A Time for Humility

"God opposes the proud but shows favor to the humble."

If there’s one thing above all others at the root of the ills of the human race, especially in these changing times, it’s pride. Wise King Solomon penned what is undoubtedly the most well known verse on pride in the Bible, and it speaks volumes about the damage pride can do: “Pride goes before destruction, a haughty spirit before a fall” (Proverbs 16:18).

Look at that last word: fall. When we read this verse, we usually think of a setback or someone getting knocked off a pedestal because of pride. But the word has a much more cosmic meaning when you think about the fact that pride was at the root of Satan’s rebellion against God and his banishment from heaven. “I will ascend above the tops of the clouds; I will make myself like the Most High,” Satan declared (Isaiah 14:14).

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Victorious humility

It seemed like only hours since I had put down C.J. Mahaney’s mini-book, Don’t Waste Your Sports. In it, Mahaney outlines a number of representative traits that Christ-focused athletes playing should be displaying on and around the playing field. Among these is humility.

I have to tell you, I’m a sucker for humility. In fact, I have made a habit of teaching through the years that, contrary to popular opinion, God does play favorites. He favors the humble. This is true both for those who are made lowly by their circumstances and those who endeavor to humble themselves before the sovereign Lord. This latter group, James wrote, are those whom God lifts up.

But humility is hard to find in the many arenas of sports. Last night, L.A. Laker Ron Artest made a crucial 3-pointer in the team’s eventual triple-overtime win against the Phoenix Suns, then blew big kisses to the crowd when a timeout immediately followed. It got a big laugh out of me. But no, it was not humble. And in the NBA, particularly, where most games could contribute 30-40 such moments to a highlight reel, there are plenty of opportunities for athletes to point their fingers, thump their chests, and otherwise make sure their accomplishments are noticed and rewarded—at least with endearing applause.

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Advice for Christians, a Challenge for Skeptics

This is the final segment of a four-part conversation with a former Christian, William Lobdell and a former atheist, John Ball. William offers some direct advice for Christians: Get some humility, and don't be afraid to explore different things. And Joan has some words for skeptics: Know the real substance of what you're pushing against, and don't confuse that with what people may say or do.

This is the final segment of a four-part conversation with a former Christian, William Lobdell and a former atheist, John Ball. William offers some direct advice for Christians: Get some humility, and don't be afraid to explore different things. And Joan has some words for skeptics: Know the real substance of what you're pushing against, and don't confuse that with what people may say or do.

Joan Ball and William Lobdell Part 4: For Christians and Skeptics from ConversantLife on Vimeo.

Watch What You Wear

Not long ago, I had occasion to observe a group of high school students serving a meal to about 200 homeless people in our city.  They had come to fulfill a high school requirement to complete a certain number of community service hours, which probably should have been my first clue.  I was floored by the complete disconnect between those students and the human suffering right before their eyes.  Many laughed or made jokes.  A man or woman who did not look nice or smell particularly good would draw odd looks and quips.  Serving the food looked like more of a game to them than an opportunity to help someone.


As the students prepared to leave, it did not seem as if they had been affected at all.  They were huddled in their little group, busily chatting about the next activity of the day, oblivious to the many who filed out into the searing summer heat, not sure where they might find their next meal. 

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Are some sins worse than others???

There's a sort of "party line" when it comes to sin that says, "sin is sin. It doesn't matter what form it takes, it's rebellion, death, darkness." The party line will quote Galatians and note that if someones stumbles in one point of the law, their failure is total. They'll explain, as I did this past Sunday, that "you can be in a cathedral or a brothel and be in rebellion towards God" implying that all sin is the same.
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Life Together- The Hanging In There Part

"How many times did we apologize to each other this week?" Caryn asked me the question kind of laughing. It felt like it had been hundreds. I actually had started tallying the conflicts and miscommunications of our team but when the number was so high by Wednesday, I stopped counting. Counting was not helping. The only thing to do was to hang in there with each other.

Galatians 6:2 says we will fulfill the law of Christ by bearing one another's burdens. Continuing to delve into Bonhoeffer's Life Together we see the invitation to what he calls a Ministry of Bearing. "To bear the burden of the other person means involvement with the created reality of the other, to accept and affirm it, and in bearing with it, to break through to the point where we take joy in it."

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Nine woes...part 2

Woe to those who crave fame: Do we possess the strength to be nothing?  (continued)

It's a challenging day for those with God-given dreams and strengths. 

On the one hand we're encouraged to package our giftings in neon and market ourselves, to knock on doors and make our own way...

On the other hand we open our Bibles and hear wisdom from the ancients, "Let another praise you, and not your own mouth; someone else, and not your own lips." (proverbs 27.2)

Passivity seems a poor steward. Self-promotion a saboteur of souls.

John the Baptist shows us a way.

He submitted to hiddenness for decades, and when the time came for him to step into public service, he emerged from hiddenness with the strength to fuse authoritative visibility with Jesus-centric humility. 

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Lessons from a Rancid Water Bottle

In order to be ready for this Half Iron Person triathlon in June, I need to fit in 9 workouts a week: three swims, three rides, and three runs. T minus 6 weeks until race day. My stomach, and my bowels, do a shaky little jig every time I think about race day. More on this exciting dance later.

Last Friday, my parents (AKA, all star, award winning grandparents) were in town, and I had my long run to do. Ten miles, give or take. The cool part was that my parents are training for a half marathon at the moment, so they agreed to do the run with me. Six years ago, I never imagined I'd run ten miles by myself, let alone with my parents. 

While I was proud of them and their new found love of running, I quite frankly expected to leave them in my dust and meet them at the car afterward. As we were driving to the trail, I felt a little cocky about it, actually. There's not many people I can beat, I thought, but surely, surely, I can beat them. My mom just took up running a year ago and, after all,  is more advanced in years than I. I had it in the bag, right? 

Some Thoughts About Humility

I’ve been thinking recently about how Christians are meant to be set apart from the world. One of my goals for 2009 is to memorize all of Romans 12, and for February I am working on the part about how Christians are called to “not be conformed to the world, but transformed by the renewing of your mind.” But what exactly does that mean? The renewing of your mind?

Basically, I’ve been wondering what it is about Christians that makes us “set apart.” You certainly can’t tell by looking at someone—especially these days when Christians of my age dress and act (in many respects) like your average hedonistic hipster. So it must be a difference in our behavior or attitude, right?

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