Good Religion Must Be Practical

“Religion which has no practical impact on our daily lives quickly becomes a vague, abstract notion that amounts to nothing. Yet many have nothing more than an empty profession to prove they are Christians. …

“A good Christian but a nagging wife, a godly man but a negligent father—these are contradictions that cannot be reconciled. The man who does not walk uprightly in his own house is nothing more than a hypocrite at church. If you are not a Christian in your shop, you are not a Christian in your closet—even though you may pray there.” —William Gurnall, in The Christian In Complete Armor

More quotes from this book can be found here and here.

What If We Had Higher Expectations?

Humans are hardwired by God to be in relationship with Him and with others.

  1. God is a Triune God so each part of the Godhead is in relationship with the other parts—John tells us in his epistle that God is love, meaning there is both a Lover and a Beloved.
  2. We are created in God’s image—we are made to love and be loved.
  3. God affirmed our need for relationships with others—see Genesis 2:18.
  4. Relationships with others give us a return on investment, help in trouble, encouragement in dark times, and protection from attack—see Ecclesiastes 4:9-12.
  5. Christians being in healthy relationships with others is a testimony to just how powerful God’s love is.

Sadly, Brennan Manning pointed out that Christians “have come a long sad journey from the first century, when pagans exclaimed with awe and wonder, ‘See how these Christians love one another!’”

When I read this, I don’t want to throw in the towel, but I want to reclaim this awe and wonder! 

One of the things that will quickly kill relationships is having low expectations for the other person or for the relationship itself. This can be counteracted by having higher expectations for other people and for our relationships with them.

John Maxwell noted, “People rise or fall to meet our level of expectations for them. If you express skepticism and doubt in others, they’ll return your lack of confidence with mediocrity. But if you believe in them and expect them to do well, they’ll wear themselves out trying to do their best.”

Consider the high expectations that God had for a relationship with us. If He had low expectations, one of the best-known verses in the Bible would be, “God thought a few people in the world had something worth saving, so He sent a handful of angels to tell us His story.”

Instead, the verse tells us: God so loved the entire world that He sent the very best that He had—He sent His One and Only Son!

  • Jesus died for us when we were unworthy of His love
  • Jesus gave us all His authority to represent Him in the world
  • Jesus empowered us with His Holy Spirit to be His witnesses
  • Jesus told us that our love for others would be a blazing sign to that we were His

Since God has this high expectation for us … what would happen if we had the same high expectations for everyone with whom we came into contact? What would happen if we believed the best for everybody, and then gave all that we could to bring the best out of them? I think that once again people would exclaim with awe and wonder,

“See how these Christians love one another!”

We will be talking more about Relationship Builders & Killers this Sunday and I would love if you could join me!

There Is No Such Thing As Unanswered Prayer

“This incense was to be ‘offered with’ or ‘laid upon’ so as to cover or envelope the ‘prayers of all saints’—yes, all saints, from Able downwards; for this seems to be the gathering into one of all prayers from the beginning, that at length they may be answered (Luke 18:3, 7). Upon the golden altar in front of the throne the prayers of the saints of all ages have been laid; there they have accumulated; the unanswered ‘How longs?’ not forgotten.

Not one petition, even the poorest or feeblest, has dropped from that altar, or been swept away, or lost in the process of time. All, all are there. In themselves the are poor, having no fragrance; but their intrinsic imperfection cannot change the nature of that altar on which they are laid. There they are preserved— each sigh, each tear, each cry, from child or aged man, from the chief of sinners, from the thief upon the cross, from the chamber of weakness and sorrow, from the crushed spirit and the broken heart—there they are: the groanings that cannot be uttered; the ‘God be merciful to me, a sinner;’ the ‘How long?’ of the tortured martyrs; the moan of the suffering saint upon his tossing sick-bed—there they are: the father’s prayer, ‘Lord, save my child;’ the child’s prayer, ‘Lord, save my father’— there they are: the pleadings for the church of God, for the overthrow of Antichrist, for the binding of satan, for the deliverance of earth, for the consummation of the eternal purpose! Not one cry lost; not one petition gone astray. All there!

There is no such thing as unanswered prayer. Delay will only add to the fullness of the answer, and increase our joy when it comes. And it will come. He is faithful that promised. He cannot deny Himself.” —Horatius Bonar, Light & Truth: Revelation

6 Quotes From “Joy To Your World”

In Joy To Your World, T.M. Moore encourages Christians to view joy as the fuel for their testimony to others about their vibrant relationship with Jesus. Check out my book review by clicking here.

“The Christian life is joy, the joy Jesus glimpsed as He went to the Cross, that sustained Him through all His betrayal and suffering, and in which He now dwells, at the right hand of God.”

“The joy which infects those who receive the gift of eternal life in Jesus Christ causes them to see creation and all culture in an entirely new light. Whereas formally such things were merely taken for granted and used as we saw fit, now they are received as gifts and servants of the joy-giving God, to be redeemed, renewed, and redeployed with joy to the praise of His glorious grace.”

“First, we need to make sure our own lives makes sense, that the way we live supports the reasons we might give for why we live this way. … Second, we must make sure that we know the Gospel. … Finally, we need to make sure we can explain the Gospel’s impact on our own lives. How has the Gospel brought new hope, new purpose, new direction, and new life to us?”

“It is not our task to convert those who ask a reason for the hope that is within us. It is our task to make sure, to the best of our ability, that we have explained the Good News of Jesus as clearly as we can.”

“Joy is not determined by what we can see in our immediate environment. Instead, joy is a condition that attaches to knowing the Lord and being able to see past or through what is seen to engage what is not seen (Hebrews 12:1).”

“When, because of our knowledge of God, the joy that fills our souls comes to expression as joy lived, then our lives will make sense, our salvation will be visible to the watching world, and we can offer any who may ask, sound reasons for how that joy can be theirs as well.”

Relationship Builders And Killers

C.S. Lewis reminds us that there is no such thing as a neutral encounter with other people…

“It is a serious thing to live in a society of possible gods and goddesses, to remember that the dullest and most uninteresting person you talk to may one day be a creature which, if you saw it now, you would be strongly tempted to worship, or else a horror and a corruption such as you now meet, if at all, only in a nightmare. All day long we are, in some degree, helping each other to one of these destinations.” —C.S. Lewis

Wow! Think about it: Relationships with other people are what helps us and others grow toward heaven or shrink toward hell.

Fortunately the Bible has a lot to say to us about relationship builders and relationship killers. The builders help us form and nurture relationships that honor God and move others forward, and the killers destroy potentially life-giving relationships while dishonoring God’s design for us.

I hope you will join me this Sunday at Calvary Assembly of God as we begin to identify both the relationship builders that can help us grow, and the relationship killers that are holding us back. It’s going to be an eye-opening journey!

Speak Life

“It is so easy to be harsh and sharp with your words. Speak optimistic words, life-giving words, bold words, healing words and words of comfort.

“Speak about the good things of life and declare life. Make it a point to say nothing negative at all. If/when you fail, be quick to repent and rephrase! Give each other grace because this is going to be a challenge for all of us!

“Pray that God will help you and empower you to speak life and blessing. Pray that God helps you to be a carrier of peace amidst the chaos of our world.” —Matt Kladnik

12 Quotes For Mother’s Day

“All I am, or can be, I owe to my angel mother.” —Abraham Lincoln

“My mother was the most beautiful woman I ever saw. All I am I owe to my mother. I attribute all my success in life to the moral, intellectual and physical education I received from her.” —George Washington

“I remember my mother’s prayers and they have always followed me. They have clung to me all my life.” —Abraham Lincoln

“The foundations of national morality must be laid in private families. In vain are schools, academies, and universities, instituted, if loose principles and licentious habits are impressed upon children in their earliest years. The mothers are the earliest and most important instructors of youth.” —John Adams

“The fundamental truths reported in the four gospels as from the lips of Jesus Christ, and that I first heard from the lips of my mother, are settled and fixed moral precepts with me.” —Abraham Lincoln

“The devil never reckons a man to be lost so long as he has a good mother alive. O woman, great is thy power!” ―Charles Spurgeon

“I learned more about Christianity from my mother than from all the theologians in England.” ―John Wesley

“Your motherhood is in God’s sight holier and more blessed than you realize.” —Andrew Murray

“God could not be everywhere, and therefore He made mothers.” —Jewish Proverb

“An ounce of mother is worth a ton of priest.” —Spanish Proverb

“To be a mother is the greatest vocation in the world. No being has a position of such great power and influence. She holds in her hands the destiny of nations, for to her is necessarily committed the making of the nation’s citizens.” —Hannah Whitall Smith

“Youth fades, love droops, the leaves of friendship fall; a mother’s secret hope outlives them all.” —Oliver Wendell Holmes

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