Think Hard, Stay Humble: The Life of the Mind and the Peril of Pride – by Francis Chan

One of the great benefits of the internet is the ability to download and listen to some powerful sermons and Christian teachers.  I’m so grateful to the ministries like Grace Community Church and Desiring God that make a plethora of resources available for free.  They are available for the building up of the body of Christ and the proclamation of the Gospel to those not yet saved.

Each year John Piper has a National Conference whereby he invites Christian pastors and teachers to participate.  I recently downloaded the messages from the 2010 conference and started listening to Francis Chan’s message on the peril of pride.  Oh my…it’s powerful, convicting, challenging and motivating.  This is a message I will need to listen to again and again. 

Go to the link below to download or listen on-line to Francis Chan:

Think Hard, Stay Humble: The Life of the Mind and the Peril of Pride – Francis Chan

1 Corinthians 8:1-13
Now concerning things offered to idols: We know that we all have knowledge. Knowledge puffs up, but love edifies.  And if anyone thinks that he knows anything, he knows nothing yet as he ought to know.   But if anyone loves God, this one is known by Him.

Therefore concerning the eating of things offered to idols, we know that an idol is nothing in the world, and that there is no other God but one.  For even if there are so-called gods, whether in heaven or on earth (as there are many gods and many lords), yet for us there is one God, the Father, of whom are all things, and we for Him; and one Lord Jesus Christ, through whom are all things, and through whom we live.

However, there is not in everyone that knowledge; for some, with consciousness of the idol, until now eat it as a thing offered to an idol; and their conscience, being weak, is defiled.  But food does not commend us to God; for neither if we eat are we the better, nor if we do not eat are we the worse.

But beware lest somehow this liberty of yours become a stumbling block to those who are weak.  For if anyone sees you who have knowledge eating in an idol’s temple, will not the conscience of him who is weak be emboldened to eat those things offered to idols?  And because of your knowledge shall the weak brother perish, for whom Christ died?  But when you thus sin against the brethren, and wound their weak conscience, you sin against Christ.  Therefore, if food makes my brother stumble, I will never again eat meat, lest I make my brother stumble.

2010 Desiring God National Conference

Litany of Humility

While I come from a different theological direction that Rafael Cardinal Merry del Val, I found his Litany of Humility quite moving and challenging. Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas quotes this in his new book. I’m trying to imagine living life by this credo.

O Jesus! meek and humble of heart, Hear me. From the desire of being esteemed, Deliver me, Jesus. From the desire of being loved… From the desire of being extolled … From the desire of being honored … From the desire of being praised … From the desire of being preferred to others… From the desire of being consulted … From the desire of being approved … From the fear of being humiliated … From the fear of being despised… From the fear of suffering rebukes … From the fear of being calumniated … From the fear of being forgotten … From the fear of being ridiculed … From the fear of being wronged … From the fear of being suspected …

That others may be loved more than I, Jesus, grant me the grace to desire it.

That others may be esteemed more than I … That, in the opinion of the world, others may, increase and I may decrease … That others may be chosen and I set aside … That others may be praised and I unnoticed … That others may be preferred to me in everything… That others may become holier than I, provided that I may become as holy as I should…

Written by Rafael Cardinal Merry del Val (1865-1930), Secretary of State for Pope Saint Pius X.

Be Strong in the Lord

As I wondered why in the world did I decide to change jobs just now…I asked God…“So what do you want me to learn from all of this?” “What’s your purpose…what’s your plan Lord?” God answered…humility!

I knew even before I applied for the job…that there would a day in the not too distant future where I would feel real uncomfortable…and have doubts as to whether I had chosen wisely and done the right thing. I knew that going in. Some sage advice…that I’ve given to others and that was drawn from my own experience was to never evaluate a new job in the first six months to a year. Even when it’s a job you like…you are going to have to learn things and will not feel comfortable and enjoy a new job for a while.

I know that…I’ve been there and done that. Yet at the same time…I had felt God strongly opening that door and leading me in the path to take this job. A job completely different from any others that I’ve held. A lot to learn…from terminology to new tasks and programs. So it was with eyes wide open that I made that change…following the Lords leading.

Well…it took about three weeks for me to really have that week that wiped me out and made me have some doubts. Something I knew would come. This time…it was delayed a bit with the 4th of July holiday…my surgery and people’s vacations. But this week…my training began in earnest…and I had a few days where I just wanted to cry because I felt so inadequate and spent.

Thankfully the formal training was for about 2 ½ days. The thing that makes training so draining is that I have to concentrate so fully during that time. My attention has to be very focused and I need to interact with my trainer non stop.

Since this job is so different than other work I’ve done…and I’m not yet comfortable…there are times I feel like a real dummy. At the same time…I remind myself, “Susan…you’ve been there before. In time…you will come to know the terminology, the programs and the job. Stay focused, learn and do your job well.”

This week I started to see why God had moved me in this direction. But that didn’t stop my discomfort and questions for both God and me. Not exactly sure when, where and how God might answer my questions…but I felt drawn to pick up a CD album by Beth Moore which I had purchased not too long ago. I had picked it up at the recommendation of my friend Ruth and had listened to the album shortly after I had received it. In fact…I listened several times…and God had used it to minister to and helped me be encouraged to forge ahead into the unknown of a new job.

The thing I love about God’s word is how fresh it is…and able to minister to me fresh each time I pick it up. How many times…I’ve picked up the Bible and read a passage…one I’ve read before and I’ll see something I’ve never noticed or paid attention to before. But this time it jumps out at me.

Beth Moore’s studying “Crossing Your River of Fear” held a different message for me this time. This go around…God used it to answer my question as to His purpose in taking me down this new path. The answer was to better learn humility. To learn to humble myself under the mighty hand of God.

In this study Beth shows us in God’s word that He wants us to “Take Courage”. Not be courageous…or suck it up…and be courageous on our own strength and power…but to “Take Courage”. He offers it to us just as He did Joshua when he as about to lead the Israelites into the Promised Land. Just a Jesus offered it to the disciples when they were in a stormy sea about to go under.

But Jesus immediately said to them: “Take courage! It is I. Don’t be afraid.” – Matthew 14:27

As Jesus had sent the disciples out in the boat ahead of him…and He knew a storm was forthcoming…He knew I would feel quite overwhelmed in my new circumstance. Just as Jesus knew He was God Almighty and He was able to still the seas at His command…He knows that He is able to still the stormy seas of my life and circumstances.

He also has a purpose in these circumstances to cause me to look to Him for help. Not turn to myself and muster up the courage I need. But instead to fall upon my knees before Him and take my fears and concerns before the throne of God…take them to the God who cares for me. The God who knew each day of my life…before the foundations of the world were laid. The God who knit me together in my mother’s womb. That God. That same God…who sent His son Jesus Christ to take my sins upon Him and die upon the cross…so that my sins might be forgiven. That God…my Savior who willingly died upon the cross so that one day I might be with Him in heaven…where He went to prepare a place for me. That God…the very God of the Bible.

He desires a relationship with me…and He will use my circumstances to draw me to Himself. Now this will sound sacrilegious to some…but please know in now way is it intended to be that. But if something similar was done by a human being we would consider it kind of sick…kind of like “Munchausen’s Syndrome”. But it’s not.

I can be assured that God is good and what He does is good. That He has a purpose and a plan. Like a parent who allows their child to fail…so that they learn humility and character that they would never learn with success…God allows me to get in over my head into something that is His will…so that I will learn that I need to turn to Him. That I can be strong in the Lord. That God alone is able and sufficient to sustain me and uphold me in all circumstances.

Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time. – 1 Peter 5:6

God desires that I be humble so that I will listen to Him and turn to Him. If God is to use me…it is imperative that I be humble and learn to follow His instructions. It critical that I not take the glory for myself…but instead turn any praise, honor and glory over to God.

I can see quite clearly in the past year…God has used circumstances in my life to bring me to and end of myself. He has used recent events to help me learn to be obedient to Him and to seek to hear Him and follow His direction.

Well…here I am again. Thankfully I have a recent example in which I did it right. The question is…will I do so this time? Will I have an ear to hear God? Will I desire to follow His lead…even if it takes me through some uncomfortable valleys?

Yesterday I was struck by the thought that life is really learning about letting go…and accepting losses. The sooner I can do that and do it gracefully…the better. The sooner I can let go and trust God…even when circumstances don’t make sense from a human perspective…the better. The more I can reach out to God…taking my needs and hurts and pain to Him…the more He can use me. Will I resist being shaped by God? Or will I submit to God?

Willingly and knowingly submitting to God is so much easier and less painful that it is to be humbled by God and being made to submit.

“His wisdom is profound, his power is vast. Who has resisted him and come out unscathed?” – Job 9:4

Make no mistake…there will come a day in which God will demand our submission. The sooner I can learn to trust God and submit when He calls me to…the better off I’ll be.

It is written: ” ‘As surely as I live,’ says the Lord, ‘every knee will bow before me; every tongue will confess to God.’ – Romans 14:11

So it is with gratitude that I humble myself under the mighty hand of God…and seek His wisdom and help for my current circumstances…knowing that my God is a big God and is more than able to handle what concerns me today. Praise God!

And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work. – 2 Corinthians 9:8

Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us. – Ephesians 3:20

Psalm 18:1-6

1 I love you, O LORD, my strength.

2 The LORD is my rock, my fortress and my deliverer;
my God is my rock, in whom I take refuge.
He is my shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold.

3 I call to the LORD, who is worthy of praise,
and I am saved from my enemies.

4 The cords of death entangled me;
the torrents of destruction overwhelmed me.

5 The cords of the grave coiled around me;
the snares of death confronted me.

6 In my distress I called to the LORD;
I cried to my God for help.
From his temple he heard my voice;
my cry came before him, into his ears.

1 : not proud or haughty : not arrogant or assertive
2 : reflecting, expressing, or offered in a spirit of deference or submission humble apology>
3 a : ranking low in a hierarchy or scale : insignificant, unpretentious