Dr. James C. Denison
President, Center for Informed Faith, Dallas, TX
October 6, 2010
A skull umbrella for my convertible
It’s time to get started on your early Christmas shopping. I know it’s barely October, but catalogs are beginning to appear.
My favorite is the Neiman Marcus Christmas catalog. In case my wife is reading today’s essay in search of hints, she might check pages 44 and 45, where the $75,000 Chevrolet Camaro Convertible is on display. If she would like something more ecologically friendly for herself, I can get her the Tory Burch Family Chariot Electric Tricycle for $4,500. Since I’ll be driving a convertible, I might need the Skull Umbrella. It comes with “a bit of a twist: a skull handle in brass with silver-color finish,” for only $495.00.
From Greek and Roman times, we who live in the Western world have defined success by possessions. Whether you’re building a global empire or a new hut, it’s the same simple formula: the more your net worth, the more you’re worth.
By contrast, I read these words in Psalm 25 this week: “Good and upright is the Lord; therefore he instructs sinners in his ways. He guides the humble in what is right and teaches them his way” (vs. 8-9). This Lord promises, “I live in a high and holy place, but also with him who is contrite and lowly in spirit” (Isaiah 57:15). The One who dwells in a perfect paradise is also willing to live with those who are humble.
Furthermore, this God says, “This is the one I esteem: he who is humble and contrite in spirit, and trembles at my word” (Isaiah 66:2). Jesus concurred: “whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 18:4).
Why is humility so essential to experiencing God’s presence and power? Because God cannot do for us what we try to do for ourselves. He can give only to those who will receive, and lead only those who will follow. “God blesses those people who depend only on him” (Matthew 5:3, CEV).
Consider some examples. The greatest preachers of the last three generations are probably Charles Spurgeon, Dwight Moody, and Billy Graham. What do they have in common?
Here is what Spurgeon said of himself, recorded in the preface to his collected sermons: “Recollect who I am, and what I am—a child, having little education, little learning, ability, or talent . . . Without the Spirit of God I feel I am utterly unable to speak to you.” And God used him to preach to 10 million across his ministry.
D. L. Moody was the son of an alcoholic who died when Moody was four years old. He completed seven grades of school. Moody said of himself: “I know that other men can preach better than I can. All I can say is that when I preach, God uses me.” And he did—more than a million came to Christ through him.
Here is what Billy Graham says of himself: “I have often said that the first thing I am going to do when I get to Heaven is to ask, ‘Why me, Lord? Why did You choose a farmboy from North Carolina to preach to so many people, to have such a wonderful team of associates, and to have a part in what You were doing in the latter half of the twentieth century?’ I have thought about that question a great deal, but I know also that only God knows the answer.” And he has preached to more people than anyone in Christian history.
Why did God use them so? Because they gave their best in humility. Who will be next?
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