11 Quotes From “If”

As I said in my book review of Amy Carmichael’s book If, this is definitely not a book for everyone. Amy herself said, “It is clear, I think, that such a booklet as this is not meant for everyone, but only for those who are called to be undershepherds.” So the quotes I’m sharing today are just a few of her “If…” statements that especially resonated with me in my role as an under-shepherd pastor.

“If I enjoy a joke at the expense of another; if I can in any way slight another in conversation, or even in thought, then I know nothing of Calvary love.”

“If I can write an unkind letter, speak an unkind word, think an unkind thought without grief and shame, then I know nothing of Calvary love.”

“If I can rebuke without a pang, then I know nothing of Calvary love.”

“If my attitude be one of fear, not faith, about one who has disappointed me; if I say, ‘Just what I expected,’ if a fall occurs, then I know nothing of Calvary love.”

“If I cast up a confessed, repented, and forsaken sin against another, and allow my remembrance of that sin to color my thinking and feed my suspicions, then I know nothing of Calvary love.”

“If I put my own happiness before the well-being of the work entrusted to me; if, though I have this ministry and have received much mercy, I faint, then I know nothing of Calvary love.”

“If I am soft to myself and slide comfortably into the vice of self-pity and self-sympathy; if I do not by the grace of God practice fortitude, then I know nothing of Calvary love.”

“If I do not give a friend ‘the benefit of the doubt,’ but put the worst construction instead of the best on what is said or done, then I know nothing of Calvary love.”

“If I say, ‘Yes, I forgive, but I cannot forget,’ as though the God who twice a day washes all the sands on the shores of all the world, could not wash such memories from my mind, then I know nothing of Calvary love.”

“If the praise of man elates me and his blame depresses me; if I cannot rest under misunderstanding without defending myself; if I love to be loved more than to love, to be served more than to serve, then I know nothing of Calvary love.”

“Let us listen to simple words; our Lord speaks simply: ‘Trust Me, My child,’ He says. ‘Trust Me with a humbler heart and a fuller abandoned to My will than ever thou didst before. Trust Me to pour My love through thee, as minute succeeds minute. And if thou shouldst be conscious of anything hindering that flow, do not hurt My love by going away from Me in discouragement, for nothing can hurt so much as that. Draw all the closer to Me.’”

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The Servant As His Lord (book review)

One of the most straight-talking, tell-it-like-it-is Christian speaker and author is Oswald Chambers. No one could ever accuse him of sugar-coating the Christian walk! In The Servant As His Lord, Chambers takes an unflinching look at the difficulty a Christian will have in living as his Lord, Jesus Christ, did.

As is the case with nearly all of Oswald Chambers’ books, The Servant As His Lord is a compilation of three sources: lectures, sermons, and essays for some small pamphlets. Biddy Chambers, his wife, often recorded Oswald’s sermons via shorthand and then put them into a book form at a later date.

The material in this book was all recorded during the height of The Great War (or what we now refer to as World War I). Many Christians were quite shaken in their faith during this time, questioning why God’s followers should have to go through such horrific things. Oswald Chambers, as he always did, never dodged the question nor made excuses, but simply stated: Jesus suffered pain, ridicule, and injustice while on earth, and His followers will too. The servant will be as his Lord.

Even though this book addresses some heavy topics, it’s not at all a “downer” for the reader. Quite the contrary! This book is actually very encouraging for the Christian going through any kind of difficulty or trial, knowing that Jesus not only went through the same thing, but that He is walking with us through our own trials.

This is definitely one of Chambers’ meatier books, but it is well worth the mature Christian’s time to study these wise and encouraging words.

Thursdays With Oswald—6 Questions About Your Relationship With Jesus

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.

6 Questions About Your Relationship With Jesus

“How much more shall the blood of Christ, Who through the enteral Spirit offered Himself without blemish unto God, cleanse your conscience from dead works to serve the living God?” (Hebrews 9:14)

     Our right to ourselves in every shape and form was destroyed once and for ever by the death of Jesus, and we have to be educated into the realization of what this means in all its fullness. We have to come to a relationship to the Cross in thought as well as in life. … 

     We are here with no right to ourselves, for spiritual blessing for ourselves; we are here for one purpose only—to be made servants of God as Jesus was. …

   “How much more” does the death of Jesus mean to us today than it ever has before? Are we beginning to be lost in wonder, love and praise at the marvelous loosening from sin, and are we so assimilating the nature of Jesus that we bear a strong family likeness to Him?

     The most devout among us are too flippant about this great subject of the death of Jesus Christ. When we stand before the Cross, is our every common pious mood stripped off? … 

     How does all the profound thought underlying the death of Jesus touch us? The writer to the Hebrews instantly connect it with conscience—“How much more shall the blood of Christ,…cleanse your conscience from dead works to serve the living God?” Has conscience the place in our salvation and sanctification that it ought to have? … 

     Are you thankful to God for your salvation and sanctification, thankful He has purged your conscience from dead works? Then go a step further; let Jesus Christ take you straight through into identification with His death until there is nothing left but the light at the foot of the Cross, and the whole sphere of the life is hid with Christ in God. 

From The Philosophy Of Sin

I challenge you: take some time to thoughtfully answer these questions.

5 Ways To Live As A Free Servant

Peculiar not popularWe Americans love our freedom! But “freedom” is often misused and even abused—

  • We have sexual freedom … but not the “freedom” to say no.
  • We have freedom of expression … unless it’s “offensive” to me.
  • We have freedom of speech … unless I think it’s “hate speech.”

Freedom usually means: I am free to do what I want when I want to do it, but you are free to only do what I agree to. In other words, “freedom” has become subjective and selfish. For Christians, citizens of Heaven who are passing through Earth, the Bible calls us to use our freedom in a different way.

[1] Make sure your freedom is based in reverence for God (1 Peter 1:17). God is the One who will judge our actions. The Amplified Bible adds, “conduct yourselves in reverent fear of Him and with profound respect for God.”

[2] Live good lives, shown by your good deeds (1 Peter 2:12). The word good here means beautiful, useful, beneficial. In other words, the emphasis is more on action than on talk. George MacDonald wrote, “The time for speaking seldom arrives, the time for being never departs.”

[3] Do good to silence foolish talk (1 Peter 2:15). Notice the contrast between doing (the citizens of Heaven) and merely talking (the citizens of Earth). Good doing always trumps good talking.

[4] Live as free servants (1 Peter 2:16). That sounds like an oxymoron, doesn’t it? A free servant?! But this is the same word used to describe Jesus in Philippians 2:7. It’s also how Jesus lived. In fact, the only time Jesus said, “I have set you an example” is when He was being the lowest of servants.

[5] Never forget the Cross (1 Peter 2:21-24; 4:1-6). Because of what Jesus did on the Cross for us, we die to sins and live for righteousness. Because of the Cross, we are to live differently from Earthlings.

When we live in this peculiar way, it gets noticed:

Simple question: If you are a Christian, are you living the way Peter instructs you to live?

We will be continuing our Aliens and Strangers series next Sunday, and I would love to have you join me. If you cannot be with us in person, tune-in to our Periscope broadcast (search for @craigtowens).

Humility Misunderstood

Tsadhe [close up]Humility has gotten a bad reputation. Many people think of a humble person as someone who never speaks up for himself, someone that can be taken advantage of, someone who becomes a doormat for everyone else. But the picture of a humble person in the Bible couldn’t be more different!

We all have to bow to someone or something. A godly humble person has chosen to bow to God and to follow God’s righteous standards.

One name for God is Jehovah Tsidkenu which means God is Righteous (see Psalm 119:137). The Hebrew word tsadhe is a part of God’s Righteous title, and it’s how we are called to live. Tsadhe means the humble, faithful servant.

In the section of Psalm 119 called tsadhe, the psalmist points out:

  • Your laws are right … they are fully trustworthy (vv. 137, 138).
  • Your promises have been thoroughly tested, and Your servant loves them (v. 140).
  • Your commands are my delight (v. 143).
  • The way You tell me to live is always right (v. 144).

Jesus lists a whole series of rewards for those who are humbly, faithfully dependent on God for help in Matthew 5:3-12. But I especially love how tsadhe looks when we zoom in on it—the Hebrew scribes wrote it with the faithful, humble, kneeling servant depicted with a crown! Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven (Matthew 5:12).

Far from being pushed down, the humble person is the one God delights to exalt! God set the standard for righteousness, and then Jesus became our righteousness (Jeremiah 23:6; 1 Corinthians 1:30), so that we could receive the rewards of humble obedience to the Heavenly Father.

What a way to live!

(If you are near Cedar Springs this Sunday, please join me as we continue our series on the 119th Psalm.)

Attitude Check

Attitude checkWhen we realize that nothing can thwart God’s plan, and that you and I are a part of that plan, I think there could be a couple of attitudes that might pop up: (1) Confidence―not in my abilities, but in God’s; or (2) Humility―not thinking less of myself, but thinking of myself less.

Confidence without humility leads to self-destructive pride, and humility without confidence leads to self-destructive fear. We need confidence with humility, just like Jesus demonstrated in going to the old rugged Cross.

We can see the confidence in Jesus when He claims to be the “I AM” (John 8:54-59). But we can also see the humility of Jesus when He said He would lay His life down (John 10:11, 15:13).

These two attitudes converge powerfully in John 13:1-17 when we read that Jesus knew that God had put all authority under His command (vv. 1, 3), and then He used His confident authority to serve His friends by washing their feet.

Confidence without humility won’t serve because it thinks others must serve them. Humility without confidence won’t serve because it thinks others will take advantage of them. But Jesus was confidently humble (or humbly confident) so He could serve. It’s the only time Jesus said “I have set you an example” (v. 15). Our attitude is to mirror His, and we are to confidently and humbly serve.

A humbly-confident / confidently-humble servant is known by his or her:

  • Heart―E.G.O. (edging God out) or E.G.O. (exalting God only) [*]
  • Head―having his/her thoughts aligned with the Word of God
  • Hands―serving God and others (Matthew 20:25-28)

If you were to honestly reflect on this, where do you rate yourself?

  • Are you confident that God loves you and has a plan for your life, a plan that cannot be thwarted?
  • Are you humble enough to serve others? To give up your own agenda so that God is glorified?
  • Can you honestly say you have the right E.G.O.?
  • Are your thoughts becoming more and more aligned and shaped by God’s Word?

We’ll be continuing our series on The Old Rugged Cross next Sunday, and I would love to have you join us.

[*] My thanks to Kenneth Blanchard for his insightful description of E.G.O. in his book Lead Like Jesus

Links & Quotes

link quote

How do you define “healing”? Check out this comprehensive list of Scriptures posted by Eurasia Northwest that may expand your definition.

Parents, beware of the book-turned-movie Fifty Shades Of Grey! Dr. Miriam Grossman has four blog posts about the dangers of seeing this movie or letting your kids see it. Check out the posts here.

“Unceasing prayer may sound complicated, but it needn’t be that way. Do this. Think of prayer less as an activity for God and more as an awareness of God. Seek to live in uninterrupted awareness. As you stand in line to register your car, think, ‘Thank you, Lord, for being here.’ In the grocery store as you shop, think, ‘Your presence, my King, I welcome.’ As you wash the dishes, worship your Maker.” ―Max Lucado

Tim Elmore reminds us that the next time a young leader approaches you with a “zany idea,” you might do well to listen to him/her. After all, he lists some really smart people who totally missed the future!

“If there be any deed of kindness or love that we can do for the very meanest and most obscure of God’s people, we ought to be willing to do it—to be servants to God’s servants.” —Charles Spurgeon

John Piper and the Desiring God crew have a list of 24 free ebooks. Good stuff!

[VIDEO]

A beautiful stories about a sister’s love for her brother―

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