humble Christian

A humble Christian is not an oxymoron. In fact, humility is a sign that a Christian is growing to be more like Christ. Peter, a man, well acquainted with pride encourage Christians to pursue humility. Here are five marks of humility:

God is mighty and my humility is a necessity.

“Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you.” ” – 1 Peter 5:6

Humility starts with God. Humility for a Christian is important because humility realizes God is God and you are not. If not fight for space to prove others how wonderful you are, you will be frustrated because space is reserved for God. However, there is coming a day when God will shower you with praise for his great work in you. Think of that. The God of the universe will exalt you!

Pride and anxiety exist when humility doesn’t.

“casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you.” – 1 Peter 5:7

People in a self-help culture can pride themselves on taking care of themselves and their anxieties. However, Christians realize that anxieties often get the best of us and that we aren’t strong enough to ward off all worries, but God is able and he cares. This is more than a “let go let God” mentality. It’s a “while you go, cling to God” mentality.

Humility is a mighty weapon against Satan and sin.

“Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. Resist him, firm in your faith,” – 1 Peter 5:8-9a

Don’t minimize the danger or power of Satan. He is a lion-like destroyer hunting you down. Nothing makes him happier than to see you drown in pride and be killed by anxiety. His greatest schemes are to feed your mind with ideas that you are god or that God is not there for you. When you resist Satan and his schemes, and rest in the strength that Jesus gives you, then Satan is no match for you.

Humility is understanding you are not alone in the battle.

“knowing that the same kinds of suffering are being experienced by your brotherhood throughout the world. And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you. To him be the dominion forever and ever. Amen.

By Silvanus, a faithful brother as I regard him, I have written briefly to you, exhorting and declaring that this is the true grace of God. Stand firm in it. She who is at Babylon, who is likewise chosen, sends you greetings, and so does Mark, my son. Greet one another with the kiss of love.  Peace to all of you who are in Christ.,” – 1 Peter 5:9b-14

Peter gives an example of a few of your “brotherhood”. This is meant to encourage you that you are member of a larger worldwide community of faith that is suffering for the sake of Christ. Yet one day soon Christ will restore, confirm, strengthen and establish you.

Humble Jesus ultimately saves the day.

In the end, Jesus will have his way. He wins. Jesus has dominion over all. Jesus is a king who rules over all peoples, times, places, and things as the King of kings and Lord of lords. There is no one more powerful than Jesus. Peter promises that because he loves us, Jesus our powerful king will right every wrong in his wonderfully perfect kingdom. If you are in Christ, you are in his kingdom. That is a glorious promise and hope. Amen. Enough said.

 

Questions for Reflection:

  • What does humility look like according in this text? How do humble people treat one another? What do you do when you are proud? What do you do when you are humble?
  • What is anxiety? What does it look like to cast your anxieties on Christ? How does God care for you?
  • How does humility protect you from Satan and his schemes? How do you resist Satan? How was pride Satan’s own downfall?
  • What things can Jesus do that the devil cannot do?
  • What is the Christian mindset towards God, Satan and self? What is the reward for humility and obedience in the end? How does Jesus ultimately save the day? How does Jesus kingship and future kingdom give you hope today?
  • Do you agree with the “amen” at this text?
  • As you look back over 1 Peter, how does it give you courage and strength to stand firm, especially when your faith is under fire? How have you seen God on display throughout the letter?
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paying the price of pride

What makes Christianity different that all other religions? It’s grace. A single word captures the difference between Christianity and all other religions. Grace.

Every other religion allows me to pay at least something for the tow. And if I pay anything at all then pride will wolf it down and the vines will begin to grow with a terrible ferocity. All my pride needs is credit for a single good thing. If I take credit for seeking God then my pride lives. But Christianity allows nothing of the sort. It is the shepherd who seeks the sheep. It is the sheep who is lost and hopeless and helpless. So it is the cross or it is nothing at all. That is why the cross is death before it it life. Even with Jesus it was the cross and only then the resurrection. Grace makes it the same for us.

It is true that pride is inflation of the soul then the only time we are the size of our true self is when we are devoid of pride.

Grace is the kryptonite to pride.

Taken from Red Like Blood by Joe Coffey and Bob Bevington. Shepherds Press, Wapwallopen, PA. 2011. 80-81.

thumb licks [7.7.11]

God’s Beautiful, Holy, Good—and Crushing—Law

The apostle Paul, a Jewish rabbi who had extensive respect for and acquaintance with God’s law (Acts 22:3) had some very shocking thoughts about it once he came to faith in Christ. Although he heartily agreed that it was “holy and righteous and good” (Rom. 7:12), and although he knew the beautiful nature of God’s law, he also knew that the law could never bring sinners to life because no one could obey it. He confessed that all his obedience (and it was extensive) had no more value than a pile of manure (Phil. 3:8). He wrote: “By works of the law no human being will be justified in his sight.” (Rom. 3:20) What then? Are we Jews [who have the written law] any better off [than Gentiles who didn’t]?

Hijacked by the Gospel

While studying Galatians 1:11-24, I am struck once again with how utterly supreme God’s loving plans are for us in Christ. Paul, captured always by the vision of the original capturing vision of Jesus on the Damascus road, appeals again to the singular transforming power of the gospel by appealing to the way it powerfully transformed him. He was headed one direction, resting in his own sovereignty over his life. But the One who had set Paul apart before his life story even began called him in grace and was pleased to reveal the Son to him (Gal. 1:15-16). His life was never the same. Paul was writing his own life story, but Jesus stole his pen… He got hijacked by the gospel.

Find Out Right Now Whether You Have a Pride Problem

When’s the last time you crept out of your house to worship at the feet of a sculpture created in your own image?  Never, right?  While you probably haven’t done that, it’s likely that you’ve asserted your claim to the title of “Center of the Universe” in other, sometimes subtler, ways. Ever honk at another car while driving because you thought it was slowing you down?  Ever neglect a household responsibility because you thought someone else ought to do it?  Ever dwell on a compliment someone paid you? If we take an honest look at our lives, we’re likely to find evidence of pride under every rock and around every corner.

Worship God by Serving the Poor

The words in chapter 58 of the book of Isaiah have affected me for years. In that Scripture, God tells us the Father sees our relationship with the poor (or lack of it) as something serious. It is impossible to serve God with all our hearts and at the same time miss out on God’s call to care for the needy. The Scriptures say the way we care for the poor is tantamount to the way we see God. The prophet makes it clear that we must have a relationship with the poor if we hope to please God with our lives. 

But in today’s church, most of us don’t know a single person who is needy. How can we obey God if we aren’t connecting with the poor on a regular basis? We can’t. 

Something needs to change. We need to hear the call of God to those in need.

Texting Teens: Typing Replaces Talking [INFOGRAPHIC]

Has texting taken over as the primary form of communication for today’s teens? We found our answer with this Infographic from Lab 42, which polled 500 social-networking Americans aged 13 to 21.

How Important is the Bible?

get off your pedestal

This weekend I graduated from Faith Bible Seminary with a Master of Divinity. Sounds important, eh? No, I am not more divine! It was quiet the accomplishment 6-years in the making. I started taking classes in 2004 at BBS and finish the last 3 years at FSB. I am grateful for the spiritual growth from digging deep into God’s Word. However, the more that I study God’s Word the more I have come to realize and appreciate that there is a whole lot more to know about God and His Word. I have just touched the base of the mountain of God’s glory in His Word. I cannot wait to spend the rest of my life unpacking and applying His Truth to my life.

Now it could be really easy to sit on top of my puny pedestal boasting and bragging about my brains, brawn and bucks. Sure I might have expanded my brain since pre-school with books, papers, and higher education, but that doesn’t give me the right to flex those intellectual muscles [personally, I think they are quite flabby].

What does it mean to brag and boast? To think you are above others in attitude and action. Sure you may have Bucks, Brains or Braun, but compared to whom? Where is the ultimate source of all things? What about boasting in God?

This is a reason why most rap music drives me bananas. Some rap artists would say boasting about yourself is built into rap. It’s common for a rap artist to talk up his skills, his money, or his sexual conquests. Even some Christian rappers jump on the boasting bandwagon. However, there is some radical rap that rocks the name of Christ:

What is a boaster and bragger to do? Turn boasting about your own greatness into boasting about God’s greatness: “Let him who boasts boast in the Lord” [2 Corinthians 10:17]. Paul even went as far as to boast in how weak he was, because he knew God’s strength could fill in for his own failure [2 Corinthians 12:5].

I can’t claim bragging rights about everything I’ve done, am doing, or will do in my life [cf. Philippians 3:1-11]. Any accomplishment I claim must give glory to the God who is the source. Compared to God I see my imperfection and His perfection. Compared to God I see His holiness and my need for forgiveness. Compared to God I can only claim bragging rights about God. As Paul writes in 1 Corinthians 1:29-31: “It is because of [God] that you are in Christ Jesus, who has become for us wisdom from God—that is, our righteousness, holiness and redemption. Therefore, as it is written [in Jeremiah 9:24]: “Let him who boasts boast in the Lord.”

We see in these three short verses that God’s source of any significant spiritual change. “It is because of [God] that you are in Christ Jesus.” God Himself is the means and motivation for our salvation. He has claimed me, He called me, He comforted me, and by the faith “in Christ” He has given me salvation.

Now the Corinthians Paul was writing to were know for their boasting in wisdom. The Corinthians were consumed with wisdom, which they seemed to have equated with their salvation. However, Paul poo-poo’s their pride party by repeatedly emphasizing that Jesus Christ is God’s wisdom. If you love wisdom, you will love Jesus. Why? Because in Christ, God gives us “righteousness, holiness and redemption.”

In those three words [righteousness, holiness, and redemption], God has given us in Christ a reason to boast. First, righteousness is a legal metaphor meaning in Christ believers have been declared innocent of sin. Second, holiness is a religious metaphor meaning that in Christ believers are been set apart like God. Third, redemption is a marketplace metaphor meaning that in Christ He has purchased my freedom from the power of sin.

When I look at all that God has done for me in Christ I am awed. And so should our response be, “Let him who boasts boast in the Lord.” I have nothing to boast about before God, except what God has done for us in Christ. He is the source of all my bucks, brains and brawn. Only God is the omnipotent and omniscient Creator. He is the means, source and end of all things [cf. Romans 11:36].

“Let him who boasts boast about this: that he understands and knows me, that I am the Lord, who exercises kindness, justice and righteousness on earth, for in these I delight,” declares the Lord.” – Jeremiah 9:24

pride: a beast in hiding

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Pride. It is a real beast that hides in the darkness of our mind waiting to devour us from within. Many do not know the telltale signs they are suffering from the sly and stealthy beast of pride. Consider the following list of hidden forms of pride:

1. Insecurity. Insecurity is the root of many unhealthy and ungodly behaviors. It provokes us to want the lavish praise and attention of others. Pride is often motivated by one’s unmet need for self-worth. Focusing on the worth of Christ and security in Christ is a must to avoid pride.

2. Got to play the trump card. Do you know someone who has a hard time being wrong? This is a symptom of pride (Galatians 6:3). A person who needs to be right has an exalted view in themselves and think they are too-sexy-for-their-shirt. In religious circles, the need to be right is frequently said through statements like ‘God told me’ or ‘God showed me’, which are simply prideful trump cards.

3. In a state of arguing. Those who argue their point of view, especially to those in authority over them, are allowing pride to be their pet beast. At the root of their argument is a belief that they are right and the other is wrong, period, argument done [like a turkey at Thanksgiving]. It is sometimes appropriate to advocate for a point of view or position, but there is a thing called tact.

4. More invested in being heard than in hearing. When one develops a pattern of needing others to listen to them rather than first hearing others, pride is a motivating factor. I’m going to bust out in one of my most favorite raps, “Alright, stop, calibrate and listen… ” [Vanilla Ice] Listen, hear, it is not a brand new invention, rather a humble way to communicate with other human beings.

5. Blowing up and clamming up. Ungodly anger is pride. In anger that blows or clams one will often justify their position and blame another for the wrongdoing. Justification of self leads to denial of our own complicity or wrongdoing. Deal with your anger and quit blaming others for it.

6. Irritability and impatience. The root of impatience in my life is pride. When we are unable to be patient with another and are irritated, it demonstrates a haughty view of self. “My time and talents are not worth your investment.” We feel that our views, time or needs are more important than the other persons.

7. Lack of submissive attitude. Submission is the voluntary placement of oneself under the influence, control or authority of another. Pride says, “I can do it better than they can. If I were in charge things would be different.” Maybe so. Yet when one pledges their submission to you or another, yet is critical or bucking that authority, then pride is in coming out of hiding [like words about our President].

8. Who do you think you are–attitude. Have you ever worked or lived with someone who won’t receive any negative or corrective feedback? This is pride. Were Adam and Eve were confronted by God in the garden they passed the blame-buck. Own up to confrontation and learn from it.

9. Receiving correction but do not changing. Some receive correction and say thank you for the feedback, but never change. This too is pride. The individual is placating and people-pleasing, nodding their head and telling you what you wanted to hear but not really taking the feedback to heart. Ones ride with prevent them from truly changing.

10. Boast about your badges. A good friend of mine requires everyone to call him ‘Mr.’, saying that he has deservedly earned the title. Demanding that others call you ‘doctor’ or ‘pastor’ or ‘sir’ is usually a way of making you ‘one up’ and them ‘one down’. This shade of pride hungers for approval and starves for recognition, “Hey, look at me dad? Look at me son? Look at my long list of credentials, crowns, coronations…” Pride fuels the requirement to respect the badge.

11. Stubbornness. Pride exerts one’s own will and is not easily persuaded, difficult to handle or resistant. The root issue of stubbornness is willfulness, which is ‘I want what I want when I want it’. You think you have rights, well are you willing to give up your rights for another?

12. Comparisons and competition. 2 Corinthians 10:12 makes it clear that comparing oneself with others is foolish. “I wish is was more like…I wish you were more like…” How about, “I wish I/you were more like Christ!” Comparison is a form of competition. The motive of a comparing heart is pride.

Pride is a powerful beast that wants to control you. Be careful to let him in your cave. Once he is in he will be at home to stay, and it is difficult to sweep him away.

marriage is sanctifying

A friend recently asked me, “What are you learning now that you’re married?” Without hesitation the first thought that came to my mind, “I am very selfish.” It hasn’t taken long for me to realize how selfish I am. Marriage has a good way of purifying you from selfishness and pride. Marriage is sanctifying.

Another friend who has been married for 3 years said to me that the process of dealing with pride doesn’t get any easier with time. Note this sometimes true-to-life chronology of thought within marriage:

  • 1st year of marriage: “I am so selfish. Would you forgive me?”
  • 2nd year of marriage: “I know I’m selfish, but I have rights you know!”
  • 3rd year of marriage: “Sure I am selfish. Who do you think you are?”

I hope that I continue to be a man that is willing to swallow my pride and love my wife. A wise man once said, If you remain obedient to God you will always be on your honeymoon.

cat and dog theology

Growing up I had a cat named Solomon. He was mentally challenged, not from birth, but later in life because a car hit him. He had no teeth, drooled all the time and had to eat soft food the rest of its poor life. Before Solomon’s incident he was like any ordinary cat…all about himself.

 

Also, I had two dogs. Budo (Eskimo for ‘Beauty of the North’) a blue-eyed husky-cocker spaniel mixture that was the fieriest dog you have ever met. I have scares to this day from that beast chopping into me. Needles to say we got rid of Budo because he didnt live up to his name.

 

Shadow, our second dog was the most loveable golden retriever you had ever met. It was all about you….pleasing you, playing with you were her favorite things to do.

 

There is a joke about cats and dogs that conveys their differences perfectly. A dog says, ‘You pet me, you feed me, you shelter me, you love me, you must be God.’ A cat says, ‘You pet me, you feed me, you shelter me, you love me, I must be God.  [Note: cat and dog diaries below]

 

Using this metaphor in the Christian life dog theology says “Lord, You love me, You bless me abundantly, You gave Your life for me, You must be God.”  Whereas cat theology says, “Lord, You love me, You bless me abundantly, You gave Your life for me, I must be God.”

 

Our understanding of how we relate to God may not be wrong, but it may be incomplete. The God-given traits of cats (‘you exist to serve me’) and dogs (‘I exist to serve you’) can be similar to certain theological attitudes held by many Christians. In our personal theologies, some attitudes may draw us closer to God, and others can also pull us away from Him.

 

These thoughts are not entirely original. They came from a book I read called Cat and Dog Theology. Good read, and it’s short.

 

Justin Hutts [2.8.07]

 

 

 

“Excerpts from a Dog’s Diary*

8:00 am – Dog food! My favorite thing!

9:30 am – A car ride! My favorite thing!

9:40 am – A walk in the park! My favorite thing!

10:30 am – Got rubbed and petted! My favorite thing!

12:00 pm – Lunch! My favorite thing!

1:00 pm – Played in the yard! My favorite thing!

3:00 pm – Wagged my tail! My favorite thing!

5:00 pm – Milk bones! My favorite thing!

7:00 pm – Got to play ball! My favorite thing!

8:00 pm – Wow! Watched TV with the people! My favorite thing!

11:00 pm – Sleeping on the bed! My favorite thing!

 

* Excerpts from a Cat’s Diary*

Day 983 of my captivity.

My captors continue to taunt me with bizarre little dangling objects. They dine lavishly on fresh meat, while the other inmates and I are fed hash or some sort of dry nuggets. Although I make my contempt for the rations perfectly clear, I nevertheless must eat something in order to keep up my strength. The only thing that keeps me going is my dream of escape. In an attempt to disgust them, I once again vomit on the carpet.

 

Today I decapitated a mouse and dropped its headless body at their feet. I had hoped this would strike fear into their hearts, since it clearly demonstrates what I am capable of. However, they merely made condescending comments about what a “good little hunter” I am. Jerks!

 

There was some sort of assembly of their accomplices tonight. I was placed in solitary confinement for the duration of the event. However, I could hear the noises and smell the food. I overheard that my confinement was due to the power of “allergies.” I must learn what this means, and how to use it to my advantage.

 

Today I was almost successful in an attempt to assassinate one of my tormentors by weaving around his feet as he was walking. I must try this again tomorrow — but at the top of the stairs.

 

I am convinced that the other prisoners here are flunkies and snitches. The dog receives special privileges. He is regularly released – and seems to be more than willing to return. He is obviously retarded. The bird has got to be an informant. I observe him communicate with the guards regularly. I am certain that he reports my every move. My captors have arranged protective custody for him in an elevated cell, so he is safe. For now…