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Posts tagged with: humility

Do you have “American-Christian Elephantitis?”

Those of you who know me, know that my wife and I have started a Christian 501c3 organization called, “ReturnHope International.” 

Anyway….I say that to say…

Some of ReturnHope’s work is being done in Africa.  I have a deep love for the people of Africa.  Specifically the people of Uganda.  When I was in Uganda recently, I spoke with a couple locals who were asking me about what American’s think of Ugandans…or Africans, in General.

One of the Ugandan people got more specific with me.  This person told me they received a letter from an American describing how two Christians were fighting in America over work that needed to be done in Africa.  The letter was warning the Africans to stay out of the conflict to avoid getting hurt.

They told me that the writer of the letter used an African Proverb to try to make a point to them.   “What African Proverb was used,” I asked.  They responded by quoting the proverb…



The African told me that the letter was warning them about how they are the only ones who would get trampled by these fighting Americans and they needed to make sure they stayed out of the way of the Elephants that were fighting.  Then the African asked me a question, with obvious hurt and frustration on his face…

“Do American’s think themselves as elephants, and Africans as grass?”

I very sincerely replied, “I can only speak for myself…I cannot begin to tell you what the writer of that letter thinks, but I am deeply sorry if you have been hurt by this person’s letter.  It does seem the writer believes themselves to be an Elephant….and you Africans as the grass, that gets hurt when they fight.”   I then told them that most American’s do not think this way.

I also said,  “since we are talking about proverbs, have you heard the proverb… “One bad apple can ruin the whole barrel.” Then I said, “let me just say that very few Americans would actually think in such an arrogant and ungodly way…please do not let this one American, who wrote the letter, ruin it for the rest of us Americans.”

I also asked the recipient of the letter, to give the writer of the letter, the benefit of the doubt by hoping the writer just displayed their own ignorance by trying to use an African proverb in an attempt to sound smarter than they actually are.

What I thought was just a friendly conversation between some people getting to know each other, was actually…I believe…the voice of God warning me and other American Christians about how we treat the very people we serve…”in the name of Jesus.”

If you are a Christian who is also American…and you do good work for the less fortunate, locally and/or in foreign places…I have some questions for you.

1.  Do you think you are actually taking God to the foreigner?  If you do…you are ignorant of the real God and ignorant of how active and alive He is all around the world…and how patient God is with your ignorance.   God is at work everywhere…and we as followers of Jesus must choose to obey His commands to serve the less fortunate….but…God is already there and working…we aren’t so special that we are actually taking God to them.

2.  Do you think you are an Elephant and the less fortunate are just Grass?  The American writer of the letter that used this African proverb, is all the evidence the Africans needed to think all American’s are arrogant.  The damage has been done and it will take many-many Americans going to Africa with humble attitudes and humble servants hearts to prove, through our actions, that 99.9% of Americans do not think that Africans are grass under our American elephant feet.  Good Grief!  I am so frustrated by this letter that was written and caused serious mental damage.

Only God is THE Elephant…the rest of us are but grass!

3.  With the work you do in 3rd world countries or to the less fortunate in the USA…are you actually serving the recipient to a point where they are growing into self sufficiency(Being ‘grass’ with them)…or are you causing them to become dependent upon your giving?   Think long and hard on this one…How many years have well intentioned Christians been in Africa trying to do good, yet African self sufficiency is no closer to a reality?  Think of it this way… If you disappeared from the foreign fields you have been doing good in…would the people of that foreign field be able to succeed without you and your gifts / aid?  Is the good you are doing for the least of these, leading them into working towards self sufficiency, or toward dependency on you?

In Conclusion…

Never forget what Jesus said as He was talking about His 2nd return…

“The Grass shall be the Elephant and the Elephant shall be the grass.”

Or…more biblically correct…

The last shall be first!  The first shall be last! (Its all about motive/attitude) Hey letter writer…Do you still think you are an elephant and the Africans are just grass?

One last sentence in my rant towards the bully elephant’…

Jesus…is THE Elephant.  When He came to earth and incarnated Himself from an Elephant to just a piece of grass…He washed our feet.  He let us abuse Him.  He served us.  He let us kill Him.  “For even the Son of Man came not to be an elephant but to be grass, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” Please read Mark 10:45 for the exact version. 

The Bull Elephant served the grass that in return mowed Him down.

Oh writer of this letter to the Africans…  For God’s sake…for Africa’s sake…for your very own eternal destination’s sake…Do NOT think any longer that you are an Elephant and that Africans are but grass…you owe the Africans an apology.  You owe it to Americans to redeem our reputation. 

To all servants of the most High God…may the recipients of our service see our love and humility and may we demonstrate our equality amongst them.

If you still think you are an Elephant…you have your animals confused…you are mistaking an elephant for a donkey.

“If my people who are called by my name humble themselves, and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and heal their land.”  2 Chronicles 7:14

For the Record…..

 I, Trent A. Renner, am a piece of grass.

HYDRATE — WINNING FROM THE INSIDE 1 (Mt.5:3) “Poor in Spirit”

“The poor in spirit are blessed, for the King of Heaven is theirs.”
Matthew 5:3 (HCSB)

So Jesus is in Northern Israel when He speaks his very first recorded sermon. It says in Matthew 5 that Jesus went up a mountain and he sat down and began to teach. I have been to Israel now three times. I have walked on the ground where it is assumed that Jesus taught this crowd referenced in Matthew 5. We call this first sermon of Jesus’, “The Sermon on the Mount.” In the area I have visited there are a lot of hillsides. Its funny to me, as you read the Bible, and see the word Mountain used a lot. The mountains that are referenced in the Bible, leads us to imagine mountains like the Rocky Mountains or, as I live in the Phoenix AZ area, our Valley is surrounded by larger mountains. However, please understand, if you actually saw what the Bible refers to as Mountains in the Israel area, you would do better to think more of a hillside instead of mountain. This area that I have visited where it is assumed that Jesus preached this sermon that we have recorded in Matthew 5 is an area that has a hillside that goes upward about 100 feet. Littered throughout the incline of this “mount” are a bunch of chair sized boulders. As I stood at the top of this hillside looking down, it was very easy for me to see how Jesus would have walked through the flat plain of the land, through the crowds gathered there, and walk up the incline of the hillside or “mount,” and then sit on one of those boulders and begin to teach. Its a very cool place to visit and I hope you will be able to travel there someday and see the sight for yourself. I try to lead a trip every two years, maybe you could be a part of the group I lead over to Israel next.

As Jesus begins to teach, He simply says, “The poor in spirit are blessed, for theirs is the Kingdom of Heaven.”

First of all let’s simply define “Blessed.” Blessed does not mean happy. Blessed means approved. This teaching of Jesus could be translated, “The poor in spirit are approved by God and will inherit the Kingdom of Heaven.”

What does “poor in spirit” mean?
I do not think it means poor as in the opposite of being rich. Its not about the lack of houses, cars and bling. The Bible is loaded with faithful men and women that God used in mighty ways and they were wealthy. There is nothing wrong with being wealthy as long as you are “poor in spirit.”

Let’s look at it this way. Mankind…especially in America…values “HAVING & DOING.” The more you have the more successful you are in the eyes of the world. The more you do or accomplish, the more successful you are in the eyes of the world.

But Jesus didn’t teach this idea. Notice this teaching of Jesus’ doesn’t say, “Blessed are those who ACCOMPLISH poor in spirit or HAVE poor in spirit.” He says, “Blessed ARE the poor in spirit.”

So here is the deal…
This whole Hydrate series is about “winning from the inside.” I asked in a previous blog if your “happiness is portable?” The only way that happiness can be portable is if it is inside of you. If your happiness is in what you have or what you do, then if you lose what you have or can’t do what you do any longer, then your happiness would be gone too. Its like saying your purpose is found in your stuff and in what you do. But what if you lose the stuff or can’t do what you do any longer? Does that mean your purpose ends. No! Your purpose and your happiness must be portable. Your purpose and your happiness is in WHO YOU ARE.

Purpose is an “ARE”…not a Have or a Do! Happiness is an “ARE”…not a Have or a Do! (Do you understand this very important part?)

Jesus says blessed “ARE” the poor in Spirit. Maybe this is a good way to think about it, if you are still trying to understand “Poor in Spirit.” What is the opposite of poor in Spirit? The opposite of poor in spirit is “Self-Sufficient.” If you think you are self sufficient then you actually think that you don’t need God or anybody else. If you think you do not need God, then you are not “Poor In Spirit.” Thus…the Kingdom of Heaven will not be for you! If you think you are self sufficient, then others probably see you as arrogant. Those who ARE poor in spirit ARE humble. It might be fair to say that Jesus could have simply said, “Blessed are the humble, for theirs is the Kingdom of Heaven.”

I want the Kingdom of Heaven so bad. I must continue to work on my “poor in spirit.” My humility. Don’t forget that Jesus told us in the Lord’s Prayer that we should be praying, “Thy Kingdom Come on Earth….as it is in Heaven.”

So…yes…we want to be in the Kingdom of Heaven for eternity. But in order for that to happen, we have to bring some heaven down to earth. That happens best when you ARE like the Kingdom of Heaven. Lots of people “DO” what Jesus commands, or “HAVE” Bibles they read frequently, but they ARE not like God internally. Do you know what I mean?

Be the ARE!

The “Sweat It Out” section is simply meant to challenge you to action. In the “Drink It In” section I share some history and teaching. Now that you drank in the material above. How will you “sweat it out.”

If you will…I ask you to get a sheet of paper and write out, in one or two sentences…”Who You Are.”
Some rules. You can’t write what you do or what you have. Remember, who you are must be portable. You could lose everything in your life due to a tragedy but that wouldn’t take away “who you are.” So write down who you are. Keep it with you today. Revise it as you think of other things that describe who you are.

Another thing to ‘sweat out’ is to ask somebody you trust whether or not you ARE humble or ARE arrogant. Ask them to tell you straight up. Make sure you don’t get angry at them for being honest with you. LOL If you get angry at them for being honest…then you will know for a fact that you ARE not in fact….”Poor In Spirit.”

Be humble today. Be poor in spirit. Don’t think you ARE self-sufficient. Ask for God’s help and strength in everything you do. Make sure you ARE a friend to others so that you may have friends in your life too.

Being poor in spirit must be a huge thing to God because it is the first sentence Jesus spoke at the very first sermon He ever preached. Poor in Spirit is a sense of need. I need God. I need others. The day I think I have arrived and I can do everything on my own. That’s not a good day.

Be thankful that you need others. That is how God made you. Write down the names of people in your life that you are thankful for. Use technology to send them a quick thank you note telling them why you appreciate them. Let them know they are important to you and that you need them in your life.

Don’t forget to pause and thank the Lord for how He made you and thank Him for promising to never leave your nor forsake you. You need Him. I do too.

Blessed are the Poor In Spirit for theirs is the Kingdom of Heaven!

“Hi, my name is Trent Renner, Who are you?”

So…you walk into a gathering of people who do the same thing you do. You are asked over and over, as you meet different people, “Who are you?” Sound familiar? Have you been in this situation before? Of course you have. You’ve been asked a thousand times…”who are you?” My question is, “How have you answered?” If I approached you right now and asked you, “who are you?” I know you would give me a smile and your name. The key question is, what would you answer next? I would answer; “my name is Trent Renner and I am the Lead and founding Pastor of Parkway Christian Church in Surprise Arizona.”
That answer seems like a good answer at first. However the problem is this; Parkway Christian Church no longer exists. I merged Parkway with Christ’s Church of the Valley in April of 2011. Parkway was completely absorbed and acquired by Christ’s Church of the Valley in Peoria AZ. Parkway Church doesn’t exist anymore. My leadership of her doesn’t exist anymore. So before Parkway was merged with Christ’s Church of the Valley, and somebody asked me who I was, and I answered by giving my name and Title…well…then looking back…was I giving a good description of who I was? If who I am is based on my name and Title only…then what happens to my identity when that titled is no longer truthful as to who I am? If who I am is based on something that no longer exists then I no longer exist. Who are you? Please don’t tell me your existence is founded on what you do as a job.  Check out this great video clip…it makes my point very well. Anger Management…\”Who are you?\”
If tomorrow you woke up and your job title no longer existed, who would you be? If tomorrow, all the people who followed you, no longer actually followed you, who would you be? If tomorrow you found out that 13 or 30 years of your life blood, sweat, sacrifice, time and energy, just evaporated, who would you be?

Where is your identity? By what do define yourself? Who are you?

I have learned the hard way that I must hold onto everything lightly. Nothing is really mine. You are just like me. So, nothing is really yours. You and me…we are not entitled to anything. Please base your identity on what your Creator calls you and by what He did for you. Everything else is temporal. Here today, gone tomorrow.

Who are you?
My name is Trent Renner…forgiven man of God, temporal husband, father, and spiritual leader. A man who loves the Lord and one who ultimately knows that nothing is permanent.

Who are you? How do you define yourself?