Tag Archives: humility

Can God Heal our Deepest Wounds?

By Eugene C. Scott

In the summer of 1998 we drove home to Tulsa from a bittersweet family vacation in Colorado: Sweet because Dee Dee and I had celebrated our twentieth wedding anniversary with a trip to Vancouver, BC. Bitter because our oldest daughter had recently been diagnosed with an eating disorder, a cancer of the soul, and she was getting worse. My white knuckled grip on the steering wheel exposed the ghostly condition of my soul. I was lost. For the first time as a father I had no answer. The fatherly band-aids–wise words and solutions–I had utilized to fend off so many past crises proved futile against this devastating disease. We had gone to doctors, counselors, friends, and support groups; we had prayed, memorized Scripture, and read books; we had talked, cried, pleaded, and argued; we had blamed ourselves, our culture, gymnastics, and God; we had loved, hugged, and gotten angry. Still her cancer of the soul thrived.

So, we drove east on Interstate 70, in a minivan filled with fear and heartbreak. My every breath became a prayer.

God, heal her. Please don’t let this cancer steal anymore of her. Don’t let it take her life! Tell me what to say; show me what to do.

Miles of empty eastern Colorado rolled by as we played license plate games to kill time and the dread that rode with us.

Why was God so silent?

A couple of hours east of Denver I said, “Look, kids,” and pointed to the words “Trust Jesus” spray-painted on the cement pillar of a highway overpass.

“Do you think anyone is actually convinced of God’s love by that?” I asked sarcastically. “That’s not evangelism; that’s evandalism.”

At each overpass for the next several miles the same lime-green words “Trust Jesus” appeared. What a diversion. Instead of focusing on our pain and worries, we mocked silly Christians.

As we limped into Kansas, my daughter with the wounded soul moved to the shotgun seat. Everyone else was sleeping.

“What can I do, Dad?” she asked.

I shrugged my shoulders. I had no more answers and had to admit that to her. Her eyes teared up with disappointment.

Shortly after that trip, we hit what we thought was bottom: we placed her at Remuda Ranch, a long-term treatment center for eating disorders. In the midst of that dark time, a good friend invited me to a local Promise Keepers meeting. Before Bill McCartney spoke, a local man, one of the organizers of the meeting, was asked to share his testimony. He told a heart-wrenching story about his daughter, who was addicted to drugs, and how everything he did to help her didn’t.

I shuddered. This hit too close to home. Tears pressed, unwanted, from my eyes.

He went on saying he had been at a Promise Keepers planning meeting in Denver just weeks before. During that meeting, his wife called with news his daughter was in serious trouble. He left for Tulsa immediately, east on I70. As he drove, he brainstormed, outlining every solution a father could. His every breath a prayer.

I listened trying to hide my trembling and tears.

Then in the wastes of eastern Colorado, he related, he saw, spray-painted on a concrete pillar, the lime-green words “Trust Jesus.” In a heartbeat he knew God had spoken and instantly he rolled down the window of his van and figuratively threw out all his human plans.

“Jesus, not my plans but yours,” he prayed. “Only you can heal her.”

But in a few miles, he was back planning and problem solving. Then came another pillar. “Trust Jesus,” it shouted. Again he rolled down his window and threw out his human plans. Again he prayed.

I don’t know how long he bounced on this bungee cord of faith. I only know I was broken. I was a puddle. I was unmade.

“Jesus,” I choked, “not only have I not trusted you with my daughter, I ridiculed your attempt to coax me to faith.” I was the fool, not the person evandalizing I70, to believe I was a better father than You, my heavenly Father. I was a fool to think my puny solutions could accomplish anything without Your extravagant love.”

Imagine! To prove nothing is impossible to God, He connected the dots between two hopeless fathers, two broken daughters, two Colorado trips and a crazy person with a spray can.  Right then God poured fresh love into my empty soul and showed me He loved my daughter more that I ever could. In a gentle, firm voice Jesus spoke to my heart, “If I have the power to heal your daughter, and I do, I also have the love and power to carry all of you through this until I do. Trust Me!”

In his potent prayer in Ephesians 3:14-21, Paul reminds us that the best response to those relentless, hopeless situations is to “kneel before the Father . . . to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses all knowledge.”

Only when I recognized the paucity of my problem solving, and let my aching heart drive me to Christ, did I begin to learn that the love of Christ could carry me through anything. In this case there was no instant healing, no five keys to happiness, no easy answer. But there was a deeper knowledge of naked, unadulterated Love. That Love has sustained us on a road longer than a thousand lengths of I70. While we travel, healing, in more things than eating disorders, is coming. And our knowledge of the width, length, height, and depth of Christ’s love grows.

P.S. Our daughter is now 29, happy, healthy, trusting Jesus, married, a mother of a two year-old, with a baby boy on the way. God did exactly as He promised. He did not snap magical fingers and heal her. Instead He walked this long road with us, showing His love is the deepest, widest, most powerful force in existence.

Eugene C. Scott writes the Wednesday Neighborhood Cafe blog.  If you’re reading this on Facebook and you’d like to join the conversation, click here. www.bibleconversation.com. Eugene co-pastors The Neighborhood Church in Littleton, CO.


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A Tale Of Two Kings or Heeding The Writing On The Wall

Early in our marriage, I endured a two-year period plagued by multiple jobs, persistent unemployment, and poverty. Any extra income was directed toward diapers for our newborn daughter and medical expenses for her persistent ear infections. In fact, Anna’s ear problems required two sets of tubes and two ear drum surgeries. In order to pay for the expenses, I cashed out what little retirement we had, paying severe penalties to the government.

I count myself among the many who have stood at the edge of the downward spiral and looked down. Without a supportive extended family system, we would have fallen in. It was frightening.

During that time, I opened my Bible looking for solace and read about King Saul’s many troubles. It seemed like God was against him. I was incensed. God, why were you so deadset against Saul? I asked.

Then I opened the book of Job and read about the righteous man’s many sufferings. My anger against God grew into a raging fire. We’re toast! I yelled at God. You can do whatever you want and you have no one to answer to. You don’t even care. I felt like God was dangling me over the fire and enjoying himself as he watched me burn.

At the end of the two year period, I enrolled at Fuller Seminary a thousand miles away in Pasadena, California. Looking back, I laugh at the fact that I chose to study theology while I was intensely angry at God.

Then December 1, 1991 (almost 19 years ago to the day of this post), I read a tale of two kings: Nebuchadnezzar and his son Belshazzar.

One day King Nebuchadnezzar was admiring his kingdom and taking credit for his exploits when God drove him into the wilderness where he lived like a wild animal. God told the king he would remain until “until you acknowledge that the Most High is sovereign over the kingdoms of men and gives them to anyone he wishes (Daniel 4:32).”

After spending seven years in the wilderness, after being humiliated before his fellow Babylonians, here’s what Nebuchadnezzar announced to his people:

Now I, Nebuchadnezzar, praise and exalt and glorify the King of heaven, because everything he does is right and all his ways are just. And those who walk in pride he is able to humble.
Daniel 4:37

Rather than voice his bitterness toward God, the king exalted God and commented that “everything he does is right and all his ways are just.”

In the next chapter, Nebuchadnezzar’s son Belshazzar is sitting on the throne. He’s wining and dining his guests, reveling in his glory when a finger begins writing on the wall. Four words appeared in an indiscernible language. Belshazzar was terrified by the experience, and worse yet, he couldn’t decipher what the words meant. Daniel was brought in who interpreted the words, which were written in Hebrew.

Daniel began by reminding Belshazzar about his father King Nebuchadnezzar. God sent him into the fields, Daniel explained, because his heart had become hardened with pride.

“You, O king, haven’t learned from your father,” the prophet confessed. Then he interpreted the four words on the wall: Mene, Mene, Tekel, Parsin. Literally, the words meant, “numbered, numbered, weighed, divided.” Daniel told him, “God has numbered the days of your reign and brought it to an end. You have been weighed on the scales and found wanting. Your kingdom is divided and given to the Medes and Persians” (Daniel 5:26-28).

That night, Belshazzar’s life came to a violent end.

As I compared the two kings’ stories, I had a life-changing realization:

First, God hates pride. Nothing strikes deeper at the heart of God than when we take credit for what he has done.

Second, God may allow pain to come into our lives in order to weed out pride’s insidious tentacles. It isn’t an act of punishment, it’s an act of mercy. He does this because he loves us and desires an unhindered relationship with us.

Third, only God has the right to define what is just. This last point hit me particularly hard. In his mercy, God had sought to weed out my pride and independence. But instead of turning to God, I had turned away from him, assuming he was unjust. But what right did I have to define justice? Justice is defined by God’s actions, not my opinions. In my arrogance, I had defined justice. Any time I define the meaning of justice, I miss the mark entirely. Yet Nebuchadnezzar said, “Everything he does is right and all his ways are just” (Daniel 4:37). God cannot act unjustly.

Instantly, my anger melted away and I asked God to forgive me of my arrogance. Pride still rears its ugly head in my life and I still encounter hardships and struggles, but this I know: God is good. God is just. And because of this, I can trust him.

And you can too.


Daniel 4:1-5:31
2 Peter 1:1-2:22
Psalm 119:97-128
Proverbs 28:17-20


2 Peter 1:1-2:22. Peter wrote his second epistle in order to address false teaching in the church. He likely wrote this letter shortly before he was martyred. This is one of my favorite passages in Scripture:

His divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness. Through these he has given us his very great and precious promises, so that through them you may participate in the divine nature and escape the corruption in the world caused by evil desires
2 Peter 1:3–4

God has already given you everything you need to live and enjoy the life he has called you to. Because Christ lives in you, you can participate in the divine nature. You’re not God, but God can live through you!

Psalm 119:97-128. Verses 98-100 tell us that simply knowing God’s word makes us wiser than our enemies, wiser than our teachers, and wiser than our elders. Our reading below in Proverbs offers us a great example of this.

While reading Psalm 119 the thought occurred to me that the word of God does a great job of warning us about potholes that lie in our way. Verse 105 says, “Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light for my path.” God’s word makes us aware of sin so we can avoid becoming enslaved by it’s addictive grip. It also helps us free ourselves from it, although doing so requires so much more work than avoiding sin before it takes root.

Proverbs 28:17-20. Promises of financial independence roam freely on Saturday morning television. Years ago I chased some of those dreams only to discover the reality of Proverbs 28:19-20: “He who works his land will have abundant food, but the one who chases fantasies will have his fill of poverty. A faithful man will be richly blessed, but one eager to get rich will not go unpunished.”

I once attended an online marketing seminar that sold business opportunities for $5,000 apiece. After the presentation, probably 50 people crowded around the cashier to give their money away. My dad, who accompanied me, asked the presenter what percent of the people in line would actually make a profit on the business venture. “Oh, one or two,” he replied. Yep! Proverbs is right.

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  1. What spoke to you in today’s reading?
  2. Do you struggle believing God is good and just? Why or why not?
  3. Who defines what is just in your life?

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Michael co-pastors The Neighborhood Church with Eugene Scott in Littleton, Colorado.


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The Key That Unlocks The Doors of Heaven

In 2000, Howard Schultz resigned his position as CEO of Starbucks Coffee Company amidst a pattern of steady growth. Eight years later, Starbucks was reeling from a bad economy and stiff competition. So, Schultz resumed his role as Starbucks’ chief executive. Before him stood a challenging mission: to turn around a company that had lost its way.

In an interview with the Harvard Business Review, Schultz remarked, “When I returned in January 2008, things were actually worse than I’d thought.”

What did he do to lead the company in a different direction?

Something that not only unlocks the keys of success in the business world, but also unlocks the doors of heaven.

Please join us to discover what they are in our daily Bible conversation.


Ezekiel 40:28-43:27
James 4:1-5:20
Psalm 118:19-119:16
Proverbs 28:3-7


Ezekiel 40:28-43:27. Ezekiel’s vivid vision of the temple continues. Take a moment in chapter 43 and consider this: the temple being described is you. You are the temple of the Holy Spirit. “Don’t you know that you yourselves are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit lives in you?” (1 Corinthians 3:16)

James 4:1-5:20. The beginning of the chapter offers some practical wisdom about our walk with God. First, we don’t ask enough. “You do not have, because you do not ask God” (James 4:2). It’s OK to ask, in fact, we don’t ask enough. Second, when we do ask, we often ask with the wrong motives. “When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures” (James 4:3). Beware of narcissistic prayer that assumes the world exists to meet your every need. We should pray for ourselves, but we should be aware that the kingdom of God is so much bigger than us.

I never noticed this verse before: “Or do you think Scripture says without reason that the spirit he caused to live in us envies intensely?” (James 4:5) Along the lines of the comments in Ezekiel, all of us are created to be the dwelling place of the Holy Spirit. This verse in James tells us that God longs to live in us through the Holy Spirit. And what opens the door to the Holy Spirit? Read below in THE WORD MADE FRESH.

Psalm 119:1-16. This is our second time through Psalm 119 this year. If you remember, this is an acrostic poem—which explains the Hebrew letter that prefaces each section. Every verse in that section begins with the corresponding Hebrew letter. Psalm 119 revels in the Law (the first 5 books of the Old Testament). On this side of the cross, it’s easy to criticize the faithful Jewish worshipers in the Old Testament. But as you can see, they enjoyed a relationship to God through the Law. They loved the Law. It was more than a list of rules because they realized it gave them life.

On this side of the cross, we can read it and discover that the Law and the Prophets (the prophetic books in the Old Testament)—the whole word of God—gives us life. It gives us life because it isn’t a lifeless book. The word of God is a person—Jesus Christ. “The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us.” (John 1:14).

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One of the first actions Howard Schultz made when he resumed the leadership of Starbucks was to admit their past mistakes. In his interview with the Harvard Business Review, he said,

First there had to be a time when we stood up in front of the entire company as leaders and made almost a confession—that the leadership had failed the 180,000 Starbucks people and their families. And even though I wasn’t the CEO…I should have known better. I am responsible. We had to admit to ourselves and to the people of this company that we owned the mistakes that were made. Once we did, it was a powerful turning point. It’s like when you have a secret and get it out: The burden is off your shoulders.

Standing before 180,000 employees and taking the hit for past mistakes requires a great deal of humility.

I realize that I sound like a broken record (if you’re old enough to remember what a record is), probably because I need to remind myself of its importance, but I’m finding that humility is one of the main themes in Scripture. It’s also the overriding theme of James 4 and 5. I can’t escape the fact that God doesn’t make us humble. Nor is it a fruit of the Spirit—something that the Holy Spirit works in us. Repeatedly we’re told in Scripture to humble ourselves. “Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up,” (James 4:10) the apostle James writes.

Quoting Proverbs 3:34, he explains, “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble” (James 4:6).

Pride acts as a blockade to God’s unmerited favor. Humility, though, opens up the floodgates of heaven. James prefaces this statement by saying, “But [God] gives us more grace.”

What does humility look like? It begins with an attitude of the heart. It lacks arrogance, willingly admits faults, considers others better than itself. Humility is unpretentious, unassuming, nonjudgmental, and looks a lot like love.

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.” 1 Corinthians 13:4–7

James writes, “Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed.” (James 5:16). Confessing our sins is an  act of true humility that opens heavens to our prayers and releases the floodgates of God’s favor.

Humility isn’t a formula for success in the business world or prosperity in our private finances. But it does open the way for an unhindered relationship with God, that trickles down into every area of our lives.


  1. What spoke to you in today’s reading?
  2. Do you find it difficult to accept that the Holy Spirit lives in you? Why or why not? To what extent do you allow the Holy Spirit move freely in you?
  3. What does humility look like in your life? What prevents you from living like this?

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Michael co-pastors The Neighborhood Church with Eugene Scott in Littleton, Colorado.

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The Bruce Almighty Syndrome. It’s a Pandemic!

Human beings have come a long way. Some of our advancements are downright miraculous. Heart transplants, splitting the atom, instantaneous world-wide communication, space travel, genetic mapping, antibiotics, Facebook (just kidding), and a whole host of cures and advancements testify to human brilliance and potential. If we were to present our modern abilities to people from the past, they might think us gods.

Ironically, some of us think we are god-like today too.

It’s like the old joke where a group of brilliant scientists challenge God to a contest to create life just like God did in the beginning. The scientists believe they are up to the task. One bends down for a fist full of soil but God stops him saying, “Sorry, you have to get your own dirt.”

Silly joke or harsh truth?

Eugene C. Scott joins Mike in writing A Daily Bible Conversation twice a week.

TODAY’S READING (click here to view today’s reading online)

Job 40:1-42:17

2 Corinthians 5:11-21

Psalm 45:1-17

Proverbs 22:14


2 Corinthians 5:11-21: Do we know what it is to “fear the Lord” as Paul said the Corinthians did? Fear in this passage does not refer to a “Friday the Thirteenth” terror. But rather to respect. Terror rises from a lack of knowledge, not knowing what waits in the dark. The fear of God, however, flows from knowledge. Paul believes we can know God and ourselves well enough to look on God with respect and ourselves with honesty. Terror dreads the unknown; fear respects reality as we know it.

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“Will the one who contends with the Almighty correct him? Let him who accuses God answer him!” The Creator demands of the creature, Job.

To his credit Job says, “I have no answer.”

Many of us experiencing Job’s pain, would feel justified in shouting back, “Who do you think you are, God?” We believe our autonomy and accomplishments entitle us to equal footing with God.

“If I were God, I would not make people worship me,” I once quipped to a friend. I’ve heard others say, “If I were God, I would cure cancer or end war or poverty or . . . .”

It’s as if the entire planet is infected with the Bruce Almighty Syndrome. In the movie “Bruce Almighty” Jim Carey plays a frustrated, angry TV reporter named Bruce Nolan. Bruce demands God answer his questions but is not prepared for God to do so.

Suddenly endowed with God’s almighty power, Bruce works tiny, meaningless, even mean, self-centered miracles. One of the most telling miracles is when he selfishly enlarges his girlfriend’s breasts. Silly joke; harsh truth.

The truth is, like Bruce, most of us wouldn’t use God’s power to end poverty or cure cancer–not at first anyway. And even with as far as we have come and as intelligent as we are, we would have no clue what to do with the immense power God wields. Still we insist on going toe to toe with God, thinking we will badger or bash an answer out of him.

Hear though, I am not advocating blind belief and dumb doubt. Job questioned God. He asked why. But in so doing, Job did not consider himself equal to God, or as we often feel, above God. Our struggle is that we often not only command God answer our questions, we demand he prove his existence–if we don’t believe–and prove his love–if we do. Yet if God did answer, the explanation would not take away the emotional pain that prompted the query. And these demands of God almost always bleed out of our pain and loss.

“God, why?” Job cries.

“Job, I let all your children be murdered and your wealth and health disappear so that every generation who reads your story will be encouraged,” God might say.

“I am glad others will learn from my pain,” Job might answer. “But, Lord, I still miss my children. Even in these beautiful new children you have given me, I sometimes see the faces and hear the laughter of the lost ones. I am thankful, but my heart still is broken.”

“I know,” God nods.

I believe God may not receive our commands and demands as an affront to his power, holiness, and mysterious ways–though they surely are–but rather as an exercise in futility. Like the explanation of gravity given to a four-year-old, God’s answers make little sense to us. God’s questions of Job, “Have you ever given orders to the morning, or shown the dawn its place?” are not God putting Job in his place but rather showing Job his place. We are not God and cannot know life and pain and mystery as God knows it. That is not a putdown, but a reality.

Is there a remedy for Bruce Almighty Syndrome? Drop the almighty attitude. Simply become Bruce Nolan or Jim Carey or Eugene Scott, whoever God created you to be. Let go the demands, the pretensions. Job says, “I am unworthy” and puts his hand over his mouth. Saying thus opens us then to God’s touch, if not God’s answer, and is an act of faith, humility and–ultimately–an act of strength.         

  1. What do these for passages share in common?
  2. How do you see yourself in Job?
  3. What passage spoke most to you?

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Eugene co-pastors The Neighborhood Church in Littleton, CO and writes a blog eugenesgodsightings.blogspot.com


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The Glory of Self-Promotion

This week is the culmination of many television programs for the broadcast season. Lee DeWyze was voted the next American Idol, and Nicole Scherzinger of the Pussy Cat Dolls and her partner Derek Hough won the dance competition on Dancing With The Stars.

At some level, all the contestants on these programs promoted themselves. In fact, most recognizable personalities in our society draw their living from promoting themselves.

Is promoting ourselves a noble or self-absorbed pursuit?

Please join me as we explore this further.


2 Samuel 13:1-39
John 17:1-26
Psalm 119:81-96
Proverbs 16:6-7


2 Samuel 13:1-39. Like father, like son. Just as David had committed sexual sin, so Amnon followed in the steps of his father. Since he was David’s eldest son, Amnon was the heir apparent to the throne—a scary thought considering how Amnon treated his half-sister Tamar.

While David was furious with his son for raping his sister, we see no evidence of any retribution. Nothing is done to Amnon and Tamar is left in disgrace. Because of this, Absalom, Tamar’s brother takes justice into his hands.

Even worse, we see no evidence of David comforting his disgraced daughter. Because David did nothing, we read in verse 20 that she came under the care of her brother Absalom. Despite David’s brokenness over his sin with Bathsheba and the warnings of calamity on his household, David demonstrated a disturbing aloofness toward his family and the laws of Israel. This inactivity on David’s part likely planted the seeds of discontent in Absalom.

Following in the violent footsteps of his half-brother, Absalom killed Amnon and then fled.

This was fulfillment of Nathan’s words to David: “This is what the Lord says: ‘Out of your own household I am going to bring calamity upon you’” (2 Samuel 12:11).

Like a chemical chain reaction, our actions affect others. Think about how many people were affected by David and Bathsheba’s sin:

  • Uriah, who was wrongly killed on the battlefield.
  • Other brave warriors who died on the battlefield (as Eugene mentioned yesterday)
  • Uriah’s grief-stricken family
  • The extended families of David and Bathsheba who were disappointed by the couple’s actions
  • The unborn baby who died in Bathsheba’s womb
  • Amnon—who learned sexual impropriety (to some extent) from his father David and was later murdered by his brother Absalom
  • Tamar—who was raped by Amnon
  • Absalom—who was enraged by his brother’s actions and father’s inaction. This led him to start an insurrection against David which eventually led to his death.
  • Israel—who felt betrayed by David’s actions (and inactions regarding his sons) which laid the groundwork for Absalom to rebel and steal the hearts of Israel from his father.

We may not serve in positions of influence like David, but I can name countless people whose actions have affected people—some of whom they never met.

John 17:1-26. This chapter probably gives us the best window into the way Jesus prayed and into the relationship between Jesus and his heavenly Father.

Of the many profound insights Jesus makes in this passage, one stands out to me. In describing his followers, Jesus prays: “My prayer is not that you take them out of the world but that you protect them from the evil one.” Jesus’ concern was that his followers would huddle together to the exclusion of people who don’t follow Jesus in order to avoid being stained by the outside world. This is assuredly a prayer Jesus continues to pray to the Father today.

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As a writer and occasional published author, I periodically experience seasons when I must promote something I’ve written. When my book Strange Fire, Holy Fire was released about 18 months ago, it brought to the surface a quandary that has plagued me for years. Amidst the marketing promotion my publisher organized on my behalf, I felt deeply uncomfortable about promoting myself. And to be honest, I wasn’t exactly diligent about marketing the book from my end. I subconsciously (perhaps even consciously) convinced myself that promoting my book was prideful.

This morning, reading Jesus’ prayer in John 17 made me realize that I was completely wrong in my assumptions.

Here’s what Jesus prayed to his father: “Father, the time has come. Glorify your Son, that your Son may glorify you…And now, Father, glorify me in your presence with the glory I had with you before the world began” (John 17:1, 5).

Jesus was quite comfortable asking to be glorified because he knew that he would take that glory and return to this Father.

Here’s what I learned from Jesus this morning: receiving the adulation of others isn’t wrong, if we pay it forward to our heavenly Father. In fact, I’m coming to realize that promoting ourselves (or our work) isn’t wrong either, as long as we pay it forward to God. Actually, that “self-promotion” might actually be God-ordained.

It really goes back to what we do with the glory we receive.

If we keep it to ourselves, we place ourselves in the unenviable position of setting ourselves up for a fall (see Proverbs 16:18).

But if we genuinely reflect it toward God, then the glory we receive servers a greater purpose than just promoting ourselves.


  1. What spoke to you in today’s reading?
  2. How have your actions affected others? How might decisions you’re making right now affect people in the future?
  3. What does it look like for you to “pay forward” the glory you receive from others to God?

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Michael co-pastors The Neighborhood Church in Littleton, Colorado.

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Giving In To The Inevitable

Bruce Nolan worked as a not-so-mild-mannered reporter for a television news station in Buffalo, New York. Eager to make a name for himself but repeatedly rebuffed, he complained that God was standing in his way.

But God turned Bruce’s world upside-down by giving him a measure of his divine powers. After becoming the master of his destiny, Bruce’s true self-absorbed nature became abundantly clear.

You can probably already guess that I’m referring to the movie Bruce Almighty.

Throughout the movie, we witness the power struggle between Bruce and God. Finally, at the end of the story, Bruce falls to his knees in the middle of the road and cries out to God in a pouring rainstorm, “I give up, I submit to your will, I can’t do this on my own!”

Why didn’t he just give up at the beginning of the movie? It would have prevented a world of sorrow and pain. Of course, it would have brought a quick conclusion to a good movie, too.

Like Bruce Nolan, all of us engage in a similar struggle with God.

In today’s reading, we’ll examine the story of a man much like Bruce—and probably like you and me, too.


Exodus 8:1-9:35
Matthew 19:13-30
Psalm 24:1-10
Proverbs 6:1-5


Exodus 8:1-6. The frog invasion makes sense because the Nile River had become uninhabitable. Incidentally, the Egyptians worshiped a frog-like goddess named Hequet.

Exodus 8:15. Previously, God said he was going to harden Pharaoh’s heart. But in this verse, we read that Pharaoh hardened his own heart. Although God can do anything he wants, this verse tells me that Pharaoh had already displayed hardhearted tendencies.

Exodus 8:16-19. Scholars aren’t certain of the identity of the “gnats.” They now believe this was either a mosquito or tick infestation. Pick your poison! Even the Egyptian magicians admitted: “This is the finger of God.”

Exodus 8:20-32. In light of the rotting fish and frogs, the presence of flies makes sense. In this episode, we begin to see a crack in Pharaoh’s resolve, although he changes his mind and refuses to let Israel worship in the desert.

Exodus 9:1-7. The Bible Background Commentary explains, “The plague on the cattle is regularly identified as anthrax that was contracted from the bacteria that had come down the Nile and infected the fish, the frogs and the flies.” Incidentally, the Egyptians worshipped Hathor, the goddess of love, which looked like a cow, and a sacred bull named Apis.

Exodus 9:10-12. The Bible Background Commentary further explains: “Skin anthrax would be carried by the bites of the flies which had had contact with the frogs and cattle, and would produce sores, particularly on the hands and feet.”

Exodus 9:27. This is the second crack in Pharaoh’s resolve. He admits his sin.

Matthew 19:14. Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these” (italics added). How did this ancient society view children? Dependent and socially powerless. The kingdom of heaven belongs to people like this.

Matthew 19:16-26. The New Bible Dictionary makes an interesting insight about the rich, young ruler: “The man was rich, moral and eager for eternal life, the ideal recruit to the disciple band.”

Matthew 19:21. Obviously, Jesus doesn’t ask everyone to sell all their possessions and give them to the poor. However, he does ask us to give him everything, and in fact, he already owns it (see Psalm 24:1 below in today’s reading). Robert Gundry adds a touch of discomfort to anyone who feels relieved about not receiving Jesus’ costly directive: “That Jesus did not command all his followers to sell all their possessions gives comfort only to the kind of people to whom he would issue that command.”

Psalm 24. Whenever I read this psalm, my heart jumps. It begins by setting the scene of God’s incredible power and might. Then it delves into our preparation of entering God’s presence. Finally, the last 4 verses conclude with the procession to the Temple. Make way for the King of Glory! The band Third Day recorded this song. If you’d like to see their video, click here.

Proverbs 6:1-5. The operative verse in this passage is “Go and humble yourself.” Repeatedly in Scripture, I find that humility is not a fruit of the Spirit. God doesn’t humble us, we must humble ourselves.

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Reading about Pharaoh’s ongoing trouble with Moses and his relentless plagues, I keep asking myself, Why doesn’t he just give up? If Pharaoh would just give in and let Israel leave the country, his life would get a lot better.

Really, I think that’s the question God asks all of us. Why don’t we just give up? Why do we resist him? His resolve is much stronger than ours. And usually, after losing the wrestling match, we walk away with a host of bumps and bruises.

A few years ago I stumbled across an anonymous quote that explains some of the pain we encounter in our struggle with God: “Pain plants the flag of reality in the fortress of a rebel heart.”

Sometimes pain happens. I can’t explain it, and hopefully someday God will. But in his love, I believe God occasionally allows us to feel pain in order to plant the flag of reality—his reality—in the fortress of our rebel hearts.

One of the overarching themes of Scripture is the importance of humility. Interestingly enough, God doesn’t make us humble ourselves. Nor is humility a fruit of the Spirit. It’s an act of the will. Our reading in Proverbs 6:3 reinforces this: “Go and humble yourself.”

Unfortunately, Pharaoh never learned to soften his heart and humble himself.

Fortunately, we don’t have to follow in Pharaoh’s footsteps.


  1. What spoke to your heart in today’s reading?
  2. In what areas do you encounter your greatest struggles with God? Why do you do it when you know you’re going to lose? You do know you’re going to lose, don’t you? What have you learned from your struggles?
  3. Referring to children, Jesus said “the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.” What does this look like in real life? What prevents you from being like a child?
  4. Why do you think humility is important to God? Who has modeled humility in your life?

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Michael co-pastors The Neighborhood Church in Littleton, Colorado.

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