Month: May 2015

Ladder of Humility (Part Three)

Ladder of Humility - 3

If you have not read the first two parts in this series, you can find them below –
The Ladder of Humility (Part One)
The Ladder of Humility (Part Two)


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Step 3: Willing to Subject Ourselves to Direction of Others

As we embark deeper into the journey of humility, the third step deals with our response to authority. In the beginning, when Adam and Eve decided to disregard the authority of God, our nature was seared with rebellion.

All those who are IN authority should be UNDER authority.

Specifically, as you ascend the ladder of humility, you should subject yourself to the following three authorities:

  1. Be subject to God.

“Submit yourselves to God.” – James 4:7

First and foremost, you must live a life of active submission to the Living God. All other submission is an overflow and application of submission to God. The vast majority of Christians today would CLAIM they are living obedient lives – they go to Church, read the Bible, and pray often.

Unfortunately, many of us have followed in the steps of Eve and been deceived by the Serpent.

Below are some symptoms that will be evident if you are NOT submitting yourself to God:

You talk yourself out of obedience.
If the Holy Spirit nudges you to take a specific action and you rationalize yourself out of doing so, you are living in rebellion to God. OBEY IMMEDIATELY!

You do not allow the Word of God to DWELL in you richly.
Reading the Bible does not cause transformation; allowing the Living Word to shape, mold, and transform your entire being does. Practically, this means filling your life with the study, meditation, and memorization of Scripture so that it overflows into the rest of your life.

You rebel against the other authorities in your life.
If you have trouble obeying authority, it is more than likely a spiritual issue. Ask God what you need to deal with in your submission to HIM so that you are able to obey the other authorities in your life.

  1. Be subject to Spiritual Leaders.

“Obey your leaders and submit to them, for they keep watch over your souls as those who will give an account, so that they can do this with joy and not with grief.” – Hebrews 13:17

The second authority in your life you must submit to is spiritual leadership. This would be people such as pastors, elders, deacons, and the various other leaders in your local church. (On a side note, this presumes you are part of a local church – No, meeting for coffee with your Christian friends or watching a sermon at home is NOT a local church, I will explain why in a future post.)

First of all, we need to remember that there is a difference between Godly obedience and blind following. Those who shepherd the flock of God are NOT above accountability. Pastors are part of the community of believers – they may be in a place of leadership but they need the nurturing love and care of the Body as much as everyone else!

Below are some symptoms that will be evident if you are NOT submitting to your spiritual leaders:

You are constantly speaking negative about your leaders.
If your Sunday routine consists of critiquing the message and bashing the leadership of the church, YOU need to quit being arrogant and work towards humility in this area.

You are regularly gossiping about other members in your church.
One of Satan’s schemes is to get the church to expense all its energy on one another so that it is no longer effective in storming the gates of Hell.

Friends, we are not ignorant of Satan’s schemes.

  1. Be subject to Civil Leaders.

“Everyone must submit to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except from God, and those that exist are instituted by God.” – Romans 13:1

Unfortunately, it seems that many Christians are ignorant of Romans 13 – especially in the United States. We wield our freedom as a weapon to wage a war of rebellion against our government.

The ONLY time it is okay to blatantly disobey civil authority is when it is calling you to commit an action that is in direct contradiction to the Word of God. This happens far less often than the hyper-conservative Christians would like you to believe.

Below are some symptoms that will be evident if you are NOT submitting to the civil leaders in your life:

You never pray for those in authority.
When was the last time you asked God to grant salvation, peace, and rest to those in leadership (both nationally and locally) And Yes, President Obama fits into this group.

You demonize and/or deify political parties.
Friends, I can promise you that a new president will not bring lasting change to this country. If you put more hope in your political party than in the Church, you are living in grave ignorance of the Word of God.


A life of submission will speak volumes to the community around you and enable you to progress further up the Ladder of Humility.

Why do YOU think it is hard for people to submit to authority? Leave a comment and let me know!

The Ladder of Humility (Part Two)

Ladder of Humility - Part Two

This is part two of a series on the Ladder of Humility by Saint Benedict. If you have not read the first post, be sure to read it first by clicking below:

Ladder of Humility (Part One)


Step 2: Doing God’s Will (Not Our Own or Other People’s)

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This second step of humility holds three assumptions we need to understand:

  1. God has a Will.

This is a basic teaching with radical implications. We live in the midst of a post-modern world. Essentially, there is no such thing as right or wrong. As long as it works for you, it is true for you. What is true for you is not necessarily true for me.

God has a will and your fruitfulness in your Christian life depends on obedience to it.

You do not need to have a mystical experience or visit a psychic (or even a pastor!) to understand God’s will. This subject is far more in-depth then I am going to take the time to explain here, and I highly recommend THIS POST from Pastor Jon Sanders. In essence, we can discover God’s will through seven different mediums:

  1. God’s Word
  2. Prayer
  3. Your spouse
  4. Seeking Godly council from others
  5. Circumstances (Open/Closed Doors)
  6. The viewpoints of others
  7. Feeling of peace
    (CREDIT: “How Can I Know God’s Will for My Life” @ www.jonsanders.org – Be sure to go there and read more in-depth how these seven mediums enable you to find God’s will)
  1. We can be led astray by our own will.

Solomon, one of the wisest people that has ever lived, wrote profound advice for us in Proverbs 14:12 – “There is a way that seems right to man, but its end is the way of death.”

An obsession with our will clouds our vision, ruins our future, and ultimately does not satisfy.

This debased desire has plunged even our spiritual lives into destruction. Our prayer times are filled with wish lists we want God to grant. Essentially, He has become the servant and we have become gods, expecting Him to bow down to our every whim and desire.

Instead of conforming our will to the Father in Heaven, we have attempted to manipulate and command God to adhere to our man-made plans.

  1. We can be led astray by the will of others.

By nature, we are slaves languishing under the cold chains of people-pleasing. We have allowed subtle contamination by the desires of other people to dictate how we live our lives.

I promise that you will not give an account before God on how you lived your life in light of the expectations of those around you. No, you will stand before the judgment seat of Christ and have to explain how you were too much of a coward to boldly stand for God’s will.

Why is it that we are terrified of displeasing mere mortals but flippantly disobey and ignore God’s Spirit when it comes to decisions in our lives?


Friends, seek God’s will and do not allow yourself to be led astray by “the way that seems right to man” because its end is death and destruction.

The Discipline of Silence

The Discipline Of

“Do not be hasty to speak, and do not be impulsive to make a speech before God. God is in Heaven and you are on earth, so let your words be few.” – Ecclesiastes 5:2

Those words are incompatible with the evangelical culture of our day. We live in a world that is polluted with noise and speech; from the constant chatter of a television to the never-ending tones of a smart phone. This barrage of sound has even invaded our places of worship, effectively obstructing the voice of God’s Spirit.

Unfortunately, this contamination has even seeped dangerously into our personal relationship with God, especially in our prayer life.

Solomon offers profound advice to Christians today; specifically, I see two ways we should be applying this verse to our lives.

  1. SHUT UP!

Okay, Solomon may not have said these exact words, but the first sentence is informing us in no uncertain terms that we need to shut up – especially in the presence of God.

How often have we followed in the corrupt pattern of the Pharisees and believed God would be impressed with our many religious words?

When was the last time, at a corporate church service, can you remember the pastor or worship leader calling for a time of silence to hear God?

We are ADDICTED to speaking.

Richard Foster, in his book Celebration of Discipline, unpacks our disorder:

“One reason we can hardly bear to remain silent is that it makes us feel so helpless. We are so accustomed to relying upon words to manage and control others. If we are silent, who will take control? God will take control, but we will never let him take control until we trust Him. Silence is intimately related to trust.”

The reason we are fixated on our own speech is because we have trust and power issues. We have a strong desire to be in control and we refuse to relinquish it – even into God’s hands.

  1. Realize that you really aren’t that interesting or intelligent.

Imagine yourself sitting across the table from a world-renowned author and teacher in your field of study. You have been studying this field for one year; on the other hand, this teacher has been active and studying the field for 70 years.

How foolish would it be for you to take over the conversation and explain to this expert how much you know – interrupting him every single time he tries to get a word in edgewise?

That is EXACTLY what we do in our prayer lives.

We are so arrogant that we forget God is in Heaven and we are on earth – He sees the end from the beginning. He has all power, authority, and knowledge – completely transcendent and altogether different from the rest of creation.

Yet WE lead the conversation, don’t we?

God is far more willing to speak than we are to listen.

I believe God is calling us, through the words of Solomon, to shut up and listen. God desires to speak to YOU but YOU do not keep your mouth shut long enough to hear the still, quiet whisper of His Spirit. I exhort and encourage you to spend time actually LISTENING to God this week. Set apart time in your morning devotionals to truly be still and allow Him to teach you.


Friends, spiritual maturity is not measured by the quantity of your speaking but by the quality of your listening.

The Ladder of Humility (Part One)

LadderofHumilityPartOne

As I shared in my last post, one of the books I am reading is Emotionally Healthy Spirituality. The goal of this book is to help believers to not only be spiritually mature but emotionally healthy – and yes those are two different things.

Scazzero, the author, goes into detail on how the great trials, tribulations, and even tragedies in our lives are used by God as a refining fire to strengthen and sustain our faith. Part of this process is allowing God to guide us into greater depths of humility.

Saint Benedict, a monk from the sixth century, created a “Ladder of Humility”. I want to invite you to join me over the next several days as we study the different levels of humility. In each post, we will break down each step and look at the practical implications it has for us today.

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Step 1: Fear of God and Mindfulness of Him

Tragically, we have a tendency to forget that God is in our midst. This is evident in the first book of the Bible – Genesis – When Adam and Eve attempt to play hide-and-seek with the God of the universe. It is far more comfortable to laugh at their futile attempts to hide from God; it is far less comfortable to examine our own lives and see the many ways we conceal ourselves from Him.

The first step to humility and spiritual growth is a renewed understanding that God is ALWAYS in our midst.

Not only do we need to be mindful of him but we must have a healthy fear of who He is. The writer of Hebrews says, “It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the Living God.” (Hebrews 10:31) Yes, we do serve an all-loving God but for love to be pure, there must be judgment. We do not define God by our ignorant definition of love; we define love by who God has revealed himself to be.

God looks upon sin with anger and disgust and promises to eradicate it from existence (which includes eternal damnation for those who live in unrepentant sin).

Practically, how do we go about cultivating this first step of humility? Here is one practical application you can begin today:

Set apart time every day to meditate, pray, and study the Word of God.

It is not possible to stress the sheer importance of this single discipline enough. First of all, allowing yourself time to rest and soak in God’s presence will enable you to be sensitive to his voice and presence the rest of the day. I highly recommend this as part of your morning routine, it will center you on the purposes and plans God has for you before you begin your work day.

If you have never spent time in prayer and study, it can be intimidating. I cannot urge you enough to watch this series of teachings by David Platt – Secret Church: How To Study The Bible – Yes, I know they are long but remember Jesus’ admonition:

“To those who listen to my teaching, more understanding will be given, and they will have an abundance of knowledge. But for those who are not listening, even what little understanding they have will be taken away from them.” (Matt. 13:12)

A second reason this is important is because it is impossible to think much of yourself in light of the Eternal God. After pondering on the greatness and grandeur of God, you will say with the Psalmist, “What is man that You are mindful of him?” (Psalm 8:4) Each day, the key to walking in humility is realizing that you are not God. You need to embrace your limitations and weaknesses and rest in the Alpha and Omega – The Unchanging One – Who will strengthen and sustain you in your life’s journey.

Your life is far too short to approach God recklessly and forgetfully. Friends, fear God and be mindful of Him this week.


What do YOU think of the ladder of humility? Do you agree with Saint Benedict? Would you add something? Leave a comment and let me know!

Go here to read Part 2: The Ladder of Humility (Part Two)

Three Books YOU Should Read

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I love to talk about books (I’m a pastor and I work in a library, what can you expect?) At many of the staff meetings of The Rescue Church, I ask my staff what they are reading. I have learned through great men and women that Leaders ARE Readers!

I want to share with you three books that I am currently reading. I HIGHLY recommend each one of them:

Emotionally Healthy Spirituality by Peter Scazzero

I discovered this book roughly a month ago. I have been meeting with a pastor to be mentored in regards to ministry. I asked him for a list of books that he would recommend. Out of this list, I had him narrow it down to one that had impacted him the most. This is that book.

The tagline of this book is, “It’s impossible to be spiritually mature while remaining emotionally immature.” Scazzero lays out the symptoms of “emotionally UNhealthy spirituality” and offers a remedy. Specifically, he shares his own experience of: avoiding conflict in the name of Christianity; ignoring his anger, sadness, and fear; using God to run from God; and living without boundaries.

There was even a point in Peter’s ministry that his wife quit his church because she did not trust his leadership. Whether you are in ministry or not, you NEED to read this book because ALL of us are emotionally unhealthy in varying degrees.

Celebration of Discipline by Richard J. Foster

This book is a modern classic, originally published in 1978. When it comes to disciplines, celebration is usually not a word we would use to describe them. Foster writes about a variety of classic Christian disciplines that have been practiced for centuries by believers seeking to be transformed by God’s Word and Spirit.

To give you a snapshot of this book, here is a quick summary:

“Dividing the Disciplines into three movements of the spirit, Foster shows how each movement contributes to a balanced spiritual life. The inward Disciplines of meditation, prayer, fasting, and study offer avenues for personal examination and change. The outward Disciplines of simplicity, solitude, submission, and service prepare us to help make the world a better place. The corporate Disciplines of confession, worship, guidance, and celebration bring us nearer to one another and to God.”

I promise that you will be challenged, convicted, encouraged, and transformed if you study this book with a humble and teachable spirit!

My Utmost for His Highest by Oswald Chambers

Hands down, this is the best devotional I have used. Chambers was born in 1874 and died in 1917. The fact that this book is still extremely popular is a testimony to the timeless truths that Chambers shares. As a devotional, the book is divided up by dates with short readings for each day of the year. Every morning, you will find my Bible, a highlighter, and this book on my desk.

By reading this book side-by-side with Scripture, you will be encouraged to fix your eyes on Jesus Christ, kill indwelling sin, and love people with profound compassion. If you have never used this book as a devotional, or even if you have, READ it!


Now I want to ask you the same question I ask those on my staff: What books are YOU reading? What should I read next? Leave a comment and let me know!