk right up to Him and get what He is so ready to give. Take the mercy, accept the help.

Hebrews 4:16, The Message

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Feast on Friday: Go-To-Gusto–Not Your Grandma’s Food Truck (Oh, no)

You meet the nicest people at the thrift store! Darling Erin Mazzei was volunteering her time and doing a bang-up job, btw, when I asked casually — just because I like people –“So what does your husband do?” She replied, “We own a food truck!”

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Wow. A food truck! In sleepy little SLO town. Imagine! (I wonder if they go around our neighborhood, bells ringing just like the Winchell’s Donuts from years past?? I’ll need to figure out their routes and let you know.)

Introducing: Gusto on the Go Bistro!

  Erin mentioned she doesn’t cook but her husband does (lucky girl), and she graciously sent me three recipes to share with you: Balsamic-Dijon Lamb Chops, Melon-Tomato Salad, and Citrus-Honey Vinaigrette. Sounds heavenly and oh, so gourmet. Maybe we are in Portland, after all.

I’m thinking the dressing would be a pleasing taste treat on any salad this Spring!

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Citrus-Honey Vinaigrette
Author: 
Recipe type: Lunch or Dinner
Cuisine: Gourmet Food Truck
Prep time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 4-5
 
So far the most challenging part of this recipe is spelling vinaigrette. Almost as hard as spelling recipe.
Ingredients
  • 2 fresh medium-large oranges (about ½ cup of juice)
  • 4 Tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 Tablespoon red wine vinegar
  • 2 Tablespoon honey
  • ¼ teaspoon garlic powder
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon pepper
Instructions
  1. Roll oranges on the counter then slice in half (cool move)
  2. Squeeze oranges to yield about ½ cup
  3. Combine remaining ingredients with juice
  4. Pour over watermelon and grape tomatoes
  5. Sprinkle with feta

 

Melon Tomato Salad

yield: 4-6 servings
prep time: 15 minutes

small watermelon (chilled)
2 cups grape tomatoes
1/2 cup feta cheese
1/4 cup fresh basil leaves

Rinse the outside of the chilled watermelon, pat dry and cut into quarters. Continue to cut the watermelon (discarding the rind) into cubed pieces (about 4 cups) and place into large glass mixing bowl. Rinse grape tomatoes and slice in half; length wise. Add to the bowl with the watermelon and set aside. Roll oranges on the counter and then slice in half. Squeeze oranges to yield about 1/2 cup of juice into small mixing bowl. Combine the remaining ingredients for the vinaigrette and whisk together. Pour dressing over watermelon and tomatoes and toss until coated. Sprinkle feta cheese over the top and mix until incorporated throughout. Garnish with chopped basil leaves and serve.

BALSAMIC-DIJON LAMB CHOPS

(Not your grandma’s food truck recipe…)

yield: 2-4 servings
prep time: 35 minutes
cook time: 6 minutes

1 rack of lamb (about 8 chops)
1 Tablespoon vegetable oil

Balsamic-Dijon Marinade
1/2 cup Dijon mustard
1 garlic clove, minced
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
1 Tablespoon dry mint leaves
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper

Cut in between the bones on the rack of lamb to create individual chops. Trim any unwanted fat from edges. Combine ingredients for marinade in a large mixing bowl and place chops in mixture, coating each piece. Marinate for at least 30 minutes or longer.

Heat stainless steel pan (or cast iron skillet, if you have one) on medium-high to high heat with vegetable oil. As it is heating, swirl the oil around to get a thin coating over the bottom of the pan. Don’t over crowd the pan, leave about an inch between each chop to ensure even cooking (if you do not have a pan big enough, cook in batches). Once you’ve placed the meat gently in the pan, let it be for 2-3 minutes; it will stick to the bottom of the pan at first and then release naturally when seared. After a few minutes, shake the pan. If the meat releases from the pan, it’s ready to be flipped to other side. Sear for another 2-3 minutes ensuring that each side has formed a caramelized crust. Remove from pan, plate and enjoy!

Recipes courtesy Chris Mazzei, Gusto on the Go Bistro, www.gustoonthego.com

Adorable, no? Si!

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Be sure to check them out on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and Yelp!

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Taste on Tuesday: All He Ever Wanted

O, taste and see that the Lord is good; blessed is the one who finds refuge in Him.

Psalm 34:8

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“God relentlessly pursues us because all he has ever wanted is to be with us.”

John Ortberg, Soul Keeping

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God could have created us, then left us on our own to fend for ourselves. Instead we see Him walking with Adam and Eve in the garden just for the sake of being together. He relentlessly pursued at the Cross. He redeemed us so He can be with us.

I heard of sad marriage where the man wanted to be intimate with his wife but that she only married him to have a child. Once she had their daughter, she stopped being his wife, in every sense of the word.

He was wanted–but only for what he could give.

We might approach God, excited about all He could give us, counting on His blessings and gifts. (He says to ask, right?) But.

But, what? Do we take the gift and run, forgetting the Giver was the Gift?

David said the Lord was his inheritance. I thought money was our inheritance. Or peace. Good kids, good health, good benefits. No? David knew. He knew that all He ever wanted was to be with us. And he with Him.

Psalm 16:5 – “LORD, you alone are my inheritance, my cup of blessing. You guard all that is mine.”

How often do my prayers list my needs and wants rather than a simple, “Want to come along, Lord? I’m off to another day.” I think I find that true only when I stop my hurriedness.

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Tasting God’s goodness today? You may have to slow down. Even stop. Tell me how it goes. We can share the taste.

“O, taste and see His goodness in His presence; blessed are those who sit still enough to know Who they have–a relentless pursuer.” Today’s Psalm 34:8

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The Heart God Revives

Thanks for doing Lent with me. In case you joined in midway, here’s the list in totale so you can print it out and pin to the wall above your desk or tape on your mirror or make it your screensaver. A special thanks goes out to the fine folks at ReviveOurHearts for allowing me to share.

Wondering now…did God revive you during this time? It doesn’t take a special season; it does take a teachable spirit. I join Donald Miller in his prayer:

Yep. That about sums it up. It’s a process. We show up and ask and allow our loving Father to continue His good work in us. Gives me some confidence.

Philippians 1:6 comes to mind: “For I am confident of this very thing, that He who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus.

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The Heart God Revives

By Nancy Leigh DeMoss

Proud people focus on the failures others.
Broken people are overwhelmed with a sense of their own spiritual need.

Proud people have a critical, fault-finding spirit; they look at everyone else’s faults with a microscope but their own with a telescope.
Broken people are compassionate; they can forgive much because they know how much they have been forgiven.

Proud people are self-righteous; they look down on others.
Broken people esteem all others better than themselves.

Proud people have an independent, self-sufficient spirit.
Broken people have a dependent spirit; they recognize their need for others.

Proud people have to prove that they are right.
Broken people are willing to yield the right to be right.

Proud people claim rights; they have a demanding spirit.
Broken people yield their rights; they have a meek spirit.

Proud people are self-protective of their time, their rights, and their reputation.
Broken people are self-denying.

Proud people desire to be served.
Broken people are motivated to serve others.

Proud people desire to be a success.
Broken people are motivated to be faithful and to make others a success.

Proud people desire self-advancement.
Broken people desire to promote others.

Proud people have a drive to be recognized and appreciated.
Broken people have a sense of their own unworthiness; they are thrilled that God would use them at all.

Proud people are wounded when others are promoted and they are overlooked.
Broken people are eager for others to get the credit; they rejoice when others are lifted up.

Proud people have a subconscious feeling, “This ministry/church is privileged to have me and my gifts”; they think of what they can do for God.
Broken people’s heart attitude is, “I don’t deserve to have a part in any ministry”; they know that they have nothing to offer God except the life of Jesus flowing through their broken lives.

Proud people feel confident in how much they know.
Broken people are humbled by how very much they have to learn.

Proud people are self-conscious.
Broken people are not concerned with self at all.

Proud people keep others at arms’ length.
Broken people are willing to risk getting close to others and to take risks of loving intimately.

Proud people are quick to blame others.
Broken people accept personal responsibility and can see where they are wrong in a situation.

Proud people are unapproachable or defensive when criticized.
Broken people receive criticism with a humble, open spirit.

Proud people are concerned with being respectable, with what others think; they work to protect their own image and reputation.
Broken people are concerned with being real; what matters to them is not what others think but what God knows; they are willing to die to their own reputation.

Proud people find it difficult to share their spiritual need with others.
Broken people are willing to be open and transparent with others as God directs.

Proud people want to be sure that no one finds out when they have sinned; their instinct is to cover up.
Broken people, once broken, don’t care who knows or who finds out; they are willing to be exposed because they have nothing to lose.

Proud people have a hard time saying, “I was wrong; will you please forgive me?”
Broken people are quick to admit failure and to seek forgiveness when necessary.

Proud people tend to deal in generalities when confessing sin.
Broken people are able to acknowledge specifics when confessing their sin.

Proud people are concerned about the consequences of their sin.
Broken people are grieved over the cause, the root of their sin.

Proud people are remorseful over their sin, sorry that they got found out or caught.
Broken people are truly, genuinely repentant over their sin, evidenced in the fact that they forsake that sin.

Proud people wait for the other to come and ask forgiveness when there is a misunderstanding or conflict in a relationship.
Broken people take the initiative to be reconciled when there is misunderstanding or conflict in relationships; they race to the cross; they see if they can get there first, no matter how wrong the other may have been.

Proud people compare themselves with others and feel worthy of honor.
Broken people compare themselves to the holiness of God and feel a desperate need for His mercy.

Proud people are blind to their true heart condition.
Broken people walk in the light.

Proud people don’t think they have anything to repent of.
Broken people realize they have need of a continual heart attitude of repentance.

Proud people don’t think they need revival, but they are sure that everyone else does.
Broken people continually sense their need for a fresh encounter with God and for a fresh filling of His Holy Spirit.

© Revive Our Hearts. Used with permission. www.ReviveOurHearts.com
Info@ReviveOurHearts.com

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