Welcomed Into God’s Presence

“Jesus hasn’t left us with an unapproachable God. ‘There is one God and one mediator between God and men, the Man Christ Jesus” (1 Timothy 2:5). When Jesus’ flesh was torn on the Cross, the curtain was torn in two. It was as if the hands of heaven had been gripping the veil, waiting for this moment. One instant it was whole; the next it was ripped in two from top to bottom. No delay. No hesitation. We are welcome to enter into God’s presence—any day, any time. God has removed the barrier that separates us from Him. The barrier of sin? Down. No more curtain. But we have a tendency to put the barrier back up with the curtain of our heart. Sometimes, no, oftentimes, we allow our mistakes and guilty conscience to keep us from God. Don’t allow a veil of guilt to keep you from your Father. Trust the Cross. The curtain is down, the door is open, and you are welcome in God’s presence.” —Max Lucado, On Calvary’s Hill (emphasis mine)

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Thursdays With Oswald—What Is A Missionary?

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.

What Is A Missionary?

     A missionary is a saved and sanctified soul detached to Jesus. The one thing that must not be overlooked is the personal relationship to Jesus Christ and to His point of view; if that is overlooked, the needs are so great, the conditions so perplexing, that every power of mind and heart will fail and falter. We are apt to forget that the great reason for missionary enterprise is not first the elevation of the people; nor first the education of the people; nor even first the salvation of the people, but first and foremost the command of Jesus Christ—“Go ye therefore, and make disciples of all the nations.” If we are going to remain true to the Bible’s conception of a missionary, we must go back to the source—a missionary is one sent by Jesus Christ as He was sent by the Father. … 

     In revising the lives of men and women of God and the history of the Church of God, there is a tendency to say—“How wonderfully astute those men and women were! How perfectly they understood what God wanted of them!” The truth is that the astute mind behind these men and women was not a human mind at all, but the mind of God. We give credit to human wisdom when we should give credit to the Divine guidance of God through childlike people who were foolish enough in the eyes of the world to trust God’s wisdom and supernatural equipment, while watching carefully their own steadfast relationship to Him. … 

     The special person called to do missionary work is every person who is a member of the Church of Christ. The call does not come to a chosen few, it is to everyone of us.

From So Send I You

Are you a Christian? Then Jesus calls you His missionary too!

Do you feel equipped to be a missionary? Jesus said all that is required for missionary service is a total reliance on Him.

With that in mind, go be Christ’s missionary to your world today!

3 Apologetics For Your Christian Hope

There was a story circulating that a physicist once claimed that the bumblebee was defying the laws of physics and aerodynamics in its flight. Apparently, he calculated that the ratio of the bumblebee’s wing size in comparison to his body size just didn’t make the math work.

But entomologists and physicists quickly jumped in to say, “Hey, look, the bumblebee is flying, so clearly it works!” And then they went to work to try to explain it. They figured out that the bumblebee flaps its wings more back-and-forth than up-and-down, creating tiny hurricanes the propel them through the air. But then that created a whole new set of problems, like how does the bumblebee control a hurricane so precisely as it turns, stops, dives, and climbs. So then they had to create a new explanation, which they named dynamic stall.

All the while, the bumblebee is flapping its too-small wings 230 times per second(!), and going about its daily activities without being able to explain tiny hurricanes, the laws of physics or aerodynamics, or even knowing what dynamic stall is. It simply flies!

The ultimate argument for anything is doing something that critics say is impossible.

Peter tells Christians to be prepared to answer anyone for the reason for the hope that they have (1 Peter 3:15-16). The Greek word for “give an answer” is apologia, from which we get our word apologetic. Here are three apologetics for Christians to use for the hope that they have.

It really comes down to this: My hope is based on the resurrection from the dead of Jesus Christ, which I believe because of the Bible AND because of the change in my life.

  1. The Bible’s authenticity

“No other work in all literature has been so carefully and accurately copied as the Old Testament. The particular discipline and art of the Jewish scribes came out of a class of Jewish scholars between the fifth and third centuries BC. They were called the Sopherim, from a Hebrew word meaning ‘scribes.’ The sopherim, who initiated a stringent standard of meticulous discipline, were subsequently eclipsed by the Talmudic scribes, who guarded, interpreted, and commented on the sacred texts from AD 100 to AD 500. In turn, the Talmudic scribes were followed by the better-known and even more meticulous Masoretic scribes (AD 500-900).” —Josh McDowell, God-Breathed

“No other ancient text is substantiated by such a wealth of ancient textual witnesses as is the New Testament. Roughly 5,500 separate manuscripts are available, variously containing anything from the entire New Testament corpus to a slight fragment of a single verse. … This textual support is far superior to that available for any other ancient documents, such as the classical texts from Greek and Roman writers (e.g., Plato, Aristotle, and Cicero). Only partial manuscripts have survived for many works of antiquity, and it is not unusual to find that the only complete manuscript for some ancient writing is a copy dating from 1,000 years after its composition.” —Archaeological Study Bible, “The New Testaments Texts” (page 1859)

“The biblical Dead Sea Scrolls are up to 1,250 years older than the traditional Hebrew Bible, the Masoretic text. We have been using a one-thousand-year-old manuscript to make our Bibles. We’ve now got scrolls going back to 250 BC. … Our conclusion is simply this—the scrolls confirm the accuracy of the biblical text by 99 percent.” —Dr. Peter Flint

  1. Christ’s resurrection 

In 1 Corinthians 15:1-8 Paul lists all of the eyewitnesses to Christ’s resurrection, giving critics ample opportunity to challenge these witnesses in person. If these witnesses would have been perpetrating a hoax, skeptics of their day would have been able to uncover the inconsistencies in their story. If the account of Christ’s resurrection was made-up, it’s doubtful the early Christian martyrs would have “stuck to their story” as they were being tortured, but none recanted.

Josh McDowell notes, “By AD 100, the apostles had died, but the Christian Church was still in its infancy, with fewer than twenty-five thousand proclaimed followers of Christ. But within the next two hundred years, the fledgling church experienced explosive multiplication of growth, to include as many as twenty million people. This means the church of Jesus Christ quadrupled every generation for five consecutive generations!

  1. My personal experience

“I am a changed person. I am not who I was before I met Jesus” and “My life tends to go better when I live by biblical principles” are both excellent apologetics!

Let others argue that God doesn’t exist, or that you shouldn’t have hope, and then you—like the bumblebee—just keep flying with Jesus! (see 2 Timothy 3:14)

Thursdays With Oswald—Second Mile Christianity

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.

Second Mile Christianity

     To go the second mile means always do your duty, and a great deal more than your duty, in a spirit of loving devotion that does not even know you have done it. … The supreme difficulty is to go the second mile with God, because no one understands why you are being such a fool. The summing up of Our Lord’s teaching is that it is impossible to carry it out unless He has done a supernatural work in us. … 

     The interests of the Son of God and of the disciple are to be identical. How long it takes to manifest that identity depends on the private history of the disciple and his Lord. … 

     We do not need the grace of God to stand crises; human nature and pride will do it. We can buck up and face the music of a crisis magnificently, but it does require the supernatural grace of God to live twenty-four hours of the day as a saint, to go through drudgery as a saint, to go through poverty as a saint, to go through an ordinary, unobtrusive, ignored existence as a saint, unnoted and unnoticeable. The “show business,” which is so incorporated into our view of Christian work today, has caused us to drift far from Our Lord’s conception of discipleship. It is instilled in us to think that we have to do exceptional things for God; we have not. We have to be exceptional in ordinary things, to be holy in mean streets, among mean people, surrounded by sordid sinners. That is not learned in five minutes. 

From So Send I You

Jesus calls His disciples to go the second mile. Others won’t understand us, and few (if any) people will applaud us for doing so.

Like a novice runner, maybe we can’t go the whole second mile the first time out. Maybe not even the second or third time. But can we go a bit further the second time than we did the first? And a bit further the third time than we did the second? That’s what discipleship is all about: Letting Jesus help us go a bit further each time.

If you stick with it, soon you will be going the second mile and not even realize it. Other may not realize it either, but God always sees when we do, and He is pleased!

Tozer: We Must Face Up To This

“Our Lord told of two men who appeared before God in prayer, a Pharisee who recited his virtues and a publican who beat on his breast and pleaded for mercy. The first was rejected, the other justified [see Luke 18:9-14].

“We manage to live with that story in some degree of comfort only by keeping it at full arm’s length and never permitting it to catch a hold of our conscience. These two men are long ago dead and their story has become a little religious classic. We are different, and how can anything so remote apply to us? So we reason, on a level only slightly above our unconscious, and draw what comfort we can from the vagueness and remoteness of it all.

“But why should we not face up to it? The truth is that this happens not a long while ago, but yesterday, this morning; not far away, but here where some of us last knelt to pray. These two men are not dead, but alive, and are found in the local church, at the missionary convention and the deeper life conference here, now, today.” —A.W. Tozer, from Man—The Dwelling Place Of God

Thursdays With Oswald—What’s Holding You Back?

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.

What’s Holding You Back?

[In these quotes, Oswald Chambers is commenting on a story recorded in Mark 10:17-22.]

    One thing you lack.” Do I really want to be perfect? Do I really desire at all costs to every other interest that God should make me perfect? Can I say with Robert Murray McCheyne—“Lord, make me as holy as You can make a saved sinner”? Is that really the desire of my heart? … 

     “Go, sell everything you have and give to the poor…. Then come follow Me.” These words mean a voluntary abandoning of riches and a deliberate, devoted attachment to Jesus Christ. We are so desperately wise in our own conceit that we continually make out that Jesus did not mean what He said, and we spiritualize His meaning into thin air. Jesus saw that this man depended on his riches. If He came to you or me He might not say that, but He would say something that dealt with whatever He saw we were depending on. …

     Never push an experience you have had into a principle by which to guide others. If you take what Jesus said to this man and make it mean that He taught we were to own nothing, you are evading what He taught, by making it external. Our Lord told the rich young ruler to loosen himself from his property because that was the thing that was holding him. …

     One of the most subtle errors is that God wants our possessions. He does not; they are not of any use to Him. He does not want my property, He wants myself.

From So Send I You

God wants you. All of you. He wants you without any strings attached to anything else.

“Is that really the desire of my heart?”

Listen closely to His voice. What is He asking you to loosen your hold on, so that you can hold on exclusively to Him? Don’t let temporary things hold you back from being perfectly His forever!

12 More Quotes From “Ordering Your Private World”

Gordon MacDonald did a phenomenal job synthesizing biblical principles as he teaches us how to pay attention to our private, inner world. One of the things I enjoyed was the number of other authors and teachers he quotes throughout Ordering Your Private World. Here are a few of those quotes he shared…

“The battle is lost or won in the secret places of the will before God, never first in the external world. … Nothing has any power over the man who has fought out the battle before God and won there. … I must get the things settled between myself and God in the secret places of my soul where no stranger intermeddles, and then I can go forth with the certainty that the battle is won.” —Oswald Chambers

“I took pleasure where it pleased me, and passed on. I forgot that every little action of the common day makes or unmakes character, and that therefore what one has done in the secret chamber, one has some day to cry aloud from the house-top. I ceased to be lord over myself. I was no longer the captain of my soul, and did not know it. I allowed pleasure to dominate me. I ended in horrible disgrace.” —Oscar Wilde 

“Think of no other greatness but that of the soul, no other riches but those of the heart.” —John Quincy Adams, in a letter to his daughter

“A public man, though he is necessarily available at many times, must learn to hide. If he is always available, he is not worth enough when he is available.” —Elton Trueblood

“Remember a long life of steady, consistent, holy labor will produce twice as much fruit as one shortened and destroyed by spasmodic and extravagant exertions; be careful and sparing of your strength when and where exertion is unnecessary.” —Catherine Booth, in a letter to her husband William Booth, founder of the Salvation Army

“There can be intemperance in work just as in drink. What feels like zeal may be only fidgets or even the flattering of one’s self-importance.” —C.S. Lewis

“The man of action has the present, but the thinker controls the future.” —Oliver Wendell Holmes

“No other pleasure suits every occasion, every age or every place. But the study of letters is the food of youth, the delight of old age, a delight at home and no burden abroad; it stays with us at night, and goes with us on our travels, near and far.” —Cicero

“We need to find God, and He cannot be found in noise and restlessness. God is the friend of silence. See how nature—trees, flowers, grass—grow in silence; see the stars, the moon and sun, how they move in silence…. The more we receive in silent prayer, the more we can give in our active life. We need silence to be able to touch souls. The essential thing is not what we say, but what God says to us and through us. All our words will be useless unless they come from within—words which do not give the light of Christ increase the darkness.” —Mother Teresa

“St. Augustine says, ‘God gives where He finds empty hands.’ A man whose hands are full of parcels can’t receive a gift. Perhaps these parcels are not always sins or earthly cares, but sometimes our own fussy attempts to worship Him in our way. Incidentally, what most often interrupts my own prayers is not great distractions but tiny ones—things one will have to do or avoid in the course of the next hour.” —C.S. Lewis

“Let inward prayer be your last act before you fall asleep and the first act when you awake.” —Thomas Kelly

“I know that there are certain mental and emotional and moral and spiritual attitudes that are anti-health: anger, resentments, fear, worry, desire to dominate, self-preoccupation, guilts, sexual impurity, jealousy, a lack of creative activity, inferiorities, a lack of love. These are the twelve apostles of ill health. So in prayer I’ve learned to surrender these things to Jesus Christ as they appear.” —E. Stanley Jones

You can check out my review of Gordon MacDonald’s Order Your Private World by clicking here. And you can read some quotes from Gordon by clicking here.

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