“To become a good Bible reader, you don’t need a high IQ or a seminary education. You don’t need a library of biblical commentaries or a Bible scholar on speed dial. To become a good Bible reader, you simply need to commit yourself to the simple, regular habit of reading God’s word for yourself.⠀⠀When your Bible reading seems unremarkable, or when it seems like you don’t have the skills or knowledge to grasp all of what’s there, remember that God’s work always runs deeper than we can see. Over the course of many months and years, God will use his word to mold and shape you into a joy-filled, wisdom-drenched follower of Jesus.”
“God is always doing 10,000 things in your life, and you may be aware of three of them… Not only may you see a tiny fraction of what God is doing in your life; the part you do see may make no sense to you.”
“Therefore, no matter what you face this year, God will be doing 10,000 things in your life that you cannot see. Trust him. Love him. And they will all be good for you.”
— John Piper, God is Always Doing 10,000 Things in Your Life
“When I went to seminary to prepare for the ministry, I met an African-American student, Elward Ellis, who befriended both my future wife, Kathy Kristy, and me. He gave us gracious but bare-knuckled mentoring about the realities of injustice in American culture. “You’re a racist, you know,” he once said at our kitchen table. “Oh, you don’t mean to be, and you don’t want to be, but you are. You can’t really help it.” He said, for example, “When black people do things in a certain way, you say, ‘Well, that’s your culture.’ But when white people do things in a certain way, you say, ‘That’s just the right way to do things.’ You don’t realize you really have a culture. You are blind to how many of your beliefs and practices are cultural.” We began to see how, in so many ways, we made our cultural biases into moral principles and then judged people of other races as being inferior. His case was so strong and fair that, to our surprise, we agreed with him.”
— Tim Keller
Agreed. But also, this isn’t just a race thing but a larger cultural phenomena. In my experience, we Americans think that our way is the right way. When we go out to other countries, we are so quick to judge their behaviors, rituals, architecture, values, etc. In college I took an anthropology class about nonprofit organizations. We studied American humanitarian organizations that would go oversees to help develop third world countries. When they built systems, even things like washrooms, they would build them in a way that only makes sense to the Western man. The people these systems were intended to serve ended up not utilizing the services at all, because it did not fit culturally. This showcased how we believe our way is the only and right way. Instead of meeting people where they are, we are inclined to “help” people meet us where we are.
Just some food for thought.
Now Jesus was a man. He was human. He was not a white man! He was not a black man. He came from that part of the world that touches Africa, and Asia, and Europe, and he probably had a brown skin.
— Billy Graham in South Africa in 1973
“Christ belongs to all people. He belongs to the whole world.”
“Happiness can be found even in the darkest of times, if one only remembers to turn on the light”
Like Joseph, we don’t always understand why things happen the way they do;
why our plans and dreams fail,
and we find ourselves facing challenge after challenge,
and disappointment after disappointment.
Yet, like Joseph, we also believe that You are at work in our lives,
and that You have a larger plan and purpose for each one of us.
Give us faith to trust in You no matter what challenges we face.
Give us courage to place our dreams and ambitions in Your hands,
and then follow where You lead without hesitation,
confident that Your loving presence goes with us.
Genesis 50:20 ESV
As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good, to bring it about that many people should be kept alive, as they are today.
“God will meet you in your anguish, fear, and uncertainty. But he may not meet you in the way you expect or desire. Your greatest ally may show up looking at first like your adversary, inciting you to wrestle with him.If so, remember Jacob. There are multiple blessings in the wrestling. You may not need soft words of comfort, you may not need to be left alone with your thoughts, you may not need sleep, you may not even need a healthy hip! What you need is God’s blessing!So when God calls you to wrestle with him in prayer, it is an invitation to receive his blessing. Stay with him and don’t give up. Do not let him go until he blesses you! He loves to bless that kind of tenacious faith and you will come out transformed.”
“I don’t want to be so eager to identify sin in others that I miss the more immediate need of compassion and love. Locating sin and speculating about poor motives really is a lot easier than being patient, kind, and compassionate. I want to give others what they need in the moment, not what is easy for me.”
— Winston Smith, How Do You Respond to People Who Feel Shame?
“I cannot remember the books I’ve read any more than the meals I have eaten; even so, they have made me.”
So how do we overcome these conceits?
Remember Paul’s situation in 2 Corinthians. He’s facing false apostles and teachers who are saying he doesn’t have the credentials to be a true apostle. Paul counters that he does have the credentials—but not the kind we would expect. He inverts all the categories. Instead of boasting about his theological knowledge, great success, or picture-perfect outward life, he boasts in insults, hardships, and being run out of town on a rail. This is how he contends that God is truly with him. He tells us to look at all the things God has done to bring him to his knees.
Pastor, consider all the things God has done to break your pride. Look at all the ways he’s brought you to the end of yourself so that you would cling to him more tightly. Let all your failures and disappointments and weaknesses drive you like a nail into the love of God. It’s only by embracing them that you’re ever going to become a true minister and make it to the finish line.
— Tim Keller, 3 Ways Ministry Can Make You Conceited
“There is no deep knowing of God without a deep knowing of self and no deep knowing of self without a deep knowing of God.”
— John Calvin