Poetry Saturday—A Private Litany Of Humility

From the desire of being praised, deliver me, Jesus.
From the desire of being honored, deliver me, Jesus.
From the desire of being preferred, deliver me, Jesus.
From the desire of being consulted, deliver me, Jesus.
From the desire of being approved, deliver me, Jesus.
From the desire of comfort and ease, deliver me, Jesus.
From the fear of being humiliated, deliver me, Jesus.
From the fear of being criticized, deliver me, Jesus.
From the fear of being passed over, deliver me, Jesus.
From the fear of being forgotten, deliver me, Jesus.
From the fear of being lonely, deliver me, Jesus.
From the fear of being hurt, deliver me, Jesus.
From the fear of suffering, deliver me, Jesus.
That others may be loved more than I,
Jesus, grant me the grace to desire it.
That others may be chosen and I set aside,
Jesus, grant me the grace to desire it.
That others may be praised and I unnoticed,
Jesus, grant me the grace to desire it.
O Jesus, meek and humble of heart, make my heart like Yours.
O Jesus, meek and humble of heart, strengthen me with Your Spirit.
O Jesus, meek and humble of heart, teach me Your ways.
O Jesus, meek and humble of heart,
help me put my self-importance aside
to learn the kind of cooperation with others
that makes possible the presence of your Abba’s household. Amen. —Rafael Cardinal Merry Del Val

Thursdays With Oswald—The Powerful Witness Of Your Life

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 Powerful Witness Of Your Life

     Jesus Christ came to do what no human being can do, He came to redeem man, to alter their disposition, to plant in them the Holy Spirit, to make them new creatures. Christianity is not the obliteration of the old, but the transfiguration of the old. Jesus Christ did not come to teach men to be holy: He came to make men holy. His teaching has no meaning for us unless we enter into His life by means of His death. The Cross is the great central point. Jesus Christ is not first a Teacher, He is first a Savior. … 

     To preach the Gospel is to proclaim that God saves from sin and regenerates into His Kingdom anyone and everyone who believes on the Lord Jesus. It means even more—it means to disciple all the nations not only on the authority of Jesus, but on the flesh and blood evidence of entire sanctification in the life of the missionary.

From So Send I You

The Apostle Paul noted, “Then it pleased God to reveal His Son to me so that I would proclaim the Good News about Jesus to the Gentiles” (Galatians 1:15-16).

This is the exact same message Oswald Chambers has for Christians—If you have allowed Jesus to transform your life, that witness of Him in you is an undeniably powerful testimony! Yes, we need to preach what we believe, but this preaching needs to be backed up and amplified by living what we believe.

Christian, can you honestly say that your life is giving clear “flesh and blood evidence of entire sanctification”?

An Ordinary Simple Christian

“An ordinary simple Christian kneels down to say his prayers. He is trying to get into touch with God. But if he is a Christian he knows that what is prompting him to pray is also God: God, so to speak, inside him. But he also knows that all his real knowledge of God comes through Christ, the Man who was God—that Christ is standing beside him, helping him to pray, praying for him. You see what is happening. God is the thing to which he is praying—the goal he is trying to reach. God is also the thing inside him which is pushing him on—the motive power. God is also the road or bridge along which he is being pushed to that goal. So that the whole threefold life of the three-personal Being is actually going on in that ordinary little bedroom where an ordinary man is saying his prayers. The man is being caught up into the higher kinds of life—what I called Zoe or spiritual life: he is being pulled into God, by God, while still remaining himself.” —C.S. Lewis

Love Is Really Love

Love is really love—when we are loving the unlovable.

Forgiveness is really forgiveness—when we are forgiving the unforgivable.

Repentance is really repentance—when we let our wrong loves be broken by the rightness of God’s unbreakable love.

Faith is really faith—when we believe God for the unbelievable.” —Ann Voskamp, in The Broken Way

3 Manger Lessons

Only Luke uses the Greek word for manger in all of the New Testament, with three of those instances being closely linked with the story of Christ’s birth in Bethlehem (Luke 2:4-16).

Luke is a prolific writer, but also a very specific writer. Luke uses more unique Greek words in his two books of the Bible than any other New Testament author. Because Luke is so precise, we need to pause to ask: what message was Luke trying to highlight in the fact that Jesus was born in a manger.

Here are three manger lessons…

  1. The manger shows us God’s PLAN.

The birthplace of Jesus was predicted 700 years before He was born (Micah 5:2). God moved the heart of the most powerful man in the world (Caesar Augustus) to issue a decree that would bring a nearly unknown Joseph and Mary to Bethlehem, and cause them to cross paths with a bunch of unnamed shepherds.

  1. The manger shows us God’s PRIORITY.

Jesus was not born to a handsome family (Isaiah 53:2), nor was He born to an influential family (Philippians 2:7). If He had been born to the high and mighty class, He would not only be unmoved by the desperate conditions of the least and the lost, but He would also be inaccessible to them.

Think about this—Who would you be more likely to have access to: a King or a peasant? Jesus came not to be served but to serve (Matthew 20:25-28).

  1. The manger shows us God’s PLEASURE.

God is pleased to deliver His good news to the disempowered, the downcast, the over-burdened, the desperate (Luke 2:14; Matthew 11:25-26). And what is this good news? The good news is that Jesus came to make it possible for us to be linked with Him forever! (see Matthew 11:28-30).

Jesus was born in a manger to show us that (1) God’s plans always prevail; (2) His priority is to rescue those who are unable to rescue themselves; and (3) He has immense pleasure to yoking us to Him forever and ever! 

May this good news of Christ in manger bring you joy this Christmas season!

We also looked at some other powerful Advent stories in our Carols Of Christmas series. You can read about the lessons from O Come Emmanuel and Silent Night! Holy Night!

Poetry Saturday—Christmas Fancies

When Christmas bells are swinging above the fields of snow, 
We hear sweet voices ringing from lands of long ago, 
    And etched on vacant places 
    Are half forgotten faces 
Of friends we used to cherish, and loves we used to know— 
When Christmas bells are swinging above the fields of snow.

Uprising from the ocean of the present surging near, 
We see, with strange emotion that is not free from fear, 
    That continent Elysian 
    Long vanished from our vision, 
Youth’s lovely lost Atlantis, so mourned for and so dear, 
Uprising from the ocean of the present surging near.

When gloomy gray Decembers are roused to Christmas mirth, 
The dullest life remembers there once was joy on earth, 
    And draws from youth’s recesses 
    Some memory it possesses, 
And, gazing through the lens of time, exaggerates its worth, 
When gloomy gray December is roused to Christmas mirth.

When hanging up the holly or mistletoe, I wis 
Each heart recalls some folly that lit the world with bliss. 
    Not all the seers and sages 
    With wisdom of the ages 
Can give the mind such pleasure as memories of that kiss 
When hanging up the holly or mistletoe, I wis.

For life was made for loving, and love alone repays, 
As passing years are proving, for all of Time’s sad ways. 
    There lies a sting in pleasure, 
    And fame gives shallow measure, 
And wealth is but a phantom that mocks the restless days, 
For life was made for loving, and only loving pays.

When Christmas bells are pelting the air with silver chimes, 
And silences are melting to soft, melodious rhymes, 
    Let Love, the world’s beginning, 
    End fear and hate and sinning; 
Let Love, the God Eternal, be worshiped in all climes 
When Christmas bells are pelting the air with silver chimes. —Ella Wheeler Wilcox

Thursdays With Oswald—All Christians Are Missionaries

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.

All Christians Are Missionaries 

     It is easy to forget that the first duty of the missionary is not to uplift the heathen, not to heal the sick, not to civilize savage races, because all that sounds so rational and so human, and it is easy to arouse interest in it and get funds for it. The primary duty of the missionary is to preach “repentance and remission of sins…in His name” [Luke 24:47]. … 

     The key to the missionary message is the limitless significance of Jesus as the propitiation for our sins. A missionary is one who is soaked in the revelation that Jesus Christ is “the propitiation for our sins; and not for ours only, also for the sins of the whole world” [1 John 2:2]. The key to the missionary message is not the kindness of Jesus; not His going about doing good; not His revealing of the Fatherhood of God; but the remissionary aspect of His life and death. This aspect alone has a limitless significance. …  

     Worship is the love offering of our keen sense of the worth-ship of God. … To worship God truly is to become a missionary, because our worship is a testimony to Him. It is presenting back to God the best He has given us, publicly not privately. 

From So Send I You

Everyone who has made Jesus their Lord and Savior is commissioned to be a missionary: to go tell others about the life-changing work Christ did for you.

Are you thrilled with God’s mercy toward you? Are you overwhelmed with gratitude that Jesus took your place on the Cross? Are you filled with joy at the righteousness with which Jesus has clothed you?

If so, then tell the world! Let your worship show your sense of the worth-ship of God. Sure, you can do this privately, but be sure you do it publicly as well. That is what missionaries do!

9 Quotes From Other Authors In “Marching Off The Map”

Tim Elmore’s books are always chockfull of the latest research and insights from multiple sources. Tim does an excellent job of synthesizing mountains of evidence to give parents and teachers actionable steps to help the students with whom they work. Here are just a few of the quotes he shared from other authors in his book Marching Off The Map.

“We all want to progress, but if you’re on the wrong road progress means doing an about-turn and walking back to the right road. In that case, the man who turns back the soonest is the one who is most progressive.” —C.S. Lewis

“Tell me a fact and I will learn. Tell me the truth and I will believe. Tell me a story, and it will live in my heart forever.” —Indian Proverb

“Start where people are before you try to take them where you want them to go.” —Jim Rohn

“Shooting above people’s heads doesn’t mean you have superior ammunition—it means you are a lousy shot.” —Oscar Handlin

“If you think our future will require better schools, you’re wrong. The future of education calls for entirely new learning environments. If you think we’ll need better teachers, you’re wrong. Tomorrow’s learners will need guides who take on fundamentally different roles.” —Dr. Wayne Hammond

“If we continue to develop our technology without wisdom or prudence, our servant may prove to be our executioner.” —Omar Bradley

“For the first time in human history, the majority of people in the developed world are being asked to make a living with their minds, rather than their muscles. For 3000 years, humankind had an economy based on farming: till the soil, plant the seed, harvest the crop. Hard to do, but fairly easy to learn. Then, for 300 years, we had an economy based on industry: mold the parts, turn the crank, assemble the product. Hard to do, but also fairly easy to learn. Now, we have an economy based on information: acquire the knowledge, apply the analytics, use your creativity. Hard to do, hard to learn, and even once you’ve mastered it, you’ll have to start learning all over again, pretty much every day.” —Michael Bloomberg

“He who has a why to live for can bear almost any how.” —Frederick Nietzsche

“Be the person you needed when you were young.” —Ayesha Saddiqi

Be sure to check out my review of Marching Off The Map by clicking here. You can also read some quotes and check out some infographics from Tim Elmore here, here, and here.

The Christmas Candle (book review)

Max Lucado is a storyteller par excellent! His craft is on full display in the engaging short story The Christmas Candle.

Lucado takes us back to Victorian-era England, to the small village of Cotswolds. Nothing much seems to happen in this little village, except for a visit from an angel every 25 years to one specific family. The Haddington family have been candle-makers for as far back as anyone can remember. Every quarter-century, just before Christmas, an angel appears in the Haddington’s shop and points out one special candle. When this unique candle is given away by the Haddingtons to an individual, they can pray for a miracle and expect that God will answer that prayer.

Lucado’s story centers on a time when the angel should be appearing soon. But Mr. and Mrs. Haddington are older now, and worried that they don’t have an heir to which the candle-making trade can be passed on, the townspeople are in more desperate need than ever before, and the village’s new pastor is highly skeptical about the so-called “miracle qualities” of an ordinary looking candle. And all the while, the time of the angel’s appearing is getting closer and closer.

The message Lucado is able to drive home through this story is truly a God-given gift that will encourage your faith. Whether you read this book at Christmas time or not, you will be uplifted in your faith in God’s power to do the miraculous!

Silent Night? Holy Night!

A little boy wanted to do something special for his family, so he thought he would do something he had seen his mother do dozens of times: bake a cake. Quickly he looked through a cookbook and got to work.

Dad was the first one to come home and heard an unusual clatter in the kitchen. Peeking around the corner he saw his son wearing his wife’s apron, slightly dusted in flour, and vigorously stirring a big bowl of batter.

“What are you doing, son” Dad asked.

Without looking up from his work the boy proudly answered, “I’m making a cake, Dad!”

Dad looked around the kitchen and saw all the proper ingredients out, so he was somewhat assured when he asked, “So how’s it going?”

The little boy paused and looked up at him, “Pretty good I think. I’m just having a little trouble with the ‘tbls” and ‘tsps.’”

For those of you who have done any baking, you know that “tbls” are tablespoons and “tsps” are teaspoons. If you get those mixed up, the cake might not turn out very well. For instance, adding a teaspoon of baking powder when the recipe calls for a tablespoon might result in a flat cake. Or adding a tablespoon of salt when the recipe asks for a teaspoon might making a rather salty cake.

Abbreviations only work if everyone is on the same page with you. If they’re not, it could be rather unsavory or maybe even dangerous.

In 1816, Joseph Mohr penned the words to what some have called the best-known Christmas carol in the world: Silent Night! Holy Night!

I’m not really sure how “silent” the night Jesus was born really was: a village so filled with people that no bedrooms were available, a mother in labor, a crying newborn, animals in a stable disturbed by the mother and child, singing angels, and curious shepherds. But let’s leave that part alone for a while.

Although it may not have been a silent night, it most assuredly was a Holy Night! That full title gives us the full impact of what happened at Christ’s First Advent.

Holy means something unlike anything else; someone or something devoted to God; something divine; something with God’s fingerprints all of it. I see at least three divinely holy things in this carol.

  1. The virgin birth of Jesus. 

Not only was the birth of Jesus a fulfillment of prophesy (see Isaiah 7:14 and Matthew 1:18-25), but it was also an indication of God’s miracle-working power. The fact the Luke gives so many specific details about that birth night (see Luke 2:1-2) also lets us know that this isn’t a “once upon a time” myth.

  1. The involvement of angels in the affairs of humans. 

Angels bring messages to key people before the birth of Jesus (Luke 1:11, 26; Matthew 1:20) and on the night of His birth (Luke 2:9-14). John also gives us a peek behind the scenes of the massive spiritual warfare taking place the night of Christ’s birth (see Revelation 12:1-5). Paul tells us that we, too, are involved in this spiritual battle, but that because of Christ’s Advent we’re more than conquerors through Jesus (Ephesians 6:12; Romans 8:37).

  1. The full deity and the full humanity of Jesus. 

Jesus was fully Man and fully God (see Philippians 2:5-7; Matthew 26:63-64; John 8:54-58). This is so important, because without this we would be lost. If Jesus wasn’t fully Man, He wouldn’t know how to help us; if He wasn’t fully God, He couldn’t help us.

So when you hear this carol playing, ask someone if they know the title. More than likely they will say, “Silent Night.” To which you can easily reply, “Actually it’s Silent Night! Holy Night! and I’d like to tell you three amazing, holy things that took place!”

Let’s never abbreviate away the miracles. It may or may not have been a Silent Night, but it most certainly was a Holy Night! These supernatural miracles surrounding Christ’s First Advent provided us freedom from sin, and a rock-solid hope of our eternal reward in Heaven at Christ’s Second Advent.

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