Love Is Really Love

Love is really love—when we are loving the unlovable.

Forgiveness is really forgiveness—when we are forgiving the unforgivable.

Repentance is really repentance—when we let our wrong loves be broken by the rightness of God’s unbreakable love.

Faith is really faith—when we believe God for the unbelievable.” —Ann Voskamp, in The Broken Way

The Christmas Candle (book review)

Max Lucado is a storyteller par excellent! His craft is on full display in the engaging short story The Christmas Candle.

Lucado takes us back to Victorian-era England, to the small village of Cotswolds. Nothing much seems to happen in this little village, except for a visit from an angel every 25 years to one specific family. The Haddington family have been candle-makers for as far back as anyone can remember. Every quarter-century, just before Christmas, an angel appears in the Haddington’s shop and points out one special candle. When this unique candle is given away by the Haddingtons to an individual, they can pray for a miracle and expect that God will answer that prayer.

Lucado’s story centers on a time when the angel should be appearing soon. But Mr. and Mrs. Haddington are older now, and worried that they don’t have an heir to which the candle-making trade can be passed on, the townspeople are in more desperate need than ever before, and the village’s new pastor is highly skeptical about the so-called “miracle qualities” of an ordinary looking candle. And all the while, the time of the angel’s appearing is getting closer and closer.

The message Lucado is able to drive home through this story is truly a God-given gift that will encourage your faith. Whether you read this book at Christmas time or not, you will be uplifted in your faith in God’s power to do the miraculous!

Thursdays With Oswald—The Power Is In The Solitude

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.

The Power Is In The Solitude

     If we want to know the universal sovereignty of Christ, we must get into solitude with Him. It is not sufficient for someone else to tell us about Him; we must perceive with our own eyes Who He is, we must know Him for ourselves. … 

     We must get to the place of real solitude with Christ. He is our mountain-height and our sea-calm; He is the recreating power; He is the universal Sovereign. He tells us to consider the lilies; we say—“No, we must consider life.” We mistake the mechanism of life for life itself, and that idea has become incorporated into Christian work. In the active work we do for God we do not really believe that Jesus Christ is sovereign Lord; if we did, we should fuss less and build more faith in Him. We cannot do the Savior’s work by fuss, but only by knowing Him as the supreme sovereign Lord. … 

     Our Lord’s word “go” simply means “live,” and Acts 1:8 describes the “going.” Jesus did not say to the disciples—“Go into Jerusalem, go into Judea, go into Samaria, go into the uttermost part of the earth”; but—“You shall be My witnesses” in all these places: He undertakes to establish the goings. So many people are obsessed with this idea—“What are you going to do?” I hope none of us are going to do anything: I hope we are going to be what He wants us to be. … 

     The key to the missionary is the absolute Sovereignty of the Lord Jesus Christ. We must get into real solitude with Him, feed our soul on His Word, and He will engineer our circumstances.

From So Send I You 

Jesus gave a command to all His followers—including all of us today—All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to Me. Therefore go (Matthew 28:18-19). Jesus is saying to us, “Preach and teach out of a living experience of Myself.” In this respect, we are all missionaries.

Oswald Chambers reminds us missionaries that the only way we will be effective in our goings is by spending adequate time in solitude and worship with Our Lord. If we don’t, then we are trying to do ministry on our own, trying to engineer our own circumstances. But the missionary who is spending time with Jesus finds that He directs all our goings and engineers all our circumstances.

The power to testify about Jesus comes from our time of solitude with Jesus.

11 More Quotes From “The Broken Way”

Ann Voskamp’s book The Broken Way wrecked me … in a good way! Ann shows us how Jesus steps into our brokenness, and how He then prepared us to take His love into other people’s brokenness. It’s a fantastic book, so you really should check out my book review by clicking here.

“I am not the mistakes I have made; I am the righteousness He has made. I am not the plans I have failed; I am the perfectness He has finished. I am not the wrongs I have done; I am the faultlessness He has been. I am not the sins I have chosen; I am chosen by the Beloved, regardless of my sins. In Christ, I am chosen, accepted, justified, anointed, sealed, forgiven, redeemed, complete, free, Christ’s friend, God’s child, Spirit’s home.”

“You’ve got to give your gifts or they may become your idols.”

“The thread of your life becomes a tapestry of abundant colors only if it ties itself to other lives. The only way to strengthen the fabric of society is to let the threads of your life break away to let Christ, who is in us, weave around other threads. … The strong must disadvantage themselves for the weak, the majority for the minority, or the community frays and the fabric breaks.”

“We will be known for our actual fruits, not the intentions of our imaginations.”

“Don’t we all have to unlearn fear before we can truly learn to love?”

“Jesus comes to give you freely through His passion what every other god forces you to try to get through performance.”

“Compassion says there will only be abundance for me when there is abundance for you.”

“Instead of flexing His muscle, Jesus surrendered His muscle to the nail. Instead of leveraging His position, He leveraged Himself out on a Cross. He made sacrifice His default position. Instead of stonewalling people with His authoritative power, He laid down His authority, lay down in a tomb, lay in a suffering death till the stone was rolled away.”

“The focus of God’s people is not to create explanations for suffering, but to create communities around suffering, co-suffering communities to absorb suffering and see it transform into cruciform grace.”

“Suffering is not a problem that needs a solution as much as it’s an experience that needs compassion.”

“Faith is confidence in the kindness of God, no matter the confusion of circumstances.”

You can read other quotes I’ve shared from The Broken Way here and here.

8 Quotes From “Live Dead Journey”

Live Dead Journey are notes from missionaries on the front lines. You can check out my book review by clicking here. One of the things that stood out to me was the focus of these “tour guides” on their time abiding with Jesus. Here are some quotes that share their heart on this.

“Abiding time is extravagant daily time with Jesus.” –Dick Brogden

“Jesus spent close to 90 percent of His life in a village of twelve families, and even His three years of ministry were characterized by time alone with the Father. Moses spent forty years in Midian and had multiple trips to the mountain with God. Paul spent thirteen years in preparation, some of it in the Arabian Desert, and prayed constantly. Adam, Joseph, David, Elijah, Daniel, Mary, John, and others all gave God extravagant time. When we examine the lives of any heroes of the faith, we can see that they lingered daily with Jesus.” –Dick Brogden

“Jesus has become my safe place. When stability is not present in life here, I can lean on Him. When friends are not constant, Jesus is. He knows what I need and provides everything. Jesus is enough for me.” –Joy Hawthorne

“I’ve learned that not spending time with Jesus today is one step in not spending time with Him tomorrow.” –Miriam Davis

“One thing I have discovered is that I can’t survive throughout the day on just one block of time with Jesus. So at some other point in my day, I spend time basking in His presence. … Abiding is a lifestyle.” –Eva Bridges

“To help draw out the lessons from a passage, I now look for the following. Is there:

  • A command for me to obey?
  • A promise for me to claim?
  • A sin for me to avoid or repent of?
  • An example for me to follow (good) or avoid (bad)?
  • A truth to believe?
  • A prayer to pray?” –Jeff Griffin

“I’ve realized that what I desire I become–Jesus is my desire, and I want to be like Him.” –Cathy Stone

“How extravagant are you toward Jesus with your time? Do you lavish time on Jesus? Do you give Jesus the most energetic and focused times of your day? Or do you tend to give Jesus the crumbs of your schedule?” –Dick Brogden

10 More Quotes From “The Christian In Complete Armour”

William Gurnall penned wise words for Christian warriors nearly 400 years ago, but their timelessness is still evident today. Check out a few more quotes from The Christian In Complete Armour. 

“When we consider satan’s many years of experience in studying natural knowledge, we will not accept his predictions as prophecies but see him as a learned naturalist with a short and dark text of natural causes. … Neither satan nor any other creature is able to foretell events which do not arise from natural causes nor follow moral and political probabilities. Prophecies in Scripture are locked up in the cabinet of the divine will to prove their heavenly extraction. They must come from God, Who can tell us what only He knows.”

“Look closely at the label to see whether the armor you wear is the workmanship of God or not. There are many imitations on the market nowadays. It is satan’s game, if he cannot keep the sinner satisfied in his naked, lustful state, to coax him into some flimsy thing or other that by itself will neither do him good nor satan harm. Perhaps it is church attendance, or good works, or some self-imposed penance by which he intends to impress both God and man. … Thus thousands perish who supposed they were armed against satan, death, and judgment—when all along they were miserable and naked. … God’s armor can never be made to fit over the suit [a self-satisfied man] has fashion for himself.”

“Knowledge is to faith as sunshine is to the farmer. Without it, faith cannot see to do her work. Nor can the work, once finished, be adequately inspected in the dim light of half-truths. If you do not ground yourself in the truth of the Gospel, satan will play upon your ignorance to thwart your spiritual growth.”

“You give satan a dangerous advantage if you see his wrath and fury bent in general against the saints, and not against you specifically: satan hates me; satan accuses me; satan temps me. Conversely, you lose much comfort when you fail to see the promises and providences of God as available for your own specific needs: God loves me; God takes care of me.”

“Until the love of a sin is quenched in the heart, the fire will never die out. How is this accomplished? Jerome says one love extinguishes another—that is, the love of Christ must quench the love of sin.”

“If you are a Christian, what is there to fear? You have no life to lose if you have already given yourself to Christ. And while God has not promised immunity from suffering, He has undertaken to bear your losses and pay you a hundredfold, though your reward may not come until another world.”

“A thief has no legal right to the wallet he takes from his victim simply because he puts it in his pocket and claims it is his own. Nor is the wrong thus committed ever made right by the passing of time. Years may go by before he is discovered; he will be as guilty on the day of his arrest as on the day he perpetrated the crime. Now a thief on the throne is no different from one in the alley. satan has indeed kept his stolen title a long time, but he is no less a criminal than on the day he first took Adam’s heart from God.”

“I grieve to see the soul fallen so far beneath its divine origin! The body, which was intended to be its servant, has instead become its master, and rules with a merciless hand.”

“When you cause anyone to sin, you take the devil’s office out of his hands. Let him do it himself if he can, but never allow him to use you as his hireling. Tempting someone else to sin is worse than sinning yourself. Those who tempt others plant their own wickedness in fertile fields and raise up new seed to the devil.”

“One reason we are so easily persuaded to sin is because we do not understand satan’s purpose. … Shall I tell you? Do you think your pleasure or profit is his goal? Not likely! His aspirations are all for himself. He has a personal grudge against God, and he brings you, by sinning, to join his quarrel. What he fails to mention is that you jeopardize your very soul to defend his pride and lust. But he is hardly worried about your welfare. He loses no more sleep over your certain damnation than a demented general does over the men he sends on a suicide mission. Knowing this, why would you ever join satan in his fight against God?”

You can read my full review of William Gurnall’s book by clicking here. I have shared other quotes from The Christian In Complete Armour here, here, and here.

Joyless Christianity??

“Many—would I overstate the case if I said the majority?—of those who confess their faith in Christ and enter into association with the community of believers have little joy in their hearts, no peace in their minds, and from all external appearances are no better morally than the ordinary educated citizen who takes no interest whatever in religion and, of course, makes no profession of Christianity. Why is this? I believe it is the result of an inadequate concept of Christianity and an imperfect understanding of the revolutionary character of Christian discipleship.

“True faith brings a spiritual and moral transformation and an inward witness that cannot be mistaken. These come when we stop believing in belief and start believing in the Lord Jesus Christ indeed. …

“One of the first changes will be a shift of interest from earth to heaven, from men to God, from time to eternity, from earthly gain to Christ and His eternal kingdom.” —A.W. Tozer, in Man—The Dwelling Place Of God

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