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Archive for May, 2011

Pride Test

1. Do you long for a lot of attention?
2. Do you become jealous or critical of people who succeed?
3. Do you always have to win?
4. Do you have a pattern of lying? Or rather, not being sincere and truthful?
5. Do you have a hard time acknowledging you were wrong?
6. Do you have a lot of conflict with other people?
7. Do you cut in line at the store, airport, or freeway?
8. Do you get upset when people do not honor your achievements?
9. Do you tend more toward an attitude of entitlement or thankfulness?
10. Do you basically feel you are a good person and/or better and superior to others?

Every question is one point.
If you scored 1-10 points, you are proud.
If you scored 0 points, you are really proud!

And this is a test I’m NOT proud to say I passed…

(Taken from Mark Driscoll’s sermon “The Parable of the Wedding Feast” about pride and humility in the “Luke’s Gospel” series)

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‘The sacrifice pleasing to God is a broken spirit. O God, you do not despise a broken and sorrowful heart’ (Ps. 51:17). When we acknowledge and begin to feel the weight of our failures, insecurities, desperate needs, disappointments, and self-serving tendencies, and when we compare our fallen condition to the perfect state of Christ, we are deeply broken.

In our sorrow over our brokenness, we tend to regard ourselves with contempt while God views us with compassion. We stand at the crossroad that Paul wrote of in 2 Corinthians between godly sorrow and worldly sorrow. ‘Godly sorrow brings repentance that leads to salvation and leaves no regret, but worldly sorrow brings death’ (2 Cor. 7:10). Worldly sorrow crushes us further, even to death; while godly sorrow restores our brokenness, even to life.

It is by kindness God seeks to lead us to repentance (Rom. 2:4), and His kindness will not end there. We are sweetly broken, and tenderly mended. He who knit our fragile bodies together in the womb does not forget how frail our frame remains. He will take good care of us, especially in our weaknesses. ‘The LORD is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit’ (Ps. 34:18). As we experience the compassion He has for us where we only deserve contempt, we are enabled to have compassion for other fallen men, instead of contempt.

Has someone’s failure affected you to the point you are tempted with contempt? Consider how Jesus has loved you time after time. Consider His compassion. Consider how you mourned over the way you treated Him, and how He wiped away your tears with the promise of a better day and the past He cast away. Consider how He prayed for you and sacrificed Himself for you before you were ever friends, and how He blessed you even while you were His enemy. Consider how He washed the feet of those who would deny Him. Consider how He serves you better than you serve Him, even while He is your King. Consider Him, and then cry out to have a heart like His for those who are just as undeserving as you, yet loved.

‘And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work’ (Heb. 13:20-21).

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‘This day is holy to our Lord. Do not grieve, for the joy of the LORD is your strength’ (Nehemiah 8:10).

Today, instead of getting weighed down about the things we cannot control, consider God’s perspective. Today is holy to our Lord. Today is wholly the Lord’s. He has willed today to exist and actively holds the universe and every fiber of our being together. His power is being demonstrated from the atom to the galaxy. Nothing is hidden; everything dark to us is light to Him. Everything mysterious to us is plain to Him.

If we can count more things outside of our control than under our control, how will we expect to hold our lives together? Yet there is One who keeps all things in place. Today, countless birds sing His name and water flows to His praise and rain showers His grace. The earth spins like a top He set in motion. He manages all of creation with enthusiasm. He can laugh about chaos because it is so easy to sort out. He sees every trouble as an opportunity for greater glory, every evil as a battle He will overcome with good, and every cry as a tear He can wipe away.

His power is never threatened and His plans are never thwarted. He is King of kings and Lord of lords. Today is a day He rejoices over creation. He is not happier than us because He is blind to what we see, but because He sees so much more clearly. How many more reasons does He have to grieve? Yet He sees more reasons to live joyfully.

And today He takes pleasure in you and me. God often rejoices over our lives more than we do! Let’s join Him today. We have a glorious existence in Him. If He can find joy in light of all He sees, may it be our strength and motivation to believe, and we shall see more reasons to praise than to grieve.

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‘For the Lord takes pleasure in His people’ (Ps. 149:4). Jesus loves to love us. He even endured the cross for the joy set before Him. He joyfully loves and serves us! He takes pleasure in us, His people. He gladly takes interest in our interests.

Is there an interest that we have not yet entrusted to Him?

Do we fear that He will judge it impure and ask us to deny it? Take heart, for “those who seek the LORD lack no good thing” (Ps. 34:10). Entrusting our desire to God will surely not keep us from any good, but will lead to the goodness we seek. If anything, He will refine an impure desire by the fire of our faith. Every bad desire is a good desire gone wrong. God knows how to refine it, and He cares to redeem it so that it will not diminish or destroy us.

Or do we fear that He will judge our desire insignificant? (Sometimes even we ourselves believe it is too high a priority.) Yet surely He has carried our burdens, however big or small. Our joy is His joy, and our sorrow is His. Entrusting the desire to Him – openly and regularly communicating it and surrendering it to Him – will ensure that it will not control us. But we also need not make too little of it, for God does not minimize our desires and burdens… He shares them.

How often have we taken our desires into our own hands, and failed? How deeply does our Father long to tend to our every care? How sweet is it when a child entrusts his father with the key to his treasure chest? Day by day, may we come to find that our desires lead us closer to Jesus, for He is the Treasure we truly seek. And when we seek Him, we find Him and all things are added.

I say to the LORD, ‘You are my Lord; apart from you I have no good thing.’
Psalm 16:2

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Good communication

Good communication is one of the hardest, yet most necessary skills to have in life. We are in touch with people at home, at church, at work, at school – everywhere. We don’t mean to have bad communication, but since we are broken people, we have broken communication. We can even have bad communication with God (though if we are reconciled to Him in Christ we are able to have perfect communion with Him). Good communication is hard enough to maintain on a daily basis with everyone.. and then there are greater challenges like public speaking, interviews, evangelism, difficult conversations, and conflict resolution.

I was encouraged in two ways today. The first was through Proverbs 10:9, “Whoever walks in integrity walks securely.”

Do we maintain integrity while communicating with others?

in·teg·ri·ty
[in-teg-ri-tee]

-noun
1. honesty
2. the state of being whole, entire, or undiminished
3. a sound, unimpaired, or perfect condition

Synonyms: goodness, sincerity, straightforwardness, virtue, candor, incorruption, purity, cohesion, cohesiveness, simplicity, stability, unity, wholeness, coherence, truthfulness

We read this description and feel inadequate. But we are not alone.

I consider the Apostle Paul one of the boldest, bravest, most courageous and candid men who ever lived. Yet this is what he writes to the Corinthians, “And so it was with me, brothers and sisters. When I came to you, I did not come with eloquence or human wisdom as I proclaimed to you the testimony about God. For I resolved to know nothing while I was with you except Jesus Christ and him crucified. I came to you in weakness with great fear and trembling. My message and my preaching were not with wise and persuasive words, but with a demonstration of the Spirit’s power, so that your faith might not rest on human wisdom, but on God’s power” (1 Cor. 2:1-5).

Paul had more reasons than we have to boast and to be confident in himself (Phil. 3), yet he decided that he knew nothing but Jesus Christ and counted all as loss but Him. Stripped of his pride, he stood before others in weakness, with great fear and trembling. His speech was not composed of wise and persuasive words. How often have we felt this way? Yet in our weakness God will show Himself strong. Let our confidence be in Christ, so that our ministry of words will speak better of His name than our own. That, after all, is the best communication.

In ourselves we are full of insecurity, but in Christ we have full integrity. Let us become who we are in Him.

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One thing

To take Christ from the Christian is like taking the sun from the solar system. To remove a soul from the presence of God is like taking a fish out of water. I cannot bear the thought. I cannot begin to fathom it. It’s too terrible to comprehend.

If there is anything in our lives preventing us to some degree from connecting with Christ, and we are aware of it, it is not worth it for a moment to tolerate. There is no pleasure or desire worth grieving the Spirit of God, or robbing ourselves of His goodness. What has been stealing our attention or affection from Him? Pursue God above all, and all will be ours.

Let us repent and return to our God. Let us be so caught up in His glory that the urgency of our earthly pursuits is halted, and we resolve to seek Him with our whole heart, soul, mind, and strength. Doors will close, but others will open. Others that lead to a greater hope and future. Others that lead to a greater love than a heart could long for. Others that lead to glory beyond compare.

“One thing I ask of the LORD, this is what I seek: that I may dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life, to gaze upon the beauty of the LORD and to seek him in his temple” (Ps. 27:4).

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Blessings

We pray for blessings
We pray for peace
Comfort for family, protection while we sleep
We pray for healing, for prosperity
We pray for Your mighty hand to ease our suffering
All the while, You hear each spoken need
Yet love us way too much to give us lesser things

What if Your blessings come through raindrops
What if Your healing comes through tears
What if a thousand sleepless nights
Are what it takes to know You’re near
What if trials of this life are Your mercies in disguise

We pray for wisdom
Your voice to hear
And we cry in anger when we cannot feel You near
We doubt Your goodness, we doubt Your love
As if every promise from Your Word is not enough
All the while, You hear each desperate plea
And long that we’d have faith to believe

When friends betray us
When darkness seems to win
We know the pain reminds this heart
That this is not, this is not our home,
It’s not our home

What if my greatest disappointments
Or the aching of this life
Is the revealing of a greater thirst this world can’t satisfy
And what if trials of this life
The rain, the storms, the hardest nights
Are Your mercies in disguise

by Laura Story

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