Saturday, October 29, 2011

A Lesson in Humility

So True...
I'm on a 2-year Bible reading plan and let me just confess that I am happy to be out of Ezekiel and into Daniel. Daniel is an incredible man (so is Ezekiel), and his book is full of stories, mysteries, and unbelievable events (Fiery Furnace? Lions Den?). Early on in the this book we see that Daniel has a gift of interpreting dreams. Specifically, when nobody else in the land can help the king out, Daniel steps in. That's where we find him in chapter 2. Nebuchadnezzar has just had an alarming dream and he doesn't know what it means. After consulting everyone he can find and still not knowing the meaning, he finds Daniel, who says this to him.

"As you were lying there, O king, your mind turned to things to come, and the revealer of mysteries showed you what is going to happen. As for me, this mystery has been revealed to me, not because I have greater wisdom than other living men, but so that you, O king, may know the interpretation and that you may understand what went through your mind." (Daniel 2:29-30)

Today, let us consider Daniel's humility. Here he is asked to do something that nobody else could do, and God gives him the ability to do it (interpret a dream). Does he gloat about it? Step up and say something like "unlike all your so-called 'wise men' who weren't able to help you, I and I alone have the correct interpretation. What will you give me if I interpret it for you?" Maybe he jumps on Twitter or Facebook to tell the world that he alone has the answer? No! In fact, he rather does the opposite, making it clear that he is no wiser than anyone else, but just happens to have received the understanding from God.

Humility has been defined many ways, by many men and women. In this instance, Daniel's humility is simply this; seeing himself in his proper place. What I mean is this; Daniel is humble because he demonstrates the ability to properly see who he is (and is not). He remembers that he is not God, he is not the source of wisdom, he is not a creator, he does not give dreams or interpret them. And what he is; he is only a man, he is a receiver and messenger of God's wisdom (not his), he is obedient (in sharing the dream with Nebuchadnezzar).

Pride, so often, is not remembering who we are. We get prideful when we forget that we are nothing...that everything we are and everything we do is by God's grace and power. Remember these words from Jesus? "Apart from me you can do nothing." Daniel knows...and we would do well to remember as well. The point?

At a recent leadership conference I was able to attend I heard an incredible message given on the topic of humility. The findings traced the power of humility all the way back to, guess who, Jesus. One of his opening statements was simply this; "Humility makes the great, greater." We would all benefit from remembering who we are, and worshipping God in all humility.

Monday, October 24, 2011

No Worries Mate

Warnings ranged from
"severe pain" to "death"

I love Australia...well, at least what I know of it. I've been there one time back in 2008, spending 2 weeks  in Cairns, which is in the state of Queensland (Northeast Australia). Among other things, Queensland is home to 9 of the 10 deadliest snakes in the world, not to mention the infamous jellies. In fact the one beach we visited had 3 signs warning of the 10 types of deadly jellies, plus sharks, plus crocodiles. It's ironic, then, that one of the most common phrases uttered in Australia is "no worries mate." A good friend of mine who is from Australia utters these words constantly. No matter the task, danger or obstacle, his response was always "no worries mate."

I wonder if we can't learn something here...

"Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life." (Matt 6:25-27)
Want to go swimming?

To be a Christian is to live by faith. There is no way around it. But for those of us who have a bent towards worry, how can we overcome that? Is it as simple as telling yourself to stop worrying? Hmmm. 

I believe the root of worry is a desire for control. We tend to worry about things we can't control. We worry about the choices our kids make, we worry about our investments, we worry about what others think about us, we worry about many things...things we can't control. 

And if we can't control them then our worrying won't help.

There is another way, though. There is a way to exert some control over the things we can't control. How? Prayer. It's simple, really. God CAN control them, and in fact He is sovereign. What if we replaced all the time we worry about things we can't control and instead prayed about those things; and in that way, we brought some semblance of control? Prayer moves the hand of God to action. Prayer binds our heart with His. Prayer is about connecting with the Lord of the universe. And if we could master the life of never-ending conversation, prayer, with God, then truly we can say with all honesty, "No worries mate."

Friday, October 21, 2011

Power of a Song: Awakeningl

"Awake, my soul!" (Psalm 57:8)

Do you ever have those moments where something that seemed so familiar, all of a sudden becomes new again? Maybe something that was always there, but now seems different. You're driving home and you notice a tree changing colors that you've never noticed before. You're out and about and see a building, or restaurant, and you ask your wife "is that new?" and she says, "no, honey, it's always been there." And you think, "how could I have missed it?

As believers, this type of thing should happen to us often. You're reading your Bible and come across a passage that seemed so familiar, but takes on a whole new meaning. It's God's Spirit speaking to you.

This just happened to me this week; a song that I'd heard a thousand times, but usually as background music, struck me in a new and powerful way. Ironically, it's called "awakening." Why did this song impact me so much this week? I'm not sure...

Maybe because like Keith Green wrote so many years ago, I often feel like I'm "asleep in the light."
Maybe because I long for know that I'm making a difference in eternity.
Maybe because I spoil for a battle, but wonder if I could overcome my fears should that battle ever materialize.
Maybe because I know I was made for more then what I'm experiencing right now.
Maybe because I hear God's voice constantly beckoning me closer, into a more intimate relationship with Him.
Maybe because I feel like there is a challenge awaiting me, and I long to enter it and be proved worthy, and yet so often my own fears hold me back.

And then I sing this song and for a few brief moments I feel my soul rise up and I am convinced that in God's strength I can do what He calls me to do. The song transforms, that's not quite right. God transforms me as I listen, sing, and worship. And in that moment, this simple lyric becomes my most earnest prayer.

"God, awaken my soul, awaken me..."

Take a moment and watch/listen;

Friday, October 14, 2011

What God Desires

"Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world." (James 1:27)

"As the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without deeds is dead." (James 2:26)

"Is not this the kind of fasting I have chosen: to loose the chains of injustice and untie the cords of the yoke, to set the oppressed free and break every yoke?" (Isaiah 58:6)

"He has showed you, O man, what is good. And what does the LORD require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God." (Micah 6:8)

A song that has haunted and motivated me for the past couple of years. Take a moment to be challenged.