0/08/2018: Live in Awareness and Humility | Richard Ashton

Being open and honest and transparent is a hard thing to do. It only gets harder when we feel judged, criticized, or backed into a corner

      1. Think of a relationship, small group or church where you felt safe enough to readily admit your mistakes, accept correction, and talk about your struggles. What ingredients made that a safe place for you?
      2. Can you think of someone in your life who models awareness and humility well? Describe them in your own words.
      3. In Gen 3:18 God builds the curse of Thorns & Thistle into the fabric of life as we know it even today. God explains how all life, from that point forward will be painful, difficult and frustrating.
 Thorns, Thistle and Sin…

The fall of Adam & Eve has impacted every human being since the beginning of time. We all live in a “cursed” reality geared towards our futility and frustration. Whether in our hobbies, relationships, families or health, it is clear that we are a long way from Eden. This is a difficult place to be. Unfortunately rather than be broken by the thorns and thistles of life and turn to God for our salvation, (Gal 3:21-25),  our tendency is to Flee, Fight, or Freeze.

Flee: We flee when we bury our pain and frustrations by running away. Some folk pour themselves into work or activity to escape a failing home life. Other people invest themselves zealously in a church ministry or activity, as a way of avoiding difficulty in another area of their life.
Fight: We fight when we blame others and become angry, bitter or even violent, because life is not going their way. It does not only have to be with people. Think of the times when you have been angry with God for not answering your prayers, that way you thought He should have.
Freeze: When we realize that neither Flee nor Flight will work, we can become immobilized. For many people this takes the form of a paralyzing depression. Other may find themselves in an unhealthy habits or addictions, unable to move

        1. In which of the following situations do you tend to Flee, Fight or Freeze?

____ conflict or tension in your marriage or close relationships/ friendships

____ a stressful deadline at home or in ministry/activity

____ the unexpected end of a valued friendship

____ financial uncertainty and stress

____ misunderstanding with a friend or fellow worker

____ an indefinite setback of a personal dream or goal

____ add your own

Paul’s thorn (2 Corinthians 12:7-10)

If there was a man who could have chosen to live solely out of his own strengths, talents and accomplishments, it was Paul – writer of half of the New Testament, biblical scholar, church planter extraordinaire, unrivalled missionary, and spiritual father to multitudes. Let’s read the scripture;

      1. Why did God give Paul a thorn in the flesh?How did it impact his character and life?
      2. Describe the kind of person Paul might have been without this thorn?
      3. What might be a few “thorns” God has entrusted you with?How have they positively impacted your life?
Spiritual Authority in the Cracks

Paul’s theology came out of a conviction that if God was going to use him for His kingdom, He wasn’t going to do it through a polished, puffed up version of himself, but rather through a humble, limited, and human one. Living in awareness and humility simply means honestly accepting the fact that I’m not as emotionally put together or as spiritually mature as I would like. It is embracing “the good, the bad and the ugly” within me.

Using the list below, evaluate your spirituality by circling the answer that tends to describe you and your church, best.

Proud/ Defensive
1.     I am guarded/defensive

2.     I focus on the “positive” strong, successful parts of            myself

3.     I am highly “offendable” and defensive

4.     I give my opinion a lot, even when not asked for it.

5.     I blame others readily

6.     I am quite demanding

7.     I keep people from really seeing what is going on inside of me

Awareness/ Humble (broken)
1.     I am open/weak

2.     I am aware of the weak, needy limited parts of               who I am.

3.     I am approachable and open.

4.     I am slow to speak and quick to listen

5.     I take responsibility for myself and speak mostly            in the “I” not the “you” or “they”

6.     I assert myself respectfully and kindly

7.     I delight un snowing vulnerability and weakness, that Christ’s power may be seen me

In the area where you are “Proud/Defensive” can you think of a significant life experience that reinforced your need to respond in the manner (e.g. a critical father, being misjudges, being gossiped about).

In the areas where you are aware and humble, how did God build that into your character?

 Resumé of weakness.

 In the world, it is always “best foot forward” Putting together a Resumé is often an exercise of creative writing and artistic rendition. We market ourselves through our strengths, accomplishments, and gifts. Yet this is not the type of resume that God is looking for in His disciples.

Below we are going to get the chance to boast of our handicaps and draft a “Resume of weakness”
Here are a few sample resumes of some well known biblical characters used by God:

      • John Mark deserted Paul
      • Hosea’s wife was a prostitute
      • Jacob was liar
      • David had an affair, murdered and abused power
      • Moses was a murderer
      • Jonah ran from God’s will
      • Gideon and Thomas both doubted God
      • Jeremiah was depressed and suicidal
      • Elijah was burned out
      • Noah got drunk

Remember, God has been using cracked vessels all though history in order to “show that this all –surpassing power is from God and not from “(2 Cor 4:7)

Rembrandt’s Painting of the Return of the Prodigal Son showing the Father’s incredible Love