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?

Links & Quotes

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Some interesting reading from today…

“A gracious Hand leads us in ways we know not, and blesses us not only without, but even against, our plans and inclinations.” —William Wilberforce

A cool article about George MacDonald’s influence on C.S. Lewis.

Ken Davis uses an optical illusion to make a fantastic point in his post Perception Or Reality?

The son of a Hamas founder confirms that this terrorist group targets civilians.

[INFOGRAPHIC] This is a win-win: Benaiah featured on The Overview Bible Project.

Praise God!! Millions of Muslims converting to Jesus Christ!

“Commend me to the Christian who says, ‘I bless God I am saved; now what can I do for others?’ The first thing in the morning he prays, ‘God help me to say a word to some soul this day.’ During the day, wherever he may be, he is watching his opportunity, and will do good if he can.” —Charles Spurgeon

“There’s a great deal of trust in the love of God, and a great deal of love in the trust of God.” —John Piper

13 Quotes From “Yawning At Tigers”

Yawning At TigersYawning At Tigers by Drew Dyck is a wake-up call to any who view God as tame or Christianity as boring. As I read this book I found myself frequently saying, “Yes!” out loud to the truths Drew has shared. I loved this book! You can read my full book review by clicking here. Below are a few of the quotes I highlighted (unless otherwise noted, the quotes are from the author).

“We can’t truly appreciate God’s grace until we glimpse His greatness. We won’t be lifted by His love until we are humbled by His holiness.” 

“Here, the contrast between God and an idol couldn’t be clearer. We are told that after offering sacrifices to the golden calf, the Israelites ‘sat down to eat and drink and got up to indulge in revelry’ (Exodus 32:6). But when God descended on Mount Sinai, ‘everyone in the camp trembled’ (Exodus 19:16). You don’t tremble before an idol. … An idol is safe. It never challenges you. It isn’t threatening. It doesn’t judge sin or demand loyalty. But the Holy One of Israel is a jealous God—passionate and loving, yes, but unspeakably dangerous too.”

“The language we use reveals an awful lot about how we think about God. A cursory examination of the way we speak exposes how pervasive this Jesus-as-my-nonjudgmental-buddy attitude is in the church.” 

“While we know enough about God to receive salvation and enter into a relationship with Him, our knowledge of Him is still far from complete. Our intelligence is too small, our languages too limited. When it comes to God, we are all beginners.”

“So soon as we become satisfied with any picture of God, we are in danger of idolatry.” —Victor White 

“Unfortunately, in our efforts to make the Bible interesting and relevant, we try to normalize God. We become experts at taking something lofty, so unfathomable and incomprehensible, and dragging it down to the lowest shelf. We failed to account for the fact that God is neither completely knowable nor remotely manageable.”

“We lack a practice of personal holiness because we’ve lost a theology of divine holiness. When we neglect a part of God’s nature, we shouldn’t be surprised when that same attribute goes missing in our lives. … The Bible repeatedly makes explicit the connection between God’s holiness and ours. ‘Be holy,’ God says, ‘because I… am holy’ (Leviticus 19:2). The New Testament echoes this theme. ‘Just as He who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do’ (1 Peter 1:15).” 

“Only a God who punishes evil and rights wrongs is ultimately a God of love. … To fear the Lord is not to suggest God is callous or cool. Just the opposite, in fact. It is God’s consuming love that makes Him so dangerous. Because He cares deeply for His creation, He will not tolerate evil and injustice forever.”

“The evidence of the Christian’s zeal and piety was made clear to all the pagans. For example, they alone in such a catastrophic state of affairs gave practical evidence of their sympathy and philanthropy works. All day long some of them would diligently persevere in performing the last offices for the dying and burying them (for there were countless numbers, and no one to look after them). While others gathered together in a single assemblage all who were afflicted by famine throughout the whole city, and would distribute bread to them all. When this became known, people glorified the God of the Christians, and, convinced by the deeds themselves, confessed the Christians alone were truly pious and God-fearing.” —Eusebius

“When we root our sense of identity in God, everything changes. Once our vertical connection is healthy, the horizontal ones tend to thrive. However, a cruel irony comes into play when we seek validation from others that only God can provide. When we lean too heavily on human relationships, we actually end up sabotaging them. We become clingy, controlling. We find ourselves piling expectations on people they were never meant to bear.”

“This doesn’t mean the New Testament is solely about God’s intimacy. Nor does the Old Testament speak strictly about God’s transcendence. The entire Bible speaks of both. All through Scripture we are reminded that God is both great and near.” 

“For people in the throes of suffering, the Bible offers something much different than an answer—it offers a Person.”

“We shall never succeed in knowing ourselves unless we seek to know God.” —Teresa of Avila

No Kindas

no kindasAmaziah could have been one of Judah’s great kings. His father had cleaned up the Temple and had begun a revival of worship of God. When he came to the throne, Amaziah quickly led his army to an impressive victory over the Edomites.

That’s when things started to unravel.

Actually, things were beginning to come apart right from the start of Amaziah’s reign, but no one seemed to notice.

We get the clues in the language the biblical writers use. Amaziah frequently had a “but” or a “however” attached to what he did. Notice—

  • Amaziah “did what was right in the eyes of the Lord, BUT not as his father David had done” (2 Kings 14:3).
  • He worshiped God “HOWEVER the high places [of pagan worship] were not removed” (14:4).
  • He rallied his fighting men for battle BUT “he also hired a hundred thousand [mercenary] fighting men from Israel” (2 Chronicles 25:6).
  • Amaziah led his army to victory over the Edomites with God’s help BUT “he brought back the gods of the people of [Edom] … bowed down to them and burned sacrifices to them” (25:14).
  • The king of Israel warned Amaziah not to attack Israel “HOWEVER Amaziah would not listen” (25:20).

Not only did these BUTS and HOWEVERS take Amaziah farther away from God, they took him farther away from his people too: “From the time Amaziah turned away from following the Lord, they conspired against him in Jerusalem (25:27).

There is no “kinda” following God. It’s all-in or nothing. My heart is either fully devoted to God with no BUTS or HOWEVERS, or am I moving away from God and from others around me.

It should be a huge warning sign when I hear myself say “but” or “however” in regard to anything involved with following my God.

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.

Links & Quotes

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Some good reading from today…

“The upright man must never think of depriving another of anything, nor must he ever wish to increase his own advantage to the disadvantage of another. This rule the Apostle gives thee, saying: ‘All things are lawful, all things are not expedient; all things are lawful, but all things edify not. Let no man seek his own, but each another’s.’ That is: Let no man seek his own advantage, but another’s; let no man seek his own honor, but another’s.” —Ambrose

Frank Viola has a challenging word to Christians in the quote he shares from A.W. Tozer: Recovering The Departed Glory.

Claiming Jesus is not what many think it is, says Chilly Chilton in his post: Name It, Claim It, Proclaim It!

When we don’t know that life is a war and satan is the enemy, or forget when we need to know it most, we can’t make sense of our struggles, suffering, and strife.” Read more of Mark Driscoll’s post Spiritual Warfare: Who, What & Why.

The Overview Bible Project always uncovers some cool things in Scripture. Like this post about what Beelzebul really means.

Why is it organizations are not allowed to hire a Christian, but at that same time are encouraged (forced?) to hire homosexuals? The story of David Tyree is a case-in-point.

The fact is, that the same moment which brings the consciousness of sin ought to bring also the confession and the consciousness of forgiveness.” —Hannah Whitall Smith

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.

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.

The Love & Hate Of God

SamekhI don’t think there’s anyone reading this that hasn’t—at one time or another, or perhaps even right now—struggled with feeling distant from God’s love. Maybe you felt like you blew it, or gave in to temptation, or things aren’t going as you had hoped, and you thought, “Where are You, God? Do You still care about me?” This message is for you!

“God is closer to us than we are to ourselves and that is why we do not notice Him.” —Thomas Merton

The section of the 119th Psalm called samekh (see verses 113-120) is a helpful passage for reminding ourselves just how near God is to us. Some people get nervous thinking about God being close to them, to the point where they want to run away. But you must have this clear in your mind—

God is near me to help and support me, not to harass and condemn me! 

Samekh means...Samekh is the only Hebrew letter which is completely enclosed. And when you look at it, samekh looks like a shield. Indeed the word means more than God’s omnipresence. Samekh means…

  • God’s never-ending support
  • God’s never-failing love
  • God’s never-stale mercies
  • God’s undiminished faithfulness
  • God’s unfathomable grace
  • God’s unquenchable hate

Wait a minute! God’s unquenchable hate?!? Yes! God loves you so much, that He hates anything that would draw you away from Him. So this section of Psalm 119 is filled with words like love, hope, refuge, uphold, and sustain. But it also has words like hate, away from me, reject, and discard.

God wants you to know how close He is to you. God is FOR you and He is AGAINST anything that would pull you away. Read the words in Psalm 91 and see how God protects you and then attacks the enemies of your soul. In the NewTestament, feel God’s closeness as we are told that…

Oh, how God love you! He wants you to feel His closeness, so He loves you and He hates the enemies of your soul! Bask in that today.

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