Monthly Archives: July 2012

What are the Costs & Benefits of Humility

Humility is something people praise.

Few will praise a proud person for their pride. They may praise someone for their accomplishments, and then the person may become proud. But pride is an ugly thing. Pride is deadly.

But what does humility cost?

1. Humility costs pride & dignity. Often, the humble have been shamed and insulted. The pain of this cost is such that it is not something that people go looking for it. Rather, God comes looking for the proud soul and humbles them like Nebuchadnezzar … so that they will come back looking to Him. Humility is willing to go unacknowledged.

2. Humility costs money. Humility, when matched with resources, becomes generosity. Not ostentatious giving, but practical, earnest, passionate, loving gifts flow through the hands of those who are poor in spirit. There is something about wealth or the prospect of wealth that puffs up.  The loss of that prompts humility.

3. Humility costs convenience & time. Pride rushes ahead to be first in line, humility lets others go first and is willing to be last … if only grace may last. Life is best enjoyed during detours. Pride may smirk, but is discontent, because those inconveniences come to all. Pride barges on, humility lets others procede first. Humility drives in the slow lane.

4. Humility can require physical suffering. This may be an injury that disables someone and so makes them unable to continue to compete in a sport they were highly recognized for. It may be a beating by persecutors when a saint in an oppressive environment fails to be watchful. It may be a Job-like seemingly meaningless torment that simply makes one more humble and takes away pride in humilty.

Now then, what are the benefits of humility?

1. God’s grace. God gives grace to the humble. Those who are humble can do God’s work with His help. Pride is crippling; humility enables.

2. Quiet respect by others who are humble. A leader who is humble is more likely to be honored with a higher position than an arrogant man who is wicked.  Pride puffs up; humility endears.

3. Strength. When one is not constantly striving to build up oneself, there is strength to serve and strength to endure. The simple strength of humility enables one to last when others cast him out. Pride lasts for a moment; humility endures.

4. Multiplication. Humility sees how others can be enabled to serve alongside of oneself. It is not content to do it all by itself. Pride isolates; humility equips.

If you read through the accounts of the Kings in the Old Testament, those leaders who humbled themselves before God were blessed with better endings. Even evil rulers were blessed to last longer if they humbled themselves. But a good but proud ruler was liable to lose his life.

Are you humble? Are you gentle? Are you kind? Are you patient? Do you love the unloving and unlovely? If not, what do you need to do to change?

When you vote, do you look for leaders who will make you more comfortable or for leaders who are humble? Sadly, the office all too often humbles the noble or the noble humble the nation. Leaders have a poor record of leading with humility consistently.

Categories: Humility, Leadership | Tags: , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Prayer is Work

When we pray in love for all and with passion, we are offering up a fragrant incense before God.

Prayer is hard work. Not because you get paid for it, but because of the effort required to set aside all other priorities and focus on the Kingdom Agenda at hand. It may seem more boring than a board meeting, but that would only because your board (you, any angels or friends you may invite) have lost sight of the vision or have displaced the Chairman of the Board of prayer: Jesus. Wiithout Jesus chairing the meeting and the Holy Spirit leading the discussion, you are bound to accomplish nothing. The Father is waiting to hear your requests.

So ask!

And keep asking and focus!  Focus means that when something distracts you from asking, you set the distraction aside and ask again for the same thing, though perhaps with different words. You address the same issue until it is resolved.

You are on a long journey in prayer: You want God to accomplish something. You cannot do it on your own, so do not pretend that you can! You MUST seek. Look intensely for what God is doing. Don’t lose heart if at first it doesn’t seem to be revealed where God is at work. Keep looking. Keep searching.  If you don’t find food in the fridge, you go to the cupboards. If it is not in the cupboards, you go to the store. If the store is too expensive, you go to the food bank. If the food bank is closed, you ask your neighbor. YOU MAY FAST FOR A WHILE BUT YOU WILL DIE WITHOUT FOOD.  AND GOD DOESN’T WANT YOU TO DIE, SO HE WILL FEED YOU … WITH MANNA IF NECESSARY! Likewise, you must seek God for His answer to your present situation.

Maybe your dreams have been deferred. Maybe you seem to have conquered nothing. Maybe your speeches are the summaries of silence. Go knocking on doors. Pound the pavement! Hit the road! DON”T GIVE UP! God will answer when you knock on His door. The gates of hell themselves shall be opened before you and you will be able to see captives go free, but you must ask and ask and ask and ask and ask … and keep on asking until God shows Himself mighty on your behalf!

So what about those Gates of Hell? What if you are knocking in Jesus Name and you happen to be knocking on the gates of hell? Guess what, the Good News is that God will not loose snakes and scorpions on you.  No, He will tame them and enable you to trample on them. Beasts will submit to you. You will marvel at the Lord’s doing.

You say, ah, I have a few neighbors whose doors are surely the gates of hell. I should go trample on them. I’ll pray that my neighbors will submit to me & my ways.

Watch out! In the same way you judge others you will be judged. The moment you go trying to trample on them you will find yourself being trampled upon. and that would be no fun.

No, we must bless others in our prayers and actions … and then we ourselves will be blessed. Give and it will be given unto you. We are called to live in a mutual benefit society.


How sweet life smells when offered up in prayer!

Categories: Missions, Prayer | Tags: , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Triune Reflection

Explaining the Trinity to Muslims

Explaining the Trinity to Muslims: A Personal Reflection on the Biblical Teaching in Light of the Theological Criteria of Islam. by Carlos Madrigal.

This book is the best I’ve read so far in summarizing Christian teaching on both the Trinity and the Incarnation from a Biblical perspective with a view to communicating with Muslims. It introduces the Trinity using key Islamic terms in Arabic. Analogies abound. There are a few diagrams to illustrate the points. Jesus is honored, Muslim concerns are respected. Heresies are refuted. Creeds are anticipated. A glossary has key terms and the Arabic alphabet with transliteration.

What is most appreciated is that this is kept practical: if God is triune, we are able to communicate with Him and be loved by Him and receive revelation from Him and call Him Father by the Spirit in the name of the Son. This is not merely a dogmatic imposition, be an elucidation of what the biblical texts actually say. References are plenty.

I plan to share this book with friends

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Letter to the Arabian Saints

I wish I could be there with you because I wish to share in some small way in the celebration and seeking aking place in the region.  While I have a deep burden for the land there and have spent myself for our cousins locally, I am not a leader of any work, but the least servant of all. Yet I venture to share a word that has been regularly bubbling up within my heart.  I have shared it with others and they have been encouraged, though puzzled at first, so I will put my head on the block and share it with you as well trusting that a gift will be imparted. I trust you will remember the prophecy about Arabia found in Isaiah.

Within exactly one year all the splendor of Kedar will come to an end.  Initially, the time of prayer for PTAP was set @ 1 year, then the leadership wisely took counsel and expanded this emphasis to an until … emphasis. It has been fruitful: churches have begun, boldness has increased, and governments are in transition. Humility is coming … but there are also elements that are opposed to the freedom we celebrate in God’s Gift. 

As the prophecy says before that,  Here is a message about Dumah: (Which when translated means Silence) Someone calls to me from Seir, (at the north west part of Arabia.) “Watchman, what is left of the night? Watchman, what is left of the night?” The watchman replies, “Morning is coming, but then night. If you want to ask, ask; come back again.” Notice that morning is coming.  This is good news to us all.  God is prophesying about silence here and night is the time of silence. Morning is coming with all the air is alive with sound and waking.  When the vendors are selling and the birds are singing. Jesus himself may have ventured out to Seir at one point. Herod was from that area, and Jesus was reclaiming the lost sons of Abraham. Seir is Edom is Esau. Esau is from the seed of Abraham, though in terms of blessing he was silent, he cried to no avail.

But we are not of the seed of Edom, but of Christ—not of the seed of flesh, but of the seed of faith.  What is this word then? What is the hope for those who want to see the pride of violence fall? We ask the Lord, we ask the watchman on the walls, even Jesus who guards our souls in the night: what is left of the night? “How much longer?” cried out the saints from under the altar, beneath the castle [qasr] walls & streets.  Here is the word of the Lord: Morning is coming!  Oh, we see the sun coming on the horizon! The Sun will rise with healing in His wings! The broken cisterns will be mended. The polluted wells will be redug.  The confused cities will be ordered in the way of the Lord. The sick will have a Holy Hospital. The dead will be raised to life again.

Oh, but caution, night too is coming. With the sifting out & storing of the wheat, we know that the chaff and stubble will be burned.  The fields must be plowed up season after season. The prunings must be thrown into the fire. Night also is coming, after the morning and noon. Everyone who wants to live a life of godliness in Christ Jesus will be persecuted. Be alert & watchful … and pray.  Are you inclined at all to pray, then pray. Do you want to ask? Ask, and keep on asking. Then ask some more until the day dawns when there will be no more night and no more moon. For the Lord God Almighty will be the Light of that great City and the Lamb will be the lamp. The bride is being prepared to inherit in the Castle. She must be clean,  so let her anoint and cleanse herself with Castile Soap, by C.onfessing, A.doring, S.upplying our needs, T.hanking, I.nterceeding, L.istening, and E.during in prayer while S.eeking O.ut A.bundant P.romises.

If we do, then we will find a fortress for our soul to be held holy within. And the gates of hell will not prevail as we go out in glad parade for the bride of Christ to come into the castle of His home.

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Physiognomy and the Divine Dignity of the Different

The short guy no longer gets the short end of the stick when he leaves the tree and hosts the Lord of hosts.

In “Body and Character in Luke and Acts: The Subversion of Physiognomy in Early Christianity” (Baker: 2006), Mikeal C. Parsons describes the Greek practice of physiognomy and similarities to physiognomy in Judaica and Christian writings and then addresses several instances of physiognomic abnormality in Luke-Acts along with a proposition that Luke sought to displace the prejudice of the prevailing culture.

Physiognomy is the practice of stereotyping the character of people based on the animal they resemble, the race/culture they are from, or the physical features they have. For example, a person who looks like a lion would be brave and noble while a fox is cunning and tricky. A person who is from Corinth is immoral and an Ethiopian cannot change their color. A broadshouldered man is brave while a short man is greedy.

The chapters in order examine:

Soul & Body react on each other: Body & Character in Greek & Roman Literature

The Movement of the body is the voice of the soul: Body & Character in Early Jewish & Christian Literature.

Your eye is the Lamp of the Body: Luke and the Body-Soul relationship.

Ought Not This Daughter of Abraham Be Set Free? Getting the story of the Bent Woman Straight (includes an excusus on the number 18 and Jesus as typical of the Life of God.

Short in Stature, Son of Abraham: The height of hospitality in the story of Zacchaeus.

His feet and ankles were made strong: signs of character in the man lame from birth.

What is to prevent me? Ambiguity, Acceptance, and the Ethiopian Eunuch. This includes a section on the purpose of Luke: to educate readers to look at those shaped differently different than the world looks at them. Luke has a redeeming purpose.

After an Epilogue dedicated to the author’s father (to whom the book is dedicated), the appendix consists of illustrations of physiognomy and its undermining in the schoolbook of Libanius.

The book is a quick and engaging read that looks at the Scriptures from a different perspective. I found it refreshing to see how the Lord redeems. While Zacchaeus was not made tall physically, his hospitality welcomed the Lord of Hosts and so entered him into the Lord’s army of saints who was generous, contrary to the short-taxcollector stereotype.  First he runs along, aping his way ahead, climbs into a tree and watches. Jesus humanizes the scene by calling Zacchaeus by name and going to his house. Jesus the Jew stays in the home of a servant of Rome. So the world is turned upside down and the tree is returned to its former purpose: shade for gathering the saints together to hear the message God sent Abraham: redemption for all.

A similar reversal from hopelessness to confidence takes place with the Ethiopian Eunuch, makde acceptable in Christ, as Isaiah’s suffering servant songs are explained and followed up by baptized. The shade of skin does not change, but joy and light fill his heart and eyes as he can now perceive what the Scripture is talking about: salvation in Jesus.

If you are willing to engage a serious book on the Bible, this one is an excellent resource that gives fresh perspective on those with physical problems. It is hopeful and reveals the dynamic and miraculous nature of salvation.

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Hope Deferred & Marriage for Former Muslims

Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but a desire fulfilled is a tree of life.

I think of Islam as hope deferred and Christ as desire fulfilled. Christ in His Reign is living water on dry ground, causing the seed of the Gospel to sprout. But those sprouts which first shoot up must be cultivated and continually watered. 

I see the garden in our back yard which we entrusted to the Lord’s care for  a few days while we traveled to Canada for their day. They Lived!  How much more must we trust our souls into the care of our Maker that we might live and enjoy the fullness! 

I think of the many singles who used to be Muslims and who now follow Jesus who long to be married to a saint from their own culture. Their hearts ache and cry out. Hagar groans to be married fully. Sinai seeks her Savior, but is told, “Islam or else!”

Loneliness could have made the garden a desert, were it not for love that brought Adam someone to love. He had to sleep.  I remember all too well the loneliness I once experienced and the turmoil & sickness of soul it brought.

Love is costly. Let us pray for some who are already married to change their allegiance to Jesus (wives & daughters especially) so that future generations will be raised in the nurture & admonition of the Lord, from cradle to beyond the grave. Love never fails. If we love our brothers & sisters in the Muslim majority part of the world, we will pray for them to be put into families of saints (saved sinners).

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The Beginning of Wisdom

When I was about 6 or so, I heard a preacher talk about hell … and I realized that I did not want to go there. I went home and cried & cried. As time went on, I came to enjoy going to church, but I also developped a deep regret everytime I would sin. To this day, one of the biggest reasons I avoid things that violate my conscience is that I do not want to go to hell.

Does that mean that I fear hell? No.

I do not want to be separate from God who give me peace, joy, and accomplishes justice in my life. The fear of the Lord is a delicate balance between trusting him for life and having a deep distaste for all the death associated with alienation from Him. One who fears God will flee to Jesus as a refuge. Jesus becomes the shelter for our hearts and our hopes.

JESUS NEVER FAILS. Love NEVER fails. God is Love. Jesus Never fails because His love is perfect. Following Jesus means seeking to duplicate His love in my life, even the suffering, as I endure difficulty and abuse for and from those I love. If a Muslim despises me or insults me, it is a blessing. If an animist curses me with his idols, it is an honor.

Jesus is my defense and my castle. My cleansing and my soap are found in the blood of Jesus. He is my hope.

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