Thursdays with Murray [Humility, week 2]

Andrew Murray 2Over the next number of weeks, I am interacting with some of the writings of Andrew Murray. Murray was a South African pastor and missionary during the 19th and early 20th centuries. I am spending time first with his short book Humility, which a friend shared with me recently.

In the second chapter of the book, Murray draws attention to the way in which humility is the secret of our redemption in Jesus Christ. On the one hand, an honest assessment of our own need and the power of sin in our lives should lead us into a humility caused by our own inability and powerlessness. On the other hand, the very humility of Jesus should encourage us that the pathway to redemption comes through His humility and our humble response to Him. Here is Murray on Jesus’ humility and its tie to our redemption:

The life of God which in the incarnation entered human nature is the root in which we are to stand and grow; it is the same almighty power that worked there, and then onward to the resurrection, which works daily in us. Our one need is to study and know and trust the life that has been revealed in Christ as the life that is now ours, and waits for our consent to gain possession and mastery of our whole being.

In this view it is of inconceivable important that we should have right thoughts of what Christ is, of what really constitutes Him the Christ, and specially of what may be counted His chief characteristic, the root and essence of all His character as our Redeemer. There can be but one answer: it is His humility. What is the incarnation but His heavenly humility, His emptying Himself and becoming man? What is His life on earth but humility; His taking the form of a servant? And what is His atonement but humility? “He humbled Himself and became obedient unto death.” And what is His ascension and His glory, but humility exalted to the throne and crowned with glory? “He humbled Himself, therefore God highly exalted Him.” In heaven, where He was with the Father, in His birth, in His life, in His death, in His sitting on the throne, it is all, it is nothing but humility. Chris is the humility of God embodied in human nature; the Eternal Love humbling itself, clothing itself in the garb of meekness and gentleness, to win and serve and save us.

This deep attention to the humility of Jesus gives me great pause to reflect and worship Jesus as we move out from Lent, Good Friday, and the resurrection celebration of Easter. I appreciate the way in which Murray connects the deep humble action of Jesus with the character of humility in God.

Turning the corner from God in Christ to our response to Him, Murray writes pointed words:

If humility be the first, the all-including grace of the life of Jesus – if humility be the secret of His atonement – then the health and strength of our spiritual life will entirely depend upon our putting this grace first too, and making humility the chief thing we admire in Him, the chief thing we ask of Him, the one thing for which we sacrifice all else.

How does that strike you as you read it?

How would you say that the humility of Jesus has most affected you?

How has the humility of Jesus taken root in your life?

What is the greatest hindrance to that?

The Pastor and Evangelism: Six Freeing Approaches to Fulfilling our Evangelistic Calling

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It’s a pleasure to be a regular contributor to The Gospel Life blog. sponsored by the Billy Graham Center at Wheaton College. My latest post dropped today: “The Pastor and Evangelism: Six Freeing Approaches to Fulfilling Our Evangelistic Calling.” Here’s an excerpt, but you can read the entire post here.

If we are honest as pastors, there are often times when we talk more about aspects of our faith than we actually live them out.

One of the areas we may feel most guilty about in our lives is the practice of evangelism. We hear the Apostle Paul’s words to Timothy to “do the work of an evangelist,” and many of us may feel the guilt of failing that calling in the midst of our many responsibilities, including sermon preparation, pastoral care visits, board meetings, staff leadership, and so much more.

While we must not ignore our calling to “do the work of an evangelist,” I’d like to offer us to consider six ways in which we of how we might fulfill our calling to evangelism within our ministry as pastors. I hope you find these as freeing as I did when I began to gain a bigger perspective on fulfilling my evangelistic calling…

[Read the entire post here.]

Bibliography for the Theology of Suffering and the Life of Joseph

books.jpgWhenever I study for a sermon series, I spend a lot of time far in advance of that sermon series doing research, reading books, thinking, reading articles, reflecting, reading more books, writing, and reading even more.

I usually gather all of the resources I use together into a bibliography for each series. Sometimes, I have bibliographies with sub-bibliographies because, well, that’s the sort of person that I am.

I had a lot of positive feedback on our Lenten series, “The Life of Joseph: God’s Sovereignty in Our Suffering.” I know there were many reasons for that, from the devotional written by members of our congregation at Eastbrook to the stories of God’s work in people’s lives and so much more.

Along with everything else, I also studied a lot for that series. I read a lot of old books and interacted with a lot of contemporary blogs and articles to help shape my thinking on the biblical text from Genesis and also the issues of God’s sovereignty and human suffering. With all that in mind, I thought I’d share my book list from that series. As is usually the case, I do not endorse the views of all of these books. In fact, many of them I disagree with sharply. However, the authors became meaningful conversation partners in shaping the direction and content of this series.

Life of Joseph – Bibliography

Genesis and the Biblical Story

Paul Borgman. Genesis: The Story We Haven’t Heard. Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 2001.

John Bright. A History of Israel, 4th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Westminster John Knox Press, 2000.

Walter Brueggemann. Genesis. Interpretation. Atlanta: John Knox Press, 1982.

Gene A. Getz. Joseph: Overcoming Obstacles through Faithfulness. Nashville, TN: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 1996.

Henry Jackson Flanders, Jr., Robert Wilson Crapps, and David Anthony Smith. People of the Covenant: An Introduction to the Hebrew Bible, 4th ed. New York: Oxford University Press, 1996.

F. B. Meyer. Joseph: Exalted Through Trials. New York: Fleming H. Revell, n. d.

Charles R. Swindoll. Joseph: A Man of Integrity and Forgiveness. Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson, 1988.

Gerhard Von Rad. Genesis. OTL. Philadelphia, PA: Westminster Press, 1961.

Bruce K. Waltke with Cathi J. Fredricks. Genesis: A Commentary. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2001.Read More »

I Am Not Stuck

With our current series at Eastbrook Church, “Who Am I?”, we are exploring biblical answers to questions about our identity as human beings.

This weekend I  addressed the ways in which we feel stuck in life, and how a deeper level of being stuck – or existential dissonance – is the underlying cause of that. I talked about two great truths that pin us in their grip, and how the work of Christ opens a doorway into a new way of living out of an unstuck identity.

You can view the message video and sermon outline below. You can follow the entire series at our web-site, through the Eastbrook app, or through our audio podcast.

Read More »

Who Am I?: a new series at Eastbrook Church

This past weekend at Eastbrook Church, as we celebrated the resurrection, we launched a new series entitled “Who Am I?: Finding Identity in Christ.” My first message in that series, “He Is – I Am,” explored how the life, death and resurrection of Jesus the Messiah leads us into the discovery of what it truly means to be human in relation to God and as our unique selves.

The remainder of the series addresses this pervasive question within our culture: who am I? We receive all sorts of advice in answering that question, from ‘following our noses’ to trying on different identities to reacting against the prevailing culture or our histories. But how do we discover our personal identity? Even more, is the concept of personal identity even something that is helpful to consider?
This series looks at what Jesus’ life, death and resurrection mean for our personal identity with God in Christ.

Here are the titles of the series:

  • April 7/8: I am not stuck
  • April 14/15: I am known by faith
  • April 21/22: I am more than my image
  • April 28/29: I am made uniquely
  • May 5/6: I am unfinished
  • May 12/13: I am loved beyond measure
  • May 19/20: I am filled with God’s power

Join us throughout the next two months in person or online to gain a deeper grasp of our identity in Jesus Christ.