You Are A Masterpiece!

“‘For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them’ (Ephesians 2:10). The Greek word for workmanship is poiema, from which we get the English word poem. It can also mean masterpiece. …

“The book of Genesis tells us that God created each of us in His image. You and I are created to be so much more than normal. Being normal is safe. And easy. It doesn’t require much work or effort or change on our part. But it always leads to mediocrity. When you strive to be just like everyone else, you never have a chance to be special. When you start to embrace and even celebrate how different God made you, you can begin to do extraordinary things. You can begin to see yourself through His eyes. You can begin to live in the uniqueness with which you were created.” —Tim Tebow, in Know Who You Are, Live Like It Matters (emphasis mine)

11 More Quotes From “Cherish”

Gary Thomas calls on husbands to not just love their wives, but to cherish them. It’s an admirable goal for all married men! Please check out my review of Cherish by clicking here. Below are a few more quotes I especially liked.

“Never forget: You married a spouse with natural weaknesses. You married a spouse with a history of hurt. We can be agents of healing redemption and acceptance in our marriage, or we can do further harm, perhaps unintentionally.”

“Of course, there’s no promise that if you persevere, you’ll get just what you’re hoping for. But the one certainty is that if you give up, you definitely won’t get it.”

“Every conversation—every one!—takes you closer to or farther away from a cherishing marriage. The Bible declares this truth: ‘The tongue has the power of life and death’ (Proverbs 18:21).”

“If we want our spouses to feel cherished, we may have to work at a few things we’re not so good at by nature.”

“Pam Farrel writes in several of her books that a wife often feels most loved when her husband is simply more curious about her. … It’s not enough to simply listen. We have to take the next step, engage, and go even further to say, ‘I want more. Tell me more.’ We have to maintain our curiosity. … Husbands, cherishing often isn’t about what your wife is saying; it’s about who is saying it.”

“Silence is often unintentionally malicious, so try to verbalize every positive thing you can think of.”

“A joyful person walking in grace and hope can cherish much more than one who is tangled up in the guilt that Christ died to remove. Our guilt serves no one. In Christ, our self-condemnation offends God; it doesn’t please Him. To walk in condemnation is to call God a liar and Christ’s work insufficient. One of the worst sins you can commit as a Christian is to define yourself by your sin. In the same way, one of the worst sins you can commit against your spouse is to always define them by their sin. Biblical marriage is about defining each other as Christ defines us—saved.”

“Your spouse has a unique history, so cherish your spouse by treating them according to their reality: They are living a life that has never been lived before. They have a personality that has never existed before. They have a unique blend of strengths and weaknesses, temptations and gifts, as well as a once-in-the-universe calling. Your role is to help them complete their one-of-a-kind story.”

“Never, ever, get to the point that you expect your spouse to never stumble. Otherwise, you won’t cherish them; you’ll resent them.”

“Stop comparing your spiritual maturity with your spouse’s; instead, start comparing your spiritual maturity with Ephesians 4:1–3. If you do that, you will change the climate of your marriage.”

“When someone pledges to be your spouse, that commitment alone should earn him or her the benefit of the doubt. Even when things may not look the best, seek understanding before you even think about censure. Cherishing our spouses doesn’t mean living in Fantasyland, but it does mean giving our spouses the benefit of the doubt instead of jumping immediately to accusation.”

To read the first set of quotes I shared from Cherish, click here.

Thursdays With Oswald—Teach Them While They’re Young

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.

Teach Them While They’re Young

      We need a personal knowledge of God through all our life. The time to discover Him for ourselves is in life’s earliest morning—“that from a child thou hast known the holy Scriptures, which are able to make thee wise unto salvation,” wrote Paul to Timothy (2 Timothy 3:15). “And ye fathers, provoke not your children to wrath: but nurture them in the chastening and admonition of the Lord” (Ephesians 6:4).

     We are so built that in childhood we can more easily come to a knowledge of God in simplicity than in later years. And in those formative years the personal life can be shaped and fitted to God’s standard more surely than later on.

From Shade Of His Hand

At the end of Ecclesiastes, Solomon wrote, “Remember your Creator in the days of your youth, before the days of trouble come” (Ecclesiastes 12:1).

Oswald Chambers notes that parents lay a much stronger foundation for their children’s future spiritual attainment by talking often of the love of God while those children are still young.

Parents—start early, keep at it often, and don’t ever quit telling your children about God’s love. 

These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates. (Deuteronomy 6:6-9)

Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it. (Proverbs 22:6)

[Mom and Dad, be sure to check out Andrew Murray’s exceptional book Raising Your Child To Love God. You can read some quotes from Murray’s book here, and some of his prayers for children here.]

The Christian In Complete Armour (book review)

the-christian-in-complete-armourWhen I saw both John Newton and Charles Spurgeon put William Gurnall on their “must read” lists (I’ll share their quotes in a moment), I thought, “I have to get this book!” Although The Christian In Complete Armour was written by Gurnall over 360 years ago, the words ring just as true for Christians today.

In summary, The Christian In Complete Armour is an intensive look at the spiritual warfare preparations that the Apostle Paul lists in Ephesians 6:10-18. Gurnall opens his book with these sobering challenges to Christians:

“All may have a desire to be successful soldiers, but few have the courage and determination to grapple with the difficulties that accost them on the way to victory.”

“The fearful are those who march for Hell (Revelation 21:8); the valiant are those who take Heaven by force (Matthew 11:12). Cowards never won Heaven. Do not claim that you are begotten of God and have His royal blood running in your veins unless you can prove your lineage by this heroic spirit: to dare to be holy in spite of man and devils.” (emphasis mine in both quotes)

So piece by piece, step by step, William Gurnall explains the value of each of the Christian’s armaments. He tells us what we can expect when we employ them as God intended, and what we should fear if we fail to make use of each and every piece of equipment God has made available for His soldiers.

John Newton said, “If I might read only one book besides the Bible, I would choose The Christian In Complete Armour.”

And Charles Spurgeon noted, “Gurnall’s work is peerless and priceless; every line is full of wisdom; every sentence is suggestive…the best thought-breeder in all our library.”

Although a very old text, James S. Bell, Jr. has done a marvelous work in preserving Gurnall’s message, but presenting it to us in modern-day English. This is an excellent work for every Christian soldier to have on their shelf.

I am a Moody Press book reviewer.

Rick Warren On What Mercy Means

rick-warren“Mercy means…

…being patient with people’s quirks (James 3:17)

…helping anyone around you who is hurting (Proverbs 3:27)

…giving people a second chance (Ephesians 4:31-32)

…doing good to those who hurt you (Luke 6:35-36)

…being kind to those who offend you (Jude 22-23)

…building bridges of love to the unpopular (premeditated mercy) (Matthew 9:13)

…valuing relationships over rules (Romans 13:10)” —Rick Warren

5 Key Parts To A Synergy Relationship

img_1970King David of Israel was a stud! Outstanding song writer, professional shepherd, bear killer, lion killer, giant killer, decorated army general, and ultimately king of Israel.

Near the end of his life we read an extensive list of Mighty Men that supported David. Some of these guys were also giant killers. One guy singlehandedly defeated 300 enemies, another guy defeated 800 bad guys, one guy killed a lion, and on and on the list goes.

I believe it is clear that David wouldn’t have become king without the support of his Mighty Men, and these guys probably wouldn’t have been recognized as “Mighty Men” without David’s support.

This is a classic definition of synergy. Synergy is when the outcome is so much greater than just the addition of the parts. Sort of like 1 + 1 = 5.

All of us can be a part of synergistic relationships, if we will include these five key parts.

[1] Humility

Without humility, you will never let anyone else into your life, and it’s doubtful they will let you in. Humility says, “I don’t have all the answers. I need some help in fulfilling my God-given dream. I have some areas of weakness where you are strong.”

[2] Confidence

Just like humility, without confidence it’s doubtful others would allow you access to their lives. Confidence says, “I have some something I am willing to offer you. I have a God-given strength in an area where you may be struggling.” The Apostle Paul said, all of us have strengths that God has given us that are to be used to help others (1 Corinthians 12:7; Ephesians 4:7).

[3] Collaboration

Quite simply, in order for synergy to work, the people in the relationship have to be willing to labor together. Paul used the example of one person planting the seed and another person watering the seed. Both laborers are necessary if there is going to be a harvest.

[4] Patience

The journey with others may be slower and messier than traveling solo, but it’s so much more rewarding (see Ecclesiastes 4:9-12).

[5] Investment

Synergy is really about there being a return on investment. But if you’re not willing to invest your time, your learning, your love, can you really expect there to be a synergistic return?

I just wrapped up a year-long investment with a group of guys from my church. What an amazing time! I am definitely better for having been involved with this synergy group, and I believe all of the other guys would tell you the same thing. You, too, can experience this same joy by investing in a synergy group of your own!

#MOWT

justice-mercy-graceLast week I blogged about justice, mercy, and grace. Justice is getting the penalty we deserve, mercy is not getting the penalty we deserve, and grace is getting blessings we don’t deserve.

If we are truly grace-full people, then we should be thank-full people as well. As we approach Thanksgiving Day, people are naturally thinking about things for which they can give thanks during this past year. But Christians should be the most full-of-thanks people on the planet, because we have been showered with so much grace! 

I’d like us to think about a word that I believe will increase our level of thankfulness: Appreciation. Appreciation goes beyond merely being thankful for blessings, as it sees the high value in those blessings, and then continually looks for ways to express even more gratitude for them. In other words, appreciation can begin a cycle of gratitude that grows and grows and GROWS!

Check out three parts to the definition of appreciation

[1] Gratitude; thankful recognition. Did you know that being grateful is actually good for you? Research has shown that increasing your gratitude levels increases your:

  • Physical health. “A state of gratitude, according to research by the Institute of HeartMath, also improves the heart’s rhythmic functioning, which helps us to reduce stress, think more clearly under pressure and heal physically. It’s actually physiologically impossible to be stressed and thankful at the same time” —Jon Gordon
  • Emotional health. Dr. Robert Emmons says gratitude decreases envy, resentment, and feelings of retaliation; and increases empathy, emotional resilience, and self-esteem.
  • Spiritual health. Notice how ingratitude is included in the list of a whole lot of ugliness (2 Timothy 3:1-4), but spiritual health is restored simply by being thankful (Ephesians 5:3-4).

[2] Estimating qualities and giving them their proper value. In order to determine value, we must have a standard of comparison. What’s your standard? Is it what your neighbor has? Is it what you don’t have? Or is it thankfulness for what God has given you? 

Max Lucado said, “To reflect on your blessings is to rehearse God’s accomplishments. To rehearse His accomplishments is to discover His heart. Gratitude always leaves us looking at God and away from dread.”

[3] Assessing the true worth of our blessings. Assessing leads to appreciation, and appreciation begins to give us a return on investment. I like how Jeff Anderson says it: “If you want to grow your faith, grow your gratitude. To grow your gratitude, take time to count your blessings.”

Remember: gratitude isn’t gratitude if it isn’t expressed. David made his gratitude known, and other afflicted people around him began to join with him in thanking God for His blessings (see Psalm 34:1-3). In other words, David’s thanksgiving went viral!

mowtHere’s how we can make our gratitude go viral: #MOWT. Let’s count our blessings every day, and let’s appreciate what God has done for us. Then let’s share our gratitude not only with God, but with others as well. Post it on Facebook or Twitter or Instagram with #MOWT: my one word thanks. Maybe include a photo and “family” #MOWT, or “protection” #MOWT, or even “paycheck” #MOWT.

Let’s give God so much glory for His grace gifts, that we tell the world about our appreciation!

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