The Value In Retreating

So He Himself often withdrew into the wilderness and prayed (Luke 5:16).

So”—in light of what just happened. What happened? Jesus was preaching everywhere, He healed a leper, and great multitudes came to hear Him speak and to be healed. So Jesus had to withdraw frequently to pray and be replenished.

All of us have only a finite amount of energy. When we are sensing that energy level is low, we also need a retreat. Otherwise, our low energy levels can sabotage us and diminish what God wants to do through us. 

Then check out the results after Christ’s time of replenishing:

  • God’s power was “present to heal” (v. 17)
  • People were saved (v. 20)
  • Jesus had holy perception (v. 22)
  • Miracles confirmed the word that Jesus preached (v. 24)
  • God was glorified (v. 26)
  • People followed Jesus (vv. 27, 28)
  • Jesus had enough grace and patience to handle criticism (v. 30)
  • Jesus had enough wisdom and patience to handle tricky theological questions (vv. 33-39)

J.C. Ryle noted, “The most successful workmen in the Lord’s vineyard are those who are, like their Master, often and much upon their knees.”

Healthy leaders are keenly aware of their own energy levels. 

So… A mark of a godly leader is one who frequently retreats. 

This is part 32 in my series on godly leadership. You can check out all of my posts in this series by clicking here.

Thursdays With Oswald—Isaiah 8-11

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.

Isaiah 8-11

[These are notes from Oswald Chambers’ lecture on Isaiah 8-11.]

     God did not give a progressive revelation of Himself through the Old Testament: the people progressively grasped the revelation, which is very different. …

     The remarkable thing is that when Jesus Christ comes, every one of the things the prophets have been saying fit in with one Personality, the Being whom we know as the Lord Jesus Christ. Isaiah never saw Jesus Christ, he could not have imagined Him, then what inspired him? The very Mind of God (see 2 Peter 1:20). … 

     Fear is apt to make us atheistic and in our outlook we enthrone the devil, not God. God is behind it all, not a thing happens but He knows all about it. …

     If we try to draw our breath from any other source we instantly get diseased. By prayer and communion with God we live out in God’s moral open air, consequently we can live in the cities and amongst the places of men and maintain the life which is in accordance with the Messiah’s life…. The enemy of our souls goes for all he is worth against our praying, against our solitudes with God, he tries to prevent us drawing our breath in the fear of the Lord. The great need is to bring every thought and imagination into captivity to the obedience of Christ until every bit of our nature is reconstructed. 

From Notes On Isaiah

In these four chapters of Isaiah, the kings of Judah are facing enemies closing in from all sides and fear is mounting. Isaiah keeps speaking a word from the Lord that amounts to God saying this: Stop focusing on your troubles and focus on Me instead!

It’s a good reminder for us still today. God is in control. Let me say that again: God is in control! Let His perfect love and His perfect power drive out fear from your heart. Keep your eyes on Him, not on the problems coming against you. Let your thoughts be captivated by Jesus, and you will be reconstructed from the inside out with the nature of Christ.

Thursdays With Oswald—The Power Is In The Solitude

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 Power Is In The Solitude

     If we want to know the universal sovereignty of Christ, we must get into solitude with Him. It is not sufficient for someone else to tell us about Him; we must perceive with our own eyes Who He is, we must know Him for ourselves. … 

     We must get to the place of real solitude with Christ. He is our mountain-height and our sea-calm; He is the recreating power; He is the universal Sovereign. He tells us to consider the lilies; we say—“No, we must consider life.” We mistake the mechanism of life for life itself, and that idea has become incorporated into Christian work. In the active work we do for God we do not really believe that Jesus Christ is sovereign Lord; if we did, we should fuss less and build more faith in Him. We cannot do the Savior’s work by fuss, but only by knowing Him as the supreme sovereign Lord. … 

     Our Lord’s word “go” simply means “live,” and Acts 1:8 describes the “going.” Jesus did not say to the disciples—“Go into Jerusalem, go into Judea, go into Samaria, go into the uttermost part of the earth”; but—“You shall be My witnesses” in all these places: He undertakes to establish the goings. So many people are obsessed with this idea—“What are you going to do?” I hope none of us are going to do anything: I hope we are going to be what He wants us to be. … 

     The key to the missionary is the absolute Sovereignty of the Lord Jesus Christ. We must get into real solitude with Him, feed our soul on His Word, and He will engineer our circumstances.

From So Send I You 

Jesus gave a command to all His followers—including all of us today—All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to Me. Therefore go (Matthew 28:18-19). Jesus is saying to us, “Preach and teach out of a living experience of Myself.” In this respect, we are all missionaries.

Oswald Chambers reminds us missionaries that the only way we will be effective in our goings is by spending adequate time in solitude and worship with Our Lord. If we don’t, then we are trying to do ministry on our own, trying to engineer our own circumstances. But the missionary who is spending time with Jesus finds that He directs all our goings and engineers all our circumstances.

The power to testify about Jesus comes from our time of solitude with Jesus.

8 Quotes From “Live Dead Journey”

Live Dead Journey are notes from missionaries on the front lines. You can check out my book review by clicking here. One of the things that stood out to me was the focus of these “tour guides” on their time abiding with Jesus. Here are some quotes that share their heart on this.

“Abiding time is extravagant daily time with Jesus.” –Dick Brogden

“Jesus spent close to 90 percent of His life in a village of twelve families, and even His three years of ministry were characterized by time alone with the Father. Moses spent forty years in Midian and had multiple trips to the mountain with God. Paul spent thirteen years in preparation, some of it in the Arabian Desert, and prayed constantly. Adam, Joseph, David, Elijah, Daniel, Mary, John, and others all gave God extravagant time. When we examine the lives of any heroes of the faith, we can see that they lingered daily with Jesus.” –Dick Brogden

“Jesus has become my safe place. When stability is not present in life here, I can lean on Him. When friends are not constant, Jesus is. He knows what I need and provides everything. Jesus is enough for me.” –Joy Hawthorne

“I’ve learned that not spending time with Jesus today is one step in not spending time with Him tomorrow.” –Miriam Davis

“One thing I have discovered is that I can’t survive throughout the day on just one block of time with Jesus. So at some other point in my day, I spend time basking in His presence. … Abiding is a lifestyle.” –Eva Bridges

“To help draw out the lessons from a passage, I now look for the following. Is there:

  • A command for me to obey?
  • A promise for me to claim?
  • A sin for me to avoid or repent of?
  • An example for me to follow (good) or avoid (bad)?
  • A truth to believe?
  • A prayer to pray?” –Jeff Griffin

“I’ve realized that what I desire I become–Jesus is my desire, and I want to be like Him.” –Cathy Stone

“How extravagant are you toward Jesus with your time? Do you lavish time on Jesus? Do you give Jesus the most energetic and focused times of your day? Or do you tend to give Jesus the crumbs of your schedule?” –Dick Brogden

12 More Quotes From “Ordering Your Private World”

Gordon MacDonald did a phenomenal job synthesizing biblical principles as he teaches us how to pay attention to our private, inner world. One of the things I enjoyed was the number of other authors and teachers he quotes throughout Ordering Your Private World. Here are a few of those quotes he shared…

“The battle is lost or won in the secret places of the will before God, never first in the external world. … Nothing has any power over the man who has fought out the battle before God and won there. … I must get the things settled between myself and God in the secret places of my soul where no stranger intermeddles, and then I can go forth with the certainty that the battle is won.” —Oswald Chambers

“I took pleasure where it pleased me, and passed on. I forgot that every little action of the common day makes or unmakes character, and that therefore what one has done in the secret chamber, one has some day to cry aloud from the house-top. I ceased to be lord over myself. I was no longer the captain of my soul, and did not know it. I allowed pleasure to dominate me. I ended in horrible disgrace.” —Oscar Wilde 

“Think of no other greatness but that of the soul, no other riches but those of the heart.” —John Quincy Adams, in a letter to his daughter

“A public man, though he is necessarily available at many times, must learn to hide. If he is always available, he is not worth enough when he is available.” —Elton Trueblood

“Remember a long life of steady, consistent, holy labor will produce twice as much fruit as one shortened and destroyed by spasmodic and extravagant exertions; be careful and sparing of your strength when and where exertion is unnecessary.” —Catherine Booth, in a letter to her husband William Booth, founder of the Salvation Army

“There can be intemperance in work just as in drink. What feels like zeal may be only fidgets or even the flattering of one’s self-importance.” —C.S. Lewis

“The man of action has the present, but the thinker controls the future.” —Oliver Wendell Holmes

“No other pleasure suits every occasion, every age or every place. But the study of letters is the food of youth, the delight of old age, a delight at home and no burden abroad; it stays with us at night, and goes with us on our travels, near and far.” —Cicero

“We need to find God, and He cannot be found in noise and restlessness. God is the friend of silence. See how nature—trees, flowers, grass—grow in silence; see the stars, the moon and sun, how they move in silence…. The more we receive in silent prayer, the more we can give in our active life. We need silence to be able to touch souls. The essential thing is not what we say, but what God says to us and through us. All our words will be useless unless they come from within—words which do not give the light of Christ increase the darkness.” —Mother Teresa

“St. Augustine says, ‘God gives where He finds empty hands.’ A man whose hands are full of parcels can’t receive a gift. Perhaps these parcels are not always sins or earthly cares, but sometimes our own fussy attempts to worship Him in our way. Incidentally, what most often interrupts my own prayers is not great distractions but tiny ones—things one will have to do or avoid in the course of the next hour.” —C.S. Lewis

“Let inward prayer be your last act before you fall asleep and the first act when you awake.” —Thomas Kelly

“I know that there are certain mental and emotional and moral and spiritual attitudes that are anti-health: anger, resentments, fear, worry, desire to dominate, self-preoccupation, guilts, sexual impurity, jealousy, a lack of creative activity, inferiorities, a lack of love. These are the twelve apostles of ill health. So in prayer I’ve learned to surrender these things to Jesus Christ as they appear.” —E. Stanley Jones

You can check out my review of Gordon MacDonald’s Order Your Private World by clicking here. And you can read some quotes from Gordon by clicking here.

8 Quotes From Gordon MacDonald In “Ordering Your Private World”

In the quiet solitude of our inner lives is where real growth takes place. Or said another way: if we won’t make time to order our private world, our public world will be limited in its scope and effectiveness. Gordon MacDonald unpacks some fantastic principles to help us in his newly updated and expanded book Ordering Your Private World. Check out my full book review by clicking here, and then enjoy these quote from Gordon MacDonald.

“There is a busyness that reflects a plan of activity, a pattern of priorities, and a sense of purposefulness. It is a good and satisfying busyness through which one grows and increases competence. But there is also a busyness (a destructive busyness, actually) that reflects a chaotic way of life—a way of doing in which one is simply responding to the next thing in the day. The next thing! It makes no difference whether it has significance; it’s just the next thing, and one does it because it’s there to do.”

“A soul—our spiritual space—is empty when one tries to do soul-based things but makes little or no effort to keep that soul filled.”

“Driven people boast of their drivenness. They have forgotten how to play. Spiritual activity seems a waste of time. They are usually too busy for the pursuit of ordinary relationships in marriage, family, or friendship, or even to carry on a relationship with themselves—not to speak of one with God. Because driven people rarely think they have accomplished enough, they seize every available minute to attend more meetings, to study more material, to initiate more projects. They operate on the precept that a reputation for busyness is a sign of success and personal importance. Thus, they attempt to impress people with the fullness of their schedules.”

“Our careers, our assets, our natural and spiritual gifts, our health—are these things owned, or merely managed in the name of the One who gave them? Driven people consider them owned; called people do not. When driven people lose those things, it is a major crisis. When called people lose them, nothing of substance changes. The private world remains the same, perhaps even stronger.”

“It is worth taking time to ask how Our Lord’s command of time is demonstrated. … The first thing that impresses me is that Jesus clearly understood His mission. … A second insight into Jesus’ personal organization of time is that He understood His own limits. … Jesus included a third important element in His strategy of time budgeting, for He set time aside for the training of the Twelve.”

“Unmanaged time flows toward my weaknesses. Unmanaged time comes under the influence of dominant people in my world. Unmanaged time surrenders to the demands of all emergencies. Unmanaged time gets invested in things that gain public acclamation.”

“The unthinking Christ-follower does not realize it, but he is dangerously absorbed into the culture about him. Because his mind is untrained and unfilled, it lacks the ability to produce the hard questions with which the world needs to be challenged. The private world of a Christ-follower will be weak, defenseless, and disorganized if serious attention has not been given to this sector of intellectual growth.”

“We do not develop our intellects merely for our own personal advancement, but we put our thinking power to work for the use of others. … As my mind grows, it may make possible the growth of others.”

Thursdays With Oswald—Public And Private

This 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.

Public and Private 

   My worth to God in public is what I am in private.

From Run Today’s Race

Run Today’s Race contains short statements from Oswald Chambers intended to stimulate Christians to ponder things like:

  • Do I spend enough time alone with God, or am I too quick to run off to accomplish my tasks?
  • Am I listening to what God really wants to tell me in private?
  • Am I applying those private lessons to my public life?
  • Jesus spent much time in solitude with His Father; am I spending enough time in solitude with God?
%d bloggers like this: