Links & Quotes

When Jesus says, “I need you,” will you be able to say, “I’m ready for You”? Here is a great example of a man who stayed ready year after year for that precise moment when Jesus said, “It’s time.” Please subscribe to my YouTube channel.

Pastors, I was challenged by the insight from T.M. Moore, and I hope you will take a couple of minutes to read the full post and even subscribe to his regular emails. “John Calvin explained that one of the marks of a true church is that the Word of God is faithfully proclaimed and heard. He did not consider a church to be fulfilling its mission simply by sound preaching. Sound preaching had to be coupled with sound hearing and obedience, for only as believers do the Word to they receive it as God intends.

“In this, Calvin and Columbanus are in agreement: ‘While we preach often we improve slowly; often are we offended, seldom patient, often conquered, seldom conquerors, often led astray, seldom wise. Then what will help us, like weak and unskilled fighters whose weapons turn and wound them, while it is no credit to hear these things, but to accomplish them? For the law does not make holy by hearing, but doubtless by performance; each should honour the Lord, not simply by words and bodily toil, but by ripeness of character and purity of heart’ (Sermon II).”

Links & Quotes

Every Monday I share a 1-minute thought to get your week started. It’s my weekly Monday Motivation series of videos. Check out this week’s video that I posted the day after Christmas, and please subscribe on YouTube.

T.M. Moore wrote one of the endorsements for my book Shepherd Leadership. In an interview I then did on his Fellowship of Ailbe podcast, I shared my dismay over unbiblical ideas and practices that have crept into the church. Both T.M. and I share a passion to see our church leadership return to our secure biblical foundation. 

In a recent blog post, T.M wrote, “From the days of the apostles onward, a tendency has existed among church leaders to drift from the plain teaching of the Word of God into forms of Christian life and ministry that derive from sources other than Scripture. Or that stretch the meaning of Scripture to fit the shape of certain cultural forms.” Please check out T.M.’s post “Do not go beyond.”

In a fascinating post from Rabbi Benjamin Blech, I read these thoughts about the power of a name: “The Hebrew word for soul is neshamah. Central to that word, the middle two letters, shin and mem, make the word shem, Hebrew for ‘name.’ Your name is the key to your soul. … When the Torah says, ‘God created,’ it doesn’t suggest that He worked with what He fashioned by labor, but merely that He spoke—and the very words describing the object came into being. God said, ‘Let there be light and there was light.’ The Almighty merely gave it a name, and the very letters defined its atomic structure.” Check out the full post here.

And once again archeologists discover evidence that corroborates the biblical accounts. In this case, more evidence is found from King Hezekiah. As I have said numerous times, the historicity of the Bible is amply verified.

“Success” doesn’t always mean bigger numbers. King David got into trouble with God when he wanted to measure his success by how many fighting men he had under his command. Consistently throughout the Bible God’s measure of success is our trust in Him. This thought was a key part of the sub-title of my book Shepherd Leadership: The Metrics That Really Matter.

Cold-case detective J. Warner Wallace tackles an important topic: Does objective truth exist, and how can it be defined? This is a quite lengthy post but it is well worth your time.

“Pain nourishes courage. You can’t be brave if you’ve only had wonderful things happen to you.” —Mary Tyler Moore

Book Reviews From 2022

Listen to the podcast of this post by clicking on the player below, and you can also subscribe on AppleSpotify, or Audible.

I love reading, and I love sharing my love of good books with others! Here is a list of the books I read and reviewed in 2022. Click on a title to be taken to that review.

Autobiography of Calvin Coolidge

Cary Grant

Contending For Our All

Father Sergius

Hank Greenberg: The Story Of My Life

Living In A Gray World

Out Of The Depths

Roots Of Endurance

Simple Truths Of Leadership

Spurgeon And The Psalms

Susanna Wesley

The Holy War

The Legacy Of Sovereign Joy

The Poetry Of Prayer

The Self-Aware Leader

Who Says Elephants Can’t Dance?

Who’s Pushing Your Buttons?

Here are my book reviews for 2011.

Here are my book reviews for 2012.

Here are my book reviews for 2013.

Here are my book reviews for 2014.

Here are my book reviews for 2015.

Here are my book reviews for 2016.

Here are my book reviews for 2017.

Here are my book reviews for 2018.

       Here are my book reviews for 2019.

Here are my book reviews for 2020.

Here are my book reviews for 2021.

►► Would you please prayerfully consider supporting this ministry? My Patreon supporters get behind-the-scenes access to exclusive materials. ◀︎◀︎

Links & Quotes

Every Monday I share a 1-minute thought to get your week started. It’s my weekly Monday Motivation series of videos. Check out this week’s video and subscribe on YouTube.

“The Lord Jesus Christ is always ready to take the most imperfect prayer and perfect it for us. If our prayers had to go up to heaven as they are, they would never succeed; but they find a Friend on the way, and therefore they prosper.” —Charles Spurgeon

I love this thought from T.M. Moore: “We sometimes use the word reflect to express what we want to see happen in our lives as Christians. We say we want to reflect Jesus to the world, like a mirror reflects an image. As agents of Jesus Christ and His Kingdom, believers are not so much like mirrors as they are like prisms. Mirrors reflect light. The light strikes them and bounces off, without bringing anything of the mirror with it. Prisms refract light.” Please take a couple of minutes to read Moore’s post Prisms of the Light.

Links & Quotes

Don’t wait until you feel like doing the next good thing, just do the next good thing and the good feelings will follow. Not only that, but you will motivate others too!

“Excellence is to do a common thing in an uncommon way.” —Booker T. Washington

This is a cool mini-biography of Gottfried von Leibniz, a German polymath, committed Lutheran, and one of the most wide-ranging intellects in all of history.

“Forgiveness does not excuse the offending behavior. Forgiveness excuses the offender. The fact that God forgives us of sin, does not make sinning okay. The fact that we forgive someone of their sin towards us, does not make the sin okay.” —Kanayo Situ

“The happiness of a man in this life does not consist in the absence but in the mastery of his passions.” —Alfred Lord Tennyson

“In life you can take things one of two ways: you can take them for granted or you can take them with gratitude.” —G.K. Chesterton

T.M. Moore has an excellent post on how we can prepare for temptation before it even comes. Please check out this whole post which concludes with this thought, “Make up your mind, each day, that you’re going to resist temptation with prayer, preparation, and resting in the Word of God. Let the Spirit Who brings conviction and repentance be at work within you before you come upon the nets and snares of temptation, and you’ll be in a much better position to overcome the evil that threatens to engulf you, with the good choices and conduct that please the Lord and honor Him.”

More amazing evidence of the creativity of our Creator. Researchers have discovered how plant roots adapt based on the presence or lack of water.

Links & Quotes

Don’t rush through your Bible reading time. Slow down to savor the good stuff. And if there’s something you don’t understand, ask the “Chef”—the Holy Spirit loves to make God’s Word clear to you.

On a recent Breakpoint broadcast, John Stonestreet reported, “Even while many nations pump the brakes on radical transgender ideology and healthcare practices, Americans at both the state and federal level continue to push culture-wide affirmation, social transition of minors, hormone therapies, and harmful surgeries. Advocates frequently claim that so-called and misnamed ‘gender-affirming’ treatments—including surgery—‘save lives,’ that gender dysphoria is a permanent condition even among minors, and that regret by those who undergo such treatments are minimal or non-existent. Increasingly, research suggests otherwise.”

“Hazael’s historicity has never truly been in doubt; there are far too many inscriptions from the ancient world testifying to his existence.” Check out this archeological biography of King Hazael who appears several times in the Bible.

Dan Reiland notes, “Leaders navigate within the realm of pressure; it’s part of the landscape. It’s how we handle the pressure that makes all the difference.” Dan shares four ways the pressure of leadership is needed and helpful.

Be careful with non-biblical rules! I went much deeper with this idea in an exclusive video for my Patreon sponsors. If you want to get access to these exclusive lessons, it’s just $5/month. Check out my Patreon page to subscribe → https://www.patreon.com/craigtowens.

John Piper explains that there are three levels of how to live with material things. He then dives deeper into what the purpose of prosperity really is.

T.M. Moore has a stern word for pastors: “If we are faithful in telling the whole truth of the Gospel, not everyone will be thrilled with our preaching. We need to make sure Jesus is. When it comes to sin, let’s not mince words, and let’s not act like it’s not the big deal it is. No progress in faith can be made where sin is not consistently and thoroughly confessed, repented of, and forsaken.”

5 Quotes From “The Poetry Of Prayer”

In The Poetry Of Prayer, T.M. Moore not only introduces us to the imaginative poetry of George Herbert, but he also shows us what Herbert was trying to portray: There’s an undiscovered world in our prayer time! You can check out my full book review by clicking here. 

“The imagination is a wonderful if much-neglected resource. It is that place in the soul where mind, heart, and conscience, most fruitfully overlap to enhance, enrich, and enlarge each other. 

“When our imaginations are functioning as God intends, they can open the windows of refreshment into our souls, so that we think bigger and more clearly and excitedly; we feel with more urgency and delight; and we establish new priorities and values. 

“Poetry stretches the imagination by inviting it on to familiar ground and then changing the nature of that ground, right under our feet. Images, metaphors, rhyme, rhythm, and in an agreeable form can lead us, through our imaginations, into seeing familiar things in new and exciting ways.” 

“Prayer fixes the focus of our minds on unchanging spiritual realities. Prayer engages our imaginations—what Paul calls ‘the eyes of your understanding’—with visions of unseen glories and wonders. …

“At the same time, as we gaze in prayer upon the beauty of Christ, and commune with Him in His glory, we find that our hearts are enlarged in love for the Lord. The sheer beauty, majesty, and immensity of God can suck the breath out of us and fill us with the Spirit of the Lord at the same time. Lesser things lose their thrall as we drink in the vision of Christ and pour out heartfelt words of worship, adoration, and praise. These, in turn, exercise our heart in love for the Lord, just as our physical muscles are exercised during a workout.” 

“We feed our souls in prayer when, having entered His presence, we fill our minds with the vision of His glory, our hearts with the joy and pleasure of His presence, and our wills with iron resolve to serve this glorious God at every moment.” 

“Even now, as the Apostle Paul indicates [2 Corinthians 4:6], we who feast at the banquet table of prayer can glimpse the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ and know daily revival and renewal in His grace.” 

“Prayer brings us from earth to heaven, and then brings heaven to earth in our transformed souls and renewed commitments for the day ahead.”

My Patreon supporters have been given all the rest of the quotes I pulled from this book. If you would like to have access to all of the content I regularly share with my Patreon team, please click here. 

The Poetry Of Prayer (book review)

Wow, talk about a win-win for me: The Poetry Of Prayer combines one of my go-to theologians (T.M. Moore) with one of my favorite poets (George Herbert)! In another win, this book opens up a new richness for a Christian’s prayer life. 

George Herbert’s poems hold a unique place in the world of literature[*]. Of the 167 poems in the collection of his poems called The Temple, 116 of them are written with meters that are not repeated. In several instances, Herbert created meters that no poet had used before. In his poem “Poetry (1),” Herbert leans into his poetic prowess to try to capture adequate descriptions of prayer. 

T.M. Moore thinks deeply and writes clearly about how Christians should be saturated in the Bible and prayer. In The Poetry Of Prayer he dissects Herbert’s poem phrase by phrase and invites us to see the awesome potential in prayer that far too often goes untapped. 

In each chapter, Moore helps us examine each of Herbert’s poetic phrases, explore the scriptural references that apply, and consider some “next steps” for applying these principles to our personal prayer time. As you progress through the book, Herbert’s poem takes on deeper and richer meaning so that you should become enthralled with cultivating your own rich prayer time.  

I cannot recommend this book to you strongly enough—a true gem in developing a greater appreciation for the intimacy and power in prayer.

For my Patreon supporters, get ready for a treasure-trove of quotes from this book!

[*] If you would like to know more about George Herbert’s poetry, check out my book review of Seeing Beauty And Saying Beautifully.

Links & Quotes

“This is one of the rewards of reading the Old Testament regularly. You keep on discovering more and more what a tissue of quotations from it the New Testament is; how constantly Our Lord repeated, reinforced, continued, refined, and sublimated the Judaic ethics, how very seldom He introduced a novelty.” —C.S. Lewis, Reflections On The Psalms 

I have shared quite often about the historicity of the Bible. Here is some additional evidence for that: Top 10 discoveries related to the Book of Daniel.

The folks at Fight The New Drug provide excellent research on the dangers of pornography as well as many helpful resources for folks to break free from a porn addiction. Pornography often attracts people when they are emotionally drained, but viewing porn actually increases feelings of loneliness and isolation.

If we ever start to think the Church is one or two ministers and a whole bunch of parishioners, it really won’t be a Church. According to Ephesians 4, all Christians should be ministers. 

You can check out the full message that this clip is from by clicking here.

Here is a word of encouragement for anyone in a time of spiritual warfare—

Check out my regular Monday Motivation series.

Wow, this post from T.M. Moore on how we respond to God’s “call” is a much-needed reminder. In the post, he wrote,

“Probably most Christians treat the calling of God as a kind of punctuated equilibrium. He breaks into their lives to ‘call’ them to some activity or task, but only from time to time, and only for that activity or task. He ‘calls’ us to believe the Gospel, and we do. He ‘calls’ us to this or that church, and we go. He ‘calls’ us to some ministry or other Christian activity, and so we participate. He ‘calls’ us to make a special gift, go on a mission trip, send a note of encouragement to a friend, and so forth. Our lives run on their own schedules, so whenever God ‘calls’ us to do something, we’ll try to get it done.

“But most of the time, other things have prior claims on our lives. We have jobs, families, friends, responsibilities, things we like to do or must do. We can’t respond to every calling from God because, well, there just isn’t enough time. We say, when friends press us to consider this or that Christian opportunity, ‘If God calls me to it, I will.’ But aren’t we just using the language of piety to relieve the discomfort of pressure to do something we’d rather not do?

“We are called of God. Of this there is no doubt. But for most Christians, the way they understand God’s calling is not the same as the way God issues it. And they have not yet learned to value His calling as He intends, as the defining and guiding value of our lives.”

Links & Quotes

“…and let us all hasten to approach to perfect manhood, to the measure of the completed growth of the fullness of Jesus Christ, in Whom let us love one another, praise one another, correct one another, encourage one another, pray for one another, that with Him in one another we may reign and triumph.” —Columbanus, Letter to Certain Bishops, Irish, early 7th century

This is pretty cool: Mastodon bones were discovered in our community. It is cool to think that these amazing creatures were wandering around in our neighborhood.

Have you ever wondered how the laws of the Old Testament era should be applied to New Testament Christians? Theologian T.M. Moore has an excellent series of articles on this, but I think his post The Church is not Ancient Israel is especially informative.

Here is one way the Holy Spirit can speak to us—

“It is not the body of truth that enlightens; it is the Spirit of truth who enlightens. If you are willing to obey the Lord Jesus, He will illuminate your spirit. He will inwardly enlighten you. The truth you have known intellectually will now be known spiritually. Power will begin to flow up and out, and you will find yourself changed—marvelously changed.” —A.W. Tozer

“The greatest tragedy of life is not unanswered prayer, but unoffered prayer.” —F.B. Meyer

This is pretty cool: some fossilized human footprints in the salt flats of Utah. “Both creationist and uniformitarian scientists agree that these tracks were made during the Ice Age, although they disagree about when the Ice Age occurred. Creationists think these footprints are just a few thousand years old. However, evolutionists think the tracks are more than 10,000 years old, because they believe the wet conditions needed to form and preserve the footprints have been absent from the Great Salt Lake area for at least that long. … wet Ice Age deserts are extremely difficult for evolutionary scientists to convincingly explain. However, the Bible’s real history makes much better sense of both these wet deserts and preserved Ice Age footprints.”

Don’t cut corners to get more. Instead, be faithful, do your best work, and the “more” will follow at the right time—

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