In which I prepare my heart for the Bethlehem stable

by Craig on November 23, 2011


The Practice of Preparing…
preparing my heart for God…
preparing to encounter Him this holiday season…
it all begins with humility.
If I don’t have that…
I can’t live in and with God.

To be broken anew…
because he humbled himself…
so I, to meet him, to prepare for him…
lower towering gates of pride…
empty all the full in me…
fill it with Grace…
fill it with love.

What I learned best of humility…
well maybe not learned…
but had the chance to learn…
was written 900 years ago in France.

There was a little monastery was falling away…
and a monk was called in to save it.
They had ascended steps of pride.
They had nothing really…
no riches, no power, no home of their own, no brides, no children…

Yes he's holding a skull. I know. They didn't really hold skulls. In the portrait it's a symbol for holding on to the "poor" state of humility.


and yet even with nothing high and mighty to base their pride on…
they found a way appear low and yet raise themselves high.

The original sin…

You said in your heart: “I will scale the heavens; Above the stars of God I will set up my throne; I will take my seat on the Mount of Assembly, in the recesses of the North. I will ascend above the tops of the clouds; I will be like the Most High!” (IS 14:13)

When I reach…
when I try to raise my head to be above another…
when I center my thoughts on me…
when I increase me and decrease love…
I need someone to set me straight too.

900 years ago the little abbey was set straight.
A monk with a penchant for getting things done was dispatched.
He saw the pride that raised high and lowered the spirit.
He knew that there was little room for God in a puffed up life.
He watched as they played their drama of pride…
and he identified 12 steps of pride…
12 steps that lead away from God.


To meet Our Lord, to be like him, to be “in” this holiday season I have to put away that which raises me high – and humbly welcome the Savior.

So I’m going to consider anew Bernard of Clairvaux’s 12 steps of pride…
steps that lead away from God…
so I can halt my ascension upon them…
and prevent falling any higher.

Because like the monks, I have nothing really.
I have so little of what the world has to offer.
But still I find a way…
to find…pride.

To find the Savior in the stable this season…
I will seek that most import element.
I’ll follow Bernard in 900 year old steps of humility…
by tearing down the gates so high…
and preparing to meet He who is humility…
with humility of my own.

{ 22 comments… read them below or add one }

Victoria Jenkins November 23, 2011 at 12:10 pm

looking forward to this. sure hope things work out with your computer.


Martha Orlando November 24, 2011 at 3:26 pm

Oh, how I am looking forward to this, Craig! It will be a wonderful lesson for us all, I am certain of this, as we prepare our hearts to meet the Savior.
Blessings always!


Michelle November 26, 2011 at 3:51 am

I’m looking forward to this (like everyone else) :)


Craig November 30, 2011 at 2:15 pm

Michelle, I have to finish up the shiny new gospel sharing system – a couple of more posts left – and then – is humility for the rest of the month I think – right up till Christmas. God bless you my friend.


A. November 27, 2011 at 8:45 am

Yes, this is balm to my soul to know this is coming…thanks, Craig, and yet prayers for your computer now.


Danelle November 30, 2011 at 9:01 am

“Increase me. . decrease love.”
It ached to read that, powerful words strung together. Truth.
And I don’t know about these 12 steps of pride, looking forward to reading through them here. . . then prayerfully living them. Pride stings a soul.
Thank you Craig. I’ve read you for awhile now. . I’m hitting the subscribe button. Not sure why I haven’t done it sooner.
Blessings to you friend.


Craig November 30, 2011 at 1:51 pm

Danelle – first of all – a heartfelt thank you – really – thank you! The 12 steps of Bernard of Clairvaux are going to surprise you – they surprised me. Pride DOES sting the soul. Blessings to you too friend – and thank you again.


Sylvia November 30, 2011 at 9:09 am

I’ve been doing a month-long *trying* to learn humility (not just learn *about* it), and what I *have* learned is that it’s a lifelong endeavor, a continual battle we must wage against all the self in us and all that the world keeps bombarding us with to promote that self! I look forward to your posts this month especially. God bless it!


Craig November 30, 2011 at 1:55 pm

oh boy do you have right on! it IS a lifelong endeavor, you are so right – pride is the way of the world – but then we are supposed to be in the world but not OF the world. Humility is SO important – if I don’t have that – I don’t have Christianity – I don’t have love – I don’t have God. Thank you Sylvia, and God bless you!


Brandee Shafer November 30, 2011 at 10:43 am

Thank you for this, Craig. It’s not even December, and I’m already feeling so overwhelmed and tired. I don’t feel like I have the energy to fold a load of laundry and scrub out the crock pot, let alone write Christmas cards; buy and wrap gifts; bake and ship cookies; decorate the house; etc. And I ask myself: are any of those things about Jesus? Really? Or are they all about me?


Craig November 30, 2011 at 1:59 pm

Brandee – I totally understand – I know exactly – EXACTLY how you feel. You’re a mom, the laundry will never get done anyway – it’s only one long war – not even a battle – just a long war and the laundry is the only winner. On top of all else that you do – there is so much more this season. I hope you don’t mind that I just finished a prayer for you – so much to do – not enough time – so much pull in the direction away from our Lord in the season OF our Lord – I prayed that he would pull you close this year. Hope that’s okay. Thank you Brandee, thank you, and God bless and keep you and yours.


Brandee Shafer November 30, 2011 at 2:05 pm

Yes, Friend, I will take all the prayers I can get. Anytime. All the time. Thank you.


Traci November 30, 2011 at 1:08 pm

Nice to meet you. Found you over at A Holy Experience. Love, Traci @ Ordinary Inspirations


Craig December 1, 2011 at 9:03 pm

Traci, first of all sorry it’s taken so long to reply – but you got caught in my spam catcher – and I just released you today. Sorry! Anyway, I peeked at your site – hope you don’t mind. Nice to meet you too. God bless and keep you.


Susan@ThoughtfulSpot November 30, 2011 at 1:45 pm

. . .which means I am so excited about this :)


Craig November 30, 2011 at 2:02 pm

Susan – just one. Big. Happy. Smile on my face – thank you. Not very many people know of the 12 steps of humility that Bernard of Clairvaux wrote about almost 1000 years ago – I’m glad to give him some press – although, humble monk that he was, he’d probably shy away from the attention. God bless you Susan.


Kris November 30, 2011 at 4:56 pm

This is bound to be good. Pride is one of my larger character flaws. I am sure I will learn much from this. Thank you, thank you for sharing this with us, and always pointing us in the direction of Heaven. Many blessings, this Advent, Craig.


Craig November 30, 2011 at 6:50 pm

Krissie – not enough hours to do what needs doing lately – and a computer crash – so I haven’t been reading enough – I’m going to try to fix that. Anyway, thank you Kris, I smile every time I see a comment from you – I hope Thanksgiving went well – I hope flat Craig didn’t eat too much – he’s circular enough as it is ツ God bless you Kris!


kelli-AdventurezInChildRearing November 30, 2011 at 7:49 pm

Craig, precious, perfect- and you know- if we could all remember this principle we could spend a lot less money on prideful things we think we need to do/ have and really get down to some great worship and fellowship this season! I’m looking forward to reading more –
God bless my friend!


Craig December 1, 2011 at 9:08 pm

Kelli, first of all, I’m sorry it’s been this long to reply to your comment – you got caught in my spam catcher – and I just released you today – sorry! And Kelli – oh gosh – humility is a huge thing – not just for this season – but without it – well – without it we don’t grow, we don’t love, our faith is too small, everything’s just a mass if we don’t humility. I’m pretty sure you’ve never heard what Bernard of Clairvaux wrote almost 1000 years ago – very few people have. But it’s awesome – full of awesome. A couple of days to finish up my current series – then onto him and his 12 steps. Anyway, thank you Kelli, and God bless and keep you – and help you find a way to Blissdom!! ツ


Kris December 1, 2011 at 1:29 pm

Yes, indeed, not enough hours, and not enough energy, but yet with Him, there is ALWAYS enough…. Thanksgiving was nice, and flat craig is so polite and quiet… praying for you this expectant season of Advent… wishing you joy and peace in the waiting… Blessings, always~


Craig December 1, 2011 at 1:42 pm

(smile) flat Craig is so polite and quiet – funny! Thank you – I wish the same for you my sister!


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