Happy Birthday

Tomorrow is my birthday and I’m giving myself and my family a birthday gift of presence.   As such, I will be dedicating an extended time to prayer, scripture, fasting and being with my wife, kids and church family.   Be back when the Lord wills!   Happy birthday to me!  🙂  

grace and peace,
Chad

Holiness Is for You

I’ve just begun reading this book but already feel it’s a must read for anyone struggling to be free from whatever habitual sin they might be facing. This post summarizes 3 points every Christian should meditate upon. Blessings!

umc holiness

Scripture is explicit when it says we should make every effort to be holy, for without holiness no one will see the Lord (Heb. 12:14).   With so much at stake it’s a wonder we Christians are so muddy in our thinking about holiness.  But this need not be the case.  Do we really believe God is such a poor, even evil, Father that He would call His children to such heights without giving us a ladder?  

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I’ve begun reading Jerry Bridges’ classic, The Pursuit of Holinessand was struck early on by the three reasons he gives for our lackluster appearance on the grand stage (Holiness) to which God has called us.   

1. Our attitude toward sin is more self-centered than God-centered.  

We are more concerned about our own “victory” over sin than we are about the fact that our sins grieve the heart of…

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Do I Love God or Just Love Loving Him?

umc holiness

Jesus asked, “Why do you call me ‘Lord, Lord,’ and not do what I tell you?” (Luke 6:46).   This is a question I need reminding of often.  Obedience – or how I am walking, living, thinking, etc. – matters to Jesus a great deal.  It’s the difference between saying I love God and actually loving Him (Jesus said those who love, obey).

I read that this morning just prior to hearing a clip from John Piper on a similar topic.  The title caught my eye:  “Do I Love God or Just Love Loving Him?   A caller wanted to know how he could know the difference, and Piper gives him 4 “tests”, or ways we can know whether our love is a genuine love or more of an infatuation.

I realize not everyone likes John Piper, but I believe he has much to teach us.   While…

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5 Ways to Battle Your Most Deadly Enemy

Uzziah was only 16 when he took the throne as king over Judah.  In the beginning, this young ruler “continued to seek God in the days of Zechariah and as long as he sought the Lord, God prospered him” (2 Chronicles 26:5).    As God blessed him, Uzziah’s fame increased throughout the land.  And then this happened.

But when he [King Uzziah] became strong, his heart was so proud that he acted corruptly, and he was unfaithful to the Lord his God, for he entered the temple of the Lord to burn incense on the altar of incense (2 Chron. 26:16)

A few verses later we are told the fate of Uzziah.  His pride prevented him from heeding the correction of the priests and rather than humble himself he grew angry with them.   The Lord struck him with leprosy, and this once obedient, God-fearing king who could do no wrong died a leper, “excluded from the house of the Lord.”

Pride is not just ugly, it’s deadly.  It’s no wonder God hates it so much, and it’s no wonder all of Scripture seems to shout in various ways and means “Stay Humble!”

The number one reason people relapse back into their old sinful habits and addictions is because they fall prey to the lie that they are doing great.   They may in fact be “doing great,” at least in the eyes of the casual observer, but the moment they see themselves as well and in control, look out.   A fall is coming.

After reminding the church in Corinth (and us today) that Israel’s blunders and missteps were recorded to serve as warnings to us (like Uzziah above), he writes,

Therefore let anyone who thinks that he stands take heed lest he fall (1 Cor. 10:12).  

Satan is waiting with outstretched arms and chains made of re-enforced steel to welcome back the one God had prospered and blessed who now thinks they can take the wheel.     Friends, whenever pride whispers it’s seductive lie that you can take it from here you need to crank up some Carrie Underwood or something, anything that will help ensure Jesus takes, and keeps, the wheel!

I have found in my own life that freedom is a daily choice and the choice is this: Will I live in my own strength and power and might, or will I turn my will and my desire over to God.    I must daily die to my self so that His strength, His grace, His power, His mercy, His spirit can manifest itself in me.    Left to myself, on my own, I am a mess.

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So how do we do that?  What are some practical ways you can keep from taking the wheel back and do battle with this most deadly enemy called PRIDE?

1.  Pray, pray pray.    There is no other way.   Print out the Mercy Prayer which is HERE and keep it in your back pocket or purse and read it and pray it every day, all the time.   Pray it over others, yourself, your wife, your children, those who offend you, those you lust after, those you despise and those you cherish.     Praying mercy for others kills the root of bitterness and strife within us which pride thrives upon.

2.  Pray for humility.  Pray not just for humility, but pray that you would love to be humbled.  Andrew Murray, in his excellent book “Humility” (which you must read), taught me that I needed to pray for this queen of virtues.  It does not come naturally to any of us, and must be sought.    Jesus said we should seek the kingdom and his righteousness, and that blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness.   Humility is to live rightly before God and neighbor.    Do you hunger for this?   Pray that you will.

3.  Read.  In addition to staying in God’s word daily, read books about pride and humility.    Murray’s book mentioned above is a great one.   The book I’m re-reading now, Irresistible to God, is another.   Going through Fenelon’s  Seeking Heart as a daily devotional is another excellent practice.

4.  Seek out ways to go low.   “Going low” is the opposite or “rising up” in pride.   Throughout the day there will be numerous opportunities where you can go low.    When someone says something that offends you, you can choose to ignore it and pray for them.  When you really want to ensure you get in line in time to get one of the few pieces of cake left, choose instead to hold the door open for others.   When your spouse has sinned against you and you just know you didn’t do anything wrong, be the first one to say you are sorry.    The more  you practice going low the more this virtue will grow within you and become part of you.   Every fiber of your being will resist it at first (and throughout your life, most likely), but press on by repeating # 1 above.

5.  Consider Jesus.   I have probably preached or mentioned Hebrews 12:1-3 more than anything else this past year apart from 2 Cor. 5:17.  It reads,

Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.  Consider him who endured from sinners such hostility against himself, so that you may not grow weary or fainthearted.

Whenever you feel like rising up inside (or presently are doing just that!), consider Jesus who, like a silent lamb who did nothing wrong, went to the cross for your sins and mine.    I’ve yet to be faced with a situation where just one glimpse of Jesus suffering on a cross for me hasn’t helped to diffuse.  It makes all my prideful assertions over my “rights” seem petty and cheap and gives me the strength I need to be obedient in humility.   Does it sometimes hurt?  Of course!   But count it joy that we get to share in the sufferings of Christ! (Rom. 8:17)

Practice these 5 things on a regular, if not daily, basis and avoid the trap into which Uzziah and so many before and after him have fallen.  Pride is not just serious, it’s deadly.

I’ll leave you with these words I have written in the front cover flap of my bible given to me by a great teacher on humility.  Feel free to put them in yours, too:

Chad, you leave your first love and lose the filling of the Spirit by a judging, critical heart which refuses to pass on to all others the mercy by which you alone live.   The love of lowliness and mercy defeats and destroys that spirit of emulation which is the love of achievement or place or plans.

 

My Name is PRIDE

My name is Pride.  I am a cheater.

 

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I cheat you of your God-given destiny…

because you demand your own way.

I cheat you of contentment…

because you “deserve better than this.”

I cheat you of knowledge…

because you already know it all.

I cheat you of healing…

because you’re to full of me to forgive.

I cheat you of holiness…

because you refuse to admit when you’re wrong.

I cheat you of vision…

because you’d rather look in the mirror than out a window.

I cheat you of genuine friendship…

because nobody’s going to know the real you.

I cheat you of love…

because real romance demands sacrifice.

I cheat you of greatness in heaven…

because you refuse to wash another’s feet on earth.

I cheat you of God’s glory…

because I convince you to seek your own.

 

My name is Pride.  I am a cheater.

You like me because you think I’m always looking out for you.  Untrue.  I’m looking to make a fool of you.  God has so much for you, I admit, but don’t worry.  If you stick with me, you’ll never know.

 

~ Beth Moore, “Praying God’s Word,” pg. 60.

 

Over the next few weeks I will be re-reading Steve Gallagher’s book, Irresistible to God, which is about the sin of pride and the blessing of humility.   Pride is the cancer which if left untreated will stain everything in this life and keep us from the next.  So serious is pride that Augustine wrote,

There is hardly a page of Scripture on which it is not clearly written that God resisteth the proud and giveth grace to the humble.   (City of God).

 

I plan to blog about some of what I learn from reading again this wonderful book on the subject, and pray it will help challenge, convict, encourage and enable you in your walk with Christ.    If you have not subscribed to Desire Mercy that is an easy way to be sure you get future posts.   Blessings to you!

 

On Being the Head of my Wife

In my sermon Sunday I shared a little about my Mother’s Day Fail. Here is more of that story, but the important thing I hope this conveys is a call and a challenge for us all to better serve our spouse as Christ has and continues to serve us. Blessings to you!

umc holiness

A month ago I was a guest on Jesse Lee Peterson’s radio show, “Preachers in the Pulpit.”   I was there under the pretense of getting to share my testimony and the amazing things God is doing at the church I am privileged to serve.    But that didn’t happen.   The second question my host asked me (the first one was, “Were you called to preach or did you go to school?) was,

Are you the head of your wife?

I knew I was in for a long hour.

Are you the head of your wife?   It’s not a question I get asked very often, which I’m sure was made obvious by my fumbling around searching for the right words on live radio.   However, I’m ready to answer that question without hesitation today.    But first a story about my Mother’s Day failure yesterday.

It has…

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Give Me That Book!

If we are ever to be truly free we must come to the realization that the Bible is God’s word, that it is good, pure, true, and holy, and that it has the power to set us free.

umc holiness

I want to know one thing, the way to heaven; how to land safe on that happy shore. God Himself has condescended to teach the way; for this end He came from heaven. He hath written it down in a book. Give me that book! At any price give me the Book of God!

These words from John Wesley seem radical to us modern day Methodists.   There was a time when we were called a People of the Book, and our delight in and dedication and devotion to this Book was in large part what made us Methodist.   What has happened to us?   Throughout history and even today in some parts of the world there have been people who have given their lives to preserve and defend this Book and yet today we are largely ignorant or suspicious of it.

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I believe this Book, these Words…

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