Uphill Or Downhill?

…And because of this I rejoice. Yes, and I will continue to rejoice (Philippians 1:18).

Paul is in prison, yet he tells his friends that he is choosing to rejoice. Wow! 

Not only that, but this same imprisoned man also reminds his friends to…

  • … let their joy in Jesus overflow 
  • … conduct themselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ
  • … continue to have a servant’s attitude like Jesus
  • … don’t give in to complaining or arguing 
  • … look out for the interests of other people 
  • … rejoice in the Lord
  • … don’t rest on their laurels
  • … forget the past and press on toward the future 

John Maxwell has noted that most people have uphill dreams but downhill habits. That is definitely not a winning combination! 

Paul is making his friends aware of the possible downhill habits that may hold them back from their uphill dreams, and using himself as an example. This first step—awareness—is vital if we are going to break free of the things that are pulling us away from our God-given dreams. 

Solomon wrote, “The path of life leads UPWARD for the prudent to keep them from GOING DOWN to the realm of the dead” (Proverbs 15:24). 

Being prudent is saying, “I’m always on the lookout for what’s best.” 

None of us can go UP by ignoring our downhill habits, or even trying to coast through life. The only way to achieve our uphill dreams is to ask the Holy Spirit to reveal our downhill habits so that we can make a plan to turn those around. 

Check out these characteristics that Paul shares—

Downhill Habit              Uphill Habit
Complaining                    Rejoicing (4:4)
Selfishness                      Gentleness (4:5)
Worrying                         Praying (4:6a)
Grumbling                       Giving thanks (4:6b)
Fixing it myself                Giving it to God (4:6c)
Idle thoughts                   Thinking about my thinking (4:8)
Making my own way         Getting a mentor / partner (4:9)
Being discontent              Being content (4:11-12)
Trying to be self-made     Striving to be Christ-reliant (4:13)

A good prayer for all of us who have uphill dreams that we want to achieve—Holy Spirit, reveal to me my downhill habits. I acknowledge that I need Your help to see and break these habits. Then help me to replace them with Christ-honoring uphill habits that will allow me to achieve the purpose God has for my life.

Is Christ Real To Me?

John WesleyJohn Wesley was deeply introspective about his faith in Jesus Christ. He once wrote—

“I did go thus far for many years…using diligence to eschew all evil, and to have a conscience void of offense; redeeming the time; buying up every opportunity of doing all good to all men; constantly and carefully using all the public and all the private means of grace; endeavoring after a steady seriousness of behavior, at all times, and in all places; and, God is my record, before Whom I stand, doing all this in sincerity; having a real design to serve God; a hearty desire to do His will in all things; to please Him who had called me to ‘fight the good fight,’ and to ‘lay hold of eternal life.’ Yet my own conscience beareth me witness in the Holy Ghost, that all this time I was but almost a Christian.”

To help keep himself on the right path, Wesley came up with this list of questions he regularly asked himself. This is a list any Christian would do well to read through regularly—

  1. Am I consciously or unconsciously creating the impression that I am better than I am? In other words, am I a hypocrite?
  2. Am I honest in all my acts and words, or do I exaggerate?
  3. Do I confidentially pass onto another what was told me in confidence?
  4. Am I a slave to dress, friends, work, or habits?
  5. Am I self-conscious, self-pitying, or self-justifying?
  6. Did the Bible live in me today?
  7. Do I give it time to speak to me everyday?
  8. Am I enjoying prayer?
  9. When did I last speak to someone about my faith?
  10. Do I pray about the money I spend?
  11. Do I get to bed on time and get up on time?
  12. Do I disobey God in anything?
  13. Do I insist upon doing something about which my conscience is uneasy?
  14. Am I defeated in any part of my life?
  15. Am I jealous, impure, critical, irritable, touchy or distrustful?
  16. How do I spend my spare time?
  17. Am I proud?
  18. Do I thank God that I am not as other people, especially as the Pharisee who despised the publican?
  19. Is there anyone whom I fear, dislike, disown, criticize, hold resentment toward or disregard? If so, what am I going to do about it?
  20. Do I grumble and complain constantly?
  21. Is Christ real to me?

Links & Quotes

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“‘Let him ask of God’ [James 1:5]; that is the advice of the Scripture. We are all so ready to go to books, to go to men, to go to ceremonies, to anything except to God. Man will worship God with his eyes, and his arms, and his knees, and his mouth—with anything but his heart—and we are all of us anxious, more or less, until we are renewed by grace, to get off the heart-worship of God.” —Charles Spurgeon

“Newly published research combining genetic, language, and demographic data challenges the idea of a single lineage of languages and human populations evolving out of Africa. Instead, the data supports the idea that multiple people groups have independent origins—a condition one would predict if the confusion of languages at the Tower of Babel happened as described in the Bible.” Read more in Out Of Babel.

Dr. Tim Elmore always has great insight for parents, teachers, coaches―anyone working with youth. Don’t let the title of this fantastic post fool you, because it’s not just for athletes: Helping Athletes Navigate A Short-Term, Shortcut Mindset.

This is not a quote from Teddy Roosevelt…

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…but it does, I believe, capture his mindset. This is a quote from one of my favorite US presidents: “We have a given problem to solve. If we undertake the solution, there is, of course, always danger that we may not solve it aright; but to refuse to undertake the solution simply renders it certain that we cannot possibly solve it aright.” ―Theodore Roosevelt

Links & Quotes

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Some good reading and watching from this weekend…

“Malice needs nothing to live on; it can feed on itself. A contentious spirit will find something to quarrel about. A faultfinder will find occasion to accuse a Christian even if his life is as chaste as an icicle and pure as snow. A man of ill will does not hesitate to attack, even if the object of his hatred be a prophet or the very Son of God Himself. If John comes fasting, he says he has a devil; if Christ comes eating and drinking, he says He is a winebibber and a glutton. Good men are made to appear evil by the simple trick of dredging up from his own heart the evil that is there and attributing it to them.” —A.W. Tozer

“Let not thy peace depend on the tongues of men, for whether they judge well or ill, thou art not on that account other than thyself.” —Thomas á Kempis

[VIDEO] John Maxwell on the energy in synergy—

Links & Quotes

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Some good reading from today…

“Just because no one complains, it doesn’t mean that all parachutes are perfect.” —Anonymous

“I am not young enough to know everything.” —Oscar Wilde

“It is better to know some of the questions than all of the answers.” —James Thurber

More appalling misery created by the pro-abortion crowd: Planned Parenthood’s Horrible Treatment.

Very good: 7 Things All Great Friends Do.

“I must pray for the strength and courage to be truly obedient to Jesus, even if He calls me to go where I would rather not go.” —Henri Nouwen

“One of the greatest mercies God bestows upon us is His not permitting our inclinations and opportunities to meet. Have you not sometimes noticed that when you had the inclination to a sin there has been no opportunity, and when the opportunity has presented itself you have had no inclination towards it? satan’s principal aim with believers is to bring their appetites and his temptations together….” —Charles Spurgeon

“This is not Predestination: your will is perfectly free: but all physical events are adapted to fit in as God sees best with the free actions He knows we are going to do.” —C.S. Lewis

Look For What’s Right

Cedar Springs PostI wrote a letter to the editor of The Cedar Springs Post in advance of this upcoming election.

Dear Editor:

It’s a simple fact: You find what you’re looking for. If you are looking for bad news, you will find something to criticize; if you are looking for good news, you will find something to compliment.

In this election cycle, I hear and read far too many candidates that are looking for the things that are wrong. Electing those candidates perpetuates bad news. Is everything perfect in Cedar Springs? In Michigan? In the United States? Of course not. But there is a lot that is right. I’m much more interested in focusing on those things.

The way to move our city, our state, and our country forward is to support those candidates that are focused on our strengths—on what’s right in our communities—and electing them into positions where they can help our strengths overcome our weaknesses.

Send a message this election cycle: Vote for the candidates that are looking for what’s good and right and strong.

Sincerely,

Craig T. Owens, City of Cedar Springs

Poetry Saturday—It Couldn’t Be Done

Edgar A. GuestSomebody said that it couldn’t be done,
but he with a chuckle replied
that maybe it couldn’t, but he would be one
who wouldn’t say no ‘till he tried.
So he buckled right in with the trace of a grin
on his face. If he worried, he hid it.
He started to sing as he tackled the thing
that couldn’t be done, and he did it.

Somebody scoffed: ‘Oh, you’ll never do that;
at least no one ever has done it;’
but he took off his coat and took off his hat
and the first thing he knew he’d begun it.
With the lift of his chin and a bit of a grin,
without any doubting or quiddit,
he started to sing as he tackled the thing
that couldn’t be done, and he did it.

There are thousands to tell you it cannot be done,
there are thousands to prophesy failure;
there are thousands to point out to you, one by one,
the dangers that wait to assail you.
But just buckle right in with a bit of a grin,
then take off your coat and go to it;
just start in to sing as you tackle the thing
that ‘cannot be done,’ and you’ll do it. —Edgar A. Guest

 

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