The Blessing Of Quiet Humility

“When you’re full of yourself, God can’t fill you. But when you empty yourself, God has a useful vessel. Your Bible overflows with examples of those who did.

“In his gospel, Matthew mentions his own name only twice. Both times he calls himself a tax collector. In his list of apostles, he assigns himself the eighth spot.

John doesn’t even mention his name in his gospel. The twenty appearances of ‘John’ all refer to the Baptist. John the apostle simply calls himself ‘the other disciple’ or the ‘disciple whom Jesus loved.’

Luke wrote two of the most important books in the Bible but never once penned his own name.

Paul, the Bible’s most prolific author, referred to himself as ‘a fool’ (2 Corinthians 12:11).

King David wrote no psalm celebrating his victory over Goliath. But he wrote a public poem of penitence confessing his sin with Bathsheba (see Psalm 51).

“And then there is Joseph. The quiet father of Jesus. Rather than make a name for himself, he made a home for Christ. And because he did, a great reward came his way. ‘He called His name Jesus’ (Matthew 1:25).” —Max Lucado, in You!

Check out my book review of You! by clicking here, and you can read some other quotes from this book here.

Engaging Culture

I read something very interesting: Next to Christmas, more money is spent on Halloween than on any other holiday event. Halloween?!? Wow! We’re in the midst of planning our church’s role on Halloween night, so I’ve been thinking quite a bit about engaging our culture.

It’s better to light a candle than to curse the darkness.

So here’s how I think followers of Jesus Christ should light a candle to engage culture:

(1) Have the right motivation. In Jesus’ inaugural sermon, He said He was coming to preach the Good News about God’s love. He purposely left out the part of Isaiah’s prophesy that talked about God’s coming judgment. There will be a time for that, but for now, our motivation should be to make known the favor of the Lord.

(2) Get out of your box. If you only hang around with Christians, your ability to effectively engage culture will be diminished. If you never get around others, it’s sort of like salt that sits in the saltshaker too long. Paul told the Athenians that he had been walking around their city looking at their culture.

(3) Listen. As Paul talked to the Athenians, he quoted their poets to them. He knew what they were listening to because he was listening too. What are people watching on TV? What movies are they talking about? What music are they listening to? You can find the key to their heart by knowing something about what interests them.

(4) Collaborate. There are lots of other faith-based organizations, non-government organizations, and churches that are already active in your community. Join forces with them.

(5) Just be there. Go to local restaurants, cheer on the local sports teams, join a rec league team, attend the city council meetings, volunteer at a shelter or food pantry. Just be there! After a while, people will begin to ask you why you are so involved, and you’ll have a great platform to speak to them.

It started when God said, “Light up the darkness!” and our lives filled up with light as we saw and understood God in the face of Christ, all bright and beautiful.

Are you engaging your culture? It’s time to go shine!

Puppy Love

Three weeks ago I had come to the end of a particularly rough week, so when I got home I told my family I was declaring the next day to be “National Be Kind To Craig Owens Day.” I figured that was one way to get some love!

That day was so wonderful I decided to extend NBKTCO Day through the weekend, and I talked Betsy into letting us buy a puppy. And so Grace became a part of our family.

Since I didn’t want to leave her home alone, I started bringing Grace with me to my office. While I’ve been trying to potty train her, she has been training me in a few areas too. Here are some of the lessons I’m rediscovering—

  • Always greet people warmly. Even if they only left the room a couple of minutes ago. It always makes people smile when they are greeted so warmly.
  • Treat everyone like a friend. It doesn’t matter if they are the one who feeds you or a perfect stranger, everyone deserves to be treated like they are the nicest person alive.
  • Genuine puppy “kisses” makes anyone’s day!

The Apostle Paul had a friend like Grace—someone always so welcoming and encouraging to others. Paul wrote to Philemon, “Friend, you have no idea how good your love makes me feel, doubly so when I see your hospitality to fellow believers.” (Philemon 1:7, The Message).

Thanks, Grace, for the lessons. I’m learning how to show some puppy love to everyone.

Both-And Compassion In Action

At 10:30 this morning I picked up my cell phone to call Barney. I knew his daughter, Alysia, had gone in for a routine tonsillectomy early this morning and I wanted to check on her. Just as I was scrolling down to his number, my phone began to ring: it was Barney calling me.

“Hey, Barney, I was just getting ready to call you….”

“Pastor,” he interrupted, “we’re in trouble. Before they could do Alysia’s surgery, she stopped breathing and her heart stopped beating. It seems okay now, but my daughter almost died. They’re taking her to ICU right now. I don’t know what to do.”

I hurried over to Hurley Hospital and went right into the ICU. Alysia was doing better, but her blood pressure was still very low, and her heartbeat was racing. After spending some time talking with the nurses and praying with Alysia, I slipped out so her Mom, Maria, could stay with her, and I went back out to the waiting room to see Barney.

“Barney, I think she’s stablized now. It’s going to be okay. Is there anything else I can do for you?”

“Yes, Pastor, would you pray with these kids.” He motioned to four crying teenagers sitting together in the opposite corner of the waiting room. “Their friend, Christopher, just passed away. I’ve been talking to them, but I would really like you to pray with them.”

Pray with them?!? His daughter is laying in an ICU room, and he’s concerned about some teenagers — whom he has never met before — in the midst of their grief. Wow! I immediately thought of the Apostle Paul’s words, “Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others” (Philippians 2:4). Jim Collins writes about The Genius Of And, and Barney beautifully exhibited that. He was both concerned about Alysia and Christopher’s friends too. In my trials, how often do I become completely self-focused? Thanks, Barney, for a great example of Both-And compassion in action.

I Am Their Idea Of Christ

I’ve been pondering this weighty thought from A.W. Tozer in his book Warfare Of The Spirit—

“A sacred obligation lies upon each of us to be Christlike. This generation of Christians must have models it can safely admire. That is not the primary reason for seeking to be holy, but it is a powerful one. Many beginners are taking us for their examples. Later they will become detached from us and will learn to fix their eyes directly upon the Lord Himself; in the meantime, for better or for worse we are their idea of what Christ is like.” (emphasis mine)

The Apostle Paul said, “Follow my example, as I follow the example of Christ” (1 Corinthians 11:1). I pray that my lifestyle is an example worthy of being modeled because there are a lot of eyes fixed on me.

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