Seeking Humility in a world of Pride

Humility is the Golden Virtue and without humility all other virtues are rendered meaningless even Hypocritical.

The Golden Virtue of humility, is by its very nature,  something that is more often known by experiential reality being clearly seen in others who are living by the Spirit of the words in the Golden Rule, “ Love your neighbor as yourself” and “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.”

But this all important way of “being” seen in the Golden Rule is the shallow end of the pool of humility. It is the flow and not the fountainhead.

For example:

If I as a child love my brother and sister and give them of my own things,  doing for them things I would have them do for me  it is good, however those gestures would mean  little if I also decided to Kill our parents .

What I can provide of my own resources is empty and shallow if I have cut off the fountainhead from which the greatest blessings come, it is even treacherous.  It then becomes PRIDE and not Humility.

Pride is not a virtue of course, rather it is the death of all virtues and it mocks all virtues.

There is only one test for humility ……and it is a most humbling one.

God is the fountainhead and if I kill Him in my head, if I kill Him in my heart,  if I eclipse His Glory from my neighbor by hardening my own heart against Him as my all sufficient creator and sustainer and if I deny His existence, I cut supply off from the very source, the fountainhead of all Goodness.

Every “lesser Good”, imprinted on the conscience of man, even if we abide by it is impotent and rogue without being connected to the fountainhead.

Apart from understanding and accepting my place in the created order of things as a child made in the image of God, humility will be a concept in a vacuum; an empty and dried up stream without a source.

If we are not willing to be connected to God we fail the test of humility because we refuse to be Humble in the first order of things.

Yet

“God sends rain on the just and the unjust”

In other words God the fountainhead gives to all liberally but there is a distinction made between the “Just” and the “unjust”.  The  “Just” know the fountainhead, Love the fountainhead and accept and give thanks in Truth to the Lord for His blessings.  The just accept their humble state and are the humble. Their Identity is in God.

The “unjust”, also receive from the fountainhead to a degree but give no thanks, accept no authority over their lives and are the, “Prideful”.

The greatest blessing, the singular blessing that opens up the total fountainhead to us is found in the Gift of God’s Son Jesus Christ. Humility acknowledges need and accepts what is required to meet that need.

The despots of this world always demand we bow the knee to them but with God the knee is bowed in the beautifully freeing reality that God is God and that in Christ we have received mercy upon mercy. We make no demands of God we see that our identity is not based in how we feel but in God and in Christ.

Jesus’ Life, Death and Resurrection become ours through the agency of the gift of faith through the Holy Spirit.

So I pray,

“Lord, grant me humility lest PRIDE keep me locked into some lesser fleeting identity attached to money, sex, position or feelings. At death none of these will do. Grant me only eternal life through Jesus Christ. (“May thy will be done on earth as in heaven.” )And help me to be some vessel to point the way out of this Pride obsessed world parading around in its various forms in the name of the self.”

We all have received many wounds while PRIDE rode over our heads and held us fast through our passions and our fears.  Ought we not to be humble towards those who now receive the wounds while we have been set free?

Let’s get serious about “Humility” by looking away from ourselves and to the fountainhead remembering that the distinction lies in God since we all have lived in the narrow confines of pride in some way and only in Christ did we ever see the darkness of it.

Churches are not microbreweries.

restaurant-alcohol-bar-drinks.jpg

West coast culture is very laid back, from California U.S.A to Vancouver B.C there is a “Cascadia vibe” a desire to move out of the mainstream.  Coffee bars and micro-breweries have been the brew house of Hipster-ism.

Hipster-ism has developed and moved across the entire face of North America on both sides of the 49th Parallel.   Springing up came micro-breweries.  Old Brick buildings were revamped with rustic wood, sheet metal décor and low lighting.

Hipsters –ism began as a movement to be un-mainstream to seek to be an un-branded sort of cool, sipping on lattes and sleeves of hoppy beer in a relaxed atmosphere hipster-ism has now become mainstream, and become a brand.

But what does this “new brand” have to do with the church?

Let me say first…

I t is true that Christian liberty may allow you to visit a micro-brewery with its sheet metal and rustic wood  and brick walls and imbibe in one of Martin Luther’s favorite beverages .

(He once praised his wife for making the best beer).

Of course that liberty, if you have it, is not to be used to hurt those with a weaker conscience by flaunting that liberty.    That is sin.

Now let me say this…

We ought to take great issue with the Micro-brewery branding of the local church.

Have you seen it?

Churches now beginning as, or moving toward an atmosphere of micro- brewery like funky stylings of décor, low lighting, and it’s all too casual approach to God and His word.

The world has enough Micro- Breweries and gentrified coffee shops.

Our culture has enough of these Hip things we have enough of the Branding and posturing that goes along with self-identification with all things trendy.

What we need in ourselves as those who are Christians and what those need who are not yet Christians is an atmosphere where the intangible reality of the Holy Spirit of God dwells.

In such an environment you may feel both comforted and uncomfortable at the same time.  God is merciful, God is Holy.

God is not Hip. He does not brand himself in the culture of this world.

God is Holy and where the Holy Spirit is who exalts Jesus the Son we find a Kingdom not a Culture.

We find a Kingdom that is not of this world, a Kingdom that Has a King who bestows eternal life to those who turn to Him in genuine faith.   We don’t walk in and order what we want, find a comfortable seat and relax.   If that’s what you want, go to the micro-brewery or the gentrified coffee shop.  But don’t confuse the Kingdom of Heaven with the Culture of the world.

Our Christian liberty is extremely important but our christian liberty can never… ever… lead the way, in either our worship of God  or union with Christ.

If I were an unbeliever  seeking God and decided I would like to really discover this true and living God who created me,  I would be very disappointed to see Him simply another Brand in a culture of over- branded-ness.

Let us never make God out to be a Brand He’s too Good for that, let us not confuse the Culture of the world for the Kingdom of God.

Do not brand your church, instead be a living body of believers repenting of sin and conforming to Christ. Carry the aroma eternity and simply speak the message of salvation through Christ that is of another Kingdom.

 

Stand aside, let God shine.

God employs strange means to reveal His glory and righteousness among mankind.

Certainly the strangest, is that God’s perfect righteousness is reflected through the testimony of unrighteous sinners.

In this world when you want want to espouse the Glory of something,  you use the best models don’t you?       I’ve never seen a toothpaste commercial  declare their Glory by using people with rotten teeth.

Yet In God’s wisdom, He does just the opposite of the toothpaste commercials.  He reveals His Glory through the Gospel and saves sinners who have not just rotten teeth but rotten hearts and He undertakes to make them point to His perfect Glory and righteousness.

No true Christian could ever say  ,“ I am the poster boy or girl of righteousness” God accepts me because  “I am Good”.

in fact the Gospels very clearly illustrate that it is the broken hearted the “sinners” and the “Poor in spirit” who come into proper relationship to God through the redemption that is in Christ.

A Christian can and should say, “ I am a great sinner and God is a great savior”.

We should make it a practice to never stand in the way of God’s light by pretending to be better than we are.    Instead we should be intentionally Stepping aside from taking glory onto ourselves and point to God and behold God who is truly Glorious.

Beware of trying to make people “believe in you” it is a fools venture.

By saying this I mean that God will be seen in our life as we know and trust in Him and as we look to Him and are changing, admitting our weakness and need of Him. There will be fruit of growth toward Christ likeness but only as we trust in Him.

Others as a by-product will see that God is real and will see through us the Glory of God Himself, even though we may appear smaller to those same people because we have stepped out of Hypocrisy into reality.   And the reality is we are not righteous according to God’s standard.

Jesus accuses the Pharisees ( A very proud and good works oriented people) of keeping  people out of the Kingdom and of refusing to enter into the Kingdom themselves!!!”

The Pharisees did everything to be seen by others as being righteous. They actually did do many “good Deeds” but they blocked the way.  Indeed many looked at them and said,  “wow I could never be like those people they are very devout and I could never be accepted”

The Pharisee loved to see this kind of reaction because it made them feel artificially secure in their own Righteousness. The more “self- righteous” they became ,the further they went from God and God’s true Glory was darkened as they stood in the way.

Thus the Charge from Jesus in Matthew 23:13

“But woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites, because you shut off the kingdom of heaven from people; for you do not enter in yourselves, nor do you allow those who are entering to go in.”

As soon as we recognize the true Holy Righteousness of God we will not even dare to think of a    “self –righteousness”.

Instead we  see what God has provided in Jesus Christ  for the forgiveness of sins and as we trust only in His righteousness that is given to us by God as a gift through Jesus Christ, God will rightly receive all the Glory due His name as the only righteous one and as a merciful Savior.

It is this relationship based on salvation ,that we both get out of the way and also point to the Way.

If fact we perfectly testify to  the truth that Jesus Christ  declared when He said.  “I am the way, the truth and the life, no one comes to the father but through me”

And none of us who come this way block the righteousness or glory of God from others sight when we confess that we are sinners saved by grace.

The first outward note of our faith is that we no longer wear a mask before God and it then follows (sometimes slowly) that we no longer wear a mask before men.

The Gospel of Jesus Christ is Glorious precisely because God Himself is Glorious.

*  “In Christ alone my hope is found;
He is my light, my strength, my song;
This cornerstone, this solid ground,
Firm through the fiercest drought and storm.
What heights of love, what depths of peace,
When fears are stilled, when strivings cease!
My comforter, my all in all—
Here in the love of Christ I stand.

Praise be to Jesus Christ the author and finisher of our faith.

(*In Christ alone- written by Stuart Townsend and Keith Getty)

Acknowledge sin, acknowledge Christ

Every gardener  knows that in order for something to grow upward it must first grow downward.  A healthy plant or tree must have a  deep  root system in order to be healthy enough to grow strong and produce fruit.

What is true of physical living things is  also true of spiritually living people. It is no accident that God created our environment to instruct us about how life works.

To plant properly you must dig deep, and  break up the ground so that the seed which is planted can grow deep roots. If you dig too shallow, the roots, when they grow will stop growing where they meet the hard layer and the root system will be hindered.

But the planting area must also be free of competing vegetation because competing vegetation or weeds will choke out the tender plant by sapping its nutrients and will also block its access to sunshine.

This applies to our Spiritual lives as well and we have a strong  directive from God in the O.T as to its spiritual application.

Jeremiah 4:3 NLT

“This is what the LORD says to the people of Judah and Jerusalem: “Plow up the hard ground of your hearts! Do not waste your good seed among thorns.

And from the New Testament we have a directive as well in the parable of the sower. In Matthew 13 Jesus begins by saying that some seed is stolen away and never germinates at all. (The Unbeliever) .

But even of the soil that received, Jesus  says to us  that the soil with no depth prevents the seedling from taking proper root and the plant dies. Thorns (uncleared ground) also choke out the seed.

So Spiritually speaking we are to be weed free and to go deep.

I think J.I Packer captures the essence of the situation in His statement,

“He that has learned to feel his sin, and to trust Christ as Savior, has learned the two hardest and greatest lessons in Christianity.”  J.I. Packer.

To  “feel our sin,”  is to throw the spade in the ground of our hearts “Hard Places”, and turn it over. It is a kind of violence really, just like breaking up tough ground, but oh so necessary.

This is the preparation for root growth. The spade must penetrate. As Dr. Packer says, its a “hard lesson”.

This activity of “feeling our sin”  is a means to an end… that we might grow upward and our upward growth happens when we see, that as bad as we are , Christ is a more than adequate Savior for us.

  But we must trust Him.

In trowing in the spade and  “feeling our sin” ,we will discover our inner motives that lead us into sin and be shocked, appalled, dismayed and depressed.  (I hope you read the puritans Like John Owen, Richard Baxter and John Bunyan)

But as we look to and trust in  our Savior, Jesus Christ, despite our knowledge of our own sinfulness, we find that in Him we are made alive, forgiven, loved and cleansed, we are given gifts and made to produce fruit.

Fresh righteousness  will appear on our branches and others will want to know our forgiving empowering Savior too!

Now let us keep growing and go and make disciples who will do the same.

 

Don’t be a Coward

The Oxford Dictionary defines the word  coward in its noun form as…

“A person who is contemptibly lacking in the courage to do or endure dangerous or unpleasant things.”

Coward in it’s adjectival form is defined as someone being …

“Excessively afraid of danger or pain”

Cowardice is not approved of by God.  In fact it’s downright dangerous, much more dangerous than the momentary loss, danger or pain that a coward chooses to avoid.

Revelation 21:8 speaking of final judgment is very strong in its description of the kinds of thing that we must repent of in this life through Christ and it starts with calling out the Cowards.

Revelation 21:8 is strong stuff.

Revelation 21:8

But as for the cowardly, the faithless, the detestable, as for murderers, the sexually immoral, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars, their portion will be in the lake that burns with fire and sulfur, which is the second death.”

 

So with those strong words in mind, where cowardice appears as the first indictment against the damned  it is good to examine cowardice.

what does it  looks like when it shows up in our world and how can we  ourselves avoid being cowards?

To clarify, cowardice is not just fear  Cowardice is much more than fear, it is excessive fear.  Every one deals with fear and  it can show up in any heart yet that does not mean we are a coward.   Cowardice  is excessive  fear leading one to act, or fail to act,  solely based on one’s own  self-interest.

At the heart of cowardice is the primary motivation of self-preservation and a complete concern for one’s own well-being and comfort in the face of a situation that requires self sacrifice or would cause, personal loss or pain. The coward calculates everything through a grid that centers on the self and selfish desires.

But what does cowardice look like?

Here is a short-list of examples of the “Common Coward”.

Cowards can look like the person who takes another persons life in order to gain worldly possessions, position or seeks to destroy another  persons life in retaliation for injured pride.  Some even do under a religious guise.           A  “Murderer”  is a Coward.

Cowards can look like the guy that fathers a child and refuses to take his responsibility to raise that child.  He gives no concern for the well being of the child or the mother.    Mothers are certainly capable of this too.       An  “Irresponsible” person is a Coward.

Cowards can look like the person who  focuses on career and builds a comfortable nest egg and never gives to the causes of others around them who may be in desperate need. (remember the rich man and Lazarus). Some may give but mainly for being recognized by others.            A “Greedy” person is a Coward.

Cowards can look like the person who refuses to work (though they have able bodies and minds along with opportunities to do so) because they can lean on others to keep them comfortable.    A “Slothful” person is a Coward.

Cowards can look like the person who insulates themselves against unpleasant thoughts concerning their own mortality, Gods existence, and whether there exists an ultimate purpose for their life.  They are their own God and make an Idol out of themselves.          An “Idolator” is a Coward.

This is by no means a complete list but I think the point has been made.

God requires of us to trust and obey even if it will cause discomfort, loss, pain and rejection.

In the process you will enjoy the fruit of the Holy Spirit and partake of the divine nature. No one partaking of the divine nature can be a Coward.

The opposite of cowardice is not Heroism but it is Faith in God, (which may certainly lead to actions of heroic proportion).

I say to myself ….and to all.

Don’t be a coward.

Follow Christ wherever he may lead.

God is able to make us stand in Christ in any and every situation.

Political correctness, in it’s,”Decadent stage “

 

Steven  Pinker is a Canadian-American cognitive psychologist as well as a  linguist, and popular science author.  He is Johnstone Family Professor in the Department of Psychology at Harvard University.

He is also a Humanist—- which I am not—however,  Pinker is an interesting study because when it comes to the subject of   “political correctness”,   he is very much on the mark with most of my Evangelical brothers and sisters and he feels free to speak on such  subjects because he is also a defender of ,  “free speech”.

That means that he is willing to debate.  If anything needs to happen among the  educated and  those in educating circles it is debate. It used to be the norm in higher education but misguided agendas seek to strip it all away.

He so rightly acknowledges,

“Political correctness started out with good aims and achieved much good in the early stages of the movement in its attempt at eliminating demeaning remarks and  unacceptable discriminatory policies.”

And I agree with Pinker.  I was very glad as young student in school in the 70’s and 80’s  to see students of all races and then special needs and handicapped students  recognized as  the valuable human beings that they are in society.   “Do not use  labels and do not ostracize” was the idea.

But then, and I saw it happen, over time, the political correct ideology began to get weird. We all  did didn’t we?

But Pinker sees it too and  goes on  in his talk to expose the current over reaching agenda of “Political Correctness”, stating …

“Often movements reach their decadent phase, where having achieved the majority of their goals they don’t go out of business but they need to find increasingly obscure grievances and causes to maintain their moral franchise and I suspect that’s what happened to what we now call political correctness, many aspects of which which in their original and moderate form were completely reasonable. “

This is where we find ourselves now. Where the “Politically Correct movement needs to find ” increasingly obscure grievances and causes to maintain their moral franchise”.

Where ever increasing obscure and “micro” aspects of thought, conversation and values are “politically incorrect” and  are” labeled” causing harm.

Has  “Political Correctness” itself become a bully?   I think so.

There are so many areas where I and many of  you, my Christian brothers and sisters would disagree with Pinker…. but to His credit and to those like Him, I do pray that voices like his continue to press back against the tide of ridiculous and unintelligent unfounded movements that seek to treat the free marketplace of ideas in such a “Politically in-correct way”.

Remember the Apostle Paul in the Agora (marketplace) of Corinth?

Men of that day in that place were allowed to speak and think in openness and frankness.

May that continue.

Blessings.

 

 

You had one job

This is a great article on preaching written by Andrew Roycroft which appeared on his website https://thinkingpastorally.com/
Check out his site.

thinkingpastorally

Of all the societal and psychological changes brought on by the dominance of social media, one of its most interesting effects is on our language. Headlines have been replaced by hashtags as a means of capturing the essence of a story, and terms can be coined, duplicated and globally disseminated in a matter of minutes. Many of these are meaningless memes, but some carry an important message. Humour accounts now regularly use the words ‘You had one job’ to describe the abject folly of an individual or organisation who fails at a single, simple job assigned to them, and the phrase serves as a valuable means of showing just how readily we miss the mark as human beings.

When it comes to preaching, ‘You had one job’ can be a helpful motto, and a measure of how the minister understands their message, their manner and their function within the body…

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Porn, the wretched review

  “Faithful are the wounds of a friend, But deceitful are the kisses of an enemy”  Proverbs 27:6

There is nothing like a good, firm and sometimes even downright sarcastic correction to help put things in perspective and this is what we have from one of my favorite “corrective” Christian ministries. Wretched radio and T.V.

In the video, Todd Friel from “wretched” underscores points made by Canadian reformed blogger Tim Challies.

I am putting up a video that will give that ” faithful wound” to the heart that needs to deal with the sin of porn.  It’s not for cry babies or the willfully blind.

Ive been there done that ….no thanks.

If we call ourselves by the title of  “Christian” then we had better be running from the lust of the flesh and today more than ever Porn is invading the Church.

I have had my own struggle with it and other Christian men  have met do to.

Only in Christ will we find the strength and power to Obey by Grace.

It doesn’t matter whether you are a young man, husband, father or older,  as men we  have become the target of a devastating threat to all things that Christ calls us to.  It goes by the name Pornography and it is targeting a younger audience of viewers all the time.

Watch the video and listen.   This is a call to be united to Christ and separated from evil.

In all humility, follow Christ. Be wounded and be healed.

“New World Order?” (No, it’s just a repackaged tower of Babel).

Here we are today living in a world where technology, telecommunications and air travel, have created a world that is more connected.
People that have long been isolated from one another by vast tracks of land or oceans who over many, many generations developed independent cultures, languages and codes of ethics are now finding new mediums to share information and are merging into people belonging to a “Global village”. A new world is emerging….so they tell us.

The sovereignty of independent nations is being subtly yet increasingly suppressed through global governing bodies such as United Nations and the European Union. Presidents, prime ministers and monarchy are all beginning to sing the same tune about Global economies, free trade and shared global objectives. Even religious leaders have been singing the tune and many Popes have called for a,” New world Order”. Developed countries are all moving toward the center of a globally unified system of governance and the third world countries are invited to come on board.

Closer to home I am increasingly being reminded about my “global responsibilities” I am being told to “Act locally and think globally” such as participating in our local curb side recycling program.

I am instructed through media that my “Social principles” must be of the sort that can be accepted in any culture in order to be politically correct; they must be for the “Common good” of all peoples. So don’t offend anyone with a contrary opinion to the new standard of tolerance and acceptance of others and their lifestyles or views. I think they forget that you can truly love someone and at the same time be entirely against their religion or lifestyle. Or are all such people with contrary views haters? No they are not.

In all of these ideas there is a backdrop of manipulation of conscience, heaven forbid if you throw your star bucks cup into the waste section rather than the recycling one!!!

Recycling is good to be sure, but if the collective conscience of humanity takes a greater offence at a person failing to recycle than it does to ignoring it’s responsibility toward God, then society is straining out the gnat swallowing a camel.

At the risk of offending the many,( while still loving them) let me simply say that this idea of building a society without correct reference to God has been tried and has failed. It is not a “New World Order” it is an “Old rebellion”.

If you don’t believe me just ask yourself why the symbol of unity used as a visual motif by the EU is a reproduction of the famous painting of the tower of Babel. Yes the tower of Babel the original great rebellion. A colossal failure…..

Jesus Christ is the Lord, he overcame the world, and he certainly has no interest in our “New World Order” and as a believer either do I. Here I stand.
tower of babble EU