Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Cultivating Humility in the Morning, Part 2

More from CJ Mahaney's "Humility" on practices in the morning that cultivate humility...If you missed the first post, find it here.

"The second daily item is this: Begin your day expressing gratefulness to God.

'Thankfulness,' Michael Ramsey reminds us, 'is a soil in which pride does not easily grow.' That's exactly right and we want to cultivate that soil. So from the outset of the day, I want to greet my Savior with gratitude, not grumbling.

It was said of Matthew Henry [famous pastor from the 1600-1700s] that 'he was an alert and thankful observer of answered prayer'; his gratitude for God's mercies was constantly 'sweetening his spirit, and he would often invite others to join him in giving thanks.' If you crossed Matthew Henry's path, you would quickly realize that here was someone taking thankful notice of all God was doing for him, and doing so in an attractively joyful way that was infectious.

How I want that to also be a description of me! Is this your desire as well?

What would happen if I crossed your path tomorrow morning? Would I encounter someone who was an alert and thankful observer of answered prayer, someone who in a pronounced way was grateful for God's many mercies?

We also want to continue throughout the day expressing gratefulness for the innumerable manifestations of God's grace. It's as if God is placing sticky-notes in our lives as daily reminders of His presence and provision. They're everywhere. How alert and perceptive of them are you? Are you a thankful observer of the countless indications of His provision, His presence, His kindness, and His grace?

An ungrateful person is a proud person. If I'm ungrateful, I'm arrogant. And if I'm arrogant, I need to remember God doesn't sympathize with me in that arrogance; He's opposed to the proud.

Let each of us recognize every day that whatever grace we receive from God is so much more than we're worthy of, and indescribably better than the hell we all deserve."

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Cultivating Humility in the Morning

These gems come from CJ Mahaney's "Humility: True Greatness." In this practical little book, he gives a few tips for cultivating humility at the start of each day.

"How we begin our morning often sets the tone for the day. I'm convinced that the most decisive time of our day is very often our first waking moments, because they color everything to come.

The first daily item from my list is this: Begin your day by acknowledging your dependence upon God and your need for God. Purpose by grace that your first thought of the day will be an expression of your dependence on God, your need for God, and your confidence in God.

Sin- especially the sin of pride- is active, not passive. Sin doesn't wake up tired, because it hasn't been sleeping. When you wake up in the morning, sin is right there, fully awake, ready to attack. So rather than be attacked by sin in the morning, I've chosen to go on the offensive. I've chosen to announce to sin, 'I'm at war with you. I know you're there, and I'm after you.' From the moment I'm awake, I've learned to make statements to God about my dependence upon God, and in this way I'm humbling myself before God.

This is simply a strategy for taking control of the thoughts we allow in our mind...Martin Lloyd-Jones asked, 'Have you realized that most of your unhappiness in life is due to the fact that you are listening to yourself instead of talking to yourself?' That's profound, and it's true.

Take a moment to review and examine your pattern of thinking from yesterday. Did you spend more time speaking truth to yourself, or was most of your time spent listening to yourself? Most of us spend more time listening to lies than we do speaking truth to ourselves. And the listening process usually starts as soon as we get up. The alarm has rudely interrupted the gift of sleep, and the listening begins. As we stumble through our morning routine, we're not directing the thoughts in our mind- we're simply at their mercy. We entertain complaints about what happened yesterday or worries about what's coming today. We look in the bathroom mirror and assess the damage, then brood over how we feel. We're not in charge of our thinking. We're just there.

But instead, you can declare war on pride by speaking the truth to yourself and set the right tone for your day by mentally affirming your dependence upon God and your need for Him."

Good stuff, eh? More to come from CJ later this week.

Monday, September 6, 2010

Thoughts for a Holiday...

A few random encouragements to practice on the awesomeness of a holiday!

1. Think about the job you are not at briefly, and thank God for the opportunity to work and support your family.

2. Thank God for extra rest, and remember that he himself set an example of rest by resting after he finished creating (Genesis 2:1-3).

3. Think of the rest we will receive in heaven, and look forward to it with anticipation. There is a rest for the people of God, and we enter it by obedience to Jesus (see Hebrews 4:1-13).

4. The word "holiday" comes from the phrase "Holy Day" and means a "day with special significance." It is a day set apart from all the other days for a special reason. Think of how you, as God's child, must be different and set apart, and be holy.

5. Think of the cultural reason for the specific holiday, and thank God for it. For example, thank God for the ability to work on Labor Day, the protection and sacrifice of soldiers on Memorial Day, our country's relative freedom on 4th of July, and Boxing Gloves on Boxing Day :) Of course, specifically remember his birth, life, and death on Easter, Christmas, and every other day.

6. Redeem the time. What is a way you can serve God, your family, your peers with the extra time off today? Yes, husbands, mowing the lawn or taking out the trash for your wife may be a great way to do this!

7. Grill something.

Friday, September 3, 2010


Good thoughts on defining church success not by attendance.

Roundtable discussion with 3 studly pastors: Francis Chan, Mark Driscoll, and Josh Harris.

Media influence on teen sexuality.

You can see wildlife at Yellowstone live at this webcam. Kinda cool for dorky outdoors types.

This article on "hip Christianity" is worth a read.

The inevitable happens- Blockbuster plans to file bankruptcy...

You thought homes appreciated in value & cost? What about education costs?

Logical Arguments for God's Existence

Stephen Hawking: "Big Bangs Happen"
I was sent the above quote from famed atheist Stephen Hawking this week. It is really interesting to me why people will fight hard against believing in the existence of a God, choosing rather to believe that the universe created itself (to quote the non-quite Christian movie "Anchorman", "60% of the time, this works every time"). This quote also reinforced the rationality of a few key arguments for God's existence, in concise poor mann's terms below...

1. The Cosmological Argument- We live in a cause and effect system. The universe had to have a beginning and a cause. Since it is logically impossible for the universe to be eternal, it must have been started at a certain point. Atheists will claim that this was a spontaneous "big bang," but doesn't it seem a touch more rational to believe that an eternal, personal, powerful God chose to intentionally create?  Contrary to Hawking's words above, the universe cannot create itself out of nothing, because then the universe would have had to exist before it existed, which doesn't make sense, you know. Indeed, God is the most rational answer to the question of why we (or anything we see) exists.

2. The Teleological Argument- This is the argument for God's existence from the obvious design seen in our world and in our bodies. Not only must the universe have had a beginning, but it had to have a designer. A supreme lawmaker had to write the "law of gravity" which Hawking references; an Eternal Engineer had to create the processes and systems of life, digestion, photosynthesis, reproduction, energy, and give start to those systems; and only a Divine artist (not an impersonal big-bang) could create awe-inspiring landscapes, feelings of love, beauty, and hope, mellifluous melodies, and even the wonders found in vast corners of outer space. Something with such order and beauty demands an intelligent designer.

3. The Moral Argument- Where do we get morals from? Where do we get meaning from? Without a God who created, we have absolutely no logical reason to believe in right and wrong, good and evil. As CS Lewis reasoned, "A man does not call a line crooked unless he has some idea of a straight line. What was I comparing this universe with when I called it unjust?" You see, we do have universal morals, values, and meaning. We cannot call rape "evil" unless we know there is real good and real evil. God has given us a "straight line" of morality, so that we can look at rape, murder, and a host of other actions and absolutely call them "evil." The fact that we have right and wrong (in all societies) appeals to a Lawmaker who wrote those values and morals on our hearts.

Many will assume that atheism appeals to science and logic whereas belief in God appeals to "blind faith." Wrong. I choose to believe in God because it is most rational and logical to do so. Belief in God is certainly by faith, but it is not a blind faith. In fact, I would argue that it takes more faith to be an atheist!

As CS Lewis said again, "Atheism turns out to be too simple. If the whole universe has no meaning, we should never have found out that it has no meaning."

Addendum- A few apologetics resources I use. There are several good ones out there.
STR Place (apologetics for students)

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Enjoy the bloom

The above flower is a hibiscus. Her name is Heidi. I bought her for Kelley on future Mothers' Day.

We love our hibiscus because she is so very rewarding. We planted her and watered her and every now and then (like good parents) we re-potted her. And every few days, especially during the warm season, she puts out these huge, gorgeous flowers. And we subsequently stand at our backyard balcony door, pull out the camera and take a few pics.

We never attempt to take credit for the awesomeness of a hibiscus flower. Never once while enjoying these blooms have Kell and I got in a fight over who should get credit for the flower's health. "I watered it last! I made this happen, babe!" "Oh yeah? But if I didn't re-pot it while you were watching baseball, the petals would never be this pink, now would they?" That would be stupid to argue over! We simply enjoy the bloom.

Paul compares the ministry of the church to cultivating a plant. "So neither he who plants nor he who waters is anything, but only God who gives the growth. He who plants and he who waters are one, and each will receive his wages according to his labor. For we are God's fellow workers..." (1 Cor. 3:7-9).

In the life of my church, many people have come to know Jesus as their Savior, sometimes people I have conversations with. I'm sure in your group of friends you have people who are interested in becoming a Christian, or interested in killing sin and committing their lives to Christ more fully. And you know what? We all play a part. It doesn't matter what part you play. You can be an example. You can offer instruction, comfort, teaching, encouragement, and prayers that draw others closer to the Lord. And guess what? You don't need to be a pastor, a worship leader, or an elder to do this.

Do you realize that you are God's fellow workers? It does not matter if you are in front of the church, or befriending people by the donut table in the back (save me a maple bar). What matters is that you work hard and get your hands dirty for the kingdom, and when God moves, step back and enjoy the bloom.