Praying For Muslims (book review)

During 2017 I wanted to spend more time in prayer for our Muslim friends around the world, that they would accept Jesus as their Lord and Savior. My prayer guide every Friday afternoon this year has been Praying For Muslims by Sobhi Malek.

This book has opened my eyes and ears, and softened my heart, for Muslims. Each Friday I read a short, informative devotional that gives me greater insight into the Islamic community, and then I use the included prayer as a way to ask God to shine the light of His Son Jesus into dark places around the globe.

Sobhi Malek reminds us:

“This warfare is not against people of any religion or affiliation. Christ, who died for all human beings, instructed us to love our neighbors. Rather, this war is against the evil powers which control people and hinder them from seeing the light of the Gospel of Christ (Ephesians 6:12). In other words, we are warring against satan who ‘has blinded the minds of unbelievers.’ His goal is to keep people from seeing ‘the light of the Gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God’ (2 Corinthians 4:4). When we pray and ask others to pray, this does not mean that we feel superior. We do not think we are better than Muslims or any other people.  Rather, we believe we are fallen human beings like all others, but we have been saved by God’s grace.”

I urge Christians everywhere to get a copy of this book and join other prayer warriors around the world in this concerted effort to see a revival breakout in Muslim strongholds.

“What Is Meant By Following Jesus?”

Charles Sheldon wrote an eye-opening, heart-challenging book in 1896 entitled In His Steps. From this book came the well-known phrase “What would Jesus do?”

In this book, Pastor Henry Maxwell challenges his congregation to ask this question regarding everything they do throughout their day. One skeptical man asked this pointed question: what is meant by following Jesus?

“I’ve tramped through this city for three days trying to find a job; and in all that time I’ve not had a word of sympathy or comfort except from your minister here, who said he was sorry for me and hoped I would find a job somewhere. 

“Of course, I understand you can’t all go out of your way to hunt up jobs for other people like me. I’m not asking you to; but what is meant by following Jesus? Do you mean that you are suffering and denying yourselves and trying to save lost, suffering humanity just as I understand Jesus did? What do you mean by it? 

“I see the ragged edge of things a good deal. My wife died four months ago. I’m glad she is out of trouble. My little girl is staying with a printer’s family until I find a job. Somehow I get puzzled when I see so many Christians living in luxury and remember how my wife died in a tenement in New York City, gasping for air and asking God to take the little girl too. Of course I don’t expect you people can prevent everyone from dying of starvation, lack of proper nourishment, and tenement air, but what does following Jesus mean? A member of a church was the owner of the tenement where my wife died, and I have wondered if following Jesus all the way was true in his case. 

“It seems to me there’s an awful lot of trouble in the world that somehow wouldn’t exist if all the people who sing your songs went and lived them out. I suppose I don’t understand. But what would Jesus do? It seems to me sometimes as if the people in the big churches have good clothes and nice houses to live in, and money to spend for luxuries, while the people outside the churches, thousands of them, I mean, die in tenements, and walk the streets for jobs, and grow up in misery and drunkenness and sin.”

So for you, what does it mean if you say you are following Jesus?

Thursdays With Oswald—Fiery Furnace

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.

Fiery Furnace 

   Faith means, whether I am visibly delivered or not, I will stick to my belief that God is love. There are some things only learned in a fiery furnace.

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 only believe it because I can see it, or can I trust God even without seeing the reason for my trial?
  • Am I fully convinced of God’s unlimited love for me?
  • Have I learned lessons from my fiery trials in the past?
  • How can I help other brothers and sisters who may be in a fiery trial now?

Run Today’s Race (book review)

It’s amazing the thoughts you can think if only the right “seed thought” is first planted in your mind. In Run Today’s Race that’s exactly what Oswald Chambers does for us.

Run Today’s Race is a 365-day seed-planting book designed to send your mind exploring the applications of each day’s short statement or question. At most, each day’s reading is expressed in three sentences, but many of them are expressed in just a handful of words.

The original publication in 1918 was called Seed Thoughts Calendar. In the introduction we read:

“Oswald Chambers firmly believed in the concept of ‘seed thoughts’—brief, pithy sayings designed to arrest attention and stimulate thinking. The entry for December 9 perhaps best expresses his conviction on how to affect a person’s mind and behavior: ‘Our Lord was never impatient. He simply planted seed thoughts in the disciples’ minds and surrounded them with the atmosphere of His own life….’”

Each day’s entry in Run Today’s Race will take you only a few seconds to read, but you will have some excellent thought material to keep your mind occupied all day long. Make an investment in your spiritual growth by picking up a copy of this excellent book.

As an example from November 14:

“The proof that we are rightly related to God is that we do our best whether we feel inspired or not.”

This might stimulate questions like:

  • Do I do my best only when someone is watching me, or do I do my best because God is always watching me?
  • Do my work ethic and pursuit of excellence make God look good to others?
  • Do I have to wait until I’m “inspired” to do my best, or can simply doing my best make me feel inspired?

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.

Man—The Dwelling Place Of God (book review)

It’s an awesome thing to ponder that Almighty God wants to live and commune with you and me! I can think of no better person to illuminate this amazing thought than the prophetic voice of A.W. Tozer in his book Man—The Dwelling Place Of God.

Although this book is 50 years old, the message still rings true for this generation. Tozer points out that God wants to dwell with man, to reveal Himself to us in powerful and personal ways, but this comes at a price. That price is not trying to control God, but letting Him be in charge.

The book is made up of 39 chapters, the majority of which are fairly short and can be read in just a few minutes. But the application of the truths in these short chapters will be something that you will need to ponder for quite awhile. God is Lord and Master; He is not a genie in a bottle that grants us our wishes if we rub the bottle the right way. God has laid out for us how He will bless us in His Word and, Tozer says, it’s time for us to take God’s Word more seriously.

Tozer makes it clear that we cannot live however we want to live and then ask God to bless our life with His presence. Instead, God has already shown us in His Word, in the life of His Son Jesus, and in the ongoing witness of the Holy Spirit the kind of life He longs to bless. It’s now up to us to place our lives in that place where God’s blessings and presence will flow.

A.W. Tozer speaks with the authority of a prophet of God, and for those who are willing to listen and apply his words, God’s presence and blessing can be expected.

Thursdays With Oswald—Winning The Spiritual Fights

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.

Winning The Spiritual Fights

“The love of God in Christ Jesus is such that He can take the most unfit man—unfit to survive, unfit to fight, unfit to face moral issues—and make him not only fit to survive and to fight, but fit to face the biggest moral issues and the strongest power of satan, and come off more than conqueror.” 

“The devil is a bully, but when we stand in the armor of God, he cannot harm us; if we tackle him in our own strength we are soon done for.” 

“It is never wise to under-estimate an enemy. We look upon the enemy of our souls as a conquered foe; so he is, but only to God, not to us.” 

From Run Today’s Race

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

  • Have I disqualified myself from the fight because I view myself as “unfit”?
  • Do I know how deeply God really loves me?
  • Am I daily putting on God’s armor?
  • Am I trying to fight satan in my own strength, or in God’s strength?
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