Battleground!

“Men think of the world, not as a battleground but as a playground. We are not here to fight, we are here to frolic. We are not in a foreign land, we are at home. We are not getting ready to live, we are already living, and the best we can do is to rid ourselves of our inhibitions and our frustrations and live this life to the full. …

That this world is a playground instead of a battleground has now been accepted in practice by the vast majority of evangelical Christians. They might hedge around the question if they were asked bluntly to declare their position, but their conduct gives them away. They are facing both ways, enjoying Christ and the world too, and gleefully telling everyone that accepting Jesus does not require them to give up their fun, and that Christianity is just the jolliest thing imaginable.” —A.W. Tozer, in Culture

(To read other quotes from this A.W. Tozer book, click here or here.)

Religious Boredom

“Those Christians who belong to the evangelical wing of the church (which I firmly believe is the only one that even approximates New Testament Christianity) have over the last half-century shown an increasing impatience with things invisible and eternal and have demanded and got a host of things visible and temporal to satisfy their fleshly appetites. Without Biblical authority, or any other right under the sun, carnal religious leaders have introduced a host of attractions that serve no purpose except to provide entertainment for the retarded saints.

“It is now common practice in most evangelical churches to offer the people, especially the young people, a maximum of entertainment and a minimum of serious instruction. It is scarcely possible in most places to get anyone to attend a meeting where the only attraction is God. One can only conclude that God’s professed children are bored with Him, for they must be wooed to meeting with a stick of striped candy in the form of religious movies, games and refreshments. …

“Any objection to the carryings on of our present golden-calf Christianity is met with the triumphant reply, ‘But we are winning them!’ And winning them to what? To true discipleship? To cross-carrying? To self-denial? To separation from the world? To crucifixion of the flesh? To holy living? To nobility of character? To a despising of the world’s treasures? To hard self-discipline? To love for God? To total committal to Christ? Of course the answer to all these questions is no.

“We are paying a frightful price for our religious boredom. And that at the moment of the world’s mortal peril.”

—A.W. Tozer, in Man—The Dwelling Place Of God

Real Faith Is Dangerous

the-bad-habits-of-jesus“We all need to learn the relationship between real faith that could put us into dangerous situations and the real danger of misinterpreting the Scriptures to our own advantage. Wrong interpretations can yield pharisaical commitments to practices and rituals rather than to the Person of Jesus. But true faith that walks the talk and toes the line of true discipleship can be downright dangerous. This is the line the Jesus regularly walked, and it is the same line that He still calls His followers to find and walk today.

“Faith is not a synonym for fail-safe.” —Leonard Sweet, in The Bad Habits Of Jesus

9 More Quotes From “The Bad Habits Of Jesus”

the-bad-habits-of-jesusI know suggesting that Jesus might have some “bad habits” sounds a bit sacrilegious, but you’ve got to check out my review of Leonard Sweet’s thought-provoking book (which you can find by clicking here). I have already shared a few quotes from this book here, but there were just too many good ones for just one post!

“Jesus’ mysterious, open-ended, twisty endings [to His stories] were brilliantly conceived, and His lack of explanation was perfectly pitched. He wanted people not only to think about the story and to converse with each other about the story, but also to ask Him about the story. Ultimately, Jesus’ stories were about cultivating a relationship with Him. We call it discipleship.”

“The people Jesus was interested in the most, the ones Jesus celebrated the most, were those who asked questions like He did. … Jesus loves people who would not just listen to Him, but who would follow Him, learn from Him, and be in relationship with Him—and with God.”

“Why do we feel that to be good and faithful Christians, we must not look too happy, not enjoy ourselves too much, when throughout the Scriptures, God clearly loves a party?” 

“For Christians, every day is a reminder of the Resurrection. Each and every day should be a grand celebration of God’s amazing gift of Jesus. Everything in life is filled with Resurrection moments. And every person is filled with Resurrection hope just waiting to be celebrated. The church above all should be a place of festivities and joy. People should look at the church and think, What joyful people!

“The ‘Nice God’ of therapeutic culture leads one to expect that if I have a need, God needs to meet my need. This is Christianity as Niceianity. For Jesus, God is loving and merciful and true but not necessarily ‘nice.’ The holy God is dangerous, because the holy God is truth.”

“Traveling with Jesus is not always dignified, pretty, or easy. Jesus takes the common routes and dangerous pathways, seeks out the messy and the dirty and the difficult. But traveling with Jesus is also beautiful, for those who follow Jesus also bring God’s lost and dirty people home to God—to be renewed, to be cleansed, to be clothed, to be loved.”

“How often does our ‘religion’ get between us and God? Are we so filled up with religion and all its trappings that there isn’t room for the inpourings of God’s presence and the outpourings of God’s power?”

“Jesus is the way into a life of truth, not a way out of life’s problems, difficulties, failures, and missteps.”

“Jesus was inclusive, but while He accepted people as they were, He didn’t affirm them as they were; He transfigured them into the singular images of God they were created to be.”

More quotes from The Bad Habits Of Jesus coming soon. And you can also follow me on Twitter and Tumblr to read some great quotes each and every day.

20 More Useful Maxims

Useful MaximsFor anyone who would like to get your message to “stick” with others—like parents, pastors, teachers, coaches, mentors—I highly recommend Useful Maxims by Brian Ridolfi. You can read my book review to get more background info on this innovative book.

I previously shared 20 useful maxims from Brian’s book, and now here is my next set of 20…

  1. Strong men do not always lift weak men, but weak men always bring down strong men. The lowest common denominator dominates.
  2. You cannot force someone to be tolerant without being intolerant toward their intolerance.
  3. Offending the truth for the sake of the offended is most offensive.
  4. Just fitting in fits in with just giving in.
  5. Prayer is a slayer. To not pray is to become prey.
  6. People aligned with good are maligned by evil.
  7. There is little success when little is involved.
  8. Better to make the last move than to make the first one.
  9. Smart men run from danger; wise men avoid it altogether. Better to prevent than to lament.
  10. Your life becomes a job whenever a job becomes your life.
  11. Those with no time to spare have no time to care.
  12. Wisdom becomes foolishness when foolishness becomes wisdom.
  13. A Christian without a Bible is like a knight without a sword.
  14. Relativists believe in relativism until they or their loved ones are victims.
  15. Vinegar is not bitter to those who have not tasted honey.
  16. Questions cannot be answered if answers cannot be questioned.
  17. Sound wisdom sounds odd in a world deaf to God.
  18. Bad entertainment entertains bad behavior.
  19. Good guys look bad when bad guys look good.
  20. To help the helpers is to help the helpless.

To read some of the other quotes from Useful Maxims that I am sharing, be sure to follow me on Twitter and on Tumblr.

Mere Humanism

I’ve noticed a disturbing trend among many of my pastor colleagues. I’m not sure if it’s an attempt to be “relatable” or unoffensive, but it is dead wrong.

The trend is to tell stories (even Bible stories) without using the Bible. To give people good thoughts from Scripture without actually opening the Scripture. To tell people how they should live but to never show them the passages of God’s Word on which those thoughts are based.

Are we ashamed of the Scripture? How can someone “preach” without pointing their audience to the authority for their preaching?!?

A.W. TozerA.W. Tozer warned us with these words—

“Any appeal to the public in the name of Christ that rises no higher than an invitation to tranquillity must be recognized as mere humanism with a few words of Jesus thrown in to make it appear Christian.”

Don’t just throw in some words of Christ; actually take them to His Word. This inspired Word is powerful, if we will just let people get their hands, and eyes, and hearts on it!

Getting Cold Brings The Heat

A lukewarm Christian is a dangerous thing. So dangerous, in fact, that Jesus said to lukewarm Christians, “I can’t help you.”

Lukewarm is just a few degrees off hot. It’s just a subtle drift. No one can hardly notice that someone is lukewarm, except Christ.

Lukewarm Christians live off yesterday’s encounter with God. They still have an appearance of being hot, but they have settled for something mediocre.

I think cold is much closer to hot than lukewarm is. I think it’s easier to go from cold to hot, than it is to go from lukewarm to hot. At least cold and hot people share this in common: their walk matches their talk.

Jesus counsels lukewarm people to buy from Me. He is saying, “Recognize your need, be in the market, but only buy the best from Me.” Jesus also challenges lukewarm people to repent: literally to change their mind; to stop thinking the way they have been thinking and see themselves differently. And finally Jesus asks lukewarm Christians to listen for His voice.

Light Of The World [William Holman Hunt]William Holman Hunt painted a picture called Light of the World in which Jesus is knocking at a heart’s door. Notice that Jesus is in His royal robes and wearing His King’s crown. He is not coming to ask for something, but to give something. Notice also that it’s getting dark. The day is almost done, and the time to let Him in is almost up. Finally, note that there is no handle on the outside of the door. Jesus will not open the door to come in, but He patiently waits for you to open the door to Him.

Recognizing our desperate need of Christ makes us instantly cold. But in that instant of humble poverty, we can immediately become hot as Jesus is welcomed into our heart. Don’t miss out on the rewards Christ has for you by being comfortably lukewarm!

“There is nothing so necessary as cultivating a spirit of dependence on God and of confidence in Him that refuses to go on without the needed supply of grace and strength.” —Andrew Murray

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