“He must become greater and greater, and I must become less and less.” John 3:30
We heard during the political season promises from many politicians about bringing greatness back to our country. Additionally, we live in a society that seems fixated at times on individuals becoming great or famous. It could be very easy for us as Christians to fall into the trap of the world’s thinking of what greatness looks like.
God never intended for our lives to be focused on making ourselves great or famous. As Christians, we are called instead in Luke 9:23 to “deny ourselves, and take up our cross daily, and follow Him.” The idea that life is not all about us runs so counter to what culture is pushing us towards.
I believe that one of the greatest problems facing Christianity today is far too often Christians have lived and looked so much like the world that there is no distinctiveness about our lives. In other words, we have chosen to look more like the world than Jesus.
I contend that when we live the way Jesus prescribed and die to ourselves then we have a story to tell that is so appealing to others around us. How do we live this way? I really believe that it begins by following the truth of John 3:30 above.
I sought many years ago as I began my time in ministry that I might become a better speaker and Christian leader. I read books, attended seminars, and talked with many great Christian leaders in an effort to find the answer. One day as I began my quiet time with God I read John 3:30 again. However, this time the truth of that verse pierced my heart. I knew at that moment that becoming better at all these things was the wrong approach. I realized that my focus had to change. If I wanted to see God accomplish great things in my life, I must begin to make life totally about serving and glorifying Him.
I pray that we would all begin to pray and seek God for a lifestyle that elevates God as the center of our lives and minimizes us. We should begin to desire to live in such a way that makes God famous. If we want to live in a great manner, “He must become greater and we must become less.”
“In any case, we should live to whatever truth we have attained. Dear brothers and sisters, pattern your lives after mine, and learn from those who follow our example. For I have told you often before, and I say it again with tears in my eyes, that there are many whose conduct shows they are really enemies of the cross of Christ.” Philippians 3:16-18
I think we all at times have looked for models to pattern our lives after. I was fortunate to grow up in a home where my dad was someone who I could pattern my life after spiritually. He was a man who loved God, loved God’s Word, and loved me.
One of my biggest fears about being a parent was that I could be the type of role model that my children could pattern their lives after. My heart’s desire has long been that my children would see Jesus in me. I sought God for a long time for answers on how to live up to this desire. God has given me Philippians 3:16-20 as my answer for doing this.
In this passage, Paul made an incredible statement above when he asked those around him to “pattern their lives after his and follow those who follow our example.” I do not believe that Paul had an attitude of arrogance in believing that he had arrived spiritually. I know that because in Philippians 3:12 he declares “that I have not arrived.”
So, how does he make that kind of statement? I believe it comes not from confidence in himself but confidence in what God had done in his life. Paul had once been an enemy of the cross as he describes in verse 18. What did Paul mean by the statement “an enemy of the cross”?
Verse 19 of Philippians 3 gives us that answer when it says: “They are headed for destruction. Their god is their appetite, they brag about shameful things, and they think only about this life here on earth.” Paul knew that he had been rescued from a life that was headed in the wrong direction and only focused on the things of this world.
Instead, Paul had experienced the truth of verse 20 in this chapter and had committed his life to the truth of this verse. Verse 20 declares: “But we are citizens of heaven, where the Lord Jesus Christ lives. And we are eagerly waiting for Him to return as our Savior.” Everything about Paul’s focus and direction for living had changed.
He was no longer focused on the things of this world but instead he operated his lifestyle from the vantage point of a citizen of Heaven. Paul’s quest now was to live for Jesus and to do so in such a way that God would be glorified. Paul had seen the difference in his own life that Jesus makes. From the confidence he now had in Christ, he could tell others to follow or pattern their lives after what God had done in his life.
Paul had decided to live up to the standards required of a citizen of Heaven. I knew that for me to give my kids a pattern that they could follow I would have to allow God to change my vantage point. I would need to focus on growing my relationship with Christ and allowing Him to give me the mindset of a citizen of Heaven. I learned that I must be living in such a way as to bring honor and glory to God in all I do.
I pray that we all would seek to live up to what God has called us to!
“So again I say, each man must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband.” Ephesians 5:33
We spend a lot of time and money trying to figure out what kind of gifts to give our children each year. It is natural for us as parents to want to do good things for them. However, I have learned that the best gifts we can give our kids do not cost money. One of the greatest gifts we can give our children is a loving marriage with our spouse. Unfortunately, this is one thing that does not happen like it always should.
In fact, research tells us a lot about the state of marriage in America. A recent report states that there is one divorce approximately every 36 seconds. That's nearly 2,400 divorces per day, 16,800 divorces per week and 876,000 divorces a year. The average length of a marriage that ends in divorce is eight years.
It is too bad that many marriages in America are divided and many are in daily turmoil. I have counseled with so many people over the years who have confided in me that they have “fallen out of love” with each other. I have never understood what that means exactly. I do know that God intended for us to love our spouse in the way He prescribes.
How are we supposed to love our spouse? For me, Ephesians 5:25-26 says it all: “For husbands, this means love your wives, just as Christ loved the church. He gave up His life for her to make her holy and clean, washed by the cleansing of God’s word.”
For husbands, we are to love our wives as Christ loved the church. How did He love the church? He gave His life for the church. He gave sacrificially to the church. We are to do the same for our spouses.
I always desired something greater out of marriage. I have been blessed to be married to the love of my life for 31 years. I echo something Andy Stanley said: “There are men who make history, there are men who change the world, and there are men like me that simply find the right girl.”
I also know that God has commanded us as followers of Christ to approach marriage so differently than the world. In Ephesians 5:33, Paul instructs husbands to love their wives like they do themselves and for wives to respect their husbands.
Outside of the truth of God’s Word, the greatest advice I ever received on marriage came from my dad. He told me that one of the greatest gifts I could ever give my children was to love their mother.
Have we positioned our marriages to leave this kind of gift for our children? May God bless each of you as you seek to live out a Godly marriage in front of your children!
“For my people have done two evil things: They have abandoned Me—the fountain of living water.
And they have dug for themselves cracked cisterns that can hold no water at all!” -Jeremiah 2:13
People have searched throughout history to find real meaning to life and happiness. This search for significance has led people in so many different directions. Most of these pursuits whether it be money, fame, self-accomplishment, a relationship, or anything that this world has to offer will leave you without real meaning or a lasting hope.
As believers, we also get caught in chasing the wrong things. In Jeremiah 2:13, this age old basic problem is best described. This verse tells us that many times we make two bad choices. First, we do not go to God or rely on Him for all aspects of our lives. The second bad decision we make is that instead of relying on God we choose to rely on something or someone of this world that cannot help us at all.
What is worse is that many times we keep making these mistakes over and over. I know personally of many times in my own life where I have continued over and over to fix the issues of my life with the world’s solutions. At those times, I can tell you that I have never been more personally frustrated.
Albert Einstein made famous the quote that “Insanity is: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.” When we continually abandon God for solutions that “cannot hold water” it is, as Einstein says, somewhat insane.
Jeremiah tells us that God is the “fountain of living water” who alone can meet our needs and help us discover real meaning and purpose for our lives. I do not want to live my life dealing with this same old problem that Jeremiah described. Solutions that “cannot hold water” have only left me empty, worn out, and frustrated.
Instead, I want to live my life drinking daily from the “fountain of living water.” My prayer is that God would use Jeremiah 2:13 to refresh your soul and remind you that our real source of hope rests only in a daily, growing relationship with God.
“Don’t be selfish; don’t try to impress others. Be humble, thinking of others as better than yourselves. Don’t look out only for your own interests, but take an interest in others, too.”
My family went to Disney this past summer and as usual the crowds were enormous and it was incredibly hot. In that environment, it seems as if everyone is working so hard to be ahead of others. We do not like to wait and we especially do not like it if we feel someone has jumped ahead of us wrongfully. If we are not careful a “me first” mindset can overtake us at times. We live in such a fast paced world that this mindset often wins the day.
Not only are we in a hurry but there is a great desire within human nature to want to impress others and be recognized. A big danger is that we can even begin to think we are better than others.
The type of thinking described above runs so contrary to the mindset God desires for each of us to possess. God desires that we instead pursue living our lives with the “mind of Christ.” What is the mind of Christ? Philippians 2:5-8 describes the mind of Christ.
“Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus: Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: But made Himself of no reputation, and took upon Him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: And being found in fashion as a man, He humbled Himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross.”
The mind of Christ was about giving His life for us so that we might have not only eternal life but an abundant life here on earth. This passage tells us that He “humbled Himself.” In Philippians 2:3-4 above, Paul admonished us to do the same. Paul is instructing us to be humble and to think of others before ourselves.
The world desperately needs to see Christians with this kind of mindset. For way too long, the church has been known for what it is against and I think it is time for us to become known more for what we are for. I am convinced we should show the world that we are for loving and helping others. We must begin to look out and care for others before we think of ourselves. Talk about a radical lifestyle and mindset!
I leave you with a quote by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. that asks us all a very important question about our mindset: “Life's most persistent and urgent question is, 'What are you doing for others?’” May God move on our hearts daily to love, care, and meet the needs of others!