Poetry Saturday—If

If you can keep your head when all about you   
    Are losing theirs and blaming it on you,   
If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,
    But make allowance for their doubting too;   
If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,
    Or being lied about, don’t deal in lies,
Or being hated, don’t give way to hating,
    And yet don’t look too good, nor talk too wise:

If you can dream—and not make dreams your master;   
    If you can think—and not make thoughts your aim;   
If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster
    And treat those two impostors just the same;   
If you can bear to hear the truth you’ve spoken
    Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools,
Or watch the things you gave your life to, broken,
    And stoop and build ’em up with worn-out tools:

If you can make one heap of all your winnings
    And risk it on one turn of pitch-and-toss,
And lose, and start again at your beginnings
    And never breathe a word about your loss;
If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew
    To serve your turn long after they are gone,   
And so hold on when there is nothing in you
    Except the Will which says to them: ‘Hold on!’

If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue,   
    Or walk with Kings—nor lose the common touch,
If neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you,
    If all men count with you, but none too much;
If you can fill the unforgiving minute
    With sixty seconds’ worth of distance run,   
Yours is the Earth and everything that’s in it,   
    And—which is more—you’ll be a Man, my son! —Rudyard Kipling

The Fire Of Greatness

“It is not wrong to aspire to greatness. The warning here is to be careful to never confuse fame with greatness. Otherwise, you may be aspiring to what is not really greatness at all. Fame is what you do for yourself; greatness is what you do for others. Jesus has unveiled to us how greatness is achieved in His kingdom. To be great, you must serve. So don’t give up on your ambition to be great; instead, change your definition of what it means to be great and how greatness is achieved. … 

“The words samurai and deacon have the same core meaning. They both mean ‘servant.’ … Too often we have confused humility with powerlessness. Humility cannot be achieved from a posture of powerlessness. As long as we see ourselves as victims, humility does not come from a position of strength. True humility can be experienced only when we have come to know our power and use it for the good of others and not for ourselves. … 

“Greatness is never found; it is gained. Greatness never comes easy; it’s always the outcome of great discipline and hard work. If you’re comfortable with where you are, if you’re complacent, you will never discover the greatness that lies within. Complacency is like pouring water on coals. It is so important not to misunderstand the words of Jesus. Remember, He never said, ‘Don’t be great.’ In fact, His invitation was for only those who aspire to greatness: ‘Whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant.’ You will never know the power of servanthood until you know the fire of greatness.

“Whatever God has placed within you that could ever be described as great was never meant for you, anyway. It’s a stewardship that has been given to you. Greatness never belongs to the one who carries it; it belongs to the world that needs it.” —Erwin McManus, The Way Of The Warrior (emphasis mine)

You can read other quotes from The Way Of The Warrior here and here.

Saturday In The Proverbs—The Best Things Are Hard, But Rewarding (Proverbs 25)

[Each chapter in the Book of Proverbs contains thoughts that fit into a theme; they are not just random thoughts gathered together. In this “Saturday In The Proverbs” series, I will share a theme that I see in each chapter. But the cool thing about God’s Word is that you may see an entirely different theme. That’s great! If you do, I would love for you to share it in the comments below.]

Good things—the best of things—usually require hard work. They don’t just come to us but we have to discover them. However, the good things are always worth the effort!

Things like:

  • Revelation, insight, new discoveries (vv. 2-3)
  • Righteousness (vv. 4-5)
  • Recognition (vv. 6-7)
  • Quality relationships (vv. 8-10)
  • A timely word (vv. 11-13, 25)
  • Good gifts (vv. 14, 21-22)
  • Confrontation that leads to restoration (v. 15)
  • Temperance (v. 16)

The opposite is also true: cutting corners, looking for the quick fix, and not considering long-term consequences bring pain. Things like:

  • Frayed relationships (vv. 17, 20, 24)
  • Provoking anger in others (vv. 18, 23)
  • Distrust (vv. 19, 26)
  • Self-promotion that rankles others (v. 27)
  • Lack of self-control that leads to destruction (v. 28)

Good things are hard, but they’re so worth the effort! 

Saturday In The Proverbs—15 Ways To Defuse Tense Relationships (Proverbs 15)

[Each chapter in the Book of Proverbs contains thoughts that fit into a theme; they are not just random thoughts gathered together. In this “Saturday In The Proverbs” series, I will share a theme that I see in each chapter. But the cool thing about God’s Word is that you may see an entirely different theme. That’s great! If you do, I would love for you to share it in the comments below.]

A soft answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger (Proverbs 15:1).

Here’s how to defuse potentially volatile situations with other people—

  1. Speak gently (vv. 1, 28)
  2. Speak truthfully (v. 2)
  3. Remember that God is watching (vv. 3, 9, 11, 25, 26)
  4. Speak helpful words or stay silent (vv. 4, 7, 14, 23, 30)
  5. Receive correction from others (vv. 5, 12, 31, 32)
  6. Find ways to add value to other people (v. 6)
  7. Ask for God’s help (vv. 8, 29)
  8. Be gentle (v. 10) 
  9. Develop emotional intelligence (vv. 13, 15, 21)
  10. Don’t envy others (vv. 16, 17, 27)
  11. Guard against getting angry (v. 18)
  12. Remember: good relationships take work (vv. 19, 24)
  13. Use all the wisdom you have… (v. 20)
  14. …get all the wisdom that others have too (v. 22)
  15. Stay humble (v. 33)

Relationships can be one of the greatest treasures in our life, or they can be one of the biggest disappointments in our life. 

Put the ball in your court, and YOU work on making your relationships treasures! 

Born After Midnight (book review)

A.W. Tozer spoke and wrote with a prophet’s voice. Though many of his books are nearly a half-century old, they ring with a timely message to which the church today must take heed. Tozer’s Born After Midnight is one of his most hard-hitting, but needed messages.

Tozer notes that many revivals in church history were born after midnight. Not that there is anything super-spiritual that takes place in the wee hours of the morning, but really this is a call to perseverance. Tozer spoke out strongly against cushy Christianity, against those who thought becoming a Christian was their key to an easy life, or those who expected God to work for them.

Those Christians who are ready to roll up their sleeves and go to work for Christ, Tozer preached, were those who were more in line with the very first Christians of the Bible. Tozer reminds us that “taking up a cross” to follow Jesus isn’t popular, nor is it a road to accolades from the world. But those who will persevere with Christ—even working late into the hours after midnight—will reap the blessings of God’s presence.

A.W. Tozer pulls no punches, but he doesn’t purposefully go out of his way to wound people either. His tone is both confident and humble. Listen to his words as he opens this book:

“To sit even for a moment in the chair of the teacher and write that which may affect the life and character of numerous persons is not only a lofty privilege but a grave responsibility as well.

“The only qualifications I bring to the writing of these pages are love for the Triune Godhead and a sorrowful concern for the spiritual welfare of the church, which our Lord purchased with His own blood.

“If there is anything here good or helpful to the children of God, it must be attributed to the operation of the Holy Spirit who often condescends to work through unworthy instruments. Whatever else may be found here is due to human weakness and is better forgotten.”

This is a fantastic book for our age, and I urge all Christians to read it.

I am a Moody Press book reviewer.

God Prepares Us For Battle

“See you not, then, that God may take away your comforts and your privileges, to make you the better Christians? Why, the Lord always trains His soldiers, not by letting them lie on feather-beds, but by turning them out, and using them to forced marches and hard service. He makes them ford through streams, and swim through rivers, and climb mountains, and walk many a long march with heavy knapsacks of sorrow on their backs. This is the way in which He makes them soldiers—not by dressing them up in fine uniforms, to swagger at the barrack gates, and to be fine gentlemen in the eyes of the loungers in the park. God knows that soldiers are only to be made in battle; they are not to be grown in peaceful times. We may grow the stuff of which soldiers are made; but warriors are really educated by the smell of powder, in the midst of whizzing bullets and roaring cannonades, not in soft and peaceful times.

“Well, Christian, may not this account for it all? Is not thy Lord bringing out thy graces and making them grow? Is He not developing in you the qualities of the soldier by throwing you into the heat of battle, and should you not use every appliance to come off conqueror?” —Charles Spurgeon (emphasis added)

Poetry Saturday—Great Truths

Horatius BonarGreat truths are dearly bought. The common truth,
Such as men give and take from day to day.
Comes in the common walk of easy life.
Blown by the careless wind across our way.

Great truths are dearly won; not found by chance,
Nor wafted on the breath of summer dream;
But grasped in the great struggle of the soul.
Hard buffeting with adverse wind and stream.

Sometimes, ‘mid conflict, turmoil, fear and grief,
When the strong hand of God, put forth in might,
Ploughs up the subsoil of the stagnant heart,
It brings some buried truth-seeds to the light.

Not in the general mart, ‘mid corn and wine;
Not in the merchandise of gold and gems;
Not in the world’s gay hall of midnight mirth,
Nor ‘mid the blaze of regal diadems;

Not in the general clash of human creeds,
Nor in the merchandise ‘twixt church and world,
Is truth’s fair treasure found, ‘mongst tares and weeds;
Nor her fair banner in their midst unfurled.

Truth springs like harvest from the well-ploughed fields.
Rewarding patient toil, and faith, and zeal.
To those thus seeking her, she ever yields
Her richest treasures for their lasting weal. —Horatius Bonar
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