Sunday, June 28, 2009
While it is important to think well of yourself, there is a danger to think too highly of yourself. The Bible speaks a good deal about pride. In the New Testament, in the book of Romans 12:3 we are told: "...Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the measure of faith God has given you." This is good advice, because thinking too highly of yourself will lead to pridefulness, and with pride there comes many problems.
So what are the problems that arise when one is proud? One issue that can arise is disgrace. Proverbs 11:3 says, "When pride comes, then comes disgrace, but with humility comes wisdom." Disgrace comes because at some point in the process, when someone is prideful, they will tend to misjudge the situation or problem, and fall short. With this there is great embarrassment, because the person went in spouting off words of great confidence. Second, there is conflict. Proverbs 13:10 tells us, "Pride only breeds quarrels, but wisdom is found in those who take advice." Pride leads a person to think that they know it all. When this happens, they fail to seek or accept advice from others. If others try and give them counsel, it often turns into a conflict because the person shuts themselves off from the knowledge given by people. Third, it can lead to destruction. Again, looking at the book of Proverbs, we are told in Proverbs 16:18, "Pride goes before destruction, a haughty spirit before a fall." To be proud will lead us to have the wrong focus. We focus on ourselves, our own desires, our own plans. Because of this, we lack the wisdom we need to succeed, and thus will experience a fall.
So how do we keep from being prideful? I believe the answer is accountability. We don't practice accountability much anymore, but it is very beneficial in spiritual growth. Accountability is like having a sidekick. You might remember how Ed McMahon was a sidekick to Johnny Carson on the Tonight Show. Every so often McMahon would put Carson in his place with a nice little jab. These little jabs would keep Johnny from getting a big head.
Because pride keeps us from being godly, we need to let God lead us to those who will keep us accountable and will encourage us to be godly. We need to have others who can point out the pride in us, and challenge us to be more humble, and to rely on God more. It is difficult to admit we are prideful, and to see that pride in ourselves. Ask a trusted friend if they will help you with this. It will make a big difference in your life.
Monday, June 22, 2009
Our blogger group this last week decided on the topic of Matthew 24: What's that all about? As you look over this chapter as a whole, you will see that Jesus is not trying to alarm anyone, or gratify anyone's curiosity, but rather He is trying to inform His disciples, and ultimately us, that the world will come to an end. He gives some signs of the end of the world, but we see that the signs are general enough that the time can't be pinpointed. So if and when anyone does try to pinpoint the end of time, we can know that they are false prophets, which Jesus speaks of several times in this chapter.
One of the keys of this passage is for us to be prepared by the way we live, to be prepared for Jesus, but to also be prepared for life, because we should live every day in essence as if it were our last. Our life should be about living for God totally and at all times. As Jesus says in Matthew 24:44- "Therefore you also must be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an unexpected hour." The only one who knows is God, as we are told in Matthew 24:36, "No one knows about that day or hour, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father."
I believe another reason that Jesus is not specific, is because we get caught up in these great scenarios so much so that we lose track of every day life. We begin to worry about that which should not concern us. If we are prepared for the day of Jesus' return, then it need not be a worry to us. As Jesus said in Matthew 6:34, "Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own." Jesus knows we have the tendency to look past the present to the future. So Jesus tells us about the fact that the world will end, and that there will be troublesome times, but He still wants us to focus on what we are doing today. This is why Jesus ends the chapter by giving the analogy of a slave who is found hard at work when his master returns. Jesus wants us to be focused on the work that we are given to do, the work we can accomplish, rather than that which we cannot change (i.e. when the end of times will come).
Let us seek to be faithful followers of Christ, working hard at what God gives us to do, and making a difference with our lives today!
Wednesday, June 10, 2009
If you were to think about your dreams, they may be real, but a little hazy, like looking down a road that has fog. We have lots of dreams when we are young. My 12-year old son dreams of playing for the Los Angeles Dodgers some day. He might be; this year he batted .625! My 10-year old daughter wants to be a school teacher, a librarian, and a mom. These are laudable dreams. Not necessarily out of reach.
So why is it that we so easily lose our dreams? I guess I am making an assumption that most people have lost their dream. I am making this assumption, because as a pastor I see so many people just living their life out, not really pursuing any particular dream. I also have the oppotunity to mentor many people, and it is a challenge to not only have a dream, but take the steps to live it out.
So how might we keep from losing our dreams? I would suggest we write it down somewhere where we can regularly see it. The dream should be something that you are passionate about; that you feel God has put in your heart and mind. Then you need to break it down to see what are the reachable goals in the present and not too distant future. And finally, you need to tell your dream to someone. This can be the hardest part, because as we get older it seems that it isn't as acceptable to have dreams. By telling it to someone, you not only make it more real, but you can have a trusted friend who will help you remember the dream, and keep you on track.
But even more, I believe that we need to give it all to God. God gives us the desires, and can help us attain them. God has plans for us to live out (Jeremiah 29:11). As Psalm 37:4 says, "Delight yourself in the Lord, and He will give you the desires of your heart." If we delight ourselves in God, then our desires will have come from God, and God will bless these desires; these dreams.
Don't give up on dreams, just because you are older. Don't give up on your dreams because you are busy. Don't give up on your dreams just because you have commitments and responsibilities and feel like your life is set. Give your dreams to God and let God help you run with them!!
Wednesday, June 03, 2009
If truth be told, we all want peace in our lives. We search for peace in many ways. Maybe we search for it by having a problem free life. Or maybe we search for it by having a job, and home, and possessions that help us to feel secure. Or maybe we search for it by having a conflict free life. Again, we want peace, and seek it out in many ways. The problem is that life is not problem free, conflict free, and we don't always feel secure. What are we to do? How can we gain peace in the midst of the turmoil and uncertainty of life?
The quick and easy answer is that we gain peace by seeking God. But what does that mean? How does seeking God bring us peace? Jesus tells us in John 14:27- "Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. do not let your hearts be troubled, and do not be afraid." Jesus promises us peace in our lives if we seek Him. Jesus tells us that this peace is not like anything the world can give us. Jesus tells us this peace will help us to not be troubled or afraid. Sounds good, right?
We get some more insight on this by reading the words of the apostle Paul in 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." For some, turning to the Bible seems superannuated. They believe the Bible is outdated and not fitting for our contemporary problem. But the truth is, our lack of peace in life really comes from the worry in our life. We worry about our problems. We worry about our conflicts, we worry about whether or not we have enough money and things in our lives. Most people would admit that their worry does nothing to help their situation. And the worry causes extra stress in our lives which is unneeded.
So can prayer really help you gain peace? I believe the answer is YES! In prayer, we realize that we have the God of creation working with us and for us. In prayer, we put our problems in perspective to the rest of life. In prayer we can understand the role we are to play, and the role others play, and the role God is to play. In prayer we are able to take a step back and gain perspective on our lack of peace. In prayer we are invoking the power of God, which is the only real power that can take care of our situation.
When I seek God, I gain peace, because I know that there is someone out there big enough to handle my life; the One who created me. I hope you find it in yourself to seek God, and gain the peace God has for you; the peace that surpasses all understanding. And as we gain peace, we can pass this peace onto others!