How John Newton Found God

“It took John Newton to write the hymn Amazing Grace. ‘Let me not fail to praise that grace that could pardon,’ he said, ‘such sins as mine.’

“Newton had gone to sea at age 11, apprenticed on his father’s ship. He spent his teen years learning to be profane, irreligious, and indulgent. Female slaves being transported from Africa were at Newton’s disposal, and even seasoned sailors were alarmed at his corruption. Newton’s life angered his father and disgusted his friends, and he was finally pressed into service for the British Navy. He deserted, but was arrested, stripped, and flogged. He became the property of a slave trader in Sierra Leone, who gave him to his sadistic mistress. John became a loathsome toy she tormented for over a year. He finally boarded ship for Britain.

“On March 9, as he carelessly read a Christian book to pass the time, the thought came to him, ‘What if these things are true?’ He snapped the book closed and shook off the question. ‘I went to bed in my usual indifference, but was awakened by a violent sea which broke on us. Much of it came down below and filled the cabin where I lay. This alarm was followed by a cry that the ship was going down. We had immediate recourse to the pumps, but the water increased against all our efforts. Almost every passing wave broke over my head. I expected that every time the vessel descended into the sea, she would rise no more. I dreaded death now, and my heart foreboded the worst, if the Scriptures, which I had long since opposed, were true.’

“The vessel survived the March 10, 1748, storm, and Newton began earnestly studying the Bible. He embraced Christ and eventually entered the ministry, becoming one of England’s best-loved preachers and a leader in the fight against slavery. He once recalled, ‘That tenth of March is a day much remembered by me; and I have never suffered it to pass unnoticed since the year 1748—the Lord came from on high and delivered me out of deep waters.’” —from On This Day

No Apathetic Christians Allowed!

Healthy love loves God and then serves God by loving and serving others. Quite simply—love loves.

But my question is how does love love?

Sometimes we can get a fuller definition of a word by looking at its opposite. So what’s the opposite of love? It isn’t hate because hate is actually the flip side of love. That means our hatred for anything that comes against the object of our love is just as strong as our love is.

The opposite of love is apathy.

Apathy means without pathos (or feeling). Specifically, without feeling that moves us to action. So in order for love to love, it needs pathos as its fuel.

For example. If you hear a coworker mention her frustration with construction slowing down her morning commute, apathy says, “Bummer!” and does nothing else. But love fuel by pathos says, “I found an alternate route that I can share with you.”

When a friend tells you about his frustration with trying to lose weight, apathy says, “Good luck!” Pathos love says, “Here’s the diet that worked for me” or “I’ll go to the gym with you.”

Love is fueled by pathos to: speak out, act out, and reach out.

When Peter was describing the ministry of Jesus, he said, “He went around doing good and healing all who were under the power of the devil” (Acts 10:38).

As His follower, we are supposed to feel the needs of the hurting and confused around us, and then let that pathos fuel our love to go around doing good:

  • When you hear someone asking for help, offer help.
  • When you see someone who is down, be their friend.
  • When you don’t see a neighbor for a couple of days, check on them.
  • When you meet someone looking for answers, invite them to church with you.
  • When a friend is sick, send a card, bring a meal, or mow their lawn.

These kinds of good deeds make Jesus happy (see Matthew 25:40) because it’s a tangible way to love God and then serve God by loving and serving others.

BE LIKE JESUS—GO AROUND DOING GOOD! 

There should never, ever be such a thing as an apathetic Christian!

Are You Healthy Enough To Love Serving Others?

Jesus was wholly healthy. That is to say, He was healthy in every aspect of His life—mentally, physically, spiritually and emotionally (see Luke 2:52). This is important to note because Christians are called to be healthy in all of these same areas.

The phrase Dr. Luke uses about Christ’s growth is a telling one: Jesus grew in favor with men. People liked having Jesus around. The word for favor is from the same root word where we also get grace. So Jesus was a graceful man.

What does it mean when someone is graceful? It means they are pleasant to be around … you feel safe around them, knowing they will never belittle you or put you down … their focus is on your agenda, not their own … they are a “there you are!” person, not a “here I am!” person.

Bottom line: they are filled with love for others.

Jesus was healthy in His mind, His body, His spirit and His emotions, which allowed Him to be in a unique place where He fully knew how powerful He was, yet He chose to use His power not for His own benefit, but to serve others (see John 13:1-4).

Healthy love loves God and then serves God by loving and serving others. Only a wholly healthy person can truly serve with a right attitude…

  • People with unhealthy thoughts won’t serve because they don’t know they’re supposed to serve.
  • People with unhealthy bodies can’t serve because their disease won’t let them.
  • People with unhealthy spirits shouldn’t serve because they are promoting hypocrisy.
  • People with unhealthy emotions don’t serve because their attitude gets in the way.

Jesus not only told us His loving service was an example for us (John 13:15-17), but He went on to say that our loving service would be an example for others (vv. 34-35).

Healthy love loves God and then serves God by loving and serving others.

Do you have that kind of healthy love? Are you becoming wholly healthy enough to serve?

Ask yourself these questions:

  1. What do I know that I’m not yet doing?
  2. What will it take for me to turn knowing into doing?
  3. Can people tell I am growing wholly healthier year by year?

The Christian Book Of Mystical Verse (book review)

Sometimes you can judge a book by its cover. In this case, the writings A.W. Tozer collected between the covers of this book is exactly what the title says—The Christian Book Of Mystical Verse: A collection of poems, hymns, and prayers.

A.W. Tozer was a first-class scholar, but he didn’t stop with mere head knowledge. He loved plunging deep into the spiritual realms to let God touch his heart, mind and emotions. So we find among his extensive library, collections of poems and mystical writings to enliven the heart and mind.

Don’t get thrown by that word “mystical.” Tozer himself describes it this way—

The word ‘mystic’ as it occurs in the title of this book refers to that personal spiritual experience common to the saints of Bible times and well known to multitudes of persons in the post-biblical era. I refer to the evangelical mystic who has been brought by the gospel into intimate fellowship with the Godhead. His theology is no less and no more than is taught in the Christian Scriptures. … He differs from the ordinary orthodox Christian only because he experiences his faith down in the depths of his sentient being while the other does not. He exists in a world of spiritual reality. 

I have a natural bent to be more left-brained, logical, and fact-seeking. Years ago I discovered that poetry and other “mystical” writings unlocked my right-brain hemisphere with all its emotion and passion, and made the left-brained stuff so much more real. The collection of writings in this book “scratches an itch” unlike any academic book ever can.

Should you read The Christian Book Of Mystical Verse? I think so. Tozer said, “This is a book for the worshiper rather than for the student.” So if you are longing to worship God more deeply, this is a great book to dive into deeply.

I am a Moody Publisher book reviewer.

God Prepares Us For Battle

“See you not, then, that God may take away your comforts and your privileges, to make you the better Christians? Why, the Lord always trains His soldiers, not by letting them lie on feather-beds, but by turning them out, and using them to forced marches and hard service. He makes them ford through streams, and swim through rivers, and climb mountains, and walk many a long march with heavy knapsacks of sorrow on their backs. This is the way in which He makes them soldiers—not by dressing them up in fine uniforms, to swagger at the barrack gates, and to be fine gentlemen in the eyes of the loungers in the park. God knows that soldiers are only to be made in battle; they are not to be grown in peaceful times. We may grow the stuff of which soldiers are made; but warriors are really educated by the smell of powder, in the midst of whizzing bullets and roaring cannonades, not in soft and peaceful times.

“Well, Christian, may not this account for it all? Is not thy Lord bringing out thy graces and making them grow? Is He not developing in you the qualities of the soldier by throwing you into the heat of battle, and should you not use every appliance to come off conqueror?” —Charles Spurgeon (emphasis added)

Thinking Christianly

“If you read history you will find that the Christians who did most for the present world were just those who thought most of the next. The Apostles themselves, who set on foot the conversion of the Roman Empire, the great men who built up the Middle Ages, the English Evangelicals who abolished the Slave Trade, all left their mark on Earth, precisely because their minds were occupied with heaven. It is since Christians have largely ceased to think of the other world that they have become so ineffective in this.” —C.S. Lewis

“To think secularly is to think within a frame of reference bounded by the limits of our life on earth: it is to keep one’s calculations within this-worldly criteria. To think christianly is to accept all things with the mind as related, directly or indirectly, to man’s eternal destiny as the redeemed and chosen child of God…. There is nothing in our experience, however trivial, worldly, or even evil, which cannot be thought about christianly.” —Harry Blamires

Most of us do not think; we live healthy ordinary lives and don’t bother about thinking at all; but when an upheaval comes from underneath proving that the basis of things is not rational, we find the value of the Bible attitude, which is that the basis of things is tragic and not rational…. We have to live based on our relationship to God in the actual condition of things as they are.” —Oswald Chambers

God wants a child’s heart, but a grownup’s head. He wants us to be simple, single-minded, affectionate, and teachable, as a good children are; but He also wants every bit of intelligence we have to be alert at its job, and in first-class fighting trim.” —C.S. Lewis

“Don’t let anyone capture you with empty philosophies and high-sounding nonsense that come from human thinking and from the spiritual powers of this world, rather than from Christ.” —Apostle Paul (Colossians 2:8)

“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.” —Oswald Chambers

[Emphasis in these quotes added by me]

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Thursdays With Oswald—A Biblical View Of Government

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.

A Biblical View Of Government

     The Bible point of view about government is that God compels men to govern man for Him, whether he likes it or not. The ordinance of government, whether it is a bad or good government, does not lie with men, but is entirely in God’s hands; the king or the government will have to answer to God (cf. 1 Peter 2:13-14). … 

     In politics also it is difficult to steer a course; there is a complication of forces to be dealt with which most of us know nothing about. We have no affinity for this kind of thing, and it is easy to ignore the condition of the men who have to live there, and to pass condemnation on them. … It is easy to condemn a state of things we know nothing about while we make excuses for the condition of the things we ourselves live in. … 

     We say, “Why does God allow these things? Why does He allow a despot to rule?” In this dispensation it is the patient long-suffering of God that is being manifested. God allows men to say what they like and do what they like (see 2 Peter 3:14). Peter says that God is long-suffering, and He is giving us ample opportunity to try whatever line we like both in individual and national life. If God were to end this dispensation now, the human race would have a right to say, “You should have waited, there is a type of thing You never let us try.”

     God is leaving us to prove to the hilt that it cannot be done in any other way than Jesus Christ’s way, or the human race would not be satisfied.” 

From Shade Of His Hand

Oswald Chambers wrote these words during The Great War (what we now call World War I), when everyone was questioning how governments could do such horrendous things.

I think Chambers sums up how a Christian should respond to earthly governments:

  1. Remember they are placed in their positions by God, so treat them with respect (Romans 13:6-7).
  2. Don’t condemn government officials, but pray for them  (1 Timothy 2:1-2).
  3. Clean up the areas where we can clean up, and let the politicians clean up their own areas.
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