Saturday, January 13, 2018

January 16, 2018

"Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves." Philippians 2:3

I have been dealing with the issue of attitudes during this month. Today I touched on the attitude of humility. Here are a few of the thoughts I shared:


During the days when Mohammed Ali was a great boxer, he would go around in his arrogance and say that, "He was the greatest." Humility was never his strong suit. One day, back in his prime, he was on an airplane and the plane was ready to take off and the flight attendant had repeatedly told him to put on his seat belt. He finally told her, "I'm superman and superman don't need no seat belt." The flight attendant didn't hesitate a minute but shot back with, "Superman don't need no airplane either, now buckle up."

He buckled up!

That’s not humility – that’s pride. "Pride, the idolatrous worship of self, is the national religion of hell."

Here's the deal with humility, either you humble yourself or you will be humbled. Neither is particularly easy, but humbling yourself is preferable and more honorable.

Humility, Rick Warren reminds us, is “not thinking less of yourself but thinking of yourself less.”

“Humility is not thinking less of yourself, it is not thinking of yourself at all.” – J. Elton Trueblood

The story is told of two goats that met each other on a narrow ledge just wide enough for one goat to pass. The two goats faced each other and wondered, What shall we do? They could not back up that would be too dangerous. They could not go around because the ledge was too narrow. Now, if the goats had no more sense than humans they would have began butting each other until one fell over the ledge. However, goats have a lot of sense, more than some people. What they did: one goat laid down and let the other walk over him.


Shane Claiborne, who spent a summer in the slums of Calcutta with Mother Teresa, wrote about her experience there. She said, “People often ask me what Mother Teresa was like. Sometimes it’s like they wonder if she glowed in the dark or had a halo. She was short, wrinkled, and precious, maybe even a little ornery — like a beautiful, wise old granny. But there is one thing I will never forget — her feet. Her feet were deformed. Each morning in Mass, I would stare at them. I wondered if she had contracted leprosy. But I wasn’t going to ask, of course. ‘Hey Mother, what’s wrong with your feet?’ One day a sister said to us, ‘Have you noticed her feet?’ We nodded, curious. She said: ‘Her feet are deformed because we get just enough donated shoes for everyone, and Mother does not want anyone to get stuck with the worst pair, so she digs through and finds them. And years of doing that have deformed her feet.’ Years of loving her neighbor as herself deformed her feet.” Humility means that our focus is away from ourselves and not on ourselves.

Humility is taking the focus of life away from ourselves and onto God and others.

A FORMULA FOR HUMILITY - H2O - Think twice about Him – Think once about others – Then think about you! - THAT’S humility!

Don't wait to be humbled - or humiliated, humble yourself before God and honor your brothers and sisters. Start today!

January 15, 2018

"The length of our days is seventy years — or eighty, if we have the strength; yet their span is but trouble and sorrow, for they quickly pass, and we fly away." Psalm 90:10

The journey of life is marked by milestones and landmarks. I went speeding past one today as I marked my 68th birthday. That blur in my rear view mirror must be my life!

God has been incredibly good to me! As I look back I and review my life I see His footprints and fingerprints all over the place! I have been blessed beyond belief. And the good news is - I still am!

First, He blessed me with a godly mother. More than any single human being, she has shaped my life. She is one of my heroes. I have am thankful for the family I have. My sisters, brothers, my great children and grandchildren. As well as a large number of nieces and nephews.

Second, I was blessed to be born in a great nation. A land of freedom and opportunity and peace and goodness. It is humbling and gratifying to be an American.

Third, He put people in my path who drew me to Jesus and significantly shaped my faith journey. I am eternally grateful to Him and to them - too numerous to name.

Fourth, He placed a calling on my life and invested gifts in me. He has allowed me the privilege of preaching and teaching His Word and serving His church. I hope to leave a legacy of faith that others will want to follow.

Fifth, He miraculously provided me with a life-partner who has made me significantly better as a person and as a minister. And we aren't through yet!

Sixth, He has blessed me with incredible health, strength and energy that has allowed me to serve him well for a long time. I don't know how long I will enjoy this level of health, but either way I will use whatever strength I have to serve Him. In addition, my wife, my kids and grand kids have also enjoyed great health.

And, He has enriched my life with a host of friends whom I treasure more as the years pass. As I look over my Facebook page I have been flooded with greetings from friends I have known over the years. Some of the friends I grew up with and have known for over 50 years have checked in. Friends that I made in college have checked in. People I have been privilege to serve as pastor from the various churches I pastored, many of them have checked in. Lots of my new friends from FredWes, this amazing church I am serving now, have taken the time to send greetings.

Hitting 68 is sort of a sobering time! According to the Scriptures I am in the home stretch of my race. The Word says that 70 or 80 years is about what we can expect. Only God knows what that number is, and I am fine with that because He has been so faithful with the days He has given me so far! I have always been motivated by the attitude that my best days are still five years ahead! I see no reason to change that!
Pray for me that I will run well on this last leg of the race and run through the tape! Thanks for sharing my journey with me and making it memorable! As gratifying as it is to look back - the best is yet to come!

January 14, 2018

"He answered, 'I heard you in the garden and I was afraid because I was naked; so I hid.'" Genesis 3:10

This is a very heart-breaking encounter between God and Adam. It shows the death of innocence and the end of intimacy with God. Things would never be the same. However, this encounter is also very instructive. Let's see what we can learn from their misdeeds.

Observation One - It takes more than being honest with God to be intimate with God.

After Adam's sin he played "hide and seek" with God. He hid and God came seeking Him. When God found him, Adam confessed to his sin. He didn't lie to God. He told the truth. But he was still hiding from Him. Agreement with God did not restore oneness with God.

Our corollary would be when we confess our sins to Christ. He promises He will "forgive us our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness". That act of faith can bring us into relationship with God but not automatically into intimacy with him.

Observation Two: Adam's honest confession didn't remove the consequences of his sin.

Adam reveals three damaging consequences of sin in his confession - guilt, fear and shame. Those negative emotions caused him to hide from God.

Guilt is the result of moral failure. Adam felt guilty because he was! He sinned against his own spirit because God gave him a clear command and he deliberately disobeyed. Fear is the result of knowing he was in danger of the judgment. The shame comes as a result of his inadequacy apart from God. These are three very strong negative effects that Adam had to overcome to regain intimacy with God. They kept him chained to his past and unable to enjoy the moment. He was never able to overcome those consequences and reestablish the intimate walk with God he had once known. He could hide his sin but not remove it. Adam was doomed to wander on the edge of Paradise the rest of his day. He became a recipient of the grace and mercy of God but never again enjoyed the intimate presence of God.

Observation Three: Intimacy is being spiritually, morally and emotionally naked before God.

Before Adam sinned, he and even were completely naked before God and absolutely comfortable. There was nothing hidden and everything fully revealed. Sin changed that for Adam.

Because of Adam we are born hiding from God. We inherit a nature riddled infected with guilt, fear and shame. How do we come out of hiding? How do we shed the guilt, fear and shame in order to feel like we belong in the presence of God?

Honesty is a good start. Facing the truth about who we and the truth about Who He is and surrendering to that truth will usher us into relationship with Christ. The truth is that it takes faith in the Second Adam to deliver us from Adam. Agreeing with that truth and confessing it will get you into a relationship with God but it won't gain you intimacy.

What does it mean to be intimate with God? It means allowing Him complete access to every area of your life and earnestly seeking to know Him completely. It means clinging to God with the complete absence of guilt, fear and shame. It means coming confidently and comfortably into His presence and feeling you belong.

Doesn't that sound good! It's what the First Adam lost you and what the Second Adam won back for you. He took your guilt! He removed your fear! He absorbed your shame! Don't be content to dwell on the edge of Paradise, enter in and walk intimately with your Creator!