Humility

Humility – I’m crap at it.

If you’ve been following my blogs recently you’ll have noticed that I’ve been banging them out pretty fast and the truth is that I’ve been learning so much. Every time I open my Bible something else seems to amaze me. The amount I’ve learnt and has led me to a passion to share this message because it truly has been good news to my life.

Yet over the past few days I’ve began to realise that I’ve become proud of the blogs I’ve been writing. Its been amazing to hear from people who have been inspired and that’s why I fundamentally write them. I love to share the stuff God teaches me because his Word brings life and freedom. But one of the things I struggle with a lot is being proud. Recently one of my close friends changed the password for my wordpress so I could’t go and check the dashboard to see how many people are reading it. Honestly I go several times a day to go and see how many people read it, it gives me a sense of worth knowing people will check out my words. Yet this is not humility, this is for my own sense of worth, hence my decision to get a friend to upload blogs so that I can concentrate on Gods teaching not boost my own self esteem. I hope this shows how much I value humility, and yet how much I struggle with it. I am on a journey of trying to be humble and I hope this blog will inspire us to overcome this issue of being proud. The Bible simply overflows about humility.

Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you,
1 Peter 5:6

Do nothing from rivalry or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves.
Phillipians 2:3

But he gives more grace. Therefore it says, “God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble.” James 4:6

Whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and whoever humbles himself will be exalted. Matthew 23:12

He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?
Micah 6:8

There are loads more verses but these are just a few to prove it. I’ve come to discover Its hard to be humble because that means putting yourself below others. Its something that is almost completely the opposite of our society where its all about us. I go past a banner at the university I study at every time I enter the library which tells me its all about me. The adverts I see on TV convince me its all about me. Yet the God we love and adore calls us to be humble.

We just have to look at Jesus, humbling himself upon a cross to die even though he was perfect, so that he could make a way for us to be with God. That is humility. If God calls us to be like Jesus then I think he’s pretty serious about humility.

Yet its so easy to say it. I find it so easy to write a blog and say “hey guys, lets be more humble” But its a painful journey., for in a culture where we have so much it means letting go of a lot.

The very words of Jesus highlights the cost.

” And he said to all, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will save it. (Luke 9:23-24)

Its a painful journey and I found myself today crying out to God, break me and build me back up again. I didn’t really expect to be broken quite so literally. I found myself listening to a friend telling me exactly what I needed to hear about my arrogance and proudness, it was painful because I didn’t want to hear it, yet I know its what i needed to hear.

If you are proud ask God to humble you. Its painful but he will.

That is one of the joys of being in a deeper sense of community with people, is that they aren’t scared of telling you what you need to hear, not what you want to hear. And that is something I will blog about, my thoughts on real community.
But my first goal is to humble myself, so that God may be glorified.

I’m just beginning the journey of reaching the stage where I can boast in my weakness because it shows how strong Christ is. This blog is not about my strength but Gods strength in me.

““My (God) grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. 2 Corinthians 12:9

My failure Is my strength

I think I’m pretty good at football. I also support a great football team. So when I’m standing on a football pitch losing 11-1 with a sore muscle its an experience that is somewhat rare. I distinctly recall standing on the half way line, hands on hips, suddenly questioning whether I am good enough. Maybe I’m not quite as good as I think am. It’s when this firm belief suddenly dies straight in front of me I find myself questioning my identity. It goes falls quickly into the trap of questioning who really am I?

As I walked home I realised that this is a common occurrence. I so often base my identity on what other people think of me or what I am good at. Why am I telling you this you may be wondering. Over the past few weeks I’ve been blogging about some pretty serious things, things which I think are biblical and challenge the very culture we find ourselves in. Gaining wisdom isn’t about knowing the right things, its living it. As I limped home in a somewhat dejected state I remembered my blog about being a child of God, how in that childlike state we are to rely on God as our father. I realised I’d lost my identity as a child of God. I built on my life on the sand and not on the solid rock,

24 “Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock. 25 The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock. 26 But everyone who hears these words of mine and does not put them into practice is like a foolish man who built his house on sand. 27 The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell with a great crash.”

Matthew 7:24-27

But as I mused my soul cried out to my Dad, my maker and firm foundation and realised that it is this reliance on God as our father that makes me strong. I am strong because my life  is built on the solid foundation of Christ. He is my rock and so therefore I stand firm. Jesus is enough for me. I yet again replaced my feet onto the rock of Christ and I immediately feel strong.

Psalm 33:13-23

3 The LORD looks down from heaven;
he sees all the children of man;
14 from where he sits enthroned he looks out
on all the inhabitants of the earth,
15 he who fashions the hearts of them all
and observes all their deeds.
16 The king is not saved by his great army;
a warrior is not delivered by his great strength.
17 The war horse is a false hope for salvation,
and by its great might it cannot rescue.

18 Behold, the eye of the LORD is on those who fear him,
on those who hope in his steadfast love,
19 that he may deliver their soul from death
and keep them alive in famine.

20 Our soul waits for the LORD;
he is our help and our shield.
21 For our heart is glad in him,
because we trust in his holy name.
22 Let your steadfast love, O LORD, be upon us,
even as we hope in you.

Why do I keep building my life on anything other than God?

I’m still on the journey.

Be encouraged, take heart and build your life on this solid foundation. The more I do the stronger I get because Christ is my strength.

Is Jesus worth the cost?

The olympics is not too far away and so perhaps it is symbolic to use the olympic event the hurdles to describe an aspect of the life we live with God as a radical disciple. One thing that I am learning more and more is that since I became a disciple of Christ I’ve faced quiet a few hurdles. It almost appears that every hurdle I conquer another hurdle appears right before me.

There are always things in life that we will struggle with and there will always be things that are unexpected that can leave us downcast, confused and let down. I often wonder if I could conquer all the things I struggle with that dominate my christian life then my life would be much easier, I could live life guilt free. Recently I felt like I had cleared a big hurdle in my life, finally I was free to be the man God called me to be. Yet the reality is that more hurdles appear on the horizon.

As I was talking this through with a close friend we began to realise the call of Christ is a hard journey. When really looking at the bible it appears the call is huge. I read the story in Luke where Jesus speaks of the cost of following him.

23 And he said to all, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. 24 For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will save it. 25 For what does it profit a man if he gains the whole world and loses or forfeits himself? (Luke 9:23-25)

Upon reading this I am to be honest deeply troubled. Is this the message I want to be giving to people, that to follow Jesus means denying oneself and taking up a cross. It leaves me questioning whether I want to follow Jesus, let alone preach this message. It doesn’t surprise me that people left Jesus on the road to Jerusalem. It makes me wonder why anyone is a Christian at all.

And yet the the words of a recent song by rend collective experiment come to mind.

I’m saying yes to You
And no to my desires
I’ll leave myself behind
And follow You

I’ll walk the narrow road
’cause it leads me to You
I’ll fall but grace
Will pick me up again

I’ve counted up the cost
Oh I’ve counted up the cost
Yes I’ve counted up the cost
And You are worth it

I do not need safety
As much as I need You
You’re dangerous
But Lord You’re beautiful

I’ll chase You through the pain
I’ll carry my cross
’cause real love
Is not afraid to bleed

Jesus
Take my all
Take my everything

I’ve counted up the cost
And You’re worth everything

Its this question that keeps knocking on my heart

Is Jesus worth the cost?

Is he worth lifes hurdles?

And yet when I look at the cost compared to following God there is no match. For God is all loving, He is faithful, He remains and His love is everlasting. He provides, He heals and  He guides. His ways are just, His heart is pure and His power is all encompassing. He never fails, He is a rock and His grace is enough.

To quote the rend collective song again

“I’ve counted up the cost and you are worth it”

Becoming children of God

Children are great. They view the world through a completely different lense. They have so much faith and are constantly amazed by even the simplest of things in life. One of the things that I’ve been challenged by is the fact that God calls us to be like these very children. 

It’s a hard concept to understand sometimes, does it mean we become immature? does it mean we stop trying to stand strong. Recently I’ve really been pressing into my Bible, trying to work out what the true message of the gospel is and what stuff have we made up. This has been amazing and has led to a series of blogs about Jesus being enough for us. But it was as I was reflecting one day I became stuck in my thoughts, as I battled with big questions my thoughts were lost in the complexities of life. I felt like I wasn’t going anywhere. 

But it was here that I was reminded of Matthew 19:14 “Let the children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these”

I was then later reminded of Matthew 18:2-4 “He called a little child and had him stand among them. And he said “I tell you the truth, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Therefore whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven”

Thats a pretty big statement. Unless we humble ourselves and become like little children we will never enter the kingdom of God. It was here that I was once again reminded that the journey with God isn’t wholly about growing in knowledge and wisdom, but its about being a child of God. 

It’s about being joyful in everything we do, once again discovering how amazing the things around us are. I can get too bogged down in knowing everything that I can feel silly at getting excited about a perfect sunrise. t I once again realised that I have so much to learn and that we need to learn to be God’s children. God also showed me what this meant whilst working at a till in a local supermarket. A child had fallen over and was crying, the first thing it did was to get up and run straight to its mum and hug her tight. Apart from being a cliche scene where an obvious reaction of “aww thats cute” comes to the mind of many I was profoundly inspired by the way a child reacts. In a culture where self reliance is praised I think we often try and solve problems by ourselves. But if we are called to be children of God then surely the place to run to is the arms of our loving perfect father. 

Is God your perfect father? 

I know that that can be a painful thing for some people, for some of us that word has become negative and we shy away from the thought. But if we read our Bibles we see a God who is our perfect parent. Maybe it might be helpful to pray,

“Lord help me to be a child of you, to rely on you, to be humble like a child, to live life with the faith and joy of a child. Help me to see you as not just my God, sovereign over all, but as my perfect Father, someone who cares deeply about me and who loves to love me. Amen”

Like all things its journey but just knowing that God is my father and I’m his child fills me with such joy. 

Girls v Guys – relating to each other.

I’ve just come back from a couple of days hanging out with some close christian brothers and sisters down in bournemouth, I’ve learnt alot from these guys and have also began to discover what it is like to be a close knit community. One of the things I’ve learnt is the difference between guys and girls. We discussed the different ways we thought and viewed situations. I know as a guy I;ve been in plenty of situations where friends who are girls have done something or said something and I’ve been left confused and puzzled, not fully realising that the girl in question almost certainly felt the same way about me. But I also know that our sisters are created to be beautiful, are full of grace and love.

This isn’t really a blog but a push in the direction of a couple of books by an american couple who try to help guys and girls relate to each other in friendships and relationships. As christian men it is fundamental we support and build up our sisters, and the same for our sisters towards there brothers. I hope these two books may help that journey.

I download the man one for the kindle for a kindle app on my computer.

For  men only

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Men-Only-Straightforward-Guide-Inner/dp/1590525728/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1326576903&sr=8-1

For woman only

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Women-Only-About-Inner-Lives/dp/1590523172/ref=pd_bxgy_b_img_b

Jesus is enough

Jesus is enough 

 00:00am 31st december 2011. I’m talking to one of my friends about life when both us have the realisation that Jesus is enough. In the face of adversity often the place to turn to is God. It was in a similar place that we both found ourselves once again in realisation that God truly is all we need. 

It was in this reality that I stopped to question how much I value God. Recently I’ve been overwhelmed by the gospels and the story of the early church and how to them the value of God was everything, including there lives. I hope to start blogging a bit about what the Bible says the worth of God and what our culture says. 

 It seems that we live in a depressed culture, where nothing seems to satisfy. I look at people at the top of society and just see broken-ness, people who can’t find what they are looking for. The amount of suicides appearing before me on my news screen has lost my surprise, despite the tragicness of this its just not surprising. We live in a culture where we appear to have everything, a safe life, good nutrition, good health, relationships, democracy, luxuries in life compared to alot of the world. The amount of stuff in my room at home is plenty compared to the $2 dollars most people in the world live on. We have countless hours of T.V entertainment. Yet, from as I can see, we aren;t a content culture. I even read an article this morning about how 500,000 children are not happy. 

Then we come to the Bible and I see a story of a God who is enough for his people. A God who loves his people and who will always be there. A “rock” to King David, there for Abraham in his barren relationship with Sarah, there for his people in slavery, there for Job, there for Gideon, there for Nehemiah. Then we get to the new testament and the message of Jesus is enough, the kingdom of God is all we need speaks loud and clear. 

The disciples left all they had to follow Jesus (luke 5), Jesus spoke of the kingdom of God as like a man found treasure in a field and sold everything he had to buy the field to have the treasure (Matt 14) Paul talks of counting everything as loss for the sake of knowing Christ. As far as I can see we believe in a God who is enough for us. When I read the early church’s story I see people who give up there lives for the sake of knowing Jesus.

And this is where I stop. For me I know that Jesus is all I need. I sing it so often its engrained in my head. But when I stop and say what is my life really built on I find a life caught in the same trap as our culture. I seek affirmation from other people, I strive to have things that make me happy, I long to have a family to love, I long to make a difference in the world. I long to be accepted. My identity is in the things I do. The problem is I don’t notice that it is. I get caught up in my own righteousness and my religious ways, its only when things go bad in life that I realise the worth of God. Its in those moments where I once again turn back to God with everything I have and say you are all I need that I truly realise it, that actually nothing in this world is stable. The problem is, is that too often when things resume back to normal I go back to my world and try to drag God back in. Its when I stop and think if I was in poverty would Jesus be enough? If I never had a family would Jesus be enough? If I was hated by everyone else in the world would Jesus be enough? If I became paralysed so that I couldn;t play football would Jesus be enough? 

I read my Bible and see a God who is enough yet I don;t value it. Every time I travel to the poorest people of the world I preach the gospel and people flock towards it, I think its because they don;t have much to leave behind. To the poor amongst us its easier to see God as being worth everything we have. Yet to us in the west we are rich and we have alot of stuff. For us its harder for us to give up everything we have and follow God because we have alot of stuff. Its harder for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God than a camel to go through the eye of a needle. 

When all fails I become a poor man and realise Gods worth, I’m sure we’ve all had those moments where in desperation we turn to God. Its just when I am rich I don’t truly beleive it, I don;t give everything I am to God. I’m not content in just God. 

But the more I understand how God is all I need the more I see how our culture needs God. We need him because in him we find full satisfaction, he completes us. In a society so broken and discontent the message of Christ is fundamental. First though we as the church need to fully get what it means for us to know Jesus is enough. What does it mean to give ourselves fully over to God, being fully content in him. If we all lived a life that was built on a life only content in Jesus then I’m convinced we would see a change in our culture. Even just in the last few weeks pressing into challenge myself in knowing Jesus is enough I find myself alive. Everytime I read my Bible I feel renewed, I feel content. People even ask me why I am so joyful. I’m joyful not because I;ve got an easy life, I’m joyful because I am so content in God. 

Its a journey. A marathan not a sprint. 

Is Jesus worth it all? Everything you have? 

I’m on the journey of saying yes, he most certainly is

 

 

 

1 Corinthians 13: Love

 

Today I dwelled on what is it to be alive in Christ everyday. What does it mean to truly live out the gospel. I started thinking of events I could be doing, people I could be talking or praying with. Money that I can be giving to people. I was looking for something to do. And these things all seemed great ways of imitating the gospel.

 

It was as I was walking along I felt called to read 1 Corinthians 13. The one about Love. The well known passage at weddings. I felt  God say David they are all great but if you can’t love then you miss what the gospel is about.

 

As I walked the words caught me unawares, surely I am someone who knows how to Love people. It was only when I read 1 Corinthians 13 I was challenged on the depth of love written here. Love is not self seeking, it is patient.

 

To try to live this out for everyday, now thats a challenge

 

1 Corinthians 13

If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. If I give away all I have, and if I deliver up my body to be burned, but have not love, I gain nothing.

Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.

Love never ends. As for prophecies, they will pass away; as for tongues, they will cease; as for knowledge, it will pass away. For we know in part and we prophesy in part, but when the perfect comes, the partial will pass away. When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I gave up childish ways. For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I have been fully known.

So now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love.