Thursdays With Oswald—The Most Audacious Verse

Oswald ChambersThis is a weekly 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.

The Most Audacious Verse

     The faith that does not react in the flesh is very immature. Paul was so identified with Jesus Christ that he had the audacity to say that what men saw in his life in the flesh was the very faith of the Son of God. Galatians 2:20 is the most audacious verse in the Bible! Paul is not referring to his own elementary faith in Jesus Christ as his Savior, but to the faith of the Son of God, and he says that that identical faith is now in him.

From Conformed To His Image

Do you think that Paul is being audacious?

If so, do you think that Chambers is right that we can have that sort of faith?

If so, what’s it going to take?

Yawning At Tigers (book review)

Yawning At TigersI’ve been longing for a book like Yawning At Tigers to be published! For years I have been concerned with the “taming” of God that I see among so many in our culture, so the subtitle of Drew Dyck’s book nails it: You Can’t Tame God, So Stop Trying!

Drew opens with a real-life story of exotic animals which were set loose in a small town in the midwest. Where people had viewed the animals behind bars and plexiglass before and found them tame, their attitude was completely changed when those same animals were walking down their street! Drew uses this story to draw an analogy to the way people view a “tame God” contained behind stained glass windows, as opposed to the true God set loose in their neighborhoods.

Drew writes, “Even when we see evidence of God in our midst, when we glimpse His holiness, we’re more likely to yawn than yell. Somehow we’ve succeeded in making the strange ordinary.” It’s sad, but true in far too many settings.

Yawning At Tigers is an impassioned call to open the Scriptures up and really see God. He is awesome, He is ferocious, He is a warrior, He is white-hot love! Until we really see God, others will yawn at the thought of Christians or church. Again Drew gets it right when he says, “Only when we gain a proper understanding of God’s identity can we begin to appreciate the implications of His love.”

If you are desirous to see God revealed in all His fullness in your life, in your church, in your community, then you will resonate with the message of Yawning At Tigers.

I am a Thomas Nelson book reviewer.

Eye Exam

EyechartProbably at one time or another everyone has gone through some sort of eye exam where you read an eyechart to get information about your vision. This simple exam gives your doctor a standard by which to measure the visual acuity of your eyes. After all, without an objective standard for your vision, who’s to say whether your eyesight really is good or bad?

After taking the exam, the doctor can determine whether you have…

  • emmetropia—normal vision where light from your eye’s lens is properly focused on the retina at the back of your eye; or
  • myopia—also called short-sightedness, where the light is focused in front of the retina; or
  • hyperopia—or far-sightedness, where the light is focused behind the retina.

Both myopia and hyperopia can be corrected by lenses. Glasses, contact lenses, or even corrective surgery can correct your focal point, restoring emmetropia again. But notice this:

Lenses don’t change what you see, but how you see it. 

By refocusing the light into the right place, you are now looking at the same object, but the focal point is corrected. You are able to see things that were there all along, but that your out-of-focus vision caused you to miss. For a Christian, the Bible works the same way—

Scripture doesn’t change the events or circumstances in your life, but it does change how you see them. 

The eye is the lamp of the body. If your eyes are good, your whole body will be full of light. But if your eyes are bad, your whole body will be full of darkness. (Matthew 6:22-23)

Vision problemsWhat’s true for an eye exam is also true for a spiritual exam: If you don’t read the eyechart, it’s hard to tell if your vision is out-of-focus.

Far too many people don’t read the Bible for themselves, so they never have given the Holy Spirit a chance to show them where their attitude or lifestyle is out of focus with God’s design. However, if you are reading the Bible, here are three warning signs that you may have blurry spiritual vision that needs to be corrected:

  1. You try to rationalize what the Holy Spirit is saying to you through the Bible, instead of simply obeying what He says.
  2. You discount the wisdom of other God-fearing people who are saying the same thing God’s Spirit is saying.
  3. You frequently find yourself saying, “I know that’s what the Bible says, but….”

You don’t have to live with blurry spiritual vision. Read the Bible for yourself, and let the Holy Spirit point out how your vision can be corrected.

Both Testaments

BibleThis past week I’ve had two conversations that seemed like contradicting thoughts about the Bible, but they’re really exactly the same.

Conversation #1—Since Jesus Christ set us free from the law, there is no longer any need for us to read or study the Old Testament.

Conversation #2—The New Testament is a perversion of the Old Testament, so we should ignore it and stick with the “original” Scripture.

One thing that has helped me see the Scripture in a more correct light is a thought I picked up from Leonard Sweet and Frank Viola in their book Jesus: A Theography. Instead of the titles we’ve given the two divisions of the Bible, it will be better to call them the First and Second Testaments. “Old” and “New” have a tendency to make us think out-dated and updated; First and Second remind us that they go together.

Hosea is one of the first prophets in the First Testament whose words were put into writing. It’s interesting to note how many of the themes from the Pentateuch, Joshua and Judges are linked to Israel’s condition in the last few years before the northern tribes went into exile.

“Hosea’s allusions to Genesis through Judges are highly significant. First, they help to establish the fact that these books had already been written by the time of Hosea, in the eighth century B.C. (Many scholars consider these books to be from the sixth century B.C. and even later.) Second, Hosea’s construal of these books helps us to understand early Biblical interpretation, which in turn gives us a better understanding of how the [Second] Testament interprets the [First].” —Archeological Study Bible

When we move into the Second Testament, we see over 850 First Testament passages are quoted, sometimes entire paragraphs. In every instance, the Second Testament authors see the fulfillment of the First Testament in the life of Jesus Christ.

In fact, Jesus Himself quoted from 22 books of the First Testament, even on the day of His resurrection He explained to them what was said in all the Scriptures concerning Himself (Luke 24:27), and He said He would open our minds so that we too could understand all the Scriptures (Luke 24:45-47).

Finally there is the issue of fulfilled prophesy. Not only were First Testament prophesies fulfilled during the First Testament time, but even more were fulfilled during the Second Testament. In Jesus Christ alone about 200 such prophesies were fulfilled.

Both Testaments are equally important, and equally valuable. In fact, either Testament without the other robs God of His glory and robs us of seeing His fullness.

7 Bible Study Ideas From D.L. Moody

Pleasure & ProfitAs I read D.L. Moody’s book Pleasure & Profit In Bible Study, I made note of several ideas that could stimulate a great Bible study. Check out my review of this book by clicking here, then check out these great study-starters:

“If you are impatient, sit down quietly and commune with Job. If you are strong-headed, read of Moses and Peter. If you are weak-kneed, look at Elijah. If there is no song in your heart, listen to David. If you are a politician, read Daniel. If you are getting sordid, read Isaiah. If you are chilly, read of the beloved disciple. If your faith is low, read Paul. If you are getting lazy, watch James. If you are losing sight of the future, read in Revelation of the promised land.” —Richard Baxter 

“Every chapter [of Mark] but the first, seventh, eighth and fourteenth begins with ‘And,’ as if there was no pause in Christ’s ministry.”

“Matthew begins with Abraham; Mark with Malachi; Luke with John the Baptist; but John with God Himself. Matthew sets forth Christ as the Jew’s Messiah. Mark as the active worker. Luke as a man. John as a personal Savior.”

“[In John’s Gospel] the word repent does not occur once, but the word believe occurs ninety-eight times.”

“Dr. A. T. Pierson says: Let the introduction cover five P’s; place where written; person by whom written; people to whom written; purpose for which written; period at which written.” 

“Some time ago a man wanted to take my Bible home to get a few things out of it, and when it came back I found this noted in it:

  • Justification, a change of state, a new standing before God.
  • Repentance, a change of mind, a new mind about God.
  • Regeneration, a change of nature, a new heart from God.
  • Conversion, a change of life, a new life for God.
  • Adoption, a change of family, new relationship towards God.
  • Sanctification, a change of service, separation unto God.
  • Glorification, a new state, a new condition with God.”

“I was wonderfully blessed by taking the seven ‘Blesseds’ of the Revelation. … Or you may take the eight ‘overcomes’ in Revelation…. I have been greatly blessed by going through the ‘believings’ of John. Every chapter but two speaks of believing. … Take the six ‘precious’ things in Peter’s Epistles. And the seven ‘walks’ of the Epistle to the Ephesians. And the five ‘much mores’ of Romans 5. Or the two ‘receiveds’ of John 1. Or the seven ‘hearts’ in Proverbs 13, and especially an eighth. Or ‘the fear of the Lord’ in Proverbs.” 

“No scripture is exhausted by a single explanation. The flowers of God’s garden bloom, not only double, but seven-fold: they are continually pouring forth fresh fragrance.” —Charles Spurgeon

D.L. Moody’s Word To Pastors About The Word

Pleasure & ProfitAs I read D.L. Moody’s book Pleasure & Profit In Bible Study, I noticed several of his comments were directed to pastors.

In my humble opinion, the pastor needs to be the “Bible Student In Chief” of his or her congregation. The pastor’s love for God’s Word will create a hunger in the congregation to study this amazing Book!

You can read my full book review of Pleasure & Profit by clicking here. Below are some of the words to us pastors from this book.

“Oh! let every minister tell the truth, though he preach himself out of his pulpit. … If the Bible only has a chance to speak for itself, it will interest the people.” 

“Give the people the Word of God. Some men only use the Bible as a text book. They get a text and away they go. They go up in a balloon and talk about astronomy, and then go down and give you a little geology, and next Sunday they go on in the same way, and then they wonder why it is people do not read their Bibles.”

“It a good thing for a minister to have the reputation of feeding his people. … People can get along without your theories and opinions, ‘Thus saith the Lord’—that is what we want.”

“Christ did not have a short-hand reporter to go around with Him to write out and print His sermons, and yet the people remembered them. Never mind about finished sentences and rounded periods, but give your attention to making your sermons clear so that they stick. Use bait that your hearers will like.”

“It is a thing to weep over that we have got thousands and thousands of church members who are good for nothing towards extending the Kingdom of God. They understand bazaars, and fairs, and sewing-circles; but when you ask them to sit down and show a man or woman the way into God’s kingdom, they say: ‘Oh, I am not able to do that. Let the deacons do it, or some one else.’ It is all wrong.” 

Pastor, how is your personal Bible study time? Is it invigorating, or humdrum? We’ve got to get immersed in the Word so that we can encourage our congregations to do likewise.

10 Quotes From “C.S. Lewis In A Time Of War”

In A Time Of WarI loved C.S. Lewis In A Time Of War by Justin Phillips! It appealed to my interests in World War II history, old-time radio, and one of my favorite authors: C.S. Lewis. You can read my book review by clicking here. Below are 10 quotes from this book which will give you a little of the flavor of this work.

“In a time of uncertainty and questioning it is the responsibility of the church—and of religious broadcasting as one of its most powerful voices—to declare the truth about God and His relation to man. It has to expound the Christian faith in terms that can be easily understood by ordinary men and women, and to examine the ways in which that faith can be applied to present-day society during these difficult times.” —James Welch, the BBC director of religious broadcasting responsible for getting C.S. Lewis on the air

“It seems to me that the New Testament, by preaching repentance and forgiveness, always assumes an audience who already believe in the law of nature and know they have disobeyed it. In modern England we cannot at present assume this, and therefore most apologetic begins a stage too far on. The first step is to create, or recover, the sense of guilt. Hence if I gave a series of talks, I should mention Christianity only at the end, and would prefer not to unmask my battery till then.” —C.S. Lewis

“Having seen more of his original manuscripts than probably anybody else, Walter Hooper observes that there is next to no evidence of rewriting or of copious changes. The manuscript of The Screwtape Letters is a case in point. There was only the one draft.” —Justin Phillips

“A charitable trust was set up called The Agape Fund, using the Greek word for love. Until his marriage in 1957, two-thirds of all Lewis’s royalties went into this fund to help those in need—normally under the cover of anonymity.” —Justin Phillips

“If the whole universe has no meaning, we should never have found out that it has no meaning.” —C.S. Lewis

“Walter Hooper had discovered a calculation made by Warnie [Lewis] in 1967, described in his diary some four years after Jack’s [C.S. Lewis] death, that by the time the typewriter was finally packed up Warnie must have written at least 12,000 letters on it on his brother’s behalf.” —Justin Phillips

“Any amount of theology can now be smuggled into people’s minds under the cover of romance without them knowing it.” —C.S. Lewis 

“But if you will go to God just as you are, fully admitting that you care about Him very little, and put yourself in His hands, if you’re even ready to be made to care and leave Him to work, He’ll do the rest.” —C.S. Lewis

“All I am in private life is a literary critic and historian, that’s my job. And I am prepared to say on that basis if anyone thinks the Gospels are either legends or novels, then that person is simply showing his incompetence as a literary critic. I’ve read a great many novels and I know a few amount about the legends that grew up among early people, and I know perfectly well the Gospels are not that kind of stuff. They are absolutely full of the sort of things that don’t come into legends. Take one simple example. The passage in which Our Lord is scribbling in the dust before He gives His answer about the woman taken in adultery. Nothing whatever comes of it, no doctrine has ever been based on it, it has no point at all; there’s no conceivable reason why anyone should ever have written it down, unless he’s seen it happening. From first to last the things strike me as records of fact. And, in my opinion, the people who think that any of the episodes in the Gospels are imaginary are the people who have no imagination themselves and have never understood what imaginative story-telling is.” —C.S. Lewis

“Numbers very, but in the year 2000 some estimates put worldwide sales of Lewis’ books at over 200 million copies in more than thirty languages.” —Justin Phillips

Links & Quotes

link quote

Some good reading & watching from today…

[VIDEO] John Maxwell gives us a good reminder of what mercy is.

“There is, hidden or flaunted, a sword between the sexes till an entire marriage reconciles them. It is arrogance in us to call frankness, fairness, and chivalry ‘masculine’ when we see them in a woman; it is arrogance in them to describe a man’s sensitiveness or tact or tenderness as ‘feminine.’ But also what poor, warped fragments of humanity most mere men and mere women must be to make the implications of that arrogance plausible. Marriage heals this. Jointly the two become fully human. ‘In the image of God created He them.’ Thus, by a paradox, this carnival of sexuality leads us out beyond our sexes.” —C.S. Lewis

“The highest kind of liberality is, to redeem captives, to save them from the hands of their enemies, to snatch men from death, and, most of all, women from shame, to restore children to their parents, parents to their children, and to give back a citizen to his country.” —Ambrose

John Piper says, “We are supposed to let our light shine before others that they give glory to our Father. But in my experience shining with supernatural, divine light from another world is the very essence of non-regular.” Read the rest of his post: I Do Not Aspire To Be A “Regular Guy.”

It nauseates me when I think that my tax dollars are funding this sort of irresponsible, atrocious behavior at Planned Parenthood! Read more about the latest lawsuit against Planned Parenthood.

Praying for the peace of Israel in light of the newest Hamas attacks.

[INFOGRAPHIC] Research into the lifespans of biblical people in Did Adam Really Live 930 Years?

Pleasure & Profit In Bible Study (book review)

Pleasure & ProfitNear the beginning of Pleasure & Profit In Bible Study, Dwight Moody states the purpose of his book: “We cannot overestimate the importance of a thorough familiarity with the Bible. I try to lose no opportunity of urging people by every means in my power to the constant study of this wonderful Book. If through the pages that follow, I can reach still others and rouse them to read their Bibles, not at random but with a plan and purpose, I shall be indeed thankful.”

I am thankful that D.L. Moody took the time to pen this book for us. Though over a century old, his words are bringing a renewed excitement to studying my all-time favorite book: The Bible.

Moody devoured God’s Word, and had amazing recall of all he read. He reminds us that anything we are full of will be much easier to recall and apply. He then allows us a glimpse into his personal study time, showing us how he reads his Bible, what he looks for, how he marks certain passages, and other ways to engage Scripture.

If anyone ever felt like their Bible reading or studying was in a rut, this book will be a welcome rejuvenator. Even for those who already appreciate their time studying God’s Word, Pleasure & Profit will bring new insights for your study time.

I highly recommend this book!

Rewards For Faithfulness

NunI unabashedly tell anyone who asks me what my favorite book is … It’s the Bible. I have yet to find such a collection of writings that work every single time they’re applied.

Two summers ago we began a series of messages on the 119th Psalm. It appears that the psalmist shares my passion for God’s Word, as he writes time and time again the difference Scripture makes in his life.

The other thing that makes this psalm so cool to me is the organization of the 176 verses into twenty-two 8-verse segments, with each verse in a segment beginning with the the same Hebrew letter as its title. In the Hebrew language, the letters in the alphabet had their own meaning. In English an “n” is simply spelled “n.” It has no other definition or meaning. But in Hebrew the letter nun has both a spelling and a meaning. Nun is spelled nun-vav-nun (final), and it means both faithfulness and the reward for faithfulness.

Look at the three Hebrew characters that spell nun. Reading right to left it tells a story and gives the meaning of the letter/word—the one who is humbled in faithfulness will be the one who stands in righteousness. The perfect example of this is Jesus, Who humbled Himself when He came to earth and to the Cross, and then was exalted by the Heavenly Father to wear the crown of righteousness (see Philippians 2:5-11 and Revelation 14:14). Paul starts this passage by calling on us to “have the same attitude as that of Jesus” (v. 5), and concludes with the call to stick with it all the way to the end (see vv. 12-13).

RewardsThe psalmist calls us to this same thing in nun (Psalm 119:105-112). The “bookend” verses say, “Your Word is a lamp for me… so my heart is set on keeping Your Word” (vv. 105 and 112). In between the psalmist commits himself to a life of humbly persevering to God’s ways, and reaps the rewards of a changed heart, the joy of the Lord, and a heritage to pass on to others.

I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award me on that day—and not only to me, but also TO ALL who have longed for His appearing (2 Timothy 4:7-8).

Humble yourself before the Lord, and He will lift you up (James 4:10).

My heart is set on keeping Your decrees to the very end (Psalm 119:112).

Rewards here (new heart, joy, heritage) AND rewards in Heaven (a crown of righteousness). How awesome is that!!

If you are in the Cedar Springs area, I will be continuing our series through Psalm 119 next Sunday, and I would love to have you join us.

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