Sunday, March 18, 2012

Self Worth

Humility is just a correct understanding of your own self worth.

Nearly a century ago, my Sunday school teacher was Mary Hoffeinz, a dear woman teaching the college class across the street from a United Methodist college where her husband was my New Testament professor. I remember Mary most clearly for two truisms. She didn't like singing the chorus of the hymn "Are Ye Able?" After verses like this:
“Are ye able,” said the Master,
“To be crucified with Me?”
“Yea,” the sturdy dreamers answered,
“To the death we follow Thee.”
we were to sing this:
Lord, we are able. Our spirits are Thine.
Remold them, make us, like Thee, divine.
Thy guiding radiance above us shall be
A beacon to God, to love and loyalty.
Mary was quite sure this was pure braggadociousness, that we were no more able than the disciples. Normally she stood in mute protest during the whole song. When that seemed inappropriate under rare circumstances, it became the prayer, "Lord, make us able!"

I also recall her mantra that too many people are continually being born again and never grow up.

Looking back from the perspective of Recovery, I interpret her to say something consistent with, "Live so you don't have to keep doing inventories, Fifth steps, and amends. In other words, work steps Ten, Eleven and Twelve daily, and it's the equivalent of not being born again and again."

Galatians 2:14

When I saw that they were not acting in line with the truth of the gospel, I said to Cephas in front of them all, “You are a Jew, yet you live like a Gentile and not like a Jew. How is it, then, that you force Gentiles to follow Jewish customs?..." (NIV)

Above everything, we alcoholics must be rid of this selfishness. We must, or it kills us! (Alcoholics Anonymous, page 62)

It is important for him to realize that your attempt to pass this on to him plays a vital part in your own recovery. Actually, he may be helping you more than you are helping him. (Alcoholics Anonymous, page 94)

Pretender! Phony!
A sanctimonious sham!
Was Peter deceitful?
Are we all when we claim
to disown selfishness
but recruit for our own benefit?
Others may be – it's not my concern.
What matters is my fraud,
writing such truths when mostly
they're to tutor me,
to school me in my own deceits.
I hear myself share what I wish to be true,
what I strive to receive,
what I know awaits me
when at long last
I lay down my piety
and finally figure out

Forgive me my hypocrisy, God.
Please give me true faith.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Galatians 2:13

As a result, other Jewish Christians followed Peter’s hypocrisy, and even Barnabas was led astray by their hypocrisy. (NLT)

I fancied myself a leader, for had not the men of my battery given me a special token of appreciation? My talent for leadership, I imagined, would place me at the head of vast enterprises which I would manage with the utmost assurance. (Alcoholics Anonymous, page 1)

Managing with the utmost assurance —
yep, rings true, I've been there.
Peter, simple fisherman transformed 
to key carrier, not just for a meeting
but to the kingdom all in a few short years.
How fearful he must have been,
how often. 
Do I need a report from his POV?
No. No need to take his inventory,
just mine.
When I find myself a leader
by vote of peers or default, 
my responsibility lies not
in keeping waters calm
but in being qualified to lead,
allowing that to come from 
a power far greater than I, 
and seeking daily the power's directive
the will and courage
to lead there.

God, I offer myself.
While I'd prefer anonymity,
I'm willing to yield
to your plan.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Galatians 2:11-12

When Cephas came to Antioch, I opposed him to his face, because he stood condemned. For before certain men came from James, he used to eat with the Gentiles. But when they arrived, he began to draw back and separate himself from the Gentiles because he was afraid of those who belonged to the circumcision group. (NIV)

For our group purpose there is but one ultimate authority—a loving God as He may express Himself in our group conscience. Our leaders are but trusted servants; they do not govern. (Alcoholics Anonymous, Tradition Two)

Tough call, leaving trivial behind.
Hard job to set aside old prejudice,
see people as people —
not as Jew or Gentile,
not male, female, old, young,
hale, infirm, addict, "normie,"
straight, gay, citizen, stranger.
If behavior stands up, rings true
before God,
why censor it
before disapproving others?
Who is a leader?
One who talks, influences, coerces?
Or one who takes the high road,
the ethical path
no matter what vocal others think?

God, when you show me right,
walk with me,
shoving me in right direction
when you must
but hopefully filling me with
conviction replacing fears.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Galatians 2:10

All they asked was that we should continue to remember the poor, the very thing I had been eager to do all along. (NIV)

Our next function is to grow in understanding and effectiveness. This is not an overnight matter. It should continue for our lifetime. Continue to watch for selfishness, dishonesty, resentment, and fear. (Alcoholics Anonymous, page 84)

Keep on keeping on. 
Do good, do the next right thing.
Repeat again.
Habits are made of repetition,
patterns are woven of row upon row
of same same.
Tradition is habits and patterns passed,
spread, adopted as norm, as right.
Yet practices change, customs evolve
and right can morph to wrong
unnoticed, undeterred.
carry on
consciously, intentionally,
holding on to good,
to the next right thing.

God, I can carry on
one hour,
one day,
diligent in doing what I know is right.
Make it true, Lord,
make it true.