Thursdays With Spurgeon—“Follow Me”

This is a weekly series with things I’m reading and pondering from Charles Spurgeon. You can read the original seed thought here, or type “Thursdays With Spurgeon” in the search box to read more entries.

“Follow Me”

     “As Jesus passed on from there, He saw a man named Matthew sitting at the tax office. And He said to him, ‘Follow Me.’ So he arose and followed Him” [Matthew 9:9]. … I know another man, not named Matthew, but Charles, and the Lord said to him, “Follow Me,” and he also arose and followed Him. I do not know all that He saw when He looked upon me. I fear that He saw nothing in me but sin and evil and vanity, but I believe that He did say to Himself concerning me, “I see one to whom I can teach My truth, and who, when he gets ahold of it, will grip it fast and never let it go, and one who will not be afraid to speak it wherever he is.” So the Lord saw what use He could make of me. There is an adaptation in men, even while they are unconverted, that God has put into them for their future service. Luke was qualified to write his gospel because he had been a physician, and Matthew was qualified to write the particular gospel that he has left us because he had been a publican. There may be something about your habits of life, and about your constitution and your condition that will qualify you for some special niche in the church of God in the years to come. Oh, happy day, when Jesus shall look upon you and call you to follow Him! Happy day, when He did look upon some of us, and saw in us what His love meant to put there, that He might make of us vessels of mercy meet for the Master’s use! 

From The Autobiography of Charles Spurgeon

What was true of the apostle Matthew and Charles Spurgeon in past history is true of you today! 

God has plans for you. He has implanted a combination of gifts, talents, and personality in you that is unique to anyone else on this planet. He did this because He foresaw how you could be of use in fulfilling His plans for His kingdom.

Listen! Do you hear Him calling? He is saying to YOU, “Follow Me.” Will you answer that call? 

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.

10 Quotes From C.S. Lewis

C.S. Lewis(When is it ever not a good day to share C.S. Lewis quotes?!)

“There is either a warning or an encouragement here for every one of us. If you are a nice person—if virtue comes easily to you—beware! Much is expected from those to whom much is given. If you mistake for your own merits what are really God’s gifts to you through nature, and if you are contented with simply being nice, you are still a rebel: and all those gifts will only make your fall more terrible, your corruption more complicated, your bad example more disastrous. The devil was an archangel once; his natural gifts were as far above yours as yours are above those of a chimpanzee.” —C.S. Lewis 

“The monstrosity of sexual intercourse outside marriage is that those who indulge in it are trying to isolate one kind of union (the sexual) from all the other kinds of union which were intended to go along with it and make up the total union. …You must not isolate that pleasure and try to get it by itself, any more than you ought to try to get the pleasures of taste without swallowing and digesting, by chewing things and spitting them out again.” —C.S. Lewis

“On the contrary, those who are seriously attempting chastity are more conscious, and soon know a great deal more about their own sexuality than anyone else. They come to know their desires as Wellington knew Napoleon, or as Sherlock Holmes knew Moriarty; as a rat-catcher knows rats or a plumber knows about leaky pipes. Virtue—even attempted virtue—brings light; indulgence brings fog.” —C.S. Lewis

“For there are two things inside me, competing with the human self which I must try to become. They are the Animal self, and the Diabolical self. The Diabolical self is the worse of the two. That is why a cold, self-righteous prig who goes regularly to church may be far nearer to hell than a prostitute. But, of  course, it is better to be neither.” —C.S. Lewis

 “A great deal of our anxiety to make excuses comes from not really believing in it, from thinking that God will not take us to Himself again unless he is satisfied that some sort of case can be made out in our favor. But that would not be forgiveness at all. Real forgiveness means looking steadily at the sin, the sin that is left over without any excuse, after all allowances have been made, and seeing it in all its horror, dirt, meanness, and malice, and nevertheless being wholly reconciled to the man who has done it. That, and only that, is forgiveness, and that we can always have from God if we ask for it.” —C.S. Lewis 

“To be a Christian means to forgive the inexcusable, because God has forgiven the inexcusable in you.” —C.S. Lewis

“The human lives in time but our enemy destines them to eternity. He therefore, I believe, wants them to attend chiefly to two things, to eternity itself, and to that point of time which they call the Present. For the Present is the point at which time touches eternity. Of the present moment, and of it only, humans have an experience analogous to the experience which our Enemy has of reality as a whole; in it alone freedom and actuality are offered them. He would therefore have them continually concerned either with eternity (which means being concerned with Him) or with the Present—either meditating on their eternal union with, or separation from, Himself, or else obeying the present voice of conscience, bearing the present cross, receiving the present grace, giving thanks for the present pleasure.” —C.S. Lewis

“War creates no absolutely new situation; it simply aggravates the permanent human situation so that we can no longer ignore it.” —C.S. Lewis

“The rescue of drowning men is, then, a duty worth dying for, but not worth living for.” —C.S. Lewis

“Christianity does not simply replace our natural life and substitute a new one; it is rather a new organization which exploits, to its own supernatural ends, these natural materials.” —C.S. Lewis

How To Make New Communications Habits

Making new habitsPreviously I wrote about NOT trying to change our bad behaviors. That’s because our behavior is a natural outcome of several other factors (read more about that by clicking here). The important progression goes like this: Thoughts → Values → Attitudes → Behaviors.

The two areas we can address are our thoughts and attitudes. When it comes to interacting with other people, notice carefully the words Jesus said: “Love your neighbor as yourself” (Mark 12:31).

Jesus says that our thoughts about ourselves can limit our thoughts about others. If your thoughts are limited, your value on people and healthy relationships will slide. If those values drop, your attitude about others will begin to sour. And with those thoughts, values and attitude dropping, isn’t it natural to expect that you will struggle getting along with others?

So you must get this clear—

  • God had a plan for you from before the beginning of time (Ephesians 2:10)
  • God knit you together in your mother’s womb (Psalm 139:13-18)
  • God put just the right gifts and talents in you to change the world (Romans 12:3-6; 1 Corinthians 12:4-7).
  • God made you unique (you-nique!).
  • You are a one-of-a-kind masterpiece!

Because you are you-nique, you hear and see the world uniquely, and you respond uniquely. You and I respond mostly by habit.

Habits are good when they are healthy. But unhealthy habits create assumptions and blind spots that can hinder our relationships.

To make new relationship habits requires three things:

  1. Knowledge (what do I need to do)
  2. Skill (how do I need to do it)
  3. Desire (I really want to make this change)

If you want to make some new communication habits, get knowledge from people who love you and from reading the Bible. Then read some books or attend some seminars that will give you new skills. Then combine those with your sincere desire to want to improve your relationship habits, and watch for great things to happen!

I am leading our church through a training on our communication styles. Please join us on Sunday as we learn how to better get along with others. I’d love for you to join us either in person or on our Periscope broadcast.

Links & Quotes

link quote

“The very first words [of the Lord’s Prayer] are Our Father. Do you now see what those words mean? They mean quite frankly, that you are putting yourself in the place of a son of God. To put it bluntly, you are dressing up as Christ. If you like, you are pretending. Because, of course, the moment you realize what the words mean, you realize that you are not a son of God. You are not being like The Son of God, whose will and interests are at one with those of the Father: you are a bundle of self-centered fears, hopes, greeds, jealousies, and self-conceit, all doomed to death. So that, in a way, this dressing up as Christ is a piece of outrageous cheek. But the odd thing is that He has ordered us to do it.” —C.S. Lewis, in Mere Christianity

“Prayer is the form of faith that connects us today with the grace that will make us adequate for tomorrow’s ministry.” —John Piper

“When you fulfill your spiritual gift to serve someone tomorrow, you will be serving ‘by the strength that God supplies’ tomorrow. The word is supplies, not supplied. God goes on, day-by-day, moment-by-moment, supplying the ‘strength’ in which we minister.” —John Piper, commenting on 1 Peter 4:10-11

“Never say you will pray about a thing; pray about it. … It is not part of the life of a natural man to pray. We hear it said that a man will suffer in his life if he does not pray; I question it. What will suffer is the life of the Son of God in him, which is nourished not by food but by prayer.” —Oswald Chambers

For all my fellow Detroit Tigers fans, this is an interesting post about the greatest Tiger of all-time: Cobb or Kaline. In my book, they both were phenomenal, but I would give the slight edge to Ty Cobb.

 

An Insightful Dozen From Andrew Murray

Andrew MurrayI love the insight of this godly man, and I hope you enjoy these quotes too…

“God, as Creator, formed man to be a vessel in which He could show forth His power and goodness. Man was not to have in himself a fountain of life or strength or happiness. The ever-living and only living One was intended each moment to be the communicator to man of all that he needed.” 

“The blessing of God’s Word is only to be known and enjoyed by obeying it: ‘If you love Me, you will obey what I command’ (John 14:15). Keeping His Word is the only proof of a genuine saving knowledge of God, of not being self-deceived in our faith, of God’s love being experientially known and not merely imagined.”

“The person who reads his Bible with longing and determination to learn and to obey every commandment of God is on the right path to receiving all the blessing the Word is meant to bring.”

“The New Testament standard of Christian commitment is barely realized in the church today. Its whole tone is intensely supernatural. Christian commitment and devotion involves a life totally identified with the life of Christ. It must be a life in the continual presence and under the guidance of the Holy Spirit.”

“Many pray for the Spirit that they may make use of Him and His power for their work. This is an entirely wrong concept. It is He who must use you.”

“Unless we are willing to pay the price, to sacrifice time and attention and seemingly legitimate or necessary tasks for the sake of the spiritual gifts, we need not look for much power from above in our work. God’s call to much prayer need not be a burden or cause for continual self-condemnation. He intends it to be a joyful task. He can make it an inspiration. Through it He can give us strength for all our work and bring blessing to others by His power that works in us.”

“Let our lack of prayer convict us of the coolness in our Christian life that lies at the root of it. God will use the discovery to bring us not only the power to pray that we long for but also the joy of a new and healthy life of which prayer is the spontaneous expression.”

“Our prayers must not be vague appeals to His mercy or indefinite cries for blessing, but the distinct expression of a specific need. It is not that Jesus’ loving heart does not understand our cry or is not ready to hear, but He desires that we be specific for our own good. Prayer that is specific teaches us to better know our own needs.”

“Do you see what holiness is and how it is to be found? It is not something formed in you. It is not something put on you from without. Holiness is the presence of God resting on you. Holiness comes as you consciously abide in that presence, doing all as a sacrifice to Him.”

“The connection between the prayer life and the Spirit life is close and indissoluble. … Learn from our Lord Jesus how impossible it is to walk with God, obtain God’s blessing or leading, or do His work joyously and fruitfully apart from close, unbroken fellowship with the One who is our living fountain of spiritual life and power.”

“His blood is the eternal and undeniable proof that God the Father and Christ will do for you all that is needed, and that they will not forsake you until they have accomplished their work in you from beginning to end.”

“Live your daily life in full consciousness of being righteous in God’s sight, an object of delight and pleasure in Christ. Connect every view you have of Christ in His other graces with this first one: Christ Jesus—our righteousness from God. This will keep you in perfect peace.”

15 Tips To Give Healthy Praise To Our Kids

12 Huge MistakesOne of the parental mistakes Tim Elmore highlights in his newest book 12 Huge Mistakes Parents Can Avoid is praising the wrong things. He writes—

“We live in a world of hyperbole. We think we must exaggerate to be heard. So we use words like awesome or excellent when our kids have done merely what is expected of them. We offer huge praise for minimal effort. As our children grow older, matching the affirmation with the effort becomes especially important. Not too little, but not too much. This is how trust is built, and it’s why kids continue to listen to their parents during teen years.” 

Dr. Elmore is not saying that we shouldn’t praise our kids, but that we should do it more intelligently, by making sure we are praising the right things. He offers this list for healthy, profitable praise for kids:

  1. Praise them for effort, not for their intelligence or beauty. 
  2. Reward character virtues (such as honesty) more than performance. 
  3. Teach them to enjoy the process as much as the product. 
  4. Make sure the size and content of your praise matches their effort. 
  5. Be sure your affirmation is sincere, thoughtful, and genuine. 
  6. Empower them by helping them own a personal set of values to live by. 
  7. Identify and affirm unique features that differentiate your kids. 
  8. Provide experiences for them to discover and build their primary strengths. 
  9. Furnish a platform for them to serve others using their strengths and gifts. 
  10. Tell them you enjoy watching them perform regardless of the outcome. 
  11. The younger they are, the more immediate your feedback for them must be. 
  12. Equip them to take risks and learned that failure is okay as long as they tried. 
  13. Build a secure home for them but one that does not revolve around them. 
  14. When in doubt, always praise what is in their control. 
  15. Clarify your unconditional love for them regardless of their performance.

If you would like to read my full book review of 12 Huge Mistakes, click here.

To read some other quotes I shared from this book, click here.

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