The Cure For Spiritual Fanaticism

“Some time after Pentecost a group of believers met to pray for strength and power to meet the emergency then facing them, and to enlist the help of God on their behalf. ‘And when they had prayed, the place was shaken where they were assembled together; and they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and they spake the Word of God with boldness’ (Acts 4:31). Some of these were of the original number filled at Pentecost. It is hardly conceivable that God acted contrary to His own will in filling them again after Pentecost. Still other outpourings are recorded in Acts 8, Acts 10 and Acts 19. All these occurred some years after the original act.

“In brief, the teaching of the New Testament is that the outpouring at Pentecost was the historic beginning of an era which was to be characterized by a continuous outpouring of the Holy Spirit. …

“This anti-emotionalism, though it is sponsored by some good people and travels in pretty orthodox company, is nevertheless an unwarranted inference, not a scriptural doctrine, and is in violent opposition to psychology and common sense. Where in the Bible are feeling and faith said to be at odds? The fact is that faith engenders feeling as certainly as life engenders motion. We can have feeling without faith, it is true, we can never have faith without feeling. Faith as a cold, unemotional light is wholly unknown in the Scriptures. …

“The Holy Spirit is the cure for fanaticism. Not the cause of it.”

—A.W. Tozer, in Paths To Power

10 Great Reasons To Go To Church Regularly

Without exception, all human beings have exactly 168 hours in a week. No one gets any bonus time and no one has any hours taken away. We’re supposed to get 8 hours of sleep a night, and most of us work about 40 hours each week. So let’s do the math…

168 hours per week
– 56 hours for sleeping
– 40 hours for work
=72 discretionary hours

In those 72 hours there must be time for eating and taking care of chores. But what about going to church? The problem for many people is looking at church attendance as just another “chore” or item on their “To Do” list.

But instead of thinking of going to church as “I have to,” how about if you looked at all of the “I get to” benefits?

Here are 10 great reasons for going to church regularly. I get to…

  1. …draw closer to my Heavenly Father, just like Jesus did (Luke 2:49)
  2. …be an example to others (1 Timothy 4:12)
  3. …hang out with some really great people (Hebrews 10:24)
  4. …get to know Jesus and my brothers and sisters better (1 John 1:3)
  5. …reaffirm the priority that God is first in my life (Matthew 6:33)
  6. …learn to better understand Scripture (2 Timothy 2:15)
  7. …join with a choir of God worshipers (John 4:23-24)
  8. …grow spiritually (1 Peter 2:2-5)
  9. …complete the Body of Chris (1 Corinthians 12:12)
  10. …avoid becoming isolated and possibly lost (Proverbs 18:1)

“Sometimes we make it sound like we’re making a sacrifice to go to church, but think about the very real sacrifice Jesus made so that we could meet together as brothers and sisters!” —Scott Troost

How about it? Do you think you could invest an hour or two of your 72 discretionary hours in a local church this week?

My thanks to my brother, Scott Troost, for sharing such a timely message!

Poetry Saturday—Hymn XXXV

In Thy presence we are happy,
In Thy presence we’re secure;
In Thy presence all afflictions
We can easily endure;
In Thy presence we can conquer,
We can suffer, we can die;
Wandering from Thee, we are feeble;
Let Thy love, Lord, keep us nigh. —Williams Pantycelyn

The Q Series

“Ladies and gentleman, come see the amazing high wire act! Watch closely as he crosses the chasm on a tightrope without a net!” Well, at least that’s what it feels like to me.

On August 13, 20, and 27 we will be doing our Q Series at Calvary Assembly of God. These are Sundays where I don’t prepare a sermon, but I prepare myself to answer questions that are thrown at me on any topic. And I feel a little like the man walking on a tightrope without a net!

Here we go! 

If you’d like to submit a question, you can do so in the comments below. You can always send questions to me via Twitter or email. If you won’t be able to attend the services, we’ll be broadcasting on Facebook Live and will make the video on YouTube following that.

If you can attend in person (each of these Sundays at 10:30am), we will have a text number available so you can anonymously text your question to the computer techs.

It’s always fun and educational, so I hope you will be able to join us.

Thursdays With Oswald—Miracle Of Grace

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.

Miracle Of Grace 

   The miracle of the grace of God is that He can make the past as though it had never been.

From Run Today’s Race

Run Today’s Race contains short statements from Oswald Chambers intended to stimulate Christians to ponder things like:

  • Do I realize how much God’s grace is an undeserved miracle given to me?
  • Am I being held hostage by my past mistakes, or am I allowing grace to forgive and forget those mistakes?
  • Do I extend the same grace to others that God extends to me?

8 Quotes From “Paths To Power” by A.W. Tozer

As I said in my book review, A.W. Tozer’s words frequently make me say both “Ouch!” and “Amen!” Maybe you’ll feel the same thing in these few quotes.

“Left to herself the Church must have perished as a thousand abortive sects had done before her, and have left nothing for a future generation to remember. That the Church did not so perish was due entirely to the miraculous element within her. That element was supplied by the Holy Spirit who came at Pentecost to empower her for her task. For the Church was not an organization merely, not a movement, but a walking incarnation of spiritual energy. …

“In short, the Church began in power, moved in power, and moved just as long as she had power. When she no longer had power she dug in for safety and sought to conserve her gains. But her blessings were like manna: when they tried to keep it overnight it bred worms and stank. So we have had monasticism, scholasticism, institutionalism; and they have all been indicative of the same thing: absence of spiritual power.” 

“The weakness in our message today is our overemphasis on faith with a corresponding underemphasis on obedience. This has been carried so far that ‘believe’ has been made to double for ‘obey’ in the minds of millions of religious persons.”

“In every denomination, missionary society, local church, or individual Christian this law operates. God works as long as His people live daringly; He ceases when they no longer need His aid.” 

“To any casual observer of the religious scene today, two things will at once be evident: one, that there is very little sense of sin among the unsaved, and two, that the average professed Christian lives a life so worldly and careless that it is difficult to distinguish him from the unconverted man.”

“It is always dangerous to isolate a truth and then press it to its limit without regard to other truth.”

“It may be stated as an axiom of the Christian system that whatever makes sin permissible is a foe of God and an enemy of the souls of men.”

“Some time after Pentecost a group of believers met to pray for strength and power to meet the emergency then facing them, and to enlist the help of God on their behalf. ‘And when they had prayed, the place was shaken where they were assembled together; and they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and they spake the Word of God with boldness’ (Acts 4:31). Some of these were of the original number filled at Pentecost. It is hardly conceivable that God acted contrary to His own will in filling them again after Pentecost. Still other outpourings are recorded in Acts 8, 10 and 19. All these occurred some years after the original act.

“In brief, the teaching of the New Testament is that the outpouring at Pentecost was the historic beginning of an era which was to be characterized by a continuous outpouring of the Holy Spirit.”

“This anti-emotionalism, though it is sponsored by some good people and travels in pretty orthodox company, is nevertheless an unwarranted inference, not a scriptural doctrine, and is in violent opposition to psychology and common sense. Where in the Bible are feeling and faith said to be at odds? The fact is that faith engenders feeling as certainly as life engenders motion. We can have feeling without faith, it is true, we can never have faith without feeling. Faith as a cold, unemotional light is wholly unknown in the Scriptures.”

Godly Leaders Prayerfully Plan

“… I pray…grant me mercy in the sight of this man [King Artaxerxes]…” (Nehemiah 1:11).

Nehemiah prayed this in the month of Chislev. Four months later—in the month of Nisan—we read Nehemiah’s words, “So I prayed to the God of heaven” (2:4).

It took four months before God began to answer Nehemiah’s prayer, but he definitely wasn’t idle during this time!

During these four months, Nehemiah did more than pray; he planned. In Nisan, the king asked Nehemiah why he seemed heartsick.

“This is nothing but sorrow of heart,” said the king. “What’s bothering you, Nehemiah?”

“My hometown is in ruins,” replied Nehemiah.

Then the king asked, “What would you like to do?”

“So I prayed to the God of heaven. And then I said to the king…” (vv. 2-5).

Nehemiah’s request to King Artaxerxes was very specific.

  • He told the king how long he would be gone
  • He told him the building supplies he would need
  • He requested a letter from the king granting him safe passage
  • He requested another letter authorizing him to have access to the forest for lumber

“And the king granted them to me according to the good hand of my God upon me” (v. 8). Not only that, but the King gave Nehemiah an armed escort back to Jerusalem!

Nehemiah prayed and planned, allowing God to determine the perfect timing. Nehemiah didn’t just pray and wait; he worked while he waited.

A mark of a godly leader is one who prayerfully plans his strategy.

My prayer—May all my plans be made with prayer to You for guidance. You know the best plans and the perfect timing, so I will pray and plan; plan and pray.

This is Part 4 in my series on godly leadership. To read my other posts, please click here.

Paths To Power (book review)

As I read A.W. Tozer’s words I find myself saying two things: (1) “Ouch!” and (2) “Amen!” Tozer’s Paths To Power is a continuation in those responses as he outlines what robs the Church and individual Christians of the power God wants them to have.

Right at the outset, Tozer identifies a key element robbing the Church of power: a lack of obedience in the things God has commanded us. “A knowledge of the truth is not enough,” he writes. “The truth must be followed if we would realize in actual experience the blessedness which is here described.”

Another power-blocker is an unwillingness to let God confront us and help us change. We get stuck in a this-is-how-it’s-always-been rut and then shut our eyes to the times of refreshing God wants to send to us. Other blockers include poor doctrine, putting the Holy Spirit in a box, justifying our sin, and not unleashing our faith, to name just a few.

Thankfully, Tozer also points us to the straightforward cures for all of the blockages to power. If we are willing to open our eyes, ears, and hearts to God’s voice, His unlimited blessings could flow uninterrupted into our lives and churches.

Paths To Power contains only seven short chapters, but the digestion, contemplation, and implementation of Tozer’s cures will be something that will involve a lifetime commitment for those ready for God’s fresh power to be poured into their lives.

I am a Moody Publishers book reviewer.

4 BIG Lessons From Esther

One of my favorite stories in the Bible shows God’s role in world events, and how the obedience of His people fits into God’s plan. Yet this story doesn’t even mention God by name!

It’s an important reminder that we don’t have to say, “God’s at work here” for God to be at work here. We don’t have to say, “I’m a Christian” to live in a Christlike way.

Have you ever read the story of Queen Esther and her cousin Mordecai? Let me tell you, this is a real page-turner of a story! If you already know the story, skip to the four lessons below. Here’s a quick recap (but you really should read this for yourself)…

  • King Xerxes is the ruler of the most powerful nation on earth
  • Queen Vashti (Xerxes’ wife) defies him and is deposed
  • When the king is looking for a new queen, a young lady named Hadassah catches his eye
  • Hadassah went by her Persian name of Esther, so the king didn’t know he married a Jewess
  • Mordecai was Esther’s cousin, her legal guardian, and a palace worker
  • Mordecai uncovered a plot to assassinate Xerxes, which he shared with Queen Esther, who told the king, who investigated and had the plotters killed
  • King Xerxes had a prime minister named Haman, who was really full of himself
  • Mordecai wouldn’t bow down to Haman because Haman thought of himself as a deity
  • Haman wanted to show Mordecai, and all the other Jews like him, who was boss so he deceived King Xerxes into signing a law that would allow for all the Jews to be killed on a set date
  • Mordecai again told Queen Esther about the plot, but the queen was scared to go before the king unsummoned (where the penalty for doing so could be death)
  • Esther finally had the courage to approach Xerxes and invite him and Haman to dinner
  • At dinner, the king asked Esther why she really invited him to dinner, and Esther said, “Come back to dinner tomorrow night and I’ll tell you then”
  • King Xerxes couldn’t sleep that night so he asked for the royal chronicles to be read to him
  • The king discovered that Mordecai had never been rewarded for uncovering the assassination attempt
  • Xerxes asked Haman what he should do for a man he wanted to honor; Haman thought the king was talking about him, so he gave an elaborate plan of recognition, to which the king replied, “Excellent! Go do all that for Mordecai!”
  • Haman was so ticked off that he built a 75-foot tall gallows on which to hang Mordecai
  • At the second dinner, Esther asked for her life to be spared; the king wanted to know who would presume to attack her and the Jews, and she called out Haman
  • The king stormed from the room while Haman stayed to beg for his life
  • As the king returned, Haman was pawing at the queen in desperation, so the king’s bodyguards grabbed him
  • The king found out about the gallows built for Mordecai and gave orders for Haman to be hanged on those very same gallows
  • Mordecai became prime minister and wrote another law to help save the Jews from annihilation

4 BIG Lessons From Esther for Christians living in a pagan culture today

  1. All of History is His Story. God’s timing to bring all of the key players on the scene at just the right moment is obvious. Even giving the king insomnia at just the right time was a part of God’s plan!
  2. God gives us favor and we win favor by obeying God. The word “favor” is all throughout this story. God-fearing people are given God’s favor which leads to man’s favor as well.
  3. God-following people do make a positive impact on their culture. Esther becoming queen pleased the people, as did Mordecai’s just laws.  
  4. Pride humiliates and destroys; humility elevates the person and glorifies God. Just look at the contrast between Haman and Mordecai!

Do you have any other takeaways from this story? If so, please share them in the comments below.

Poetry Saturday—Everlasting Love

Love, Thou bottomless abyss,
My sins are swallowed up in Thee!
Covered is my unrighteousness,
Nor spot of guilt remains on me,
While Jesus’ blood, through earth and skies,
Mercy, free, boundless mercy, cries. … 

Fixed on this ground I will remain,
Though my heart fail, and flesh decay;
This anchor shall my soul sustain,
When earth’s foundations melt away;
Mercy’s full power I then shall prove,
Loved with an everlasting love. —Johann Andreas Rothe
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