Posts Tagged ‘Humility’

humility

In my own life, I have found that fear can be a very strange motivator. In the heat of the moment it can cause us to move towards both good and bad behaviors. Sometimes fear can cause the hero in us to come storming out of the depths of our core ready to take on anything…

Other times fear can also cause some of us to cower in the corner and be almost paralyzed. Either way, fear has very different reactions for each of us…with none of them predictable.

I have written about fear before in past posts but I felt the need to revisit it again because of some recent reading in the Bible where once again I learned more about the absolute might of our Lord God. It has always amazed me that God describes Himself as “Love” as well as our “sanctuary of refuge” yet throughout the Bible He reminds us that we need to fear and dread Him as well. Those have always seemed completely opposite to me, but then let me remind you of the love of your earthly father. On one hand he is the one who teaches and helps guide us along our path as we grow but yet when we do wrong, he is there to punish us and remind us that there is always a consequence for sin. At the same time, we experience both fear of the punishment and love from the same person because he is a father who loves his children.

The Lord God Almighty is the one you are to regard as holy, he is the one you are to fear, he is the one you are to dread, and he will be a sanctuary. Isaiah 8:13-14a

But as I think about this world around me and our human nature I think that without actual fear in our relationship with God, humanity would become to comfortable and relaxed towards Him…oh wait…many of us ARE to comfortable and relaxed and that my friends, I believe, is a big mistake.

We cannot forget that no matter what is going on right now…He is God and we are not. Everyday the business of life piles up in front of us and we get distracted and diluted with our responsibilities. Trust me when I tell you this guys, I am speaking to myself just as much as my audience. We cannot be too busy to be humble in the sight of God…to recognize His might as well as His love for us.

This is simply a friendly reminder for all of us. If we can maintain that fear relationship with God, there is a humility there in all of us that God can use. When you focus on maintaining that condition of the heart, that Humility…well simply put, life is better because the joy of the Lord will be your strength.

Remember Proverbs 22:4

Humility and fear of the Lord bring wealth and honor and life…

I don’t know about you but I could use all three of those…

 

Until next time guys…

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We recently finished a very successful Little League season that had us advancing to and winning our local city tournament. After a 24-game season and then a tournament where we faced 6 more local teams…to actually win first place, was very gratifying…

But I have to be honest it wasn’t always that way.

This season provided many of the normal low points that most seasons typically do with one exception; as a team, we discovered something we dislike universally…playing badly. But even more important, we discovered a way to stop this team from “falling off the cliff”. Honestly, this one simple moment truly saved us from being one of the worst teams into being one of the best.

I remember the actual game and frankly, the one particular inning where we literally could not do anything right. We could NOT get an out to save ourselves…hit after hit and run after run, we could not stop this train from certain destruction. When we finally hit the 10-run threshold and to many errors to count, I told the other coach “let me go talk to them”…he mumbled something completely incoherent because I honestly think he was in shock.

As I walked to the mound, I called the entire team over for a conversation. As I stared into those 11-12 year old boys faces, I saw tears and I saw anger but most of all I saw hopelessness. They literally had given up the thought they could do anything right. They were so upset and had completely lost their direction…does this sound familiar to anyone?

I told them “Guys, you are so much better than what I see here today. We have practiced these plays over and over again…frankly, to many times to count”.

“Here is what I want you to do, in this game right now…I want you to hit the reset button inside of you. From urlthis point on, we are starting this game over. We are playing from the beginning again…We are resetting”.

They all looked at me like I was crazy. Our shortstop Tyler spoke up and asked, “what do you mean coach?” “How do we reset?” I told him, “When you reset something, it clears the past or the previous from affecting the future”. Everything that has happened in this game is now over. We are each going to reset and focus on the next play, our next at bat and all of us are going to try our hardest to get out of this inning”

Our catcher chimed in at this point, “come on guys, we can do this, we have to reset. We have to hit the reset button”

So here is what I will tell you, we did not win that game. But we did get out of that nasty inning without giving up another run. More importantly however, the next time we had the beginnings of another poor inning, our catcher pulled the infield together and gave them the reset speech…and guess what, it worked…

As you can imagine, that simple life lesson got me thinking about you guys and the painful 10-run bad inning equivalents we have in our own lives. News flash: sometimes life hurts and it does NOT go our way. In fact, I firmly believe there are many of you right now reading this that are having a very hard time for a variety of reasons and frankly are just looking for some hope. Guys, I am not going to insult your intelligence by saying to just hit your internal reset button and everything will magically get better. We all know that is not the way anything in this life works.

What I will tell you though is if you hit the reset button with God…that will work.

Right now, God is patiently waiting for you to run to Him. He is not the God who will write in the sky, “Hey (your name here)…call me now and let’s fix this” we know He doesn’t work that way. Our God has a still, soft voice that is always calling…we are just too loud or too busy to hear Him.

Guys…today…take my challenge to you…

Hit the reset button with God by praying this prayer right now:

“God…things are not going well right now and I need you to help. Humbly I ask that you take over my life and cause me to reset my relationship with you. I can’t do this on my own. I need you to direct my steps and make my paths straight.

God, I trust in you and I believe in you and no matter what happens, I know you are in control. Please use your Holy Spirit to help guide me during difficult times and thank you for what you are doing for me right now”…

If you prayed that prayer and believe you hit the reset button with Him, I could not be any happier…congratulations. I would also ask that you leave me a note on this blog if you prayed that prayer. This blog has always been about encouragement and knowing you hit your reset with Him is very encouraging to me…

Until next time guys…

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Most of you who read this blog are guys and so I am going to give you an all guys blog today. So here we go…

Guys like strength. We like war movies. We like Captain America movies. We like old-fashioned football when a running back breaks 10 tackles and scores the game winning touchdown. Strength is something we can identify with as a man. We find ourselves measuring each other up all the time. That pick up game of basketball against the new guy or when we see some huge muscle-bound guy in the gym…we are always looking at strength…and deep down inside, we like it.

I believe that is part of the reason WHY we do this is because we have always done it. Throughout centuries, countries have fought other countries by using their strength to overcome one another. Men have always done the same thing. When you pick the starting lineup on any team you are on, for any sport, you always take the strongest, or at least the ones you think give you the best chance to win…

Strength. If you are a guy well then it is as a part of you as the air you breathe.

So here is my question to you…if strength is who we are as a human race, then why didn’t Jesus Christ use it when He came to this earth? In fact, I submit to you that rather than use Power in Strength, He used exactly the opposite…He used Power in Weakness. Think about it. He didn’t come on a horse with a broad sword, he came as a baby, in a simple stable. He wasn’t victorious in a battle while here on earth like we would identify with, instead, He went to the cross and died.

What kind of strength is that? Is that something we can all rally behind on the battlefield…Power in Weakness? Again, I submit to you…yes…

As I have said to you before, God doesn’t think like us. His plans will always be different from anything we would come up with…Moreover, the Apostle Paul wrestled with this very same question when writing to the Corinthians in chapter 1:18-31 when he said,

Jews demand signs (miracles) and Greeks look for wisdom, but we preach Christ crucified; a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles, but to those whom God has called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God.

And then Paul goes onto say:

For the foolishness of God is wiser than human wisdom, and the weakness of God is stronger than human strength.

 But the question is still why? Why would God choose to proliferate the gospel using Power in Weakness rather than Strength, something we can all identify with?

The answer lies with Paul and his “thorn in the flesh” issue. You see Paul pleaded with God to take away what many think was that he was partially blind on 3 separate occasions and each time he was told no. Finally Christ responded to him directly by saying:

But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.

Did you pick that up? Christ’s power is made PERFECT in our weakness…which is completely opposite of how we “humans” would have created things had we been involved. God’s plan all along was to create a relationship with us whereby we are reliant upon Him for our needs. His plan was never to use strength to overcome all odds and capture our salvation like we see in the movies. God simply says trust in me and I will take care of the rest.

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 Look guys, I get it. This blog does not have the climax that maybe you thought was coming…and honestly, I find myself identifying with strength still…but the point is, part of my journey in my walk with Him involves learning more about Him and why God uses power in weakness primarily when dealing with us.

Bottom line is this…

But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong. He chose the lowly things of this world and the despised things – and the things that are not – to nullify the things that are, so that no one may boast before him. It is because of him 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: “Let him who boasts boast in the Lord.” 1 Cor. 1:27-31

Brute strength will not get you to heaven…but a humble and pure heart before God is sure a great start…

Until next time guys…

 

 

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I had the opportunity recently to hear a former major league pitcher speak at a meeting of the Better Men; an organization designed for a similar purpose as this blog, to assist and support men as they walk down the journey of life. Bob Scanlan, who pitched in the 90’s with the Phillies, Cubs and the Brewers talked a little about his career in Baseball, his current one in broadcasting, as well as some great Baseball stories. More importantly, he emphasized a whole lot about being humble. He made the statement that I really liked and will really resonate well with this audience when he said, “there are two kinds of people, those who are humble and those who are about to be”. Coming from a guy who played on one of the biggest stages, that was refreshing to hear.

But it wasn’t always that way, early on he was like many of the guys we see on the court or the field in the professional ranks, he was full of himself and acted as if the entire world revolves around him. As a result, Scanlan went through some real lows early in his career that caused him to change but his biggest change came when he accepted Jesus Christ into his life as his personal savior. The irony was that even after his experience with God, more bad career news followed; he got cut because he wasn’t living up to the expectations that people had in him…poor performance caused him to hit a new low in his life. What’s interesting though is he didn’t give up. He kept on persevering and slowly, over time he became a better pitcher and eventually got his break in the big leagues and he never looked back…

He told a story about a particular Sunday when he was pitching for the Brewers and he was preparing to face a very powerful hitting Indians lineup that included Albert Bell. As the beginning of the game neared, he knew he was ready and put his game face on… however before the game began, it was a Sunday tradition that local little leaguers would accompany the players to their positions for the national anthem. Scanlan was completely focused on the ensuing game and was not paying attention until he noticed the whole stadium had gone quiet. When he looked around to see why, he realized there was a boy in a wheelchair on his way to his mound and was struggling to get over the baselines where the dirt and grass met. When the little boy finally made it to where Scanlan was standing, he looked up with a huge smile on his face. When their eyes met, tears suddenly welled up in Scanlan’s eyes and he turned away from the child during the anthem so no one would see him cry…

When he went to shake the boy’s hand, he told his parents “your son is a blessing” and they both responded “we know”. Then he proceeded to go out and have one of the worst games of his career by giving up multiple runs in the first inning and he was out of the game by the second. Whatever intensity Scanlan had worked up before the game, had been lost as a result of the encounter with the boy.

After the game, Scanlan was angry. He was mad at the Brewers and Little League for having a day like this that screwed up his focus and caused him to fail. He had worked very hard to prepare for that game and he was gone before he had a chance to know what was happening. He struggled with a poor attitude for almost 2 months until it hit him…on that Sunday, that little boy silenced a crowd of over 30,000 people and even made a major league pitcher cry simply by his efforts just to get to the mound. On that day, he realized that life was not about him focusing hard to throw a baseball and win, it was about how he could touch people and impact them. How many of us get caught up in how great WE are and forget about what’s really important. Think about it, nothing you have ever done for YOURSELF has EVER been life changing for anyone else. Personally, nothing I’ve ever done for me has ever made a difference in this world…it’s only what I have done for other people that changed lives.

Guys, do you remember Scanlan’s earlier statement about being humble? “There are two kinds333-310Bk of people, those who are humble and those who are about to be…”

Which one are you? My challenge to you today is to work to get focused on what you can do to make an impact on someone else. It is SO EASY to do things for you, WE DO THAT EVERYDAY…but I am asking you to look around and see what you can do for the guy next to you. Then maybe the next time I see you we can say to each other…

“Hey brother, I just wanted to tell you that humility looks very good on you…”

Until next time guys…

opinions_freewill2I was listening to another Podcast recently and something that Andy Stanley from North Point Ministries said struck a chord within me. How many of us actually do what we know we should do 100% of the time? This would mean when temptation strikes you and for that period of time where all of us have a choice, sin or not sin, how many of us really make the right choice? In my opinion, probably not very many of us could raise our hands here because that statement is very near impossible. In fact, Paul struggled with the very thing and asked the very same question:

I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do…As it is, it is no longer I myself who do it, but it is sin living in me. For I do not do the good I want to do, but the evil I do not want to do—this I keep on doing. Now if I do what I do not want to do, it is no longer I who do it, but it is sin living in me that does it.?” Romans 7: 15-20

Honestly, its kind of encouraging that I struggle with the same things the Apostle Paul did but that is another blog post…the point I am trying to make here is that Paul is simply saying that what causes us to do the things we shouldn’t ALREADY LIVES inside of you and me. Honestly, we were born with it…into it…and it covers us…what is “it”…

Sin…

I don’t know about you but it drives me crazy when I find myself literally doing something that I told myself not to, 30 minutes prior…and that happens all the time! Why do I let myself fall into the same pit over and over again? Honestly guys, it’s a human problem that affects everyone who was ever born on this earth. It started when our buddy Adam sinned inside the garden and that single act affected mankind forever…and without the cross, we were absolutely doomed!

But you already know all of that…

Lets get back to Paul…because he is pointing out something that affects you and me and he is asking the same questions we do. If I was to summarize what Paul is saying I would say, “Why do we let SIN control our lives?” I think that sometimes we are sold short on the idea that we get to sin all week and then on the weekend, come to church to wipe our “sin slate” clean. That was NOT Gods intent. His intent was that you live a life of freedom from sin all of the time. Well how does one do that? Let me tell you what Andy Stanley said from above to help all of us:

The 3 “D’s”

DECLARE – SIN IS NOT MY MASTER. Say that out loud to yourself…seriously, say it. SIN IS NOT MY MASTER. You don’t have to let sin control you. You don’t have to let sin reign, or be in charge, of your mortal body.

DECIDE – You have a choice to say NO to sin. I am speaking the truth to you guys. You can decide to not let sin rule over you. Everyday, Satan will secretly ask you if he can borrow your mind for a while so you can think about something you know you shouldn’t.

Do not lend Satan control any part of your physical body in order to sin.

DEVOTE – Every part of your life to God. Take a chance and be humble by submitting every part of your body during your prayer time to God.

Guys, look at what he is saying…YOU HAVE A CHOICE. SIN IS A CHOICE…saying NO to sin is literally the hardest thing in the world but yet at the same time, to overcome sin…well that is something a warrior would do…defeat an adversary in a battle.

Paul said it this way:

Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit who gives life has set you free from the law of sin and death. Romans 8:1-2

Guys, all He is saying is this: as long as you stay focused on Him, each day, living our your life with your eyes pointed towards heaven…YOU ARE FREE TO MAKE A CHOICE AND HAVE VICTORY OVER SIN.

Does that mean you will stop sinning? Heck no, remember Adam from above? Sin seems to be a part of our DNA but with Christ, we can overcome…

Guys, I challenge you today when you get up each morning to say out loud…Sin is not my master. Say it as many times as necessary until you believe this in your heart, then you can have that victory I know you seek…

Until next time guys,

Andy Stanley is the Pastor of  North Point Church and  North Point Ministries in Atlanta, Georgia. His Videos and Podcasts are available at yourmove.is.

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I don’t know about you, but I like to use those digital reminders that are available in online calendars so I don’t forget those critical dates and other important things. So in honor of this new and upcoming year of 2014, this last post of 2013 will fall under the category of “critical” due to its utmost importance for you and I as believers. This is my last friendly reminder to all of us for this year…and it is simply:

All of us who have ever lived or died on this earth…Not one of us will be left out of ultimate accountability with God.

So I will pause for a moment while I let that statement sink in…

The reason we find the accountability idea difficult is that no one wants to think about the future because it makes us uncomfortable…it “cramps our style” in our everyday life.

Being completely transparent, I can identify with the “uncomfortable with accountability” point of view. In fact, I have held that point of view before in my own lifetime.  Because the truth is, when life is going your way…I found little reason to be at church or for that matter, to focus on making the “right” decisions that might make God proud. And why should I?

The answer is simple; Because while the world is going on about its own business, you and I are trying to live out Christianity in the present…and at this very point in history…it is very hard not to get tangled up in ourselves.  Between what you see advertised as “right” and our natural tendency to fall in love with ourselves; Satan slowly and masterfully weaves his work until we have lost our focus…and our anchor. When we shift our gaze from God to man…It is NOT a good ending.

Guys, I am NOT telling you a new story. It is one that has been told many times throughout human history, it’s just a new generation that gets to learn it all over again. So here is the important point I wanted to remind you of today.

AN IRONMANSTRENGTH FRIENDLY REMINDER:

Nothing in all creation is hidden from God’s sight. Everything is uncovered and laid bare before the eyes of him to whom we must give account. Hebrews 4:13

For those of you who are reading this verse for the very first time and are skeptical, look it up…I do not make this stuff up…it’s in the Bible for all of us to read and apply to our lives.

So here is my $1,000,000 question of the day:

When you read this verse, does it have the impact of getting smacked right in your face?

If it does, that is good…because that means the Holy Spirit is within you and telling you that you must change…you have to change…

Guys…I encourage all of you to look away from the mirror and up to Him…

Get focused back on God by getting on your knees and try humility.

God understands everything you are going through and I assure you, He wants you back…but YOU must take the first step towards Him…Prayerfully consider these words today.

They are not my words, but Gods.

Reminder: You, me, all of us, will ultimately be held accountable for everything we do, everything we think, and everything we say in this world…I hope you recognize this is something none of us can afford to ever forget…

 

Until next time guys…

the-stranger1(Continued from previous post)

We, you and I, can only grasp small fragments of who He is.

As I mentioned previously, what we see being put on display before our very eyes is NOT a mistake…it is a part of Satan’s master plan in the process of being unfolded. Did you know he has also has a plan for this world? It is a plan that you and I have the advantage of watching from ringside seats…and we are right in the center of the action. (Please note: I refer to above as an advantage simply because I believe I know how this story ends.) Let me just say very clearly that his plan does NOT have your best interests in mind. Remember what Peter said:

Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. 1 Peter 5:8

I don’t know about you but the word, “devour” is very clear to me what the end looks like for someone who stays on the path of least resistance, or in other words, the path that has no accountability. Guys, what do you see each night on television that gives you hope in this world? I am NOT trying to be negative but from my vantage point, there does not appear to be very much “positive” going on out there…and for that matter, coming in the future. So far, it looks the same to me. Has what I see now happened before?

Is History is repeating itself? Do you remember the Children of Israel?

Have you ever heard the word crescendo? Its definition is “the peak of a gradual increase.” Crescendo is seen mostly in musical pieces where the orchestra will start softly and gradually grow louder as they crescendo to the finish. If I were to apply the “gradual increase” to what I see going on today, I would say (and I think we would all agree) we are seeing the speed of the world-changing to a rapid pace. Look around you…Why is this happening?

A.W. Tozer quote from the “Spiritual Warfare” book:

“How different it is today. The fact remains the same, but the interpretation has changed completely. Men think of the world not as a battleground, but as a playground. We are not here to fight; we are here to frolic. We are NOT in a foreign land; we are at home. We are NOT getting ready to live; but we are already living, and the best we can do is rid ourselves of our inhibitions and our frustrations and live THIS life to the full.”

As mentioned above, we are all in a spiritual battle and frankly, if you don’t see that I am worried for you brother. Things may be going well for you now and I say, “good for you” but I also know, “This too shall pass”. Unfortunately, “things going well” may only be for a season and when the good is gone, then what? My response to you is look up and see what God has for you especially during this time of certainty. Jesus said, “if you seek me you will find me…knock and the door will be opened unto you” Please remember this;

This earth is NOT Gods plan for you!

Pastor Rick Warren said, “Earth is simply preparation time for Heaven” which means that Earth is not your final destination. There is something far more fantastic in your future than your existence upon this earth.

Right now, in the middle of all this chaos of the world, God is trying to get your attention but guess what? So is Satan

I will end this post with another A.W. Tozer quote:

“There is a glorified Man on the right hand of the Majesty in heaven faithfully representing us there. We are left for a season among men; let us faithfully represent Him here.”

Guys, I know I gave you a whole lot in these last two posts or in other words, a whole lot of “meat” to chew on. I pray that His words will rest upon your hearts so the Holy Spirit can use them to soften your mind to His what He has for you…

What He offers is Eternal Life…

Until next time guys…