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.

Saturday In The Proverbs—God Is Sovereign (Proverbs 16)

[Each chapter in the Book of Proverbs contains thoughts that fit into a theme; they are not just random thoughts gathered together. In this “Saturday In The Proverbs” series, I will share a theme that I see in each chapter. But the cool thing about God’s Word is that you may see an entirely different theme. That’s great! If you do, I would love for you to share it in the comments below.]

…from the Lord (Proverbs 16:1).

God is Sovereign, which means He has supreme authority. 

The sooner—and more consistently—I acknowledge this, the more joy I can experience! According to Proverbs 16, acknowledging God as Lord and Master means: 

  • having the right answers (vv. 1, 24)
  • living with a clear conscience (v. 2)
  • thinking better thoughts (v. 3)
  • not getting swept away in judgment (vv. 4, 5)
  • experiencing mercy, truth, and atonement (v. 6)
  • peaceful living (v. 7)
  • contentment (vv. 8, 16)
  • divine direction (v. 9)
  • righteous living (vv. 10-12, 31)
  • favor among kings (vv. 13-15)
  • avoiding stumbling (v. 17)
  • avoiding pride (vv. 18-19)
  • happiness (v. 20)
  • having prudence (v. 21)
  • getting better understanding (vv. 22-23)
  • eternal life (v. 25)
  • satisfaction in my work (v. 26)
  • avoiding evil people (vv. 27-30)
  • self-control (v. 32)
  • seeing God’s providence at work (v. 33)

Not a bad list! 

Links & Quotes

link quote

Some good reading and watching from today…

“The worst form of ill association is ungodly marriage. I do not know anything that gives me more satisfaction than to see our brethren and sisters, who have walked in the faith of God, united in marriage—the husband and wife, both fearing and loving God. It is a delightful spectacle, and bids fair to be the means of building up the church with a generation which shall fear the Lord. But a very fruitful source of ruin to church members is that of a young man or a young woman choosing an ungodly partner in life. They never can expect God’s blessing upon it. They tell you sometimes they hope to be the means of their friend’s conversion. They have no right to hope such a thing; it so seldom occurs. The much more likely thing is that the ungodly one will drag the other down to his level, than that the godly one shall pull the other up.” —Charles Spurgeon

“If homosexuals are bullied, we need to protect them. If they’re unjustly discriminated against, we need to help them. If they’re treated with contempt, the person hurting them should be stopped. If a family member comes out as gay and then is belittled, harmed, or vilified, then the offending family needs to be corrected. If Christians ridicule people who identify as gay or lesbian, they need to admonished. If a church doesn’t welcome seekers of all stripes (including people who identify as gay, lesbian, or bisexual), then it needs to change. But none of these circumstances are reasons to reinterpret Scripture to affirm homosexuality.” This is from a fascinating article: Bad Reasons To Adopt Pro-Gay Theology.

 

“Prudence means practical common sense, taking the trouble to think out what you are doing and what is likely to come of it.” —C.S. Lewis

“Resentment simply cannot dwell in a loving heart. Before resentfulness can enter, love must take its flight and bitterness take over.” —A.W. Tozer

“No nation ancient or modern has ever lost the liberty of freely speaking, writing or publishing their sentiments, but forthwith lost their liberty in general and became slaves.” —John Peter Zenger (in 1735 after winning his case that established the precedent for our freedom of the press)

“Never leave growing till the life to come!” —Robert Browning

“Why should you turn from God when you turn to your books, or feel that you must turn from your books in order to turn to God? If learning and devotion are as antagonistic as that, then the intellectual life is in itself accursed and there can be no question of a religious life for a student, even of theology.” —B.B. Warfield

[VIDEO] John Maxwell has some great advice on conflict.

Did you know there is a right way to procrastinate? Yep! Check this out.

Helpers

HelpersI was at the University of Michigan with a friend who is on the list waiting for a liver transplant. We spent a half-day listening to doctors, nurses, dietitians and others tell us what to expect through this process.

One social worker really emphasized the care of the patient’s body prior to the transplant as a way to help with recovery from the surgery. He said, Pre-habilitation helps rehabilitation.” 

I like that!

It’s sort of a variation on Benjamin Franklin’s maxims, “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure,” and “A stitch in time saves nine.” Even wise King Solomon wrote, “A prudent person sees trouble coming and ducks; a simpleton walks in blindly and is clobbered” (Proverbs 22:3, The Message).

To help things go better later, we need to start working sooner. Later things go better with helpers that begin sooner. 

Here are a few helpers I thought of:

Pre-habilitation helps rehabilitation. 

Preparing helps repairing. 

Exercise helps recovery. 

Proaction helps better reaction. 

Accepting responsibility helps apologizing. 

Praying helps working. 

Daily study helps studying the night before a test. 

What other helpers would you add to the list? (Add them in the comments below….)

10 Quotes On Humility From “Humility”

HumilityI thoroughly enjoyed Dr. David Bobb’s book Humility (you can read my full book review by clicking here). The book was partially a challenge for us to cultivate this virtue in our individual lives and in the fabric of our nation. So Dr. Bobb uses several biographies of notable Americans to illustrate the power of humility. These are some of the best quotes in the book on humility.

“Healthy pride is tied to truth, and pride devoid of merit is arrogance. Humility’s opposite that is arrogance, not pride. … The personal significance of this idea is radical: to be truly great, one has to be humble. The political significance of this idea is profound: to be truly and enduringly great, a nation’s hallmark must be humility.” 

“In reality, humility is strength, not weakness. It is the crown of the virtues. Humility enables courage and points wisdom in the right direction. It is the backbone of temperance, and it makes love possible.”

“Humility offers the promise of excellence, but it does not guarantee power when power is the proud domination of human beings. The power promised by humility is power over oneself in self-government. It is much harder to achieve. Humility’s strength is hidden, obscured by our blindness in the age of arrogance in which we live.” 

“Instead of responding to God’s love and drawing closer to Him, the first human beings retreated into the recesses of their hearts. In so doing they became less themselves—less like God created them to be. They departed from their nature, which was perfect until they turned from God. Unhealthy pride pushes man away from God; it destroys his ability to cling to his Creator as he should, not in miserable self-debasement, but in worshipful humility.”

“True humility enables true compassion.” 

“The key was not creating a government in which a leader could feign goodness and get away with it, but rather in creating one in which goodness could not be counted on, but was nevertheless sought. … America’s Founders knew the importance of humility and desired to be humble, but they also wished to make their mark. They were ambitious. They wanted to be great, but only if greatness came not at the expense of goodness.”

“The truly great person will be a servant. No less committed to excellence in everything, and still as dedicated to the highest achievements, the magnanimous man as servant can accomplish even more than when he tries to do it alone. Service is not servility. Meekness is not weakness. Humility is an essential part of true greatness of soul.”

“Contrary to popular misconceptions, modesty is not the underestimation of one’s worth. Rather, it acts as a restraint against the inordinate desire for recognition. While everyone desires recognition, a modest person quells the longing for fleeting fame. Modesty checks the impulse to claim credit and crave praise. It is the anti-vanity.”

“As a virtue, humility has an ordering quality to it. Arrogance has the opposite effect, as it loosens the grip of self-control and throws a human soul into disorder. … Ambition is not evil itself, but when an individual lets ambition run wild, it has the tendency to take over his soul. When this happens, a person loses sight of limitations. He is deluded into thinking himself unbeatable. Arrogance gives rise to unchecked ambition and begins a vicious cycle. Unchecked ambition leads to make those in its thrall more and more arrogant. And the arrogant continue to grow in misdirected ambition. This cycle—arrogance feeding ambition, and ambition giving way to more arrogance—can produce a tyrant. … Ambition is like pride in one decisive respect. Held in check, it is immensely important to the accomplishment of high and difficult tasks. Left unchecked, it is a debilitating force. Pride in check can be balanced with humility. One can be properly proud of some accomplishment and at the same time humble. … Like healthy pride, there is also worthy ambition.”

“Humility is a virtue prerequisite to prudence. If one lacks humility, the advancement of self or the substitution of an immoral end can overwhelm the pursuit of a just end. … Prudence allows the statesman to consider all alternatives and to make a decision not based upon who garners glory but upon the proper demands of the situation at hand. Prudence requires the submersion of one’s ego.”

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