Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Getting Through The TOUGH STUFF

One of my favorite writers, Charles Swindoll, has written a wonderful book, Getting Through The TOUGH STUFF. He lists fourteen stuff items especially for men and spends a chapter on each. Some of the topics covered include temptation, anxiety, doubt, remarriage, pain, hypocrisy, and death. I trust the quotes below will challenge you.

I'm convinced that most of us are rarely tempted in the area of our weaknesses but far more often in the areas of our strengths. I'm not the first to point that out. One man writes,
We must always remember that again and again we are tempted through our gifts. The person who is gifted with charm will be tempted to use that charm "to get away with anything." The person who is gifted with the power of words will be tempted to use his command of words to produce glib excuses to justify his own conduct. That person with a vivid and sensitive imagination will undergo agonies of temptation that a more stoic person will never experience. The person with great gifts of mind will be tempted to use these gifts for himself, and not for others, to become the master and not the servant of men. It is the grim fact of temptation that it is just where we are strongest that we must be forever on the watch. pp. 5-6

Among your circle of friends, be certain you have a few who care less for your comfort than they do for your character. p. 117

If some of our children spoke to their dads as we talk to God, we'd laugh out loud. "Oh, great, delightful, good, and loving earthly father. What is it thou dost wish me to do?" Good grief. p. 163

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Friday, December 25, 2009

The Power of Desperation

From the Pastor of the church that made the film, Facing the Giants, Senior Pastor, Michael Catt has written several books. He is a wonderful writer. This book, The Power of Desperation, is jammed pack with valuable truths! Please read and apply the quotes below.

Desperation is a powerful force. Desperation focuses our attention and energies on the things that count. p. xi

"Desperation now precedes revelation," my now-deceased friend, Manley Beasley, was accustomed to saying. "When you're desperate, God may finally have your attention." p. xii

God cannot bless us until he has us. When we try to keep within us an area that is our own, we try to keep an area of death. Therefore, in love, he claims all. There's no bargaining with him. - C.S. Lewis p. 5

"A glimpse of Jesus will save you, but to gaze at him will sanctify you." - Manley Beasley p. 16

"The grace, the groans and the glory are all part of the eternal purpose. Where there is no groaning, there is no growing now, nor glory to come." - Vance Havner p. 19

Remember that the Lord your God led you on the entire journey these 40 years in the wilderness, so that He might humble you and test you to know what was in your heart, whether or not you would keep His commands. - Deuteronomy 8:2 p. 19

The wilderness can indeed be a productive time. Sufferings have their purpose. They drive us to desperation and prayer. p. 31

Isn't that true of many believers? They are delivered from sin, but somehow they are never delivered from self. They are set free from their past, but they live in failure and defeat in their present. They stop seeking. They settle, get comfortable, and lose their passion and purpose. They become "good" Christians with little impact for the kingdom. Wandering in circles, they mindlessly move from home to school, to career, to retirement, to glory, but they never make a real difference. p. 32

He earned a B.N. (Be Nothing) degree in the seminary of suffering and sheepherding. Faith works best when there is no natural hope. God speaks best when all other voices are silenced. p.34

The hardest part of the wilderness experience is seeing what's really in our hearts. God removes the facades. He cares nothing about how great our peers say we are. He knows the truth, and He reveals it to us. He uses the dust and desert to expose our hearts and our motives. "Remember that the Lord your God led you on the entire journey these 40 years in the wilderness, so that He might humble you and test you to know what was in your heart, whether or not you would keep His commands." (Deut. 8:2, italics added). p. 34

"We will never crave to e filled until we are convinced we are empty." - John Blanchard p. 43

I pray that you, being rooted and firmly established in love, may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and width, height and depth, and to know the Messiah's love that surpasses knowledge, so you may be filled with all the fullness of God. Ephesians 3:17-19 p. 43

PUSH: Pray until something happens. p. 51

"The Bible recognizes no faith that does not lead to obedience, nor does it recognize any obedience that does not spring from faith. The two are opposite sides of the same coin." - A.W. Tozer p. 67

This is how we know that we love God's children when we love God and obey His commands. For this is what love for God is: to keep His commands. 1 John 5:2-3 p. 67

And to whom did He swear they would not enter His rest, but to those who were disobedient? So we see that they were not able to enter because of unbelief. (Hebrews 3:18-19 NASB) p. 70

In verse 18, he says they couldn't enter because of disobedience; in verse 19, he says unbelief was the cause. Well, which was it -- disobedience or unbelief? It was both. For obedience and faith are two sides of the same coin. You act on what you believe and you obey whom you trust. p. 79

If He were to explain how everything works out, then faith and obedience wouldn't be required.

  • God told Noah to build a boat and spend 120 years doing so, even though it had never rained.
  • God told Moses to cross the Red Sea and walk across on dry land. But it's hard to believe God can part the waters until you stand back and see the salvation of God.
  • God told the Israelites to follow the ark into the Jordan. Then, and only then, would it dry up and permit them to cross.
  • God told Joshua and the people of Israel to merely walk around Jericho and sound the trumpets, and the walls would fall.
  • God told David to conquer the formidable Goliath with a few smooth stones and a slingshot.
  • God told Mary she would give birth to the Son of God, even though she had never been with a man.
  • And God continues to do impossible things through ordinary people. pp. 83 - 84
"I will never despair, because I have a God; I will never presume, because I am but a man." - Owen Feltham p. 89

God, you are my God; I eagerly seek You. I thirst for You; my body faints for you in a land that is dry, desolate, and without water. - Psalm 63:1 pg. 89

God isn't pushing me to fix it; He's pushing me to faith it. p. 90

Admitting we can't is the first step toward admitting He can. p. 90

We must remember that God uses the wilderness to get our undivided attention. And to write songs in our heart whose lyrics can only be discovered in despair. p. 97

God takes the old clay and starts working it to make it into a new and usable vessel. While we tend to throw away broken vases and call them junk. God throws away the unbroken items and calls them useless. It's our willingness to be broken and remade that allows us to fully experience all God has for us. p. 115

The vessel in Jeremiah's prophecy was marred, but it as in the hand of the potter, so there was still hope for it. The potter didn't quite. God has taken vessels just like you and me -- marred and flawed as we are -- and used us in great and mighty ways. "He made it into another jar," a useful vessel. God is not finished with you. He does not view failure as final. p. 116

Nothing can touch us until it has passed through the will of God. "No weapon that is formed against thee shall prosper" (Isa. 54:17 KJV). God has a plan for my life. God is working according to a fixed, eternal purpose. p. 118

What we might see as marring, God sees as an opportunity to form us into His image. What we may see as problems are in fact possibilities for God to work in us. p. 118

But if the potter's work is to be permanent, the vessel must go through the fire. In the fire the vessel is strengthened and made useful. Some of the greatest moments of our lives turn out to be the times when we are broken, molded, and reshaped by the Lord. Painful times cause us to cry out to God, and there we find Him, sitting, working, molding, and making us into His likeness. pp. 118 - 119

"God does not witness to the world by taking his people out of suffering, but rather by demonstrating his grace through them in the midst of pain." - C. Samuel Storms p. 121

He renews my life; He leads me along the right paths for His name's sake. Even when I go through the darkest valley, I fear no danger, for You are with me; Your rod and Your staff -- they comfort me. Psalm 23:3-4 p. 121

It is well known that the Chinese symbol for the word crisis represents both opportunity and danger. Pain and suffering may bring danger, but they also bring an opportunity for maturity and growth. p. 129

We cannot let the folks whose motto is "You can't do that" run our lives. p. 131

  • Dr. Seuss's first book was rejected by twenty-three publishers. When he finally found a publisher, his first book alone sold six million copies.
  • Vince Lombardi didn't become a head coach in the NFL until he was forty-seven, and now the Super Bowl trophy is named after him.
  • During their first year of business, Coca-Cola only sold four hundred Cokes.
  • During the depression, Bobby Jones and Clifford Roberts had trouble getting anyone to join the Augusta National Golf Club. They tried to sell houses and build a subdivision around the course to help pay for it.
  • In the first three years in the automobile business, Henry Ford when bankrupt twice.
  • Michelangelo spent seven years lying on his back to paint the Sistine Chapel.
  • After years of unsuccessful experiments, imprisonment for debt, and ridicule from family and friends, Charles Goodyear finally developed a type of rubber that would not be affected by temperature extremes.
  • NBA great Michael Jordan was cut from his high school basketball team.
  • Archie Manning's dad committed suicide, and Archie was the one who found him dead. He almost gave up football at Ole Miss.
  • In 1905 the University of Bern rejected Albert Einstein's Ph.D. dissertation.
  • Abraham Lincoln failed at most of his attempts in business and politics.
  • John Bunyan wrote The Pilgrim's Progress during a long stay in prison.
  • The official church rejected Martin Luther.
  • John Knox is buried under a parking lot.
  • Joseph made it to Pharaoh's palace by way of both the pit and prison.
  • Moses experienced forty years in the desert before he led God's people out of Egypt.
  • David ran for his life for years before finally becoming king of Israel.
  • Jeremiah was the weeping prophet.
  • The apostle Paul had enough scars to make any man want to quit.
  • Today the church is growing in Muslim countries despite incredible opposition and persecution. While American Christianity seems to be declining, the persecuted church is prospering. pp. 132 - 134
When Jesus is in sight, the impossible becomes a Him-possible. p. 136

"There can be no hope without faith in Christ, for hope is rooted in him alone. Faith without hope would, by itself, be empty and futile." - Ernst Hoffmann p. 139

Why am I so depressed? Why this turmoil within me? Put you hope in God, for I will still praise Him, my Savior and my God. . . . The Lord will send His faithful love by day; His song will be with me in the night -- a prayer to the God of my life. Psalm 42:5, 8 p. 139

It's easy to come to church, fellowship with believers, and never touch Jesus. We can be in the crowd and never really be part of the congregation. We can sing songs but never worship. We can take notes on sermons, and never apply the Word to our hearts. Attendance doesn't mean we're paying attention. I believe Jesus is passing by the aisles of our churches every Sunday, looking for people who are desperate for Him. Unfortunately most of us miss Him because we aren't really desperate to worship and adore the Lord of glory. pp. 155 - 156

"Unbelief makes the world a moral desert, where no divine footsteps are heard, where no angels ascend and descend, where no living hand adorns the fields, feeds the birds of the heaven, or regulates events." -- F.W. Krummacher p.g 159

Then Jesus said to him, "If You can?" Everything is possible to the one who believes." Immediately the father of the boy cried out, "I do believe! Help my unbelief." Mark 9:23 - 24 p. 159

Let's be honest with ourselves. The average church doesn't want Jesus to be there. We don't want the kind of people that Jesus attracted: sinners, prostitutes, the demon-possessed, tax collectors, outcasts of society. We like to sit in our nice, neat circles in our folding chairs, having our little theological discussions about everything from predestination to who will care for all the pets left behind at the rapture. Are we not, in fact and in practice, an unbelieving generation? We hear stories of power in other places around the world, but where is the power of God in the American church? Where's the church that is doing things that cannot be explained apart from the infusion of Holy Spirit power in the life and breath of the body of Christ? p. 167

Jesus tells them to do what we must do as well. "Bring him to Me!" Whatever the situation, take it to Jesus. No issue is too great, no need too small for Jesus. Take your family, your prodigal, your broken marriage, your desperate situation to the Savior. Throw yourself at His mercy, and see Him while He may be found. p. 167

"We can never be blessed until we learn that we can bring nothing to Christ but our need." - Vance Havner p. 179

Rest in God alone, my soul, for my hope comes from Him. He alone is my rock and my salvation, my stronghold; I will not be shaken. My salvation and glory depend on God; my strong rock, my refuge, is in God. Trust in Him at all times, you people; pour out your hearts before Him. God is our refuge. - Psalm 62:5 - 8 p. 179

"The grand design of God in all the afflictions that befall his people is to bring them nearer and closer to himself." - Thomas Brooks p. 215

Lord, I call You; my rock, do not be deaf to me. If You remain silent to me, I will be like those going down to the Pit. Listen to the sound of my pleading when I cry to You for help, when I lift up my hands toward Your holy sanctuary. -- Psalm 28: 1 - 2 p. 215

One reason many people are unwilling to be broken is because they know the price of everything and the value of nothing. God has a different set of scales, and He weighs by different measures. Nothing offends religious people more than someone showing them up, especially when that person is sincere. p. 223

To stand before an audience of One, you have to come knowing you are nothing and that He alone is worthy of praise. p. 223

We may not think much of giving a cup of cold water or of visiting someone in prison, but Jesus does. He notices the small things that pass the attention of the casual onlooker. He watches the treasury and sees the widow's mite. He sees the prayer made in secret. We may not know until eternity how our afflictions, brokenness, and sacrifices were used to further the gospel. p. 227

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Game Plan for Life

Joe Gibbs asked eleven of his friends to help write this book. The friends include: Josh McDowell, Ken Boa, John C. Lennox, Ravi Zacharias, Charles Colson, Don Meredith, Ron Blue, Os Guinness, Walt Larimore, Tony Evans, Randy Alcorn. Gibbs and friends covers topics that are important to all men. My wonderful wife stood in a line at the Charlotte Lifeway bookstore to have my copy signed by Joe Gibbs himself. Joe coached the Washington Redskins to several Super Bowls and has had several successful NASCAR racing teams. He now lives here in Charlotte. I know anyone that reads this book will be blessed. Enjoy!

We must care for our bodies as though we were going to live forever, but we must care for our souls as if we are going to die tomorrow. p. 23

This is an easy thing in the eyes of the Lord. p. 33

The concept of stewardship appears often throughout the Bible. Stewardship is more than just giving a certain percentage of our income to the church or other ministries. The biblical concept is that God owns everything and we are temporary managers of what He has allowed us to have. If you agree that all we have is from God's hand, you'll quickly grasp my definition of stewardship: Biblical stewardship is the use of God-given gifts and resources (time, talent, treasure, truth, relationships) for the accomplishment of God-given goals. p. 189

If it's true that God owns it all, then He has the right to whatever He wants, whenever He wants it. It's all His. Owners have rights; stewards have only responsibilities. p. 190

The second implication of God's ownership of everything is that not only is our giving a spiritual decision, but every spending choice is a spiritual decision. p. 190

To help you on this journey, I have created an evaluation tool that allows you to examine your four health wheels. www.Dr p.244

The one who dies with the most toys is still dead. p. 254

First, there the highway of passion. p. 259

Second, there's the highway of abilities. p. 259

Third, there's the highway of personality. p. 259

Fourth, there's the highway of experience. p. 259

So don't despair because life has been unfair. God knows how to take your good, your bad, and your ugly and use them for His purpose in your life. p. 260

Fifth, there's the highway of opportunity. p. 260

Christians are not in the land of the living on our way to the land of the dying. We are in the land of the dying on our way to the land of the living. p. 261

God wants to write your eulogy as well. Despite all our activities, honors, and recognition, God desires our hearts. He wants men who will function according to His design and influence their generation for Him because they are committed, above anything else, to doing His will. p. 261

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The Treasure Principle

The little book, The Treasure Principle, by Randy Alcorn is a helpful book that helps and reminds me how to handle money. I trust the quotes below will challenge you to treat your money as God's.

A steward manages assets for the owner's benefit. The steward carries no sense of entitlement to the assets he manages. It's his job to find out what the owner wants done with his assets, then carry out his will. p. 25

Nothing makes a journey more difficult than a heavy backpack filled with nice but unnecessary things. Pilgrims travel light. p. 53

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God Came Near

Max Lucado's God Came Near is a wonderful devotional book. I trust you will enjoy the quote below.

Christianity, in its purest form, is nothing more than seeing Jesus. Christian service, in its purest form, is nothing more than imitating Him who we see. To see His Majesty and to imitate Him, that is the sum of Christianity. p. 13

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Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Jesus Loves Me

This is the first Calvin Miller book I have read. I enjoyed it. He wrote this book based on the song, "Jesus Loves Me." Very interesting and also helps and reminds you how much Jesus really loves us. I trust you will enjoy the quotes.

Jesus Loves Me

Jesus loves me! This I know,
For the Bible tells me so;
Little ones to Him belong;
They are weak, but He is strong.

Jesus loves me! He who died
Heaven's gate to open wide!
He will wash away my sin,
Let His little child come in

Jesus loves me! He will stay
Close beside me all the way,
If I love Him when I die
He will take me home on high.

Anna B. Warner, 1860

But why is life so hard? Could it be because we work so hard to stay in charge of it. p. 50

Roosevelt wrote in 1899:
It is not the critic who counts: not the man who points out how the strong man stumbled or where the doer of deeds could have done then better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena; whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, and comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; who does actually try to do the deed; who knows the great enthusiasm, the great devotion and spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly. Far better it is to dare mighty things, to win glorious triumphs even though checkered by failure, than to rank with those poor spirits who neither enjoy nor suffer much because they live in the gray twilight that knows neither victory nor defeat. pp. 50-51

Self-sufficiency isolates our need from God's supply. Better we should approach God with empty bowls, begging him to fill our insufficiency. "We are weak, but He is strong." p. 124

Confess to God, "Lord, I suffer from an inferiority complex," and you will hear God reply, "Well, of course you do. That's because you are inferior. If you want to be all you can be, trust me and let me fill you with my power. Once I fill your life, you will not be able to feel inferior; all your insufficiency will have been filled with my sufficiency." p. 140

A second way the cross is presented is wearing the letters "I.H.S" -- an abbreviation for In Hoc Signo (Vinces) or "By this sign (the cross) you will conquer." p. 153

King Jesus! When I say these words I confess I am a servant. Greatness, perhaps even fame, rarely originates in either heredity or environment. It is born when I catch a view of what I can do or am willing to become often by serving Christ in the most mundane of circumstances.

But I must not see myself as special. To do so is to deny Christ's total control of my life. The most extraordinary people never saw themselves as great. In fact many of them struggle against a negative group opinion. Albert Einstein for instance, didn't talk till he was four years old and he didn't start to read till he was seven. One of his teachers labeled him as "mentally slow, unsociable and adrift in his foolish dreams." Thomas Edison was considered "too stupid to learn anything," said some of his teachers. The rookie coach Vince Lomardi was said to possess minimal football knowledge and to lack motivation. Walt Disney was fired by a local newspaper because he had a "lack of fresh ideas."

What is it that changed these ordinary souls into icons of heroism? Their inner view was strong enough to stand against their belittling critics. p. 155

Solitude gives God a mouth by making us an ear. p. 195

But in the cross Jesus not only said, "Lo, I am with you always." What he really said was, "Lo, I am with you regardless!" p. 207

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The Family

The Family
Braves Game 2012