Thursday, February 25, 2010


I read an excellent quote about humility from a local United Methodist pastor: "Humility is our way to God, because it was God's way to us."  What exactly is humility?  Its simply the truth about ourselves.  Its the willingness and vulnerability to be honest about our imperfections and smallness.  Its the truth that even our noblest deeds are riddled with self-interest.

Paul writes in his letter to the church at Phillippi to “Have this mind which was in Christ Jesus, who was in the form of God, emptied himself, taking the form of a servant… and humbling himself became obedient unto death.  Therefore God has highly exalted him” (Philippians 2:5-9).

God's humility in Christ was the perfect humility.  There was no self-interest in Christ humiliating himself on the cross.  He even said before it happened "I don't want to do this, but I'm willing to." (my translation of his prayer in Matthew 26:39).

A person who lives this kind of "mind of Christ" doesn't just occasionally practice humility, its at core of who they are and how they live.  Humility is not a gift to receive, its a virtue to pursue.  How about you, are you pursuing the truth about who you are in relationship with God?

Wednesday, February 17, 2010


I've always liked Proverbs 16:9: "In his heart a man plans his course, but the Lord directs his steps."  I like it because it communicates a balance between human responsibility and initiative and divine guidance.  So many people think God is in control.  If control means what it means literally, then I disagree.  If God were literally "in control" then we would just be like robots controlled by a master programmer.  We would be puppets controlled by the puppet master.  Freewill proves that God is not in control (a better way to say it is that "God is in charge" or to super-spiritualize it, that "God is sovereign").

God does not force us to do anything (obviously, except to be alive and die) which means we have a lot of freedom to make decisions.  So we can plan our course...if I want to be a doctor, I plan my course accordingly.  If I want to become a black belt in karate...I plan my course accordingly.  I felt called to be a I planned my course by attending seminary and pursuing ordination in the United Methodist church.  That's our part, planning and pursuing.  God's part is in directing the pursuit.

Its only by God directing my steps that I was able to get through seminary.  It's only by God directing my steps that my decisions have worked out.  There have been decisions that haven't worked out, I believe that's God directing my steps as well.

So, what passions are in you that just need to be planned and pursued?  Most likely, those passions are from God.  Which means if you plan and pursue them, God will direct your steps.  So what are you waiting for?  Go for it knowing that God is with you.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Intriguing story

I was intrigued by this story.  I was so amazed to discover that a fire could burn underneath a town for over 40 years. A quote that jumped out at me from the article is this: "It could have been extinguished for thousands of dollars then, but a series of bureaucratic half-measures and a lack of funding allowed the fire to grow into a voracious monster."

A deadly fire burning beneath a town for a long period of time that could've been extinguished if the proper measures had been taken.  It reminds me of what lies beneath the surface of the human heart.  Its so easy to let regret, jealousy, anger, bitterness, hatred, animosity, fear and a slew of other negative emotions slowly burn beneath the surface of the human heart.  The problem is that these negative emotions are poisonous.  Maybe they're not so bad if they come and go, in fact, they're normal when faced with certain situations.  However, its when they slowly burn just under the surface for years and years that they persistently choke out the good emotions and send an unaware victim into a tailspin of depression, nervousness and anxiety.  Its a slow and perhaps unnoticeable death.   

The remedy?  Keeping a consistent and persistent tab on those negative emotions.  Having someone we can vent to.  Having someone we can trust to help test whether or not the emotions are valid or if they are a creation of our own sinful discord.  As long as the fire is left alone, it will foster and persist and poison the human heart.  Its through awareness and bringing light to the darkness that those negative emotions can be kept in check.

It reminds me of John's words: "God is light; in him there is no darkness at all.  If we claim to have fellowship with him yet walk in the darkness, we lie and and do not live by the truth.  But if we walk in the light as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin."

I've read these words dozens of times, never have I noticed the emphasis not only on our individual walk in the light, but our "fellowship with one another."  We need each other to keep the negative emotions in check and ensure they aren't burning beneath the surface for years and years. 

When's the last time you took a long, hard look at your heart and the emotions that are there?  When is the last time you sat with a friend and talked about what you are feeling and thinking and why?  There's healing in honest sharing and growth in sincere confession. 

Friday, February 5, 2010


Many people, both sports fans and non-sports fans, are anticipating the Superbowl.  For sports fan's its the nature of a championship game that excites them, for non-sports fans its an excuse to party.  Okay, it could be the commercials, community and food that makes it exciting for non-sports fans, either way the days before the Superbowl anticipation builds.  Often times, the anticipation is more enjoyable than the actual thing anticipated.  Also, often times our anticipations are wasted on something not worth anticipating.  For followers of Christ it is easy to get sucked into anticipating things that are far less valuable than what God would have us anticipate.

It reminds of something C.S. Lewis once wrote.  “We are far too easily pleased.  A friends wedding, a football game, and the arrival of out-of-town guests will never fulfill our deepest anticipations. These are shadow like anticipations; Christ is the substance. These are stream-like anticipations; Christ is the ocean. These are beam like anticipations; Christ is the sun."

What are you anticipating: the Superbowl (or another sporting event), a movie release, a new video game, a technological gadget, a wedding, a date, a new job?  I would just remind you (as I write this I'm also reminding myself) to keep that anticipation in check by putting it beside your anticipation of what God is doing and is going to do in the world around you.  

Tuesday, February 2, 2010


I was thinking about the paradox of deliverance the other day.  It seems to me to an interesting theological idea.  I'm using deliverance to mean freedom from something that is opposed to how God intends for us to live.  The paradox is this: that which we are delivered from makes us more like Christ.  If our highest aim is to be more like Christ, wouldn't it logically make sense to remain in suffering and refrain from seeking deliverance?  Nobody likes suffering and everybody likes deliverance, but God often uses suffering to refine us, shape us and mold us to conform more to the image of His son.  I do think its important to distinguish the difference between suffering that just happens (a tragic accident, cancer, being born with a chronic disease, etc.) and suffering that we bring upon ourselves (a sexually transmitted disease, penal consequences of a crime, neglect of family that leads to divorce, etc.).

We can learn from either type of suffering, however, its the seemingly unwarranted suffering that is harder to align with our belief in God's power and goodness.  Its easy to recognize the suffering we bring upon ourselves as error or disregard for sound human judgment, its another thing entirely to figure out the why question of unwarranted suffering.

Deliverance from either type of suffering can happen as a miraculous work of God, however, more times than we like to admit, we have a responsibility to relieve suffering wherever we see it.  I guess in the end both suffering and deliverance get us closer to the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.  After all, isn't His the ultimate story of suffering and deliverance.