“We can simply pour from the fullness of our heart the burdens of our spirit and the sorrow that seems to crush us. We can know that God hears, loves, understands, receives, and separates from our prayer everything that is in error, imperfect, or wrong. And then He presents the remainder, along with the incense of the great High Priest, before His throne on high.
“We may be assured that our prayer is heard, accepted, and answered in Christ’s name. … Do we truly know the power of our supernatural weapon of prayer? Do we dare to use it with the authority of a faith that not only asks but also commands? God baptizes us with holy boldness and divine confidence, for He is looking not for great people but for people who will dare to prove the greatness of their God!” —A.B. Simpson
This 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.
Your Peace Vs. True Peace
Conviction of sin is the realization that my natural life is based on a disposition that will not have Jesus Christ. The Gospel does not present what the natural man wants but what he needs, and the Gospel awakens an intense resentment as well as an intense craving. …
If I am peaceful and happy and contented and living my life with my morality well within my own grasp, why does the Holy Spirit need to come in and upset the balance and make me miserable and unfit for anything? It is time we asked ourselves these questions. God’s Book gives us the answer. Thank God, we are coming to the end of the shallow presentation of Christianity that makes out that Jesus Christ came only to give us peace. Thousands of people are happy without God in this world, but that kind of happiness and peace is on a wrong level. Jesus Christ came to send a sword through every peace that is not based on a personal relationship to Himself. He came to put us right with God that His own peace might reign. …
If once we have allowed Jesus Christ to upset the equilibrium, holiness is the inevitable result, or no peace forever. …
Before the Spirit of God can bring peace of mind He has to clear out the rubbish, and before He can do that He has to give us an idea of what rubbish there is.
From The Soul Of A Christian
Jesus said, “Do not suppose that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I did not come to bring peace, but a sword” (Matthew 10:34).
The Apostle Paul also noted that he was perfectly happy living his life as he was, until he read in the Scripture that the way he was happily living was actually sinful. And once he realized that, the sin actually became harder to break (see Romans 7:7-20).
Oswald Chambers reminds us of the same fact: God wants to upset anything on which we have based our peace that is not rooted in Him. He wants to make us aware of our trust in other sources, our wrong beliefs, our human-based equilibrium. In short, He wants to show us the rubbish in our life so that He can help us clear out that rubbish and know true peace!
Will you let Him disturb your peace so you can know true peace?
A New Kind Of Apologist is edited by Sean McDowell and contains a collection of fabulous essays to prepare Christian apologists to be effective in this current generation. You can read my full book review by clicking here. These quotes mainly deal with the attitude that a Christian apologist should adopt.
“Truth must be wedded to grace, and what we say is important…but how we say it is equally critical.” —Sean McDowell
“To listen to a person will require that we temporarily set aside our objections to what a person is saying and allow him or her to speak openly without fear of being challenged.” —Tim Muelhoff
“Our character and relationships with others have a greater capacity for attracting those around us to the Christian message than do our arguments or rhetoric.” —Ken Wytsma & Rick Gerhart
“If our beliefs are not expressed in love and by example, we miss the greatest command of all, which is loving God and loving others.” —Dan Kimball
“The Barna Research Group found that twentysomethings who stay in church were twice as likely to have a close personal friendship with an adult inside the church. Those who had an adult mentor at church, aside from the pastor, were almost three times as likely to stay as those who did not.” —Jeff Myers
“Any fully-orbed presentation of the truth about ourselves and God’s plan for us cannot be a disembodied, purely intellectual truth; it must truthfully reflect our nature as created beings.
“Part of being incarnate means that it is good and right for us to have emotions and express them—as our Lord did, for example, by weeping at the tomb of Lazarus and getting angry with the money changers in the temple. The fact that little children wanted to come to Him suggests that He had a welcoming physicality and a warm personality that they instinctively trusted and found attractive. He wasn’t just a walking dictionary of Christian theology.” —Holly Ordway
“At its core, apologetics is the art and science of defending the faith. However, practically understood, the work of the apologist is simply to answer with integrity, clarity, and compassion the questions critics are asking about the gospel (1 Peter 3:15). The context of this passage implies a lifestyle on the part of the apologist that engenders and welcomes questions from their audience. The encouragement of Peter seems to be that we avoid the telemarketer approach of simply enduring questions solely for the sake of closing the deal. Rather, Peter calls us to anticipate and patiently answer the questions of our unbelieving friends, family members, and neighbors in an uncompromising and yet humble manner.” —Christopher Brooks
“We must be Christians first and apologists second, which means our intellectual lives must be primarily shaped by seeking to understand the faith we live within rather than debating, disputing, or even persuading those who do not believe it.” —Matthew Anderson
“It is our responsibility to share the message of hope through Christ ‘with gentleness and respect’ and ‘with grace,’ as Peter and Paul taught. The gospel message is already offensive to some. We need not make it more offensive by presenting it in a manner that lacks gentleness, respect, and grace.” —Mike Licona
“Truth without grace is abusive and arrogant. Grace without truth is mushy sentimentalism. … As much as possible, always deal with the person in grace and the issue itself in truth.” —Glenn T. Stanton
“Paul doesn’t say that we ought to know how to answer each question [see Colossians 4:5-6]. He specifically teaches us to answer each person. … Paul tells us that we aren’t in the question-answering business. We are in the people-answering business. Today’s apologist must understand that questions don’t need answers; people need answers. … I am convinced that the key to apologetics today is to identify what non-Christians thirst for most and show how the Christian faith alone can slake that thirst.” —Abdu Murray
“The manner in which we communicate the gospel is not a minor add-on to the gospel itself [see 1 Peter 3:15-16]. Very often it is the nature of the communication that determines whether the gospel gets a hearing at all. …
“It remains true that it is not arrogant to make truth claims, it is not arrogant to pursue a knowledge of that truth, and to argue that we’ve found it. It is important that the content of our message is a genuine reflection of the gospel, and that the manner in which we communicate it doesn’t become a stumbling block.” —Tanya Walker
After what? After God thwarted Syria’s attack against Israel. Later Syria tried again, and the king of Israel forgot what God had done in the past and instead blamed the prophet Elisha for Syria’s oppression (see v. 31).
How quickly we are to forget what God has done! How quick we are to abandon His Word? How quick we are to let our eyes see the problems and instead of the Provider!
Elisha again spoke “according to the word of the Lord” and everything transpired “just as the man of God had spoken” (7:16-18).
As William Gurnall said, “If you have God’s good Word, you do not have to fear the world’s bad words.”
My prayer—O God, may I be quick to remember Your words and Your past victories; quick to look to You as my Provider and not to look to my problems.
For years, Josh McDowell has been ranked as a first-class Christian apologist: one who can persuasively defend the Christian faith. Sean McDowell grew up in this environment, being well mentored by his apologist father, and has become a world-renown apologist himself. So when Sean speaks of the need for a new kind of apologist, Christians should take notice.
A New Kind Of Apologist is a collection of essays edited by Sean McDowell. The book also contains short interviews which Sean has conducted with both those defending and opposing Christianity. This book covers everything from how apologists can be the most effective in a new generation of skeptics and seekers, as well as some thoughtful ways to address the issues at the forefront of the minds of this new generation.
The essays in this book are written by seasoned veterans of Christian apologetics, and some who are newer to the scene. But all of them write with a voice that is relevant to this current generation.
Not only will this book inform your brain, but it will challenge your heart as well. The overriding theme through all of these excellent essays is this—Christians must seek to love people more than win an intellectual argument. The new apologist knows his “stuff” but also knows how to develop genuine, caring relationships with those skeptics and seekers that need to hear the good news that Christianity offers.
I loved this book! It is clearly one that I am going to be referring to again and again and again as I seek to hone my apologetic and relationship-building skills.
I am a Harvest House reviewer.
In Shade Of His Hand, Oswald Chambers is giving us his insight on the biblical book of Ecclesiastes. I typically share longer passages from Oswald Chambers’ works in my weekly “Thursdays With Oswald” posts. Here are a few shorter quotes from this book.
“In personal life, in church life and in national life, we try Jesus Christ’s teaching, but as soon as it becomes difficult we abandon it, or else we compromise.”
“Jesus Christ says, ‘Come unto Me… and I will give you rest,’ i.e., I will put you in the place where your eyes are open. And notice what Jesus Christ says we will look at—lilies and sparrows and grass. … The salvation of Jesus Christ enables a man to see for the first time in his life, and it is a wonderful thing.”
“The essential element in moral life is obedience and submission. If you want spiritual truth, obey the highest standard you know. ‘If any man will do His will, he shall know of the teaching, whether it be of God or whether I speak from Myself’ (John 7:17). Intellectually, curiosity is the thing; morally, obedience is what is needed.”
“Whenever our spiritual life is unsatisfactory it is because we have said to God—‘I won’t.’ … If Jesus Christ has done no mighty works for me it is either because I don’t believe He can, or I don’t want Him to. … Get to the place where you make the thing inevitable, burn your bridges behind you, make retreat impossible, then go ahead. Solomon’s counsel is wise—‘Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding.’ It is leaning to our own understanding that keeps the bridges behind.”
“When you are joyful, be joyful; when you are sad, be sad. If God has given you a sweet cup, don’t make it bitter; and if He has given you a bitter cup, don’t try and make it sweet; take things as they come. … Suffering, and the inevitable result of suffering, is the only way some of us can learn, and if we are shielded God will ultimately take the one who interferes by the scruff of the neck and remove him.”
“For a man to have doubts is not a sign that he is a bad man.”
“If your religion does not make you a better man, it is a rotten religion. The test of true religion is when it touches these four things—food, money, sex and mother earth. These things are the test of a right sane life with God, and the religion that ignores them or abuses them is not right. … A man needs to hold a right attitude to all these things by means of his personal relationship to God.”
“We do not think on the basis of Christianity at all. We are taught to think like pagans for six days a week and to reverse the order for one day, consequently in critical moments we think as pagans and our religion is left in the limbo of the inarticulate.”
“It is only when a man is born from above of the Spirit of God that he finds the ‘want to’ is altered.”
“If you are the servant of men for their sake you will soon be heartbroken; but if you serve men for the sake of Jesus Christ, nothing can ever discourage you (cf. 2 Corinthians 4:5).”
God has always been revealing Himself. Sometimes it’s in His Creation, or the conscience He placed inside every human, or the prophets who remind us of God’s ways. But ultimately God revealed His fullness in the Person of Jesus.
“God has always wanted His people to know Him—not in a generic or shallow way, but personally, as He truly is. So He revealed Himself in a progressive way, not only through His name, but also through His glorious presence that dwelt in the Temple, through the Law, and through His mighty deeds on behalf of His people. But these revelations all led up to a definitive revelation in the Person of Jesus.”
One of the ways the love of Jesus was revealed to us is in the story of Ruth and Boaz. This is one of my favorite Bible stories. It’s a short story, so please check it out when you have 10 minutes to read it.
Here’s the part of the story I want to share today. Ruth is…
Ruth meets a man named Boaz, who is…
Ruth, in an unexpected twist, asks Boaz to marry her!
Boaz has nothing to gain and everything to lose by agreeing to this marriage proposal, but he does it anyway!
In the language of the day, Ruth asks Boaz to “cover me with the corner of your robe.” This becomes the picture that Jesus will ultimately fulfill.
Ruth had nothing but debts; we have nothing but debts. Ruth was barely surviving unless help came; we are headed for death without Jesus.
Boaz took Ruth as she was and gave her citizenship, legal standing, and riches. He covered her shame and allowed her to stand boldly in the city square.
Jesus takes us as we are and gives us citizenship in Heaven, a legal standing before Almighty God, all of His riches, and then…
Oh, how Jesus loves us!!
“Your religious life is every day to be a proof that God works impossibilities; your religious life is to be a series of impossibilities made possible and actual by God’s almighty power. That is what the Christian needs. He has an Almighty God that he worships, and he must learn to understand that he does not need a little of God’s power, but he needs—with reverence be it said—the whole of God’s omnipotence to keep him right, and to live like a Christian.” —Andrew Murray, in Absolute Surrender (emphasis mine)