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Archive for the month “February, 2015”

Humility Before God & Humility With Others Can’t Be Separated (Chris Francis)

This past week in our series on Philippians we looked at verses 1-16 in chapter 2 we talked about finding Joy through humility.

I just had a follow-up thought about the relationship between having humility before God and having humility before other people.

It can often appear like we have one while lacking the other, but really I believe they go hand in hand. You can’t have one without the other.

For example, it can appear as if we see God as very big, as if we trust him with our lives. But if we refuse to submit to the needs of others, to put others’ hurts above ourselves, to put others fears above ourselves, to put others’ desire to be understood above our own desire to be understood, then what we show is that we see ourselves as 2nd biggest. God is bigger than me, but I’m bigger than everyone else.

However to truly understand who God is and who we are in light of that, there is no room to look down on others. It is, in essence, not possible to have a humble view of God and yet be condescending toward others in the same moment.

Paul called himself the worst of all sinners (1 Timothy 1:15). And he actually said “I am the worst….” It was present-tense. If he saw himself as the worst of all sinners, then he saw himself as no more deserving than anyone else of the grace of God on his life. And that’s where humility before others comes in. To understand the depths of our sin before a holy God, and be touched by his extravagant grace, leads to us knowing, in the depths of our soul, that others are just as deserving of blessing and grace as we are. It leads to us actually having the desire to put others’ needs before our own, because our Joy in God just overflows onto others (vs. doing it because it’s “the right thing.”)

But on the flip side — it can appear as if we are humble with other people while also having a small view of God. We can serve others, put their needs before our own, but do it to earn God’s favor or make up for past sins or put him in our debt. I would argue, though, that if we do not have a humble view of God, then the “humility” that it appears we have with other people really is not humility after all.

Because if we do things in order to earn God’s favor or put him in our debt, then we are not driven by joy and gratitude but rather a strange form of duty-bound religion. And thus people become religious projects. And I think this is why those who appear very humble often allow themselves to be taken advantage of over and over again — because they are making some form of atonement unto God, trying to earn what they can never earn.

So again — I argue that humility before God leads to humility before others…….and the joy of our humility before others shows how humble we are before God.

Is there any encouragement from belonging to Christ? Any comfort from his love? Any fellowship together in the Spirit? Are your hearts tender and compassionate? Then make me truly happy by agreeing wholeheartedly with each other, loving one another, and working together with one mind and purpose.

Don’t be selfish; don’t try to impress others. Be humble, thinking of others as better than yourselves. Don’t look out only for your own interests, but take an interest in others, too.

You must have the same attitude that Christ Jesus had.

– Philippians 2:1-5

 

God’s Glory In Your Extraordinary Story (Jon Bloom)

Our First Big Prayer for 2015 is that God would fill us with such awe of Him that we value and pursue Him more than anything else.

I hope that God uses the following blog post, which we stole from Desiringgod.org, to do just that.

God’s Glory in Your Extraordinary Story

Statistically speaking, you should not exist.

Think about it for a moment. How unlikely was it that your parents ever met? And even when they came together, you were just a bad mood or argument or headache or television show or phone call away from never being conceived.

Take a generational step back, and ponder your grandparents’ stories. What were the twists and turns and near misses in their experiences and relationships — any of which, had there been even a minor change, would have resulted in your non-being?

Then keep going back further and further into your ancestral history, and consider the millions and millions of converging conversations and glances and illnesses and unexpected vocational changes and books and storms and dreams and religious choices and travels and schools and wars and ambitions and sorrows over the centuries that, had they been altered just slightly, would not only have resulted in your not being born, but in the world’s population being very different.

The more you think about your unlikely existence and what had to take place in order for you to be sitting here reading these words, the more you’ll realize that your story is wilder than anything humans have imagined. It adds a whole new level of breathless awe to the thought that God “commanded and they were created” (Psalm 148:5). The reality behind that simple statement is incomprehensibly complex.

Nothing Truly Ordinary Ever Happens

What this means is that nothing that happens to you today is, in fact, ordinary or insignificant. Every small and great thing you encounter or do has millions of stories behind its existence or occurrence, and if you could trace them back they would keep you enthralled for weeks.

And your extraordinary life is continually shaping, and being shaped by, many other lives, human and non-human, as you move through time. In ways both witting and unwitting, your words and actions are influencing the course of other lives. Your choice of a parking spot or your seat on a plane could have a life-altering affect on someone else. Your choice of church, school, and workplace certainly will.

The Glorious Reality of Divine Selection

Do not let a belief in the sovereignty of God dull your amazement over this — as if everything just happens like a machine. Let his sovereignty multiply, not subtract from, your wonder. Just think of how God designed his creation to occur!

Fifteen million birch tree seeds in a season might produce a tree or two. A few hundred ova and a few billion sperm might produce a few children over the course of a marriage. Some 200 billion galaxies and more than 70 sextillion stars might produce a planet that sustains life, not to mention incomprehensively complex, marvelous, conscious beings who can contemplate the glory of such improbabilities.

Some look at such phenomena in creation and see meaningless randomness and natural selection. What do you see? Do you see the staggering glory of divine selection (election) out of all the contingencies and possibilities? This is the world that the God who spoke all things into existence brought into being when he said, “Let there be . . .” And all that glory before we even get to the most glorious story: Christ’s redemption of sinners. The height and depth and length and breadth of the wonder infinitely expands.

Think Long Enough to Savor the Glory

You are a tiny but extraordinary creature living in a universe that is filled with trillions, septillions, bazillions of creations, some incomprehensibly huge and others inconceivably small. And the existence of each one, just like you, so unlikely, so improbable as to be miracles, is meant to cause each of us to exclaim in worship,

“Worthy are you, our Lord and God, to receive glory and honor and power, for you created all things, and by your will they existed and were created.” (Revelation 4:11)

You only need to stop long enough to think. There is so much divine glory to see in your truly extraordinary story.

Yep, It’s Gonna’ Be Awkward…And That’s Okay (Chris Francis)

One of our 7 Big Prayers for 2015 is as follows: “That God would give us love for those whose sins offend us….and also the boldness to have awkward conversations to help each other grow.”
I’ve been praying this one a lot lately – particularly the 2nd part of it — because I’ve been hearing about the need for quite a bit of these awkward conversations to be initiated by people within True Life. I’ve been hearing about people needing to ask for forgiveness, express forgiveness, or point out something in a friend’s life that they could easily consider “not my problem.” And so I’ve been praying for boldness and courage for those people and God’s grace over those conversations…..and God has been delivering! Some of those awkward conversations have happened, and God has showed up in big ways.  Relationships are on their way to being restored, blind spots have been confessed and repented of, and most importantly, Christ has been exalted because people trusted him by stepping into the unknown. 
 
And so I want to encourage some of you who still need to have that awkward conversation by saying this: The fact that it’s going to be awkward means it feels a bit out of your control…..and that means you are dependent on God to make good out of it….and that is a great thing because God loves to come through for us when we feel in over our heads. 
 
So pray, jot down some thoughts, and then set up a time to talk to that family member / friend / spouse / boss / neighbor that you know God wants you to talk to.
Yep, it’s gonna’ be awkward. But that’s okay. Because God’s power “is made perfect in weakness.” (2 Corinthians 12:9)

 

Starting the Day with Awe (Chris Francis)

Every morning I try to have what I call “time with God.” Time alone in prayer, reading the bible, reading a portion of a book, listening to God. 

Some times I walk away from that time filled with awe over the grandeur of God’s grace, God’s bigness, God’s sovereignty, God’s power. 
Some times I don’t walk away with that awe. 
 
And it makes all the difference for the rest of the day. 
 
Our First Big Prayer for 2015 is that  God would fill us with such awe of Him that we value and pursue him more than any other treasure. 
 
Awe leads to peace, joy, trust, confidence. 
 
A lack of awe leads to anxiety, frustration, fear, insecurity, striving, depression. 
 
Now you might be thinking, “He’s over-simplifying my situation…..my depression, my hurts, my frustrations, the chaotic situation of my life. He doesn’t know what I’ve lost, he doesn’t know what I’ve been diagnosed with, he doesn’t know who I live  with.”
 
 Here’s why I say that – if Jesus was to return today, each of us would be filled with one of two types of Awes– awesome Gratitude……or Awesome Dread. 
 
In Revelation 1:7, the apostle John makes a powerful declaration:
Behold, he is coming with the clouds, and every eye will see him, even those who pierced him, and all tribes of the earth will wail[c] on account of him. Even so. Amen.”
 
If Jesus returned today, I’m pretty darn sure all my anxiety and frustrations and insecurities would vanish. 
 
And I’m pretty darn sure that for those who reject him, all their petty frustrations and anxieties would be replaced by one Big Awesome Dread. 
 
When the King of Kings returns, the weight of his glory will be unavoidable, and the glory of everything else will crumble in comparison. So if we could just taste and experience a hint of that glory each day, I believe it will greatly put things into perspective.  
Because we can pray with a small view of God. We can read the bible like it’s a self-help book. We can listen for God’s leading in “big decisions” as if those decisions will make or break everything. 
And so, I have made it a goal every morning to not just pray, to not just “read the bible”, but to do so with the goal of being filled with the awe of God. That’s my number one goal each day. 

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