Thursdays With Oswald—Are You Self-Made Or God-Made?

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.

Are You Self-Made Or God-Made?

     It is possible to be perfectly real to ourselves but not real to God; that is not reality. It is possible to be perfectly real to ourselves and real to other people, but not real in our relationship to God; that is not reality. The only reality is being in harmony with ourselves and other people and God. That is the one great reality towards which God is working, and towards which we are working as we obey Him. … 

     The critical moment in a man or woman’s life is when they realize they are individually separate from other people. When I realize I am separate from everyone else, the danger is that I think I am different from everyone else. Immediately I think that, I become a law to myself; that means I excuse everything I do, but nothing anyone else does. ‘My temptations are peculiar,’ I say; ‘my setting is very strange; no one knows but myself the peculiar forces that are in me.’ … This sense that I know what other people do not know, that I have a special intuition that tells me things, is even more dangerous than the sense of individualism because it leads to spiritual deception in a religious nature and to hard intellectual conceit in a natural nature. … 

     Self-realization naturally cares nothing about God, it does not care whether Jesus lived or died or did anything at all. For ourselves we live and for ourselves we die; that is self-realization that leads to death and despair; it is absolutely and radically opposed to Christ-realization. True self-realization is exhibited in the life of Our Lord, perfect harmony with God and a perfect understanding of man; and He prays “that they may be one, even as We are one.” … 

     God’s purpose is to make us real, that is, to make us perfectly at one with all our own powers and perfectly at one with God, no longer children but understanding in our heads as well as in our hearts the meaning of the Redemption, and slowly maturing until we are a recommendation to the redeeming grace of our Lord Jesus Christ.

From The Philosophy Of Sin

Oswald Chambers says we have a choice: Will we try to be a self-made man or woman, OR will we allow the Holy Spirit to make us a God-made man or woman? Only the second option puts us in touch with ourselves, others, and God.

10 Quotes From “The Furious Longing Of God”

Furious Longing Of GodI love the way Brennan Manning writes! It’s so gut-level real. His words both convict me and encourage me to go deeper into God’s love. You can read my full book review of The Furious Longing Of God by clicking here. Below are some of the quotes I especially appreciated.

“The God I’ve come to know by sheer grace, the Jesus I met in the grounds of my own self, has furiously loved me regardless of my state—grace or disgrace. And why? For His love is never, never, never based on our performance, never conditioned by our moods—of elation or depression. The furious love of God knows no shadow of alteration or change. It is reliable. And always tender.”

“The foundation of the furious longing of God is the Father who is the originating Lover, the Son who is the full self-expression of that Love, and the Spirit who is the original and inexhaustible activity of that Love, drawing the created universe into itself.”

“Pagan philosophers such as Aristotle arrived at the existence of God via human reason and referred to Him in vague, impersonal terms: the uncaused cause, the immovable mover. The prophets of Israel revealed the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob in a warmer, more compassionate manner. But only Jesus revealed to an astonished Jewish community that God is truly Father.” 

“The degree of Abba’s love for me is in direct proportion to His love for Jesus. For example, I can love the mailman with twenty percent and my best friend with ninety percent. But with God, there is no division, no more and no less. God loves me as much as He loves Jesus. Wow!”

“First, if we continue to picture God as a small-minded bookkeeper, a niggling customs officer rifling through our moral suitcase, as a policeman with a club who is going to bat us over the head every time we stumble and fall, or as a whimsical, capricious, and cantankerous thief who delights in raining on our parade and stealing our joy, we flatly deny what John writes in his first letter (4:16)—‘God is love.’ In human beings, love is a quality, a high-prized virtue; in God, love is His identity. Secondly, if we continue to view ourselves as moral lepers and spiritual failures, if our lives are shadowed by low self-esteem, shame, remorse, unhealthy guilt, and self-hatred, we reject the teaching of Jesus and cling to our negative self-image.”

“Healing becomes the opportunity to pass off to another human being what I have received from the Lord Jesus; namely His unconditional acceptance of me as I am, not as I should be. He loves me whether in a state of grace or disgrace, whether I live up to the lofty expectations of His gospel or I don’t. He comes to me where I live and loves me as I am.”

“To affirm a person is to see the good in them that they cannot see in themselves and to repeat it in spite of appearances to the contrary.”

“Jesus said the world is going to recognize you as His by only one sign: the way you are with one another on the street every day. You are going to leave people feeling a little better or a little worse. You’re going to affirm them or deprive them, but there’ll be no neutral exchange.”

“The question is not can we heal? The question, the only question, is will we let the healing power of the risen Jesus flow through us to reach and touch others, so that they may dream and fight and bear and run where the brave dare not go?” 

“How is it then that we’ve come to imagine that Christianity consists primarily in what we do for God? How has this come to be the good news of Jesus? Is the kingdom that He proclaimed to be nothing more than a community of men and women who go to church on Sunday, take an annual spiritual retreat, read their Bibles every now and then, vigorously oppose abortion, don’t watch x-rated movies, never use vulgar language, smile a lot, hold doors open for people, root for the favorite team, and get along with everybody? Is that why Jesus went through the bleak and bloody horror of Calvary? Is that why He emerged in shattering glory from the tomb? Is that why He poured out His Holy Spirit on the church? To make nicer men and women with better morals? The gospel is absurd and the life of Jesus is meaningless unless we believe that He lived, died, and rose again with but one purpose in mind: to make brand-new creations. Not to make people with better morals, but to create a community of prophets and professional lovers, men and women who would surrender to the mystery of the fire of the Spirit that burns within, who would live in ever greater fidelity to the omnipresent Word of God, who would enter into the center of it all, the very heart and mystery of Christ, into the center of the flame that consumes, purifies, and sets everything aglow with peace, joy, boldness, and extravagant, furious love.”

15 Quotes From “Finding The Love Of Your Life”

Finding The Love Of Your LifeFinding The Love Of Your Life by Dr. Neil Clark Warren is a wonderful resource for anyone contemplating marriage, or for parents to help prepare their children for marriage. You can rad my full book review by clicking here. Below are some of the quotes I found especially interesting in this book.

“The person you can become is far more important than the person you are today. … When you start with who you are today and commit yourself to moving steadily toward goals, the progress you experience will not only make you feel genuinely proud, but it will also make you significantly more attractive to members of the opposite sex. … This kind of emotional growth is best achieved when you start with a deep understanding that you are totally lovable just the way you are. If your pursuit of excellence grows out of an appreciation for the way you have been created, you’ll grow by leaps and bounds.”

“The crucial thing is not to seek after someone whose personality is like your father’s or mother’s, but to search for that person whose personality would make you genuinely happy through the years.”

“Research has consistently shown that religious commitment and marital success are highly related.” 

“Research findings are highly consistent: the most stable marriages are those involving two people with many similarities. … For couples, similarities are like money in the bank, and differences are like debts they owe. Suppose you received two bank statements in the mail today, one showing the amount of money in your savings account, the other showing the amount you owe on your credit card. If you have a large savings account and little debt, you’re in a position of strength and you can weather economic storms. If a financial crisis arises, you have the means to handle it. You can make decisions and purchases without scrambling to figure out how you’ll manage. But the reverse is also true. With big debts and little savings, you’re on shaky financial ground. You have to work a lot harder to cover the bills, and you worry about job security and making ends meet. … If you want to make a marriage work with someone who is very different from you, you had better have a large number of similarities as permanent equity in your account. If you don’t, your relationship could be bankrupt at a frighteningly early stage. Why is this the case? Because every difference you have requires negotiation and adaptation. One of you has to give a lot, or both of you have to give some, and in either case there is the need for plenty of change.”

“If the qualities that attracted you to someone are different from your own, be cautious.” 

“A great marriage requires two healthy people, and the time to get healthy is before you get married. … What I am particularly concerned about here is the emotional and mental health of the two people considering a lifelong partnership.”

“When we marry, it will be ideal if in relation to our parents (1) we are essentially free from them—emotionally independent individuals—so we do not have to make decisions and live our lives to please them; (2) we are clear about what is particularly true of our relationship with our mother and father, and what is true in relation to our spouse. When we confuse these relationships, we leave our spouse feeling violated and helpless; and (3) we have established a relationship with our parents in which they will not intrude in our marriage, will not dictate to us in any authoritative ways, and yet we can still maintain a closeness and connectedness to them.”

“The desire to touch, hold hands and hug is critical for long-term satisfaction. I agree. Building a great marriage is virtually impossible without the attraction and excitement that comes with passionate love. … I am deeply convinced that any two people who choose to marry need to maintain clear minds until the moment they say ‘I do.’ Because of this, I believe in sexual abstinence prior to marriage. Sexual intercourse before marriage is a clear act of commitment! Once you have become sexually involved with a potential mate, your ability to think clearly and objectively becomes impossible. … In one impulsive moment, two people cut short the process of ‘choosing’ one another, and they rob themselves of their own wisdom. Once they are sexually involved, they forfeit their combined ability to make a wise, unhindered decision.”

“(1) Passionate love between two people is a crucial ingredient if they are to have a long and satisfying relationship. (2) Passionate love always involves strong physical attraction. (3) Physical involvement must be managed with extreme care. (4) Every progression of physical activity establishes a new plateau—and it is extremely difficult to retreat once it has been reached. (5) When sexual expression is not kept in check, the emotional, cognitive and spiritual aspects of the relationship become slaves to the physical desires.”

“Too many failed marriages involve fantasy triumphing over fact.”

“When you are intimate with the person you love, you create unlimited possibilities for the growth of your relationship. Intimacy has the potential for lifting the two of you out of the lonely world of separateness and into the stratosphere of emotional oneness. Conversely, the number one enemy of any marriage is the lack of intimacy. If two people do not know each other deeply, they can never become what the Bible calls ‘one flesh.’” 

“You have to know yourself if you’re going to be intimate with someone else.”

“When two people discover that they have a spiritual hunger or spiritual awareness in common, they are strongly drawn to one another. In fact, I have found that a lack of mutually held spiritual beliefs often signals an intimacy deficit that leaves couples dangerously unconnected. In fact, one research study showed that spirituality ranked among the six most common characteristics of strong families. The strongest families in this study reported experiencing ‘a sense of power and a purpose’ greater than themselves—a spiritual orientation.”

“The fatal flaw of our society is that the principles of business have increasingly infiltrated our intimate relationships. That’s why society has found it necessary to trivialize wedding vows, to pretend they are no longer binding or relevant. Marriage makes very little sense when viewed from a business perspective. Let me explain: Two fundamental principles in business are: (1) What you pay for something is based on what you get in return; (2) When a business arrangement is no longer a ‘good deal,’ you either alter the arrangement or terminate it. But marriage is radically different! It depends on unconditional commitment. When you get married, you pledge to love, honor and cherish another person for a lifetime. If your mate changes over time, you are not released from your pledge. … Relationships that are conditional allow almost no room for trust and intimacy.”

“There is only one time to think about commitment-—before you make it!

4 Quotes About Emotional Health In “Stand Strong”

Stand StrongIn Stand Strong, Nick Vujicic shares the hard-won strategies he learned to overcome bullies. You can read my full review of Stand Strong by clicking here.

I already shared some of Nick’s quotes from this book, but I wanted a separate post to highlighted a key issue in bullying. One of the biggest tolls on a person being bullied is in their emotional health. One of the chapters I highlighted the most had to do with this important area, so below are a few good reminders.

“I encourage you to keep this phrase in your mind when faced with bullying: You can say terrible things to me, but you can’t touch who I am inside. You can’t make me feel badly about myself. I know who I am, and I stand on my own.”

“We have emotions for a reason. They don’t just come over us by chance, even though it sometimes may seem that way. Asking where your emotions come from and assessing why you feel the way you feel are critical parts of creating self-awareness and asserting self-control over your actions. It’s important to know what triggers your emotions so you can better control your responses in ways that benefit you over the long term. Managing negative emotions is an important part of your bully defense system, and it is also a key to living a more successful life. People who let their negative emotions control their actions tend to feel out of control, insecure, and unhappy. Those who act based on a thoughtful process for monitoring and managing such emotions tend to be more successful, more confident, and happier.”

“Emotions are natural and you feel what you feel. But the quality of your life is greatly affected by the choices you make in responding to your feelings. You see, a space, a time interval, and an opportunity between the point at which you feel something and the point at which you act on that feeling. This space is a gift. … Psychologists say people who learn to use this space wisely are generally much more successful in life than those who either ignore it or don’t use it well. This is the space where you can take control, make smart decisions, and put yourself in a position to determine your own destiny. … When you use the space to think about your response and to decide what is best for you over the long term, you are practicing self-awareness and self-control. This is called ‘response flexibility,’ and it is a sign of emotional intelligence.”

“Here’s something to consider: your negative emotions can be like bullies inside you. They try to provoke a response from you that may not be in your best interest. So if you simply do what those bad feelings stir you to do, you are just giving in to another bully in your life.”

11 Quotes From “How High Will You Climb?”

How High Will You Climb?How High Will You Climb? is an abridgment of Dr. John Maxwell’s amazing book The Winning Attitude. Truly, attitude will determine your success in life. I highly recommend either of these books (you can check out my review by clicking here). Below are some attitude quotes I highlighted and one helpful infographic.

“The attitude is an inward feeling expressed by behavior. That is why an attitude can be seen without a word being said.” 

“It is impossible to perform consistently in a manner that is inconsistent with the way we see ourselves. In other words, we usually act in direct response to our self-image. … We should also remember God’s unconditional love and acceptance. He thinks more of us than we do of ourselves. … This principle works in reverse too. How we see ourselves reflects how others see us. If we like ourselves, it increases the odds that others will like us.”

“Others can stop you temporarily, but you are the only one who can do it permanently.”

“Usually wrong decisions are made at the wrong time, and right decisions are made at the right time. The reason? We let our environment control our thinking, which controls our decisions. Therefore, the more decisions that are made in the calm of life, the fewer times storms can bring us down.”

“Failure—we hide it, deny it, fear it, ignore it, and hate it. We do everything but accept it. By acceptance, I don’t mean resignation and apathy. I mean understanding that failure is a necessary step to success. The person who never makes a mistake never does anything.”

“Fear of failure grips those who take themselves too seriously.”

“First, discouragement hurts our self-image. … Discouragement causes us to see ourselves as less than we really are. This fact becomes even more important when we realize that we cannot consistently perform in a manner that is inconsistent with the way we see ourselves. Second, discouragement causes us to evade our responsibilities. … Third, discouragement causes us to blame others for our predicaments. … Fourth, discouragement causes us to blur the facts.”

“When our attitude crashes, we have two alternatives. We can either alter the difficulty or alter ourselves. What can be changed for the best, we must change. When that is impossible, we must adjust to the circumstances in a positive way.”

“We are either the masters or the victims of our attitudes. It is a matter of personal choice. Who we are today is the result of choices we made yesterday. Tomorrow we will become what we choose today.” 

“It is a sad day for any person when he becomes so satisfied with his life, his thoughts, and his deeds that he ceases to be challenged to do greater things in life.”

“When an opportunity for growth is open to you, what do you tell yourself? Will you grasp the chance with a tingle of excitement and say, ‘I can make it work!’ or do you smother it by saying, ‘That’s impractical… too difficult… I don’t think it can be done’? In that moment, you choose between success and failure. You helped to form a habit of either positive or negative thinking by what you tell yourself. So give your ‘better’ self a chance to grow. Form the habit of positive reaction followed by positive action.”

Change your vocabulary

 

Altar Ego (book review)

Altar EgoCraig Groeschel is an amazing communicator! Partly because he shares the truth without watering it down or over-complicating it, and partly because he is so transparent with us. Altar Ego is a practical look at how and why God wants to “altar” our perception of ourselves.

The title of the book is not a misprint: Craig persuasively makes the case that we need to bring our view of ourselves to God’s altar so He can alter how we view ourselves. In the opening pages, Craig describes it this way—

If you’ve ever felt insecure, inadequate, or insufficient, this book is for you. Chances are good that you are like most of us. You attempt to draw worth or value from the wrong places. You’re inclined to believe what others say about you over what God says about you. You say you believe one thing but privately live out of a double-standard set of beliefs. If you call yourself a Christian, you probably hope to live a life pleasing to God but often find yourself trying to please others or yourself. If you can relate, I’ve got good news. You are not yet you you are supposed to be. 

Altar Ego is divided into three sections. In the first section you will learn how God sees you; in the second section you will learn how to live altarnative values to those the culture promotes; and in the final section you will discover a newfound boldness that comes with seeing yourself as God sees you.

Because of Craig’s easy-to-read style, and his forthrightness about his own shortcomings, you will not feel like these concepts are too complicated or only reserved for those who are more spiritual than you. Even if you don’t feel “insecure, inadequate, or insufficient,” there is still a lot to learn from Altar Ego.

I am a Zondervan book reviewer.

19 Quotes From “Who Do You Think You Are?”

Who Do You Think You AreWho Do You Think You Are? by Mark Driscoll is an insightful journey through the book of Ephesians. You can read my full book review by clicking here. Below are some of the passages that especially stood out to me.

“This world’s fundamental problem is that we don’t understand who we truly are—children of God made in His image—and instead define ourselves by any number of things other than Jesus. Only by knowing our false identity apart from Christ in relation to our true identity in Him can we rightly deal with and overcome the issues in our lives.”

“What you do doesn’t determine who you are. Rather, who you are in Christ determines what you do.”

“Our worship never starts and stops. It’s not limited to a building in which we attend sacred meetings and sing worship songs. Rather, our entire life is devoted to pouring ourselves into someone or something. Saying it another way, we’re ‘unceasing worshippers.’ We aren’t created to worship, but rather we’re created worshipping.”

“While it’s not a sin to plan and strive for a better tomorrow, it is a sin to set one’s joy and identity on who we will be, what we will do, or what we will have tomorrow in our own efforts rather than on Christ today and who He will make us, what He will have us do, and what He will give to us tomorrow.”

“While it’s true that sin has affected the totality of our persons, including our minds, wills, and emotions, we fail to say all that the Bible does regarding our identity when we place undue focus on our depravity as fallen sinners and ignore our dignity as created image bearers and our new identity as redeemed Christian saints. While a non-Christian is totally depraved, a Christian is in Christ.”

“A saint does sin. But a Christian is one who has saint as their constant identity and sinner as their occasional activity. For the Christian, there is a vital difference between having sin and being sin.”

“Sin may explain some of your activity, but it’s not your identity. Your identity is in Christ, and because of your new identity, by God’s grace through the Holy Spirit’s power, you can change your activity. Because you are a new person positionally in Christ, you can live a new life practically by the power of the Holy Spirit. This truth is deeply helpful and vitally practical.”

“Pride is our enemy and humility is our ally. Pride compares us to other sinners; humility compares us to our sinless Savior. Pride covets the success of others; humility celebrates it. Pride is about me; humility is about Jesus and other people. Pride is about my glory; humility is about God’s glory. Pride causes separation from God; humility causes dependence on God. Pride is pregnant with all sins; humility is pregnant with all joys. Pride leads to arrogance; humility leads to confidence. Pride causes me to do things in my own strength; humility compels me to do things in God’s strength. …None of us, with the exception of Jesus Christ, can ever say we’re truly humble. Instead, all we can say is that we’re proud people pursuing humility by the grace of God.”

“In Christ, you’re graced. You’re chosen by grace, saved by grace, kept by grace, gifted by grace, empowered by grace, matured by grace, and sanctified by grace. You persevere by grace, and one day will see Jesus, the best Friend you’ve ever had, face-to-face, by grace.”

“God is as equally glorified when we praise Him for His unmediated grace as when we’re thankful for those through whom He chooses to deliver it. …We’re to thank God for being faithful to His people and to thank His people for being faithful to Him.”

“Before we can understand and embrace our identity in Christ, we must first accept our identity apart from Christ. Becoming a Christian is not merely accepting the truth about Jesus as our Savior. It’s also accepting the truth about ourselves as needy sinners.”

“Because afflictions cost us so much, they are too precious to waste. Though God may not cause your affliction, He can use your affliction for His glory, others’ good, and your growth, if you are in Christ.”

“Our God didn’t suffer so that we wouldn’t suffer. He suffered so that when we do suffer, we can become more like Him and point more people to Him.”

“Too many Christians pit knowledge against experience and the head against the heart. The truth is, both are needed to grasp God’s love. The love of God is what happens when the truth in our heads captivates the affections of our hearts, which spurs us on to grasp the love of God in our lives. …As the love of God increasingly captivates our hearts and we grasp onto his love, we’re changed and become increasingly mature in Christ because our affections determine our actions.”

“Sometimes, Christians shy away from involvement in a local church because they see faults with the church. Ironically, the fact that they see a lack may indicate that there’s a need for them and their gifts. Rather than complaining, it’s better to humbly start serving to meet a church’s needs and invite others to also help.”

“Through the power of the Holy Spirit, God helps us live holy lives and enables us to obey Him. In this way, regeneration is the opposite of religion, which tragically teaches that if you obey God, He will then love you. The exact opposite is true. Regeneration reveals that because God loves us, we can obey Him by the power of the Holy Spirit. You have new power in Christ.”

“Your Father is perfect, loving, gracious, merciful, patient, holy, helpful, and generous. The more you get to know Him through Scripture, prayer, song, service, and time with your brothers and sisters in Christ, the more you will come to love and enjoy Him. Your desires will change from sin to holiness, and you’ll increasingly want to be like your Dad. You’ll love what He loves and hate what He hates.”

“As Christians, our goal is not to merely experience behavior modification by changing how we act and react. Our primary goal is getting to know, love, and trust God as our Father.”

“The last thing the church needs is cowards that treat the Bible like an artifact more fit for a museum than a weapon for the battlefield.”

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