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!

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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.

William Carey’s Perseverance

“William Carey, the ‘father of modern missions,’ wanted to translate the Bible into as many Indian languages as possible. He established a large printshop in Serampore where translation work was continually being done. Carey spent hours each day translating Scripture, while his insane wife ranted and raved.

“Carey was away from Serampore on March 11, 1832. His associate, William Ward, was working late. Suddenly Ward smelled smoke. He leaped up to discover clouds belching from the printing room. He screamed for help, and workers passed water from the nearby river until 2 a.m., but everything was destroyed.

“On March 12, 1812 missionary Joshua Marshman entered a Calcutta classroom where Carey was teaching. ‘I can think of no easy way to break the news,’ he said. ‘The printshop burned to the ground last night.’ Carey was stunned. Gone were his massive polyglot dictionary, two grammar books, and whole versions of the Bible. Gone were sets of type for 14 eastern languages, 1200 reams of paper, 55,000 printed sheets, and 30 pages of his Bengal dictionary. Gone was his complete library. ‘The work of years—gone in a moment,’ he whispered.

“He took little time to mourn. ‘The loss is heavy,’ he wrote, ‘but as traveling a road the second time is usually done with greater ease and certainty than the first time, so I trust the work will lose nothing of real value. We are not discouraged; indeed the work is already begun again in every language. We are cast down but not in despair.’

“When news of the fire reached England, it catapulted Carey to instant fame. Thousands of pounds were raised for the work, and volunteers offered to come help. The enterprise was rebuilt and enlarged. By 1832, complete Bibles, New Testaments, or separate books of Scripture had issued from the printing press in 44 languages and dialects. The secret of Carey’s success is found in his resiliency. ‘There are grave difficulties on every hand,’ he once wrote, ‘and more are looming ahead. Therefore we must go forward.’” —from On The Day

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)

4 Essential Qualities To Be An Effective Leader

November 5, 1920

General John S. Mallory
15 University Place
Lexington, Virginia

My Dear General Mallory,

Last summer during one of our delightful rides I commented on the advice I would give a young officer going to war, based on my observation of what had constituted the success of the outstanding figures in the American Expeditionary Forces, and you asked me to write out what I had said. A discussion with Fox Conner this morning reminded me of my promise to do this, so here it is.

To be a highly successful leader in war four things are essential, assuming that you possess good common sense, have studied your profession and are physically strong.

When conditions are difficult, the command is depressed and everyone seems critical and pessimistic, you must be especially cheerful and optimistic.

When evening comes and all are exhausted, hungry and possibly dispirited, particularly in unfavorable weather at the end of a march or in battle, you must put aside any thought of personal fatigue and display marked energy in looking after the comfort of your organization, inspecting your lines and preparing for tomorrow.

Make a point of extreme loyalty, in thought and deed, to your chiefs personally; and in your efforts to carry out their plans or policies, the less you approve the more energy you must direct to their accomplishment.

The more alarming and disquieting the reports received or the conditions viewed in battle, the more determined must be your attitude. Never ask for the relief of your unit and never hesitate to attack.

I’m certain in the belief that the average man who scrupulously follows this course of action is bound to win great success. Few seemed equal to it in this war, but I believe this was due to their failure to realize the importance of so governing their course.

Faithfully yours,

George C. Marshall
Major, General Staff
Aide-de-Camp [emphasis mine]
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