Like a Child: Humble

It would seem incorrect to conclude this series on “Like a Child” without talking about humility, since “humbling oneself like a child” is specifically identified by Jesus as a key to the Kingdom.

Humility. This virtue has often eluded me. Because, thinking less of (or thinking down on) oneself is not necessarily being humble. More often than not, that way of thinking results in some kind of false humility, self-abasement, or a refusal to use God-given gifts or talents for fear of being seen as “proud.” We know the pattern.

This one statement about humility has helped me tremendously: “True humility is not thinking less of yourself; it is thinking of yourself less” (C.S. Lewis).

So, when I spend time thinking about myself, even when the thoughts are not about how good, but how ‘not good’ I am, I am not being humble. The focus is still on me! A humble attitude is one that understands that it is “not about me!” Humble or not, excellent or not, good-looking or not, worthy or not… all that does not really matter. Other people are more important; other people deserve my attention more than I deserve it for myself.

But talk about a ‘catch-22’ dilemma! If I try harder to be humble, I will be focusing more on myself. And that is the opposite of humility! O my.

What about children? Humility is not a trait that we quickly associate with childhood. Children can actually seem to be very ‘proud’ — or give that impression through boastful words. They are also egocentric, viewing things only from their own perspective. Yet Jesus said that children are humble. Hmm.

On second thought, it is true that young children are too busy with life to sit down and start wondering what other people think of them. When a child does boast, it is often not about himself but about his Daddy or Mommy. And a child knows very well that he or she is not ‘all grown up.’ He does not think of himself “more highly than he ought.”

A young child is also highly dependent on adults – he realizes that he cannot manage to do things by himself, and definitely needs help. A child’s view of himself and his abilities is realistic. . .

So maybe children are humble, after all. And maybe we do not often imagine them to be so because we tend to misunderstand this virtue to start with.

Whatever the case, the Word exhorts us ‘be completely humble.’ Gracious Father, I need your help with that!

~ Diane

Posted in Child-like, Inspiration, Personal | Tagged , , , | 2 Comments

Like a Child: Life is Easy

I don’t know about you, but I often find life to be very difficult. Or at best, complicated. So many things to do. So many problems to figure out. So many burdens to carry. So many wrongs that can never possibly be made right. Then enter something like the terror in Paris this week (aagh)! Injustice. . . pain. . . so much to try to comprehend and so little that I actually understand. Does that resonate?

Children, on the other hand, are not weighed down by the “worries of this life.” They just live life, and love it! Life is easy.

It is relaxing to watch little children, and just admire them. They seem so carefree. (The ironic thing is that children, instead of reveling in their childhood, believe that life will be so much better when they ‘grow up’; that being an adult is the best thing in the world. And we, in turn, are thinking: “IF YOU ONLY KNEW! You do not want to grow up. Just enjoy being a child!”)

Yes, Jesus said we must become like little children. But isn’t that backwards? Why would regressing to an earlier stage of life actually be equated with becoming mature in faith? Well, welcome to the upside-down Kingdom! In order to grow, we need to go back. It is a total paradox.

When I am feeling particularly burdened and people tell me, “Just trust the Lord,” I want to shout back “What a cop-out! The Christian walk is not about having a Jesus who you use as a Magic Wand to solve all the problems.” I resolve that life is just hard, and I better learn to grind my way through it!

But can that attitude really be called child-like?

“Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light” (Mt 11:29-30).

~ Diane

Posted in Bible, Child-like, Inspiration, Justice | Tagged , , , | 2 Comments

Like a Child: Receive the Kingdom

This morning my Bible reading took me to Mark 10. It was one of those times when something ‘hits’ afresh. “I tell you the truth, anyone who does not receive the Kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it.”

Matthew 18:16 has been the text for this “Like a Child” series. There, Jesus says that we must “change and become like little children.” But the emphasis in the Mark 10 verse is different. It speaks of receiving the Kingdom of God.

How does a little child receive the Kingdom? How would a little child receive anything? It made me think.

Young children don’t receive information about their environment by remembering it, but by absorbing it. It is called implicit memory, or unconscious memory. None of us ‘remember’ being born, or remember our first birthday. In fact, we might not remember anything about the first several years of life. Yet, those years have shaped us and largely influenced the persons we are today. The experiences of a young child are not received by rote memory, but are incorporated into his very being.

What does this mean for us and the Kingdom? Yes, we need to learn about the Kingdom of God. But perhaps Jesus is saying here that we need to do more than that — we need to become the Kingdom. The ‘upside-down-ness’ (or is it right-side-up-ness?) of the Kingdom should be our norm. The values of the Kingdom should be burned in our soul. The Kingdom principles should be those that we naturally live by. That is, the Kingdom should be part of us. The Kingdom of God is who we are.

Maybe that is why we must be born again — so that we become infants in the spirit and receive, then grow into, the Kingdom of God even as a child would. Otherwise, according to Jesus, we can never enter.

 ~ Diane

Posted in Bible, Child-like, Inspiration | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

What to Eat?

Last week Diane and I were subjected to a random and fairly extensive medical check-up. The health insurance we have had for over 25 years was up for renewal, and our insurers noticed that we are not getting younger!

Before they could renew our cover, which had lapsed for a couple of months, they needed to be sure about our health. A doctor explained our results yesterday, and had a lot of good things to say. Everything they checked was good. At 64 or even 55 years, good health is actually God’s favor. Thank you, Lord!

So today, after a nice lunch of vegetables (carrots, peas, red beets and cabbages) and flying termites, and with the recent warning by the World Health Organization (WHO) ringing in my mind, I paused to take stock of the eating habits I have developed over the years.

My typical menu includes lots of vegetables and fruits, fish, chicken, and brown rice. Yes, a bit of ugali now and then, brown chapattis, nuts, soya milk. Almost no dairy products (butter, cheese, ice cream) and almost none of all the other sweet stuff. Very little red meat. O yes, and some herbs like stinging nettle, bitter leaf, and papaya leaves. Not to forget walking for exercise as often as possible. For a person who loved sugar and sweets, nyama choma (roast meat) and bacon, changing diet was not an easy task. It called for discipline and prayer. I still have to work on saying “no” to tempting food and desserts.

The WHO news flash which is generating quite a bit of discussion explains that processed meats (sausages, hot dogs) and beef increase the likelihood of cancer. For sure, some doctors are trying very hard to dispute these findings. The fact is, our world could be a lot healthier and happier if we all just exercised a bit of discipline in what we eat, both physically and spiritually.

If eating certain meats poses a health risk, it would only be realistic to start looking for possible alternatives. Other than the white meats (fish, chicken, or turkey), winged termites could very well make the cut. I know a few people who already consider these a delicacy. <:)

According to the International Journal of Food Nutrition and Safety (2012), those flying termites have high nutritional qualities. They are a good source of protein and other micro and macro nutrients. They have low phytic acid value and hydrocyanide value, meaning that they are harmless. They provide high-quality proteins and minerals, even when dried. Hmm, termites could actually be a good inclusion for nutritious international cuisine!

Seriously, though…. as stewards of God’s creation I believe it behooves us to make the right decisions, and I expect that these decisions will include what we will or will not eat. May God find us faithful even in this area of life.

~ Ibrahim

Posted in Family, Medical, Personal, Prayer | Tagged , , , | 4 Comments

Like a Child: Not Ashamed

“The man and his wife were both naked, and they felt no shame.” This is the last verse in Genesis chapter two, before the infamous “fall” of Genesis chapter three. They felt no shame.

Shame is a despicable emotion. Shame is not the same as guilt (awareness of wrong-doing), remorse (regret for wrong-doing) or even embarrassment. Shame involves guilt, but goes deeper to inflict personal unworthiness. People who are ashamed seem to be enveloped in a dark cloud. It is hard for them to receive love and hard for them to be confident in any context. Shame debilitates and de-values. It does not help us rise above struggles, but instead pushes us down.

Christ rejected the shame that was associated with death on the cross.1 Paul quotes Isaiah2 in saying that those who trust in the Lord, the precious cornerstone, will never be put to shame. 3

Children, you may have noticed, are like Adam and Even before the fall. They do not feel shame. Have you not seen a one-year-old who is just learning to walk, strut proudly in public with no clothes on whatsoever? Or a little one who escapes from her bath and runs the rounds in front of guests — much to Mommy’s chagrin? In Africa, it is common to see young children taking a bath out in the open sunlight, in full view of all passersby. They don’t even try to hide!

Of course I am not suggesting that we should go back to the Genesis 2 dress code! I am also not suggesting that we should not feel guilt when we do wrong. But there is something very appealing about a shame-free existence. This could be the procedure: when we realize we have sinned, we repent, and receive forgiveness. As the blood of Jesus removes the stain of sin, we are free. End of story. Shame has no place.

Freedom from shame is part of the package of child-like faith. I want to live in that freedom.

~ Diane

1Hebrews 12:2; 2Isaiah 28:16; 3Romans 10:11


Posted in Bible, Child-like, Inspiration | Tagged , , , | 4 Comments

Like a Child: Asks Questions

Have you ever noticed that children ask some of the funniest questions? And ‘dumbest’ questions? But when the questions come from children, we don’t think less of them for asking. In fact, we applaud their curiosity. As adults, however, we become afraid to ask.

We can use the classic “lost while driving” scenario as an example. I have been in the car with people (no names mentioned!) who drive back and forth, up and down, here and there… but do not stop to ask for directions. He (and yes, it is usually a man) just does not want to ask a stupid question or let someone know he doesn’t have things all figured out.

Google and GPS’s have come to the rescue of those of us who don’t like to reveal our ignorance. Now we can ask Google ANYthing!! But to be honest, Google is not going to help when it comes to the more important things, perhaps questions like: “How can we resolve a long-standing marriage debate?” ;  “How can I raise children in a third-culture context?” ; “How can I tithe when we have so many needs in the family?”

What else should we be asking one another that we are afraid to ask? What should we be asking God?

A close friend was recently making a major decision that would significantly affect the rest of her life. “Have you asked God about this?” I enquired. I was surprised at her honest and blunt response, “No, I have not.”

Children are naturally very inquisitive. They want to learn all they can, and are not ashamed of what they don’t know. They do not realize there is anything wrong with being uninformed, or even ignorant. (And indeed, there is not anything wrong with it).

If we would admit our lack of knowing and ask more, we would also learn more. Child-like learning; child-like faith. Jesus said that we need it.

~ Diane

(btw, our friend Liz wrote an excellent blog titled “Child-Like” > check it out).



Posted in Bible, Child-like, Family | Tagged , , , , | 1 Comment

Like a Child: Naive

Many people have told me that I am naive. Usually it is an accusation. But allow me, for a moment, to self-defend.

What, really, is wrong with believing the best about people? What is wrong with being oblivious to the ill motives of others? My husband would say that it is too easy for me to get into a dangerous spot. Probably true. Others would say that I can easily be taken advantage of. That is probably true also.  But isn’t a stance of naiveté more child-like than one of constant suspicion?

David Yarnes writes in his new book, The Prosperity Matrix, “For me, self-defeating, cynical practices were so destructive that I began to recognize the value of building a counteracting approach to life. . . . I began practicing a way of life that I called “planned naiveté.” That is the freedom to have faith in other people regardless of past experiences. Planned naiveté means that you actively choose to believe the best of situations and people.”

Sure, this approach means that we could be taken advantage of. But it also means that we are open to people and opportunities that we could otherwise miss. Yarnes explains “Even when things go wrong, we can train ourselves to mentally reestablish a mindset of faith in other people. It’s important, because otherwise we are… too busy protecting ourselves to realize that we are missing out on life.”

A child does not have to plan how to be naive, he comes by it naturally. Maybe he has not (yet) been hurt by someone he trusted, or abused for someone else’s gain. Maybe he has not been polluted by the filth of this world. Maybe because he is (still) pure within, things outside of him are also deemed to be pure. Jesus did say something about that…. and also said that child-like faith is required for entering his Kingdom.

Think about it?

~ Diane

(Quotations are used with permission. Visit for your copy of “The Prosperity Matrix.”)

Posted in Child-like, Cultures, Inspiration, Justice, Personal | Tagged , , , | 1 Comment