Thursdays With Oswald—Knowing Evil By Living Good

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.

Knowing Evil By Living Good

     There are some things of which we must be ignorant, because knowledge of them comes in no other way than by disobedience to God. In the life originally designed for Adam it was not intended that he should be ignorant of evil, but that he should know evil through understanding good. Instead, he ate of the fruit of the tree of knowledge of good and evil and thereby knew evil positively and good negatively. … 

     The only way to find out things in the moral universe is by obedience. … 

     The philosophy of life is based on the topsy-turvy reasoning of going into things in order to find out about them, which is like saying you have to go into the mud before you can know what clean water is. “I must know the world”—if you do, you will only know good by contrast with evil. … Jesus Christ knew good and evil by the life which was in Him, and God intended that man’s knowledge of evil should come in the same way as to our Lord. … 

     The marvel of the Redemption is that Jesus Christ can put into any man His own hereditary disposition of holiness. … 

     Jesus Christ carried out all that Adam failed to do, and He did it in the simple way of obedience to His Father. … Are we humble and obedient, learning as Jesus learned, or are we hurrying into experiences we have no right to? … We grow spiritually by obeying God through the words of Jesus being made spirit and life to us. … 

     “I would have you wise unto that which is good, and simple unto that which is evil” [Romans 16:19]. … When we are born again we have to obey the Spirit of God, and as we draw on the life of Jesus and learn to assimilate and carry out what He speaks to us, we shall grow in ignorance of certain things and be alive and alert only to what is God’s will for us.

From The Soul Of A Christian

I love the fact that Jesus Christ can put into any man His own hereditary disposition of holiness. It doesn’t matter what you’ve done, what you’ve thought or said, or what you’ve seen, Jesus Christ can put His innocence into you.

Ask yourself Chambers’ question: “Are we humble and obedient, learning as Jesus learned, or are we hurrying into experiences we have no right to?”

After asking that question, do you need to make some changes?

12 Quotes From “A New Kind Of Apologist”

A New Kind Of Apologist is edited by Sean McDowell and contains a collection of fabulous essays to prepare Christian apologists to be effective in this current generation. You can read my full book review by clicking here. These quotes mainly deal with the attitude that a Christian apologist should adopt.

“Truth must be wedded to grace, and what we say is important…but how we say it is equally critical.” —Sean McDowell 

“To listen to a person will require that we temporarily set aside our objections to what a person is saying and allow him or her to speak openly without fear of being challenged.” —Tim Muelhoff

“Our character and relationships with others have a greater capacity for attracting those around us to the Christian message than do our arguments or rhetoric.” —Ken Wytsma & Rick Gerhart 

“If our beliefs are not expressed in love and by example, we miss the greatest command of all, which is loving God and loving others.” —Dan Kimball

“The Barna Research Group found that twentysomethings who stay in church were twice as likely to have a close personal friendship with an adult inside the church. Those who had an adult mentor at church, aside from the pastor, were almost three times as likely to stay as those who did not.” —Jeff Myers

“Any fully-orbed presentation of the truth about ourselves and God’s plan for us cannot be a disembodied, purely intellectual truth; it must truthfully reflect our nature as created beings.

“Part of being incarnate means that it is good and right for us to have emotions and express them—as our Lord did, for example, by weeping at the tomb of Lazarus and getting angry with the money changers in the temple. The fact that little children wanted to come to Him suggests that He had a welcoming physicality and a warm personality that they instinctively trusted and found attractive. He wasn’t just a walking dictionary of Christian theology.” —Holly Ordway

“At its core, apologetics is the art and science of defending the faith. However, practically understood, the work of the apologist is simply to answer with integrity, clarity, and compassion the questions critics are asking about the gospel (1 Peter 3:15). The context of this passage implies a lifestyle on the part of the apologist that engenders and welcomes questions from their audience. The encouragement of Peter seems to be that we avoid the telemarketer approach of simply enduring questions solely for the sake of closing the deal. Rather, Peter calls us to anticipate and patiently answer the questions of our unbelieving friends, family members, and neighbors in an uncompromising and yet humble manner.” —Christopher Brooks

“We must be Christians first and apologists second, which means our intellectual lives must be primarily shaped by seeking to understand the faith we live within rather than debating, disputing, or even persuading those who do not believe it.” —Matthew Anderson 

“It is our responsibility to share the message of hope through Christ ‘with gentleness and respect’ and ‘with grace,’ as Peter and Paul taught. The gospel message is already offensive to some. We need not make it more offensive by presenting it in a manner that lacks gentleness, respect, and grace.” —Mike Licona

“Truth without grace is abusive and arrogant. Grace without truth is mushy sentimentalism. … As much as possible, always deal with the person in grace and the issue itself in truth.” —Glenn T. Stanton

“Paul doesn’t say that we ought to know how to answer each question [see Colossians 4:5-6]. He specifically teaches us to answer each person. … Paul tells us that we aren’t in the question-answering business. We are in the people-answering business. Today’s apologist must understand that questions don’t need answers; people need answers. … I am convinced that the key to apologetics today is to identify what non-Christians thirst for most and show how the Christian faith alone can slake that thirst.” —Abdu Murray

“The manner in which we communicate the gospel is not a minor add-on to the gospel itself [see 1 Peter 3:15-16]. Very often it is the nature of the communication that determines whether the gospel gets a hearing at all. …

“It remains true that it is not arrogant to make truth claims, it is not arrogant to pursue a knowledge of that truth, and to argue that we’ve found it. It is important that the content of our message is a genuine reflection of the gospel, and that the manner in which we communicate it doesn’t become a stumbling block.” —Tanya Walker

More quotes from A New Kind Of Apologist will be coming soon. You can also follow me on Tumblr and Twitter to read great quotes every single day.

9 Quotes From “The Bad Habits Of Jesus”

the-bad-habits-of-jesusLeonard Sweet explores how revolutionary Jesus Christ’s public ministry was in his outstanding book The Bad Habits Of Jesus. Check out my book review by clicking here, and then enjoy some of these quotes I especially liked.

“As the church we can be Jesus to the world, but only if we are not afraid of the spit in the dirt. To lose our earthiness is to lose our humility, which, in the end, is to lose our humanity.”

“It’s easier to donate money than to put our hand in the hand of a man or a woman who looks dirty, down, and drowned with mud. Yet the church of Jesus is not meant to be a hideaway but a hostel for all of God’s dirtiest who need restoration and healing.”

“Jesus didn’t procrastinate due to slackness or indecision or perfectionism or fear of moving forward. Jesus delayed doing what He wanted or needed to do because the timing wasn’t right, because He was telling time by His Father’s clock and making the most of the time His Father had given Him.”

“Sometimes delay is the best strategy for dealing with a problem, especially problems that have not been prayed over enough in the heart or played about enough in the mind.”

“We especially need to learn to wait on Jesus, which has both a Martha and a Mary meaning. There is the ‘waiter’ meaning of ‘waiting on Jesus,’ which means serving Him by serving others. To put the interests of others before our own is not to be weak but to be strong enough to transcend selfishness. That’s why love is only for the strong, not for the weak. Only the strong can love. … Then there is the ‘await’ meaning of ‘waiting on Jesus,’ which means patiently waiting without hating or wearing out the carpets with our pacing and fretting, sitting at His feet upon His arrival, leaning into His presence, and learning to put on the mind of Christ.” 

“We all need the pendulum swing of snatching spaces of solitude and setting tables of sociability. In fact, the more plugged in and connected we are, the more we need to unplug and disconnect. A world of presence needs a time of absence.”

“Sometimes the Prince of Peace was a disturber of the peace so that He could be God’s purveyor of true peace.”

“When political correctness takes over in the church, it’s no longer about Jesus. … The Gospel becomes not God’s Good News but our own good intentions. … Jesus’ bad habit of not being afraid to offend so offends our PC sense of rectitude that He would be liable to be arrested for indecency.”

“When people today work for the church instead of working for God, love a denomination more than they love God, cherish their traditions more than they cherish their relationship with God, then they steal what is due only God.”

I will be sharing more quotes from this book soon. If you would like to be notified as soon as these quotes are posted, simply enter your email address in the box in the right column and click “Sign me up!” You can also follow me on Twitter and Tumblr where I share inspiring and thoughtful quotes ever day.

Book Reviews From 2016

8 Quotes From “Jesus Always”

jesus-alwaysSarah Young does a masterful job in speaking the words of the Bible to us through the first-person voice of Jesus Christ in her book Jesus Always. Be sure to check out my review by clicking here. Below are a few quotes from this keepsake book.

“Train your mind to think great thoughts of Me! Many Christians are defeated by focusing mainly on less important things—the news, the weather, the economy, loved ones’ problems, their own problems, and so on. Granted, in this world you will have trouble, but don’t let troubles become your primary focus. Remind yourself that I am with you and I have overcome the world.”

“Be careful not to attach your sense of worth to your performance. When you’re dissatisfied with something you have done, talk with Me about it. … Your imperfect performance reminds you that you are human. It humbles you and helps you identify with flawed humanity. Since pride is such a deadly sin—the one that ultimately led to satan’s expulsion from heaven—being humbled is really a blessing. So thank Me for the circumstances that have diminished your pride, and draw near to Me.” 

“Praying not only blesses you but provides an avenue for serving Me. Rejoice that you can collaborate with Me through prayer as I establish My kingdom on earth.”

“When the task before you looks daunting, refuse to be intimidated. Discipline your thinking to view the challenge as a privilege rather than a burdensome duty. Make the effort to replace your ‘I have to’ mentality with an ‘I get to’ approach. … Remember that My Spirit who lives in you is the Helper; ask Him to help you when you’re perplexed.”

“Do not despise suffering. It reminds you that you are on a pilgrimage to a far better place. … While you continue your journey through this world, be thankful for the comforts and pleasures I bless you with. And reach out to others who are suffering. I comfort you in all your troubles so that you can comfort others. Offering help to hurting people gives meaning to your suffering—and Glory to Me!”

“Your natural tendency when you’re feeling anxious is to focus on yourself and your problems. The more you do this, the more you forget about Me and all the help I can supply. This worldly focus only increases your anxiety! Let the discomfort you feel at such times alert you to your neglect of Me. Whisper My Name, and invite Me into your difficulties.”

“Today is the time to delight in the blessings I have provided. Since you don’t know what tomorrow will bring, make the most of what you have today: family, friends, talents, possessions. And look for opportunities to be a blessing to others.”

“Thank Me frequently; be on the lookout for My blessings, searching for them as for hidden treasure. Praise Me not only in prayer and song but in your words to other people. Tell them about My marvelous deeds; declare how great I am!”

I will be sharing more quotes from Jesus Always in the near future. If you want to be notified as soon as these quotes are posted, please subscribe by entering your email address in the right column.

I’ve also been sharing quotes from this book (and lots of other high-quality authors) on both Twitter and Tumblr. If you’re not following me there, please do so.

5 Key Parts To A Synergy Relationship

img_1970King David of Israel was a stud! Outstanding song writer, professional shepherd, bear killer, lion killer, giant killer, decorated army general, and ultimately king of Israel.

Near the end of his life we read an extensive list of Mighty Men that supported David. Some of these guys were also giant killers. One guy singlehandedly defeated 300 enemies, another guy defeated 800 bad guys, one guy killed a lion, and on and on the list goes.

I believe it is clear that David wouldn’t have become king without the support of his Mighty Men, and these guys probably wouldn’t have been recognized as “Mighty Men” without David’s support.

This is a classic definition of synergy. Synergy is when the outcome is so much greater than just the addition of the parts. Sort of like 1 + 1 = 5.

All of us can be a part of synergistic relationships, if we will include these five key parts.

[1] Humility

Without humility, you will never let anyone else into your life, and it’s doubtful they will let you in. Humility says, “I don’t have all the answers. I need some help in fulfilling my God-given dream. I have some areas of weakness where you are strong.”

[2] Confidence

Just like humility, without confidence it’s doubtful others would allow you access to their lives. Confidence says, “I have some something I am willing to offer you. I have a God-given strength in an area where you may be struggling.” The Apostle Paul said, all of us have strengths that God has given us that are to be used to help others (1 Corinthians 12:7; Ephesians 4:7).

[3] Collaboration

Quite simply, in order for synergy to work, the people in the relationship have to be willing to labor together. Paul used the example of one person planting the seed and another person watering the seed. Both laborers are necessary if there is going to be a harvest.

[4] Patience

The journey with others may be slower and messier than traveling solo, but it’s so much more rewarding (see Ecclesiastes 4:9-12).

[5] Investment

Synergy is really about there being a return on investment. But if you’re not willing to invest your time, your learning, your love, can you really expect there to be a synergistic return?

I just wrapped up a year-long investment with a group of guys from my church. What an amazing time! I am definitely better for having been involved with this synergy group, and I believe all of the other guys would tell you the same thing. You, too, can experience this same joy by investing in a synergy group of your own!

A Unique Look At “Church”

gods-people-are-the-saintsHave you ever noticed that nowhere in the New Testament do we see an “order of service” for a church congregation? It’s simply not there.

Neither is there a list of acceptable songs, or the design of a church building, or how or when Communion is served, or even what clothing the pastor is supposed to wear. Yet we modern-day Christians seem to spend a lot of time not only arguing about these non-essentials, but even (gasp!) evaluating the “churchness” of a church based on these things.

It’s understandable, then, when someone says, “I enjoy being a Christian, but I really don’t like going to church.” Or even insisting that they can be a Christian without attending a church.

But here’s where those statements miss the mark: “Church” was never intended to be merely a group of people who met at a designated address once a week.

The Church that Jesus described—and the Church the apostles were a part of—was a living organism. It was fellow followers of Jesus Christ interacting with each other as they worshiped the Lord.

The Apostle Peter describes a gathering of Christians in just one verse. In this verse he gives five descriptors of how Church should be done. To stress the point that every gathering of Christians is unique, three of Peter’s five descriptors are found nowhere else in Scripture.

  1. Live in harmony with one another (the first unique word)

One translation has this as “one mind.” Paul has a similar thought in 1 Corinthians 14:20. The bottom line—get on the same page working toward the same goal. What’s that goal? Pointing people to Jesus!

      2.  Be sympathetic (the next unique word)

A definition we may better understand is “empathy.” This world literally means to “vibrate with others.” Be on in tune with what they’re going through that you can feel it just like it was happening to you.

      3.  Love as brothers

This is the Greek word philadelphos, which means to treat other Christians like they’re from the same womb as you.

      4.  Be compassionate

That is: be strong enough to step into other people’s stuff. Keep on increasing your capacity to carry a bigger load for someone else (Galatians 6:2).

      5.  Be humble (the last unique word)

The King James Version translates this “courteous.” Not just being strong enough to help, but gentle enough that your help will be accepted.

Let me repeat: The Church is not a physical address where we gather once per week. YOU are the temple of God’s presence, which is why Jesus said if just two of His followers get together, He is right there with them. That’s right—two Christians can have “church” wherever they happen to meet! 

Don’t just go to church, BE the church. Don’t miss an opportunity to encourage, pray with, instruct, or learn from another Christ-follower whenever and wherever you happen to meet.

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