What Does It Mean To Be “Worldly”?

A lot of Christians struggle with what is considered “worldly,” trying hard to avoid such things. In our last Q Series, this was a question that was asked by a couple of people: what exactly makes something “worldly”? Check out this short video clip…

In the video I reference the following Scriptures:

You can check out some other topics that we addressed in the Q Series like an apologetic for the Bible, parables, end times events, and prayer.

Thursdays With Oswald—The Enormous Need To Be A Christian

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.

The Enormous Need To Be A Christian 

     All we can deal with in psychology is consciousness, but God does not limit our salvation by our consciousness. The need to be a Christian is not simply that Jesus Christ’s salvation may work on our conscious life, but that the unconscious realm of our personality may be protected from supernatural powers of which we know nothing. …  

     We are much more than we are conscious of, and if Jesus Christ only came to alter our conscious life, then the Redemption is “much ado about nothing.” But when we come to examine the New Testament we find that Redemption does infinitely more than alter our conscious life; it safeguards the unconscious realm which we cannot touch. … 

     Part of our personal life is conscious, but the greater part is unconscious, and every now and again the unconscious part emerges into the conscious and upsets us because we do not know where it comes from or where it leads to, and we get afraid of ourselves. … 

     There is only one Being Who understands us, and that is our Creator. … 

     Have we ever awakened to the fact that there are forces of evil around us greater than we can control? Jesus Christ by His Redemption not only saves us completely, but keeps us oblivious of the awful dangers there are outside. … 

     Unless we hand over the keeping of our personality to God to garrison, there are a hundred and one influences which can come into us which we never can control but which will soon control us. … 

     It is impossible to guard our spirit, the only One who can guard its entrances is God. If we hand ourselves over to His keeping we shall be kept not only from what we understand as dangers, but from dangers we have never even imagined. … 

      These aspects revealed the need to be a Christian as an enormous need. Thank God for the amazing security of His salvation! It keeps us not only in conscious life but from dangerous of which we know nothing, unseen and hidden dangers, subtle and desperate. 

From The Soul Of A Christian

Thank God for the amazing security of His salvation! Do you know this security? If not, don’t wait another day to invite Jesus Christ into your life.

Take Your Life Back (book review)

take-your-life-backStephen Arterburn and David Stoop say it’s quite simple—you are either living a reactive life or a responsive life. One keeps us trapped by our past or other people, and one sets us free to live life to the fullest. Arterburn and Stoop want you to Take Your Life Back.

Arterburn and Stoop vividly describe the childhood wounds and experiences that can lead to so many of us burying our real selves and living out of a reactive, false self that we believe others want to see. Then, using the imagery from the story of the Prodigal Son, they talk about how the younger son came home to address his concerns, and how the elder brother who never left home also had to come to grips with his woundedness.

To some extent or another, we all carry some sort of woundedness in our hearts—someone abused us, or let us down, or led us to believe that we weren’t valuable. The question now is: “Do I know my wound? Am I willing to admit to my wound? Am I willing to take the necessary steps toward healing and freedom?” Far too many people hide their wound and end up living restricted, reactive lives. But Arterburn and Stoop want to help lead you to confront your wound and take the necessary steps to live a free, responsive life.

Whether you have a wound in your life that you need to address, or you know someone close to you struggling with their woundedness, Take Your Life Back will be an invaluable resource. Stop letting your past or other people control and limit you, take your life back to live the abundant life God wants you to live!

I am a Tyndale book reviewer.

10 Quotes From “The Psychology Of Redemption”

The Psychology Of RedemptionOswald Chambers always gives me a paradigm-expanding look at the Bible and Christianity. In The Psychology Of Redemption (see my book review here), he does so in a unique way, by joining psychology and theology. Here are just a few of the many, many passages I highlighted in this fascinating book.

“Christian Psychology is the study of a supernatural life made natural in our human life by the Redemption.” 

“Sin dwells in human nature, but the Bible makes it very clear that it is an abnormal thing, it has no right there, it does not belong to human nature as God designed it. Sin has come into human nature and perverted and twisted it. The Redemption of God through our Lord Jesus Christ delivers human nature from sin, and then begins the possibility of the manifestation of the life of Jesus in our mortal flesh. We are saved by God’s grace, but, thank God, we have something to do. We must take care to meet God’s supernatural work of grace by our human obedience.”

“The vital relationship which the Christian has to the Bible is not that he worships the letter, but that the Holy Spirit makes the words of the Bible spirit and life to him.” 

“The practicing is ours, not God’s. God regenerates us and puts us in contact with all His divine resources, but He cannot make us walk according to His will. If we will obey the Spirit of God and practice through our physical life all that God has put in our hearts by His Spirit, then when the crisis comes we shall find that we have not only God’s grace to stand by us but our own nature also, and the crisis is passed without any disaster, but exactly the opposite happens, the soul is build up into a stronger attitude towards God.”

“Jesus Christ sets the standard of God’s life in us. We have not to ask what good men have experienced, but to go direct to the Lord Jesus Christ and study His exhibition of the character of God’s normal man.”

“When Christ is formed in us, we are a satisfaction to our Lord and Master wherever He places us. The point of importance is to know that we are just exactly where He has engineered our circumstances. There is no ‘foreign field’ to our Lord.”

“Another evidence of new birth is that we see the rule of God. We no longer see the haphazard of chance for fate, but by the experience of new birth we are in able to see the rule of God everywhere. … We all see the common occurrences of our daily life, but who amongst us can perceive the arm of the Lord behind them? The saint recognizes in all the ordinary circumstances of his life the hand of God and the rule of God, and Jesus says we cannot do that unless we are born from above. … Nothing happens by chance to a saint, no matter how haphazard it seems. It is the order of God.”

“The Sermon on the Mount is a statement of the life we will live when the Holy Spirit is getting His way with us.”

“We have to nourish the life of the Son of God in us, and we do it by obedience, that is, by bringing our natural life into accordance with His life and transforming it into a spiritual life.”

“The curse of much modern religion is that it makes us so desperately interested in ourselves, so overweeningly concerned about our own whiteness. Jesus Christ was absolutely interested in God, and the saint is to be a simple, unaffected, natural human being in dwelt by the Spirit of God. If the saint is paying attention to the Source, Jesus Christ, out of him and unconsciously to him are flowing the rivers of living water wherever he goes (John 7:37-39). Men are either getting better or worse because of us.”

To read more Oswald Chambers quotes, you may want to subscribe to my blog. Every Thursday I publish a lengthy passage from the current Chambers book I am reading. You can subscribe by simply filling in your email address in the blank on the right side of the screen.

I also share Oswald Chambers quotes frequently on both Twitter and Tumblr.

The Psychology Of Redemption (book review)

The Psychology Of RedemptionTo put psychology (a social science) and redemption (a decidedly theological term) together in the same title seems a bit paradoxical. Yet Oswald Chambers was such a well-rounded, well-studied man, that The Psychology Of Redemption seems like a perfect topic for him to tackle!

Chambers himself described these collection of thoughts this way: “Christian Psychology is based on the knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ, not on the knowledge of ourselves. It is not the study of human nature analyzed and expounded, but the study of the new life that is born in us through the Redemption of our Lord, and the only standard of that new life is our Lord Himself.”

Chambers goes on to explain in this outstanding work that our true self was marred when Adam sinned. We were made by God, so we can best understand ourselves (psychology) when we are reestablished in our original relationship with God (redemption). So the topics that Oswald Chambers goes into in this book are some of the deepest topics of any I have read to-date in his books. But he does it in such an accessible way, that anyone from a novice, to a trained psychologist, to a trained theologian will find value in his thoughts.

Editor David Lambert further advises us: “To profit by this book demands concentrated thought, with Bible in hand, and with a humble eagerness to ‘act on the Word, instead of merely listening to it and deluding yourselves’ (James 1:22).’”

How To Get Along With Others

How To Get Along With OthersJohn Maxwell famously said, “The entire world—with one minor exception—is made up of other people.” That “one minor exception”? It’s the person staring at you in the mirror every morning! Obviously learning how to get along with all the “others” in the world is hugely important.

It’s even more important for those who call themselves Christians.

The Bible makes it quite clear that people watch how Christians treat one another to see if the message they preach is one worth living. And Jesus told one of His most well-known stories to make the point that all of the Bible is fulfilled in just two things: (1) Loving God and (2) Loving others.

 

To live above with the God that we love,
Oh, wouldn’t that be glory!
But to live below with the saints that we know,
Well, that’s a different story!

The Bible says a lot about “one another.” In fact, that phrase is used nearly 60 times in the New Testament! Not only is there much that the Scripture has to say to us about getting along with one another, but most of what was written has been confirmed by modern psychology.

Join me this Sunday at Calvary Assembly of God as we begin a new series called How To Get Along With Others. We’ll be learning some practical training along with biblical insights to help us excel at this vitally important life skill.

You can find directions to our church here, and if you can’t join us in person, be sure to tune in to our Periscope broadcast (follow me @craigtowens to be notified when the broadcast starts).

Life Or Death?

Life or deathSince Jesus predicted His death on a Cross, and His resurrection from the dead three days later, and since that really happened(!), I think that it would be wise to consider the other words Jesus said!

Here’s an important one—The thief cometh not, but for to steal, and to kill, and to destroy: I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly (John 10:10).

It’s a pretty clear distinction: One way brings death and the other way brings life. But not just any kind of life.

The Greeks had three words for “life”—

  1. Bios from which we get our word biology. We can see when something is alive because of its biological growth.
  2. Psuche from which we get our word psychology. Plants might be biologically alive, but they don’t have the psychological life of a human.
  3. Zoe. This is the word Jesus used in John 10:10. It’s the word that means “life force” or better stated it’s God’s life.

God is a Triune God: Father, Son, and Spirit. When God created humans, we were created in His “trinity” image—Let Us make man in Our image (Genesis 1:26). Adam was created with bios, psuche, and zoe life. God told Adam and Eve that if they sinned, they would die (Genesis 2:17). When they did eat that forbidden fruit, they remained biologically and psychologically alive, but the zoe life force was cut off.

Jesus came to restore that! He came to bring us back to the state God originally intended for us, which meant He had to go to the Cross to become our sin, so that we could be forgiven and brought back to life.

Placing your faith in Jesus Christ’s work on the Cross means a complete about-face. The devil wants to steal from you, kill you, and destroy your soul for eternity. But Jesus came that you could have zoe in a way that was above-and-beyond, super-abundant, extraordinary and uncommon!

To get this life, Jesus asks us to do something that He did—If anyone would come after Me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow Me (Matthew 16:24).

Jesus isn’t calling for our hands and feet to be nailed to a wooden Cross. But He is calling for our selfish thoughts to be crucified (Matthew 16:23), and for us to give no more attention to our old sinful life.

I think this passage in Romans captures that thought so well—

Could it be any clearer? Our old way of life was nailed to the Cross with Christ, a decisive end to that sin-miserable life—no longer at sin’s every beck and call! What we believe is this: If we get included in Christ’s sin-conquering death, we also get included in His life-saving resurrection. We know that when Jesus was raised from the dead it was a signal of the end of death-as-the-end. Never again will death have the last word. When Jesus died, He took sin down with Him, but alive He brings God down to us. From now on, think of it this way: Sin speaks a dead language that means nothing to you; God speaks your mother tongue, and you hang on every word. You are dead to sin and alive to God. That’s what Jesus did. That means you must not give sin a vote in the way you conduct your lives. Don’t give it the time of day. Don’t even run little errands that are connected with that old way of life. Throw yourselves wholeheartedly and full-time—remember, you’ve been raised from the dead!—into God’s way of doing things. Sin can’t tell you how to live. After all, you’re not living under that old tyranny any longer. You’re living in the freedom of God. (Romans 6:6-14)

The choice is yours: the rip-off, destruction, and death the devil offers OR the abundant, overflowing, extraordinary, more-than-is-needed, zoe life that Jesus offers.

Life or death. Your choice.

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