Be Humble and Let it Go

“Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.” – Philippians 2:3,4 There’s a story found in Luke Chapter 15, where Jesus is sitting at the table of a prominent Pharisee. In Biblical times, a Pharisee was similar to a famous pastor. Liken it to an invitation to be with our version of Billy Graham, along with many renowned religious leaders and thinkers of their day.  As Jesus sits there quietly watching these men gather, he can see them all gently but efficiently jockeying for positions of honor at the table. Everyone wants to sit close to the guest of honor, knowing it would bring them attention, and cause others to question their position in life. Jesus then shared a parable: “When someone invites you to a

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The Value of a Heart

“Who is wise and understanding among you? Let them show it by their good life, by deeds done in the humility that comes from wisdom. But if you harbor bitter envy and selfish ambition in your hearts, do not boast about it or deny the truth.” – James 3:13,14 In yesterday’s Positive Minute, we were encouraged to store up intangible treasures such as God’s favor, doors opened for us, and being a trustworthy person. Receiving these gifts begins with the value of a heart that’s like an empty cup. This heart is ready to learn and receive from others. It’s not a heart that is arrogant or prideful. It’s a heart that reflects the Lord’s prayer by asking for forgiveness. This reflection of God’s heart was less common in the Roman culture of Jesus’ day. Rome was known for promoting and boasting of its glory and accomplishments at any cost.

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Wordly Knowledge vs. Godly Wisdom

“At that time Jesus said, ‘I praise you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because you have hidden these things from the wise and learned, and revealed them to little children. Yes, Father, for this is what you were pleased to do.’ ” – Matthew 11:25,26 Have you ever known someone who was really educated and smart, but at the same time, not that wise? If you have spent a significant amount of time at a university or place of research, most likely you have encountered this kind of person. One with a big ego and who is wrapped up in their IQ, their published studies, and their clout. Because of all that they have learned on a worldly scale, they are saturated. In their eyes, they don’t need advice from anyone. As the old Zen proverb goes, their cup is so full that they have no room for tea.

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Our Hidden Self

“For whatever is hidden is meant to be disclosed, and whatever is concealed is meant to be brought out into the open.” – Mark 4:22 Every person has aspects of themselves that they do not naturally reveal to others. We all have layers, and we choose how, where, and with whom we peel them away. This is a normal element of life and relating, and it’s not a terrible thing in general. Clients see the completely covered version of us, our friends see a little more, and our family — usually those we live with and who know us best — see the truly hidden version of ourselves. And then there’s God… There are elements of our soul and parts of ourselves that no one knows about and that we sometimes can’t describe, whether we understand them or not. These are the innermost secrets that only God can see. They

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Don’t Make Assumptions

“Do not judge, and you will not be judged. Do not condemn, and you will not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven.” – Luke 6:37-42 I mentioned yesterday about the time Dallas Willard visited my church and talked to the audience. Though the most important lesson I learned from him that day was by his example, he also gave me some life-changing leadership advice that I’ll never forget. He believes that strong leaders don’t assume, pretend, or push. Today, I’d like to look at the first of those exhortations, and see what it means to lead without presumption. We typically interpret Jesus’ warning not to judge lest we be judged to mean that we should not pass judgment on others because God will pass judgment on us if we do. What if, on the other hand, the Lord’s words have a different meaning? Perhaps our Father was attempting

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Who Are Your Untouchables?

“You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your Father in heaven.” – Matthew 5:43-45 As we wrap up our discussion about the four groups of untouchables whom Jesus readily touched, we do well to ask ourselves, “Who are the untouchables in my life?” So today, I invite each of us to consider the answer to this question and to look beyond the obvious before we respond. While it’s easy to reply categorically and to list populations such as vagrants, criminals, or drug addicts, I believe we all have a more personal application…if we dare to admit it. Truth be told, for some of us, it would be easier to walk into the middle of a homeless encampment and sit down and eat lunch

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Meekness Isn’t Weakness

“Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth.” – Matthew 5:5 Julius Caesar took to heart the Roman belief that achievements and conquests were everything, so he became determined to take over the world. On one occasion, when his armies were at war with Pompey, his life was saved by a Semitic Edomite named Antipater. The two of them became fast friends, and Caesar awarded Antipater’s heroic actions by making him the chief minister of the Middle East. In that role, his job was to collect taxes and oversee his lord’s government in the region of Syria, which also included Jerusalem. Antipater later appointed his sons — one of whom was Herod — to help him carry out his duties, and Herod was given the responsibility of overseeing the area of Israel. Unfortunately, he was a narcissistic, neurotic, and nervous guy, who, through a series of wars and

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