Earthly Pursuits Can Inhibit Prayer

“To pray for ‘things’ without a heavenly end in mind is close to idolatry. Use your material wealth with holy fear, dear saint, lest earth should rob heaven, and your temporal enjoyments endanger your heavenly interests. … 

“Sometimes God lavishes us with things, not so we can hang on to them, but so we will have something to let go of to show our love for Him. … What enterprise will pay more lasting dividends than to invest what you possess in the cause of Christ? … You cannot labor for heavenly possessions if your hands and heart are loaded down with earthly pursuits.” —William Gurnall, The Christian In Complete Armour (emphasis added)

Let’s Put That In Perspective!

How long is your life? If you’re a man living in the United States on average your life is 689,412 hours. But how long is that really? 

Here’s some perspective—if you drew a timeline 50 feet long that represented all of Earth’s recorded history, your life would cover about the breadth of your hand. But that’s only recorded history—what about the eternity that existed before history started and the eternity that will continue after history ends? 

Twice in Psalm 39, David described our brief life like this: each man’s life is but a breath. 

So what do we do with our breath-long life? Fortunately for us, David gives us godly perspective in five areas. 

  1. Perspective on the weight of my words and my silence (vv. 1-3) 

David had a good start: I will keep my tongue from sin, but what happens when sinful words slip out? I would suggest we count those as a gift. Really?! Yes, because those “slips” make us aware of what’s really in our heart (see Matthew 15:19) so that we can confess them. 

David also suggests putting a muzzle on our mouths when we’re around certain people. In other words, don’t get into petty fights with people who aren’t going to receive the wisdom we may have to share with them. 

  1. Perspective on the use of my time (vv. 4-5)

Why do we procrastinate doing good things? Some of our simple cliches reflect this, like TGIF. Why wait until Friday to get happy? Why not say TGIT—thank God it’s today! Do something memorable today… do something life-altering today… do something for God today.

  1. Perspective on my possessions (v. 6) 

David reminds us that we work so hard to accumulate stuff “not knowing who will get it.” Jesus had another word for someone who only wanted to get stuff to make his life easier: fool (see Luke 12:16-21). Use stuff to serve others. 

  1. Perspective on forgiveness (vv. 7-11)

Why oh why, would we spend one minute longer than we have to with unconfessed, unforgiven sin? I blogged last week about the freedom that immediately comes when we receive forgiveness from our confessed sin. Let’s do this quickly! 

  1. Perspective on the purpose of my life (vv. 12-13)

If I only have a breath-long life, I want to make every moment count. I love what C.T. Studd wrote: “Only one life will soon be past. Only what’s done for Christ will last. … Let us not glide through this world and then slip quietly into heaven without having blown the trumpet loud and long for our Redeemer, Jesus Christ. Let us see to it that the devil will hold a thanksgiving service in Hell when he gets the news of our departure from the field of battle.”

Here’s my prayer for all of us—Lord, help me to know how few days I have so I can live every one for Your glory. 

10 Quotes From “Jesus’ Terrible Financial Advice”

I loved the financial insights that John Thornton presented in Jesus’ Terrible Financial Advice. The advice is “terrible” in that it flies in the face of conventional financial wisdom and puts it in the proper biblical light. Check out my full review of this book by clicking here.

“As God waits patiently to receive our all, wonder, and appreciation for all He is and does, an idol steps in to accept our applause. Like an insidious illusionist, the idol misdirects our attention to itself. … What does an idol do? Nothing. That’s all an idol can do. Nothing. Nothing but steal God’s glory.”

“Jesus is not trying to impoverish us when He tells us to store up treasures in heaven.”

“Here is where some people mistakenly make it about the money. They wrongly conclude that rich people can’t make it to heaven, but poor people can. This is a grave error. In truth, no one can enter the kingdom of heaven, rich or poor, without God.”

“If we are seeking heaven because our life here is so good that we don’t want it to end, or simply because we don’t want to go to hell, we’ve missed the point. We’ve made the same mistake this young man made [Mark 10]. So doing what Jesus always did, He redirected the young man to the right thing. The greatest good. He redirected the young man to God. Jesus clarifies that no one is good but God Himself. … What makes eternal life good isn’t the length. It’s the company. God Himself is what is good about heaven [John 17:3].”

“Regardless of how much of a blessing of wealth has the potential to be, it becomes a curse for us when it separates us from the love of God.”

“Don’t wrongfully conclude that rich people can’t make it, but poor people can. Or that poor people are godly, but rich people are not. If we do this, we miss the point entirely. We think that Jesus is just calling out rich people. We think He is talking about people’s financial position, when He’s really talking about our heart condition. … At the end of the day, answer to the question ‘Does Jesus want you rich or poor?’ is obvious. The answer is yes! Jesus wants you. And the answer is all about God’s goodness, not ours.”

“The number one theme related to wealth in the Bible is that it is a blessing from God.” 

“Whenever we conclude that the plans we have for our lives are better than the plans God has for us, or that the gifts we have for ourselves are better than His gifts, the false master Money steps up. Money promises to put us in charge. With it, we can smooth the way or save the day. Don’t worry. Be happy. But God has a better plan for our lives. We were made to live for so much more. And He is more. God wants us to understand and know Him, His ‘kindness, justice and righteousness,’ for in these He delights (Jeremiah 9:24). God’s plan is to complete us.”

“Wealth becomes a curse for us when we choose it over God.” 

“In a society where we have taken independence, individual freedom, and self-love to cult status, submission is taboo. We want to be our own master. Money offers us what we want, so we love it or fear it, trading in the true God for a false one. But Jesus shows us we have it all wrong. He shows us that submission to His Father is the only way to be truly free. Free to live life to the full. The only way to live a life that matters is to find our sole purpose in Him.”

Jesus’ Terrible Financial Advice (book review)

When a trained and certified financial advisor says you’re making a mistake with your finances, you will probably listen to him. But what if the one giving the terrible financial advice is Jesus? John Norton (a CPA with a Ph.D. in accounting) looks at the financial advice of Jesus in a whole new light in his book Jesus’ Terrible Financial Advice.

I’ll be honest with you: this book is not at all what I expected. When I hear someone say that Jesus gave “bad financial advice,” I just assume it’s a tongue-in-cheek lead in to a discussion on tithing or giving to missions. But as the subtitle of the book hints, John Norton flips the table on every financial concept that you’ve ever heard taught by the world’s financial experts.

Many people wrongly think that Jesus was anti-wealth, and that to be a truly “sold-out” follower of Jesus, Christians have to give up all semblance of nice things. But that’s not what Jesus taught or lived! Neither did Jesus say that Christians are to pursue wealth on earth. Does that sound like confusing double-talk? Far from it! It’s the truth that John unpacks in this very readable book. John tells us right up front, “I relied on just one rule while writing this book: ‘If my theology disagrees with God, one of us is wrong, and it’s not Him.’”

If you’ve ever struggled with how a Christian is supposed to handle the wealth and possessions of this world, this book will come as a welcome insight into what Jesus really wants for His children: freedom to glorify God!

“Like Jesus’ early followers, we are at a crossroads. He flips the tables on everything we thought we knew about peace, prosperity, and the pursuit of happiness. Jesus’ teachings about money and wealth hit us where we live, shake us free from a life that leads to death, and leave us immeasurably more blessed than we ever imagined. All with the single-minded purpose of bringing glory to His Father.” (John Thornton)

I believe you will be as pleasantly surprised at this book as I was.

I am a Moody Publishers book reviewer.

Bernard Of Clairvaux On Discontentment

Bernard of Clairvaux“It is natural for a man to desire what he reckons better than that which he has already, and be satisfied with nothing which lacks that special quality which he misses. Thus, if it is for her beauty that he loves his wife, he will cast longing eyes after a fairer woman. If he is clad in a rich garment, he will covet a costlier one; and no matter how rich he may be he will envy a man richer than himself. … No matter how many such things one has, he is always lusting after what he has not; never at peace, he sighs for new possessions. Discontented, he spends himself in fruitless toil, and finds only weariness in the evanescent and unreal pleasures of the world. In his greediness, he counts all that he has clutched as nothing in comparison with what is beyond his grasp, and loses all pleasure in his actual possessions by longing after what he has not, yet covets. … They wear themselves out in vain travail, without reaching their blessed consummation, because they delight in creatures, not in the Creator.” —Bernard of Clairvaux

Links & Quotes

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Who are the happiest people in the world? These precious people!

“The sense of ownership in general is always to be encouraged. The humans are always putting up claims to ownership which sound equally funny in Heaven and in Hell and we must keep them doing so.” —C.S. Lewis, in The Screwtape Letters

“There are ten thousand actions good in themselves, which it might not be right for me to choose as my vocation in life. … Our prayer should be, ‘Show me what Thou wouldst have me to do’—have me to do in particular; not what is generally right, but what is particularly right for me to do.” ―Charles Spurgeon

J. Warner Wallace gives an important reminder to Christian apologists: The Evidence For Christianity Doesn’t “Tell” Us Anything.

[VIDEO] Here is another helpful reminder for Christian apologists on textual variants―

Links & Quotes

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Fellas, you need to check this out: 5 More Things Men Should Do To Protect Their Marriage.

This is an amazing admission from a medical doctor who is also an abortion provider: “If a woman with a serious illness―heart disease, say, or diabetes―gets pregnant, the abortion procedure may be as dangerous for her as going through pregnancy … with diseases like lupus, multiple sclerosis, even breast cancer, the chance that pregnancy will make the disease worse is no greater than the chance that the disease will either stay the same or improve. And medical technology has advanced to a point where even women with diabetes and kidney disease can be seen through a pregnancy safely by a doctor who knows what he’s doing. We’ve come a long way since my mother’s time…. The idea of abortion to save the mothers’ life is something that people cling to because it sounds noble and pure―but medically speaking, it probably doesn’t exist. It’s a real stretch of our thinking.” ―Dr. Don Sloan, M.D.

“The Word says, ‘Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world’ (1 John 2:15). Jesus warned, ‘Beware of covetousness: for a man’s life does not consist in the abundance of the things which he possesses’ (Luke 12:15). Things—our possessions—can tie us down to this world. While heaven and hell prepare for war, we go shopping. Eternal values are at stake! The end of all we know is near—and we are busy playing with our toys!” —David Wilkerson

“The blood of Christ doesn’t cover your sins, conceal your sins, postpone or diminish your sins.  It takes away your sins, once and for all! So…since you are saved, you can serve!” Read more from Max Lucado in Saved To Serve.

Dr. Tim Elmore writes about 2 essential ingredients to form a young leader. You should read the whole post, but the two ingredients are quite surprising: problems and empowerment.

[VIDEO] An excellent explanation on what sources are used to determine the text of the Bible―

Links & Quotes

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“There is a burden of care in getting riches; fear in keeping them; temptation in using them; guilt in abusing them; sorrow in losing them; and a burden of account at last to be given concerning them.” —Matthew Henry

“Don’t imagine I doubt for a moment that what God sends us must be sent in love and will all be for the best if we have grace to use it so. My mind doesn’t waver on this point; my feelings sometimes do. That’s why it does me good to hear what I believe repeated in your voice….” ―C.S. Lewis

“Our comfort comes not from the powerlessness of our enemies, but from our Father’s sovereign rule over their power.” —John Piper

Have you seen all the videos of one of Obamacare’s architects, Jonathan Gruber? Here is the story behind the man, Rich Weinstein, who unearthed all of these clips and exposed the outright lies and hypocrisy. And this video compilation is just a sampling of the lies—

Zig Ziglar On Money & Success

Inspire To Be GreatZig Ziglar was a highly successful salesman, which opened the door for him to have a successful second career as a motivational speaker. His insight into money and success is well worth paying attention to—

“I define success as having acquired some of the things that money will buy and all of the things that money won’t buy—while maintaining balance in your life.” 

“Money bought me the house, but it won’t buy me a home. It’ll buy me a companion, but it won’t buy me a friend. It’ll buy me a good time, but it won’t buy me peace of mind. It’ll buy me a bed, but it won’t buy me a good night’s sleep.”

“Don’t count the things you do. Do the things which count.”

“In America, we have become greedy. We are bombarded with so many ads that say, ‘You gotta have this car! You gotta wear these clothes! You gotta take this vacation trip! You gotta have that second home at the beach,’ and all of these absurd things. Over the years, I have noticed this—that if standard of living is your number-one objective, your quality of life almost never improves. But if quality of life is your number-one objective, standard of living invariably goes up. That kinda contradicts what a lot of people believe.”

“Until you are happy with who you are, you will never be happy because of what you have.”

These quotes are from the book Inspire To Be Great. You can read my review of that book by clicking here. I shared some of my other favorite quotes from this book earlier, and you can read them by clicking here.

14 Quotes From “Unfinished”

UnfinishedI found Unfinished by Richard Stearns to be both confrontational and motivating. You can read my full book review by clicking here. These are some of the quotes I especially appreciated from this book. Unless otherwise marked, they are quotes from Stearns—

“God created you intentionally to play a very specific role in His unfolding story. God didn’t create any extras meant to stand on the sidelines and watch the story unfold; He created players meant to be on center stage. And you will feel fully complete only when you discover the role you were born to play.”

“You don’t have to go to the Congo or to Uzbekistan to change the world. You don’t have to be brilliant to change the world—or wealthy or a spiritual giant. But you do have to say yes to the invitation. You do have to be available and willing to be used, and you may have to pay the price that comes with following Jesus because changing the world and following Jesus isn’t easy, and it doesn’t come cheap.”

“Prosperity knits a man to the World. He feel that he is ‘finding his place in it,’ while really it is finding its place in him.” —C.S. Lewis

“Yet that is exactly how many Christians view the gospel of Christ. I do a deal with God, buy the fire insurance policy, put it in my drawer, and then I can go back to the party. Sure, it wouldn’t be a bad idea to go to church now and then to dip my feet into spiritual waters, and it wouldn’t hurt to pray from time to time, but, basically, with my salvation secured I can now get on with my life. This is what Dallas Willard refers to as the ‘gospel of sin-management.’”

“So we need to dispense with any notion that we can take this Jesus on our own terms, that we can simply add Him to the structure of our lives, fit Him into our plans, worship Him once a week for an hour or so, and offer Him a prayer when we find ourselves needing something. No, Jesus demands the total commitment of our lives in His service. We are called to enlist in His army and lay down every other priority in our lives at His feet. Our ambitions, our careers, our relationships, our possessions, even our families must be laid at His feet to do with as He wishes.”

“Authentic churches truly living together… offer a radically different and beguiling attractive alternative to every other model of human community.”

“God’s deepest desire is not that we would help the poor. God’s deepest desire is that we would love the poor; for if we love them, we will surely help them.”

“Love always requires tangible expression. It needs hands and feet. As followers of Christ we can too easily become overwhelmed by the complexity and depth of our Christian faith, and we can become confused by doctrine and theology. But the beautiful simplicity of our faith is that it distills down to the exact same bottom line for both the brilliant theologian and the five-year-old child: love God and love each other—period. Everything else derives from that.”

“Now, here is a really important thing to understand. If you lay down all of these things in the service of Christ and His kingdom, He won’t necessarily take them away from you. He doesn’t ask us all to quit our jobs, leave our homes, and have an estate sale to liquidate all our earthly possessions. No, He only asks that we turn all of those decisions over to Him. If you have built a business that can generate great wealth, He may leave you right there so that the business can be used to His glory and to accomplish His purposes. If you are an investment banker at Goldman Sachs, He may want you to stay put and become a kingdom builder right where you are stationed by letting your light shine in a place where a shining light may be desperately needed. If you love your community, He may use you to help transform it and reclaim it for His kingdom. He might even use your addiction as a powerful tool of His restorative power to transform human lives. But he does require that the certificates of title be signed over to Him. He becomes the owner, and we become the stewards, not of our possessions but of the Master’s possessions.”

“I am only one, but I am one;
I cannot do everything,
But I can do something.
What I can do I ought to do,
And what I ought to do
By God’s grace I will do.” —Edward Everett Hale

“Think of it this way: If we all worked for Boeing, our general calling would be to engage in the building of airplanes. But our specific calling might be to assemble the landing gear, wire and install the instruments, assemble the wings, or design the roomy and comfortable coach seats. And which of those specific tasks we were called to would be determined by the boss’s best judgment, taking into consideration our unique skills and abilities. … The same is true in building the kingdom of God. We all have the same general assignment but our specific roles within it will be unique to us as individuals and will take into account our gifts and talents but also our experience, our assets, our physical location, and our connections and associations.”

“The chief purpose of the church is to bring glory to God by accomplishing the Great Commission pronounced by Jesus. Everything else—worship, preaching, teaching, discipling, congregational care, the sacraments, feeding the hungry, caring for the poor, and so on—while valuable for us and pleasing to God in and of themselves, are ultimately means to the end of faithfully completing the assignment given to the church by Jesus just before He left.”

“Jesus envisioned these communities of believers would transform the world in which we live, much as springtime melts the cold and snow of winter and releases the exuberance of new life bursting forth. We would be drawn to the cold places, the broken places, the ragged edges of our world. We would be drawn to the open sores upon our societies: poverty, disease, hunger, injustice, and exploitation, becoming a healing balm to those who feel marginalized, excluded, and discarded. … Our generosity would astound, our determination amaze, and our love be irresistible.”

“The most important thing to remember is this: to be ready at any moment to give up what you are for what you might become.” —W.E.B. DuBois

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