Our Portrait In Genesis (book review)

The Complete Works Of Oswald ChambersI love having Oswald Chambers walk alongside me as I study the Bible. He is like a wise, insightful friend pointing out, “Did you see that? Did you notice what God is doing here? What do you think that means for you?” In Our Portrait In Genesis, Chambers walks with us through the first book of the Bible.

Previously I reviewed Not Knowing Where by Oswald Chambers, which looks specifically at the life of Abraham in Genesis 12-25. In Our Portrait, Chambers turns his attention to the other notable people in Genesis.

As he looks at Adam, Eve, Cain, Able, Noah, and the other patriarchs, Chambers is constantly pointing out the lessons we can learn from their lives and apply to our lives. Because of his training in psychology, Chambers is so skilled at knowing what was going on in the minds of these biblical examples, and then helping us examine our own thinking along the same lines.

Our Portrait and Not Knowing Where are tremendously helpful commentaries to read as you work your way through the book of Genesis. As always, you can’t go wrong picking up an Oswald Chambers book!

Links & Quotes

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“Authority never comes from you, but from God through you, therefore let God introduce or withhold as He chooses.” —Oswald Chambers

“The best of men are men at best; and, apart from the work of the Holy Spirit, and the power of divine grace, hell itself does not contain greater monsters than you and I might become.” —Charles Spurgeon

“The Bible is the grand repository … It is the complete system of divine truth, to which nothing can be added, and from which nothing can be taken, with impunity. Every attempt to disguise or soften any branch of this truth, in order to accommodate it to the prevailing taste around us, either to avoid the displeasure, or to court the favor, of our fellow mortals, must be an affront to the majesty of God, and an act of treachery to men.” —John Newton

“Seeking the Kingdom of God is not a matter of doing first things first. Seeking the Kingdom is not just the first thing on the Christian’s daily to-do list. Seeking the Kingdom is a first things always proposition, so that whatever is on our to-do list on any given day, seeking the Kingdom is the first things pursuit which defines and directs everything else we do.” —T.M. Moore

Eric Metaxas said, “Children are being sexually abused in Afghanistan, and our soldiers are being told to turn a blind eye. That’s got to stop.” Read more in his commentary Their Custom, Our Complicity.

In the style of C.S. Lewis’ Screwtape Letters, Burk Parsons writes a letter to pastors.

A thought-provoking piece from Nancy Pearcey, in light of the Kim Davis situation and the Obergefell decision: The Bait-and-Switch Over Same-Sex ‘Marriage.’

Seth Godin points out, “Thinking of one’s self as a failure is not the same as failing.” Read more from On Feeling Like A Failure.

A Perspective On Problems

False ideas on problemsWe were blessed to have a special guest speaker yesterday morning: Jeff Hlavin. Wow, what a great word he shared with us! He continued in our series called Aliens and Strangers, on how Christians are to live in this world as citizens of Heaven. Below are a few notes I jotted down.

Dear friends, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal that has come on you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. (1 Peter 4:12)

Using this verse as his introduction, Pastor Jeff shared four false ideas about problems:

  1. Problems are bad and are an interruption to our lives.
  2. All problems can be avoided by hard work, careful planning and clear thinking.
  3. Good Christians don’t have problems.
  4. My problems are a result of sin or are a sign of a lack of faith/maturity.

Instead I should see from a biblical perspective that…

“The Holy Spirit is the greatest Change Agent in a Christian’s life. I can only resolve this tension by obedience. … The devil tries to invoke turmoil in my life, but I can overcome this turmoil by submitting to God (James 4:7).” —Jeff Hlavin

“Trials develop spiritual/emotional/mental muscles that we need to have to soar into the place God has for us.” —Jeff Hlavin

If you would like to download a copy of the outline Pastor Jeff handed out to us, click here → Perspective on Problems Outline ←

We will be continuing in our Aliens and Strangers series this Sunday, and I’d love to have you join us. If you cannot attend in person, check out our broadcast on Periscope by searching for @craigtowens.

Poetry Saturday—Mission

Ella Wheeler Wilcox

If you are dreaming of a future goal,
   When, crowned with glory, men shall own your power,
Be careful that you let no struggling soul
   Go by unaided in the present hour.
If you are moved to pity for the earth,
   And long to aid it, do not look so high,
You pass some poor, dumb creature faint with thirst—
   All life is equal in the Eternal Eye.
If you would help to make the wrong things right,
   Begin at home: there lies a lifetime’s toil.
Weed your own garden fair for all men’s sight,
   Before you plan to till another’s soil.
God chooses His own leaders in the world,
   And from the rest He asks but willing hands.
As mighty mountains into place are hurled,
   While patient tides may only shape the sands. —Ella Wheeler Wilcox, Mission

Links & Quotes

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“Man, please thy Maker and be merry; / This whole world rate we at a penny!” —William Dunbar

“Seeking the Kingdom of God is not a matter of doing first things first. Seeking the Kingdom is not just the first thing on the Christian’s daily to-do list. Seeking the Kingdom is a first things always proposition, so that whatever is on our to-do list on any given day, seeking the Kingdom is the first things pursuit which defines and directs everything else we do.” —T.M. Moore

Some facts reported by Live Action to refute the Planned Parenthood lies:

  • “Abortion is only 3 percent of the services Planned Parenthood provides”—but in reality, it accounts for over one-third of Planned Parenthood’s annual revenue.
  • “Women will be hurt if their taxpayer funding is cut off”—but more than 13,000 health clinics would be eligible for the $500,000,000 of your taxpayer dollars Planned Parenthood currently receives.  Not a single dime would be taken away from women’s healthcare!  In fact, more health clinics could offer more services with that money.

If you use YouVersion to read/study your Bible, and you enjoy apologetics, check out the 7-day reading program J. Warner Wallace developed.

Dan Reiland wrote a great post for leaders called Open-Handed Leadership. This was primarily written for church leaders, but anyone can benefit from it.

Thursdays With Oswald—Beware Of The ‘Yes-but’

Oswald ChambersThis is a periodic series with things I’m reading and pondering from Oswald Chambers. You can read the original seed thought here, or type “Thursdays With Oswald” in the search box to read more entries.

Beware Of The ‘Yes-but’ 

   Beware of the “yes-but,” of putting your prudence-crutch under the purpose of God when you find His engineering of things has nearly unearthed your own little bag of tricks. Whenever you debate with a promise of God, watch how you begin to maneuver by your own prudence—but you can’t sleep at night. Whenever you maneuver it keeps up a ferment because it indicates a determination not to confess where you know you are wrong, and when we experience misgiving on account of wrong-doing which we do not intend to confess we are always inclined to put a crutch under God’s promise—“Now I see how I can make atonement for my wrong-doing.” Nothing can act as an atonement for wrong saving an absolutely clean confession to God. To walk in the light with nothing folded up is our conscientious part, then God will do the rest.

From Our Portrait In Genesis

I love that phrase, “Beware of the ‘yes-but.’” How many times do we say, “Yes, Lord, I will obey You, but…”? Or we excuse our sin by saying, “Yes, I know this wrong, but…”?

How quickly we can get freedom and experience new joy if we will simply confess: “Yes, Lord, I will obey you” and “Yes, I will repent from this sin.” Not a “yes-but,” but simply a “Yes, Lord” is all that it takes.

Links & Quotes

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John Maxwell says, “Most teams don’t naturally get better on their own. Left alone, they don’t grow, improve, or reach championship caliber. Instead, they tend to wind down.” Read more in 4 leadership styles that trigger peak performance.

“There are some things which I feel I might do, as far as I am concerned, which I believe I might do without suffering any personal hurt, but which I would not do for your sakes and which I dare not do for the sake of many who would take license from my example to do a great deal more than I would do, and would make me the horse on which they would put the saddle of their sin. … The ill example of a Christian is ten times worse than that of one who is not a Christian, for if I see a sinner commit sin, his example is poison, but it is labelled. The inconsistent life of a Christian is unlabelled poison, and I am very likely to be injured by it.” —Charles Spurgeon

Holy service of praise - Calvin“There are a thousand passages, and a thousand testimonies, all bearing on the one Cross, the one propitiation, the one Lamb of God, the one blood, the one sacrifice. Any one of these testimonies in the hand of the Holy Spirit can pour in gladness into the soul. … Gloom dishonors God; joy honors Him. It speaks well of Him, and shows man what a God of goodness and grace He is.” —Horatius Bonar


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