10 Blessings From Doing Things God’s Way

10Solomon opens the third chapter of Proverbs with these words, “My son, do not forget my teaching, but keep my commands in your heart.” Then he goes on to list the blessings that come from doing things God’s ways. Here they are—

  1. A prosperous, long life (v. 2)
  2. You will win favor and a good name in the sight of God and man (v. 4)
  3. Straight paths (v. 6)
  4. Health to your body (v. 8)
  5. Overflowing success for your work (v. 10)
  6. God’s discipline—yes, His discipline is a blessing (v. 12)
  7. God takes you into His confidence (v. 32)
  8. God blesses your home (v. 33)
  9. He gives you grace (v. 34)
  10. He gives you honor (v. 35)

With a list of blessings like that, why would I ever want to try to do things my way?!

The Work Of A Preacher

Rev. John Venn was a key member in the Clapham Sect, a group of devout Christian reformers in England, alongside William Wilberforce. These wise words should be well attended to by all pastors—

John Venn“Were the work of a preacher indeed confined to the delivery of a moral discourse, this would not be an arduous task. But a Minister of the Gospel has much more to do. He will endeavor, under Divine Grace, to bring every individual in his congregation to live no longer to himself, but unto Him who died for us. But here the passions, prejudices, and perhaps the temporal interests of men combine to oppose his success. It is not easy to obtain any influence over the mind of another; but to obtain such an influence as to direct it contrary to the natural current of its desires and passions, is a work of the highest difficulty. Yet such is the work of a Minister…. 

“We have to convey unpleasant tidings; to persuade to what is disagreeable; to effect not only a reformation in the conduct of men, and a regulation of their passions, but, what is of still higher difficulty, a change in their good opinion of themselves.  Nay, further we have not merely to ‘wrestle against flesh and blood but against principalities and powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.’ ‘Who is sufficient for these things?’ For this office the Christian Minister may in himself ‘have no resources above those of any of his congregation,’ their weaknesses are his weaknesses, he must therefore undertake his work in weakness, fear and much trembling, but knowing that it may yet be effectual, for it is in weakness that Christ’s strength is always made perfect.” —John Venn (1759-1813)

Amen!

Poetry Saturday—A Nation′s Strength

Ralph Waldo EmersonWhat makes a nation’s pillars high
And its foundations strong?
What makes it mighty to defy
The foes that round it throng?

It is not gold. Its kingdoms grand
Go down in battle shock;
Its shafts are laid on sinking sand,
Not on abiding rock.

Is it the sword? Ask the red dust
Of empires passed away;
The blood has turned their stones to rust,
Their glory to decay.

And is it pride? Ah, that bright crown
Has seemed to nations sweet;
But God has struck its luster down
In ashes at His feet.

Not gold but only men can make
A people great and strong;
Men who for truth and honor’s sake
Stand fast and suffer long.

Brave men who work while others sleep,
Who dare while others fly…
They build a nation’s pillars deep
And lift them to the sky. —Ralph Waldo Emerson

A Caution About Success

CautionAfter King David had been firmly established as the king of Israel, he wanted to show the world how devoted he was to God, and undertook to bring the ark of the covenant to Jerusalem.

This move came after “David knew that the Lord had established him as king” and “that his kingdom had been highly exalted for the sake of God’s people” (2 Samuel 5:12; 1 Chronicles 14:2). David also asked the people about bringing the ark to Jerusalem and “it seemed right to all the people” (1 Chronicles 13:4).

Hooray! It sure sounds like David is using his new position as king to do something wonderful for his people. But…

Even with David’s knowledge that God had established him, David proceeded in a way that was displeasing to God, by attempting to move the ark in a way that God never sanctioned (2 Samuel 6:3; 1 Chronicles 13:7).

When things are going well and there seems to be a lot of positive momentum, we cannot abandon the things that brought God’s success in the first place! 

David had a habit of inquiring of God (2 Samuel 5:19, 23; 1 Chronicles 14:10, 14) which had led to his God-given success (1 Chronicles 14:17). But in the excitement of moving the ark, and the applause of the people David said, “We did not inquire of Him” (15:13) nor did they undertake the task “in accordance with the Word of the Lord” (15:15).

CAUTION!!! We can never be too careful about inquiring of God nor consulting His Word. A danger of success is that we abandon those things which God blesses and simply ride the positive momentum of the moment. No matter how popular or obvious a thing may seem, don’t forget to pray about it and consult God’s Word about it!

21 Quotes From “Sometimes You Win, Sometimes You Learn”

Sometimes You WinAs I mentioned in my book review (which you can read by clicking here), John Maxwell always expands my horizons with his writings. I appreciate his ability to use his own life experiences as well as historical and contemporary examples and writings. So some of my favorite quotes from Sometimes You Win, Sometimes You Learn are from Dr. Maxwell, and some are from others that he quotes. Enjoy!

“I sometimes react to making a mistake as if I have betrayed myself. My fear of making a mistake seems to be based on the hidden assumption that I am potentially perfect and that if I can just be very careful, I will not fall from heaven. But a mistake is a declaration of the way I am, a jolt to the way I intend, a reminder that I am not dealing with facts. When I have listened to my mistakes, I have grown.” —Hugh Prather

“Those who profit from adversity possess a spirit of humility and are therefore inclined to make the necessary changes needed to learn from their mistakes, failures, and losses. … When we are focused too much on ourselves, we lose perspective. Humility allows us to regain perspective and see the big picture. … Humility allows us to let go of perfection and keep trying.” —John Maxwell

“Most people spend their entire lives in a fantasy Island called ‘Someday I’ll.’” —Denis Waitley 

“An idealist believes the short-run doesn’t count. A cynic believes the long run doesn’t matter. A realist believes that what is done or left undone in the short-run determines the long run.” —Sydney J. Harris

“Those things that hurt, instruct.” —Benjamin Franklin

“You can’t grow and learn if your focus is on finding someone else to blame instead of looking at your own shortcomings.” —John Maxwell

“The highest reward for our toil is not what we get for it but what we become by it. … Mistakes are not failures. They are proof that we are making an effort. When we understand that, we can more easily move out of our comfort zone, try something new, and improve. … Improvement demands a commitment to grow long after the mood in which it was made has passed.” —John Maxwell 

“Success in most things comes not from some gigantic stroke of fate, but from simple, incremental progress.” —Andrew Wood

“The main trouble with despair is that it is self-fulfilling. People who fear the worst tend to invite it. Heads that are down can’t scan the horizon for new openings. Bursts of energy do not spring from a spirit of defeat. Ultimately, helplessness leads to hopelessness.” —Norman Cousins

“Positive thinking must be followed by positive doing.” —John Maxwell

“When you are influential and highly respected, people tend to tell you what you want to hear, not what you need to hear. They are seeking your approval, or they flatter you. Unfortunately, this creates a gap between what you hear and reality. If you find yourself in that situation, you will need to work extra hard to get the people close to you to speak honestly into your life. And you will have to become highly intentional in observing and listening.” —John Maxwell 

“Wisdom is the reward you get for a lifetime of listening when you would have preferred to talk.” —Doug Larson

“Circumstances are the rulers of the weak; but they are the instruments of the wise.” —Samuel Lover 

“Mistakes are painful when they happen, but years later a collection of mistakes is what is called experience.” —Denis Waitley

“Ninety percent of those who fail are not actually defeated; they simply quit. … As you face bad experiences, it’s important for you to remember that you can rarely see the benefits while you’re in the midst of them. You usually gain perspective on the other side of it.” —John Maxwell 

“Most people would rather change their circumstances to improve their lives when instead they need to change themselves to improve their circumstances. They put in just enough effort to distance themselves from their problems without ever trying to go after the root, which can often be found in themselves. Because they don’t try to change the source of their problems, their problems keep coming back at them.” —John Maxwell

“To grow, you must be willing to let your present and future be totally unlike your past. Your history is not your destiny.” —Alan Cohen

“If I had my life to live over again, I’d make the same mistakes, only sooner.” —Tallulah Bankhead

“Maturity is doing what you are supposed to be doing, when you’re supposed to be doing it, no matter how you feel.” —Dom Capers 

“Have you not succeeded? Continue! Have you succeeded? Continue!” —Fridtjof Nansen, Nobel Peace Prize winner

“How we think when we lose determines how long it will be until we win.” —G.K. Chesterton

Sometimes You Win—Sometimes You Learn (book review)

Sometimes You WinIf you’re like me, you grew up being able to quickly finish the phrase, “Sometimes you win, sometimes you… lose.” But John Maxwell gives us a far better way to finish this well-worn phrase in his latest book Sometimes You Win—Sometimes You Learn: Life’s Greatest Lessons Are Learned From Our Losses.

As in his other books, Dr. Maxwell shares very candidly about his own missteps, and the lessons he learned from them. He also brings in the insight from other friends and authors who have also learned the value of making mistakes and learning the hard lessons from them.

What always amazes about John Maxwell’s writing is the depth of insight. On the surface you would think there wouldn’t be much to say about learning from our losses except another well-worn cliche, “If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again.” But that try-again spirit is only one part of the learning process. John shows us the value of:

  • Humility
  • Reality
  • Responsibility
  • Improvement
  • Hope
  • Teachability
  • Adversity
  • Problems
  • Bad experiences
  • Change

Following through on all of these aspects leads to the most important step in the learning process: Maturity.

The insight, historical stories, personal anecdotes, and wisdom of other been-there-done-that people are woven together with John’s unique teaching style to give us a book that is highly beneficial. I’d especially recommend this book to parents, coaches and mentors.

I am a Center Street book reviewer.

21 Quotes From “All In”

All InAll In by Mark Batterson is the sequel to his fantastic book on prayer called The Circle Maker. All In is the challenge to followup our prayer times with bold action. You can read my full book review by clicking here. These are some of the quotes I especially liked from All In—

“When did we start believing God wants to send us to safe places to do easy things?”

“You cannot be in the presence of God and be bored at the same time. For that matter, you cannot be in the will of God and be bored at the same time.”

“The Rich Young Ruler may rank as one of the most religious people in the pages of Scripture. The text tells us that he kept all the commandments. He did nothing wrong, but you can do nothing wrong and still do nothing right. By definition, righteousness is doing something right. We’ve reduced it to doing nothing wrong. … [Jesus] asks the Rich Young Ruler to ante up everything. Why? Because He loved the Rich Young Ruler too much to ask for anything less! We focus on what Jesus asked him to give up but fail to consider what He offered up in exchange.”

“God cannot reveal His faithfulness until we exercise our faith.”

“The first step is always the longest and the hardest. And you can’t just take a step forward into the future. You also have to eliminate the possibility of moving backward into the past.”

“One of our fundamental spiritual problems is this: we want God to do something new while we keep doing the same old thing.”

“When we cling too tightly to what God did last, we often miss what God wants to do next.”

“We all want to spend eternity with God. We just don’t want to spend time with Him. We stand and stare from a distance, satisfied with superficiality. We Facebook more that we seek His face. We text more than we study The Text. And our eyes aren’t fixed on Jesus. They’re fixed on our iPhone and iPads—emphasis on ‘i.’ Then we wonder why God feels so distant.”

“You cannot go to church because you are the church. … Your workplace is your mission field. Your job is your sermon. Your colleagues are your congregation.”

“Our lack of guts is really a lack of faith. Instead of playing to win, we play not to lose.”

“There are two kinds of people in the world—those who ask why and those who ask why not. Going all out is asking why not. Why people look for excuses. Why not people look for opportunities. Why people are afraid of making mistakes. Why not people don’t want to miss out on God-ordained opportunities.”

“We treat failure and success like their antonyms. Failure is a part of every success story. Think of it as the prologue.”

“No matter what tool you use in your trade—a hammer, a keyboard, a mop, a football, a spreadsheet, a microphone, or an espresso machine—using it is an act of obedience. It’s the mechanism whereby you worship God. It’s the way you do what you are supposed to do.”

“I’ve discovered that if I don’t take the first step, God generally won’t reveal the next step.”

“It doesn’t matter what you do, God wants to help you do it. He wants to favor your business plan, your political campaign, your manuscript, your lesson plan, your legal brief, your film, and your sales pitch. But you’ve got to position yourself for that favor by acting in obedience. And if God knows He’ll get the glory, He will bless you beyond your ability, beyond your resources.”

“Courage doesn’t wait until situational factors turn in one’s favor. It doesn’t wait until a plan is perfectly formed. It doesn’t wait until the tide of popular opinion is turned. Courage only waits for one thing: a green light from God. And when God gives the go, it’s full steam ahead, no questions asked.”

“Opportunities typically come disguised as impossible problems.”

“When it comes to sinful rationalizations, we are infinitely creative. But it’s our rationalizations that often annul His revelations. When we compromise our integrity, we don’t leave room for divine intervention. When we take matters into our own hands, we take God out of the equation. When we try to manipulate a situation, we miss out on the miracle.”

“Integrity won’t keep us from getting thrown into a fiery furnace, but it can keep us from getting burned.”

“It’s much easier to act like a Christian than it is to react like one!”

“There has never been and never will be anyone like you, but that isn’t a testament to you. It’s a testament to the God who created you. And that means no one can worship God like you or for you. You are absolutely irreplaceable in God’s grand scheme. And God is jealous for you—all of you.”

Outliers (book review)

OutliersOutliers by Malcolm Gladwell is, hands-down, one of the most fascinating books I’ve read in quite awhile.

I’ve read all sorts of books about success: what it looks like, how one attains it, and even how the arguments of nature versus nurture bring about success. But Malcolm Gladwell tells stories about successful and unsuccessful people—supported by loads of “hard data”—that turn all of those fine theories about success on their head.

As it turns out, success is not about the right family, or a strong work ethic, or an outstanding education, or a lucky break, or being born in the right culture or in the right decade. It is all of these things. Success people are successful because of innumerable factors, but the stories that Gladwell uncovers that reveal these fact are astounding.

I recommend you add Outliers to your reading list as soon as you can.

Dads Are The Foundation

Dads Are The FoundationIt’s been said (and I believe it’s absolutely correct), “As the family goes, so goes the society.” But I think it’s even more important to specify, “As the father goes, so goes the family.”

Dads are vital to the success of a family.

I know that’s a lot of responsibility to place on a father. God knows it too, so He has provided unique help for Dads to help them be the solid foundation for their families and for our societies.

Please join me at Calvary Assembly of God at 10:30am this Sunday for Father’s Day 2013 as we look at the help God has given to fathers to be successful as the godly foundation for their families.

A Checklist For Growth

Take just a moment to read these words from the Apostle Peter—

So then, dear friends, since you are looking forward to this, make every effort to be found spotless, blameless and at peace with Him. …Therefore, dear friends, since you have been forewarned, be on your guard so that you may not be carried away by the error of the lawless and fall from your secure position. But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ…. (2 Peter 3:14, 17-18)

How do I know I’m looking forward and growing? Here’s a checklist that needs to be reviewed regularly:

  • checklistDo I spend more time repairing my past, or preparing for my future?
  • Is growth hard and rewarding work?
  • Do even the littlest of sins disturb me, rob me of peace, and send me quickly to confession and repentance?
  • Do I filter all my reading, studying and learning through the standard of Scripture?
  • Is my faith stronger now than it was last year?
  • Am I exhibiting more Christ-like characteristics—grace, forgiveness, patience—now than I was last year?
  • Am I thrilled to learn more about Jesus?
  • Am I more reliant on the Holy Spirit now than I have been in the past? Do I converse with Him more frequently?
  • Would those closest to me say that I am becoming more like Jesus?

Growth is not automatic; this is especially true for spiritual growth. Growth must be intentional or it will not happen. I want to keep going forward in Christ!

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