Luciano Pavarotti On Commitment

“When I was a boy, my father, a baker, introduced me to the wonders of song. He urged me to work very hard to develop my voice. Arrigo Pola, a professional tenor in my hometown of Modena, Italy, took me as a pupil. I also enrolled in a teachers college. On graduating, I asked my father, ‘Shall I be a teacher or a singer?’  

“‘Luciano,’ my father replied, ‘if you try to sit on two chairs, you will fall between them. For life, you must choose one chair.’  

“I chose one. It took seven years of study and frustration before I made my first professional appearance. It took another seven to reach the Metropolitan Opera. And now I think whether it’s laying bricks, writing a book—whatever we choose—we should give ourselves to it. Commitment, that’s the key. Choose one chair.” —Luciano Pavarotti (emphasis added)

The One Place You Must Never Settle

“One of the nuanced skills of people who maximize their capacity and optimize their impact on the world is that they know which battles not to fight. They know which ground to give up. They know where to settle. This is not because they’re postured for compromise; it’s because they have a clarity about what really matters to them. They know what their lives are about. They have profound intention, and that intention informs every arena of their lives. Those who care about everything actually care about nothing. … 

“In the end, the one thing where you must never settle for less is the calling that God has on your life, the purpose for which He has created you, the impact He designed you to make in the world. … 

“Is it possible that God is waiting to do more then we could ever ask or imagine and is looking throughout the earth for someone who refuses to settle?” —Erwin McManus, in The Last Arrow

Christ’s Love Is Unstoppable!

“Sometimes our deepest suffering is that voice in our head. And maybe that’s exactly the point—the enemy of your soul wants nothing more at the end of the day than to make you and all your offered years feel like so much wasted effort. …

“How do you survive if you don’t turn on the enemy of your soul and call him by what his ugly name really means: prosecutor? The very name satan literally means ‘prosecutor.’ And his work isn’t ultimately to tempt you, but to try you.

“To try your past, to try your perseverance in believing you’re worth anything, to try your patience with yourself and your whole bent-up world. …

“He would steal our presence, our very knowledge of the Healer’s presence, if he could. If you let satan prosecute you, you will ultimately imprison yourself. …

“The prosecutor of your soul can’t ever nail you. Time can’t wreck your life. You can’t wreck your life. Nothing in all this world can separate you from the love of Christ, and His love is your life. Your life is unwreakable. Because Christ’s love is unstoppable.” —Ann Voskamp, in The Broken Way

**You can read other quotes from The Broken Way here, here, and here.

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!

Shortcut To Second Mile

Tim Elmore is always suggesting ways to help those who work with students—parents, teachers, coaches, youth workers—to more effectively interact with young people.

Many of us (adults and students) struggle with wanting things to happen NOW! As a result, we tend to look for shortcuts. Dr. Elmore suggests that a “second mile” mindset will serve us all better. Check this out:

“In order to move from the ‘shortcut’ mindset to the ‘second mile’ mindset, let me suggest these shifts:

Stop Asking Shortcut Questions…

  1. What can I get by with?
  2. What meets ‘expectations’?
  3. How little can I study and still pass?
  4. What can I get out of this job?
  5. Is my behavior justifiable?
  6. Is there an easier way to do this?

Start Asking Second Mile Questions…

  1. What would surprise my supervisor?
  2. What would ‘excellent’ look like?
  3. How much can I study to improve?
  4. What can I give to this job?
  5. Is my behavior helpful to others?
  6. Is there a better way to reach the goal?”

If you are leading students today, I would highly recommend you check out Dr. Elmore’s latest book Marching Off The Map.

The Q Series—Parables, End Times, And Prayer

Our annual Q Series is where folks send their questions to me on a variety of subjects and we do our best to answer them. This week we tackled questions like:

  • What does Christ’s Parable of the Sower mean?
  • Can people lose their salvation?
  • Are micro-chips implanted in humans the start of “the mark of the beast”?
  • What does “666” stand for?
  • Why aren’t all of my prayers answered?

Here’s what we discussed, along with the time this discussion appears on the video:

  • The Parable of the Sower [1:27]
  • What is a parable? [2:19] **Be sure to check out What Was Jesus Teaching In The Parables? on Biblegateway
  • Who is the farmer in this parable? [4:30]
  • “The best commentary on Scripture is Scripture” [5:14]
  • Can someone lose their salvation? [7:42]
  • Keep sowing seed [11:51]
  • Eternal security? [13:50]
  • The Scripture has “a lot of faces” [17:20]
  • Are micro-chips “the mark of the beast”? [20:37]
  • What is gematria? How does this fit with 666? [22:58]
  • 666 falls short of God’s perfection [25:54]
  • The antichrist is a parody of Jesus Christ [26:08]
  • What is the significance of 666 on the right hand and forehead? [27:31]
  • To understand the future, look to an historic event [29:05]
  • A lesson from the socialism of the Nazis and Adolf Hitler [29:49]
  • A quote from Dr. Erwin Lutzer [31:15]
  • Why did Jesus talk about material possession so much? [32:48]
  • Why aren’t all my prayers answered? [36:36] **Be sure to check out Praying With Authority on Biblegateway.
  • How do we pray “in Jesus’ name”? [37:07]
  • How did Jesus speak to His Father in prayer? [39:10]
  • James on unanswered prayers [41:32]
  • Perseverance in prayer [43:30]

We will be answering your questions one more time next Sunday. Please click here to find all the ways you can submit your questions.

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.

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