Thursdays With Oswald—What To Do With Spiritual Barriers

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.

What To Do With Spiritual Barriers

     The inevitable barriers are there in every one of our lives. … The thing to do is to recognize that the barriers are inscrutable, that they are not by chance but entirely by God’s permission, and they should be faced and not ignored. … 

     The peril of the inevitable barriers is that if I have not faced the facts sufficiently, I am apt to blame God for them. There is one fact more that I do not know, and that fact lies entirely with God, not with me. It is no use to spend my time saying, I wish I was not like this, I am just like it. The practical point in Christianity is—Can Jesus Christ and His religion be of any use to me as I am, not as I am not? Can He deal with me where I am, in the condition I am in?

From Shade Of His Hand

What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body that is subject to death? Thanks be to God, Who delivers me through Jesus Christ our Lord! (Romans 7:24-25)

To keep me from becoming conceited because of these surpassingly great revelations, there was giving me a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of satan, to torment me. Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. But He said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for My power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, and hardships, persecutions, and difficulties. When I am weak, then I am strong. (2 Corinthians 12:7-10)

For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Romans 8:38-39)

“The Bible point of view seems to cover most of the facts” (Oswald Chambers).

Faith, Feelings & Facts

We walk by faith, not by appearance (2 Corinthians 5:7).

Lettie Cowman“By faith, not appearance; God never wants us to look at our feelings. Self may want us to; and satan may want us to. But God wants us to face facts, not feelings; the facts of Christ and of His finished and perfect work for us.

“When we face these precious facts, and believe them because God says they are facts, God will take care of our feelings.

“God never gives feeling to enable us to trust Him; God never gives feeling to encourage us to trust Him; God never gives feeling to show that we have already and utterly trusted Him. God gives feeling only when He sees that we trust Him apart from all feeling, resting on His own Word, and on His own faithfulness to His promise. Never until then can the feeling (which is from God) possibly come; and God will give the feeling in such a measure and at such a time as His love sees best for the individual case.

“We must choose between facing toward our feelings and facing toward God’s facts. Our feelings may be as uncertain as the sea or the shifting sands. God’s facts are as certain as the Rock of Ages, even Christ Himself, who is the same yesterday, today and forever.” —Lettie Cowman

4 Ways To Evaluate Biblical Evidence

Reliability of the GospelsTo be honest, if someone hasn’t heard the biblical account of the life of Jesus Christ before, it can sound quite fantastic! Jesus was born of a virgin, lived a sinless life, performed miracles no one had seen before, died a horrific martyr’s death, was raised back to life three days later, and then ascended back into heaven until He returns to Earth again.

But as fantastic as this sounds, there is still enough evidence to reasonably believe it’s all true. An unreasonable faith believes in something in spite of the evidence; a blind faith believes in something without any evidence; and reasonable faith believes in something because of the evidence.

The Bible gives us eyewitness testimony about the life of Jesus which we can matter-of-factly evaluate. 

In a modern-day court of law, eyewitness testimony is evaluated on…

  • …the determination that the witnesses were actually present.
  • …the ability to corroborate their testimony.
  • …the consistency of their testimony over time.
  • …any biases they have that would cause them to exaggerate or misrepresent their testimony.

Let’s consider the testimony of the four Gospel writers: Matthew, Mark, Luke and John.

(1) Were The Eyewitnesses Present?

  • Luke is considered a credible historian, even by modern standards. He wrote the book of Acts following the ascension of Jesus into Heaven. Because he did not mention three major events in Jewish history (the Jewish uprising, the Roman siege of Jerusalem in response to that uprising, and the Roman destruction of the temple), we can determine that Acts was written before 61 AD.
  • Luke wrote the Gospel that bears his name before he wrote Acts. The Apostle Paul referenced portions of Luke’s Gospel in letters we can date by Paul’s Roman imprisonment, which means Luke was written prior to 53-57 AD.
  • Luke uses the Gospel of Mark as one of his references, which means Mark was probably written in 45-50 AD, just 10-15 years after the events of Christ’s life.
  • Mark was closely associated with the Apostle Peter, who was most assuredly Mark’s “source” in writing his Gospel, and Peter was one of the original twelve apostles called by Jesus.
  • Matthew and John were both apostles of Jesus, living and working closely with Jesus for over three years.

(2) Is Their Testimony Corroborated?

  • Archeological finds continually demonstrate the accuracy of the people, titles, places and details the Gospel writers mention.
  • Outside—or extra-biblical—sources like Josephus (a Jewish historian who wanted to preserve the purity of Judaism), Tacitus (a Roman historian), and Mara Bar-Serapion (a Syrian historian)—all who wrote between 40-70 AD—affirm things like where Jesus lived, the miracles He performed, the manner of His death, His resurrection, and the changed lives of people who believed in Jesus Christ.
  • In addition, Paul wrote of the “five hundred of the brothers” who were also eyewitnesses to the resurrected Christ (1 Corinthians 15:3-8).

(3) Has Their Testimony Remain Unchanged Over Time?

  • The history and accuracy of the scribes had already been demonstrated in the preservation and transmission of the Old Testament over a period of 1400 years.
  • These same scribal techniques were not only used in the transmission of the New Testament, but in subsequent years the Masoretic scribes became even more meticulous in the techniques they used.
  • The “chain of custody” of evidence can be absolutely traced from the Gospel authors, to their students, and to the writings of the Church Fathers.
  • In fact into the third-century AD, the writings of the Church Fathers contain so many direct quotations from the New Testament, that we can almost completely reconstruct the New Testament from their writings.

(4) Is Their Testimony Unbiased?

  • These eyewitnesses didn’t gain anything financially by their testimony. In fact, many of them lost or gave up all their possessions to tell others about Jesus.
  • They didn’t gain political power or influence that could save their own lives. All of the original apostles (except John) died a gruesome martyrs’ death.
  • In short, they had nothing to gain by making up and reporting a false story about Jesus.

All of these points make it reasonable to believe the evidence presented in the Bible about Jesus Christ is true. Check out this video where I elaborate a little more on each of these points—

If you live in the Cedar Springs area and don’t have a home church, I would love for you to visit with us Easter Sunday morning at 10:30am. We’ll be examining the evidence for Christ’s resurrection from the dead. Click here to get more details.

9 Quotes From C.S. Lewis

C.S. Lewis at his deskYesterday I posted a review on an innovative book The Surprising Imagination Of C.S. Lewis. Truly this man’s literary output during his lifetime, and his works’ staying power after his lifetime, is amazing. Here are a few quotes from this prolific author.

“We may ignore, but we can nowhere evade, the presence of God. The world is crowded with Him. He walks everywhere incognito. And the incognito is not always hard to penetrate. The real labor is to remember, to attend. In fact, to come awake. Still more, to remain awake.” —C.S. Lewis

“Humanity does not pass through phases as a train passes through stations: being alive, it has the privilege of always moving yet never leaving anything behind. Whatever we have been, In some sort we are still.” —C.S. Lewis

“God saw the Cross in the creation of the first nebulae.” —C.S. Lewis 

“Nothing can deceive unless it bears a plausible resemblance to reality.” —C.S. Lewis

“The real way of mending a man’s taste is not to denigrate his present favorites, but to teach him how to enjoy something better.” —C.S. Lewis 

“Coming to understand anything we must reject the facts as they are for us in favor of the facts as they are.” —C.S. Lewis

“The terrible thing, the almost impossible thing, is to hand over your whole self—all your wishes and precautions—to Christ. But it is far easier than what we are all trying to do instead. For what we are trying to do is to remain what we call ‘ourselves,’ to keep personal happiness as our great aim in life, and yet at the same time be ‘good.’ We are all trying to let our mind and heart go their own way—centered on money or pleasure or ambition—and hoping, in spite of this, to behave honestly and chastely and humbly. And that is exactly what Christ warned us you could not do.” —C.S. Lewis 

“The real problem of the Christian life comes where people do not usually look for it. It comes the very moment you wake up each morning. All your wishes and hopes for the day rush at you like wild animals. And the first job each morning consists simply in shoving them all back; in listening to that other Voice, taking that other point of view, letting that other larger, stronger, quieter life come flowing in. And so on, all day.” —C.S. Lewis

“‘Be ye perfect.’ I think He meant ‘The only help I will give is help to become perfect. You may want something less: but I will give you nothing less.’” —C.S. Lewis 

“That is why we must not be surprised if we are in for a rough time. When a man turns to Christ and seems to be getting on pretty well (in the sense that some of his bad habits are now corrected) he often feels that it would now be natural if things went fairly smoothly. When trouble comes along—illnesses, money troubles, new kinds of temptation—he is disappointed. These things, he feels, might have been necessary to rouse him and make him repent in his bad old days; but why now? Because God is forcing him on, or up, to a higher level: putting him into situations where he will have to be very much braver, or more patient, or more loving, than he ever dreamed of being before. It seems to us all unnecessary: but that is because we have not yet had the slightest notion of the tremendous thing He means to make of us.” —C.S. Lewis

I previously posted quotes from C.S. Lewis here, here, and here.

Links & Quotes

link quote

“Man, please thy Maker and be merry; / This whole world rate we at a penny!” —William Dunbar

“Seeking the Kingdom of God is not a matter of doing first things first. Seeking the Kingdom is not just the first thing on the Christian’s daily to-do list. Seeking the Kingdom is a first things always proposition, so that whatever is on our to-do list on any given day, seeking the Kingdom is the first things pursuit which defines and directs everything else we do.” —T.M. Moore

Some facts reported by Live Action to refute the Planned Parenthood lies:

  • “Abortion is only 3 percent of the services Planned Parenthood provides”—but in reality, it accounts for over one-third of Planned Parenthood’s annual revenue.
  • “Women will be hurt if their taxpayer funding is cut off”—but more than 13,000 health clinics would be eligible for the $500,000,000 of your taxpayer dollars Planned Parenthood currently receives.  Not a single dime would be taken away from women’s healthcare!  In fact, more health clinics could offer more services with that money.

If you use YouVersion to read/study your Bible, and you enjoy apologetics, check out the 7-day reading program J. Warner Wallace developed.

Dan Reiland wrote a great post for leaders called Open-Handed Leadership. This was primarily written for church leaders, but anyone can benefit from it.

C.S. Lewis On Spiritual Feelings

Someone wrote to C.S. Lewis about the profound and moving spiritual experience they had just experienced, and wondered what Lewis thought about it. His reply is very insightful—

C.S. Lewis at his desk“It is quite right that you should feel that ‘something terrific’ has happened to you (it has) and be ‘all glowy.’ Accept these sensations with thankfulness as birthday cards from God, but remember that they are only greetings, not the real gift. I mean, it is not the sensations that are the real thing. The real thing is the gift of the Holy Spirit which can’t usually be—perhaps not ever—experienced as a sensation or emotion. The sensations are merely the response of your nervous system. Don’t depend on them. Otherwise when they go and you are once more emotionally flat (as you certainly will be quite soon), you might think that the real thing had gone too. But it won’t. It will be there when you can’t feel it. May even be most operative when you can feel it least.” —C.S. Lewis (emphasis added)

The spiritual experiences are great, but let them use you to turn to the Bible to find the facts behind your experience. Lewis is quite right that feelings come and go, but the Holy Spirit never does.

Going To Pot (book review)

Going To PotI have been concerned for some time about the pro-legalization (or de-criminalization) movement throughout our country. There seems to be haste to un-do the laws that have served our nation well for many, many years. One especially troubling aspect is expertly addressed in Going To Pot: Why the rush to legalize marijuana is harming America by William Bennett and Robert White.

One by one, Bennett and White dismantle each of the pro-legalization arguments that are being promoted. And these gentleman are truly in a position to speak authoritatively: William Bennett has served as the Drug Czar and as the Secretary of Education (both Cabinet-level positions), and Robert White served as an Assistant US Attorney. In short, these guys know what they’re talking about!

Bennett and White systematically lay out each argument, and then share the facts which completely destroy the arguments. They talk about drug policies that haven’t worked internationally, and they also show the failure of the legalization of marijuana within our own borders. In addition, they also lay out a very thoughtful plan for our country going forward.

This topic is going to continue to come up for a vote on the State-level, so concerned citizens should read Going To Pot to arm themselves with the facts that will contradict the hype and rhetoric of the pro-marijuana crowd.

I am a Center Street book reviewer.

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