Links & Quotes

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Some good reading from today…

“Nothing stirs God’s heart more than a humble heart and a merciful spirit. God responds to mercy, because it is through compassion that we fully come to know Him. This is the defining quality of a true follower of Christ. We are never closer to the heart of God than when we are forgiving someone. And we are never farther from it than when we are holding a grudge.” —Nicky Cruz

“God’s Majesty can never delight in that which polluteth man’s dignity.” —Augustine

“If God takes away from us the old, wrinkled, beat-up dollar bill we have clutched so desperately, it is only because He wants to exchange it for the whole Federal mint, the entire treasury! He is saying to us, ‘I have in store for you all the resources of heaven. Help yourself.’” —A.W. Tozer

“From many modern sermons would you know that there was a Holy Spirit? If it were not for the benediction or the doxology you might go in and out of many churches and meeting-houses by the year together, and scarcely know that there was such a Person as that blessed, blessed giver of all good, the Holy Spirit. Sometimes we hear a little about His influences, as if the Holy Spirit were not as truly a Person as even Jesus Christ Himself, Who in flesh and blood trod this earth. Oh, dear friends, I fear the first danger, that of running wild with whimsies and fancies about inner lights and new revelations; but I equally dread this last, this going forth to work with the sword, forgetting that it is the sword of the Spirit, and only mighty as the Holy Spirit makes it mighty ‘to the pulling down of strongholds.’” —Charles Spurgeon

5 Things Christians Should Know About Depression & Anxiety

“I reject a heaven that I must enter by shutting my eyes to the sufferings of my fellow men. I choose a broken heart rather than any happiness that ignores the tragedy of human life and human death. Though I, through the grace of God in Christ, no longer lie under Adam’s sin, I would still feel a bond of compassion for all of Adam’s tragic race, and I am determined that I shall go down to the grave or up into God’s heaven mourning for the lost and the perishing.” —A.W. Tozer

Links & Quotes

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Some good reading from today…

I was totally blown away when I saw this morning that BibleGateway featured my chart The Kings & Prophets Of Judah & Israel!

[INFOGRAPHIC] 22 Surprising Facts About Sleep from the Cleveland Clinic. Here’s a great book resource: Sleep: It Does A Family Good.

Very powerful: An open letter to my friends struggling with eating disorders.

“In times of extraordinary crisis ordinary measures will not suffice. The world lives in such a time of crisis. Christians alone are in a position to rescue the perishing. We dare not settle down to try to live as if things were ‘normal.’ Nothing is normal while sin and lust and death roam the world, pouncing upon one and another till the whole population has been destroyed.” —A.W. Tozer

“I want you to know how to study theology in the right way. I have practiced this method myself. … The method of which I am speaking is the one which the holy king David teaches in Psalm 119. … Here you will find three rules. They are frequently proposed throughout the psalm and run thus: Oratio, meditatio, tentatio [prayer, meditation, trial]. …

“You should completely despair of your own sense and reason, for by these you will not attain the goal. … Rather kneel down in your private little room and with sincere humility and earnestness pray God through His dear son, graciously to grant you His Holy Spirit to enlighten and guide you and give you understanding. [Psalm 119:18, 27, 33, 34-37]. …

“Second, you should meditate. This means that not only in your heart but also externally you should constantly handle and compare, read and reread the Word as preached and the very words as written in Scripture, diligently noting and meditating on what the Holy Spirit means. … Therefore, you observe how in this psalm David always says that he will speak, think, talk, hear, read, day and night and constantly—but about nothing else than God’s Word and Commandments. For God wants to give you His Spirit only through the external Word. [119:11, 15, 48, 24, 47, 93, 97] …

“Third, there is the tentatio, the trial. This is the touchstone. It teaches you not only to know and understand, but also to experience how right, how true, how sweet, how lovely, how mighty, how comforting God’s Word is: it is wisdom supreme. This is why you observe that, in the psalm indicated, David so often complains of all sorts of enemies. … For as soon as God’s Word becomes known through you, the devil will afflict you, will make a real [theologian] of you.” [119: 67-68, 71] —Martin Luther, on the 119th Psalm

Don’t Forget The Most Important Thing

Pastor JoshPastor Josh continued the Boating Lessons series yesterday, which Pastor Tom began last week. What a great word Josh brought us! Here are my “raw notes” just as I took them during his message.

Boating Lessons—part 2 (Psalm 103:1-5Matthew 8:23-27)

How many of us have been in a storm where we felt out of control or distant from God? When we are in the midst of that storm, we must remember Who’s in the boat with us.

Jesus challenged the disciples, “Have you forgotten Who I am?” They had seen Him heal leprosy (8:1-4), heal paralysis (8:5-13), raise up the sick and set the demon-possessed free (8:14-17). But now they were more focused on the situation than on the Savior.

One symptom of forgetting Who God is: complaining (the disciples asked Jesus, “Don’t You care about us?!” [Mark 4:38]).

The storm is part of God’s process to change us and to bring glory to God—Be strong, courageous, and firm; fear not nor be in terror before them, for it is the Lord your God Who goes with you; He will not fail you or forsake you (Deuteronomy 31:6).

Don’t forget Who’s in the boat … He never leaves us. The most important thing is not the storm rocking the boat but Who is in the boat with me!

I might feel like I have no control, but I must remember that Jesus is in the boat with me and He has all control!

Storms may come “without warning” to me (Matthew 8:24), but remember God Who is in my boat is All-Knowing and He’s never taken by surprise. 

Pastor Josh closed his message the same way I’d like to close this post: in prayer. If you are in the midst of a storm—or if you feel like God is distant—this is the best time to cry out to Him in prayer. The Holy Spirit can remind you of Who is in the boat with You. He will never leave you nor forsake you!

Please join us next Sunday as Pastor Tom and Pastor Josh continue this series.

8 Quotes From “The Christian’s Secret Of A Happy Life”

The Christian's SecretSometimes people slap the label “timeless classic” on a book just because it’s old. But in the case of The Christian’s Secret Of A Happy Life by Hannah Whitall Smith, the label is well-deserved. The thoughts she shares are so biblically-grounded that they truly are timeless. You can read my full book review by clicking here. I highlighted way too many things to share them all, but here are a few quotes that I especially liked.

“You have been forced to settle down to the conviction, that the best you can expect from your religion is a life of alternate failure and victory, one hour sinning, and the next repenting, and then beginning again, only to fail again, and again to repent. … Can we dream that the Savior, who was wounded for our transgressions and bruised for our iniquities, could possibly see of the travail of His soul and be satisfied in such Christian lives as fill the Church today? … Can we, for a moment, suppose that the holy God, who hates sin in the sinner, is willing to tolerate it in the Christian, and that He has even arranged the plan of salvation in such a way as to make it impossible for those who are saved from the guilt of sin to find deliverance from its power?” 

“Positive transformation is to take place. So at least the Bible teaches. Now, somebody must do this. Either we must do it for ourselves, or another must do it for us. We have most of us tried to do it for ourselves at first, and have grievously failed; then we discover, from the Scriptures and from our own experience, that it is something we are unable to do, but that the Lord Jesus Christ has come on purpose to do it, and that He will do it for all who put themselves wholly into His hands and trust Him without reserve. … The Lord’s part is to do the thing entrusted to Him. He disciplines and trains by inward exercises and outward providences. He brings to bear upon us all the refining and purifying resources of His wisdom and His love. He makes everything in our lives and circumstances subservient to the one great purpose of causing us to grow in grace, and of conforming us, day by day and hour by hour, to the image of Christ.”

“Sanctification is both a step of faith, and a process of works. It is a step of surrender and trust on our part, and it is a process of development on God’s part. By a step of faith we get into Christ; by a process we are made to ‘grow up into Him in all things.’ By a step of faith we put ourselves into the hands of the Divine Potter; by a gradual process He makes us into a vessel unto His own honor, meet for His use, and prepared to every good work. … The maturity of a Christian experience cannot be reached in a moment, but is the result of the work of God’s Holy Spirit, who, by His energizing and transforming power, causes us to grow up into Christ in all things. And we cannot hope to reach this maturity in any way other than by yielding ourselves up, utterly and willingly, to His mighty working.” 

“Just as we reconcile the statements concerning a saw in a carpenter’s shop when we say, at one moment, that the saw has sawn asunder a log, and the next moment declare that the carpenter has done it. The saw is the instrument used; the power that uses it is the carpenter’s. And so we, yielding ourselves unto God, and our members as instruments of righteousness unto Him, find that He works in us to will and to do of His good pleasure, and we can say with Paul, ‘I labored; yet not I, but the grace of God which was with me.’ … Just as the potter, however skillful, cannot make a beautiful vessel out of a lump of clay that is never put into his hands, so neither can God make out of me a vessel unto His honor unless I put myself into His hands.”:

“Most Christians are like a man who was toiling along the road, bending under a heavy burden, when a wagon overtook him, and the driver kindly offered to help him on his journey. He joyfully accepted the offer but when seated in the wagon, continued to bend beneath his burden, which he still kept on his shoulders. ‘Why do you not lay down your burden?’ asked the kind-hearted driver. ‘Oh!’ replied the man, ‘I feel that it is almost too much to ask you to carry me, and I could not think of letting you carry my burden too.’ And so Christians, who have given themselves into the care and keeping of the Lord Jesus still continue to bend beneath the weight of their burdens, and often go weary and heavy-laden throughout the whole length of their journey. … It is generally much less difficult for us to commit the keeping of our future to the Lord than it is to commit our present. We know we are helpless as regards the future, but we feel as if the present is in our own hands, and must be carried on our own shoulders; and most of us have an unconfessed idea that it is a great deal to ask the Lord to carry ourselves, and that we cannot think of asking Him to carry our burdens too.”

“He is our Father, and He loves us, and He knows just what is best, and therefore, of course, His will is the very most blessed thing that can come to us under any circumstances. I do not understand how it is that the eyes of so many Christians have been blinded to this fact. But it really would seem as if God’s own children were more afraid of His will than of anything else in life—His lovely, lovable will, which only means loving-kindnesses and tender mercies, and blessings unspeakable to their souls!”

“You have trusted Him as your dying Savior; now trust Him as your living Savior. Just as much as He came to deliver you from future punishment did He also come to deliver you from present bondage. Just as truly as He came to bear your stripes for you has He come to live your life for you.” 

“The one chief temptation that meets the soul at this juncture is the same that assaults it all along the pathway, at every step of its progress; namely, the question as to feelings. We cannot believe we are consecrated until we feel that we are: and because we do not feel that God has taken us in hand, we cannot believe that He has. As usual, we put feeling first, and faith second, and the fact last of all. No, God’s invariable rule in everything is, fact first, faith second, and feeling last of all; and it is striving against the inevitable when we seek to change this order.”

Links & Quotes

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Some good reading (and watching) from this weekend…

This was a bit convicting: 7 Signs You’re Spending Too Much Time Looking At Your Phone (I am trying to improve on this!).

This post from Chilly Chilton was also a bit convicting: My Take On President Obama.

“Jesus builds His Church, not by programs, facilities, budgets, and good ‘branding,’ but by living His life in and through each of the members of His Body, beginning with their shepherds.” —T.M. Moore

[VIDEO] John Maxwell says being growth oriented is better than being goal oriented.

“The popular notion that the first obligation of the church is to spread the gospel to the uttermost parts of the earth is false. Her first obligation is to be spiritually worthy to spread it. Our Lord said ‘Go ye,’ but He also said, ‘Tarry ye,’ and the tarrying had to come before the going.” —A.W. Tozer

“I believe that our Lord wants us to learn more of Him in worship before we become busy for Him. He wants us to have a gift of the Spirit, an inner experience of the heart, as our first service, and out of that will grow the profound and deep and divine activities which are necessary.” —A.W. Tozer

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.

Links & Quotes

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Some interesting reading and watching from today…

An open letter that needs to be read: What’s The Big Deal With Pornography?

All doubts are an attack of the enemy; the Holy Spirit never suggests them, never. He is the Comforter, not the accuser; and He never shows us our need without at the same time revealing the Divine supply.” —Hannah Whitall Smith

“The only way to have a fulfilling life is to stop relying on your own savvy and start relying on God to provide the necessary turn of affairs.” —John Piper

 

[VIDEO] Speaking of John Piper, I am so excited about his new project called Look At The Book! Check out this preview.

President Obama unleashes another assault on our religious liberties.

Dr. Tim Elmore gives parents and teachers Five Words Every Child Needs To Hear.

Links & Quotes

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Some good reading from this weekend…

“What most Americans—and the world—hear about the ongoing conflict between Israel and Hamas goes something like this: ‘125 Palestinians, most of them civilians, have been killed by Israel’s relentless assault on Gaza. No Israelis have yet been killed.’ This may be true, but there is absolutely no context to it. One must look at the methodologies of the two sides.” Read more in this post: The Moral Difference Between Israel And Hamas.

If Planned Parenthood did so much work to prevent women from needing abortions, then why are they the nationwide leaders in performing abortions?! Read how Planned Parenthood responded to their certificate of death award

“Christianity at any given time is strong or weak depending upon her concept of God. … Our religion is little because our god is little. Our religion is weak because our god is weak. Our religion is ignoble because the god we serve is ignoble. We do not see God as He is…. A local church will only be as great as its conception of God. An individual Christian will be a success or a failure depending upon what he or she thinks of God.” —A.W. Tozer

“You gain strength, courage and confidence by every experience in which you really stop to look fear in the face. You are able to say to yourself, ‘I have lived through this horror. I can take the next thing that comes along.’ You must do the thing you think you cannot do.” —Eleanor Roosevelt

“Give us a pure heart, that we may see Thee, a humble heart, that we may hear Thee, a heart of love, that we may serve Thee, a heart of faith, that we may live Thee, Thou, Whom I do not know, but Whose I am.” —Dag Hammarskjöld

“Whether we call ourselves classical evangelicals, traditionalists, fundamentalists, Pentecostals, or charismatics, we all have to face our lack of real power and call out for a fresh infilling of the Holy Spirit. We need the fresh wind of God to awaken us from our lethargy. We must not hide any longer behind some theological argument. The days are too dark and dangerous.” —Jim Cymbala

Thursdays With Oswald—Predestined Freewill?

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.

Predestined Freewill?

     Our destiny is not determined for us, but it is determined by us. Man’s free will is part of God’s sovereign will. We have freedom to take which course we choose, but not freedom to determine the end of that choice. God makes clear what He desires, we must choose, and the result of the choice is not the inevitableness of law, but the inevitableness of God.

From Conformed To His Image

Typically there are two schools of thought: Predestination (also called Calvinism) and freewill (also called Arminianism). The Bible has numerous verses that make the case for both of these viewpoints.

C.S. Lewis advised that in matters with two starkly different theological viewpoints, the safest action was to chart a course right between the two rocky islands. With that in mind, I don’t consider myself a Calvinist nor an Arminian, but a “Calminian.”

No matter where you find yourself on this theological issue, I think there is one thing we can all agree upon: God is Sovereign and God is Love. In both His sovereignty and His love He created us, sent His Son to die on a Cross for us, and sent His Spirit to draw us. I choose to accept His gift of salvation, and I’m not trying to find out how far I can stray and still be “saved.”

Thursdays With Oswald—What The Spirit Does

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.

What The Spirit Does      

     The majority of us “hang on” to Jesus Christ, we are thankful for the massive gift of salvation, but we don’t do anything towards working it out. That is the difficult bit, and the bit the majority of us fall in, because we have not been taught that that is what we have to do, consequently there is a gap between our religious profession and our actual practical living. …      

     The great factor in Christian experience is the one our Lord continually brought out, viz., the reception of the Holy Spirit who does in us what He did for us, and slowly and surely our natural life is transformed into a spiritual life through obedience.

From Conformed To His Image

There is a process whereby the Holy Spirit brings our Christ-likeness from us; it’s called sanctification (or as I like to say it, saint-ification).

This is how the Spirit forms us into God’s saints. But here’s the key point: we have to let the Spirit do His work. If we say, “No thanks, I’d rather not work on that area of my life,” He will leave you alone.

But, oh, the rewards that we miss out on when we don’t receive all that the Holy Spirit has for us!

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