Pride

Shadows

“What I’m about to tell you is true. You need to change and become like little children. If you don’t, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Anyone who takes the humble position of this child is the most important in the kingdom of heaven. Anyone who welcomes a little child like this one in my name welcomes me” (Matthew 18:3-5, NIRV).

What started as an argument over greatness ended in one brief demonstration.

The greatest, Jesus said, was the one who humbled himself as a little child.

What’s the difference between that and typical adulthood? [click to continue…]

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Sorrow

Rejection is one of the most brutal experiences you and I can face.  To say it hurts like hell may not be far from the literal truth.

Psychologists have learned some things about rejection…

Research tells us that rejection travels the same neural pathways in the brain that physical pain does.  In other words, otherwise-unexplained physical pain may have been triggered by the experience or memory of rejection.

Rejection isolates us from people who didn’t reject us, unless we take steps to reconnect.

Rejection causes surges of anger and aggression (gangs, anyone?).

Finally, rejection makes us temporarily stupid.  It literally lowers your IQ and makes you unresponsive to reason for a time. (Translation:  Don’t make vows or major decisions – especially with the word “never” in it – after being rejected.)

In the biblical story of Joseph, you can find the roots of rejection, as I explored in the previous post.   Joseph lived a very uncertain childhood, marked by the death of his mother and the preferential doting of his dad.  He was a dreamer and, to his brothers, something of a goody-two-shoes. All of this set him up to be the objected of their jealousy and hatred.

What no one knew at the time, however, was that rejection can serve as a trap door, straight into the arms (and plans) of God.  And that’s where Joseph learned the truth about rejection. [click to continue…]

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waterfall 10

It all started with that “Welcome to Mobile” sinus headache.

Ever go to bed with a mild ache that says, “You should probably address this before you get in bed?”

Yeah, about that.

I had this dull ache that turned into an evil roar at 3:30 in the morning.  Sinuses. Head. Neck.  Attitude.  Everything was in pain.

I didn’t want to wake people up, and didn’t have a lot of options, so I tried taking a shower.  That’s when my wife came in to see what was up.

Did I want some pain medicine, she asked?

Boy, did I.

Now I should mention that the “pain medicine” she referred to isn’t your basic over-the-counter pablum.  This was he-man stuff… soon I’d be pain-free and loving everybody.

I should also mention that it isn’t wise to take this on an empty stomach.  Bad things can happen. [click to continue…]

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Tired TroubleIt’s hard not to like Mike when you first meet him. He looks like an 8 x 10 glossy, has a charming smile, and a welcoming demeanor.  When he tells you that he’s the pastor at Grace Church just around the corner, it makes you want to visit.

What you can’t see at first, but will discover soon enough if you get to know him, is that Mike is running on emotional and spiritual fumes.  He’s exhausted from carrying a mental and spiritual burden for so long, as if he has carried it all by himself.

But Mike’s not in trouble yet. And that’s too bad. He’d be better off if he was.

Sarah’s in a tight spot.  She’s not the public charmer that Mike is, but she is bright, resourceful, and has a clear head for retail business and marketing. It’s no wonder the local Chamber voted her the businesswoman of the year last year. Her entrepreneurial drive and instinct for customer tastes have served her well.

Until now.  The first couple of years of the recession drained all her reserves, but Sarah found a way to navigate through those challenges. Now she’s faced with tough competition, over-extended credit, and changes in employee healthcare laws.  It’s getting ugly at Sarah’s Boutique and Bridal.

Sarah is in a tight spot; but she’s not in trouble yet. And that’s too bad. She’d be better off if she was. [click to continue…]

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Proud Leader

All the kings of the earth shall praise You, O Lord,
When they hear the words of Your mouth.
Yes, they shall sing of the ways of the Lord,
For great is the glory of the Lord.
Though the Lord is on high,
Yet He regards the lowly;
But the proud He knows from afar (Psalm 138:4-6, NKJ).

  • If you’re feeling far from God, pride may be the issue.

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Shepherd Birth

O Lord, my heart is not proud, nor my eyes haughty;
Nor do I involve myself in great matters,
Or in things too difficult for me.
Surely I have composed and quieted my soul;
Like a weaned child rests against his mother,
My soul is like a weaned child within me.
O Israel, hope in the Lord
From this time forth and forever (Psalm 131).

Soul-check time:  How “at rest” are you?  The answer to that will make all the difference in your worship, and your work.

This psalm of ascent is the confession of a soul at rest – a “weaned soul.”

The first verse speaks of three things the psalmist has turned away from – a proud heart, haughty eyes, or a mind that tries to figure out the impossible.  The common theme in each – I know my limits.  And I know my place.  I am free of selfish ambition and arrogance toward others.

Are you ready to start your ascent today?  [click to continue…]

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Time to let you in on a little secret weakness.  Sometimes I hate being reminded.  Especially when I’m already doing the thing I am being reminded of, or I’m already aware of it.  Now let me hasten to say that when somebody reminds me of something I have totally forgotten, I’m usually very grateful.  But the obvious?  The no-brainers?  The already-doings?  That’s another story.

Does this ever happen to you?  You’re locking the doors before retiring at night and a voice from the other room hollers, “Don’t forget to lock the doors!”

Or maybe you’re buckled into that airplane seat, starting to get lost in whatever you’re reading, and they start that handy demonstration explaining how to use a seat belt?

I had a little visit with the Lord about this the other day.  Not airline safety demonstrations, but this issue of hating to be reminded.  Let’s just say it was His idea. [click to continue…]

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I have an urgent news flash for you:  Just because you know something is wrong, that doesn’t mean you’ll avoid it.

Shocking, I know.  And the corollary is also true: Just because you know you’re supposed to do something, that doesn’t mean you’ll do it.

Suppose you could interview Jonah – the Old Testament’s version of Gilligan – and ask him what the most important requirement was for prophets. What do you think he’d say?  My guess is that he would tell you that a prophet’s number one job is to speak what he hears the Lord saying to speak.

Why, then, did Jonah have to travel from the boat to the belly to the burp to the beach before he decided to do what his own standard said to do?

Resurrect a first-century Pharisee and ask him what it took to please God, and you’d probably hear something about keeping the law and prophets, serving God and walking in humility and discipline.

Why, then, did Jesus refer to the scribes and Pharisees as unwilling to lift a finger to meet a need, doing all their deeds to be noticed by men, loving the place of honor at banquets and the chief seats in the synagogues, and insisting on being called by respectful titles in public?  If serving God faithfully was so important to them, why did the Son of God warn people not to be like them?

Whenever the bad news breaks out about somebody who has shocked us with their oh-no, no-no behavior, we often ask silly questions like, “Well didn’t they know that was wrong?”  Of course they did.  Why, then, would someone violate their own standards of right and wrong?  [click to continue…]

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Pretender

by Andy Wood on April 4, 2012

in Gamblers, Life Currency, Love, LV Alter-egos

One of you will betray Me.

No way.

Yes, way.

Not one of us.

Yes, one of you.

But we heard you teach in the synagogues and on the hillsides.

Yes, and one of you will choose to live otherwise.

But we saw you perform miracles, like feeding the five-thousand!

Yes, and one of you who carried a basket of leftovers will himself be carried away.

But we healed the sick together with Your power!

Yes, one of you, who healed the sick with My power, will betray me.

But we cast out demons in Your name! [click to continue…]

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How do you gauge success?

Does being a Christian or being in ministry change that somehow?

I don’t know anybody who gets up in the morning and prays, “Oh God, make me a failure!”  But there have been many times when I and many others have used bad gauges to measure it.  Here are the three most common:

1.  Do I feel good?  Was the service pleasurable?  Do I feel encouraged, energized, healed or empowered?  Do I feel loved, important, or attended to?  Do I feel the pleasure of other people or God’s pleasure?

2.  Did I see something good?  In church world that is measured by the countable things like noses and dollars and building funds.  In the Christian business world, the same thing is true – it’s about profits and losses and tangible contributions to the community.

3.  Do I feel good about myself?  Do I feel affirmed?  Do I look good?  Did people tell me I performed well?  Did someone thank me or praise me or ask for my help?

So what’s wrong with any of that?

Absolutely nothing. [click to continue…]

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