Evangelism

Proud vs Broken People

3426007862_22eed8bdaeWhat kind of blessings does brokenness bring? Well, from the Scriptures we see that God draws near to the broken (Psalm 34:18). He lifts up those who are humbled (Psalm 147:6). We’re told that God stiff-arms the proud. He resists them (James 4:6). He keeps them at a distance, but He comes close to, even as the father of that prodigal son drew that repentant, broken son to his chest and embraced him, we find that our Heavenly Father draws near to the heart of those who are broken.

And while God draws near to broken, brokenness also brings an increased capacity for love and worship. Like the woman in Luke 7, she was able to love much because she had been forgiven much. I see in that woman an abandon in her relationship with Jesus that ought to inspire us.

In my previous post I referenced a talk from the National Staff Training of Cru back in 1995. It’s a powerful message that God is using in my own life again, some twenty years later, as I ask Him to search my heart and understand the message of Jesus in the Beatitudes when he says, “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 5:3).

I invite you to have a listen and consider what God might be saying to you. For I believe that genuine brokenness leads to repentance. And genuine repentance leads to forgiveness. And forgiveness will produce a life of freedom from the bondage of sin.

Cultivating True Humility

IMG_5420In 1995, God used a message from Nancy Leigh DeMoss to bring about a spirit of true repentance at the National Staff Training of Campus Crusade for Christ, now called Cru. I had just left the staff of Cru two years earlier, but my friends were calling me to share that God was doing a mighty work at the training in Colorado and I couldn’t wait to listen to the message as it was made available to alumni. It challenged me 20 years ago, and today, I was reminded of this message and spent this evening listening to it again, as I asked God to search my heart and break my heart for the things that break His.

In the message, Nancy talks about the characteristics of pride, which are rooted in arrogance and insecurity versus true humility, which is rooted in authentic brokenness. In the message, she challenges the church to be broken before the Lord, for God wants to unleash his power through broken people.

Here are the differences she shares between proud and broken people. In reading these characteristics, let’s confess those characteristics of pride that God reveals in us and let’s ask Him to restore the corresponding quality of a broken, humble spirit within us.

Proud people focus on the failures of others.
Broken people are overwhelmed with a sense of their own spiritual need.

Proud people have a critical, fault-finding spirit; they look at everyone else’s faults with a microscope but their own with a telescope.
Broken people are compassionate; they can forgive much because they know how much they have been forgiven.

Proud people are self-righteous; they look down on others.
Broken people esteem all others better than themselves.

Proud people have an independent, self-sufficient spirit.
Broken people have a dependent spirit; they recognize their need for others.

Proud people have to prove that they are right.
Broken people are willing to yield the right to be right.

Proud people claim rights; they have a demanding spirit.
Broken people yield their rights; they have a meek spirit.

Proud people are self-protective of their time, their rights, and their reputation.
Broken people are self-denying.

Proud people desire to be served.
Broken people are motivated to serve others.

Proud people desire to be a success.
Broken people are motivated to be faithful and to make others a success.

Proud people desire self-advancement.
Broken people desire to promote others.

Proud people have a drive to be recognized and appreciated.
Broken people have a sense of their own unworthiness; they are thrilled that God would use them at all.

Proud people are wounded when others are promoted and they are overlooked.
Broken people are eager for others to get the credit; they rejoice when others are lifted up.

Proud people have a subconscious feeling, “This ministry/church is privileged to have me and my gifts”; they think of what they can do for God.
Broken people’s heart attitude is, “I don’t deserve to have a part in any ministry”; they know that they have nothing to offer God except the life of Jesus flowing through their broken lives.

Proud people feel confident in how much they know.
Broken people are humbled by how very much they have to learn.

Proud people are self-conscious.
Broken people are not concerned with self at all.

Proud people keep others at arms’ length.
Broken people are willing to risk getting close to others and to take risks of loving intimately.

Proud people are quick to blame others.
Broken people accept personal responsibility and can see where they are wrong in a situation.

Proud people are unapproachable or defensive when criticized.
Broken people receive criticism with a humble, open spirit.

Proud people are concerned with being respectable, with what others think; they work to protect their own image and reputation.
Broken people are concerned with being real; what matters to them is not what others think but what God knows; they are willing to die to their own reputation.

Proud people find it difficult to share their spiritual need with others.
Broken people are willing to be open and transparent with others as God directs.

Proud people want to be sure that no one finds out when they have sinned; their instinct is to cover up.
Broken people, once broken, don’t care who knows or who finds out; they are willing to be exposed because they have nothing to lose.

Proud people have a hard time saying, “I was wrong; will you please forgive me?”
Broken people are quick to admit failure and to seek forgiveness when necessary.

Proud people tend to deal in generalities when confessing sin.
Broken people are able to acknowledge specifics when confessing their sin.

Proud people are concerned about the consequences of their sin.
Broken people are grieved over the cause, the root of their sin.

Proud people are remorseful over their sin, sorry that they got found out or caught.
Broken people are truly, genuinely repentant over their sin, evidenced in the fact that they forsake that sin.

Proud people wait for the other to come and ask forgiveness when there is a misunderstanding or conflict in a relationship.
Broken people take the initiative to be reconciled when there is misunderstanding or conflict in relationships; they race to the cross; they see if they can get there first, no matter how wrong the other may have been.

Proud people compare themselves with others and feel worthy of honor.
Broken people compare themselves to the holiness of God and feel a desperate need for His mercy.

Proud people are blind to their true heart condition.
Broken people walk in the light.

Proud people don’t think they have anything to repent of.
Broken people realize they have need of a continual heart attitude of repentance.

Proud people don’t think they need revival, but they are sure that everyone else does.
Broken people continually sense their need for a fresh encounter with God and for a fresh filling of His Holy Spirit.

© Revive Our Hearts. By Nancy Leigh DeMoss.

ABC’s of Prayer

177624_originalI don’t think we often realize what a privilege it is to have instant, direct access to God. God loves us so much, that He has made Himself available to us 24 hours a day, seven days a week. And yet, I have to confess, prayer is one of the hardest spiritual disciplines for me to practice. 

In Acts 4, we read how the Christians prayed together with one heart, mind and spirit as they lifted their voices to God (Acts 4:24). The result was a great boldness in sharing God’s message. In the same way, a great force of God’s power can be released as we commit ourselves to effective prayer. But in order to be effective in our prayers, we need to understand what God’s Word has to say about prayer. As we read and study the Scripture, we can learn what the will of God is and as we know His will, we can pray and ask according to His divine purpose. With this in mind here are a few things I have learned about how to pray effectively over the years from the Scriptures.

In order to pray effectively, we need to pray…

Abiding

Abiding is the key to successful praying. In John 15:7, Jesus states, “If you abide in Me and My words abide in you, ask whatever you will and it shall be done for you.”

Believing

In Matthew 21:22 we read, “Everything you ask in prayer, believing you shall receive.” Faith, which is an attitude of believing, pleases God.

Clean Heart

John declares in 1 John 1:9 that, If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.” Confession restores communion with God and is a preparation for further fellowship with Him.

Directed by God’s Word

I love what 1 John 5:14-15 tells us, “This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us. And if we know that he hears us—whatever we ask—we know that we have what we asked of him.” If you want to pray with confidence for God’s will, pray the Scriptures!

Empowered by the Holy Spirit

The Bible says, “In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans” (Romans 8:26). I like that about the Holy Spirit. He goes where I cannot. He comprehends things I cannot. He does things I cannot. But when it comes to the things I need to do, He equips me to do them.

Forgiving Others

Mark 11:25 states, “And when you stand praying, if you hold anything against anyone, forgive them, so that your Father in heaven may forgive you your sins.” Holding a grudge is not good for the soul. And an unforgiving attitude hinders our prayers. So talk to God about it. Ask Him to give you the strength to forgive others, so you can let go and move on.

Godly Motives

Pray with the right motivation. When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures” (James 4:3). Selfish motives cannot be blessed by God.

Humbly

Pray with a humble and submissive spirit. As it states in 1 Peter 5:6, Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time.” Our hearts often connect with God’s heart in a God-honoring way as we develop and approach Him with humility.

Interceding for Others

And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people” (Ephesians 6:18). When you pray on another’s behalf, you experience the blessing and grace of God, as you reflect His character, conduct and commitments.

What might you add to the list?

Tell Your Story

tumblr_m4kwqpURcm1rwoq6lo1_500Who doesn’t love a good story? Whether it’s a story told on a riveting television show, the big screen, or a page-turning book, we all love a good story—especially one with a happy ending!

For me, I love to hear the stories of changed lives! In fact, it’s one of the things that motivates me as a minister. And it’s one of the reasons why I love “testimony night” at Celebrate Recovery! I love hearing the stories of how people overcame their hurts, habits, or hang-ups. And in hearing the stories, I believe we all glean insights into our own journeys toward wholeness, as we identify with their struggle and find the hope and courage necessary to face our own character defects.

There is power in the story of our lives. And in telling our story, our hearts become full of gratitude, as we recall God’s faithfulness in the land of the living. You see, while most of our stories include a period of hopelessness, trauma, or addiction, they usually have a ‘redemptive ending.’ That doesn’t mean that our lives have become rosy or problem free. Instead, the stories remind us of the journey we’re on, recalling that it’s about progress, not perfection.

We all have a story to tell! And when we share our story for His glory, something amazing happens. It offers a powerful witness to those who don’t yet know Christ, and brings hope and inspiration to those who call Jesus their Savior. So tell your story often and tell it well, for you may never know the impact it can make in the life of another.

20 Quotes from Spiritual Leadership

indexSpiritual Leadership by J. Oswald Sanders is a literary classic and is acclaimed as one of the greatest leadership books in print today. Offering a depth and breadth of biblical wisdom and practical application, Spiritual Leadership get to the heart of the matter with an emphasis on the character and qualities of the leader, for leadership flows out of who we are, not just what we do.

Below are some of the memorable quotes from the book during my most recent reread…

  1. True greatness, true leadership, is found in giving yourself in service to others, not in coaxing or inducing others to serve you.
  2. Spiritual leaders are not elected, appointed, or created by synods or church assemblies. God alone makes them.
  3. The spiritual leader must be clothed “with humility” (1 Peter 5:5).
  4. Before we can conquer the world, we must first conquer the self.
  5. Many who aspire to leadership fail, because they have never learned to follow.
  6. A leader must be able to see the end results of the policies and methods he or she advocates. Responsible leadership always looks ahead to see how policies will affect future generations.
  7. The spiritual leader will not procrastinate when faced with a decision, nor vacillate after making it. To postpone decision is really to decide for the status quo.
  8. People who are skeptical of prayer’s validity and power are usually those who do not practice it seriously or fail to obey when God reveals His will. We cannot learn about praying except by praying. No philosophy has ever taught a soul to pray. The intellectual problems associated with prayer are met in the joy of answered prayer and closer fellowship to God.
  9. If a man is known by the company he keeps, so also his character is revealed in the books he reads.
  10. Life’s value is not its duration but its donation – not how long we live, but how fully and how well.
  11. Procrastination, the thief of time, is one of the devil’s most potent weapons for defrauding us of eternal heritage.
  12. Those who lead the church are marked by a willingness to give up personal preferences, to surrender legitimate and natural desires for the sake of God.
  13. The true leader is concerned primarily with the welfare of others, not with his own comfort or prestige. He shows sympathy for the problems of others, but his sympathy fortifies and stimulates, it does not soften or make weak. A spiritual leader will always direct the confidence of others to the Lord.
  14. Lowering standards is always a backward step and compromise nearly always requires it.
  15. More failures come from an excess of caution than from bold experiments with new ideas.
  16. God will defend the leaders he has chosen. He will honor, protect, and vindicate them. Leaders need not worry about defending their rights or their office.
  17. To succeed in getting things done through other leaders is the highest type of leadership.
  18. Indeed, no man, however gifted and devoted is indispensable to the work of the kingdom.
  19. Faith builds faith. Pessimism dismantles faith.
  20. Willingness to concede error and to defer to the judgment of one’s peers increases one’s influence rather than diminishes it.

Which quote from Sanders book challenges you or gets you thinking about leadership in a different way?

More Is Caught, Than Taught

Big Things Happen in Small GroupsA few days ago, I was giving some thought to a question posed by one of our small group leaders at Adventure. We were discussing the benefits of using written curriculum in a small group or just allowing the group to have a wide open discussion on a given topic or text. As we discussed both options, he asked, “What do you think is the more effective way to lead a group?” He’s what I said in response…

If we’re about making disciples and reproducing leaders, then it would make sense to model effective leadership and help people see just how easy it can be. Therefore, to multiply groups and leaders, we need to help people see that there are resources and tools to help them as they step out in faith. So, here are three great reasons why I believe its best to use curriculum:

  1. First, it keeps people on track and going in the same direction. While most studies tend to direct the conversation in a certain direction, a complaint of some, they do facilitate a process of discovery for the members of the group. Using curriculum also leads to deeper conversation around key points, eliminating rabbit trails.
  2. Secondly, using group curriculum leads to application. James 1:22 states, “Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says.” In other words, application, not information, is the goal of all Bible study. Without curriculum, most people tend to overlook this important step in the study of God’s Word. By using a well written curriculum, you will help people integrate truth with life.
  3. Finally, using curriculum is reproducible. By not using curriculum, people may think, “I could never do what they do” and therefore never aspire to lead. But when they see that they don’t need to be a Bible scholar or come up with their own questions, then they are more likely to give it a shot, because you have effectively modeled it for them.

If you want to help others become all they were created to be, model effective ministry before them. After all this was Jesus’ strategy, modeling a ministry marked by visible, memorable symbols and behaviors before his followers, because he understood the principle that “more is caught, than taught”! Jesus used everyday situations to teach life changing principles for the ultimate end of ushering in his Kingdom and we would be wise to follow his example. After all, big things happen in small groups.

God’s Grace

ephesians2-8-9I did absolutely nothing to earn my salvation. God orchestrated the steps. He is always swimming upstream.

My journey toward Jesus began with an invitation to attend Thursday Night LIve, a youth ministry of First Baptist Church of San Mateo. A college student was outside my middle school handing out fliers for free root beer floats. That hooked my friends and I, so we decided that we would meet up at the church that night to check this group out.

I almost didn’t go that night. Dinner was unusually late and I was afraid of walking into the meeting without my friends. However, I somehow found the courage to walk into the room and quickly found my friends. I missed about half the meeting, but in the end I got my free root beer float and decided to come back the following week. In fact, I kept coming back because I noticed something different there. The people seemed to have a warm sincerity and genuine love of life.

So God used the program of Thursday Night Live and the youth leaders to begin drawing me to himself.  And later that year I would commit my life to Jesus at a camp that they would invite me to.

Yep, my gift of salvation had nothing to do with me. I didn’t earn it. I didn’t do a thing to prove my love or devotion to God before I could receive it. It was God ordained. God pursued. However, God did use some extraordinary people, who were obedient to his leading and direction to pursue me. People like Doug Patterson who was willing to stand in front of my middle school and hand out fliers about the Thursday Night Live program. And folks like Danny Waller who took an interest in a junior high kid and was bold enough to share God’s plan of salvation with me. As well as the generosity of First Baptist Church of San Mateo and/or an anonymous donor who was willing to scholarship me to camp.

I am forever grateful to God and his grace in my life. And I am forever grateful for those who reflected the love and grace of God to me.

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