4 “S’s” of Humility

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While we were on vacation, my father-in-law delivered a great talk about humility and how it makes for a strong marriage (and obviously this can be applied to many other relationships). Specifically, there were four “S’s” he found in Philippians 2:

1. Selflessness

Philippians 2:3 says, “Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves.” The metaphor given here was that as kids trying to help one another over a fence, two kids would interlock fingers to make a foothold, providing a “boost” for another kid to get over the fence.

Humility is selfless, choosing to build up others and give them a “boost”, not oneself.

2. Servanthood

As Philippians 2 continues, it tells us that Jesus did not “consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant.”

Verse 5 tells us that our attitude ought to be the same as that of Jesus. Thus, we need to lay our lives down for our spouses and those around us God has called us to serve.

3. Suffering

In verse 8, it says that Jesus “humbled Himself and became obedient to death – even death on a cross!”

Sometimes, humility will bring about suffering for us. While this is so counter-intuitive to our culture, as believers, we need to be willing to suffer because that’s what Jesus did and that’s what humble people do.

4. Sacrifice

Finally, and ultimately, humility in Jesus meant He sacrificed all He had – His very life. To be humble means that we will sometimes have to sacrifice something for the good of another.

 

No doubt, these four “S’s” are packed with conviction. What I want you to do today is say is to read through these four questions prayerfully, asking Jesus to make you more like Him in any and all of them that He is speaking to you about.

Where do I need to be more selfless and give someone else a “boost” right now?

Who is God calling me to serve right now?

Where is there suffering in my life and how am I responding to it?

Am I sacrificing anything for the sake of another?

 

Lord Jesus, make us truly humble. Help us to be selfless, help us to serve one another, help us to suffer with You where You’ve called us to suffer, and help us to sacrifice for the sake of one another when we need to. Jesus, we can’t change ourselves in these areas, but You can. Please help us in humility to consider others as better than ourselves. In Jesus name, Amen.

Give Thanks for Freedom

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Typically, the fourth of July for me has simply been a day off, some extra time with family and friends, and some burgers and brats. While this is great, I’m trying to be just a little more intentional this year with the reason for the celebration, and today I’d like to offer two ways we can pause and give thanks for our freedom:

1. Call and thank someone who fought for the freedom you have. Maybe even write them a hand-written letter. The reality is that we enjoy many freedoms in this country such as the right to own our own property, freedom of religion, and a certain level of safety that many nations do not possess.

Because I’ve never been drafted to war, it’s easy for me to forget that all of this came at a price. If you have a living relative or friend who served our country, reflect on this and then call and thank them or write them a letter.

Earlier in the week I set up a reminder in my phone to call my grandpa this morning to thank him for his service in WWII.

2. Thank Jesus for freedom from sin and eternal life. Earlier this week, I read Colossians 2:13-14: “…He forgave us all our trespasses, erasing the record that stood against us with its legal demands. He set this aside, nailing it to the cross.” Hallelujah! Spend some time thanking Jesus that your record of sin against Him as been erased, and that you can spend eternity with Him if you’ve received Him.

 

That’s all. Thank a person for their sacrifice and the earthly freedoms you enjoy, and then thank Jesus for His sacrifice and the earthly and eternal freedoms you enjoy. Happy fourth of July everyone!

Daily, or Future Bread?

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I worry about money sometimes. This past week we received a fairly substantial unexpected bill and I found myself inwardly agitated for a few days. We had the money to cover it in our emergency fund, but I didn’t want to let that fund get “too low.”

A few days later, the Lord’s Prayer was part of one of the texts I was reading and the phrase, “give us today our daily bread” jumped off the page to me. The reality is that Jesus had already provided our daily bread for this bill. I was trusting more in a number in an account than in Him to provide my daily need.

I realized that when I’m worrying about money it’s usually because my focus is on tomorrow’s bread, three years from today’s bread, or retirement bread – Jesus says to simply trust in Him for today’s bread. Yes, saving is good and Proverbs would affirm that, but when Jesus has already provided for a problem and we are worried, then something is off. Saving is good, but we ought to be content and joyful with our daily bread.

I think a good action step for us to take with this issue is to pray through Philippians 4:6-7:

“Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”

According to this passage we can take said financial worry and say “Jesus, I’m not gonna worry about this. Thank you for this challenge and how it is leading me to rely upon you. I ask that you would take this burden from me and have your way in it – work in it powerfully. Replace this worry with your perfect peace as I surrender it to you, and guard my heart and my mind in the process. Amen.”

Take your financial worries to Him and trust Him for your daily bread – one day at a time.

Six Steps to Self-Feeding on God’s Word

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It is vital that we hear from Jesus every day. His word is living and active (Hebrews 4:12) and we need to feed on it each day as we navigate through the ups and downs of life. Lately I’ve had the joy of getting to know a few new believers and have been able to help them get started with reading the Bible. It’s really made me reflect on how I read the Bible and so I thought I’d share the simple “method” (for lack of a better word – it ebs and flows, but there is a process of sorts in my head) I’ve come to use over the years:

1. Determine a time and location and make it regular. Having a regular time and place will ensure that you read at all. I think it’s whatever works best for you. I know people who do it in the morning, after work, or before bed. Morning is best for me and I like Psalm 5:3 where we see David mentioning that he makes his requests to God and waits in expectation all day (Scripture reading flows easily into prayer as we’ll discuss below). However, there’s no “rule” about when you have to read.

2. Determine the passage you are going to read. Often times when we fail at reading it’s because we don’t know where to start, or where to go after we finish a book of the Bible. If you’re new at this, try James, the gospel of John, or some Psalms or Proverbs. I recommend a chapter a day – the goal is quality over quantity. However, you’ll learn in time what your dietary needs are. Sometimes less is more, or sometimes you sense you just need to read a lot.

3. Pray. Hebrews 4:12 says the word is living and active – so, if you’ve accepted Christ, the Holy Spirit within you will prompt you as you read God’s word. So, before you start reading, pray something like, “Jesus, I want to be more like you. Please speak to me through your word – show me exactly what you want me to see today.”

4. Read the passage. Read the passage prayerfully, sometimes more than once.

5. Journal. Write down what stands out to you. Specifically, look for three C’s: conviction, comfort, and conjunctions. God will often convict us through his word – write those things down. Contrastly, God will also comfort us through His word – look for those things as well. And lastly, look for conjunctions – words like “therefore,” “but,” etc. mean there’s something coming based on what was just said. Certainly, God can speak beyond these three C’s; these are just common ways I’ve found Him speaking in my experience.

6. Action/Prayer. Look over what you’ve written down – is there anything Jesus is telling you to do? Sometimes you may feel led to go do something – take a meal to a widow, or visit someone in prison for example. Or, sometimes, it’s not so much of a “go do,” but more of a “trust in God instead of worrying,” or “be humble,” or “God loves you so much.” In these situations, pray for that truth to be cemented deep in your soul and for God to change you from the inside out – don’t underestimate the power of prayer.

So, there’s my thoughts. They are certainly not meant to be exhaustive, but in some ways I think we over complicate Bible reading. People have read God’s word and it has spoken to them long before the days of commentaries, seminaries, and so on. Ask God to speak, read the word, and respond. God will speak to you and change you through His word.

Read it, and learn to treasure what it brings you, for “the law of the Lord is perfect, reviving the soul. The statutes of the Lord are trustworthy, making wise the simple…they are more precious than gold” (Psalm 19:7, 10).

 

Three Ways to Battle Anger

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I began golfing in middle school and the game taught me something early on – I struggle with anger. While the temptation to slam clubs has greatly decreased, ever since then I’ve been on a journey with God in dealing with my anger. Sure, some ‘righteous’ anger is good, and Jesus even expressed this, but many times I lose my temper over things that would not fit under the ‘righteous’ anger category. In this post, I’d like to share three things that have been helpful to me in allowing Jesus to sanctify my temper:

 1. Memorize or post James 1:19 somewhere. “Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry.” This verse is short and easy to memorize and has been a great prayer for me to call to mind. Don’t underestimate the power of prayer – if you ask Jesus to help you to become slow to anger, He will hear and respond.

2. Confess the struggle to others. A few weeks ago during a response time after a sermon at our church, I shared my struggle with a couple other guys I trust. Although it was somewhat embarrassing at first, there was power in disarming the secret, as well as in the way they received it in grace and prayed powerful prayers over me. I have sensed massive change in my heart since then. I guess we should learn something else from our brother James when he says to “confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed” (James 5:16).

3. Don’t let the anger trigger more anger. Many times I find that I get more angry when I realize I got angry. I’m such a perfectionist that I allow no grace to myself – the result is a downward spiral. Rather, I’ve been learning from Proverbs 24:16 which says, “though a righteous man falls seven times, he rises again.” I may lose the battle, but win the war. The point is, you will fail and the only way you can ultimately win is through grace. Don’t let the fact that you have a moment of weakness lead to more weakness. Stop, recognize you got angry, apologize to those who were hurt in the process, and move on. Don’t let getting angry lead to more anger.

The stakes are high with this issue. We need to model for our kids and church how to deal with our emotions in a healthy manner. Let’s not be passive about this, but active.

The Circle of Safety

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Parenting is hard. It’s a blast, but it’s also hard. As the father of a two year old boy, I often struggle to discern what behavior requires discipline and what behavior is just because he’s an ornery boy.

First of all, we need to establish the fact that discipline and love go hand in hand. Some parents are tempted to have the mentality that because they love their kids, they shouldn’t discipline them. While disciplining a child may be painful to the parent, it’s God’s command to us.

Note the use of love and discipline in Proverbs 13:24: “He who spares the rod hates his son, but he who loves him is careful to discipline him.”

And if you’re worried about hurting your child with discipline, then check out what Proverbs 23:13-14 say: “Do not withhold discipline from a child; if you punish him with the rod, he will not die. Punish him with the rod and save his soul from death.”*

Enter Tedd Tripp’s Circle of Safety concept from Ephesians 6:1-3, which basically says that things go well for those who honor and obey their parents. Listen to what Tedd says on pg. 131: “It is imperative that children learn to honor and obey. It will go well for them. Their obedience is not secured so that you can be obeyed for your sake. You must be obeyed for their sakes! They are the beneficiaries of honoring and obeying Mom and Dad.”

As a parent, you are God’s mediator between your child and God. Them learning to obey is not for your sake, but for your child’s! According to Eph. 6:1-3 and the circle of safety, when a child is obedient, they will enjoy long life and things will go well for them. As soon as a child is disobedient, things will not go well for them – every time a child disobeys they are in some sort of physical or spiritual danger.

What I’m proposing today is that you know and understand the circle of safety. Use it as a concept in the back of your mind when you discipline. Once your children are old enough, you could even draw the circle and explain it to them so they understand that you are not just disciplining out of your ideals, but God’s.

When they understand that parenting and discipline are God’s plan for their safety, and what can happen when they move out of the circle, they may want to stay inside the circle more often.

Lord, thank you for the blessing of children. Parenting is so fun, but so challenging sometimes. Please give me wisdom as I discipline my children in love. In the end, please let this act of love point them to their heavenly Father. In Jesus name, Amen.

 

 

 

*Please note that there are correct and incorrect ways to use the rod. I recommend reading all of Tedd Tripp’s “Shepherding a Child’s Heart” to learn how he recommends disciplining through spanking. He has great thoughts on accountability with it to ensure you aren’t doing it out of anger, etc. Also, communication with your child is of the utmost importance when disciplining. 

 

 

 

 

Fight the Tide: Purity

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As a nation (and even as a church in many ways), we have allowed the enemy to steal our purity out of our hands.

I believe we can get it back, but it will be a battle and the minute you begin to fight, the enemy will be right there headstrong against you. Satan knows that sexual sin can keep people in bondage like no other, but I have good news – the enemy has been defeated! So dust off your sword, put on your armor, and fight for your purity! Here’s three things that have helped me over the years that you can actively do to fight against the tide of impurity:

1. Memorize The Word – Psalm 119:9, 11 say, “How can a young person stay on the path of purity? By living according to Your word…I have hidden Your word in my heart that I might not sin against You.” One of our biggest weapons for fighting the enemy according to Ephesians 6 is the sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God.

Memorize it. Hide it in Your heart. Write it down on post-it-notes and stick it everywhere you will see it often.

Here’s a topical list of Purity Scriptures that have helped me over the years.

2. Remove The Source

In college I walked into one of my friend’s rooms and on his TV there was an index card with this on it: “I will not look with approval on anything that is vile” (Psalm 101:3).

Sometimes the only way to not look at something with approval is to not look at it at all – even if it means removing it. Take extreme measures! I think this is what Jesus meant when He said to gouge your eye out if it causes you to sin.

Thus, when my golf magazine arrived recently with a scantily clad woman on the cover, I simply tore the cover off. It’s better for me to simply remove the temptation.

3. Bounce Your Eyes

The book Every Man’s Battle recommends that you “bounce your eyes” when you are tempted to fixate on something you know you shouldn’t. While difficult at first, the concept really does work. If you train yourself to look away from temptation and say a prayer, asking God to help you, you will find your eyes don’t stay where they shouldn’t and thus your mind stays more pure.

Memorizing the Word and calling it to mind in moments of temptation, removing the source of temptation, and bouncing your eyes from temptation are three practical ways you can fight for your purity. The bottom line is: fight! Pray for someone to hold you accountable and fight with them.

What’s one thing you can do today to fight for your purity?