Dear Abba is an intimate book of prayer and personal reflection; it’s thought-provoking and emotionally-moving. You can read my full book review by clicking here. Below are some of the quotes and prayers I found especially meaningful.
“Dear Abba, I’ve come to the place where I’m letting You love me more each day, but I still struggle with letting You like me.”
“It would be comical if it wasn’t so sad: all of our desires to make ourselves worthy of this world but unfit for the world to come.”
“Peace and joy go a-begging when the heart of a Christian pants for one sign after another of God’s merciful love. Nothing is taken for granted, and nothing is received with gratitude.”
“I feel like the psalmist tonight—downcast. I was upcast, bright, enjoying the warmth of the day and then suddenly my joy was pickpocketed. It was a small thing, a minor misunderstanding that I could have let roll off like water, but I held on to it and nursed it awhile, and like sin always does, it grew. Now I find my mind completely disturbed, anxious, angry, and my imagination is conjuring up all sorts of somebody-done-me-wrong songs. Why do I not trust You? After so many demonstrations of Your infinitely tender hand, why do I not trust You?”
“Sin does not magnify the suffering of man’s plight; instead, it mitigates it. When I sin, I seek an escape from my humanity. I used to say to myself, ‘Well, you’re only human!’ But sin does not make me human; it compromises my humanity. The philandering husband with his mistress on business trips, the chemically addicted, the thieves who build ivory towers out of stolen money, the sensation-seekers and power brokers who seek substitutes. They do not drink the poverty of the human situation down to the last drop. They dare not stare it full in the face.”
“Yet. Those three letters stop me in my rutted tracks of besetting sins. For You were tempted as I am, yet You did not sin. The humbling point is that on a scale from 1 to 10, I usually give in when the heat reaches 3 or 4, yet You experienced the 10—the full-in-the-face of temptation—and did not give in. You are the friend of sinners, yet You are also the Great High Priest who invites us to come with confidence to Your throne and receive both our daily bread and extra rations for emergencies.”
“To practice poverty of spirit calls us not to take offense or be supersensitive to criticism.”
“When the gift of a humble heart is granted, we are more accepting of ourselves and less critical of others. … For the humble person there is a constant awareness of his or her own weakness, insufficiency, and desperate need for God.”
“My friends in Christ, the simple truth is that the Christian Church in America is divided by doctrine, history, and day-to-day living. We have come a long sad journey from the first century, when pagans exclaimed with awe and wonder, ‘See how these Christians love one another!’”
“Christ’s breakthrough into new life on Easter morning unfettered Him from the space-time limitations of existence in the flesh and empowered Him to touch not only Nepal, but New Orleans, not only Matthew and Magdalene, but me. The Lion of Judah in His present risenness pursues, tracks, and stalks us here and now.”
“I realized today that there is a third character who goes up to the temple to pray: the pharisaic tax collector—a ragamuffin who knows she’s a ragamuffin and wants to make sure everyone else knows she’s a ragamuffin. So she ends up using her sinner status not to cry out for mercy to You, but rather to seek out the attention of others as one who is real and authentic, when in reality she is nothing more than hubris in thrift-shop fashions. I realized this today because I looked in the mirror. God, be merciful to me.”
“The tendency to continually berate ourselves for real or imaginary failures, to belittle ourselves and underestimate our worth, to dwell exclusively on our dishonesty, self-centeredness, and lack of personal discipline, is the influence of our negative self-esteem. Reinforced by the critical feedback of our peers and the reproofs and humiliations of our community, we seem radically incapable of accepting, forgiving, or loving ourselves.”
“If nobody remembers my name or the works of my hands, if everything that I’ve worked so hard to build over the years crumbles into insignificance, if I lose my health and my wits and even, heaven forbid, my memory, You are still my refuge and strength.”
On Friday I had the privilege of sharing the message at our combined Good Friday service, where all the churches in Cedar Springs came together. I talked about the contrast Jesus presents to us from John 16:33. Quite simple it goes like this:
This morning our Easter breakfast drama confronted (sometimes comically) the various conspiracy theories about the death and resurrection of Jesus. Then I shared how the biblical account of Jesus’ resurrection is not only the most plausible, reasonable and logical of accounts, but it is also the only option which gives us lasting hope.
It’s amazing to think that my “job” allows me to speak the words of life, the hope of freedom, the promise of eternal life, the beauty of a relationship with Christ. I am truly blessed and humbled to do what God has called me to do.
I suggested last week that John Piper’s book Love To The Uttermost is an excellent resource to help guide you through the Holy Week with some fresh insights (you can read my review of this book by clicking here). Here are a few of the fresh insights that stood out to me.
“Luke 12:32 is a verse about the nature of God. It’s a verse about what kind of heart God has. It’s a verse about what makes God glad—not merely about what God will do or what He has to do, but what He delights to do, what He loves to do, and what He takes pleasure in doing. ‘Fear not, little flock, for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom.’ …This is what the word means: God’s joy, His desire, His want and wish and hope and pleasure and gladness and delight, is to give the kingdom to His flock.”
“Jesus was not accidentally entangled in a web of injustice. The saving benefits of His death for sinners were not an afterthought. God planned it all out of infinite love to sinners like us, and He appointed a time. Jesus, who was the very embodiment of His Father’s love for sinners, saw that the time had come and set His face to fulfill His mission: to die in Jerusalem for our sake. ‘No one takes my life from Me,’ Jesus said, ‘I lay it down of my own accord’ (John 10:18).”
“First, we know the depth of someone’s love for us by what it costs him. Second, we know the depth of someone’s love for us by how little we deserve it. Third, we know the depth of someone’s love for us by the greatness of the benefits we receive in being loved. Fourth, we know the depth of someone’s love for us by the freedom with which they love us.”
“[God] does not need us. If we stay away He is not impoverished. He does not need us in order to be happy in the fellowship of the Trinity. But He magnifies His mercy by giving us free access through His Son, in spite of our sin, to the one Reality that can satisfy us completely and forever, namely, Himself.”
“The resurrection of Jesus is given to us as the confirmation or evidence that He was indeed free in laying down His life. And so the resurrection is Christ’s testimony to the freedom of His love. …Of all the great things that Easter means, it also means this: it is a mighty ‘I meant it!’ behind Christ’s death. I meant it! I was free. You see how free I am? You see how much power and authority I have? I was able to avoid it. I have power to take up My life out of the grave. And could I not, then, have devastated My enemies and escaped the Cross? My resurrection is a shout over My love for My sheep: It was free! It was free! I chose it. I embraced it. I was not caught. I was not cornered. Nothing can constrain Me to do what I do not choose to do. I had power to take My life from death. And I have taken My life from death. How much more, then, could I have kept My life from death! I am alive to show you that I really loved you. I freely loved you. Nobody forced Me to it. And I am now alive to spend eternity loving you with omnipotent resurrection love forever and ever. Come to Me, all you sinners who need a Savior. And I will forgive you and accept you and love you with all My heart forevermore.”
As I am preparing both a Good Friday message and an Easter message, I am immersed in the details of Christ’s passion for us. There are so many thoughts swirling through my head about the amazing, unequaled, undeserved, overflowing love that Jesus has for us.
See from His head, His hands, His feet / Sorrow and love flow mingled down! / Did e’er such love and sorrow meet, / Or thorns compose so rich a crown? (Isaac Watts, When I Survey The Wondrous Cross)
You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous person, though for a good person someone might possibly dare to die. But God demonstrates His own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. (Romans 5:6-8)
That Christ should join so freely in the scheme / Although it meant His death on Calvary / Did ever human tongue find nobler theme / Than love divine that ransomed me?
Such love, such wondrous love / Such love, such wondrous love / That God should love a sinner such as I / How wonderful is love like this!
That for a willful outcast such as I / The Father planned, the Savior bled and died / Redemption for a worthless slave to buy / Who long had law and grace defied (C.Bishop, Such Love)
Because of the joy awaiting Him, Jesus endured the Cross, disregarding its shame. Now He is seated in the place of honor beside God’s throne. (Hebrews 12:2)
I hope this week you will reflect on God’s amazing grace, Christ’s great love, and the Holy Spirit’s persistent drawing of your heart. Jesus died for us so that we could be brought into a loving relationship with our Heavenly Father!
As we approach Easter, we approach one of the most pivotal times in the greatest story ever told: They story of Jesus Christ’s victory over satan and death! Each year I look forward to allowing the Holy Spirit to show me something new about this amazing story. A great resource this year is going to be Love To The Uttermost by John Piper.
This is a FREE ebook from Desiring God which will guide you through Palm Sunday to Resurrection Sunday. For each of the eight days of this week Pastor Piper gives us a new angle to explore in Christ’s love that led Him to the Cross, and overcame the grave. Each day’s reading will only take you a few minutes, but the central truth shared will give you something to meditate upon all day.
I read through this entire book quickly in order to write this review, but now I’m looking forward to re-reading it beginning on Palm Sunday!
You can download this FREE ebook by clicking here.
I promise you that you will discover something fresh and exciting about our Savior’s love each day that you read Love To The Uttermost.
Despite what people call Him, and as much as people claim to know about Jesus, there are still so many questions that swirl around—
As we approach this Easter season, more and more people’s thoughts will be turning toward this Man. Please join me beginning this Sunday as we consider this simple, yet profound question: Who Is Jesus? The answer to that one simple question will be life-changing!
“The one Jesus that skeptics refuse to tolerate is a uniquely divine, miraculous, prophesy-fulfilling, and resurrected Jesus—even if the evidence points persuasively in that direction. After all, that would put them in the place of being beholden to Him. Their personal sovereignty and moral independence would be at risk. The problem is: that’s the real Jesus.” —Lee Strobel
Jesus was crucified. He was in the grave for three days. Then God raised Him from the dead, fulfilling everything that had been prophesied about Him! That’s the real Jesus!
But those who don’t want to acknowledge those facts have concocted all sorts of conspiracy theories as to His death and resurrection.
On Easter morning, Calvary Assembly of God will be presenting an original drama called Conspiracy! to tackle these conspiracies head-on. The cast of characters is interesting, the dialogue is witty and fast-moving, so this will be a very memorable morning!
Here’s the info:
When: Sunday, March 31, at 9am and 11am.
Where: Calvary Assembly of God.
Cost: FREE but we suggest you get a ticket to make sure you have a seat. You can reserve your spot by clicking here and emailing your ticket request to me.
A delicious breakfast + some uplifting music + a memorable drama = a great morning learning about the risen Jesus. Please don’t miss it!
We had an amazing morning at Calvary Assembly of God celebrating the resurrection of Jesus!!
All of the behind-the-scenes help was servant-hearted.
The food was delicious.
The hospitality was sweet.
The music was uplifting.
The drama was powerful.
The atmosphere was inviting.
But the best part is… ten people invited Jesus into their lives!
It was a lot of work to put on our third Easter breakfast drama, but it was so worth it!
I am so grateful to our dedicated church family that works so hard to make sure Jesus is front and center in everything we do. I ♥ my church!
Instead, I want to ask God what He will bless, and then go do that.
There’s a huge difference. In order to know the difference, we must pray!
Charles Spurgeon wrote —
“Let it be a standing ordinance in the church that at certain times and occasions many shall meet together to pray, and supplication shall be their sole object. The private Christian will read, and hear, and meditate, but none of these can be a substitute for prayer: the same truth holds good upon the larger scale, the church should listen to her teachers, and receive edification from gospel ordinances, but she must also pray; nothing can compensate for the neglect of devotion.”
I have called for our church to have times that prayer will be our sole object. On Friday, March 23, and Friday, March 30, we will be meeting to pray. No singing, no devotional thoughts; just prayer for an hour starting at 5:30pm. If you are in the area, I welcome you to join us. If you’re not in the area, you can still join us in prayer.
Specifically, we’ll be praying for God to move on people’s hearts as we approach the Passion Week. We don’t want to just make a bunch of plans. We want to know what God would have us do during that week that will glorify His Name.
We must pray!