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!

Justice, Mercy, Grace & You

Imagine you are taking a nice autumn color tour. As you are enjoying the beautiful fall colors, you come upon a quaint town, where the speed limit through town drops to 25 mph.

As you make your way through town, enjoying the scenery, you suddenly become aware of the flashing lights of a police car behind you. Quickly glancing down at your speedometer, you notice that you are traveling at 35 mph!

justice-mercy-graceThe officer approaches your car, asks for your license and registration and returns to his car. At this point, there are two things that could happen.

Since you did break the law, the officer might return to your car with a traffic ticket, indicating that you were driving 10 mph over the speed limit. You may have all kinds of excuses, and even a spotless driving record, but the truth of the matter is you broke the traffic laws of that city. The ticket you received is, in fact, justice.

Now imagine the officer returns to your car and says, “You have a pretty good driving record, and I believe that you were enjoying the fall scenery, so I’m going to let you off with a warning this time.” Even though you broke the law, this police officer extended mercy to you by not giving you the penalty you deserved.

Have you ever experienced this kind of justice or mercy? Most of us probably have.

But here’s something you have probably never experienced. Imagine you are driving through the same quaint town, admiring the beauty, when you see those flashing lights in your rearview mirror. Quickly glancing down at your speedometer you see that you are traveling under the speed limit. You double-check that your seatbelt is fastened and you are obeying all of the traffic laws.

When the officer approaches your car, he says, “Do you know why I pulled you over? I pulled you over because you are following all of the traffic laws and I wanted to give you a $50 gift certificate to one of the best restaurants we have in town.”

If this ever happened to you, this would be the definition of grace: getting a blessing you didn’t deserve to receive!

Christians certainly understand justice averted, when the penalty for our sins fell on Jesus instead of on us. Christians also understand mercy, when we don’t have to pay for the sins we have committed. But have you ever stopped to consider the amazing grace God continues to pour over your life?

John describes it like this: For out of Christ’s fullness we have all received—all had a share and we were all supplied with—one grace after another and spiritual blessing upon spiritual blessing and even favor upon favor and gift heaped upon gift (John 1:16 AMP).

All of us have blessing upon blessing, favor upon favor, gift upon gift heaped onto our lives. The Apostle Paul then asks, “What am I going to do with all of this grace I’ve received?”

His answer: I’m going to make sure I pass it along to others! (see Ephesians 3:1-9)

Gordon MacDonald wrote, “The world can do almost anything as well as or better than the church. You need not be a Christian to build houses, feed the hungry, or heal the sick. There is only one thing the world cannot do. It cannot offer grace.

So here’s my question to you: how are you handling the grace God has lavished on you? Are you even aware of His grace gifts? Are you hoarding them for yourself?

Or are you making sure that those around you are recipients of the overflow of grace from your life? In other words, are you demonstrating what the world can never show?

Christian, make sure the world sees your grace-filled life in action! This is what brings glory to God and draws others to their own personal relationship with Jesus Christ.

Please check out this video…

Don’t Settle For Low Expectations

isaac-newtonSome of the greatest discoveries and revelations came about because people were curious. They refused to just go along with what they had always been told, what they grew up believing, or what the conventional wisdom told them was impossible.

Archimedes had his “Eureka!” moment because he refused to believe that it was impossible to measure the volume of an irregularly-shaped object.

Isaac Newton formulated the laws of gravitation because he curiously wondered about why apples fell perpendicular and at the same velocity.

The Apostle Peter saw a vision from God with animals, but didn’t stop there. His openness helped him realize that God didn’t have “favorites.”

Far too many people live their lives cursed with low expectations. They say, “That’s all there is.” and they put a period on it.

God wants us to soar above those low expectations! He tells us things like:

  • Come now, let us reason together… (Isaiah 1:18).
  • Call to Me and I will answer you and tell you great and unsearchable things you do not know (Jeremiah 33:3).
  • Are you listening to this? Really listening? … The knowledge of the secrets of the kingdom of heaven has been given to you… (Matthew 13:9, 11)

great-expectationsBut we are trapped in the curse of low expectations when we put a period on things, when we refuse to learn more, see more, hear more.

  • Most people—“That’s all there is.” (period)
  • What if we changed it up—“Is this all there is?” (question mark)
  • Perhaps you might get—“There is so much more!” (exclamation point)

For example, Paul uses the word “mystery” multiple times in his letter to the Ephesians. He explains that a mystery is something hidden from those who have it all figured out (the “period” people), but is revealed to those who will ask God (the “question mark” people). Only the “question mark” people get to see the “exclamation points” God has for them. Things like…

  • God has a plan, and it is His pleasure to reveal it to me (Ephesians 1:9-10; 2:10).
  • God’s revelation is fully revealed to me in His Word (3:3-5).
  • Faith in Jesus makes Christians co-heirs and sharers in all God’s promises (3:6).
  • I have access to God’s inexhaustible riches, His immense wisdom, and I may approach Him with freedom and confidence (3:8-12).

Don’t stop with “.” but go on to “?” and experience “!

With great expectation, read God’s Word, approach His throne, dig into His riches, wrestle with the difficult things, learn more of God’s purpose for your life. He wants to give you so much more “!” 

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