“Common Things”

You never, Heraclitus claimed,
step in the same stream twice.
Appearances may seem the same
(familiarity’s to blame,
or each things never-changing name),
but heed that Greek’s advice.
There’s more to life than meets the eye
or dances on the ear.
The moments of our lives flow by,
fraught with potential we might try;
yet, deaf to their sweet siren cry,
we neither see nor hear.
But hidden in each common thing
and every routine sound,
in leafless trees, on flashing wing,
the song that common sparrows sing,
and each arriving email’s “Ding!”
are wonders to be found.
Step through, then, into unseen worlds
where mysteries abound.
Eternal truths will be unfurled,
and nagging doubts behind you hurled
when your poor soul is slowly swirled,
turned upright and around
in common things profound. —T.M. Moore, from his book Bricks And Rungs

11 Quotes From “The Last Arrow”

Erwin McManus will get you fired up to make the most of the life God has given you! Check out my full review of The Last Arrow by clicking here. 

“I do not believe anyone is born average, but I do believe that many of us choose to live a life of mediocrity. I think there are more of us than not who are in danger of disappearing into the abyss of the ordinary. The great tragedy in this, of course, is that there is nothing really ordinary about us. We might not be convinced of this, but our souls already know it’s true, which is why we find ourselves tormented when we choose lives beneath our capacities and callings.” 

“Here is the painful reality: we will find ourselves defined by the average if we do not choose to defy the odds. … We can refuse to be average. We must refuse to be average. We must war against the temptation to settle for less. Average is always a safe choice, and it is the most dangerous choice we can make. Average protects us from the risk of failure, and it also separates us from futures of greatness.” 

“Most of us underestimate how much God actually wants to do in our lives and through our lives.” 

“I wonder how many victories are lost before the battle has even begun. I wonder how much more good God desires to usher into the world that has been thwarted by our own lack of ambition.” 

“If one day we are to have a conversation with God about the measure of our lives, I would rather have Him ask me why I tried to do too much than to have Him ask me why I settled for so little.” 

“Many of us keep longing for a new future while holding on to the past. We desperately want God to create something new for us, but we refused to let Him tear away all the old from us.” 

“The tragedy of a life that is never fully lived is not solely the loss of that one life. The tragedy is the endless number of lives that would have been forever changed if we had chosen to live differently.” 

“We do not help the world by choosing to be less or to do less; we help the world by choosing to be more and give more.” 

“Be ready when you get there. Don’t make the mistake of living your life waiting for good things to happen—make good things happen. Be faithful in the small things that do not matter to you as much and treat them with the same level of respect and importance as the big things connected to your hopes and dreams.” 

“The great tragedy would be to live your life waiting for that moment to come instead of living your life preparing for when that moment comes.” 

“If you truly live before you die, your life will have a power that not even death can conquer.” 

The Last Arrow (book review)

When I read an Erwin McManus book, I always feel like an arrow shot out of a bow: ready to launch into areas where I should be living. So it’s very appropriate that McManus’ newest book is entitled The Last Arrow! 

The premise of the book comes from a story in the Old Testament where King Jehoash has come to the prophet Elisha for help and counsel. Elisha tells Jehoash to strike the ground with his quiver of arrows, Jehoash does so, but only three times and then he stops. Elisha is furious with the king! In essence, Elisha is saying to Jehoash, “Why are you holding back? Why are you trying to store up resources for the next life? Now is the time: keep on striking until the very last arrow is spent!”

Erwin McManus writes, “My intention for this book is that you would never surrender, that you would never settle, that you would save nothing for the next life. May you die with your quivers empty. May you die with your hearts full. … This book is about not underestimating how much God intends for your life.” 

YES!!

In chapter after chapter, Pastor McManus encourages us to keep pressing forward, not letting our past holding us back, getting the right people around us, standing our ground, and living for a greater future. He shares examples from Scripture, his own life, and the lives of some extraordinary “last arrow” people he’s met along his journey. All in all, this book will fire you up! 

Near the last page of the book you will be cheering as McManus writes, “If you truly live before you die, your life will have a power that not even death can conquer”! 

I am a Waterbrook book reviewer.

Thursdays With Oswald—Take The Initiative

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.

Take The Initiative 

     In every place you are in, insist on taking the initiative for God.

     Looking for opportunities to serve God is an impertinence; every time and all the time is our opportunity of serving God.

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 think I can only do big things for God in special moments?
  • Do I realize that I am always salt and light wherever I go and whatever I am doing?
  • Instead of looking for opportunities, am I seizing the opportunities God is continually giving me?

9 Quotes From “Finding God In Hidden Places”

Finding GodFinding God In Hidden Places by Joni Eareckson Tada is a delightful, heart-warming collection of stories in which Joni shares how she has seen God at work in some unexpected places. You can read my full book review by clicking here. Below are some of the quotes that especially stood out to me from this book.

“I take comfort in this: Although it seemed as though God were asleep when I was at the wheel, He wasn’t. He was there. I remind myself that no matter if it’s by the skin of the teeth or with miles to spare… God helps His people. If it’s not their appointed time to die, God will deliver them. God will keep us. He’ll help. He’ll intervene—perhaps just in the nick of time. Is that too close for comfort? Maybe. But our trust in Him was never meant to be comfortable—only close. And the nick of time is close enough.”

“Right now you may be in the middle of a long stretch of the same old routine. … You don’t hear any cheers or applause. The days run together—and so do the weeks. Your commitment to keep putting one foot in front of the other is starting to falter. Take a moment and look at the fruit. Perseverance. Determination. Fortitude. Patience. Your life is not a boring stretch of highway. It’s a straight line to heaven. And just look at the fields ripening along the way. Look at the tenacity and endurance. Look at the grains of righteousness. You’ll have quite a crop at harvest…so don’t give up!”

“If we’re going to stand up and make a difference for Christ while others lounge about, you can be sure we will encounter hardships, obstacles, nuisances, hassles, and inconveniences—much more than the average couch potato. And we shouldn’t be surprised. Such difficulty while serving Christ isn’t necessarily suffering—it’s status quo.”

“Labels, labels, labels. I’m glad Jesus referred to people as people. He never mentioned His friend being a coward; He simply called him Peter. He never referred to the woman who loved Him deeply as a prostitute; He just called her Mary Magdalene.”

“This is the daily stuff of my life. It always involves more than simply picking up hamburgers and cokes, or clothes from the dry cleaners. It involves a chance to make God real to people. A chance for them to serve, to feel good about themselves, to experience a new way of doing things. It’s a chance to break the mold and accomplish a task in a different manner—an opportunity to throw a hand grenade into the ordinary way of living and, in so doing, take people by surprise.”

“Problems are often God’s way of grabbing a lever in order to pry us out of our ruts. And when you rise up out of a rut, you end up enjoying the fresh air of possibilities, the new breeze of challenge and change. Your faith finds feet. Your witness begins to work.”

“Jesus didn’t pass me by. He didn’t overlook me. He answered my prayer—He said, ‘No.’  And I’m glad. A ‘no’ answer has purged sin from my life, strengthened my commitment to Christ, and forced me to depend on grace. It has bound me with other believers, produced discernment, disciplined my mind, and taught me to spend my time wisely. It has stretched my hope, increased my faith, and strengthened my character. Being in this wheelchair has meant knowing Christ better. Feeling His strength every day.”

“I wonder how many of us second-guess a prompting and ignore the Spirit’s leading. That night I learned that every urge to do good, every prompting to share the gospel, is a prompting from God. We need not second-guess. … This week you’ll hear God’s still, small voice whisper, ‘Say something to her… invite him… make that call… apologize.’ You’ll be tempted to brush it off—but don’t. Seize the moment! Today is the day of salvation! The prompting may never pass your way again. Neither might that person. Ever.”

“It’s just like God. He steps into our tightly controlled, private space, raises His hand, and says, ‘Pardon Me, everyone. I have something to reveal about this person.’ He presumes on our comfort zones, tears aside curtains, throws open locked doors, and pulls the fire alarm on stuffy, sacrosanct attitudes. He oversteps our nicely organized plans and strips the veneer off our smug ways. He boldly intrudes into our sin, brashly calling it what it is and challenging us to leave it behind. It’s called humiliation. It’s one of the painful ways we face our sin. If we remain unaware of our sin, we cannot truly know or understand ourselves. Humiliation lands a knockout blow to self-esteem, reminding us that without Christ we are nothing.”

I’ll Take My Roses Today, Please

My Grandfather used to say, “Give me my flowers while I’m still alive.” I think this was his way of restating the cliché, “Dead noses smell no roses.” It’s true: flowers at a gravesite — no matter how beautiful they are — aren’t appreciated by dead noses… kind and loving words spoken at a funeral — no matter how eloquent they are — aren’t appreciate by dead ears.

The point is, today is special. Today is one-of-a-kind. Today is the best day to tell someone dear to you how truly special they are. Today may be the last day you have to make something right. Today is the day to send those flowers. Don’t put it off until tomorrow.

How many people live with regrets today because of the things they didn’t say before a loved one passed away from this life? How many people feel guilty today because they didn’t make things right in a strained relationship? How much better to live today knowing that we said and did all of the things we could to express our love, to show how valuable the relationship was.

Job said, “My days are swifter than a runner” (Job 9:25).

His friend Bildad agreed that, “Our days on earth are but a shadow” (Job 8:9).

And James wrote, “Your life is like the morning fog — it’s here a little while, then it’s gone” (James 4:14).

We never know how much time is left to send those flowers.

Today…

  • Make that phone call.
  • Ask forgiveness.
  • Write that letter.
  • Apologize.
  • Hug.
  • Go to lunch.
  • Say, “I love you.”
  • Send those flowers.

Don’t live your tomorrows with regrets for the things unsaid or undone… say them and do them today.

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