We who preach and write, do so in a manner different from which the Scriptures have been written. We write while we make progress. We learn something new every day. We speak as we still knock for understanding...If anyone criticizes me when I have said what is right, he does me an injustice. But I would be more angry with the one who praises me and takes what I have written for Gospel truth than I would be with the one who criticizes me unfairly. -Augustine


Talkative Humility

How does one know when he possesses true humility? Though some are born with a compliant personality, humility does not come naturally to anyone.

Francois Fenelon sheds some light on the meaning of true humility as he writes: “A humility that is still talkative does not run very deep.” Have you ever found yourself admitting wrong, only later to let the other person know what they did to hurt you? Or are you more like me, needing to talk about why you did what you did or why you said what you said, so that you can maintain some sense of self-respect?

A “talkative humility” does not run very deep. You will be tempted to speak out in a humble tone of voice to tell others of your problems. Watch out for this. A humility that is still talkative does not run very deep. When you talk too much, your self-love relieves its sense of shame a little.”

Like all other virtues, humility must be practiced. This requires the surrender of our pride on a daily basis. “You should not be surprised to find yourself overly sensitive, impatient, proud, and self-willed. Realize that this is your natural disposition. Bear with yourself, but do not flatter yourself into thinking you are better than you are, but wait on God’s timing to transform it” (Fenelon).

From the Apostle Paul’s perspective, humility is deeply connected to one’s awareness of their own indebtedness to the Savior. “Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive.” (Colossians 3)

Published in: on April 16, 2011 at 4:18 am  Comments (1)  

The Clock and the Weakening of God’s Supremacy

Do you ever wonder why the clock was invented? It’s had quite the influence in the world.

Neil Postman, author of Amusing Ourselves to Death, comments on Lewis Mumford’s theory that “beginning in the fourteenth century, the clock made us into time-keepers, and then time-savers, and now time-servers.”

Now before we completely assault the clock, there are certainly advantages to having a time system. Scheduling flights, administering medication, and scheduling events–all need the discipline of time.

God Himself created day and night and times and seasons for His sovereign purposes. But unlike the seasons the clock seems to have taken over more of our allegiance than we might realize. We’ve all heard that we are to redeem the time, but what are we to accomplish with our redeemed time? More time for golf, for sports, for tv, for video games? Is our technology actually robbing us of time . . . or perhaps it’s robbing God?

Mumford warned, that “with the invention of the clock, Eternity ceased to serve as the measure and focus of human events.”

Even Postman, himself not a believer, contends that “though few would have imagined the connection, the inexorable ticking of the clock may have had more to do with the weakening of God’s supremacy than all the treatises produced by the philosophers of the Enlightenment . . . the clock introduced a new form of conversation between man and God, in which God appears to have been the loser.”

So, are we redeeming the time by giving to God what is rightly His? Are we giving Him the first fruits of our time, not just in measured minutes, but in wholehearted pursuit of a relationship which will last through eternity?

Published in: on April 14, 2011 at 5:32 am  Comments (1)  

She Is A Crown

In Proverbs 12 we learn that “A virtuous woman is a crown to her husband . . . .” I never considered this until a friend shared it with me but the crown Solomon is referring to is the wife. As a wife honors her husband, the more prominent the crown appears! In fulfilling her role as his completer, both are lifted up. I watched this for years growing up. My mom honored my dad throughout my childhood and teen years. There were some very bumpy times during those years. My dad–as the superintendent of a large iron works company–built bridges and nuclear plants and had loads of pressures and stresses. In my childhood, sometimes he was like a walking time bomb. But never did I see my mom dishonor my dad. Even during the worst of times, she always made sure that I honored my dad even when I thought he didn’t deserve it. There is something sacred about honor.

I know there are many who will disagree with this, but we need to show honor even if it is not deserved. David honored King Saul even though he was trying to kill him. David’s example–though a bit extreme–teaches us a powerful principle of following God’s ways even when they don’t make sense.

As a result of my mom’s committed and honoring spirit, I watched the relationship of my mom and dad reach unfathomable levels of love and mutual respect. In fact, I don’t remember a day for the last twenty years of their marriage when my dad didn’t go out of his way to tell the world that he was married to the most beautiful woman in the world. Their marriage became a model for all and everyone loved to be around them. There is no doubt in my mind that my mom’s years of devotion and honor laid the foundation for a marriage that was made in heaven.

A crown is worn in a conspicuous place,

Right on the top of the head.

Distinction and honor it declares to all,

So is the wife who serves with godly grace. (DG)

Published in: on April 6, 2011 at 11:25 pm  Leave a Comment  

Blocked Vision, Part 3

We talked yesterday how Balaam the prophet was told by God to go to Moab, but after he went God was angry. At first glance it would appear that God is guilty of double-mindedness. But knowing that God is true and every man a liar, taking a closer look would be the better part of wisdom. Note God’s specific words to Balaam, as well as Balaam’s response:

“And God came unto Balaam at night, and said unto him, If the men come to call you, rise up, and go with them; but only the word which I shall say to you, shall you do.

And Balaam rose up in the morning, and saddled his donkey, and went with the princes of Moab.

And God’s anger was kindled because he went: and the angel of the LORD stood in the way for an adversary against him. Now he was riding upon his donkey, and his two servants were with him.”

Do you see the infractions?

1. He rose in the morning without being called by the men.

2. He saddled his donkey without being told by God.

3. He took servants with him, without instruction from God.

Balaam is revealing his greedy nature by his actions. He’s in it only for the money, thus the reason for the saddled donkey and the servants-he’s planning on making a haul!

In 2 Peter we read that, “some have forsaken the right way, and are gone astray, following the way of Balaam, who loved the wages of unrighteousness…”

In Jude we read: “Woe unto them! for they have gone in the way of Cain, and ran greedily after the error of Balaam for reward.”

If Balaam had looked a few chapters into the future, he would seen one of the greatest warnings in all of the Bible: “Be sure, your sins will find you out” (Numbers 32).

Published in: on April 3, 2011 at 11:21 pm  Leave a Comment  

Blocked Vision, Part 3

We talked yesterday how Balaam the prophet was told by God to go to Moab, but after he went God was angry. At first glance it would appear that God is guilty of double-mindedness. But knowing that God is true and every man a liar, taking a closer look would be the better part of wisdom. Note God’s specific words to Balaam, as well as Balaam’s response:

“And God came unto Balaam at night, and said unto him, If the men come to call you, rise up, and go with them; but only the word which I shall say to you, shall you do.

And Balaam rose up in the morning, and saddled his donkey, and went with the princes of Moab.

And God’s anger was kindled because he went: and the angel of the LORD stood in the way for an adversary against him. Now he was riding upon his donkey, and his two servants were with him.”

Do you see the infractions?

1. He rose in the morning without being called by the men.

2. He saddled his donkey without being told by God.

3. He took servants with him, without instruction from God.

Balaam is revealing his greedy nature by his actions. He’s in it only for the money, thus the reason for the saddled donkey and the servants-he’s planning on making a haul!

In 2 Peter we read that, “some have forsaken the right way, and are gone astray, following the way of Balaam, who loved the wages of unrighteousness…”

In Jude we read: “Woe unto them! for they have gone in the way of Cain, and ran greedily after the error of Balaam for reward.”

If Balaam had looked a few chapters into the future, he would seen one of the greatest warnings in all of the Bible: “Be sure, your sins will find you out” (Numbers 32).

Published in: on April 3, 2011 at 2:30 am  Leave a Comment  

Blocked Vision, Part 2

Yesterday we looked at the talking donkey of Numbers 22 and the prophet Balaam who was unable to see and hear from God nor speak for God. Before we go further it would help if we had a little more background. In Numbers 22, it is the king of Moab who summons Balaam after he sees a great hoard of people coming toward his kingdom. Fearing the worst, he calls the prophet Balaam to come and curse this multitude. But God tells Balaam not to curse but to bless. The king doesn’t give up; he promises the prophet great riches if he will curse the multitude. So Balaam petitions the Lord again and finally gets the green light–with one exception. He is to go only if they ask him to do so, and he must follow God’s instructions exactly.

At first glance, there seems to be a paradox. In verse 21 God tells Balaam that he can go and in verse 22 Balaam rises and goes. All seems to be going according to plan, except for one minor glitch-God is angry that he went! It appears as if God can’t make up His mind, but we know better than that. So what’s up?

The first problem is that Balaam didn’t do exactly what the Lord told him. He went with the king’s men without being summoned. Not only did he violate God’s explicit command to remain unless he was called, but he took 2 of his servants with him–again, without God’s permission. Balaam is going to travel with some pomp and circumstance of his own. He too has servants under him as he proudly joins the elite company of the king. On the surface this may not seem like an infraction of God’s command, but it reveals more than meets the eye. In fact, that’s the problem. Balaam is the prophet and is supposed to see. Instead, the donkey sees what Balaam cannot. What appears to be zeal to do God’s work is in reality a selfish ambition for reward. Balaam’s vision is blocked not only by pride, which we looked at yesterday, but by greed.

Are there roadblocks in your life today? Are you facing obstacles of frustration and walls of constraint? I have seen many in this life who have been emotionally, mentally, and spiritually shipwrecked because, while thinking they were acting on behalf of God’s authority, they were blinded by the real motive of greed.

Published in: on April 2, 2011 at 2:29 am  Leave a Comment  

Blocked Vision, Part 1

What a bizarre portion of Scripture we find in Numbers 22:29! What does it all mean? Scripture tells us that not only did a donkey speak, but the prophet Balaam actually talked back to it! This biblical account compels me to ask, “What is the intended meaning of this story?”

Do you ever find yourself talking to your pet? I have. I remember how, as a child, I would talk to my dog, especially when I was feeling low. We would often walk into the woods together, and I would sit on a ledge and share all my troubles with my faithful companion. But if my dog had talked back to me, I think I would have toppled over in disbelief!

Here we see Balaam carrying on a conversation with his donkey as if it had been a common occurrence. So what is the purpose of this bizarre scene? As a prophet, Balaam is supposed to see. That is his gift from God. But instead, it is the donkey that sees. Balaam, as prophet, is supposed to hear and speak on behalf of God, but it is the donkey that hears and speaks, warning of impending danger and judgment. What a strange twist!

“And Balaam said to the donkey, ‘Because you made a fool of me. I wish I had a sword in my hand, for then I would kill you.'” Because of his pride and fear of looking like a fool, Balaam is unable to see the impending dander before him.

This unique incident teaches that God communicates when we least expect it. But if pride prevents us from hearing and seeing, we will be unable to receive or proclaim God’s truth. Balaam’s primary concern was that he looked like a fool. God’s primary goal was to convince him that he was.

Published in: on April 1, 2011 at 2:27 am  Leave a Comment