Thursdays With Oswald—Helping Me Do What God Desires

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.

Helping Me Do What God Desires

     My spirit has no power in itself to lay hold of God; but when the Spirit of God comes into my spirit, He energizes my spirit, then the rest depends upon me. If I do not obey the Spirit of God and bring into the light the wrong things He reveals and let Him deal with them, I shall grieve Him, and may grieve Him away. 

     …That is a most wonderful thing in Christian psychology, viz., that a saint chooses exactly what God pre-determined he should choose. If you have never received the Spirit of God this will be one of the things which is “foolishness” to you; but if you have received the Spirit and are obeying Him, you find He brings your spirit into complete harmony with God…. 

     …When God’s Spirit comes into our spirit, we can will to do what God wants us to do. “For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of His good pleasure” (Philippians 2:13). 

     …We cannot give ourselves the Holy Spirit; the Holy Spirit is God Almighty’s gift if we will simply become poor enough to ask for Him. …But when the Holy Spirit has come in, there is something we can do and God cannot do, we can obey Him. If we do not obey Him, we shall grieve Him. “And grieve not the Holy Spirit of God” (Ephesians 4:30). 

From Biblical Psychology

Jesus told us that the Holy Spirit would be our constant Companion in helping us come into one-ness with the Father and Son. The key question is this: Am I obeying the Spirit’s promptings?

I will never progress in my spiritual development unless I am readily obeying what the Spirit is revealing. 

Father, I need your Holy Spirit! As I feel the Spirit working in me, may I never grieve Him, but instead fully deal with whatever He reveals to me.

16 Quotes From “God’s Workmanship”

God's WorkmanshipWhere to start? It’s always hard to share a few quotes from a book that is so rich, but I hope these fews quotes will not diminish the depth of Oswald Chambers’ wisdom. These are just a very few of the outstanding quotes from God’s Workmanship (you can read my full book review by clicking here).

“Whenever I say, ‘I want to reason this thing out before I can trust,’ I will never trust. The reasoning out and the perfection of knowledge come after the response to God has been made.”

“We can never become God’s people by thinking, but we must think as God’s people. …Intellect is meant to be the handmaid of God, not the dictator to God. … We have to work out, not our redemption, but our human appreciation of our redemption. We owe it to God that we refuse to have rusty brains.”

“Separating myself from other people is the greatest means of producing deception because there is nothing to clash against me. Immediately people clash against me I know whether my beautiful thinking really expresses ‘me,’ or is a garment that disguises the real ‘me.’ If my actual life is not in agreement with my thinking the danger is that I exclude myself from actualities which bring home to me the knowledge of what I am, in spite of what I think. ‘I am a Christian worker and must put on this garb!’ That is sanctimonious jargon; the only thing that will hold me right is a personal relationship to Jesus, and that life is essentially simple, there is no break into secular and sacred, the one merges into the other, exactly as it did in the life of our Lord.”

“I want to ask a very personal question—How much do you want to be delivered from? You say, ‘I want to be delivered from wrong-doing’—then you don’t need to come to Jesus Christ. ‘I want to walk in the right way according to the judgment of men’—then you don’t need Jesus Christ. But some heart cries out—‘I want, God knows I want, that Jesus Christ should do in me all He said He would do.’ How many of us ‘want’ like that? God grant that this ‘want’ may increase until it swamps every other desire of heart and life.”

“When you are baptized with the Holy Ghost, there is only One you see, One you love, One you live for from early morning till late at night, One you die for. Every thought is gripped and held enthralled by the Master of human destiny, the Lord Jesus Christ, and the whole life is devoted to Him.”

“All that I want to possess without the power to give, is of the nature of sin. …I cannot rob God of anything, but I rob myself of God every time I stick to what I possess.”

“What kind of attitude have we got toward Jesus Christ? are we dictating to Him in pious phraseology what we intend to let Him do in us, or letting His life be manifested in our mortal flesh as we obey?” 

“‘The Truth’ is our Lord Himself; ‘the whole truth’ is the inspired Scripture interpreting the Truth to us; and ‘nothing but the truth’ is the Holy Spirit, ‘the Spirit of truth,’ efficaciously regenerating and sanctifying us, and guiding us into ‘all the truth.’”

“When I am rightly related to God, the more I love the more blessing does He pour out on other lives. The reward of love is the capacity to pour out more love all the time. …I surrender myself—not because it is bad, self is the best thing I have got, and I give it to God; then self-realization is lost in God-realization.”

“Another demand God makes of His children is that they believe not only that He is not bewildered by the confused hubbub of the nations, but that He is the abiding Factor in the hubbub.”

“God never hears prayer because a man is in earnest; He hears and answers prayer that is on the right platform—we have ‘boldness to enter into the holy place by the blood of Jesus’ (rv), and by no other way. It is not our agony and our distress, but our childlike confidence in God.”

“The evidence of the new creation in me is that I submit to God more and more easily, surrender to Him more and more readily. …God does the supernatural re-creating and the setting free of the will, I have to do the doing.”

“You can only be made a Christian by a miracle, and you can stop at any point you like. ‘I don’t intend to go through this’—and you don’t need to; but it will be a terrific awakening when you see Jesus and realize that you prevented His getting glory in your life.” 

“People say they are tired of life; no man was ever tired of life; the truth is that we are tired of being half dead while we are alive. What we need is to be transfigured by the incoming of a great and new life.”

“Resting in the Lord does not depend upon external circumstances, but on the relationship of the life of God in me to God Himself. Fussing generally ends in sin. We imagine that a little anxiety and worry is an indication of how wise we really are; it may be an indication of how wicked we really are. ‘Come unto Me,’ says Jesus, ‘and I will give you rest.’ Do Jesus Christ’s words apply to me? Does He really know my circumstances? Fretting is sinful if you are a child of God. Get back to God and tell Him with shame that you have been bolstering up that stupid soul of yours with the idea that your circumstances are too much for Him. Ask Him to forgive you and say, ‘Lord, I take Thee into my calculation as the biggest factor NOW!’”

“Have you ever realized that God challenges the saints to a tremendous conflict, the conflict of believing the Gospel in the face of an indifferent world? It is easy to say we believe in God as long as we remain in the little world we choose to live in; but get out into the great world of facts, the noisy world where people are absolutely indifferent to you, where your message is nothing more than a crazy tale belonging to a bygone age, can you believe God there?”

Loving The Unloveable

Loving The Unlovable [web]Jesus came to love us. And for those that have received His love, He commands us to love others just like He loved us. In fact, Jesus said all of the commandments in the Bible could be summed up in just one word: LOVE.

Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength…. Love your neighbor as yourself. There is no commandment greater than these. (Mark 12:30-31)

But what about people who aren’t very lovable? Are we really supposed to love them? Isn’t there some sort of “escape clause” to let us out of loving those people who get on our nerves, or who are mean to us?

Although you probably already know what the answer is (in case you don’t: we’re commanded to love everyone), the Bible helps us learn how and why to love the unloveable.

Join me this Sunday as we begin a new series at Calvary Assembly of God called Loving The Unloveable.

God’s Workmanship (book review)

God's WorkmanshipWhether in a lecture, a sermon, a book, or a magazine article, Oswald Chambers challenges me like few other authors do. God’s Workmanship is a collection of lectures and articles which were odds-and-ends until his wife compiled them just prior to her death.

Many people know Chambers through his highly popular devotional My Utmost For His Highest. In that devotional book, Chambers shares a short thought, usually centered around a single passage of Scripture. In God’s Workmanship, the feel is very much the same. Each of the nearly 50 pieces which comprise this book are based around a single verse or a short passage from the Bible, but Chambers has more “space” to elaborate on his themes than he did in his devotional book.

The topics are varied, but rich. Themes such as grace, redemption, truth, possessions, personal relationships, the Bible, personal devotions, God’s holiness, sin, blessings, and suffering are covered so succinctly, eloquently, and biblically. Next to My Utmost, God’s Workmanship is a great introduction to the breadth of Oswald Chambers’ godly wisdom.

Rescuing Those Who Might Harm Themselves

UnstoppableIn Nick Vujicic’s book Unstoppable (you can read my book review by clicking here), he is very transparent about his thoughts of suicide. He wrote—

My youthful self-acceptance and self-confidence did not begin to crumble until I began relentlessly comparing myself to my peers. Then, instead of taking pride in what I could do, I dwelled on those things my mates could do that were beyond my abilities. Instead of seeing myself as enabled, I saw myself as disabled. Instead of taking pride in my uniqueness, I yearned to be what I was not.

According to the World Health Organization, the rate of suicides has increased dramatically, and is now the third leading cause of death for fifteen- to twenty-four-year-olds. I had a friend that committed suicide, and it wasn’t until after the fact that I could put together the warning signs that he had been exhibiting.

Nick lists some indicators that someone close to you might be depressed enough to harm themselves:

  • Unusual changes in eating and sleeping habits
  • Withdrawal from friends, family, and regular activities
  • Violent actions, rebellious behavior, or running away
  • Excessive drug and/or alcohol abuse
  • Unusual neglect of personal appearance
  • Marked personality change
  • Persistent boredom, difficulty concentrating, or a decline in school performance
  • Frequent complaints about physical symptoms, often related to emotions, such as stomachaches, headaches, and fatigue
  • Loss of interest in favorite activities
  • Intolerance of praise or rewards
  • Giving or throwing away favorite possessions or belongings
  • Becoming suddenly cheerful after an episode of depression

From Nick’s own experience, he offers these helpful words—

Often individuals in distress don’t want to talk about their issues. Don’t push it, but keep the communication open without offering advice or judgment. Just being there for them, hanging out with them, and letting then know you care can make a difference. You don’t have to solve their problems unless you are a mental health professional.

…Sometimes it won’t be easy to stand by a friend or loved one who is dealing with despair or depression. Your loyalty will be tested. You may feel hurt, slighted, or abandoned. I would never suggest that you allow someone to mistreat you. If that happens, maintain a safe distance, but do whatever you can to help. That may mean simply being there for those who are hurting, listening to them when they are willing to talk about their concerns, and assuring them that they are loved and valued by reminding them that other people care about them. If you sense that someone is more troubled than you are equipped to handle, you should contact a guidance counselor, a trusted clergy member, or a medical or mental health professional and seek his or her advice on what to do.

If anyone around you is exhibiting any of these signs, please reach out to them in love. It would be much better to have a friend tell you, “I’m okay, but thanks for asking,” than for you to miss an opportunity to save someone’s life.


Frederick DouglassI’m convinced that many of us have missed answers to prayer because the answers seemed “too practical” or required “too much work” from us. Consider the well-known example of the defeat of the city of Jericho as recorded in the Bible.

Jericho was a massive fortress. Archeologists tell us that the city encompassed over eight acres, and was surrounded by walls which were 30-feet tall and 20-feet wide. Joshua was a brilliant military strategist who up to this point had never suffered a defeat. He asks God for help in defeating this fortress, and God tells him, “March!”

That’s it. Not pray, pray, and pray some more. Not go on a 40-day fast. Make no mistake, the Israelites had been in a period of renewed passion and prayer. As they entered Canaan, they sought God, renewed their vow to serve Him alone, and celebrated the Passover just days before encountering Jericho.

Sometimes our prayers have to have feet. 

Sort of like abolitionist Frederick Douglass who said, “Praying for freedom never did me any good til I started praying with my feet.”

  • We need to pray for the salvation of our loved ones, and talk to them about Christ.
  • We need to pray for God to open the door for employment, and mail the resume.
  • We need to pray for God’s help on a test, and study hard.
  • We need to pray, and we need to march.

Jericho delieveredI love the verb tense in this story! God told Joshua, “I have delivered Jericho into your hands” (Joshua 6:2). Later on, after the Israelites completed their 13th hike around Jericho, Joshua said, “Shout! For the Lord has given you the city” (v. 16).

If you are praying for something that is in alignment with God’s Word, then God has given you your Jericho. But you may not see the walls come tumbling down until you march. Keep praying, keep marching, keep circling it in prayer, and watch those walls crumble!

Strength From The Strong One

Charles Spurgeon said this in Lectures To My Students, and it is still wise counsel for every pastor today.C.H. Spurgeon

“To face the enemies of truth, to defend the bulwarks of the faith, to rule well in the house of God, to comfort all that mourn, to edify the saints, to guide the perplexed, to bear with the forward, to win and nurse souls—all these and a thousand other works beside are not for a Feeble-mind or a Ready-to-halt, but are reserved for the Great-heart whom the Lord has made strong for Himself. Seek then strength from the Strong One, wisdom from the Wise One, in fact, all from the God of all.

—Charles Spurgeon

The Contemplative Pastor

Search mePastors can get caught in a rut, just like anyone in any number of other professions. That’s why it’s so vital for us to pause often to make sure we haven’t slipped into something without being aware of its impact.

It is absolutely vital for pastors to have regular quiet time with God. Read the Word, pray, contemplate, read other pastors (especially the “old guys”), pray, and contemplate some more. Let the Holy Spirit point out to you any blind spots.

I’ve been contemplating two quotes from the “old guys” over the last few days.

[1] “We prefer to build up converts to our own point of view.” —Oswald Chambers

I want to make sure I’m always allowing the Holy Spirit to be as unique with others as He is with me. I need to be cautious that I’m not making my practices the universal practices for everyone. I need to give these converts a solid biblical foundation, and then let the Spirit build them up as He knows best.

[2] “Recollect, as ministers, that your whole life, your whole pastoral life especially, will be affected by the vigor of your piety. If your zeal grows dull, you will not pray well in the pulpit; you will pray worse in the family, and worst in the study alone. When your soul becomes lean, your hearers, without knowing how or why, will find that your prayers in public have little savor for them; they will feel your barrenness, perhaps, before you feel it yourself.” —Charles Spurgeon

I need to be a praying pastor. My sermons must be birthed in prayer before I deliver them, and sealed in prayer after I deliver them; my appointments must be covered in prayer; my schedule must be directed by prayer; my relationships must be nurtured through prayer. I must be in prayer continually if I am to be effective at anything.

My fellow pastor, I hope you are taking the time to contemplate: to be quiet as you ponder how the Holy Spirit is speaking to you. It is absolutely vital for the health of the part of the Body of Christ to which we minister.

13 Quotes From “Unstoppable”

UnstoppableI found Unstoppable by Nick Vujicic to be so hope-filled and encouraging! You can read my full book review by clicking here, but these are 13 quotes from this book which really caught my attention.

“Your character is formed by the challenges you face and overcome. Your courage grows when you face your fears. Your strength and your faith are built as they are tested in your life experiences.” 

“I found that when I got rolling on something, there was a snowball effect. My momentum picked up and my problem-solving powers increased.”

“If you find yourself struggling more than usual with a challenge, my recommended recovery plan is to lean with gratitude on those who care about you, be patient with your tender feelings, do your best to understand the realities versus the emotions at play, and put your faith into action.”

“When you find yourself superstressed, highly emotional, and unable to function because of something that has occurred, it is important to separate what has happened to you from what is going on inside you.”

“An arrogant person does no ask for help and thus is helpless. An arrogant person claims to know everything and thus is clueless. A humble person attracts helpers and teachers.”

“God pays for what He orders. He would not call you into His service without providing all you need to pursue your passion and purpose.”

“One thing I would caution you about is that when you face overwhelming medical problem, you may find yourself totally caught up in dealing with it, so being ill and getting healthy again are all you think about. Professional counselors say that it is important to accept and manage your illness, but it is equally important to remember that you are still you. Don’t abandon the things you love to do or the people you love to be with because you want to focus exclusively on restoring your health. The health challenge has happened to you, but don’t let it take over your life or damage your sense of yourself and the value you bring into the world. You are more than this challenge. …Decide that no matter what happens with your body, the rest of you—your mind, spirit, and soul—will come through this restored and improved. Ask God for that gift of faith.”

“The need to control everything around us can actually be a handicap. …When we spend all our time trying to remain in control, we risk missing the blessings that may come by putting faith into action and letting go.”

“When you commit to a loving relationship with God, you surrender to His plan for your life, and suddenly the act of surrendering loses any and all negative connotations. Instead it becomes a joyous and empowering experience.”

“When you are searching for God’s will in your life, whether it’s trying to make decisions or looking for opportunities, you can’t always expect a sign from God. Those are rare and wonderful occasions. What I’ve come to look for in trying to figure out what God wants is a sense of peace.”

“You may ask, ‘What can I do?’ or ‘What do I have to give?’ The answer is, ‘Yourself.’ You and your God-given talents are the greatest gifts you can give.” 

“Too much of the world is about seeking comfort instead of providing it. We can easily get caught up in pursuing our own happiness that we miss out on one of God’s primary teachings: true happiness comes in serving Him and His children.”

“When you aren’t getting what you want, try giving it. If you can’t catch a break, why not provide one? If no one is reaching out to you, reach out to someone whose needs are greater than yours. Take the focus off your problems and help someone deal with theirs.” 

Thursdays With Oswald—Think As Christians

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.

Think As Christians

     The [Holy] Spirit is the first power we practically experience but the last power we come to understand. The working of the Spirit is much easier to experience than to try and understand, the reason being that we form our ideas out of things we have seen and handled and touched; but when we come to think about the Godhead and the Spirit, language is strained to its limit, and all we can do is to use pictures to try and convey our ideas. 

     Yet in spite of the difficulty, it is very necessary that we should think as Christians as well as live as Christians. It is not sufficient to experience the reality of the Spirit of God within us and His wonderful work; we have to bring our brains in line with our experience so that we can think and understand along Christian lines. It is because so few do think along Christian lines that it is easy for wrong teaching and wrong thinking to come in, especially in connection with the Spirit. 

From Biblical Psychology

Christians should be first-rate thinkers. Why? Because the Holy Spirit in a Christian is the Mediator between our brains and our Creator.

We can have the mind of Christ, if we will but exercise our thoughts. As Paul said, we need to take our thoughts captive so that they line up with the reality of God (2 Corinthians 10:5). We cannot simply make a “theology” out of our experiences, but we need to use the thinking power of the Holy Spirit to help us find out what God is revealing to us about Himself through our experiences.

God created us with a mind, a will, and emotions. Let’s make sure we’re not emphasizing one to the diminishment—or exclusion—of the others!

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