Humility: The War Against Pride

Pride is something we all have to deal with… if you think you don’t have any issues with pride you are probably not thinking clearly.

Pride can manifest in different ways, here are just a few:

  • Seeing yourself as being someone who is better than most people.
  • Thinking of yourself as someone who has arrived.
  • Having an unteachable attitude.
  • Thinking you do not need to listen to your Pastors and leaders.
  • Assuming you have nothing you need to work on.
  • Thinking you have no blind spots.
  • Standing on the good you did in the past to condemn others or to make an excuse for your current stance.
  • Never seeing your wrongs in a disagreement or argument.
  • Being a critical person who always sees plenty of faults in everyone else and few or no faults in yourself.
  • Harbouring offence, especially when based on assumptions.

The call to humility is a call to arms, to war against pride in our hearts, thoughts and behaviour.

Let’s remember the words of Jesus:

Why do you see the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye?” (Matthew 7:3, ESV)

Are you willing to deal with the pride in your life today? Resolve to let humility win over pride this year.

Humility: What is it?

I had a good conversation with a dear friend and mentor yesterday by voice and text about the need for humility in the life and thinking of believers.

It would almost seem an obvious requirement for a disciple of Jesus Christ but it remains for many an elusive quality that we are often blind to our deficiencies in due to the cunning guises with which pride deceives us regarding our need. With this in mind, I’m going to blog about humility for a while to help us be the humble people God calls us to be.

What we mean by humility

Humility can refer to ones social or economic state but that is not the way we are using the term here. For us, we are talking about a Christian virtue which shines through all of life in our thoughts, speech and works all issuing from an awareness and attitude rooted in gratitude toward God and an honest, biblical view of ourselves and the world around us.

Jesus was humble

One of the most relevant scriptures to think on when considering what it means to be humble as a Christian is the passage in Philipians about the humility of Jesus

Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.” (Philippians 2:3–8, ESV)

What the dictionary says

There are a lot of dictionaries to choose from. I’ve chosen an easy to use Theological Dictionary. I’ve taken two qoutes from the Tyndale Bible Dictionary which I think are good fuel for us when meditating on what humility is and what it means to be humble.

Humility is a grateful and spontaneous awareness that life is a gift, and it is manifested as an ungrudging and unhypocritical acknowledgement of absolute dependence upon God.

So the first thing we learn is that humility has something to do with the way we see God, ourselves and others. One of the issues we have as humans is that in our minds we often switch our role with God’s role.

The article ends as follows:

Turning their backs on status, security, and success, Christians seek an opportunity to gain themselves in serving others.

This final point highlights the fact that true humility will manifest itself in ungrudging, joyful service to others as we seek to follow Jesus.

The Humble Life

It seems clear from our very brief exploration, that humility is a principle that will affect our entire lives and is the vehicle or channel used to live a life governed by the love of God, which itself calls us to serve one another and even care for our enemies. It leaves no room for pride, conceit or our natural negative perspectives, which seek to put us above everyone else and ignore our dependence on God and others.

Some questions for you to think about and possibly comment on below if you want to share your thoughts:

  1. What does humility look like for you as a beliver?
  2. How is your attempt to walk in humility challenged and how do you seek to overcome those challenges?

Let’s resolve to walk in humility for 2018.

Reading the Bible in 2018

To be a good Placemaker it all starts with the truth of God’s Word, The Bible. Our church has followed a bible reading plan which takes us through the entire Bible every year for the past 7 years and will be doing the same again this year.

Some think of reading through the entire Bible in a year as too large a task or something reserved for Priests and Pastors. This is not a healthy way to think and goes against the grain of the Reformation which sought to put the Bible into the hands of every believer in the language they could understand.

The following are some motivations for reading the entire Bible with us this year.

1 The Bible is the Word of God

The Bible is God’s Word in written form. As Disciples of Jesus Christ, we need to live according to and guided by the word of God as revealed in the Bible. Other books can certainly be useful and there is nothing wrong with daily devotionals or faithful bible commentaries but there is no substitute for hearing or reading the word of God directly from the Bible yourself.

Paul reminds us in 2 Timothy 3:16–17…

All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.

2 Why read the Old Testament

The Old Testament is often neglected in Bible reading in favour of the New Testament but this is a mistake.

  • The New Testament finds its roots in the Old.
  • The Old Testament is as much the word of God as the New Testament is.
  • The Old Testament is the Bible Jesus read.

As Augustine famously said…

“In the Old Testament the New is concealed, in the New Testament the Old is revealed.”

Peter remind us 2 Peter 1:20–21…

“knowing this first of all, that no prophecy of Scripture comes from someone’s own interpretation. For no prophecy was ever produced by the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit.”

3 Why Read the New Testament

There are lots of good reasons to read the New Testament:

  • We hear the Gospel in the New Testament.
  • We read about our Lord, Jesus in the New Testament.
  • We find out about the early Church and believers.
  • We find teaching that guides us with what it means to be new covenant people of God and so much more.

Luke mentions this in Luke 1:1–4 when explaining why he compiled his gospel concerning Jesus Christ…

Inasmuch as many have undertaken to compile a narrative of the things that have been accomplished among us, just as those who from the beginning were eyewitnesses and ministers of the word have delivered them to us, it seemed good to me also, having followed all things closely for some time past, to write an orderly account for you, most excellent Theophilus, that you may have certainty concerning the things you have been taught.

4 Bible reading is part of being a healthy disciple

The Bible is described as food for the Soul. As much as our physical body needs a daily intake of food we need a daily serving of God’s word to nourish our minds and our very being with God’s life-sustaining truth.

As Jesus said to the enemy when he was tempted in Matthew 4:4

But he answered, “It is written, “ ‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.’ ”

5 It is encouraging to read together

All God’s enemies including your own flesh will be against you reading through the entire Bible each year, there is just so much truth there that the enemy is afraid of you being both free and strong. Knowing others are reading and listening in community with you will encourage you when you feel weak, weary and distracted. Let’s read the bible together.

We are encouraged in Psalm 18:30…

This God—his way is perfect; the word of the Lord proves true; he is a shield for all those who take refuge in him.

In conclusion

I hope the above points which are by no means exhaustive, will encourage you to persevere in the hearing, reading, studying and applying the Bible to your life every day this year on our (or another) bible reading plan.

I hope to post a series of short articles on the Humble Majesty website blog about each of our daily readings this year, to encourage you to find application for your own life. You can also pick up a copy of Daily Truth from Amazon or Logos which includes study and application notes for each day of the reading plan.

New year, new goals… same God

This has been a very eventful year for me and the family. We just hosted Christmas at our place and have had a great time over the festive period with family and friends. I’m now off work for the week and taking some time to reflect on the year that has been and the year to come.

God has been really good to me, my family and our church throughout the year, despite losing loved ones and facing myriad difficulties God has proven himself faithful and true… it has really been a Romans 8:28 year.

And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.” (Romans 8:28, ESV)

As we look forward to 2018, I’m convinced that God will continue to guide and bless us as we affirm our allegiance to him and put our trust in him, working as his place makers in the earth, spreading his kingdom and message wherever we go and in whatever we do.

I would challenge you to prayerfully set goals for the new year, don’t just drift into the new year and don’t get caught up in resolutions… instead set some actual goals that you will work toward.

For me, the last half of 2017 became less productive in terms of the books, courses, blog articles and videos I should be working on. I aim to rectify this with a manageable productivity plan for 2018 which I pray will bring glory to God and joy to his people.

Let me take this opportunity to wish you a productive, God-glorifying New Year.

Soli Deo Gloria!

Sojourner Living Part 2

It’s been a real season of change for our family. I recently got head hunted for a role which I started a few weeks ago. I was at my last company for nearly six years so it has taken some getting used to. It has been a blessing to me and my family because the pay and hours are all better… it also serves as a reminder to me that we are all on a journey in this life… which got me thinking about sojourner living again.

The thought that comes to mind is that we need to keep moving forward on life’s journey. However, while we make camp in the various stages and seasons of life we should be a part of the story of the spaces where we settle. We need to make a difference where ever God leads us in life and be the place makers he has called us to be.

In my book Sacred Places, after a short word study on “strangers” and “exiles” from Hebrews 11:13-16, I make the following statement:

“With the help of our word definitions and with the wider context in which we find these words in the passage and the Bible as a whole narrative, we can describe ourselves in context to place as the following:

We are a particular and peculiar people, the called out ones who are by the King’s choice and adoption, sons of a better place, living in this place as ambassadors and heirs of the place our King has prepared for us and by his decree sent us out from as his messengers in this place, which itself will one day be the better place we long for.”

Ask yourself the question, are you pursuing sojourner living? To help us all think about this biblically I’ll summarise what it means to be a place maker in the next blog post.

I explore all of this in my book “Sacred Places: The Biblical Theology of Place, Exploring Its Central Importance in God’s Creation and Mission” Which you can pick up today.

Procrastination vs Action

We have recently published the Daily Truth Devotional on Faithlife which means you can use it in the Vyrso or Logos Apps.

Here is a small snippet from today’s devotional

“Today’s theme will explore the many pitfalls of procrastination, which is putting off what should be done today (delaying or postponing necessary action) and is synonymous with laziness, idleness and sluggishness. On the other hand, we will look at the alternative to procrastination, which is action.”

You can get your own copy from FREE from Vyrso here today.

Sojourner Living, Part 1

Our family has just moved for the third time in 4 years. The move happened on the weekend. We were hoping to get access earlier in the week but could not get into the new place until Saturday morning, so it has been a really long extended weekend. I’m aching all over, it feels like I’ve been in the gym non-stop for 2 days!

We didn’t have a removal company, instead, I called on two of my brothers and three other friends to help shuttle things in cars and one friend borrowed a huge van for the larger items. It took a lot of effort and determination to clear the old house but we got there in the end.

That was just the beginning, the biggest job will be settling into the new place and getting organised again… that battle has begun but is by no means over. The new place we are in is larger than anywhere we have lived as a family before which is a great blessing that we thank God for.

Reflecting on the times we have moved in recent years and with this move in particular which was set in motion at the same time Sacred Places was published, has brought the subject of Sojourner Living into sharp focus. Sojourner Living is a term I coined in my book Sacred Places. for the closing chapter, just before the further study section. I think if I keep my heart and eyes open at this transitional time there will be lessons to share with you all about the importance and reality of Sojourner Living for all of us.

One lesson from the big move is that living as Sojourners in this world will mean we have work to do, as we move from space to space we need to brace ourselves for displacement, re-placement and all the hard work that brings. If we are not mentally and spiritually prepared for the work and effort needed for the twists and turns we face as pilgrims on life’s journey, we can end up feeling overwhelmed. The same principle applied when we moved on the weekend, moving takes a lot of effort, staying settled is far easier.

Ask yourself, how can you apply this to your life? Is God leading you to move on in an area of your life but you are too afraid of the hard work and uncertainty this displacement will bring? Pray to God about the move he wants you to make today.

We thank God that we are Sojourners here because we have a better place prepared for us, a secure and eternal place in God’s own presence. While we remain in this world, let’s live as Ambassadors for God, working hard with the energy he supplies to finish our daily missions in service to the great commission,  in Jesus name.

This is the first in a series of post on Sojourner Living, through the lens of our house move. The following is an excerpt from the book on Sojourner Living which is good food for thought and will serve as a platform for this new series:

This final section, which brings the book to an end, looks at life, our lives, and how we live them in light of the theology of place.

One of the first things we need to grapple with is the Bible’s description of believers as pilgrims, exiles, sojourners, and strangers in the earth. That seems to drive against the grain of the theology of place; let’s see what the Scripture actually says in Hebrews 11:13–16 (emphasis and expansion of the term exiles added)

These all died in faith, not having received the things promised, but having seen them and greeted them from afar, and having acknowledged that they were strangers and exiles (pilgrims, sojourners, foreigners) on the earth. For people who speak thus make it clear that they are seeking a homeland. If they had been thinking of that land from which they had gone out, they would have had opportunity to return. But as it is, they desire a better country, that is, a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared for them a city.

This is not against the theology of place; in fact, it upholds it. This is why this final section in our last chapter on the believer’s response is called “sojourner living.”

You can pick up your own copy of Sacred Places today.



God, our refuge

Have you ever had one of those days or even whole seasons where you feel cast down inside? There are many reasons for this, including, an increase in work pressures, relationship issues or financial woes. Or, as is the case with me at the moment, it could be the stress of a big, unplanned life change…. We are moving home and it is proving a challenge… as moving generally does.

I realise I have a lot to be grateful for and my “stress” does not even begin to compare to the troubles billions of people around the world have to face every day, living in unimaginable poverty. In comparison, I’m living the life of the elite here in the UK.

However, things being as they are, I am stressed today and feeling a little low. As I sit on this train on the way home from a long day at work, the scripture that comes to mind is Psalm 61:1–4… it reads:

Hear my cry, O God, listen to my prayer; from the end of the earth I call to you when my heart is faint. Lead me to the rock that is higher than I, for you have been my refuge, a strong tower against the enemy. Let me dwell in your tent forever! Let me take refuge under the shelter of your wings! Selah

One of the themes of the book I’ve spent last year writing is “Place” and in particular safe and sacred places. As Human Beings, we need somewhere to run to when we feel like the walls are all closing in, the water is rising and the onslaught of our enemies (what or whoever this represents for us) feels unbearable.

The Psalmist is keeping it real, he is not always ok, sometimes he feels tired, overwhelmed or faint. That’s why I love the bible, it’s not full of maxims and lofty super spiritual talk, it is real, practical and full of truth for each of us. The writer of the psalm has had experience wth God and in this troubled time, remembers that God has been his refuge before and will be again.

It is such a comfort to know that God himself is our safe place, our sacred or protected place. He puts us up on a rock of safety that is too high for us to climb to ourselves, far above the waves that cause us so much stress.

I’m encouraging myself with that reality today and encourage you to do the same. Seek refuge from the storms of life in God, know that he loves you and by his personal presence and grace has prepared a place of protection and assurance for you in Christ… a place you can retreat to in prayer and fellowship with him today.

You can find out more about the importance of place in my book Sacred Places.


The battle for the mind

Here is an important reflection from today’s reading. taken from “Daily Truth”:

For the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh but have divine power to destroy strongholds. We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ, being ready to punish every disobedience, when your obedience is complete.

2 Corinthians 10:4–6 (ESV)

The battle is for the minds of men. The fleshy way of fighting for men’s hearts and minds is to use human reasoning and underhanded tactics to manipulate the targets. Paul does not fight in this way, he fights with God’s weapons and so fights in God’s way.

The imagery Paul is using is of a full siege which has three stages: 1) destroying defences 2) taking captives 3) punishing resisters. We should use these three stages of attack as we fight for God’s glory and fame.

The strongholds that we need to tear down are the intellectual arguments that have been set up against the truth of the Gospel. The captives are the very thoughts of those who were imprisoned by these mental strongholds (i.e. evolution or false religion).

The weapons we use include the truth of the Gospel, prayer, God’s wisdom and even our holy living. We must fight for the hearts and minds of those in our church and the wider culture. God’s story must be set over and against all the false narratives of this world.

You can pick up your own copy of Daily Truth from Amazon or the Sacred Places book at various online stores listed here.