7 Ways To Pursue Humility

To varying degrees, we all struggle with pride. We may not always thirst for it, but a drink from the fountain of humility is one we all could use.

Humility is not something we’re born with; it is something we must pursue. Though a virtue, the Bible never mentions humility as a spiritual gift. Even those of us among us who are humble must continually fight against arrogance because you never “arrive” with humility; you are always on the journey. To say it another way, you never graduate from the school of humility; we are always in school. And you can only stay enrolled if you are pursuing humility. Otherwise, pride will have you expelled.

But how do we pursue humility? Below are 7 ways:

1) By meditating on the gospel. We are so loved that Jesus was glad to die for us. But we are so wicked that Jesus had to die for us. By meditating on the finished work of Christ, we realize that we only exist through sheer grace. It’s difficult to think highly of ourselves when we think of the cross.

2) By studying the doctrines of grace. Also known as “Reformed Theology,” I love the doctrines of grace because they are so God-centered. Contrary to misinformed opinions, Calvinism leads to utter humility and worship of God, not arrogance. As Burk Parsons once said, “An arrogant Calvinist is an oxymoron.”

3) By practicing the spiritual disciples. Someone recently asked Andy Mineo, “How do you stay humble in light of all your success?” He said by practicing the spiritual disciplines. He’s absolutely right. Bible reading, prayer, fellowship, service, meditation, etc. We need to purse these regularly. Obvious signs of pride in public are indicative to a weak devotional life in private.

4) By living in community. We all have blind spots. Living in community allows others to speak into our lives, and point out sin we can’t see with our own eyes.

5) By encouraging others. People who struggle with pride the most encourage people the least. Find positive things to say about people, and encourage them often.

6) By asking questions. Unless you are part of the Divine, you don’t know it all. Ask questions to learn more, and doing this reminds yourself you don’t know it all. Prideful people have a difficult time asking questions.

7) By playing golf. I got this idea from C.J. Mahaney’s book Humility. Golf is the only sport that can make a good athlete look like an idiot. And if you’re not an athlete, then you’ll really look like an idiot.

Scripture gives us reasons for humility. Paul asks, “What do you have that you did not receive?” (1 Cor. 4:7) James says every good and perfect gift is from the Father (James 1:17). John says no one can receive not even one thing unless it is given to him from heaven (John 3:27). Scripture is clear: everything that we have is from God.

Everything. Our ambition, intellect, appearance, genetic makeup, opportunities, spiritual gifting, money, blessings. Everything we have is by God and for God. His glory, and our joy. The right understanding of this will lead to the proper response: A heart that desires to glorify God joyfully, boast only in him loudly, and pursue humility continually.

There’s no room for pride in the Christian faith. After all, what do you have that you did not receive?

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4 Reasons Why God Makes Us Wait

When God makes us wait for something, it’s not his way of depriving us, but rather his means of changing us.

Because God is sovereign over all, this is applicable to all of life. The big things like a spouse, children, a new job. Or the little things like waiting for a text message response, or waiting in line at a restaurant.

In life, we wait. We seldom enjoy it. But we all go through it.

But is there any purpose in it? Below are four reasons.

1) For our sanctification. God’s plan A for our life is to make us like Jesus (1 Thessalonians 4:3). It seems like the longer we wait, the harder we cling to God and his promises. We may not realize it, but in the process of waiting, spiritual transformation happens.

2) To reveal our heart’s motive. God tests us not to find out how we’ll do (he already knows), but to show us, deep down, what’s really in our heart. Sin and idols in your heart will appear when you wait. Things you did not think you struggled with show up. Emotions of disappointment may arise. But this is a mercy from God. As Jon Bloom says, “If you find that sin is feeding your emotion of disappointment, then your event of disappointment is a kindness meant to lead you to repentance.”

3) To increase faith. If God always gave us what we want when we wanted it, he would be an evil Father. Think about it. Because of our fallen and sinful nature, if God never made us wait, we would never have a reason to trust him. We would do our own thing. We would never pray. We would not truly revere him for his character. Our lives would be much worse.

But God does make us wait. Often. And he usually does not give us things on our timing. But as we wait, deeper trust is instilled, and consequently our faith increases.

4) To instill appreciation. I got this idea from a Desiring God article. And it is so true. You waited for the job … and then you finally got it. You were single until age 29 … and then you finally got married. You couldn’t have children for the first 10 years of marriage, and then, behold! A baby boy!

It’s hard to take certain things for granted when God makes you wait for them. Greater appreciation is instilled when we wait.

I can think of several times in my life when God made me wait for something. During the process, I thought like the psalmist: “How long, O LORD?” For a few of the occasions, when the wait was over, it almost was like I forgot I even waited. The joy of God’s faithfulness in the situation superseded the wait that I experienced! And this is the testimony of so many others.

God will make you wait. He is never late. But he is never early either. His timing and purposes are always perfect.

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What Jesus Really Wants To Give You

Chapter two of the book of Mark reveals what Jesus wants to give us. And it is something greater than being healed from a crippling injury.

Most of us are familiar with the story. Jesus is in a home preaching the Word to anyone and everyone who would listen. Many people arrive to hear him. So many people, in fact, that the home becomes full — there is no more room to let a single person in. Apparently, there’s a paralytic who lives nearby who has good friends. Such good friends that they are willing to carry him on a bed to get to Jesus. There’s no room through the door, though, so they did what anyone with any sanctified common sense would do: they went through the roof.

They disrupt the crowd, and get to Jesus. Everyone is watching. What is Jesus going to do?

Jesus looks at the paralytic, and says, “Son, your sins are forgiven.” (Mark 2:5)

Sins forgiven? Jesus, don’t you see that this man is paralyzed? He can’t walk. He’s crippled. Don’t you care about his physical condition? Can’t you tell he’s in pain?

Oh, how Jesus always exceeds our expectations.

Jesus is a good physician. He knows what we want, but he also knows what we need. Jesus is going there, but he’s not there yet. That is, he is going to fix the physical condition, but first he works on the spiritual condition, because not having one’s sins forgiven is worst than being paralyzed.

Here’s my point: the euphoria from circumstantial happiness never lasts. If Jesus would have just healed this guy of being paralyzed and never dealt with his spiritual condition, he may have ended up in a worse condition. After the physical healing, the paralytic probably would have been on cloud nine … for maybe a year or two … and then eventually, the euphoria would fade. His discontentment would worsen. And the only way to have your discontentment removed is to have your sins forgiven.

We should be thankful for God’s gifts: A job promotion, a spouse, a healing, a new car. Whatever. After all, “A person cannot receive even one thing unless it is given to him from heaven” (John 3:27). But we shouldn’t elevate the gifts above the Giver. Our deep-rooted joy should be in God, not in what God can give.

The story continues.

” … He said to the paralytic, ‘I say to you, rise, pick up your bed, and go home.’ And he rose immediately, picked up his bed and went out before them all, so that they were all amazed, and glorified God … (Mark 2:11).”

In the end, the paralytic gets what he wants, but more importantly, he gets what he needs — and it’s something that he doesn’t deserve, nor is it something that he would ever expect.

Jesus is a good physician who knows what his patients need. His perfect life, death, and resurrection has paved the way to give us what we need — namely, our sins forgiven. And it is found in Christ, and through no other avenue.

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5 Ways To Positively Respond to The Michael Brown Shooting

As you’ve probably heard by now, Michael Brown, an 18-year-old male from St. Louis, was allegedly killed by a Ferguson County Police Officer shortly after noon this past Saturday. I grew up in North County, about 15 minutes away from where the shooting took place, and know all about the dangers of living in that area.

In this article, I’m going to attempt to answer this question: How can we positively respond to the aftermath of the shooting? 

Notice I said “respond.” I didn’t say “react.” Too often, in situations like this, many people simply just react. If we simply just react, we can let feelings and emotions dictate, and end up making poor decisions. But if we think critically, we can respond with the right action that leads to real progress.

Immaturity is making decisions solely on feelings. Maturity is making decisions based off what’s right and wrong. And as I examined the articles and read the Facebook statueses and witnessed the riots on TV, many people are using feelings to determine their actions, slowing down the progress we need, and ironically worsening the matter.

For example, think about the hundreds of people who showed up to “protest.” Some were protesting and were genuinely outraged by injustice, but many were not. In many respects, what was supposed to be a peaceful protest turned into a disaster. Reports show that over a dozen businesses were robbed and destroyed. People started acting like uncontrolled animals. Many people were trying to steal and destroy for personal gain, all-the-while trying to avoid any consequences, thinking that they are entitled to this because someone was shot. As Senator Nasheed has said on Twitter, “Self-destructive behavior is a major setback for real progress.”

The situation was bad. But they made it worse.

Looting is not the answer … But what is? I’m not sure that I have all the answers, but below are 5 I’ve gathered.

1) Let the governing authorities do their jobs. Protests in and of themselves aren’t always bad, but when it turns to a disaster, it becomes a distraction. The FBI, the police, and many other experts are involved. Romans 13:1 tells us they have been placed there by God. If we don’t try to do a Police Officer’s job for a routine speeding ticket, what makes us think we are any more competent to get in the way for a major crisis? We can stop making a dent and start making a difference by sitting back and allowing the authorities to handle the matter.

2) Pray. John Piper says that we shouldn’t do something about all sufferings, but that we should feel something about those sufferings. We can feel the injustice of the matter, and respond in prayer. We can pray for reconciliation, justice, peace, for the churches in the community, and the advancement of the gospel.

3) Serve. How can we serve the city of Ferguson? Can we help clean up the mess (literally) that was made? Are we providing emotional comfort for Michael Brown’s family? Most of us won’t fit in this category, but some of us may consider it.

4) Self-Examination. When I read some of the Facebook posts earlier, I thought, “Man, that person has no idea what they are talking about.” I noticed pride starting to creep into my heart. In situations like this, we can examine ourselves. Am I racist? Am I self-righteous? Am I arrogant? Am I apathetic to evil? A sober self-examination can benefit us all.

5) Trust. Finally, we can trust God. In one of the most humbling and comforting verses in the Bible, we learn that, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord” (Romans 12:19). Vengeance belongs to God. His wrath is for our comfort. We don’t have to chase people down who cause injustice to hurt them ourselves, but we can trust God, who repays everyone now and in the end how He sees fit.

We can’t control what happened, only our response. And if the five things afermentioned are taken seriously, I believe we can start to see progress in the matter.

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How Celebrating Your Accomplishments Brings Contentment

Contentment is beautiful because contentment brings joy. It’s not something that comes naturally, but something that we have to learn (Philippians 4:11). The world doesn’t help, as it seems to be set up to only deepen our discontentment. But, paradoxically, the pathway to joy comes through the avenue of contentment.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

To grow in contentment, many suggest grattitude — to be grateful for what you have. This is true. And also probably obvious. But I want to propose an unconventional path to contentment: Celebrating your accomplishments.

In his book, The Dude’s Guide to Manhood, Author and Pastor, Darrin Patrick, writes, “If we don’t pause to celebrate the various chapters in our life and accomplishments, then our awareness of what we’ve accomplished will become vague, and our discontentment will grow.”

We’ve all heard about the business owner who’s determined to succeed and works incessantly. They’re hungry, ambitious, driven. They’re up at 5:00am, and work past midnight. They accomplish some goals. Their business grows. They make some money. They like the taste of success, and they become addicted to it as it becomes their identity. Because it makes them feel “alive,” they can’t imagine life without it, and never seem to stop working because they don’t want to feel inadequate.

They feel like they have to keep striving, to keep doing, to keep working. On the outside, they appear noble and successful. On the inside, they may feel empty and miserable. Why? They never stop to celebrate their accomplishments. They’re afraid that if they do, they’ll become complacent and stop achieving. But this is the opposite of what is true.

The world celebrates them, but they never celebrate.

New promotion?
Business growing?
New home?

Whatever it is, stop and remember that all good things come from God (James 1:17), and respond in a celebratory fashion, glorifying God for what he’s given you, and reflecting on what God has done through you.

If we stop, pause, reflect and think about what God has done, is doing, and will do in our life, we will further be aware of his blessings, and our contentment and joy will grow.

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7 Signs You’re Addicted to Social Media

I recently asked a friend if he spends a lot of time on Facebook or not. “I could probably spend less time on there,” was his response. And I think that’s probably a good answer for most of us. Especially for me.

Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest. The lists goes on and on. And it seems to be growing. It is certainly helpful and fine to use, but I think becoming addicted to it is a trap that we would do well to avoid. So how do we know we’re addicted? Here are seven signs:

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1) It’s the first thing you check in the morning. The alarm goes off, you crawl out of bed, probably to use the restroom, and hop on Facebook. It’s the first thing you do every morning.

2) You check it at red lights. You’re at a red light, it’s been a whopping four seconds and you become agitated. What do you do? Check Social Media.

3) You check it almost incessantly during your day. You check it every chance you get. 10,15, 25 times per day. Every free moment you get, you’re on there. It’s part of your day to simply check it with every free second you have. 

4) You check it when you’re hanging out with friends. Sure, we want to post a pic on Instagram when we’re hanging with the boys or when it’s Girl’s Night Out. But I’m referring to constantly checking Social Media when you’re with friends in a social setting. It’s like we have the “real thing” in front of us yet we jump online to settle for the artificial community!

5) You’re constantly worried about your online perception. How many “likes” did I get? Did anyone comment on my post? How many friends and followers do I have? Do people online see me as successful and beautiful and cool?

6) Your joy differs with the amount of reaction your post receives. You post something, and get 87 “likes.” Yes, you’re the man! Then you post something the next day, and get three “likes.” You feel sad. Your joy depends on the responses of your posts.

7) You quickly take down a post because it’s not getting the reaction you’d like. You post something and then 15 minutes later you take it down because it’s not getting the “likes,” “shares,” and “comments” you’d like it to have. It’s a sign of insecurity – and something I have done before.

So how do we get over our addiction? I’m no expert and have struggled with this tension myself. I find it helpful to completely take Social Media off my phone for one week. I do that once or twice a year and it is always helpful and refreshing. Taking other mini-breaks from it throughout the year have also proved to be effective.

But honestly, the number one thing that helps me enjoy Social Media without becoming addicted is to remember that I am accepted in Christ, and I don’t have to strive to pretend to be someone online that I’m really not for people I don’t even know. I have a lot of things to improve, but nothing to prove, and remembering Christ’s work on my behalf helps me to be secure when online, knowing that the real work is already finished.

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God Will Give You More Than You Can Handle

If we’ve heard it once, we’ve heard it a thousand times: “God won’t give you more than you can handle.”

It sounds spiritual. But is it biblical?

Let’s let the cat out of the bag right away: God often gives us more than we can handle.

The saying “God won’t give you more than you can handle” is popular, but we will not find it anywhere in Scripture. It does not exist.

I think what people are doing when they use this verse is a misapplication of another verse. A verse found in 1 Corinthians 10:13:

No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it.

It’s important to note that God does not tempt anyone. That’s made clear from James 1:13: “Let no one say when he is tempted, “I am being tempted by God,” for God cannot be tempted with evil, and he himself tempts no one.” But, as Aaron Armstrong says, “While God does not tempt us, He does, in his sovereignty, permit us to be tempted.”

Armstrong continues:

When Paul writes that God will not tempt us beyond our ability, he means that we are never in a situation where have no other choice but to sin. In a situation where telling the truth will damage your reputation, for example, it’s much easier to give in to the temptation to protect how people see you and lie, rather than do the right thing, which is tell the truth. That’s why there’s no such thing as a “white lie”—one that you tell to protect the feelings of someone else. We never lie to make someone else feel better, only to avoid discomfort ourselves. It’s just easier to lie and not deal with the consequences of telling the truth.

But, easy rarely equals right. We always have the option of doing the right thing, that which is honoring to God, but it will often cost us—whether that cost is reputation, position, relationship, or money, there will be a cost. But it’s always worth it to do the right thing.

So it’s true that God will not allow us to be tempted beyond our ability to do what is right, He will almost always give us more than we can handle on our own.

So we learn that the implications behind the quote is in regards to temptation, not affliction. We learn that God will give us more than we can handle from Paul: “For we do not want you to be unaware, brothers, of the affliction we experienced in Asia. For we were so utterly burdened beyond our strength that we despaired of life itself” (2 Corinthians. 1:8)

Paul said they were “utterly burdened beyond our strength.” They despaired of life itself. They were afflicted, wounded, battered and defeated. They received more than they could handle.

But why? Is there a point?

Paul answers that in the next verse: “But that was to make us rely not on ourselves but on God who raises the dead” (2 Cor. 1:9).

The reason God often gives us more than we can handle is so that we can learn to depend on him.

We are not self-sufficient. If we never suffered, we would be worse, not better. Why? Our pride would destroy us. We would never feel as if we had a need to pray, to trust God, to seek him. We would have everything figured out, and our sinful rebellion would destroy us.

Maybe we need to start seeing the trials and difficulties as a blessing, not a burden. He does not want us to rely on our own strength, but his, and he uses the trials to teach us that. We can find joy amidst the trial by receiving the strength he provides in the trial. And he will — He is faithful and true.

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