John Piper has written a book that I think every pastor should read: Brothers, We Are Not Professionals. You can read my review of this book here. Below are just a few quotes that caught my attention.
“We pastors are being killed by the professionalizing of the pastoral ministry. The mentality of the professional is not the mentality of the prophet. … The professionalization of the ministry is a constant threat to the offense of the gospel.”
“I defined spiritual leadership as ‘knowing where God wants people to be and taking the initiative to get them there by God’s means in reliance on God’s power.’ … So the goal of spiritual leadership is to muster people to join God in living for God’s glory.”
“The Son of Man has not come seeking employees. He has come to employ Himself for our good.”
“In this fallen world, the tide is always going out. That is, the affections of our people have for God Himself (as distinct from His gifts) are continually prone to shrink. Our job is to tilt the world, by the power of the Spirit and the Word, so that the tide rolls in again.”
“A pastor who feels competent in himself to produce eternal fruit knows neither God nor himself.”
“Salvation is a gift of God (Ephesians 2:8). Love is a gift of God (1 Thessalonians 3:12). Faith is a gift of God (1 Timothy 1:14). Wisdom is a gift of God (Ephesians 1:17). Joy is a gift of God (Romans 15:13). Yet as pastors we must labor to ‘save some’ (1 Corinthians 9:22). We must stir up the people to love (Hebrews 10:24). We must advance their faith (Philippians 1:25). We must impart wisdom (1 Corinthians 2:7). We must work for their joy (2 Corinthians 1:24). We are called to labor for that which is God’s alone to give. The essence of the Christian ministry is that its success is not within our reach.”
“Are not our people really yearning to be around a man who has been around God? Is it not the lingering aroma of prayer that gives a sense of eternity to all our work?”
“Few things frighten me more than the beginnings of barrenness that come from frenzied activity with little spiritual food and meditation.”
“The domestication of God is a curse on preaching in our day. We need to recover reality and the language of majesty and holiness and awe and glory.”
“He knows that the only way he can deliver God’s message to God’s people is by being rooted in it and by saturating his sermon with God’s own revelation in the Bible. The Bible-oriented preacher wants the congregation to know that his words, if they have any abiding worth, are in accord with God’s words. He wants this to be obvious to them. That is part of his humility and his authority. Therefore, he constantly tries to show the people that his ideas are coming from the Bible. He is hesitant to go too far toward points that are not demonstrable from the Bible.”
“Our salvation and the salvation of those who hear us week after week depend in large measure on our faithful attention to personal holiness and sound teaching” [see 1 Timothy 4:16]. … Oh, how earnest we should be in attending to ourselves and the soundness and helpfulness of our teaching!”
Sobhi Malek put together an extremely helpful guide for praying for Muslims. Each week has a prayer, but there are also several helpful insights which Sobhi shares. Here are a few of those insights.
“This warfare is not against people of any religion or affiliation. Christ, who died for all human beings, instructed us to love our neighbors. Rather, this war is against the evil powers which control people and hinder them from seeing the light of the Gospel of Christ (Ephesians 6:12). In other words, we are warring against satan who ‘has blinded the minds of unbelievers.’ His goal is to keep people from seeing ‘the light of the Gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God’ (2 Corinthians 4:4). When we pray and ask others to pray, this does not mean that we feel superior. We do not think we are better than Muslims or any other people. Rather, we believe we are fallen human beings like all others, but we have been saved by God’s grace.”
“When Muslims say, ‘In the name of God the merciful, the compassionate,’ all Muslims and many Christians do not know that this is taken from the Bible. This phrase demonstrates the early influence of Judaism and Christianity on Muhammad. Here are some occurrences of this combination in the Bible: compassionate and gracious (Exodus 34:6, NIV); compassionate and merciful (Psalm 86:15, GW; 103:8, NLT; James 5:11, GW); merciful and tender (Luke 1:78, TEV).”
“There are many teachings in Islam that we, believers in Christ, can use as bridges to help Muslims draw near to and enter the Kingdom of God. The Qur’an states that God created Adam and Eve, that He sent the flood but rescued Noah, that He spoke to Abraham, that He gave the Torah (Pentateuch) to Moses, that He sent Jesus who was born of a virgin. All these narratives, common to both Muslims and Christians, can be used as bridges to bring Muslims closer to the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ. This does not mean that all the details of these stories in Islam are in full agreement with the biblical accounts, but they can work as starting points. It is also rewarding to establish friendships with Muslims as you seek to share with them the Gospel of Christ. Friends trust each other, depend on each other and desire each other’s wellbeing. Building bridges of common narratives and friendship pays dividends.”
“The Qur’an, Islam’s holy book, is a collection of jumbled statements and stories in a random arrangement. Most of its stories are fractured and lack consistency. Subjects and themes are not connected. So fractured are narratives in the Qur’an that only one story has a clear beginning, middle, and end: the story of Joseph. All the other stories pick up in the middle, or else they are never carried to their conclusion. The Qur’an admits that satan sometimes intervened and gave Muhammad ‘inspiration.’ It also states that Muhammad forgot some parts of it. Several chapters start with meaningless three-letter words such as alr, alm, etc. Even great quranic interpreters cannot find a meaning for such words. In one place the Qur’an states that no changes occurred in its text, and in another it says changes to it indeed took place.”
“In the past few decades, millions of Muslims have migrated to the West. Some seek jobs, others pursue freedom and a better living, and still others hope to conquer the West by converting Westerners to Islam or by sheer reproduction and numerical growth! I personally take this migration to mean the Lord wants to help the Church win large numbers of Muslims to Christ by bringing them to her doorstep.”
Next week I will share a few of the prayers Sobhi leads us in each week. I would also recommend that you check out my review of Praying For Muslims.
Longing For A Changed World will help you (re)establish a prayer focus that could be the beginning of the next great revival! You can check out my full book review here, and then enjoy some of the quotes that especially caught my attention.
“Our age, severed from its Biblical moorings, is neglecting history’s lessons.”
“Another characteristic of today’s Church is a lack of prayer. Instead of communing and listening to God, lifting our needs and concerns to the Lord, we rely on our own abilities and in technology to compensate for any inadequacy we may have. Thus armed, we are confident in taking on the challenges of our day, even those spiritual in nature.”
“True revival impacts all aspects of life, even to the concerns of the last, the least, and the lost. A people who uphold justice and righteousness and seeks to alleviate the plight of the poor and needy, are a people truly gripped with revival. For when we are consumed with God’s holiness and how blessed we are by His grace, we are compelled to take this Gospel to all aspects of our culture.”
“Our propensity is to focus on being doers—to be on the battlefield, sword in hand, fighting for the Kingdom and for righteousness. But as in the battle with the Amalekites, battles are won by God’s people lifting up their arms to the Lord.”
“I have been more focused on what I wanted to say in my prayer than on Whom I am approaching in prayer. This often leads to prayer that amounts to a tallying-up of my wants, without proper regard for the One into Whose presence I have come.”
“Our prayers as a whole, and prayers for revival, should reflect our poverty and powerlessness before a God who is forgiving and gracious.”
“Pray for boldness in the church—boldness to proclaim God’s Word and to firmly stand on it. Pray for boldness to confront sin yet boldness accompanied with humility as the church is aware (painfully aware) of its own sinfulness. And pray for boldness to present Christ as the Way and the Truth.”
“Praying expectantly requires us to pray to God in line with His Word and His promises. Thus a decline in biblical literacy has resulted in our prayer life wavering as well.”
“Our pleas for revival will go unheeded until we stand up for God’s Word, forsake the idols of our age, shake off the trappings of our secular and materialistic age, and embrace God’s truth.”
“As we pray for revival—for changed lives, renewed churches, and a transformed culture—our tendency might be to enlist the charismatic, the eloquent, and those who project confidence and success, traits that so readily appeal to us. But God’s manner of bringing revival has often been through ordinary people who endure affliction, hardship, and suffering, much as he did with Paul and Timothy and the Apostles.”
I’ll be sharing more resourced and thoughts from this book soon, so stay tuned!
“Think for a moment what the power of the gospel accomplished in the early centuries. With no political base in the Roman government, without any majority in the culture, the gospel changed the spiritual and moral climate of the Roman Empire. Christianity competed with paganism and, for the most part, won the hearts and minds of the populace. Christians were radicals in the best sense of the word—radically committed to community in worship, radically committed to serving their pagan neighbors, and radically committed to living out the implications of their redemption.
“Without freedom of religion, without a media presence, and without the ability to redress the wrongs against them, the Christians discovered that the gospel had the power to change individuals, families, and the culture.” —Dr. Erwin Lutzer, in When A Nation Forgets God (emphasis added)
“The fundamental truths of the Gospel are landmarks to keep us safely within the boundaries set by God. Suppose your grandfather owned some property which at one time had been carefully surveyed. He was there when they set the stakes and could have paced it off blindfolded. But he never took the time to show anyone else the markings.
“Over the years, the markers rotted, were rooted up, or washed away. Now your grandfather has died and left the land to you. But a dishonest neighbor claims it is his, and as proof of ownership points to the burgeoning crop of corn he has planted. You discover the deed and land description have been lost. Since you do not really know the proper boundary lines yourself, how will you defend your case in court? You will probably end up losing your property because no one ever told you where it ends and your neighbor’s begins.
“The spiritual parallel is this: Every fundamental truth has some evil neighbor (i.e., heresy) butting up against it, eager to plant a crop of lies upon the sacred ground of God’s Holy Word and thus fool the saints. And the very reason that a spirit of error has encroached so far upon the truth in the last few years is because ministers have not walked the boundaries of the Gospel with their people and acquainted them with these primary truths.” —William Gurnall, The Christian In Complete Armor (emphasis added)
This 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.
Your Peace Vs. True Peace
Conviction of sin is the realization that my natural life is based on a disposition that will not have Jesus Christ. The Gospel does not present what the natural man wants but what he needs, and the Gospel awakens an intense resentment as well as an intense craving. …
If I am peaceful and happy and contented and living my life with my morality well within my own grasp, why does the Holy Spirit need to come in and upset the balance and make me miserable and unfit for anything? It is time we asked ourselves these questions. God’s Book gives us the answer. Thank God, we are coming to the end of the shallow presentation of Christianity that makes out that Jesus Christ came only to give us peace. Thousands of people are happy without God in this world, but that kind of happiness and peace is on a wrong level. Jesus Christ came to send a sword through every peace that is not based on a personal relationship to Himself. He came to put us right with God that His own peace might reign. …
If once we have allowed Jesus Christ to upset the equilibrium, holiness is the inevitable result, or no peace forever. …
Before the Spirit of God can bring peace of mind He has to clear out the rubbish, and before He can do that He has to give us an idea of what rubbish there is.
From The Soul Of A Christian
Jesus said, “Do not suppose that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I did not come to bring peace, but a sword” (Matthew 10:34).
The Apostle Paul also noted that he was perfectly happy living his life as he was, until he read in the Scripture that the way he was happily living was actually sinful. And once he realized that, the sin actually became harder to break (see Romans 7:7-20).
Oswald Chambers reminds us of the same fact: God wants to upset anything on which we have based our peace that is not rooted in Him. He wants to make us aware of our trust in other sources, our wrong beliefs, our human-based equilibrium. In short, He wants to show us the rubbish in our life so that He can help us clear out that rubbish and know true peace!
Will you let Him disturb your peace so you can know true peace?