Confession: I Struggle With Being An Atheist

ITLWYou see, I love my day to be highly organized. I like to get to all my meetings on time, and then have them run smoothly and efficiently. I like to setup my To Do list, and then methodically check off each item as I go through my day. I like to be in charge of my day.

I am an atheist.

I’m the one calling the shots. I set my agenda. I determine my day. I decide who to see and what project to accept.

There was a guy that Jesus talked about who did the exact same thing. This guy thought to himself and talked to himself all about his plans. Seriously, in just three verses he says me/I/my a dozen times (Luke 12:17-19)!

But God said, “You fool!” The word for fool means without mind. He didn’t mind his mind. He thought the thoughts he wanted to think, without ever consulting anyone else. Not even God.

Jesus made prayer a priority every day (Mark 1:35). What do you think He prayed? Do you think He said, “Here’s what I’m going to do today, and I want You to bless it, Father”? No way!

When Jesus taught us to pray He said, Your kingdom come, Your will be done” (Matthew 6:9-13). Not only did Jesus pray this way, He lived this way too. He didn’t do a single thing unless His Father directed Him to do it (John 6:38), and He didn’t say a single word unless His Father directed Him to say it (John 12:49).

The problem is not going into my prayer closet to meet with God in the morning, the problem is thinking I can leave God in the closet as I go about my day! That is atheism!

The Apostle James gave us this sound counsel: Instead of making my plans all on my own, I should say, “If the Lord wills, this is what I will do today” (James 4:13-17). And wise King Solomon said I shouldn’t lean on my own thoughts when planning my days, but lean onto God, and then watch to see how He will direct my life in the right way (Proverbs 3:5-6).

I’ve begun writing I.T.L.W. on the top of my daily calendar. It’s my reminder to say, “If The Lord Wills” this is what I will do today. And if something else comes up, I quickly acknowledge that God is directing my path where He needs me to go.

Your Kingdom come means my kingdom has to go. Your will be done means my agenda takes a distant second.

If you’re feeling stressed about your schedule, that should be your reminder to pray: “God, what do you want to have done here.” Silence the atheistic thoughts that sound like, “I have to get my list done.” Stop and pray right there on the spot.

Here’s the full video of my message on this topic—

We will be continuing our series called Practical Prayer this Sunday. If you don’t have a home church in Cedar Springs, please come be our guest. Or you can tune into our live broadcast via Periscope.

Links & Quotes

link quote

“satan is real and may have a hand in our calamities, but not the final hand, and not the decisive hand. James makes clear that God had a good purpose in all Job’s afflictions: ‘You have heard of the steadfastness of Job, and you have seen the purpose of the Lord, how the Lord is compassionate and merciful’ [James 5:11]. So satan may have been involved, but the ultimate purpose was God’s, and it was ‘compassionate and merciful.’” —John Piper

“God’s will is determined by His wisdom which always perceives, and His goodness which always embraces, the intrinsically good.” —C.S. Lewis

“Let us never suppose that there is any lack of charity in speaking of hell. Let us rather maintain that it is the highest love to warn men plainly of danger, and to beseech them to ‘flee from the wrath to come.’ It was satan, the deceiver, murderer, and liar, who said to Eve in the beginning, ‘You shall not surely die.’ (Genesis 3:4.) To shrink from telling men, that except they believe they will ‘die in their sins,’ may please the devil, but surely it cannot please God.” —J.C. Ryle

“You aren’t the only person with your skill. But you are the only person with your version of your skill.” —Max Lucado

“There is nothing natural about the Christian life. It is all supernatural. It’s a life dependent upon miracles from the very beginning (including your conversion). And it simply can’t be lived without faith in the supernatural.” —David Wilkerson

It is time for science to detach itself from an atheistic worldview. Douglas Rushkoff states, “By starting with Godlessness as a foundational principle of scientific reasoning, we make ourselves unnecessarily resistant to the novelty of human consciousness, its potential continuity over time, and the possibility that it has a purpose.”

Detroit Tigers fans (like me!) will love this: an interactive map that shows where every Tiger has been born.

John Stonestreet asks, “Why is pop music so angry?” Check out his answer in Bad Blood.

[VIDEO] John Maxwell challenges us to find someone we can inspire this weekend—

 

Links & Quotes

link quote

“People most affected by fear are those who hang around negative people. If you’re going to control the negative thoughts in your life, you’ve got to get away from negative people as much as you can.” —Rick Warren

“Liberty cannot be established without morality, nor morality without faith.” —Horace Greeley

“It’s natural enough in our species, as in others, that the young birds should show off their plumage—in the mating season. But the trouble in the modern world is that there’s a tendency to rush all the birds on to that age as soon as possible and then keep them there as late as possible, thus losing all the real value of the other parts of life in a senseless, pitiful attempt to prolong what, after all, is neither its wisest, its happiest, or most innocent period. I suspect merely commercial motives are behind it all: for it is at the showing-off age that birds of both sexes have least sales resistance!” —C.S. Lewis

“Don’t make a decision, large or small, without sitting before God with an open Bible, an open heart, and open ears. Philippians 2:13 says, ‘God is working in you to help you want to do and be able to do what pleases Him.’” —Max Lucado

“Strange as it may seem, one of the primary purposes of being shaken by suffering is to make our faith more unshakable. Faith is like muscle tissue: if you stress it to the limit, it gets stronger, not weaker. That’s what James means here [James 1:2-3]. When your faith is threatened and tested and stretched to the breaking point, the result is greater capacity to endure. … If you think your suffering is pointless, or that God is not in control, or that He is whimsical or cruel, then your suffering will drive you from God, instead of driving you from everything but God—as it should. So it is crucial that faith in God’s grace includes the faith that He gives grace through suffering.” —John Piper

“The promise, made when I am in love and because I am in love, to be true to the beloved as long as I live, commits me to being true even if I cease to be in love. A promise must be about things that I can do, about actions: no one can promise to go on feeling in a certain way. He might as well promise never to have a headache or always to feel hungry.” —C.S. Lewis

“It’s the lives of the saints, not the arguments of the theologians and philosophers, that covert people.” — Pope Benedict XVI

17 Final Quotes From “Not Knowing Where”

Not Knowing WhereI’ve been sharing some of the amazing quotes from Oswald Chambers’ book Not Knowing Where. Here is the last set of quotes from this book.

“The natural life is not spiritual, it can only be made spiritual by deliberately casting it out and making it the slave instead of the ruler. … Jesus Christ cannot give me a meek and quiet spirit, I have to take His yoke upon me; that is, I have to deliberately discipline myself. … If we do not resolutely cast out the natural, the supernatural can never become natural in us.”

“Remember, Abraham had to offer up Ishmael before he offered up Isaac. Some of us are trying to offer spiritual sacrifices before we have sacrificed the natural. The only way we can offer a spiritual sacrifice to God is to do what He tells us to do, discipline what He tells us to discipline.”

“Common sense is not faith and faith is not common sense; they stand in the relation of Ishmael and Isaac, of the natural and spiritual, of individuality and personality, of impulse and inspiration. Faith in antagonism to common sense is fanaticism, and common sense in antagonism to faith is rationalism. The life of faith brings the two into right relationship.”

“We have the idea that the body, individuality, and the natural life are altogether of the devil; they are not, they are all of God, designed by God, and it is in the human body and in the natural order of things that we have to exhibit our worship of God. The danger is to mistake the natural for the spiritual, and instead of worshiping God in my natural life to make my natural life God.”

“How am I going to find out what the will of God is? In one way only, by not trying to find out. If you are born again of the Spirit of God, you are the will of God, and your ordinary common sense decisions are God’s will for you unless He gives an inner check. When He does, call a halt immediately and wait on Him. Be renewed in the spirit of your mind that you may make out His will, not in your mind, but in practical living. God’s will in my common sense life is not for me to accept conditions and say—‘Oh well, it is the will of God,’ but to apprehend them for Him, and that means conflict, and it is of God that we conflict. Doing the will of God is an active thing in my common sense life.”

“As Abimelech rebuked Abraham when he was in the wrong (see Genesis 20), and Abraham in his turn rebuked Abimelech, so in the same way the children of men from time to time rebuke the children of God, and the children of God rebuke the politics of natural men. Compromise with each other or unity between them is immoral. Arbitration until He comes Whose right it is to reign is the God-ordained program.”

“The very nature of faith is that it must be tried; faith untried is only ideally real, not actually real. Faith is not rational, therefore it cannot be worked out on the basis of logical reason; it can only be worked out on the implicit line of living obedience.”

“God does not further our spiritual life in spite of our circumstances, but in and by our circumstances.”

“To say ‘Here I am’ when God speaks, is only possible if we are in His presence, in the place where we can obey.” 

“God never fits His Word to suit me; He fits me to suit His Word.”

“True faith does not so much take God at His Word as take the Word of God as it is, in the face of all difficulties, and act upon it, with no attempt to explain or expounded.”

“The path to God is never the same as the path of God. When I am going on with God in His path, I do not understand, but God does; therefore I understand God, not His path.”

“Christ died in the stead of me. I, a guilty sinner, can never get right with God, it is impossible. I can only be brought into union with God by identification with the One Who died in my stead. No sinner can get right with God on any other ground than the ground that Christ died in his stead, not instead of him.” 

“The maturity of character before God is the personal channel through which He can bless others. If it takes all our lifetime before God can put us right, then others are going to be impoverished.”

“The genius of the Spirit of God is to make us pilgrims, consequently there is the continual un-at-home-ness in this world (cf. Philippians 3:20).”

“It is impossible for a saint, no matter what his experience, to keep right with God if he will not take the trouble to spend time with God. In order to keep the mind and heart awake to God’s high ideals you have to keep coming back again and again to the primal source.”

“Bitterness and cynicism are born of broken gods; bitterness is an indication that somewhere in my life I have belittled the true God and made a god of human perfection.”

You can read other quotes I’ve shared from Not Knowing Where by clicking here, here, and here.

And my book review of Not Knowing Where is here.

11 More Quotes From “Not Knowing Where”

Not Knowing WhereHere are even more quotes from Oswald Chambers in his book Not Knowing Where, using the life of Abraham as the basis for a great study of our lives of faith. You can read my review of this book by clicking here, and you can see other quotes by clicking here and here.

“By means of intercession we understand more and more the way God solves the problems produced in our minds by the conflict of actual facts and our real faith in God. … Repetition in intercessory importunity is not bargaining, but the joyous insistence of prayer.” 

“If I cannot see God in others, it is because He is not in me. If I get on my moral high horse and say it is they who are wrong, I become that last of all spiritual iniquities, a suspicious person, a spiritual devil dressed up as a Christian. Beware of mistaking suspicion for discernment, it is the biggest misunderstanding that ever twisted Christian humility into Pharisaism. When I see in others things that are not of God, it is because the Spirit of God has revealed to me my own meanness and badness; when I am put right with God on the basis of His Redemption and see those things in others, it is in order that God may restore them through my intercession.”

“The tendency to do instead of to devote oneself to God, is nearly always the sign of a smudged purity of relationship to God.” 

“The error is putting prudence in competition with God’s will, weighing pros and cons before God when He has spoken. Always beware when you want other people to commend the decision you have made, because it is an indication that you have trusted your wits instead of worshiping God. … We have to watch that we use our wits to assist us in worshiping God and caring out His will, not in carrying out our own will and then asking God very piously to bless the concoction. Put communion with God on the throne and then ask God to direct your common sense to choose according to His will. Worship first and wits after.”

“We have to be careful lest we blind ourselves by putting up our own standards instead of looking at the standard God puts up. If we put a saint up as a standard, we blind ourselves to ourselves; it is personal vanity makes us do it. When we put God’s standard up, viz., Himself, there is no room for personal vanity.”

“The grace of God makes us honest with ourselves.”

“Always beware when you are perfectly certain you are right, so certain that you do not dream of asking God’s counsel.”

“Sanctification is not something our Lord does in me; sanctification is Himself in me.”

“The majority of us know nothing about waiting, we don’t wait, we endure. Waiting means that we go on in the perfect certainty of God’s goodness—no dumps or fear.”

“Your anxiety proves that you do not believe in the goodness of God an atom, and it postpones the time of His performance.”

“God’s ways turn man’s thinking upside down.” 

14 More Quotes From “Not Knowing Where”

Not Knowing WhereWhen I’m reading an Oswald Chambers book, I could practically highlight every line! Even when I restrain myself, I still find so much good material. I’ve already shared some quotes from Not Knowing Where, but I wanted to share a few more with you.

“In seeking the best we soon find that our enemy is our good things, not our bad. The things that keep us back from God’s best are not sin and imperfection, but the things that are right and good and noble from the natural standpoint.”

“Fanaticism is sticking true to my interpretation of my destiny instead of waiting for God to make it clear.”

“God will never have more power than He has now; if He could have, He would cease to be God.”

“Whenever God gives a vision to a saint, he puts the saint, as it were, in the shadow of His hand, and the saint’s duty is to be still and listen. Genesis 16 is an illustration of the danger of listening to good advice when it is dark instead of waiting for God to send the light (cf. Galatians 1:15-16). When God gives a vision and darkness follows, wait; God will bring you into accordance with the vision He has given if you will wait His time.”

“All God’s commands are enablings. Therefore it is a crime to be weak in His strength.” 

“God never hastens and He never tarries. He works His plans out in His own way, and we either lie like clogs on His hands or we assist Him by being as clay in the hands of the Potter.”

“Faith is not a bargain with God—I will trust You if you give me money, but not if You don’t. We have to trust in God whether He sends us money or not, whether He gives us health or not. We must have faith in God, not in His gifts.”

“The relation is to be that of a child; fling yourself clean over on to God and wash your hands of the consequences, and John 14:27―‘My peace I give unto you’―becomes true at once. The profound realization of God makes you too unspeakably peaceful to be capable of any self-interest.”

“Faith is not the means whereby we take God to ourselves for our select coterie; faith is the gift of God whereby He expresses His purposes through us.”

“Beware of insulting God by being a pious prude instead of a pure person.”

“It is the attitude of a spiritual prig to go about with a countenance that is a rebuke to others because you have the idea that they are shallower than you.”

“Friendship with God is faith in action in relation to God and to our fellow men.”

“The most amazing evidence of a man’s nature being changed is the way in which he sees God, to say ‘God led me here’; ‘God spoke to me’; is an everyday occurrence to him.”

“It is not that we prepare a palace for God, but that He comes into our mortal flesh and we do our ordinary work, in an ordinary setting, amongst ordinary people, as for Him.”

You can read my review of Not Knowing Where by clicking here.

You can read other quotes from this book by clicking here.

14 Quotes From “Not Knowing Where”

Not Knowing WhereNot Knowing Where is the first Oswald Chambers book I ever read, and I was instantly hooked. I recently re-read this book and found new gems I hadn’t seen before. You can read my full book review by clicking here, and then enjoy a few of the many, many quotes I highlighted this time around.

“To debate with God and trust common sense is moral blasphemy against God. … When God calls us He does not tell us along the line of our natural senses what to expect; God’s call is a command that asks us, that means there is always a possibility of refusal on our part. Faith never knows where it is being led, it knows and loves the One Who is leading.”

“The call of God only becomes clear as we obey, never as we weigh the pros and cons and try to reason it out.”

“God will never allow you to hold a spiritual blessing for yourself, it has to be given back to Him that He may make it a blessing to others. If you hoard it, it will turn to spiritual dry rot.”

“There is a difference between circumstances and environment. We cannot control our circumstances, but we are the deciders of our own environment. … ‘Circumstances over which I have no control’ is a perfectly true phrase, but it must never be made to mean that we cannot control ourselves in those circumstances.”

“At times it appears as if God has not only forsaken His Word, but has deliberately deceived us. We asked Him for a particular thing, or related ourselves to Him along a certain line, and expected that it would mean the fullness of blessing, and actually it has meant the opposite—upset, trouble and difficulty all around, and we are staggered, until we learn that by this very discipline God is bringing us to the place of entire abandonment to Himself.”

“God holds His children responsible for the way in which they interpret His will. We only discern God’s will by being renewed in the spirit of our minds in every circumstance we are in. We must learn to tell ourselves the truth on the basis of God’s Word.”

“In worship I deliberately give back to God the best He is given me that I may be identified with Him in it.”

“The greatest enemy of the life with God is not sin, but the good that is not good enough. … Many of us do not go on in our spiritual life because we prefer to choose what is our right instead of relying upon God to choose for us.”

“Reality is not found in logic; Reality is a Person.” 

“Spiritual fatigue comes from the unconscious frittering away of God’s time. When you feel weary or are exhausted, don’t ask for hot milk, but get back to God.”

“To say ‘I have got the victory’ is a selfish testimony; the testimony of the Spirit of God is that the Victor has got me.”

“A saint is not an angel and never will be; a saint is the flesh and blood theater in which the decrees of God are carried to successful issues. All of which means that God demands of us the doing of common things while we abide in Him.”

“Self-pity is satanic.”

“There is nothing more heroic than to have faith in God when you see so many better things in which to have faith.”

Links & Quotes

link quote

Who are the happiest people in the world? These precious people!

“The sense of ownership in general is always to be encouraged. The humans are always putting up claims to ownership which sound equally funny in Heaven and in Hell and we must keep them doing so.” —C.S. Lewis, in The Screwtape Letters

“There are ten thousand actions good in themselves, which it might not be right for me to choose as my vocation in life. … Our prayer should be, ‘Show me what Thou wouldst have me to do’—have me to do in particular; not what is generally right, but what is particularly right for me to do.” ―Charles Spurgeon

J. Warner Wallace gives an important reminder to Christian apologists: The Evidence For Christianity Doesn’t “Tell” Us Anything.

[VIDEO] Here is another helpful reminder for Christian apologists on textual variants―

Thursdays With Oswald—Faith And Common Sense

Oswald ChambersThis is a periodic 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.

Faith And Common Sense 

     Common sense is not faith and faith is not common sense; they stand in the relation of Ishmael and Isaac, of the natural and the spiritual, of individuality and personality, of impulse and inspiration. Faith in antagonism to common sense is fanaticism, and common sense in antagonism to faith is rationalism. The life of faith brings the two into right relationship.

     How am I going to find out what the will of God is? In one way only, by not trying to find out. If you are born again of the Spirit of God, you are the will of God, and your ordinary common sense decisions are God’s will for you unless He gives you an inner check. When He does, call a halt immediately and wait on Him. Be renewed in the spirit of your mind that you may make out His will, not in your mind, but in practical living. God’s will in my common sense life is not for me to accept conditions and say—“Oh well, it is the will of God,” but to apprehend them for Him, and that means conflict, and it is of God that we conflict. Doing the will of God is an active thing in my common sense life.

From Not Knowing Where [italics in original; bold font added by me]

Have you ever considered that we find the will of God by not trying to find the will of God? I love Chambers’ conclusion that as a Christian you are the will of God, now we just need to be renewed in our spirits to hear His voice and direction for us.

14 Quotes From “Living A Prayerful Life”

Living A Prayerful LifeAndrew Murray’s book Living A Prayerful Life is a timeless call to all Christians to value prayer more highly. You can read my book review by clicking here. Below are a few of the quotes I especially appreciated.

“How many of us admit to taking a mere five minutes for prayer! The claim is that there is no time. The reality is that a heart desire for prayer is lacking. … Prayerlessness is proof that for the most part our life is still under the power of the flesh. Prayer is the pulse of life; by it the doctor can diagnose the condition of the heart.” 

“God’s child can conquer anything and everything by prayer. Is it any wonder that satan does his utmost to snatch that weapon from the Christian or hinder him in the use of it?”

“Think about our Lord’s words: ‘Believe Me when I say that I am in the Father and the Father is in Me. [And] you know Him, for He lives with you and will be in you’ (John 14:11, 17). Those words are the secret of the life of prayer. Take time in your place of prayer to bow down and worship. Wait on Him until He reveals Himself, takes possession of you, and goes with you to show you how a person may live and walk in abiding fellowship with Him.”

“I know all too well what weak concepts we have concerning the promises and the power of God. I see how prone we are to backsliding, to limiting God’s power, and to deeming it impossible for Him to do greater things than we have seen. It is a glorious thing to get to know God in a new way in our prayer time. That, however, is only the beginning. It is something still greater and more glorious to know God as the All-Sufficient One and to wait on His Spirit to open our hearts and minds to receive the great things, the new things that He longs to bestow on those who wait for Him.”

“Does it not become even more clear that what God wills to accomplish on earth needs prayer as its indispensable condition? There was only one way for Christ and so for believers: a heart and mouth open toward heaven in believing prayer will certainly not be put to shame.” 

“God has done His utmost to make prayer as natural and effectual as the cry of a child to an earthly father when he says, ‘Abba, Father.’”

“Our first work, therefore, ought to be to come into God’s presence not with our ignorant prayers, not with many words and thoughts, but in the confidence that the divine work of the Holy Spirit is being carried out within us. This confidence will encourage reverence and quietness and will also enable us, in dependence on the help that the Spirit gives, to lay our desires and deepest needs before God. The supreme lesson for every prayer is first of all to commit to the leading of the Holy Spirit and in total dependence on Him to give Him first place. Through Him your prayer will have value you cannot imagine. Through Him also you will learn to express your desires in the name of Christ.”

“If we remain prayerless, let our hearts be deeply ashamed. By so doing we make it impossible for God to impart His holiness to us. Let us ask God to forgive us this sin and to draw us to Himself by His heavenly grace and to strengthen us to have fellowship with Him, the One Who is holy.”

“As you enter a time of private prayer, let your first focus be to give thanks to God for the unspeakable love that invites you to come to Him and to converse freely with Him.”

“Prayer is not a soliloquy, where everything comes from one side; it is a dialogue, where God’s child listens to what the Father says, replies to it, and then makes his requests known.”

“Prayerful study of the Bible is indispensable for powerful prayer.”

“Do not forget the close bond between the inner room and the outside world. The attitude of the inner prayer room must remain with us all day. The object of secret prayer is to unite us to God that we may know His abiding presence with us.”

“The Word supplies us with material for prayer and encourages us to expect everything from God. … It is only by prayer that we may live such a life that every word of God might be fulfilled in us.” 

“Our daily life has a tremendous influence on our prayers, just as our prayers influence our daily life. In fact, our life is a continuous prayer. We are continually praising or thanking God by our actions and by the manner in which we treat others. This natural prayer and desire for God can be so strong in a man (who also prays to God) that the words of prayer that he actually utters cannot be heard. At times God cannot hear the prayer of your lips, because the worldly desires of your heart cry out to Him much more strongly and loudly.”

%d bloggers like this: