Tag Archives: humility

Qualifications for a Pastor (and a reminder for the rest of you)

There are places in the Bible where the Apostle Paul describes the qualifications necessary to be a pastor (1 Timothy 3 and Titus 1:5-9).

But there are some additional characteristics I think every pastor should have if he wishes to survive until the next Easter service or deacons’ meeting… and believe me, I speak from experience.

This photo was taken at a bi-vocational pastor and wives retreat. These men were gathering around a fellow pastor who’s son who was a drug addict and missing.

Among other things, a pastor should have a thick skin, a broken heart, a humble spirit, and a hope that rests in the fact that Grace is there to pick up the pieces.

As for you, the congregations they lead, be reminded that the only perfect Shepherd was Jesus; the rest are human.

Pray that the light of Jesus will shine through the cracked vessel which is your pastor.

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Humility ~ Part 3

Guest Post by: Donald N. Norris

In my last post, we looked at the concept of humility from the pages of the Tanakh.  In this post, we turn to the Brit Hadashah to help us understand the characteristic of being humble.

Humility Defined

Humility is a personal quality in which an individual shows dependence on God and respect for other persons.  Various Bible translations use humble, meekness, gentleness, tender, mild, afflicted and considerate to describe the characteristic of humility.

Humility in the Brit Hadashah [1]

Yeshua life provides the best example of what it means to have humility.  “Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.” (Matthew 11:29; see also 1 Corinthians 4:21 and Philippians 2:1-11).

Yeshua preached and taught often about the need for humility.  “Whoever exalts himself shall be humbled; and whoever humbles himself shall be exalted.” (Matthew 23:12 and Luke 14:11; 18:14)  “Sitting down, He called the twelve and said to them, ‘If anyone wants to be first, he shall be last of all and servant of all.’” (Mark 9:35)

Yeshua urged those who desired to live by Kingdom standards to practice humility.  “At that time the disciples came to Jesus and said, ‘Who then is greatest in the kingdom of heaven?’” (Matthew 18:1ff)

A person with humility does not look down on others.  Humility in the Brit Hadashah is closely connected with the quality of “meekness.”  “Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.”  (Matthew 5:5 ESV)

While God resists those who are proud, He provides grace for the humble.  “But He gives a greater grace. Therefore it says, ‘God is opposed to the proud, but gives grace to the humble.’”  (James 4:6)

Primary in the Brit Hadashah is the conviction that one who has humility will not be overly concerned about his or her prestige.  Whoever then humbles himself as this child, he is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.” (Matthew 18:4)   “Be of the same mind toward one another; do not be haughty in mind, but associate with the lowly. Do not be wise in your own estimation.” (Romans 12:16)  “Or did I commit a sin in humbling myself so that you might be exalted, because I preached the gospel of God to you without charge?” (2 Corinthians 11:7)

Sha’ul believed that quality relationships with other people, especially those who had erred spiritually, hinged on the presence of gentleness, meekness or humility (see Acts 20:19; 1 Corinthians 4:21; Galatians 6:1; 2 Timothy 2:25).

Both the Tanakh and the Brit Hadashah affirm that God will exalt those who are humble and bring low those who are proud (see Luke 1:52; James 4:10; 1 Peter 5:6).

The Greek world abhorred the quality of meekness or humility, but the Christian community believed these qualities were worthy (see 2 Corinthians 10:18; Colossians 3:12; Ephesians 4:2).

A humble man is often looked upon as a coward, a cringing, despicable, slavish type of person.  Many men fear humility.  They feel humility is a sign of weakness and will make them the object of contempt and abuse; causing them to be shunned and overlooked.  This is tragic:

  • A humble spirit is necessary for salvation. “Truly I say to you, unless you are converted and become like children, you will not enter the kingdom of heaven. Whoever then humbles himself as this child, he is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.”  (Matthew 18:3-4)
  • God’s idea of humility is not weakness and cowardice.

God makes people strong.  God infuses a new spirit within a person that causes them to conquer all throughout life.  He does not want the person walking around in pride.  He wants the person to do what the definition says: to offer himself in a spirit of submissiveness and lowliness; not to act high-minded, proud, haughty, arrogant, or assertive.

Humility has the strength to control and discipline; and it does so at the right time.

  1. The humble person has a humble state of mind.
  1. The humble person has a strong state of mind.  It is not a weak mind that ignores and neglects evil and wrongdoing, abuse and suffering.
  • If someone is suffering, humility steps in to do what it can to help.
  • If evil is being done, humility does what it can to stop and correct it.
  • If evil is running rampant and indulging itself, humility actually strikes out in anger.
  1. The humble person has a strong self-control.  The humble person controls his spirit and mind.  He controls the lusts of his flesh.  He does not give way to ill-temper, retaliation, passion, indulgence, or license. (see James 1:21)

In summary, the humble man walks in a but strong state of mind; denies himself, giving utmost consideration to others.  He shows a control and righteous anger against injustice and evil.  A humble man forgives and lives for others because of what Yeshua has done for him.

In my next post, we will explore a concept related to the characteristic of Humility:  Submission and Surrender?

 

[1] Unless otherwise noted, all scripture references in this series will be from the New American Standard Bible (NASB ~ 1995 Update)

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Humility ~ Part 2

This is Part 2 in a series on Humility by guest blogger Donald N. Norris.


In my last post, we began to explore the Godly characteristic of humility.  I made my confession that   I certainly don’t have much of a reputation for being humble.  In this post, we will look at the concept of humility from the pages of the Tanakh (Old Testament).

Humility Defined

Humility is a personal quality in which an individual shows dependence on God and respect for other persons.  Various Bible translations use humble, meekness, gentleness, tender, mild, afflicted and considerate to describe the characteristic of humility.

Humility in the Tanakh [1]

The Tanakh connects the quality of humility with Israel’s lowly experience as slaves in Egypt – a poor, afflicted, and suffering people.  And the Egyptians treated us harshly and afflicted us, and imposed hard labor on us.” (Deuteronomy 26:6 emphasis added.) The Hebrew word translated as humility is similar to another Hebrew word meaning “to be afflicted.”  Humility was closely associated with individuals who were poor and afflicted (see 2 Samuel 22:28).

What God desires most is not outward sacrifices but a humble spirit.  “The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; A broken and a contrite heart, O God, You will not despise.” (Psalm 51:17)

“He has told you, O man, what is good; And what does the LORD require of you But to do justice, to love kindness, And to walk humbly with your God?” (Micah 6:8)

Such a humble spirit shows itself in several ways:

  1. Recognition of one’s sinfulness before a Holy God. “Woe is me, for I am ruined!  Because I am a man of unclean lips, And I live among a people of unclean lips; For my eyes have seen the King, the LORD of hosts.” (Isaiah 6:5)
  2. Obedience to God. “You shall remember all the way which the LORD your God has led you in the wilderness these forty years, that He might humble you, testing you, to know what was in your heart, whether you would keep His commandments or not.”  (Deuteronomy 8:2)
  3. Submission to God. “‘Because your heart was tender and you humbled yourself before the LORD when you heard what I spoke against this place and against its inhabitants that they should become a desolation and a curse, and you have torn your clothes and wept before Me, I truly have heard you,’ declares the LORD.”  (2 Kings 22:19)
  4. “He leads the humble in justice, And He teaches the humble His way.” (Psalm 25:9)

The Tanakh also promised blessings to those who were humble:

  • When pride comes, then comes dishonor, But with the humble is wisdom.” (Proverbs 11:2)
  • “You shall remember all the way which the LORD your God has led you in the wilderness these forty years, that He might humble you, testing you, to know what was in your heart, whether you would keep His commandments or not.” (Deuteronomy 8:2)
  • Good news. “The Spirit of the Lord GOD is upon me, Because the LORD has anointed me To bring good news to the afflicted; He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, To proclaim liberty to captives And freedom to prisoners.”  (Isaiah 61:1)  Yeshua quoted this verse in Luke 4:18.
  • “Though He scoffs at the scoffers, Yet He gives grace to the afflicted.” (Proverbs 3:34
  • “The fear of the LORD is the instruction for wisdom, And before honor comes humility.” (Proverbs 15:33)

The experience of many kings indicated that those who humble themselves before God will be exalted (see 1 Kings 21:29; 2 Kings 22:19; 2 Chronicles 32:26; 33:12, 19). Those who do not humble themselves before God will be afflicted (2 Chronicles 33:23; 36:12).

The prophet Zephaniah appealed to the “humble” of the land to seek the Lord.  “Seek the LORD, all you humble of the earth who have carried out His ordinances; seek righteousness, seek humility. Perhaps you will be hidden in the day of the LORD’S anger.” (Zephaniah 2:3) He knew they were the ones who would listen to him and accept God’s message.

The pathway to revival is the way of humility.  If my people who are called by My name humble themselves and pray and seek My face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, will forgive their sin and will heal their land.”  (2 Chronicles 7:14)

In my next post, we will explore the concept of humility in the Brit Hadashah (New Testament).

 

[1] Unless otherwise noted, all scripture references in this series will be from the New American Standard Bible (NASB ~ 1995 Update)

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Humility ~ Part 1

The following is the first post by a new contributor, Donald N. Norris. You can usually find him at My Heart is for Israel, where he regularly impresses me with his in-depth, Israel-loving, Bible study 🙂

Guest Post by: Donald N. Norris

In this post, we will begin to explore the Godly characteristic of humility.  For those that really know me, they are probably wondering why I would even begin to attempt this topic!  I certainly don’t have much of a reputation for being humble.

Confessions of a Self-Centered Man

I have recently come out of my denial and now freely admit that most of my life has been spent as an extremely self-centered man.  It’s all about me!  My over-eating and anger issues are a primary function of my ingrained self-centeredness.

I’m not proud of this at all.  But, with the power of my Savior Yeshua and His indwelling

Ruach, I know in my heart that I have embarked on a recovery journey to transform and renew my mind and my actions to incorporate the Godly character of humility into my walk with the Lord.

After reading my testimony on this blog, you may be wondering how I became so self-centered.  You need look no closer than my given name ~ Donald.  All my life, I have been told that my name means world ruler, leader and overcomer.  Unfortunately, I bought into that, at least the leader and overcomer part.  And it is true that one of my spiritual gifts is leadership.

But despite my self-centeredness, I have always thought of myself as a servant-leader.  One of my favorite hymns, based on James 4:10, has been “Humble Thyself In The Sight of the Lord” by Bob Hudson.  James writes, “Humble yourselves in the presence of the Lord, and He will exalt you. (NASB)  Mr. Hudson wrote:

“Humble Thyself In The Sight Of The Lord”

Humble thyself in the sight of the Lord (echo)
Humble thyself in the sight of the Lord (echo)
And He shall lift you up
Higher and higher and He
Shall lift you up.

So I will humble myself in the sight of the Lord (echo)
Humble myself in the sight of the Lord (echo)
And He shall lift me up
Higher and higher and He
Shall lift me up.

So I will humble myself in the sight of You, Lord (echo
Humble myself in the sight of You, Lord (echo)
And You will lift me up
Higher and higher
And You will lift me up.

I bought into the servant-leadership style of Yeshua early in my own walk, especially at work and church.  Sadly, I did not buy into it in my own home.  There, I thought I had to be that ‘world ruler.’  It was my way or the highway.  Trust me that didn’t work out well for me or my loved ones.  In many respects, I’m still reaping what I sowed. I’ve had to make my amends and rebuild those relationships.

So, how is it that I came to blog on the topic of humility?  At our church, I am on a team of people developing the curriculum for a disciple-making training program that will take a new believer along a pathway of becoming like Yeshua and eventually be able to replicate their own journey with other new believers; in short, making a disciple to become a discipler.

Since I knew that I needed to learn and live-out the characteristic of humility before I could ever train someone else, I volunteered to write that module.  This series on humility is a result of my exploration of humility from the Word of God.

Humility Defined

Humility is a personal quality in which an individual shows dependence on God and respect for other persons.  Various Bible translations use humble, meekness, gentleness, tender, mild, afflicted and considerate to describe the characteristic of humility.

In my next post, we will explore the concept of humility in the Tanakh (Old Testament).

 

 

 

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You Don’t Have to be Perfect to be Used

Two Men Prayed

You know the story of the Pharisee and the Publican, don’t you? Jesus told the story, as recorded in Luke 18:10-11

pharisee and publican“Two men went up into the temple to pray; the one a Pharisee, and the other a publican. The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself, God, I thank thee, that I am not as other men are, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this publican.”

Imagine that instead of the temple, they walked into a search committee meeting.   A meeting of people designated with the task of finding, let’s say, a new pastor for a church (at least that’s the way we do it in the Baptist denomination).   They walk in, introduce themselves, compare resumes, and one gets the job.  Which one?  The one that fits the picture of what every Christian fit for service should be – perfect.

But God doesn’t just use perfect people; He uses those who’ve made mistakes, REAL people.  

However, within many churches there are men and women who feel inferior and useless because of  sinful and broken pasts.  They are the people who sit on the pews, week after week, doing all they can to be faithful in life, but are forbidden to hold positions in the church.  They are much like the Publican, men and women who know they have failed before, but want to start anew.  

They are not the ones that look down on others for mistakes they’ve made.  They’re not Pharisees.

Dysfunctional Forefathers

Have you ever considered how dysfunctional the characters of Genesis were?

I read through the book of Genesis last week in a couple of sittings.  Reading a book of the Bible that way, especially in a different translation, can help you see the story from a new perspective.  This time I was just astounded at how messed up these people really were!  There was so much “stuff” going on that if it were today, it would make an episode of Jerry Springer, or TrueTV look tame!  

Consider, if nothing else, the sad story of Jacob, Leah, and Rachel.  This was a seriously messed up family with real marital problems.  At one point, Leah and Rachel get into a jealous argument over a son’s mandrakes.  Just imagine you were a marriage counselor and listened in to the following story…

Reuben went out during the wheat harvest and found some mandrakes in the field.  When he brought them to his mother, Leah, Rachel asked, “Please give me some of your son’s mandrakes.”  But Leah replied to her, Isn’t it enough that you have taken my husband?  Now you also want my son’s mandrakes?”

“Well,” Rachel said, “you can sleep with him tonight in exchange for your son’s mandrakes.”  When Jacob came in from the field that evening, Leah went out to meet him and said, “You must come with me, for I have hired you with my son’s mandrakes.”  So Jacob slept with her that night. – Geneses 30:14:16 HCSB

Twice Abraham told other people that his wife, Sarah, was his sister so that he would not be harmed.  Joseph’s brothers hated him and sold him to traveling salesmen.  Jacob and Esau were seriously at odds.  Leah, poor thing, kept trying to have children so that her husband, Jacob would love her.  Jacob’s father-in-law, Laban, got him drunk on his wedding night and gave him the wrong wife – on purpose.  The son’s of Jacob (founders of ten of the tribes of Israel) lied to a bunch of men about making a covenant, then proceeded to slaughter all of them after they had convinced them to be circumcised.  It just goes on and on.  

Messed up, I am telling you!

Nevertheless,

God told Abraham in Genesis 12:2-3  “And I will make of thee a great nation, and I will bless thee, and make thy name great; and thou shalt be a blessing: And I will bless them that bless thee, and curse him that curseth thee: and in thee shall all families of the earth be blessed.”  How is this even possible?  

If God can use Abraham and his family with all their problems to bless the nations, then He can SURELY use ANYBODY!


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A Call to “Thwarting the Enemy” Prayer

Attention fellow pastors and believers in Christ:

I am calling on my fellow believers, especially pastors, to do something different this Wednesday night, September 10th. I am asking that we all gather together for a time of dedicated, humble, sincere, and concentrated prayer in advance of any attack by the enemy.

Thwarting PrayerIn the days following 9/11, people around the country were crowded into churches, on their knees, calling out to God. It was the right and proper thing to do, for sure. But now the enemy is at the gate; the judgement of God is about to fall. We know that somewhere there are plans in the works to bring us harm, to destroy us, the very least being the structures in which we meet. Should we not be on our knees now?

In 2 Chronicles 20:2 messengers came unto King Jehoshaphat and said, “There cometh a great multitude against thee from beyond the sea on this side Syria” Faced with this news, the news of certain destruction, he called for fasting and prayer.

“O our God, wilt thou not judge them? for we have no might against this great company that cometh against us; neither know we what to do: but our eyes are upon thee.” – 2 Chronicles 20:12

I am asking that churches around the nation will come together in humble, contrite, and desperate prayer – BEFORE the enemy crashes the gate!

Some of you may be asking, “Pastor Baker, what if God has already determined to send judgment and all that is being planned is part of His wrath against us?” To that I would submit to you the words of a king from one of the most ungodly places on record, ancient Nineveh. Hearing of the impending destruction being sent by God, he ordered the inhabitants to not eat or drink, to cover themselves with sackcloth and ashes, turn from evil and violence, and cry out to God (Jonah 3:7-8). Then he said…

“Who can tell if God will turn and repent, and turn away from his fierce anger, that we perish not?” – Jonah 3:9

Let us pray for God to thwart the evil plans of the enemy that could already be in the works for this Thursday, September 11th, even if they were originally meant for our chastisement. Like Jehoshaphat and the children of Israel, our hope is not in Washington, the military, or the police. I only hope is in God.

Pray that He confuse the forces of evil and give wisdom to the humble who seek His help.

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Shark Week

Hogging the TV

This week has been nothing but shark, shark, shark. The Discovery Channel has been airing its annual series called Shark Week, and it has been on 24/7 in the Baker house.

As a matter of fact, unless a program being aired on Shark Week is a repeat, or unless it has been recorded, one can forget watching anything else until our girls are fast asleep dreaming – about sharks.

Honestly, it totally amazes me that so much programming time can be devoted to sharks. I mean, seriously, how much more has been learned since last year? How many more people have willingly swam with sharks just to have video of their stupidity shown to the world? Nevertheless, until Shark Week (and recordings thereof) is over and the girls are through with looking as Great White teeth, I’ll never get to see Joel Osteen’s pearly whites again.

Something Different

Now, it was already difficult to make myself go into the ocean. Ever since Jaws came out, you can forget me ever skinny-dipping at night in the surf (I used to do that a lot when I was 2 or 3). But Shark Week has made me even more aware of how deadly some of these sharks can be, especially the Great White.

sperm whale warningBut you know what, I’ve been getting a little tired of hearing how big and bad sharks are. They aren’t the baddest guppies in the ocean. As a matter of fact, things can get a lot worse than a shark warning. How about a sperm whale warning?!

A friend of mine posted this picture on her Facebook page. Roughly translated it reads,

Sperm Whale! Stay the heck out of the water! For get the sharks; they’ve already been eaten! Stay at least 30 yards away from the beach or you might end up like Captain Ahab. There is no such thing as “Whale Week” on the Discovery Channel, so don’t act like a fool.”

You do know what a sperm whale is, don’t you? It’s a 35 ton, 60 ft.-long mammal with teeth that weigh a pound each, and has been known to sink ships. It’s more than a match for a wimpy 16 ft. shark.

Image Credit: Encyclopedia Britanica

Image Credit: Encyclopedia Britanica

The Point?

So, what’s the point? Oh, I don’t know. I just thought it was funny to see a warning for sperm whales instead of sharks. But on the other hand, it does make me remember something my dad used to tell me: “No matter how big you are, there’s always somebody bigger, and tougher.”

The lofty looks of man shall be humbled, and the haughtiness of men shall be bowed down, and the LORD alone shall be exalted in that day. – Isa. 2:11

Stay humble. The moment you start feeling confident in you sharkiness, a whale might have to come along and teach you a lesson.

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