Monday, November 21, 2011

I Can but I Cannot

Most every mother (or parent for that matter) who has a sense of heaven and hell and our need for reconciliation before God, lives with an urgent desire that our children come to repentance and faith. I myself have struggled with this very issue since our first child was in the womb. Prayers without number often accompanied with many tears have ascended to God on behalf of these 6 precious children that we have received. Sometimes over the years their case has become so desperate and urgent for me that it became my constant thought, and I would long for and look for any sign of them sensing their sins and need of a Savior, and would feel so helpless when it wasn’t found. This reality often would almost lead me to despair until the Lord showed me clearly that it is not in my hands. I knew this in my head but I so desperately desired it for them, I almost was acting as if I could accomplish it. And so I press on as before with much prayer and expectation, using every opportunity that I can to speak to them but yet realizing that God is just and still good whether He would save them or not.
The following poem from an unknown author echoes what lives in my heart.
I gave you life,
but cannot live it for you.
I can teach you things,
 but I cannot make you learn.
I can give you directions,
 but I cannot be there to lead you.
I can allow you freedom,
but I cannot account for it.
I can take you to church,
but I cannot make you believe.
I can teach you right from wrong,
 but I cannot always decide for you.
I can buy you beautiful clothes,
but I cannot make you beautiful inside.
I can offer you advice,
but I cannot accept it for you.
I can give you love,
but I cannot force it upon you.
I can teach you to share,
but I cannot make you unselfish.
I can teach you respect,
but I cannot force you to show honor.
I can advise you about friends,
but cannot choose them for you.
I can advise you about sex,
but I cannot keep you pure.
I can tell you the facts of life,
but I can't build your reputation.
I can tell you about drink,
but I can't say "no" for you.
I can warn you about drugs,
but I can't prevent you from using them.
I can teach you about kindness,
but I can't force you to be gracious.
I can warn you about sins,
but I cannot make you moral.
I can love you as a child,
but I cannot place you in God's family.
I can pray for you,
but I cannot make you walk with God.
I can tell you how to live,
but I cannot give you eternal life.

I end with a plea then to you my dear children which God Himself speaks in Isaiah 55, “Seek ye the LORD while he may be found, call ye upon him while he is near:  Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts: and let him return unto the LORD, and he will have mercy upon him; and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Another Lesson

“The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament sheweth His handywork.” These were the words that came to mind as I looked out the window this morning. The earth so wonderfully covered in a blanket of white frost was such a reminder to me of God’s faithfulness.

He has promised that the seasons will continue as long as the earth remains and if I can see this promise continually being carried out, my heart than asks why can’t I so readily believe all the other promises I read in the Bible. Why do I sometimes doubt that He is a faithful God ready to help in times of trouble? And why do I not think that His promise is true when He calls us to cast all our cares upon Him for He careth for us? Is He not a God who knows all our sorrows, burdens, trials, and temptations? Why do we so foolishly think we need to carry this weight ourselves?

And so my heart melts as again I see the frost making the brown, dirty earth look so white and pure. Just one glimpse of God’s goodness has again covered the dirt that so often seems to cover my heart and now once again as the, ‘heavens declare the glory of God’ my mouth is full of this same expression as I have been taught a lesson from the frost.

Friday, September 30, 2011

All in the Life of a Family

There are certain times in our life when we need to tell our children…trust us…we know best. This is the case regarding the taking of one of our family pictures. I’m not sure I know any family whose children just love to take family pictures….ours being no exception. So this year I had a plan. Our family picture taking would not be planned. We would just see if there was a day where everyone was available and the weather was good. For those of you who know me, this way of doing things is extremely contrary to my very being. I usually have in my mind what the kids will wear, the location of our pictures, and who will take them weeks ahead of time.
Last Monday was a beautiful day. By midafternoon the wheels of my mind began to turn. This would be a great day for pictures!! I called each of the kids and they could all make it work. Next we needed a photographer. This took some thinking. I tried 2 people who were mentally on our list of photographers but it wouldn’t work out for either one. Maybe, I thought, this new plan wasn’t going to work….until we thought of a very good friend who loves photography, and after a brief phone call things were in place again. Finally, what would we all wear? Normally in my perfectionistic way of thinking everyone had to be exactly color coordinated. (No wonder this usually stresses me out.) But this time I said, “Ok kids pick out your own clothes.” After some fine tuning I thought we all looked presentable.
After arriving to Woodstock our ‘session’ began. We tried several poses and things were going well. Finally one of the kids said, “Can’t we just take a picture of who we are?” So we agreed and they kind of arranged themselves. The result of that picture is the reason for my first statement….trust us…we know best. This picture (of course) turned out to be the best shot out of the approximately 200 that we took. So right now in our house there is a little mini war going on. “Why,” is the resounding question, “can’t we use this picture for our annual holiday card which goes to family, friends, and congregation?”  And our answer once again is, “Trust us…..” Maybe it’s over cautiousness…maybe it’s because I can’t tell the story that it happening…or maybe it’s just plain wisdom. Here then is my compromise…I’ll post it on my blog and if you want this picture for your holiday greeting card, maybe we can take private orders. J
So, the story behind this picture? Jeremy and Adriana were really texting each other….Micah was really taking a picture of them. Nathan was…‘taking a phone call’…Rachael a text….we were looking at our phone and the two little kids were in total disgust over the fact that they don’t have a phone…..yes all in the life of a family in the 21st century.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Be Strong

This morning I couldn’t sleep and as I lay alone in bed praying for the safety of my husband in South Africa and my children at work I also began to meditate on the events of the past weeks. As the thoughts went through my mind I decided to get up and write; hence the following.
Several years ago I had a break down or what I would rather refer to as a breaking down. The Lord saw fit in His great mercy to deal with me in an extreme way. I was running, running, running and although I thought I was using all my energy in His kingdom, my priorities were a bit mixed up. Being a strong person myself the Lord had to use strong means to teach me the way He wanted me to walk. Not only was my physical strength totally taken from me but in God’s all wise providence He saw fit that I would go through great temptations. These were not small temptations but temptations like I never knew were possible nor would I ever share them on a blog. There were times when I would literally go alone and cry out to the Lord to take them away and would continue praying and crying aloud until they passed. Going through deep temptations has literally left me feeling at times like a ragdoll after they passed. It was during this time that one evening while listening to a sermon at home on a Sunday night the words from Hebrews 13:5 were greatly applied to me….”I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee.” I felt so much comfort and strength from those words…I remember that I was going to the bathroom and I just stopped and leaned against the doorpost totally broken and overcome. The next morning I shared this with my husband who asked me if I had read the rest of the verse (which I hadn’t) but says….”Let your conversation be without covetousness; and be content with such things as ye have; for he hath said, I will never leave thee nor forsake thee.”  So here I was a weak broken person and I needed to be content with the way I was....seemingly impossible and yet commanded.
That was several years ago. But to my amazement once again these words have come back to me. During the last several weeks the trials have been very great and I would spend much of my day silently crying out for help. One morning I read from Joshua 1 where the Lord says to Joshua…I will not fail thee nor forsake thee.” In reading the context of these words the Lord commands Joshua to “be strong and of a good courage”….and in another place “only be thou strong and very courageous.”  Again these words were a great encouragement for me and often through these last weeks I have read Joshua 1 and meditated on it praying for strength to be strong and pleading on these promises. I see more and more that the ups and downs of my life need not toss me like a rag doll. Even in the illness and death of my Dad…the boys’ accident…my husband being gone for two weeks…all these things and the things that I will face in my life are in the Lord’s hand and I must follow behind trusting Him for all things.
And now as I stand back and look at my life I see a seemingly great irony and yet it shouldn’t be surprising at all for it’s the Lord’s way of working. First I needed to be broken…not just a little arm or leg break so to speak, but complete breaking. And now while hobbling along it seems that the Lord is staying, “be strong” and yet it is a different strong. This is a strong that is not strong in self but only a  strength that is found in Him. I know that I will never be the person I was…that strength will never be back, but now it’s a weakness in self, an ever learning to be content with it, and a dependence on Him for strength as one who has a broken leg depends on their crutch.

Monday, August 1, 2011

When the Tears Stop

Ecclesiastes says there is a time to be born and a time to die….a time for rejoicing and a time for weeping. Indeed death has come and though the visible weeping has ended there remains in my heart a dull ache…a missing and a great longing to have my dear father back again. What began as a short trip to see him once more turned into 3 weeks away from home.
How on a public blog does one explain the events of the last 3 weeks of one’s life especially that of one’s father?
How does one explain what it was like to have him ask me to stay to help care for him?
How does one explain what it was like to gently rub his head to calm his anxious feelings when he had so much trouble breathing? 
How does one explain the helplessness we felt when he would get bursts of intense pain?
How does one explain the day that he asked me to feed him because he couldn’t lift his own hand to his mouth anymore…to hold his cup for him and place his pills in his mouth and the look of love at times he gave during these times?
How does one fully express the thoughts that went through the mind day by day while holding his hand as life of this dear one began to fade more and more?
How does one explain the joy and love in the depth of the heart to be able to care for him during his last weeks?
How does one explain and hide away in one’s heart when a few days before he died he was given strength to address his children for several minutes urging them to, “seek the Lord first,” and to hear him say that God is a merciful God and to hear him express the burden that was on his heart for the souls of his many children and grandchildren?
How does one explain the almost panic that was in the heart when no food or drink could go down his throat anymore without him choking and the fear of being the one to choke him?
How does one explain the desire to forever etch in the mind those tender moments of that  day when kneeling alone beside his bed holding both of his hands in mine he put up his hand and so gently rubbed my face and for the first and last time in his life as he looked in my eyes these words were so gently and lovingly spoken, “Donna, I love you!” How can one explain to another, what these words meant…being the only time they were ever spoken?
How does one fully comprehend and explain what it was like for him with tears in his eyes to ask “who will take care of mother?”
How can one explain the fear that was in his heart when he asked what would happen if his children would leave him?
How does one explain the thoughts of a mother when prayer was made in church for the lonely and widows and he heard it on the church phone and squeezed her hand although he couldn’t speak?
How does one explain the thoughts of the heart when a few hours before he died he (although fully conscious) could no longer speak and as all his children and some grandchildren were gathered around his bed and sang Psalter 114 to him he still tried to mouth the words and make sound come out?
How does one explain the thoughts…the helplessness…the fear…the sorrow that went through the mind when this man who was your father…the pillar of your home, struggled for over 3 hours for every breath as you held his hand and then the final breath was taken and he was gone…..?
How does one explain how empty his death makes one feel?
How does one explain the question which begs to be asked….who will be next?
As I write this I am reminded that as husband and wife we have lost an unborn child at 16 weeks, each of us has lost a brother and each of us our father. We have witnessed in our life the loss of the very young, the strong and healthy and the old….are we prepared for the day when someone may have to write these very words about us?

Thursday, June 16, 2011

A Special Day

Today marks a very special day in our family…our daughter has graduated college on the Dean’s Honor Roll and is now a certified DSW (Developmental Services Worker….in modern English…someone who cares for people with disabilities). While this is very special in and of itself I believe the story behind it bears repeating.
When Rachael was in 3rd grade her love for those with special needs really started displaying itself. As she made up the list for her 3rd grade birthday party she told me to make sure …... got invited as she was often left out by the other kids because of her special needs. Later on this child’s mother called me very appreciative as it was the first time this girl was ever invited to a birthday party. I later asked Rachael further why she so wanted to invite her to which she said that she liked to make her happy and couldn’t stand it when the other kids teased her. There were many times that followed that Rachael took care of those with special needs whenever she could and we affectionately called her our ‘little mother hen’.
And yet I don’t write this to brag up our daughter but I write this also out of thankfulness to God for giving her that gift and also to one of Rachael’s high school teachers (and Guidance Counselor) who took the time to get to know his student to such an extent that he could see and help nurture this God-given talent in her. As Rachael progressed through her high school years he was there to observe and guide her in the right direction in order for her to use the talents that God has given to the best of her ability. He was willing to spend time with me on the phone going through all the various programs together trying to match her talents with the opportunities that were available. He cared….he loved…he nurtured. Today, Rachael has successfully graduated and has already been working in this field part time and absolutely loves the work that she is doing. In what many would view as a menial job, Rachael views as a privilege. As many would not want to be seen in public with ‘those’ kind of people….Rachael is fulfilled in making them happy and trying to make an impact in their lives.
And so I want to encourage and challenge every teacher out there who reads this blog to not just teach your students but to ‘know’ them to ‘nurture’ them to ‘help’ them discover their God-given talents and encourage them to cultivate these talents that they have. Come down to their level….reason with them….pray for them… an interest in their lives. The time you invest in your students will NEVER be wasted as I am here today witnessing.
And so in a special way I want to thank and dedicate this blog to a special teacher Mr. David Van Brugge – thank you for your years of labor in ORCS. God Bless you!
I also want to congratulate our dear daughter on her accomplishments. School was never easy for Rachael but she is a person with a passion for doing the best that she can. What we have witnessed today brings joy in my heart as her mother and friend. Congratulations….I love you!!

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Go to the Birds....and Learn

Lately I have been observing these amazing creatures that God has created. All of us have heard the famous instructional text from Proverbs which says…”Go to the ant, thou sluggard; consider her ways, and be wise” (Prov. 6:6) and yet I think we also could say, “Go to the birds….and learn.
So what is it that is so special to draw one’s attention to them?? I would like to give you 6 things to consider and apply to our own life.
1. Birds begin their day early…as soon as the daylight begins to dawn they begin to sing their praises…this often inspires me to also get up and begin working.
2. Birds sing constantly every day….no matter what the weather….hot or cold…no matter how they feel…I often have a song on my lips but it should not be often but always.
3. Birds sense when a storm is coming…they prepare by eating more, are quiet and observant during the storm, and as soon as it has passed their singing begins again….i pray that I too may be quiet, observe and learn from the storms in my life.
4. A bird will deny itself greatly for its offspring often overcoming great obstacles to care for them and to make sure they are fed and protected…I pray that I too may have the strength and compassion to care not only for the physical but also the spiritual wellbeing of my children.
5. A bird can only depend on God to provide its food…as do we.
6. A bird’s day ends long before midnight and it has quiet rest in order to have strength for the next day….let me learn from their wisdom.
Oh to always have a song on my lips!!

Saturday, May 14, 2011

A Prayer

The will of God is always best
And shall be done forever;
And they who trust in Him are blest,
He will forsake them never.
He helps indeed in time of need
He chastens with forbearing;
They who depend on God, their friend,
Shall not be left despairing.

God is my comfort and my trust,
My hope and life abiding;
And to His counsel, wise and just,
I yield, in Him confiding.
The very hairs, His Word declares,
Upon my head He numbers.
By night and day God is my stay,
He never sleeps nor slumbers.

Lord Jesus, this I ask of Thee,
Deny me not this favor;
When Satan sorely troubles me,
Then do not let me waver.
Keep watch and ward, O gracious Lord,
Fulfill Thy faithful saying:
Who doth believe He shall receive
An answer to his praying.

When life’s brief course on earth is run
And I this world am leaving,
Grant me to say, Thy will be done,
By faith to Thee still cleaving.
My heav’nly friend, I now commend
My soul into Thy keeping,
O’er sin and hell, and death as well,
Thro’ Thee the vict’ry reaping.
        Albrecht von Brandenburg

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

I Love You Mommy

I could hear the happy squeals of laughter coming from outside on the trampoline, 4 young voices having so much fun….making the most of a cloudy, cool spring day. Inside was nice and warm and it was time to make dinner. Often while in the kitchen I stop working just to watch the kids. Today it was Hannah (10) and 3 of the neighbor kids. Being all about the same age things were working out just fine. As I stood looking out the window along came the youngest little neighbor girl. In her tiny hands were candy…one for each of them. I watched as they scrambled to the edge of the trampoline with their hands ready for a candy. One by one they took a candy and eagerly put it in their mouth. Then it was Hannah’s turn…she put out her hand...took her candy…looked at it….held it for a moment longer…shook her head no and slowly gave it back to the little giver trying to coax her to take it back and eat it herself. As I watched this little scene a lump came up in my throat. This, I thought, is the life that Hannah lives every day but how often does this happen and I’m not there to witness it. I went to the cabinet and got out a piece of ‘safe’ candy and then knocked on the window for her to come to the door. As she came to the door I opened it and without saying a word, gave her the piece of candy and kissed her on the lips. She looked up at me and said, “I love you Mommy” as she took the candy and bounded back to the trampoline. Further words didn’t need to be said we both knew each other’s thoughts…me thankful I could fill the gap so often left open and her thankful to not have been left out. I went back to making what used to be an easy meal but now much more complicated….spaghetti.

When we have a child with a disability often as parents we hurt as well. We are so thankful that Hannah is still with us and even though she has severe food allergies she has now been properly diagnosed and is doing well. And yet it’s not easy being a 10 year old with severe food allergies. Food affects our very core of existence and it’s virtually impossible for her to go to anyone’s house without bringing her own food along. Hot lunch at school….birthday treats at school….birthday parties…school or church functions that involve eating…sleeping at a friend’s house….all requires either the sacrifice of not eating or the bringing of her own food.
Often I think about the role we play in dealing with a child with a disability. Sometimes I wonder what I did with all my time when I didn’t have to make 2 of every meal…make 2 of every baked treat….read EVERY label of every food I buy…spend $20 for 5 pounds of gluten free flour, and the latest….make homemade ice cream (which otherwise costs $6 a pint…yes per pint). And yet I do not stand alone. Our struggle is with allergies but many a family struggles with a child with a disability…whether it be physical, mental, or otherwise.
I truly believe that we should try our utmost not to allow our child to feel sorry for themself. In my own heart do I often feel sorry for her?? Absolutely, but it doesn’t do any good to walk around having a pity party. Here are the ways I use myself to avoid the pit.
First we must realize it could be so much worse. No matter what the issue is there are many children in this world who have it far worse than our child. This is not only good for us to realize but to gently remind our child of, not that we throw it in their face but it’s a mental attitude we need to have. So for example the following conversation, “Mom, it is soooo hard not to be able to eat like ‘normal’ kids do.” Me, “I know Hannah you are normal and I feel bad for you too but we have to think about so many other kids who have it worse…you could have cancer or no legs or a different disease to deal with. This is teaching you to become a stronger person.” This conversation doesn’t often happen but there are the times. I then ask her if there is something I could make or do to cheer her up. It’s so important to come down beside our child during their down times as this is very real to them but not to let them stay there.
The other thing I do is to try to make her life seem as normal as other kids. If she is going to a birthday party and they are having pizza and cupcakes then I will make her some of her pizza and gluten free cupcakes. If there is a church pancake breakfast I will make her as much as possible the same menu at home. But as parents there are times that it just doesn’t work to accommodate them, especially for parents with a child with a physical disability, these are the times that we have to encourage them to be strong. We need to teach our children that there are disappointments in life…how we deal with them is what makes us the person we are.
We must watch that their disability does not make them angry towards God but teach them that there is a reason God made them this way. Just because they are not ‘like the rest of the kids’ does not mean they are not “fearfully and wonderfully made.” God has a purpose for each one of us. I often see that Hannah’s struggles make her a more caring person towards others who have problems and I hope we can nurture this more and more in her.
In all our struggles we must ultimately remember to encourage our child to think of Christ who suffered much….much more than we could ever suffer and He never complained but willingly suffered, patiently endured the mockers, shrunk not from temptation, but endured to the end to pay for the sins of sinful, rebellious people.

Friday, April 15, 2011

There is a Man…

There is a man on this earth whom I love more than words could express.
This man is never too proud to stoop down and help another who is in need. It doesn’t matter what they look like, smell like, or their status in life.
This man is not too high to open a door for another to go in before him. He doesn’t need to be seen or heard to ‘feel’ accepted.
This man is never ‘too tired' to get up at night if the children call for him.
This man is not afraid to help with the dishes or take out the garbage.
This man is not stopped by anything that breaks but usually can fix it….in fact wherever he goes he looks for things that need to be fixed.
This man will not brag about all the things he did when he was young….for it is a grief to him.
This man made a covenant with his eyes never to look at a woman with lust and I’m so grateful to never have seen his eyes linger on another woman.
This man is a peacemaker, and a quiet leader.
This man weeps when he thinks of the many souls going lost, who count the pleasures of this world of more worth than the riches of God’s grace.
This man longs to have more holiness in his own life.
This man is my best friend and today even though he is far away we celebrate his birthday. Happy Birthday, honey….we love you!!

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

When God Says No

A few weeks ago my husband spoke to our youth group about David’s desire to build the temple. David’s heart was right in wanting to build the Lord’s house. David consulted the prophet Nathan and Nathan also thought this was a good thing to do. And yet we all know that the Lord spoke to Nathan and told him to tell King David the answer was “no.” For various reasons God did not want David to build the temple but told him his son would be the one to do this.
I began thinking and reflecting back on times that God also has said “no” in my life. During my teenage years I dated a boy whom I thought would be ‘the one’. And yet he was caught cheating and the relationship ended….God said “no.” At the time of course this was devastating to me.
I remember at the close of my high school years having a scholarship available for me towards an accounting degree and yet my Dad didn’t think I should pursue further schooling. This was difficult for me to understand but God through my Dad said “no.”
I remember after our first child was born I became pregnant once again. We were very happy and yet one sad day 16 weeks into pregnancy God said “no.” After this child was born I held it in my hands…so tiny and yet so perfectly formed…it was so hard to understand. The next day after as we mourned the loss of this child I called the hospital to ask if it was a boy or girl and was told that they ‘just throw them in the dumpster’ and so it would be impossible to find that information out for me. This almost drove me crazy thinking about it all but again for reasons beyond my understanding God said “no”…we were not to have this child or know the sex of our child.
I remember after years of being able to ‘handle’ everything that crossed my path and being a workaholic trying to run from the realities of pain in my life I had a breakdown. God said “no”….no more will you depend on your own strength…now you must lean on Me for all your strength, for without Me you can do nothing. I have asked the Lord to make me as strong as I was and able the handle the things I used to and have the strength to put in a full day’s work without rest but the answer remains, “My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness” (2 Cor. 12:9).
I remember going through temptations like I have never experienced before. Things would ‘pop’ into my mind that actually frightened me. I asked God to remove them but He said “no”…and instead gave me the strength to go through them. I would literally call out to God begging Him help to me until peace and quiet came again and at times would look back to see sin uncovered in my life.
These are some of the major points in my life when God said “no.” And yet in reality God often says “no” in many ways to each one of us every day. And how do you and I respond to these “nos.” Why does God say “no?” Is it because He just wants to make our life seemingly miserable? Is this how David viewed God’s answer? As I reflect back on these and many other times where God has said no I stand amazed at the foolishness of my own wisdom and the profundity of God’s wisdom. Where would I be if I had married the boy “I” thought I should marry? And what about going on to school? One month after that decision was made I met my husband and we were married 1 ½ years later. What would have happened if I disobeyed my father’s wishes and had been bound to 4 years of college? Does that make it wrong for a girl to go on for a degree? No, but in my case I would have been disobeying my father which is wrong.
What would my life be like now if I had not experienced the great weakness that I did? Would I go on thinking that I could handle everything on my own and expect everyone else around me to do the same? Would I go on not having compassion for those in need? I look back with amazement at the Lord’s leading. I never would be the person I am now had I not experienced those trials. I would never have the compassion towards others that I have now. I never would be able to help others in dealing with temptations had I not experienced great temptations myself. Does this mean the path has been or is easy? Much to the contrary, but are we not called to suffer in this life and carry the cross our Master carried? At times it is almost frightening for me to pray that I would be conformed more and more to the image of Christ because the refining pot is not a nice place to be in and yet to look back and see the dross being removed is a blessed thing.
I don’t know the next time that God will say “no” in my life and yet I pray that I would bow down and trust His wisdom and not think that my foolish desires know best and I pray that I may humbly say “yes” to God’s “no’s.” 

Thursday, March 31, 2011

A Self-Diagnostic Test

I read the article below a few months ago and since then cannot get it off my mind. The reason for this is that for me it has uncovered another layer of who I am and sin in my life. Over the years there have been times when I’ve been around a person and thought, “Wow they are proud.” Pride just seems to be oozing out of their pores. And yet as I read the 50 points below I was shocked as to how many of these could pertain to me as well. And so I challenge you to take some quiet time by yourself and go through this list and do some self-examination. And not only do I challenge you to take time to go through this yourself but I also challenge you to ask someone who you respect and who knows you well to go through this with you and tell you what areas of your life are exhibiting pride. But let us not stop there but pray that with the Lord’s help we may overcome pride in our life. “God resisteth the proud, but giveth grace unto the humble” James 4:6. 

The Fifty Fruits of Pride: A Self-Diagnostic Test
1. Want to be well Known or Important (Isaiah 14:13-15; James 3:13-16; Romans 12:6)
“I am selfishly ambitious. I really want to get ahead and make a name for myself. I want to be someone important in life. I like having a position or title. I far prefer leading to following.”
2. Sinfully Competitive
“I am overly competitive. I always want to win or come out on top and it bothers me when I don’t.”
3. Want to Impress People (Luke 10:38-42)
“I want people to be impressed with me. I like to make my accomplishments known.”
a. Clothes or jewelry you wear.
b. Vehicle you drive.
c. Furniture you own.
d. House you live in.
e. Place you live.
f. Company you work for.
g. Amount of money you earn.
h. Food you eat.
i. How spiritual you are.
j. What you look like (physical appearance).
k. What you have accomplished.
l. What you know.
m. Where you went to school.
n. Who you know.
o. What your background is.
4. Draw Attention to Myself (Proverbs 27:2)
“I like to be the center of attention and will say or do things to draw attention to myself.”
5. Like to Talk About Myself
“I like to talk, especially about myself or persons or things I am involved with. I want people to know what I am doing or thinking. I would rather speak than listen. I have a hard time being succinct.”
6. Deceitful and Pretentious (Psalm 24:3-4, 26:2-4; Jeremiah 48:10; Proverbs 26:20-26)
“I tend to be deceptive about myself. I find myself lying to preserve my reputation. I find myself hiding the truth about myself, especially about sins, weaknesses, etc. I don’t want people to know who I really am.”
7. Desire Recognition and Praise (John 5:41-44; Matthew 6:1, 23:5-7)
“I desire to receive recognition and credit for what I do. I like people to see what I do and let me know that they noticed. I feel hurt or offended when they don’t. I am overly concerned about my reputation and hate being misunderstood.”
8. Not Fulfilled Serving Others (John 3:30)
“I am not very excited about seeing or making others successful. I tend to feel envious, jealous or critical towards those who are doing well or being honored.”
9. Self Sufficient (Matthew 4:4; John 15:5; Acts 17:25; 2 Corinthians 12:7-10)
“I tend to be self-sufficient in the way I live my life. I don’t live with a constant awareness that my every breath is dependent upon the will of God. I tend to think I have enough strength, ability and wisdom to live and manage my life. My practice of the spiritual disciplines is inconsistent and superficial. I don’t like to ask others for help.”
10. Anxious (Psalm 4:8; Philippians 4:6-7; 1 Peter 5:6-7)
         “I am often anxious about my life and the future. I tend not to trust God and rarely experience his abiding and transcendent peace in my soul. I have a hard time sleeping at night because of fearful thoughts and burdens I carry.”
11. Self-Focused (Exodus 4:11; Job 10:8-11; Psalm 139:13-16; Isaiah 53:2; Jeremiah 1:5)
        “I am overly self-conscious. I tend to replay in my mind how I did, what I said, and how I came across to others. I am very concerned about my appearance and what people think of me. I think about these things constantly.”
12. Fear Man (Proverbs 29:25)
        “I fear man more than God. I am afraid of others and make decisions about what I will say or do based upon this fear. I am afraid to take a stand for things that are right. I am concerned with how people will react to me or perceive my actions or words. I don’t often think about God’s opinion in a matter and rarely think there could be consequences for disobeying him. I primarily seek the approval of man and not of God.”
13. Insecure
        “I often feel insecure. I don’t want to try new things or step out into uncomfortable situations because I’m afraid I’ll fail or look foolish. I am easily embarrassed.”
14. Compare Myself
        “I regularly compare myself to others. I am “performance oriented.” I feel that I have greater worth if I do well.”
15. Perfectionist
        “I am self-critical. I tend to be a perfectionist. I can’t stand for little things to be wrong because they reflect poorly on me. I have a hard time putting my mistakes behind me.”
16. Self-Serving (Philippians 2:19-22)
        “I am self-serving. When asked to do something, I find myself asking, „How will doing this help me? or „Will be inconvenienced? I am not focused on the needs and interests of others.”
17. Feel Better or Superior
        “I feel special or superior because of what I have or do.”
18. Think Highly of Myself (Romans 12:3, 16; James 2:1-4)
        “I think highly of myself. In relation to others I typically see myself as more mature and more gifted. In most situations, I have more to offer than others even though I may not say so. I don’t consider myself average or ordinary.”
19. Credit Myself (1 Corinthians 4:6-7; 15:10)
        “I tend to give myself credit for who I am and what I accomplish. I only occasionally think about or recognize that all that I am or have comes from God. I don’t consciously transfer all glory to God for any good I have or any good I do.”
20. Self-Righteous (Luke 18:9-14)
        “I tend to be self-righteous. I can think that I really have something to offer God. I would never say so, but I think God did well to save me. I seldom think about or recognize my total depravity and helplessness apart from God. I regularly focus on the sins of others. I don’t credit God for any degree of holiness in my life.”
21. Feel Deserving
        “I feel deserving. I think I deserve what I have. In fact, I think I ought to have more considering how well I have lived or in light of all I have done.”
22. Ungrateful (Ephesians 5:19-20; 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18; Colossians 3:15-17; Philippians 2:14)
        “I often feel ungrateful. Instead of thanking other people, I tend to complain about them. I grumble about what I don’t have or my lot in life. I am not amazed by grace on a regular basis and lack joy in my life.”
23. Captive to Self Pity
        “I find myself wallowing in self-pity. I am consumed with how I am treated by God and others. I tend to feel mistreated and hate being misunderstood. I seldom recognize or sympathize with what’s going on with others around me because I feel that I have it worse than they do.”
24. Jealous and Envious (James 3:13-16)
        “I can be jealous or envious of others abilities, possessions, positions, accomplishments or friends. I want to be what others are or want to have what others have. I think I deserve or should have the good things other people do. I find it hard to rejoice when others are blessed by God.”
25. Unkind and Harsh (Ezekiel 16:49; Psalm 17:10; Proverbs 24:17-18; Luke 10:25-37)
        “I am pretty insensitive to others. I feel some people just aren’t worth caring about. I have a hard time showing compassion or extending mercy to others. Some people aren’t worth my time and attention.”
26. Love to Reveal My Mind (Proverbs 18:2)
        “I like to reveal my own mind. I have an answer for practically every situation and an opinion on every subject. I feel compelled to balance everyone else out and let them know my thoughts.”
27. Know It All (1 Corinthians 8:1)
        “I have a know-it-all attitude. I am impressed by my own knowledge and understanding of things. I feel like there isn’t much I can learn from other people, especially those less mature than me.”
28. Like People to Know I Know
        “I feel compelled to stop people when they start to share something with me I already know.”
29. Hard to Admit I Don’t Know
        “I find it hard to admit it when I don’t know something. When someone asks me something I don’t know, I will make up an answer rather than admit I don’t know.”
30. Don’t Listen to Ordinary People
        “I have a hard time listening to ordinary people. I listen better to those I respect or people I am wanting to leave with a good impression. I don’t honestly listen when someone else is speaking because I am usually planning what I am going to say next.”
31. Interruptive
        “I interrupt people regularly. I don’t let people finish what they are saying.”
32. Don’t Get Much Out of Teaching
        “I don’t get much out of the teaching. I tend to evaluate the speaker rather than my own life. I grumble about hearing something a second time.”
33. Thinking of Others During Teaching
        “I listen to teaching with other people in mind. I constantly think of those folks who need to hear and apply this teaching and wish they were here.”
34. Not Teachable (Proverbs 12:1)
        “I’m not very open to input. I don’t pursue correction for my life. I tend to be unteachable and slow to repent when corrected. I don’t really see correction as a positive thing. I am offended when people probe the motivations of my heart or seek to adjust me.”
35. Don’t Admit Wrong Doing (Proverbs 28:13; James 5:16)
        “I have a hard time admitting that I am wrong. I find myself covering up or excusing my sins. It is hard for me to confess my sins to others or to ask for forgiveness.”
36. Do Not Welcome Correction (Proverbs 15:12)
        “I view correction as an intrusion into my privacy rather than an instrument of God for my welfare. I can’t identify anyone who would feel welcome to correct me.”
37. Resent People Who Correct Me (Proverbs 9:7-9)
        “I resent people who attempt to correct me. I don’t respond with gratefulness and sincere appreciation for their input. Instead I am tempted to accuse them and dwell on their faults. I get bitter and withdraw.”
38. Contentious and Argumentative (James 1:19-20)
        “When corrected, I become contentious and argumentative. I don’t take people’s observations seriously. I minimize and make excuses or give explanations.”
39. Get Angry or Offended With Others (1 Corinthians 6:7)
        “I am easily angered and offended. I don’t like being crossed or disagreed with. I find myself thinking, “I can’t believe they did that to me.” I often feel wronged. I hate to be misunderstood by others especially those I respect and desire to think highly of me.”
40. Constantly in Conflicts (Proverbs 13:10)
        “I have “personality conflicts” with others. I have a hard time getting along with certain kinds of people. People regularly tell me they struggle with me.”
41. Have Little Esteem or Respect for Others (Numbers 16:1-3)
        “I lack respect for other people. I don’t think very highly of most people. I have a hard time encouraging and honoring others unless they really do something great.”
42. Do Violence with My Mouth (Psalm 101:5; Romans 3:13-14; 3 John 1:9-10)
        “I am a slanderer. I find myself either giving or receiving evil reports about others. I am not concerned about the effect of slander on me because of my maturity level. I think I can handle it. I only share with others the things I think they really need to know. I don’t tell all. Anyway, the things I say or hear about people are usually true.”
43. Sow Discord (Proverbs 28:25)
        “I am divisive. My actions and attitudes separate people rather than unite people. My words frequently undermined the confidence and trust people have in one another. I also tend to resist or resent authority. I don’t like other people to give me orders or directions.”
44. Demean or Belittle Others
“With a motivation to put people in their place or look good myself, I like to demean or put others down. They need my adjustment. This includes leaders. Other people need to be humble and have a “sober” assessment of themselves.”
45. Critical
        “I tend to be critical of others. I find myself feeling or talking negatively about people. I subtly feel better about myself when I see how bad someone else is. I find it far easier to evaluate than to encourage someone else.”
46. Self-Willed and Stubborn
        “I am self-willed and stubborn. I have a hard time cooperating with others. I really prefer my own way and often insist on getting it.”
47. Independent (Proverbs 18:1; Luke 1:51-52)
        “I am independent and uncommitted. I don’t really see why I need other people. I can easily separate myself from others. I don’t get much out of the small group meetings.”
48. Unaccountable (Acts 2:42; Hebrews 10:25)
        “I am unaccountable. I don’t ask others to hold me responsible to follow through on my commitments. I don’t really need accountability for my words and actions.”
49. Unsubmissive (Hebrews 13:17; 1 Peter 5:5)
        “I am unsubmissive. I don’t like being under the authority of another person. I don’t see submission as a good and necessary provision from God for my life. I have a hard time supporting and serving those over me. I don’t “look up” to people and I like to be in charge. Other people may need leaders but I don’t. It is important that my voice is always heard.”
50. Feel Mature
        “I really appreciate somebody taking the time to put this paper together. It will really be a big help to my friends and family. However, I don’t really need this because I think I’m pretty humble already.”

-Compiled by Brent Detwiler