I’ve been on a journey recently where God has been teaching me (painfully at times) the “ins and outs” of humility. In our culture, we’re trained from an early age to value ourselves above all. How horrifically counterintuitive this is for the person who calls on the name of the Lord for guidance. Needless to say I’ve had to train myself out of self-serving habits and routines. Humility, for the believer, should so evidently mark our lives that there is no mistake where our motives rest, and they certainly should not hold any stock in individual gain. Personal enrichment or the advancement of His Kingdom – take your pick, and be prepared to either pay the toll or reap the reward. Besides, we’ve resolved to love our own lives not unto death if we’re honed in on the commission of Christ. [from Revelation 12:11] In plain English, this means to count our own lives as nothing, even in the face of physical death. As this text probably has to do with holding fast to the truth of the Gospel in the face of persecution (I think of the Christians currently facing extinction in Iraq), I would hope that in like fashion we could say “no” to ourselves today under much more menial circumstances.
“Humility, for the believer, should so evidently mark our lives that there is no mistake where our motives rest, and they certainly should not hold any stock in individual gain.”
The American Dream – I’m not particularly satisfied with John Piper’s teachings or commentary, but his view on the commonly sought after “American Dream” really hits the nail on the head. Early retirement, beefy 401 K accounts and beach homes, according to Piper, do not fit very naturally with the Christian who is called to live a high-risk, radical life. I agree with him. Have you ever read a verse like Matthew 19:21 (below) and thought it best to just avoid its message, at least temporarily? It can become a back-burner topic especially if you’re comfortable, secure, and let’s face it, American. I know I’ve skipped this verse in principle, but it still remains, and there are others like it. I don’t think it’s coincidence either that even before Jesus invited the rich man to follow him, he was to sell all of his belongings first. That’s a hard truth and so is the general message of humbling yourself. Whether it be material things like a walk-in closet, checking account, or car, or intangible things like respect, attention, ambition, or prestige, we as Christians shouldn’t need any of these things to feel good or be good.
“For I have resolved to know nothing while I was with you except Jesus Christ and him crucified.” 1ST CORINTHIANS 2:2
Context – Power > Talk
In my view the first segment of the 2nd chapter of 1st Corinthians, which the above verse is sandwiched between, is essentially saying that Paul utilized power over rhetoric in ministering to the Corinthian people. This wasn’t necessarily a universal strategy for Paul, as it’s apparent that he debated much more with the Romans, for instance, in his missionary excursion to Rome. As far as reaching the Corinthian people with the Gospel, however, Paul thought that it was a better idea to talk less and rely more on the power of the Holy Spirit. That’s not to say that the power of the Holy Spirit was not with Paul as he debated and preached in Rome, but I do think as I read this passage that it’s clear that the focus in Corinth was a “demonstration of the Spirit’s power.” So what does that mean? I believe it means signs, wonders and miracles. Greater, I believe God was with Paul as he traveled and knew how to best approach each region and culture with the Gospel. It may have been more fruitful to win an oratory argument in Rome but perhaps the best way to get the attention of the Corinthian people was to heal the sick and prophesy through the power of the Holy Spirit.
“Mission Drift” – Peter Greer & Christ Horst
The Unspoken Crisis Facing Leaders, Charities, and Churches
No newcomers to the non-profit arena, HOPE International’s Peter Greer and Chris Horst supply not just a resource for those navigating the world of charity and church, but the guide for organizations and their leaders looking to enter and remain aligned with the ‘narrow gate’ that is mission authenticity. As the writers point out, the difference between being mission true and succumbing to drift can be gradual, subtle, and even precarious.
Greer, Horst and Haggard not only offer personal experience but thorough research in Mission Drift, tracking, measuring and surveying the fates of countless mission true and mission untrue organizations. Citing examples from Yale University to Compassion International, this exhaustive and pinpoint account of a very real problem in faith-centered circles should find itself in every non-profit’s library, if not within their employee manual.
Grade – A
“By their fruit, you will recognize them.” Matthew 7:16
When asked by Rick Reilly if his public selflessness would create a distraction in his profession, Tim Tebow responded with:
“Just the opposite,” Tebow said. “It’s by far the best thing I do to get myself ready. Here you are, about to play a game that the world says is the most important thing in the world. Win and they praise you. Lose and they crush you. And here I have a chance to talk to the coolest, most courageous people. It puts it all into perspective. The game doesn’t really matter. I mean, I’ll give 100 percent of my heart to win it, but in the end, the thing I most want to do is not win championships or make a lot of money, it’s to invest in people’s lives, to make a difference.”
There is a very important theme in Tim’s comment, which appeared in ESPN the Magazine, which I’d like to identify. He asserts that the world says that this game is the most important thing on the earth – He says it’s not. He is not in agreement with the world, and he has faced opposition for that posture. I’ve heard Tim referred to as polarizing, a hypocrite, a phony. I’ve seen satirical pieces poking fun at his choice to wait until marriage to have sex, and countless other pithy and mindless stabs at his character; but remember Jesus’ words in saying “If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated me first.” (John 15:18)
Are you looking to get in shape, physically and spiritually? Are you looking to increase your ability to disciple or be discipled? We’ve developed just the thing with our newest tool system, fashioned to provide an outlet for spiritual and physical training. It’s called the 90 Day Discipleship Challenge and it was recently created by our founder, Joseph W. Sharp. Aimed at provoking holistic discipline, both in the area of spiritual and physical growth, this three month challenge will leave you famished for still more of His presence and for a hearty meal to fuel your next workout!
Challenge Categories- Because we are all triune beings, made up of body, soul and spirit, each 1/3 of our very being needs to be cultivated in accordance with He who created us. This tool system grooms each facet of the triune human make-up, leaving no compartment untouched in this three month journey. Straining toward the goal, whether it’s your hamstrings or heartstrings becomes the name of the game!
The Basics – Just like your old grade school curriculum, the 90 Day Discipleship course comes with certain core classes. These core subjects are known as “musts” in our syllabus and they involve bodily tasks like daily workout regimens and fasting and spiritual components like scripture reading and sharing your testimony with a friend or a stranger.
I’ve been troubled of late. I’ve had both a general sense of urgency for the church and a more specific compulsion to share what I’m seeing and hearing with the church. It’s a time of decision, consequence and haste, a turning point of sorts for anyone who calls on the Lord for strength, endurance, and Salvation. We’re entering a time, I believe, that was written about in Revelation chapter 14:
“This calls for the patient endurance on the part of the people of God who keep his commands and remain faithful to Jesus.” REVELATION 14:12 (NIV)
It’s a season of the utmost importance, one that requires patient endurance and CONSISTENCY in our faithfulness to Jesus amidst a craftily conceived plan engineered to lead MANY astray. John’s words in the Revelation text call on the reader to “remain” faithful; if you’ve not yet experienced enough opposition in your life to remain (last, persist, prevail, endure) faithful to Him, prepare for it now and in the season that immediately follows. Be watchful. Be at the ready. Persevere.
I was recently led to the book of Habbakkuk, where the writer, [Habbakkuk] much like his prophetic predecessors, is seeking clear understanding from the Lord in how to proceed with what has been revealed to him. (I’d advise reading Habbakkuk in its entirety to fully understand what it is the prophet was seeing) See an exchange between Habbakkuk and God below: