In fact, it really is important to know the truth, and it's also important to convey that truth humbly.
That's the concise message of "Humble Orthodoxy" by Joshua Harris, with Eric Stanford (published by Multnomah Books). In fact, the physical book itself models the message by the authors. Instead of stretching a single subject into a full-sized hardback edition, the photo above shows this small book in the palm of my hand.
It's a little hardback (just 79 pages in a mini-hardback format, and that includes a study guide in the back of the book) because the authors stick to the subject, one that needs to be broached by many in the church. Being right --- having orthodox beliefs --- matters. But so does how we communicate the truth of God's Word to others.
In 2013, the church is rife with arrogance and even mean-spiritedness in how some use their version of the truth to pummel others. Others are willing to fudge on the truth for the sake of "peace." What we really need in order to be the church unified on mission for Christ is humble orthodoxy.
"One of the mistakes Christians often make is that we learn to rebuke like Jesus but not love like Jesus," the authors write.
Harris and Stanford identify the problems surrounding a lack of both humility and orthodoxy and lead us in learning how we can harmonize knowing and sharing God's truth with genuine humility and graciousness toward others.
Anyone with a heart to share the Good News of Jesus Christ with others would benefit from this book. It's a fast but worthwhile read that may help you be more effective in pursuing orthodox beliefs with the right attitude.
I received this book free from WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group as
part of their book review bloggers program. I was not required
to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are
my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal
Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use
of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”
Legend has it that was the order given by Spanish conquistador, Hernando Cortes, but it's somewhat inaccurate.
Cortes had heard of the great wealth of the Aztec empire, and he set his mind on a single mission: to conquer the Aztecs and take their vast treasure.
In 1519, Cortes left his 11 ships anchored off the Yucatan and came ashore with 500 soldiers and 100 sailors, ready to begin the task of toppling the Aztec empire while appropriating its wealth.
There was just one problem --- some of his men were having second thoughts about their commitment to the mission.
Cortes had selected his men carefully, yet he had to do something to significantly buoy their motivation for the mission.
"Destroy the ships!" he ordered.
Initially, that order met was with resistance from Cortes' men. But Cortes challenged them, "If we are going home, we are going home in their ships."
The ships were scuttled (instead of burned), which meant Cortes' soldiers and sailors were making a total commitment toward successfully completing their singular mission. It was reported that morale and individual commitment to the mission shifted radically after the sinking of the ships. With no way to sail home, it was now all or nothing. Two years later, they would successfully complete their mission.
Great missions are usually rife with risks, dangers, and uncertainties. It's not uncommon to want to keep one foot safely on home base instead of losing our means to return to where we feel safe. But missions aren't accomplished that way, including the mission Jesus Christ has given to each Christian to join Him in building the kingdom of God.
"57 As they were walking along, someone said to Jesus, 'I will follow you wherever you go.' 58 But Jesus replied, 'Foxes have dens to live in, and birds have nests, but the Son of Man has no place even to lay his head.' 59 He said to another person, 'Come, follow me.' The man agreed, but he said, 'Lord, first let me return home and bury my father.' 60 But Jesus told him, 'Let the spiritually dead bury their own dead! Your duty is to go and preach about the Kingdom of God.' 61 Another said, 'Yes, Lord, I will follow you, but first let me say good-bye to my family.' 62 But Jesus told him, 'Anyone who puts a hand to the plow and then looks back is not fit for the Kingdom of God," Luke 9:57-62. Following Christ comes with all the promises and assurances of a faithful and perfect God, yet the journey will have its troubles. What's a motivation to move forward? It's an all-or-nothing proposition. You can't follow Christ for just select parts of the journey, you're either with Him or you aren't.
"Then he said to the crowd, 'If any of you wants to be my follower, you must turn from your selfish ways, take up your cross daily, and follow me'," Luke 9:23.
You either "destroy the ships" and commit to the mission, or turn back to the world and its false safety and comforts. Which choice have you made? Scotty
Two pals are sitting in a pub watching the eleven-o'clock news. A report comes on about
a man threatening to jump from the 20th floor of a downtown building. One friend turns to
the other and says, "I'll bet you ten bucks the guy doesn't jump."
"It's a bet," agrees his buddy.
A few minutes later, the man on the ledge jumps, so the loser hands his pal a $10 bill.
"I can't take your money," his friend admits, "I saw him jump earlier on
the six-o'clock news."
"Me, too," says the other buddy, "but I didn't think he'd do it
There are times when we should be able to expect someone to "know better" or to have finally learned a lesson. The time the apostles spent with Jesus just prior to His ascension into heaven is one of those times.
During their three years of intimately following and learning from Jesus, they missed a lot of lessons at first. But now, they have seen their Master endure the cross and then overcome death. Still, they just aren't getting it. Instead of inquiring about the kingdom of God, their minds return to a worldly, political setting as they ask Jesus if the time has come for Israel to be restored.
"So when the
apostles were with Jesus, they kept asking him, 'Lord, has the time come
for you to free Israel and restore our kingdom?'" Acts 1:6.
The apostles still have their minds set on the things of this world, rather than the things of God. Jesus redirects them to what they should be focused on ...
"7 He replied, 'The Father alone has the authority to set those dates and times, and they are not for you to know.8 But
you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you. And you
will be my witnesses, telling people about me everywhere — in Jerusalem,
throughout Judea, in Samaria, and to the ends of the earth'," Acts 1:7-8. The future of Israel wasn't unimportant, but there was something more important the apostles needed to be focused on, and that was building the kingdom of God rather than any earthly kingdom. It would take the coming of the Holy Spirit in their lives for them to finally "get it." The Apostle Paul echoes that same message when he writes, "Since you have been raised to new life with
Christ, set your sights on the realities of heaven, where Christ sits in
the place of honor at God’s right hand.2 Think about the things of heaven, not the things of earth.3 For you died to this life, and your real life is hidden with Christ in God," Colossians 3:1-3. Are you focused on being witnesses for Jesus? Or are you distracting yourself with political worries about earthly kingdoms? Scotty
One of the most pondered questions by human beings is this: What is God's will for me?
So much could be (and has been) written on that topic, but let's approach it from a different angle: When will you know the will of God for you?
The Apostle Paul provides a direct answer for us:
"Don’t copy the behavior
and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person
by changing the way you think. THEN you will learn to know God’s will
for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect," Romans 12:2. Did you catch that? You will not understand God's will for you with a mind that is conformed to the world. Stated another way, you must allow God to transform how you think first, "... THEN you will learn to know God's will for you ..." So perhaps the more pressing question is this: Is your mind conformed or transformed? Scotty
Leave it to us human beings to make the topic of forgiveness an act of selfishness.
Here's one example of a very common message about forgiveness:
Forgiveness is discussed and described often and broadly among Christians and non-Christians alike. Unfortunately, we've warped this critical topic into something "all about us." You'll routinely hear people talk about how not forgiving others wrecks our lives (true!), and how forgiving others benefits yourself (also true!). Rarely do you hear any discussion about how forgiving others mirrors the graciousness and character of God!
The Apostle Paul didn't miss this key to forgiveness:
"Instead, be kind to each other, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, just as God through Christ has forgiven you," Ephesians 4:32.
How did God forgive us?
Selfishly so He would feel better about maintaining a relationship with us?
Selfishly to avoid bitterness in His holy heart?
Selfishly to free Himself from holy resentment?
Scripture tells us this: "But God showed his great love for us by sending Christ to die for us while we were still sinners," Romans 5:8. God forgave our sins because He loves us! When we were at our worst, He acted in love. In the Garden of Gethsemane we see Jesus didn't relish having to endure the cross as the means of providing forgiveness of our sins, but in spite of His feelings He acted in love, in our best interest at the expense of His own. That's how we should forgive one another "... just as God through Christ ..." forgave us. Not from selfish reasoning, but because the One who is love has forgiven us, and is transforming us to be like Him. That means being able to act in love even when others are at their worst. Are your expressions of forgiveness an act of love, or an act of selfishness? Scotty
Have you ever wondered what God really wants from you? Have you ever thought deeply about what would be an appropriate response to God for His saving grace?
The Apostle Paul gives us an answer ...
"And so, dear brothers and sisters,
I plead with you to give your bodies to God because of all he has done
for you. Let them be a living and holy sacrifice—the kind he will find
acceptable. This is truly the way to worship him," Romans 12:1. We often think Paul is speaking of our physical bodies in this verse, but what do our bodies contain? They contain our thoughts, our emotions, our desires, our memories, our ideas, our imagination, our wants, our needs, our anxieties, our worries, our hopes, our fears, our dreams ... our bodies contain us! It's "us" --- every ounce of who we are --- that we should offer to God as a living sacrifice. Speaking on this subject, pastor and seminary president Dr. Stephen Davey once said, "God is not calling you to a martyr's death, He's calling you to a martyr's life." That's what being a living sacrifice for God is ... dying to self and living to the glory of God. But there's a word in that verse we often skip over or give little thought to. It's the word "holy" ... "... I plead with you to give your bodies to God because of all he has done for you. Let them be a living and holy sacrifice ..." Not only should we offer God the entirety of our lives as a living sacrifice, but as a holy one as well. That means allowing the Holy Spirit to transform us into the holy likeness of our Savior so we can live holy lives offered as living sacrifices to God. Have you offered to God your life as a living sacrifice for Him? Is it a holy life that you're offering Him, or just a living one? Scotty
Minister, church planter, clinical pastoral counselor, certified Personal Trainer and certified Fitness Nutrition Specialist, writer, leader, former business executive ... hmmm, I've done a few things over the years, but being a servant of Jesus Christ is why I exist, and the greatest passion of my life is helping people better understand, and apply, God's Word to their lives. Really, I'm just a regular guy!