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Staying Humble and Hungry

Staying Humble and Hungry

I started my university years in the College of Business. And in the spring semester of my freshman year, I took a class on public speaking. It was required or I would have never signed up for it. The first couple of weeks, all was fine. We were learning about how to write and give speeches. But at some point, our professor gave us THE assignment that would mark my life in a significant way. We were to write and deliver a 5-minute speech on anything we wanted. No big deal.

I wrote my speech and the night before I was supposed to give it, I became so terrified at the thought of speaking for 5 minutes in front of all these strangers. The next morning, I was so afraid of giving the speech that I didn’t go to class that day. And guess what? I still have never been back to that class.

I withdrew from that class and ended up having to leave the College of Business, all because I couldn’t give a 5-minute speech. It’s important to keep remembering how our stories began. You may happen to know that speaking publicly is a major part of my work and calling. You might also know that I love business and love when I get the opportunity to coach business leaders. But all of that began with me not being able to give a 5-minute speech and having to choose a major in something other than business.

What is in your story that should keep you humble?

It is easy to start off humble, but difficult to stay humble. Why? When we’re starting almost anything – school, learning how to drive, a new job, or a new hobby – we don’t know anything and we don’t have much of anything. But the more we gain – knowledge, skill, wealth, and experience – the easier it is to forget where we started.

Don’t forget where, when, and how it all started for you.

It’s important that we keep telling our origin stories. When we started Epic Church 13 years ago, it was pretty easy to be humble. We had 13 people. No facility. No guarantee than any of this would work. Our original staff team all had roles we had never been in before. Could we really make it in San Francisco?

We prayed desperate prayers. God, cause people to show up. Give us a space for this new church to meet in. Give us favor with the city. Bring the financial partners to help get this church off the ground.

This is the actual journal I was using when Epic started. Let me read just a few of my journal entries for you:

November 6, 2010 (between our first and second preview services) “This whole thing still feels very fragile to me. It is a struggle to trust God has all this in his hands, when so much of it is out of my hands – ironic! I get to live out all I’ve taught lately. We are desperate for God to act. We need to move forward in faith and not shrink back.”

February 16, 2011 (the week after we launched the church) “Well, this past Sunday we actually launched Epic Church in San Francisco. It was amazing seeing the dream become a reality. We had 196 people – 181 adults and 15 kids – attend our Grand Opening service.

I remember those days when we had little and we were so desperate for God to show up in miraculous ways. Well, we have a lot more now. We have a growing staff team with so many gifted women and men leading the way for us. Those 15 kids have turned into 120 kids and students showing up on a weekly basis. In the beginning, we needed the financial partnership of other churches and people to make it. We have now given almost $3 million to our partners. We have favor in the city now – who would have thought the city would be on board with co-sponsoring our Egg Hunt this year? But it’s happening next month! And we have purchased our own church property in San Francisco that we’re currently renovating..

Now that we have way more going for us than we used to, how do we stay humble and hungry? I think Moses gives us a powerful warning and some significant practices in Deuteronomy 8. The Israelites have been freed from their slavery in Egypt. God has led them through the wilderness for 40 years and He’s getting ready to take them into the promised land.

Deuteronomy 8:1-18 Be careful to follow every command I am giving you today, so that you may live and increase and may enter and possess the land the LORD promised on oath to your ancestors. Remember how the LORD your God led you all the way in the wilderness these forty years, to humble and test you in order to know what was in your heart, whether or not you would keep his commands. He humbled you, causing you to hunger and then feeding you with manna, which neither you nor your ancestors had known, to teach you that man does not live on bread alone but on every word that comes from the mouth of the LORD. Your clothes did not wear out and your feet did not swell during these forty years. Know then in your heart that as a man disciplines his son, so the LORD your God disciplines you. Observe the commands of the LORD your God, walking in obedience to him and revering him. For the LORD your God is bringing you into a good land – a land with brooks, streams, and deep springs gushing out into the valleys and hills; a land with wheat and barley, vines and fig trees, pomegranates, olive oil and honey; a land where bread will not be scarce and you will lack nothing; a land where the rocks are iron and you can dig copper out of the hills. When you have eaten and are satisfied, praise the LORD your God for the good land he has given you. Be careful that you do not forget the LORD your God, failing to observe his commands, his laws and his decrees that I am giving you this day. Otherwise, when you eat and are satisfied, when you build fine houses and settle down, and when your herds and flocks grow large and your silver and gold increase and all you have is multiplied, then your heart will become proud and you will forget the LORD your God, who brought you out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery. He led you through the vast and dreadful wilderness, that thirsty and waterless land, with its venomous snakes and scorpions. He brought you water out of hard rock. He gave you manna to eat in the wilderness, something your ancestors had never known, to humble and test you so that in the end it might go well with you. You may say to yourself, “My power and the strength of my hands have produced this wealth for me.” But remember the LORD your God, for it is he who gives you the ability to produce wealth, and so confirms his covenant, which he swore to your ancestors, as it is today.

REMEMBER. REMEMBER. REMEMBER. This is how you stay humble and hungry. And I know it sounds so obvious, but remembering all that God has done will keep you from forgetting all that God has done. Remember that the LORD your God led you all the way through the wilderness – to humble you, to test you, and to know what was in your heart. Moses reminds them that God “humbled them, causing them to hunger and them feeding them with manna.” What’s the point?

God creates hunger in us so that He can feed us.

The text says that God caused them to be hungry, so that HE could feed them with manna, something new he created.. If we aren’t careful, we’ll try to set our lives up so that we don’t even need God to come through for us.. Jesus did does the same thing with the feeding of the 5,000.

John 6:5-6 When Jesus looked up and saw a great crowd coming toward him, he said to Philip, “Where shall we buy bread for these people to eat?” He asked this only to test him, for he already had in mind what he was going to do.

What is God asking us to rely on Him for in this season? How are we doing with this current test?

Moses is giving them this instruction because they are about to enter a new phase. They are coming into a good land and their circumstances are going to change in a major way. It’s a land with all kinds of water sources, grain, and a land where bread will not be scarce.

How do you stay humble and hungry when you’re living in a land of abundance?

Praise God for it. (v.10) When you eat and are satisfied. I love this. God says, “Enjoy all of the provision I’m giving you. Just make sure you praise me for it.” And - Don’t forget. (v.11)

Otherwise when you eat good food, when you build nice houses, when your possessions and your wealth grow – then your heart will become proud and you’ll forget the very God who did all of this for you. And then he lists God’s accomplishments in their story: He brought you out of slavery. He led you through the wilderness. He brought you water out of the rock. God did the miracles, not you.

Epic Church,  there is so much to be grateful for over these past 13 years. A few of my favorites:

-It worked.

-The people (you) God has brought into this community. The young, the old. The singles, married couples, and families. Humans from more than 60 nations. All the salvations, baptisms, family dedications, small groups, deep friendships, those who met their spouse here, so much provision, worship ministry, Epic Kids, Epic Students, Alpha, Sacred Vocation. 414 Brannan. But let’s be careful.

Living in the middle of abundance can cause us to think we created it by ourselves.

The point of this text is that God is the Source of all blessing. He provided for them in the wilderness – unending food, clothes that did not wear out and feet that did not swell.

We can trust in God or trust in what He provides or trust in ourselves.

When you are given more, how do you stay humble and hungry? Remember where you started and where God has taken you. Keep pursuing a vision beyond your current resources.

God’s provision in our past is intended to build our trust in His future provision.


-Thank You. Gratitude. Worship.

-Humble Ourselves or we will be humbled.

-Stay dependent.

-Do whatever we do for His glory, not ours.

“Gratitude is ‘coming back’ to the scene of the event and acknowledging what has happen and who made it happen.” Gordon MacDonald, A Resilient Life

Do you remember when you encountered Jesus and He changed you forever? Do you remember when He covered ALL of your sin? When He brought peace into the places in you that anxiety used to occupy? Do you remember when He convinced you that His love for you wasn’t based on your performance or your accomplishments?

Go back to the scene of this event, acknowledge what happened, and who made it happen. And then watch gratitude and worship explode in your heart.

If this hasn’t happened yet, you can encounter Jesus right now because He has provided everything you need to be saved from your sins and to enjoy life with Him forever. Would you like to do this today?

And for all Jesus has done these 13 years at Epic Church, let’s worship Him and express our gratitude. He has provided and we believe He will provide everything we need in the future.

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