Tag Archives: Humility

Beck Confusion and Living On Principle

beckBeck is a pretty amazing guy. He’s been a performer since the mid-80s and has become a national figure. He has had a hugely successful radio career as well as highly rated shows on CNN and Fox News, and has now started his own tv news station called The Blaze. He has multiple albums on Rolling Stone’s “Top 500 Albums of All Time” list. He is a New York Times Bestselling Author, and has reached #1 on that list in 4 different book categories. He even has 5 Grammy Awards, including 2015 Album of the Year, which is different than Record of the Year somehow.

Wait, what? Those are two different people? Huh…

So Glenn Beck is a pretty controversial guy. A conservative political commentator with strong Libertarian-leaning views, he presents what his radio show calls “the fusion of entertainment and enlightenment.” I don’t listen to the program regularly, but when I’ve got some time I will tune in. I don’t always agree with him but he often has some insights that I appreciate. His show from Friday (3/6/15) had a clip that got my attention.

National principles. We don’t torture. National principles. We don’t spy on Americans. National principles. Our interests say, “We’ve got to torture.” Our principles say “no.”

While he is talking politics here, I think the distinction between “principles” and “interests” is an important one for of us. What are your guiding principles? What have you chosen as a guiding concept and commitment for your life? If you find yourself acing in a way that is more in line with your interests – what is best for you – than your principles – what you believe to be good and right – you have a problem. We are not called to act in our best interests, we are called to love and serve others.

Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.
Philippians 2:3-4 (ESV)

When we live on principle, we sacrifice. We don’t always get what we want or think we deserve. By some standards of success, we fail. However, when we live on principle, we don’t evaluate our lives by money or power or our standing before others, we evaluate our lives based on the love we give and receive and on how God views our lives and our actions. We ask ourselves, “Am I doing the right thing?” Sometimes this is a very complicated question to ask. Sometimes it’s very easy. And often times it is much easier than we want to pretend it is. Usually living on principle means doing things the hard way instead of taking the easy way out.

If we lived on principle, our lives would be more difficult, but they would be more rewarding and more impactful on the world around us. Think about what would happen if our businesses, churches, organizations, and our nation began operating with the conviction that they would do what is right, not just was is easy or profitable? The world would be a very different place.

 

Take a listen to the Glenn Beck Program podcast, available here (quote mentioned here is from “Glenn’s visit to San Fran 3/6/15” and begins around 16:50).

 

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Gospel Outside – Go Teach Sunday School

While the gospels are the easiest place to see the person and work of Jesus Christ, the entirety of the scriptures share the gospel story. Gospel Outside will highlight a part of the gospel seen outside of the 4 Gospels of the New Testament.

“You have to accept the fact that sometimes you are the pigeon, and sometimes you are the statue.” -Claude Chabrol

Often times, when we think of being highly successful, wealthy or famous, we think life gets easy. We picture business owners, entertainers and leaders as the people who get to kick back behind the scenes and be important while they have “their people” do the hands-on grunt work.

That’s not how it works (at least not most of the time).

I am often impressed by the work that people I often expect to be more hands-off get done. These people usually know that God has blessed their diligence and attention and has brought them a measure of success, and they are usually willing to dive in to accomplish a goal or task. I’ve spent countless hours doing hands-on grunt work next to world-famous musicians that haul and set up their own equipment, or businessmen willing to get dirty working on a construction project, or pastors and ministry leaders that aren’t content to stay behind a podium and speak but get out serve by driving a van, shoveling snow or cleaning a mess. These people recognize that they are not above these tasks-they are willing to do whatever they need to do in order to reach their goals.

Jesus was a different story. He wasn’t different in that he didn’t do those hands-on tasks, because in every story of the gospels you see Jesus mingling and interacting with people at their level; spending quality tie with the poor and needy, fishing with Peter, even spending time playing with little kids!

Jesus was willing to do whatever task needed to be done. The difference is that he was above these tasks. As Creator of the Universe, King of Kings, and Messiah, he would have been justified in saying, “Andrew, you are in charge of children’s ministry. You play with them, I’ll sit here and teach the adults.” Instead he said, “Let the little children come to me and do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of heaven.” (Matt 19:14, ESV) He even took time to wash his disciples’ stinky, dirty, nasty feet to display what it means to be a servant.

But these are from the gospels, and this is supposed to be Gospel Outside, so lets get outside the gospels.

Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.  Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men.  And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.  Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name,  so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth,  and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

-Philippians 2:4-11

When we are faced with an opportunity to do good, to minister and love on someone who needs another person to show they care, remember the example that the God of the Universe provided for us. He didn’t just humble himself to become the Supreme Ruler of the Earth, with each and every human being as his servant – because that truly would have been a humbling, descending from the glory of heaven and the constant worship of angels to a fallen and sinful planet he created. No, Jesus made himself nothing, a slave, the guy that does the things others aren’t willing to do. He even allowed the very creation that he not only brought into being, but whose existence he continued to sustain, to beat, torture and murder him.

And he did it for us, to provide an opportunity for you and I to have a restored relationship with God.

When you begin to think too highly of yourself, when you start to think that you are better than someone else or decide that some task is beneath you, remember that Christ came to spend time with “those types of people,” doing that stuff that you think someone else should be doing, and that someday each and every person who has ever lived will recognize the Lordship of Christ because of it.

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Thoughts to drive us – an old guy on the Bible

Domenico_Ghirlandaio_-_St_Jerome_in_his_studyPaul speaks of a “wisdom of God hidden in a mystery, which God ordained before the world” (1 Corinthians 2:7). God’s wisdom is Christ, for Christ, we are told, is “the power of God and the wisdom of God” (1 Corinthians 1:30). This wisdom remains hidden in a mystery. It is to this that the title of Psalm 9:1, “for the hidden things of the Son,” refers. In him are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge. The one who was hidden in mystery is the same who was predestined before the world, and was foreordained and prefigured in the Law and the Prophets. That is why the prophets were called seers: they saw him whom others did not see. Abraham also saw his day, and was glad (John 8:56). The heavens which were sealed to a rebellious people were opened to Ezekiel (Ezekiel 1:1). “Open my eyes, ” says David, “so that I may behold the wondrous things of your law” (Psalm 118:18). For the law is spiritual, and in order to understand it we need the veil to be removed and the glory of God to be seen with an uncovered face (2 Corinthians 3:14–18). …

I beg you, my dearest brother, to live among these [sacred books], to meditate on them, to know nothing else, to seek nothing else. Does not this seem to you to be a little bit of heaven here on earth? Do not take offence on account of the simplicity of Holy Scripture or the unsophistication of its words, for these are due either to translation faults or have some deeper purpose. For Scripture offers itself in such a way that an uneducated congregation can more easily learn from it, some benefit there, and both the learned and the unlearned can discover different meanings in the same sentence. I am not so arrogant nor so forward as to claim that I know this, which would be like wanting to pick on earth the fruits of trees whose roots are in heaven. However, I confess that I would like to do so. The Lord has said: “ask, and it shall be given; knock, and it shall be opened; seek, and you will find” (Matthew 7:7). So let us study here on earth that knowledge which will continue with us in heaven.

-Jerome (342-420 AD)
“The Christian Theology Reader,” ed. Alister E. McGrath, Blackwell Publishing: 2007, pg 88.

Jerome was an early church father that is best known as the translator of the Latin Vulgate, bringing a more accurate version of God’s Word to the people of his era. The Vulgate would be used by the church for centuries to follow.

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My Respone To Critics: Unity and getting over yourself

Lets hug it out 2Unity seems like a good idea, right? Most people I’ve talked to, including some who do not regularly attend church, think the idea of churches working together to share God’ love to those who need it is a good thing. For most it is, as my mother would say, a “No Duh!” kind of thing.

Not so for everyone. The following excerpt was published in the Fairmont Sentinel on Oct 24th in response to our push for greater unity in the Christian community and our Unity Station outreach at the county fair;

Laudable intention. Wrong approach. An outward display of unity is pointless, even harmful, if there isn’t true unity based upon the Word of God. Christians end up settling for a “least common denominator” faith: We all believe that the Bible is true and Jesus has provided a way for us to be forgiven. Every other doctrine in Scripture is discarded as “secondary.”

…We’re more willing to settle for a façade of unity than to actually confront and correct false teaching on the basis of Scripture alone.

-Peter Hagen, “Can we achieve unity in the Christian church?” Fairmont Sentinel, Friday, Oct 24, 2014, pg 6

I don’t disagree with the concept of unity being based on the Word of God. In fact, as we have communicated our vision for unity it has been based on the truth of Scripture and the need for saving faith. We have in no way “discarded” other theological beliefs, but we have stated that those beliefs are secondary because without saving faith in Jesus Christ as Lord they are irrelevant; you can be the strongest believer the episcopal form of church government or consubstantiation in the world, but if you do not believe you are a sinner whose only hope for salvation lies in the person and work of Jesus Christ, the Son of God, then those beliefs are about as useful as a cardboard box in a hurricane. I believe that all followers of Christ should have some theological viewpoints on these and a multitude of other positions, but as I wrote previously, these things are not “essentials.”

Somehow, when I read the words this pastor wrote in October and received several phone calls from concerned friends and ministry partners, I didn’t think this pastor and I were on the same page. A month later in a follow-up article, the pastor continued his thoughts;

I contend that Scripture is clear. God’s Word means what it says and says what it means…

The problem is with unbelief, which sets God’s Word aside in favor of some other authority.

This problem is compounded by arrogance and condescension, masquerading as pity upon the poor soul who would dare assert that God’s Word is clear (and that, on the basis of that Word, a doctrine could be declared to be “false”).

-Peter Hagen, “Christian unity is good, but how do we attain it?” Fairmont Sentinel, Friday, Nov 14, 2014, pg 6

Again, on the surface I agree with much of this statement, but the pastor’s statement that humility regarding our ability to fully comprehend God and His truth is actually “arrogance and condescension” is, to me, massively narrow-minded. The example this pastor uses regarding how “God’s Word is clear” is the creation account in Genesis 1. He encourages readers to survey local churches and ask, “Does your church teach a literal creation – seven regular days of 24 hours each?” Any other belief, in this pastor’s opinion, is nothing less than a rejection of God’s Word for the acceptance of man’s misguided wisdom.

This point struck home for me. On the specific issue of creation I have in the past shared his viewpoint. I remember a conversation I once had with one of my students, a highly intelligent and well-studied high school girl, over creation. She and her family would be described as “old-earth creationists,” clearly believing that God created everything, but that it was not necessarily in a 168-hour window of time around 7,000 years ago. The statement I made to this student at that time was this; “I’m not sure someone who doesn’t believe in a young-earth creation view really believes the Bible is true.”

I now look back at that conversation with regret (and I later apologized to that family), because I now believe that viewpoint was misguided and arrogant.

For what it’s worth, I am still a young-earth creationist – I do believe that the world was created in a 168-hour window of time around 7,000-10,000 years ago. The thing is, I don’t really care all that much if someone agrees with me on those specific points. My reasons for saying this are the following:

  • I believe that all truth is God’s truth-not just Scripture, but truth found in nature and the world around us. Everything that is true, good and right is intentionally put in place by the Creator. Anything that is evil is a corruption of God’s good, true creation.
  • Our understanding of truth is open to some interpretation. I have extensively studied evolutionary theory for years, and I do not believe it is scientifically irresponsible to hold a young-earth creation view. I can read the Bible and come up with the belief that professing believers should be baptized, others can read the same words and believe that children should be baptized. This isn’t one side or the other refusing to submit to the truth of scripture, it is simply a difference in reading and understanding truth that God is communicating. God is bigger than us, and He is a bit smarter than us. His truth as communicated to us stretches us because it’s more than we can deal with on our own. As Augustine said,

If you understand it, it isn’t God.

  • We must approach the search for truth and understanding with humility, acknowledging that some of God’s truth is beyond our ability to comprehend and must be opened to us through the work of the Holy Spirit. We must “work out [our] own salvation with fear and trembling” (Phil 2:12, ESV). God has begun a good work in us, and we are called to spend our lives humbly pursuing His truth wherever and however He reveals it.
  • On the issue of creation, I believe that there is sufficient evidence to acknowledge that it is very possible that there are other models of creation that are not only possible from a scientific perspective but also from a biblical viewpoint. For example, each day in Genesis 1 is not transitioned with “the next day,” leaving open the possibility of time gaps between days. It says “there was evening and morning,” but the sun and moon were not created until the fourth day, so what requires that the first 3 days be viewed as 24 hour periods of time, a standard humanity has built from the movements of the sun and the moon? The list of examples could continue, but my point is this: even if I believe in a young-earth view, I can humbly acknowledge that I may be wrong and, more importantly, I can acknowledge that this belief does not directly impact the truth of the Bible as a whole or the gospel specifically.

As God has grown me and taught me more about His truth, He has been required to repeatedly pound into my skull my need to acknowledge that I don’t know everything and I will never know everything. I look back at where God has brought me, from a narrow-minded perspective on the Bible that looked at any and every disagreement as a hill to die on, to a place where I am willing to humbly continue to pursue and defend truth while acknowledging that not every difference is worth arguing over, and I am thankful for the lessons God has taught me. 10 years ago I was one of the last people in the world that anyone would expect to be pushing for unity and solidarity across personal and denominational lines, but I can rejoice that God has and continues to refine me and use me. As Paul wrote,

For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.

-2 Corinthians 12:10

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