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Thursday, November 25, 2010

When Skeptics Ask

My oldest son, Paul, loaned me a book, When Skeptics Ask, to read. This is an awesome book and a good book to have as a reference. It covers some very heavy questions from the skeptics. I trust you will enjoy the quotes below:

The Gift of Pain
Dr. Paul Brand, a leading researcher and therapist of Hansen's disease, expressed significant insights on the problem of pain. Having just examined three patients, Lou - who may lose his thumb to infection from playing the autoharp, Hector - who can't feel the damage he is doing to his hand while mopping, and Jose - who is unwilling to wear special shoes to prevent the loss of the nubs that were once his feet, Dr. Brand says this:
Pain - it's often seen as the great inhibitor which ropes off certain activities. But I see it as the great giver of freedom. Look at these men. Lou: we're desperately searching for a way to give him simple freedom to play an autoharp. Hector: he can't even mop a floor without harming himself. Jose: too proud for proper treatment, he's given a makeshift shoe which may keep him from losing even more of his feet. He can't dress nicely and walk normally: for that, he would need the gift of pain. [From Where Is God When It Hurts? by Philip Yancey (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1977), p. 37] p. 66

C.S. Lewis said, "God whispers to us in our pleasures, speaks in our conscience, but shouts in our pains: it is His megaphone to rouse a deaf world." In some sense, we need pain so that we are not overcome by the evil that we would choose were it painless. He alerts us to the fact that there are better things than misery. p. 68

People don't go to hell because God sends them; they choose it and God respects their freedom. "There are two kinds of people in the end: those who say to God, 'Thy will be done.' and those to whom Gods says, in the end ' Thy will be done.' All that are in hell, chose it." p. 68

Jastrow closes his book God and the Astronomers with these words:

For the scientist who has lived by his faith in the power of reason, the story ends like a bad dream. He has scaled the mountains of ignorance; he is about to conquer the highest peak; as he pulls himself over the final rock, he is greeted by a band of theologians who have been sitting there for centuries. p. 222

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Saturday, November 13, 2010

Beyond the Barriers

If you never have read a Harold Morris book, I would high recommend it. I believe he has written at least three books. I remember seeing his Focus on the Family video, Twice Pardoned, many years ago at my church Northside. I picked up his book Beyond the Barriers at a Good Will store. It is about his life after he leaves prison. Such a encouraging book about how God will use anyone who yields his life to God. I'm only including a couple of quotes, but please not misunderstand, this is an excellent read.

. . . true security was not found by accumulating things, money, or degrees. True security was my relationship with Jesus Christ. p. 86

. . . the people you associate with will determine the outcome of your life, good or bad. p. 94

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The Fred Factor

The Fred Factor by Mark Sanborn is a book about how Mark's postman, Fred, showed Mark "How Passion in Your Work and Life Can Turn the Ordinary into the Extraordinary." I gleamed many great principles from this book. I trust you will enjoy the quotes below:

Everyone wants to count, to know that what he or she does each day isn't simply a means of making a living, but "a living of making meaning." The unhappiest people of all may well be those who go to jobs they hate because they need the money. Why not go to a job you love because you need the money? you can. Convert your job into one you love, not by doing a different job, but by doing the one you have differently! pp. 29-30

Here's a mystery: If you expect praise and recognition, it will seldom come. I really don't know why, but life has demonstrated repeatedly that if your motive for doing something is to receive thanks or praise, you'll often be disappointed. If, however, you go about doing the right thing, knowing that the doing is its own reward, you'll be fulfilled whether or not you get recognition from others. When reward or recognition comes, it will be icing on an already tasty cake. p. 31

It is possible that you are making significant impressions on others and don't even know it? We need to be conscious not only of the primary effects of the things we do but of the secondary consequences, which are a ripple effect that touches far more people than those in our immediate presence. You just never know who's watching and listening. Our lives, to paraphrase Shakespeare, play out on a stage. p. 69

Uninspired people rarely do inspired work. Passionate people in an organization are different. They do ordinary things extraordinarily. p. 74

John Maxwell says, "You teach what you know, but you reproduce who you are." p. 90

Forget that foolish saying, "Those who can, do; and those who can't teach." Not only is this statement derogatory and insulting to the dedicated professionals in education and training, but with few exceptions it just ain't so. The reality? Those who do best teach best. The man or woman who can demonstrate a lesson with his or her life most powerfully impacts others. When those who know are able to show, those who learn are able to grow. p. 94

We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit. -Aristotle p. 99

At the Day of Judgement we shall not be asked what we have read but what we have done - Thomas A Kempis p. 105

Life wasn't a set of difficult rules designed to keep people in their places, but rather a relationship with the Creator who enabled people to be all they were meant to be. p. 106

Whom do we most remember? We remember those who, like Jesus, lived to serve others. We are most impressed and affected not by what people gain but by what they give; not by what they conquer but by what they contribute. p. 107

I've learned that love is, among other things, an action. I can love someone I don't necessarily like. I can do something or act toward that person in a certain way because I know it is the right thing to do even if I don't feel warm and fuzzy doing it. So here's my working definition of love: Love is the commitment to treat a person with dignity and kindness regardless of how you feel about him or her. pp. 108-109

The Bible says that "God loves a cheerful giver" (2 Corinthians 9:7). The implication is clear; Giving is good, but giving with the right attitude is better. p. 112

Attitude colors everything you and I do in life.
A positive attitude works out of opportunity, not obligation.
A positive attitude looks for the best, not the worst, in circumstances.
A positive attitude is "can-do," not "must-do."
A positive attitude is hopeful, not pessimistic. pp. 112-113

Here's how the apostle James put it: "Faith without works is dead" (James 2:26, NASB). Intention without action is only a dream. In the end it isn't what we want to do or plan to do but what we actually do that makes any difference. p. 113

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Saturday, November 6, 2010

Handle With Prayer

Another great book by Charles Stanley, Handle With Prayer. Since I am teaching a Sunday School series on prayer I'm trying to read as much about prayer as possible. Stanley has much good teaching in this book. Enjoy the quotes below:

The shortest distance between a problem and the solution is the distance between our knees and the floor. p. 10

Satan knows that real spiritual battle is done on our knees. Prayer is the weapon he fears most; therefore it is prayer against which he makes his greatest attack. p. 22

Fasting is abstinence from anything that hinders our communion with God. p. 30

. . . life's battles are won or lost in the place of prayer, not on the battlefield of everyday life. The real spiritual success or failure of a church does not depend on the talent of the preacher, the size of the congregation, or the strength of the organization. Success from God's point of view will only be obtained through prayer. The person who sees these other things as the criteria for success has no concept of the working of the Holy Spirit. It is by these outward signs that the world judges the church. But God does not win His battles through outward signs. God wins His battles through men and women who intercede on behalf of the kingdom. pp. 101-102

God's business, for the most part, is to be taken care of on our knees. When dealing with any situation, first we must pray. For it is on our knees that the real work is done. p. 102.

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Saturday, October 30, 2010

Good to Great in God's Eyes

Chip Ingram uses Jim Collins book, Good to Great, to write his book, Good to Great in God Eyes. Chip list ten principles that applied will help a Christian become great in God's eyes. This is a very good book that should be required reading for all Christians. I trust you will enjoy the quotes below:


Remember that applying truth to your life is first a matter of quality; quantity comes second. God is not nearly as interested in your ability to learn truth as He is in your willingness to apply it. p. 11

But desires remain only desires if there's no follow-through, no plan to accomplish them. p. 12

Principle 1: Think Great Thoughts p. 13

The world has yet to see what God will do with and for and through and in and by the man who is fully consecrated to Him. (quote Dwight Moody heard expressed by an evangelist he met in Dublin) p. 16

Principle 2: Read Great Books p. 35

God uses ordinary people to do extraordinary things p. 40

Efficiency is doing things right; effectiveness is doing the right things. p. 48

Principle 3: Pursue Great People p. 53

Principle 4: Dream Great Dreams p. 73

You made the heavens and the earth by Your great power and by Your outstretched arm! Nothing is too different for You! (NASB) Jeremiah 32:17 p. 78

Not only is He able to do big things through us, He's willing. He wants to do "things which eye has not seen and ear has not heard, and which have not entered the heart of man, all that God has prepared for those who love Him" (1 Cor. 2:9 NASB). p. 78

Psalm 37 :4, "Delight yourself in the Lord and He will give you the desires of your heart." In other words, get so consumed and in love with God, so overwhelmed with who He is and what He does, that your delight in Him births all sorts of desires that He would be zealous to fulfill. When we get an awesome, inspiring view of God, our hearts begin to beat like His. In that communion, dreams rise up and are fulfilled. p. 79

Most of us look at our desk calendars and try to figure out how to get everything done this week that we need to do. We focus on the now, the narrow, the next step in our survival. God wants us to lift our eyes beyond that. Our biggest problem isn't that our dreams are too big; it's that they're too small. p. 79

... a God-sized dream is impossible unless God supernaturally accomplishes it. p. 84

... David learned that his life was not about fulfilling a dream or even about success for God.
It's about loving the dream-giver more than the dream. He set his heart on the relationship first and the benefits second. p. 85

He wants to accomplish impossible things through improbable people and to impact exceeding grace to undeserving recipients. p. 86

Principle 5: Pray Great Prayers p. 99

Paul expressed the same passion. He had an impressive pedigree, an elite education, and a highly respected position. But all of that was "rubbish" compared to "the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. . . . I want to know Christ and the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in His suffering" (Phil. 3:8, 10). More than anything the world could offer, Paul wanted to have deep, intimate communion with Jesus. p. 102

Not only are great prayers deeply personal, they are also birthed in brokenness. When we come to God with a sense of bankruptcy, knowing we're in a desperate situation and have no resources to get ourselves out of it, God pays special attention. Brokenness will cause us to pour out our heart to God rather than trying to find the right words or the most persuasive arguments to present to Him. It's the helplessness we feel when a huge crisis hits or when we're filled with overwhelming remorse, grief, or confusion. Prayers that flow out of brokenness cry out, "I need you!" They come from people at the end of their rope. p. 103

Great prayers ask the improbable, expect the impossible, and receive the unthinkable. p. 114

Action Step: One one side of an index card, describe an impossible situation you've been facing. On the other side, write your request for God to resolve that situation and Jeremiah 32:17: "Sovereign Lord, you have made the heavens and the earth by your great power and outstretched arm. Nothing is too hard for you." Carry the card in your pocket this week, and every time you pray, pull it out to remind yourself of the great prayer you are praying. p. 117

Principle 6: Take Great Risks p. 119

Where there's no risk, there's no faith; where there's no faith, there's no power or joy or intimacy with God. p. 121

Radical steps of faith are concrete. They always have at least two things in common: they involve risk, and they fit with God's clearly defined will. p. 128

Faith is simply doing what God tells you to do whether you feel like it or not - especially, in fact, when you don't feel like it. You obey regardless of the circumstances because He said to and His Word is true. p. 129

Principle 7: Make Great Sacrifices p. 143

Principle 8: Enjoy Great Moments p. 165

And in his explanation, the father makes a statement that we rarely give much attention to: "You are always with me, and everything I have is yours" (Luke 15:31). The older son had a distorted view of his father, and this is how his father corrected him. He could have thrown a party any time he wanted to. He could have asked his father if it was okay to invite some friends over, kill a fatted calf, and have a ball. Apparently he didn't ever do that; he was too busy earning the father's favor to realize he already had it. He was so absorbed with his performance that he could never enjoy life. p. 174

Someone has said that love was the early Christians' marketing plan and their business card was joy. p. 178

If you feel guilty having fun, maybe it will help to remember that enjoying the richness of God's gifts is a command. Not to enjoy life is actually disobedient! As C.S. Lewis said, "Joy is the serious business of heaven." p. 180

Principle 9: Empower Great People p. 185

In each of our lives, if we're going to have any possibility of becoming truly great in God's eyes, it means turning upside down the entrenched worldly ideas of our definition of greatness. The difference couldn't be more stark, as sinfully and culturally defined greatness looks like this: individuals motivated by self-interest, self-indulgence, and a false sense of self-sufficiency, pursue selfish ambition for the purpose of self-glorification. . . . Serving others for the glory of God; this is the genuine expression of humility. This is true greatness as our Savior defines it. [from the book Humility: True Greatness] p. 187

Good Christians "live the life;" great Christians "leave a legacy." p. 189

. . . look for F.A.T. people. p. 192

Faithful, Available, and Teachable. p. 192

Proverbs 20:6 says, "Many a man claims to have unfailing love, but a faithful man who can find?" Faithful people are the ones who complete an assignment, who actually take care of a problem when they say they'll take care of it, and who call you later because they promised they would. We get all wrapped up in the potential people seem to have based on their personality and talents, but God doesn't. He looks at the heart. Those who are faithful have put themselves in a position to grow in maturity. Instead of listening to what people say, watch what they do with their responsibilities. When you see faithfulness, you see potential. p. 192

Faithfulness alone isn't enough, however. Someone can be very faithful and yet be pointed in twenty different directions. They'll say, "I want to grow, I want to learn, let's get together," but then be out of town every other week. p. 192

To invest your life wisely, you'll want to choose people who are available in addition to being faithful. p. 193

Look also for people who are teachable. A person who thinks he or she has already mastered certain aspects of life is not going to be open to instruction or even subtle suggestions. There's no point in investing in someone who isn't aware that the investment is beneficial. People who are teachable are in position to grow and bear fruit. p. 193

There's a real danger in evaluating people the way the world does. We often fall into the trap of seeing people who have a sharp mind, a great personality, and the right education as those who are most likely to make an impact for Christ. But God chooses the lowly things of this world in order to shame our worldly standards (1 Cor. 1:27-29). In the New Testament He used former prostitutes, homosexuals, idols worshipers, thieves, and drunkards by redeeming them and giving them spiritual gifts to use for the benefit of others. I encourage you to look beyond people's history and look at their heart. p. 193

"Laziness isn't being inactive," he said. "Laziness is not doing the right thing at the right time to fulfill the right assignment. p. 200

Principle 10: Develop Great Habits p. 205


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Character Makes a Difference

Mike Huckabee could be our next president. I enjoy watching his show on Fox News channel. He has a way with words. His book, Character Makes a Difference, really is a biography of him. He stands for character and principle. I highly recommend this book.


... the darker things are, the more difference even the tiniest light will make. p. 175


We really need to pray for our country, asking God to turn us back to Him.


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Walking Wisely

Charles Stanley is an excellent teaching pastor. You can read this in his book Walking Wisely. He also gives you meat to chew on. Just a small taste below:

Wisdom is the capacity to see things from God’s perspective and to respond to them according to scriptural principles. p. 3
If you know with assurance that you have God’s love and Hs favor on your life, it doesn’t matter to you if a person criticizes you, rejects you, or speaks ill of you to others. God loves you and approves of you, and His opinion is the only opinion that matters! p. 63

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Six Hours One Friday

Max Lucado is one of the best devotional writers. His book Six Hours One Friday is no disappointment. As you read the quotes below I'm sure you will agree.


Then she asked the question that revealed the gaping hole in her soul. “Where is God? My people say he is on the mountain. Your people say he is in Jerusalem. I don’t know where he is.” I’d give a thousand sunsets to see the expression on Jesus’ face as he heard those words. Did his eyes water? Did he smile? Did he look up into the clouds and wink at his father? Of all the places to find a hungry heart – Samaria? Of all the Samaritans to be searching for God – a woman? Of all the women to have an insatiable appetite for God – a five-time divorcee? And of all the people to be chose to personally receive the secret of the ages, an outcast among outcasts? The most “insignificant” person in the region? Remarkable. Jesus didn’t reveal the secret to King Herod. He didn’t request an audience of the Sanhedrin and tell them the news. It wasn’t within the colonnades of a Roman court that he announced his identity. No, it was in the shade of a well in a rejected land to an ostracized woman. His eyes must have danced as he whispered the secret. “I am the Messiah.” pp. 24-25
And though God’s people often forgot their God, God didn’t forget them. He kept His Word. The land became theirs. God didn’t give up. He never gives up. When Joseph was dropped into a pit by his own brothers, God didn’t give up. When Moses said, “Here I am, send Aaron.” God didn’t give up. When the delivered Israelites wanted Egyptian slavery instead of milk and honey, God didn’t give up. When Aaron was making a false god at the very moment Moses was with the true God, God didn’t give up. When only two of the ten spies though the Creator was powerful enough to deliver the created, God didn’t give up. When Samson whispered to Delilah, when Saul roared after David, when David schemed against Uriah, God didn’t give up. When God’s word lay forgotten and man’s idols stood glistening, God didn’t give up. When the children of Israel were taken into captivity, God didn’t give up. He could have given up. He could have turned His back. He could have walked away from the wretched mess, but He didn’t. He didn’t give up. When He became flesh and was the victim of an assassination attempt before He was two years old, He didn’t give up. When the people from His own hometown tried to push Him over a cliff, He didn’t give up. When His brothers ridiculed Him, He didn’t give up. When He was accused of blaspheming God by people who didn’t fear God, He didn’t give up. When Peter worshiped Him at the supper and cursed Him at the fire, He didn’t give up. When people spat in His face, He didn’t spit back. When the bystanders slapped Him, He didn’t slap them. When a whip ripped His sides, He didn’t turn and command the awaiting angels to stuff that whip down that soldiers’ throat. And when human hands fastened the divine hands to a cross with spikes, it wasn’t the soldiers who held the hands of Jesus steady. It was God who held them steady. For those wounded hands were the same invisible hands that had carried the firepot and the torch two thousand years earlier. They were the same hands that had brought light into Abram’s thick and dreadful darkness. They had come to do it again. So, the next time that obnoxious neighbor walks in, escort him out. Out to the hill. Out to Calvary. Out to the cross where, with holy blood, the hand that carried the flame wrote the promise, “God would give up His only Son before He’d give up on you.” pp. 37-39
Your complaints are not over the lack of necessities but the abundance of benefits. You bellyache over the frills, not the basics; over benefits, not essentials. The source of your problems is your blessings.” p. 43
Gratitude. More aware of what you have than what you don’t. Recognizing the treasure in the simple – a child’s hug, fertile soil, a golden sunset. Relishing in the comfort of the common – a warm bed, a hot meal, a clean shirt. pp. 43-44
And though I’d never read 2 Corinthians 4:13, I knew what it meant. “I believed; therefore I have spoken.” p. 52

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Lessons from a Third Grade Dropout

A new author for me is Rick Rigsby. In his book, Lessons from a Third Grade Dropout, are lessons he learned from his Dad. An amazing practical wisdom that everyone can use! Enjoy!!!


Simply stated the great disconnect is between an older generation of doers verses a contemporary generation of viewers. p. 7
You may know some who represent this generation. They are remarkable in their simple yet profound work ethic. They represent an era of people who valued their work and took pride in doing a good job. They were hardworking, decent people who arrived early to the job, did not run from responsibility, and gave maximum effort. Their work habits were not for show. Doing a good job simply was a way of life. p. 8
An interruption in he flow of wisdom will not necessarily threaten technological supremacy. Few eras have witnessed the technology boom of the twentieth century. However, an interruption in the transfer of wisdom produces an invisible malaise just as destructive as sickness, war, and famine. A culture whose leaders neglect to model wisdom produces teams and organizations in a similar manner. The outcome is a society in great peril – a society that seeks simple solutions for complex problems. Such a society is satisfied with mediocrity as long as workers put in eight hours. The environment produces workers who emphasize appearance over substance, personality over principle, and convenience over character. What good is technological supremacy without authentic leadership? What good is an information superhighway without trustworthy travelers? pp. 9-10
Always place character above gifting. p. 10
It is a void produced by everyday citizens who do not take pride in what they do, would rather finish first than do things right, and would rather look good than be good. Our goal in the new millennium is to make a good impression. p. 12
This is just a small taste of the godly principles in this book. I hope you will take time to purchase a copy and read it!

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The Janitor

One of my favorite new stores is Ollies. The have lots of books for very low prices. A picked up a little book, The Janitor by Tod Hopkins and Ray Hilbert, that looked interesting. Boy, was it a great book. It shares a commonsense balance for maintaining your priorities when chaos threatens. The story is about a CEO whose business, marriage, and life is in chaos. He happens to meet the janitor who cleans his company each night. This janitor happens to be a retired CEO who has learned some valuable principles ("Directives") from his late wife. I share these principles below, but you will need to read the book to have each explained to you.


Directive 1: Recharge versus discharge.

Directive 2: View family as a blessing, not a responsibility.

Directive 3: Pray: don't pout.

Directive 4: Pass it around.

Directive 5: Don't spend; invest.

Directive 6: Leave a legacy.


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Friday, October 29, 2010

Jesus: The Greatest Life of All

One of my favorite authors, Chuck Swindoll hits another homerun with his book, Jesus: The Greatest Life of All. I know you will enjoy reading the quotes below:

Jesus didn’t come to earth to establish a new religion. He came to restore a broken relationship. He came to make the primary, primary again. The secondary activity of obedience to the law of God was always intended to serve the primary activity: to love God and enjoy Him forever. When that is primary, the secondary becomes a labor of love, a joyful; “easy” burden to bear. This is what Jesus meant when He said,
“Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light. Matthew11: 28-30. p. 84
He is all-powerful, He is also utterly sovereign, God has the right to do whatever He chooses, for whomever He chooses, and whenever He chooses to do it. He answers to no one. p. 130
The best prayers often come after we have exhausted our pleas for deliverance. p. 135
Express your sincere desire for the complete restoration of the suffering. Pray that he or she will experience less pain and will avoid the debilitating effects of fear. Pray that the illness will yield surprising, unexpected benefits. But submit your requests to the sovereign care of God in complete confidence that He is impeccably good and unfailingly right. As Jesus Himself prayed in the Garden of Gethsemane, “Not My will, but Yours be done” (Luke 22:42) p. 137
The will of God is paramount; respect it. p. 138
Even as we pray, we must remember that God is right in all His ways, including our afflictions. p. 138
Intercessory prayer is God’s commandment; obey it. p. 138
Jesus, the healer, did not come to prolong our earthly existence or even to make it more pleasant--at least not pleasant in the selfish, pampered way we would prefer. He came to give us healing from the disease that threatens eternal life, and to give us joy, which surpasses mere happiness by eons and light years. pp. 140-141
“Every branch in Me that does not bear fruit, He takes away.” Many versions of the Bible translate a key Greek term in this verse as “takes away,” “removes,” or even “cuts off,” but its primary definition is “to lift from the ground.” The word can and often does mean “to lift with a view to carrying, to carry off or put away.” In keeping with the metaphor, Jesus most likely referred to the vinedresser’s practice of lifting a sagging branch and tying it to the trellis—a procedure called “training.” The vinedresser also carefully prunes the branches to encourage healthy growth. pp. 148-149
Note that Jesus never commanded believers to produce fruit. Fruit is the purpose of the branch, but it is not the responsibility of the branch. The branch cannot produce anything on its own. However, if it remains attached to the vine, it will receive life-sustaining sap, nourishment, strength, everything it needs. If it remains connected to the vine, it will inevitably hang heavy with grapes. p. 149-150
The focus of a Christian’s activity is not to work hard enough to make fruit, but to keep his connection to Jesus Christ clean and strong One way to do that is to absorb the teaching of God’s Word, the sixty-six books of the Bible. Read God’s Word…think about it, apply it, talk about it with others, ask questions, commit sections of it to memory. Strength and productivity come from staying connected. p. 150
Knowing your mission will help you stay focused on the goal. Jesus clearly understood the reason for His coming to earth and never allowed popularity, success, opposition, threats, or even dissention within His ranks to distract Him. p. 169
Encountering evil requires confrontation. Few people enjoy confrontation, but standing for the truth against evil will inevitably require it. And sometimes what must be said will be difficult to say as well as difficult for others to hear. p. 169
Boldness in the course of a noble fight is worth the risk. Standing for truth requires boldness. Some will be offended by it, so expect to be criticized for style when the opposition can find no fault with content. Furthermore, boldness may require strong action to accompany strong speech. You may have to quit a job, end a relationship, confront a powerful opponent, cope with a fear, deal with threats, perhaps even face certain defeat. Don’t back down. If you stand on truth, you’ll only regret your timidity later, but you’ll never regret being bold. p. 169
Truth telling offers no guarantee of victory. We live in a world that does not operate according to God’s rules. The present world system punishes good deeds and rewards those who choose evil. In the words of James Russell Lowell, “Truth forever on the scaffold; wrong forever on the throne.” pp. 169-170
Association with godliness is no guarantee that we will become godly. Joining a healthy church and cultivating relationships with spiritually mature people should be a priority. We need healthy influences. However, associating with mature believers will not nourish the soul any more than merely sitting at a table in a restaurant will nourish the body. To grow wise and to develop spiritually, we must personally take in what Jesus has offered. For that to occur, we must submit to the truth we receive through His Word. Otherwise, we deceive ourselves and become our own worst enemy. p. 184
Moral corruption in secret is deadlier than visible moral corruption. There is no cancer deadlier than one that goes undetected. The same is true of sin. Keeping our sinful nature carefully concealed keeps us from applying the remedy Jesus provided through the gift of salvation. One of His disciples later wrote, “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us of all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9). Failure to confess and receive forgiveness forces us to cope with the deadly effects of sin in ways that are sure to cause more damage later. In the case of Judas, it consumed him. p. 185
Satan and his demons are looking for any opportunity to work against the Lord. Several passages of Scripture teach that the person who bears unresolved sin is an ideal vessel by which the Devil can attack the people and plans of God. p. 185
No sorrow can compare to the remorse of one who discovers too late that he’s misunderstood Jesus and spurned His love. Satan’s primary tool is deception, which he uses to twist unresolved sin and selfish motivation to serve his purposes. And once he’s finished using someone, he cruelly unmasks the truth to reveal the consequences of his or her foolish choices. p. 185
Jesus recognized a basic fact of life: words are wasted on people who have no desire for truth. p. 208
He tilted His head back, pulled up one last time to draw a deep breath and cried, “Tetelestai!” It was a Greek expression most everyone present would have understood. It was a accounting term. Archeologists have found papyrus tax receipts with “Tetelestai” written across them, meaning “paid in full.” With Jesus’ last breath on the cross, He declared the debt of sin canceled, completely satisfied. Nothing else required. Not good deeds. Not generous donations. Not penance or confession or baptism or…or…or…nothing. The penalty for sin is death, and we were all born hopelessly in debt. He paid our debt in full by giving His life so that we might live forever. p. 224
Jesus looked for very different qualities in the men He chose to carry out His vision. He chose men with little formal education, though most would have learned to read and write in the synagogue. He chose men with obvious flaws, though none except Judas Iscariot was steadfastly dedicated to evil like the corrupt religious leaders. He chose men whose wills could not be easily bent, but could be or would be divinely compelled to follow. The eleven disciples were extraordinary people, yet for no other reason than their passionate pursuit of Christ and His calling. pp. 270-271
He would prepare His followers in two mountaintop meetings. At the first meeting in Galilee, Jesus gave them the plan (Matthew 28:16-20); at the second in Judea, He gave them His power (Acts 1:3-11). p. 274
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Personal God

Personal God is my first book by Tim Stafford, but it will not be my last. As you will see in the quotes below, he makes you think.
When you say you have a “personal relationship” with a prominent person, it means you can get to that person outside official channels; perhaps you can call him at home. Other people may now him by reputation, but you know him. You are not just associates; you’re friends. p. 14
If we don’t approach Him with our concerns, He waits. He could fix things without us, but He would rather stay quiet until we join Him. When at long last we come to Him with our concerns, we take the first step into what He most seeks: communion between creature and Creator, who join in partnership toward the reconciliation of all things. This is His priority, above all else. p. 43
I go to pray for my friend with cancer, I try to expunge any idea that I am bringing the matter to God. Rather I try to remember that God is already there. I am not asking Him to join me in my concern. I am joining Him. He has been waiting for me—waiting to act and to help until I am there with Him. He has never, not for an instant, taken His eyes off my friend. p. 44
He is not, we devoutly hope, guided strictly by our requests. Why He sometimes does what we ask and not other times we cannot say. We can only conclude that He knows more than we do about what should be done. p. 44
People sometimes say that prayer works wonders. I do not think this is quite correct. God works wonders. Prayer lets us participate in these and draws us into closer relationship with Him. p. 45
“Absence makes the heart grow fonder,” we say, and it can be true. But absence may also break people apart, which makes Jesus’ prayer for us all the more poignant. He knew that He would be absent in body for a very long time and that we would miss Him. So He prayed for us in advance: “My prayer is not for [my disciples] alone. I pray also for those who will believe in Me through their message, that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in Me and I am in You. May they also be in Us…I in them and You in Me” (John 17:20-23).
It is for personal relationship that Jesus prays—close personal relationship. He wants us to have the closeness to each other that He and his Father experience. He wants us to be “in” God and He wants to be “in” us. Despite the pain of absence, He asks the Father to create the closest personal relationships—with each other and with God. p. 132
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The Power of Persistence

Michael Catt is becoming one of my favorite authors. As you know he is the pastor of the church that made "Facing the Giants." He book, The Power of Persistence, is an excellent book on prayer. The quotes below are a great blessing to me.

When we work, we work. But when we pray, God works. p. 1

Mordecai Ham, revivalist: Charlotte, North Carolina, 1934 – Several businessmen, along with Billy Graham’s father, spent a day at the family farm praying that God would touch their city, their state, and their world through Dr. Ham’s meeting in Charlotte. During one of the revival services, Billy Graham came to Christ. p. 5

The strength of the church has never been in programs, numbers, or events, but in prayer and obedience. God is not interested in our innovative methods. He is not impressed with our twenty-first century technology. God is still moved by prayers of simple saints who learn in their quite place to lay hold of the throne of grace. Prayer is not incidental to the work of God—it is the work! p. 7

Our tendency is to have a big view of our situations and a small view of God’s sovereignty. We tend to see God through a microscope and our problems through a telescope, but is should be the other way around. Our problems are miniscule compared to the vastness of God. p. 15

Prayer is faith acting like it’s supposed to act. Elijah “stretched himself out over the boy three times.” Not once. Not twice. Powerful praying demands discipline and patience. p. 15
When’s the last time you asked God for something that was beyond your ability? p. 16
We cannot go any further until we resolve that prayer is a key to all we do and say. p. 22
We are powerless primarily because we are prayerless. p. 23
You can do more than pray after you have prayed, but you cannot do more than pray until you have prayed.” pp. 36 – 37
Prayer is not about changing God’s mind; it’s about changing our mind in light of how God wants things to happen. It’s not about getting my will done on earth; it’s about seeing His will done on earth as it is in heaven. p. 78
The disciples did not ask Jesus to teach them how to perform miracles, how to multiply loaves and fish or to heal the sick. They didn’t ask Him to give them a class in hermeneutics. They didn’t want instructions in preaching, video presentations drama, skis, or any aid to worship. They wanted to learn to pray. They had come to the conclusion on their own that the power behind the Person was prayer. p. 79
When we make prayer a priority, we are telling God that we totally depend on him. [quote by Terry Virgo in the book, Ten Praying Churches] p. 110
Seeking the will of God in prayer is not out our agenda, our itinerary, or our calendar. It’s about His agenda and what’s on the eternal calendar. It is never about our schedule but about the surrender of our schedule. When we walk in the will of God, we cannot fail. But when we try to walk outside the will of God, we cannot succeed. p. 124
Praying by faith must be consistent with the will and Word of God. As Thomas Watson said, “Prayer is the key of heaven; faith is the hand that turns it. p. 132
Augustine wrote, “What is faith, unless it is to believe what you do not see?” p. 133
Jesus taught His disciples that the key to prayer is not faith in faith, but faith in God. God is the object of our faith. p. 133
Thomas Adams wrote, “It is the office of faith to believe what we do not see, and it shall be the reward of faith to see what we do believe.” p. 133
“I consider the problem, but I don’t take the problem into consideration.” The problem is not our priority; having faith in God is our priority. The mountain is not the issue; God is the issue. [quote by Ron Dunn] p. 134
If we want to be effective parents and give our kids the best possible shot at being all God designed them to be, we need to get before our heavenly Father on heir behalf. p. 179
We worry more about our kids being accepted in school than being accepted in the Beloved. p. 196
Also pray that your children will not buy into the lie that fame, fortune, power, and pleasure are the ultimate things that matter. p. 198
The early church was a praying church. That’s why sin was not tolerated (Ananias and Sapphira), evangelism was effective (three thousand saved at Pentecost), persecution couldn’t stop them (they prayed for more boldness to do the very thing that got them in trouble), prejudices were destroyed (Philip and the Ethiopian eunuch, Peter and Cornelius), and missions began (Paul took the gospel to the world). p. 206
If I don’t know how to pray for someone, I pray the Word. If I don’t know how to pray for my church I pray the prayers of Paul. p. 207
We often live as if God and the devil are equals, that the fight could go either way. No, Satan is a defeated foe. His destiny is set. We are to live, act, and think as overcomers. It’s not that we need more power or more of the Spirit; it’s that we need to appropriate what we already have available. p. 223
There is nothing that makes us love a man so much as praying for him.” p. 238

The man who mobilizes the Christian church to pray will make the greatest contribution to the world evangelism in history.” [quote by Andrew Murray] p. 238
If faith without works is dead, so is prayer without putting your feet to those prayers. Prayer and evangelism are inseparable. p. 239
A true prayer warrior eliminates “can’t” from his vocabulary. p. 240
We can't reach out until we reach up. p. 240
“We must pray! Prayer is what moves the hand of God!” “Much prayer, much power! No prayer, no power!” p. 241
Seven practical steps in praying for the lost:
1. Pray for them by name.
2. Ask others to pray with you.
3. Pray for their conviction.
4. Pray for a contact (this could be you).
5. Pray for them to have a seeking heart.
6. Pray in faith for their salvation.
7. Pray in thanksgiving! Praise! Claim! p. 246
“When the outlook is bleak, try the uplook!” p. 259
Our lives, our ministries, and our churches are to be exclamations rather than explanations. p. 264
The time is now for us to get to the point where we dare not go forward unless we sense God’s presence and prompting. We must pour our hearts out on the altar and set our hearts to seeking Him. We must be students of the Scripture to know how to pray, Biblically, not using God as an ecclesiastical Santa Claus or thinking of Him as a bellhop who jumps when we ring. The way to victory is through confession of need, through a broken and contrite spirit, and through tears. When God sees that, He meets us at the altar. He expands our borders and opens doors that were previously impossible to open. p. 266
If you want your prayers to lead to a breakthrough, you have to learn to pray according to the Word and will of God, in the name of Jesus. Breakthroughs are not manipulations of the Almighty; they are a means of aligning ourselves with the will of the Almighty. Breakthrough praying has one goal in mind the glory of God. p. 269
In his book The Theory of 21, Chuck Reaves writes, “For every one person who will say yes, there will be 20 who will say no. For a positive response, you must find the 21st person.” I believe part of our problem when it comes to breakthrough praying is that we are more inclined to be in the group of twenty than to be the one. If we want to see God do a mighty work, we must be willing to stand alone if necessary. Every great work of God has been done by those who believed God when others said it couldn’t be done. p. 271
Prayer is not so much talking to God as it is God speaking to us and telling us what is on His heart. p. 288
It’s not that prayer enables us to do a greater work; prayer is the greatest work we do. “You can do more than pray after you have prayed, but you cannot do more than pray until you have prayed.” p. 302
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Mover of Men and Mountains

Many years ago my college room mate recommended the book, Mover of Men and Mountains by R. G. LeTourneau. I read his copy. Recently I saw it in a used book store and it was autographed. I bought it and reread it. It is a wonderful book about LeToreau's life. The college he founded still is in Texas. I highly recommend this book. I trust you will enjoy the quotes below:


My slogan with the exception of one disastrous lapse I will bring up later, has long been, “Not how much of my money I give to God, but how much of His money I keep for myself.” Or as I sometimes put it more bluntly, “It’s all right to give God credit, but He can use cash, too.” You know, they say you can’t take it with you, but I say you can send it on ahead, and have it waiting to your credit when you get there. p. 90
We took our problem to our Lord, and felt better about it. You know, a lot of people take their problems to the Lord, and get up and walk away, carrying their problems back with them. Like those who pray for rain, and then go out without an umbrella. If that’s all the faith there is, there is not much point in praying. The Lord can’t help you if you insist on carrying your problems with you. Leave them with Him, and they are no longer yours but His. p. 103
You will never improve unless you blame yourself for the troubles you have. Then when you realize your troubles are your own, you can take them to the Lord and He will give you guidance. Just don’t make the mistake of asking Him to believe the other fellow was to blame. p. 147
When a man admits his mistakes, and is willing to learn from them with the Lord’s help, new worlds can open up. p. 154
When the Lord has a job for you to do, He’ll give you the strength and the ability to do it. p. 206
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Monday, September 6, 2010

A New Kind of Normal

Carol Kent writes a gut-wrenching book, A New Kind of Normal. This is like a part two of her book, When I Lay My Isaac Down. The subtitle is "Hope Filled Choices When Life Turns Upside Down." If you want to read about someone who "lives out his faith" then this is the book for you. I will share just one quote from the book, but if you read it your heart will be filled.

Ken Gire says, "When suffering shatters the carefully kept vase that is our lives, God stoops to pick up the pieces. But He doesn't put them back together as a restoration project patterned after our former selves. Instead, He sifts through the rubble and selects some of the shards as raw material for another project - a mosaic that tells the story of redemption."

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Friday, June 4, 2010

Simple Faith

Do you feel confined by the "Christian life?" If so you need to read Chuck Swindoll's book, Simple Faith. For a little taste see the quotes from the book below:

While this is not, by any deliberate design on my part, a sequel to The Grace Awakening, it grows out of a similar passion within me: p. xvi

The difference is that the people I have in mind for this book are those who have become victims of tyranny, not legalism. That tyranny is the pressure and frustration and disappointment brought on by the never-ending demands of organized religion. p. xvi

Do not be like them (Matt 6:8) p. 6

Our Lord wants His true followers to be distinct, unlike the majority who follow the herd. p. 6

Hypocrisy, He hates . . . authenticity, He loves. p. 6

God exalts the humble, but the world exalts the proud. God ascribes greatness, not to masters, but to servants. God is impressed, not with noise or size or wealth, but with quiet things . . . things done in secret-the inner motives, the true heart condition. God sends away the arrogant and the rich empty-handed, but He gathers to Himself the lowly, the broken, the prisoner, the prostitute, the repentant. The world honors the handsome and the gifted and the brilliant. God smiles on the crippled, the ones who can't keep up. All this makes the world nervous. p. 36

Isaac Watts asked, "Am I a soldier of the cross?" Jesus described what a soldier of the cross looked like:
  • poor in spirit
  • mourning
  • gentle
  • hungry and thirsty for righteousness
  • merciful
  • pure in heart
  • peacemaking
Talk about different! "But I thought we lived in a dog-eat-dog world," the world says, "I thought you had to be tough and rugged and selfish to make it. I mean, if you were to live like that, they would turn you into a doormat." It's true-

Blessed are you when men cast insults at you, and persecute you, and say all kinds of evil against you falsely, on account of Me. Rejoice, and be glad, for your reward in heaven is great, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you. (Matthew 5:11-12) p. 45

To return evil for good is devilish; to return good for good is human; to return good for evil is divine. To love as God loves is moral perfection, and this perfection Christ tells us to aim at. p. 110

If I am working on the engine on my boat and I need a certain wrench that will fit an unusual kind of nut, I may need to go to the hardware store and buy it. When I reach into the engine and the wrench fits into place, that wrench has become "perfect" in that it has fulfilled the purpose for which it was made. That is precisely what Christ's command means. Just as our heavenly Father fulfills His purpose, so should we. p. 111

Could there also be a veiled reference to the Trinity in these three levels of requests? It is the Lord our Father, our Sustainer, who gives daily bread. It is the Son, our Savior, who makes the forgiveness of debts possible through His blood. And it is the Spirit of God who is our Indweller and Rescuer. p. 143

Robert Robinson was born in England more than two hundred years ago. When he was just a boy, his father died, and his widowed mother sent him to London to learn the trade of barbering. In that great city Robert came under the persuasive influence of a man of God, the great Methodist revivalist George Whitefield. Robinson was soundly converted and felt a call to the ministry; he began at once to study for a lifetime of serving Christ.

At twenty-five Robert Robinson was called to pastor a Baptist church in Cambridge, where he became very successful. But the popularity was more than the young minister could handle. It led to the beginning of a lapse in his life of simple faith. Ultimately he fell into carnality, another tragic victim of "sin's foul bondage." As the years passed he faded from the scene and few even remembered his earlier years of devotion to Christ.

Years later Robinson was making a trip by stagecoach and happened to sit next to a woman who was reading a book with obvious pleasure. She seemed to be especially interested in one page of the volume, for she kept returning to it again and again. Finally she turned to Robinson---a complete stranger to her---and held the page toward him. Pointing to the hymn she had been reading there, she asked what he thought of it. Robinson looked at the first few lines:

Come, Thou Fount of every blessing
Tune my heart to sing Thy grace;
Streams of mercy, ever ceasing,
Call for songs of loudest praise. . . .

He read no further. Turning his head, he endeavored to engage the lady's attention on the passing landscape. But she was not to be denied. Pressing her point, she told him of the benefit she had received from the words of that hymn and expressed her admiration for its message.

Overcome with emotion, Robinson burst into tears. "Madam," he said, "I am the poor, unhappy man who wrote that hymn many years ago, and I would give a thousand words, if I had them, to enjoy the feelings I had then."

Robert Robinson was not many years older and light-years removed from his earlier commitment to Christ. His days of simple faith had eroded. How ironic that, at the end of the hymn, he had seemed to prophesy his own downward course:

O to grace how great a debtor
Daily I'm constrained to be!
Let Thy goodness, like a fetter,
Bind my wandering heart to Thee:

Prone to wander, Lord, I feel it,
Prone to leave the God I love;
Here's my heart, O take and seal it;
Seal it for thy courts above.

That is precisely what he did. Robert Robinson died shortly thereafter at the young age of fifty-five, the victim of the lure of a lesser loyalty. He had left the God he once loved and had become "a wicked old man." pp. 166-167

About a year ago I came across a piece written by fourteen-year-old Jason Lehman. Because it is such an apt description of what I'm trying to say, I will let it speak for itself.

Present Tense

It was spring
But it was summer I wanted,
The warm days,
And the great outdoors.
It was summer,
But it was fall I wanted,
The colorful leaves,
And the cool, dry air.
It was fall,
But it was winter I wanted,
The beautiful snow,
And the joy of the holiday season.
It was winter,
But it was spring I wanted,
the warmth
And the blossoming of nature.
I was a child,
But it was adulthood I wanted.
The freedom,
And the respect.
I was 20,
But it was 30 I wanted,
To be mature,
And sophisticated.
I was middle-aged,
But it was 20 I wanted,
The youth,
And the free spirit.
I was retired,
But it was middle age I wanted,
The presence of mind,
Without limitations.
My life was over.
But I never got what I wanted.
pp. 175-176

Matthew 6:1-18
Warning against parading our acts of righteousness. - Do not brag!

Matthew 6:19-24
Warning against falling into the trap of materialism. - Do not sag!

Matthew 6:25-32
Warning against being preoccupied with wrong things. - Do not worry!

Matthew 6:33-34
Warning against anticipating all of tomorrow's concerns today. - Do not hurry!
p. 177

Our problem is not that too many of us are being ignored, it's that we are all being observed!
p. 217

Christ came to be believed in, not simply studied and admired. p. 247

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Rise and Shine

Chuck Swindoll says the following on the flyleaf of his book, Rise and Shine, "An infectious love, a relevant message, an authentic lifestyle . . . and a powerful Savior. Enjoy:

The church's primary purpose is to glorify the Lord our God. p. 19

To make all this extremely practical, the question needs to be asked on a regular basis: Why am I doing this? Why did I say yes? Why did I agree to that? Why am I teaching? Why do I sing in the choir? Why am I so involved in this adult fellowship? Why do I plan in my budget to give this amount of money? Why?Why? WHY? When those questions are asked, there must be one and only one answer: To glorify God. p. 21

When referring to the church's bottom-line purpose, that glory means to magnify, to elevate, to shed radiance or splendor on Another.
So what does it mean for the church or for each individual Christian to glorify God? It means to magnify, exalt, and elevate the Lord our God as we humble ourselves and defer to His wisdom, His authority. p. 23

How does glorifying God occur?
First: By cultivating the habit of including the Lord God in every segment of your life.
Second: By refusing to expect or accept any of the glory that belongs to God.
Third: By maintaining a priority with Him that is more important than any on earth. pp. 29-31

Action plan:
First to help you cultivate the habit of including the Lord in every segment of your life, meet often and alone with Him.
To make the second suggestion work, that is, refusing to expect or accept any of the glory, openly admit your struggle with pride.
To accomplish the third suggestion-to maintain a top priority relationship with Him-filter everything through the same question: Will this bring glory to God or me? In your mind, ask yourself that question on a regular basis. pp. 32-33

Yes, a church needs good teaching, but not to the exclusion of worship. I find it interesting that for over three years of ministry on earth, Jesus never told his disciples to write something down. Not once. His instruction was not an academic exercise. Those who sat at His feet often worshiped, however. p. 61

Let's remember that the church is a place where we receive instruction. We learn from God's Word when we're together, but our learning is not limited to verbal instruction. We learn from the models of one another's lives. We learn from experience. We learn from failure and loss and trails. We learn from the great hymns, from the songs of faith. In the process of learning at the feet of our God, He gets the glory. p. 61

When we truly worship we do so with an awe of wonderment, an awe of praise. There is worship in silence as well--being quiet, being still, knowing that He is God. There is worship in beautiful congregational singing, an anthem, or the wonderful, magnificent music that thunders from a pipe organ. p. 62

The church was never meant to be merely a set of buildings where you come, sit, worship, learn, and leave. The church is a community of believers who demonstrate genuine concern for each other. p. 62

They (the early Christians) didn't come for worship like an isolated bag of marbles that made a lot of noise as they banged together, then marched out in single file. No, they came like a cluster of ripe grapes. As persecution pushed them together, they bled on each other. Their lives naturally ran into each other. How much better it is to think of ourselves as two handfuls of ripe grapes than as a bag of highly polished marbles. Our time together becomes so much more valuable when our lives become entwined with one another, moving closer together, feeling each others' strain and struggles, deeply caring for one another. pp. 62-63

Fellowship occurs, I believe, when there are expressions of genuine Christianity shared among God's family members. I notice from the New Testament that true koinonia results in two definite expressions. First, to share something with someone . . . something tangible. To help him meet a need. And second, to share in something with someone else. When there is weeping, then you share in it with the one who weeps. You also weep. When there is rejoicing, you share in the rejoicing with the one who rejoices. p. 63

Comparison is a nasty game. Let's choose compassion! p. 64

People are not persuaded--they're attracted. We must be able to communicate far more by what we are than by what we say! p. 64

In my research I have discovered four observations about evangelism and missions in the New Testament. First: It was never limited to the church gathering. In fact, it occurred there least of all. I hope you will remember that. p. 68

The church gathered is in worship and being instructed. The church scattered is helping and affirming, encouraging and evangelizing. p. 69

Second: Evangelism was always initiated by the Christian. p. 69

Third: Evangelism was usually connected with another unrelated event or experience. I am referring to intense opposition, a healing, a conversation, an argument, a supernatural event, a cataclysmic occurrence. Coming to faith in Christ often grew out of such occurrences. p. 70

Fourth: Evangelism was never something anyone was forced into or manipulated to do. p. 70
Keep in mind what we learned earlier: The power of the ministry is the Holy Spirit. Caring for people, becoming really interested in their world, their situation, their personal concerns is still the most effective method of winning the lost. p. 70

One of the major secrets to contagious style is keeping the right perspective. Meaning what? Several contrasts come to my mind.
  • More emphasis on content, less on cosmetics
  • More importance placed on depth, less on size
  • More interest in exalting Christ, less on ourselves
  • More reminders that church is people with eternal souls, not structures of tempered steeel
  • More involvement with the lost outside these walls, not just bringing them in to hear of Christ
  • More delight, fewer reminders of duty
  • More authenticity, less hypocrisy
  • More meaningful relationships, fewer lengthy meetings. pp. 92-93
How can a Christian stay ready 'til quittin' time?
First: Consider your life an offering to God rather than a monument to men.
Second: Remember that finishing well is the final proof that the truth works.
Third: Fix your eyes on the rewards of heaven rather than the allurements of earth. pp. 182-183

True integrity implies you do what is right when no one is looking or when everyone is compromising. p. 198

The test of such truth is obvious. Say, "she's as good as her word" or "his handshake is better than a contract!" and you describe someone who embodies what today's truth seekers are looking for. . . . p.199

Real integrity stays in place whether the test is adversity or prosperity. If you really have integrity, a demotion or promotion won't change you. Your inner core won't be dislodged. But I should repeat my earlier warning: Others won't like it if you don't "go along" with the system. Be ready for misunderstanding from the mediocre crowd. You will surely encounter their hostility. p. 200

Broken moral integrity means the spiritual leader forfeits the right to lead. p. 202

The one who commits adultery with a woman is lacking sense; he who would destroy himself does it. Wounds and disgrace he will find, and his reproach will not be blotted out (Proverbs 6:32-33). p. 203

When God calls individuals into His vineyard, He calls only sinful people. Not even one could claim perfection. Each is inadequate in himself, weak and wayward by nature, and could pose for a portrait panted in the lyrics of the beloved hymn "prone to wander . . . prone to leave the God I love." p. 229

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And the Angels Were Silent

And the Angels Were Silent is an awesome book by one of the best story tellers, Max Lucado. I trust it will speak to you the way it spoke to me.

A Hispanic member of our church married recently. She is a precious sister with a robust faith. When the time came, the minister asked, "Can you repeat the vows?" To which she answered with all sincerity, "Yes, I can, but it will be with an accent."

That is the way God intended it. He intends for all of us to live out our vows with our own particular accent. For some, it is with an accent on the sick. For others, it is a concern for the imprisoned. Still others have a burden for scholarly research or giving. But whatever our accent the message is still the same. p. 54

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Coming Home

If you have not read Joseph Stowell, then you need to start. His book, Coming Home is awesome. I trust you will enjoy the quotes below:

Living out Psalm 46:10
. . . the Hebrew word used for "be still" has nothing to do with rapt attention to God. Rather it has everything to do with relaxing. In fact, the verse could be translated literally as "Relax, and know that I am God." The Hebrew word paints a vivid picture. It means to let go. pp. 146-147

God says that when we get out to the ragged edge we have to let go. We need to give up controlling, manipulating, and striving to somehow make it work. p. 147

The Hebrew word also means to let go, to put our hands down at our sides. In times of struggle we usually want to defend or protect ourselves. Putting our hands down at our sides makes us feel vulnerable. But that's what God is saying here. He's saying that we need to stop striving, let go, put our hands down, take a deep breath, and relax. p. 147

The only way we can relax is to know something about God. As the verse says, "cease striving and know . . . " Normally we don't connect our responses to knowing but rather to feeling. We are most often motivated in a crisis by our emotions-that wave of anxiety or surge of self-pity. Our emotions often form and drive our response. But notice that God says the only way we are going to be able to relax is to start with something we know. To start with a cognitive reality that is steady and stable. p. 147

While Psalm 46 doesn't say we can relax because we know the outcomes, it does say that relaxing comes from knowing the One who manages the outcomes. And actually it's better to know and trust the God of the outcomes than to know the outcomes themselves. If we knew the outcome, we might forget the God who manages them and disagree with Him on the implementation. p. 149

There isn't a problem in life that is bigger than God. p. 155

We need to remember that we're trusting God to manage the outcomes, and that means that He manages the timing. p. 156

God wants us to be still and let Him manage the outcomes, not only in regard to timing but in regard to method. He's in charge of the way the problem is resolved. p. 157

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The Reagan Diaries

My favorite all time President is Ronald Reagan. I truly enjoyed the book, The Reagan Diaries. Douglas Brinkley did an amazing job editing President Reagan's diaries. If you have not read it, I highly recommend it to you. I've only listed a few quotes because most of the book is the day to day life of the President.

I realized I couldn't ask for God's help while at the same time I felt hatred for the mixed up young man who had shot me. p. 12

Whatever happens now I owe my life to God and will try to serve Him in every way I can. p. 12

Later in the day talked by phone with Billy Graham. He knows the family of the young man who did the shooting. They are decent, deeply religious people who are completely crushed by the "sickness" of their son. p. 13

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When Christ Comes

I have only one quote to share from Max Lucado's book, When Christ Comes, but it is powerful!

He is preparing the perfect place for you. I love John MacArthur's definition of eternal life, "Heaven is the perfect place for people made perfect. p. 8

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Three Steps Forward Two Steps Back

One of my favorite Bible teachers, Chuck Swindoll's book, Three Steps Forward Two Steps Back, is such a blessing. I trust you are blessed with the quotes below:

A person would be insane to hear his physician diagnose his ailment as a rapidly growing tumor, and then think that just because he had talked with his doctor, the growth would suddenly disappear. No, he’s going to have to be operated on. Likewise, just being exposed to the truth won’t make us mature. Nor will it alone --- without application --- solve one problem. p. 22

Understand that we are not trying to dodge our problems; instead, we are gearing up to confront our setbacks, walk into them, through them, and come out stronger in Christ. p. 22

A statement C.S. Lewis once made: God whispers to us in our pleasures, speaks in our conscience, but shouts in our pains: it is His megaphone to rouse a deaf world. p. 34

We are all faced with a series of great opportunities brilliantly disguised as impossible situations. p. 74

Someone has said that the real difference between the preacher of the flesh and the one who speaks from the Spirit is that the preacher of the flesh has to say something, while the one who speaks from the Spirit has something to say. pp. 125-126

The fourth “R” is respond correctly to your weak points. Respond correctly to those things you feel are defects or scars or shortcomings. Try to change them if you can. If you can’t, pray very much about them---just as Paul did. View that scar or defect not as a cross to endure but as a unique marking of God on your life.

In summary,

  1. Realize that you were prescribed before birth.
  2. Remember that the growth process is still going on.
  3. Refuse to compare yourself with others.
  4. Respond correctly to your shortcomings. p. 134

Warning: When you are making top grades in school, you’re most vulnerable. When your family seems the closest and the strongest, you’re most vulnerable. When your business has reached a level you never dreamed possible, that’s a vulnerable state. Fellow pastor, when you are enjoying God’s blessings and the church is growing and your fame is spreading, you’re vulnerable. Be on guard! That is when things like boredom and complacency set in. If you have served in the military, you know that the most vulnerable time for an attack is right after a battle has been won. The tendency is to sit down to a feast and take it easy. I was taught during my days in the Marine Corps that the correct maneuver immediately following victory is to set up a “hasty defense.” You instantly establish communications with your forces in order to handle that early period of victory. It’s tougher to remain victorious than it is to become victorious! p. 176

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Just Like Jesus

What a joy to read Max Lucado's book, Just Like Jesus. I know you will be encouraged by the quotes below.

God loves you just the way you are, but he refuses to leave you that way. He wants you to be just like Jesus. p. 3

It’s a wonderful day indeed when we stop working for God and begin working with God. p. 59

We are “God’s fellow workers” (NIV) 2 Cor. 6:1 – p. 59

He changes our faces through worship. Exactly what is worship? I like King David’s definition. “Oh magnify the Lord with me, and let us exalt His name together” (Ps. 34:3 NASB). Worship is the act of magnifying God. Enlarging our vision of Him. Stepping into the cockpit to see where He sits and observe how He works. Of course, His size doesn’t change, but our perception of Him does. As we draw nearer, He seems larger. p. 82

Let me be very clear. This change is His job, not ours. Our goal is not to make our faces radiant. Not even Jesus did that. Matthew says, “Jesus’ appearance was changed” not “Jesus changed His appearance.” Moses didn’t even know his face was shining (Exod. 34:29). Our goal is simply to stand before God with a prepared and willing heart and then let God do His work. And He does. He wipes away the tears. He mops away the perspiration. He softens our furrowed brows. He touches our cheeks. He changes our faces as we worship. But there’s more. Not only does God change the face of those who worship, He changes those who watch us worship. p. 83

Paul told the Corinthian church to worship in such a way that if an unbeliever entered, “he would find . . . the secrets of his heart revealed; and . . . would fall down on his face and worship God, declaring that God is indeed among you” (1 Cor. 14:24-25 TJB) pp. 83-84

There are some things we want to do but simply aren’t equipped to accomplish. p. 96

Be aware of our strengths. Identify your strengths and then – this is important – major in them. Take a few irons out of the fire so this one can get hot. Failing to focus on our strengths may prevent us from accomplishing the unique task God has called us to do. We cannot meet every need in the world. We cannot please every person in the world. We cannot satisfy every request in the world. But some of us try. And in the end, we run out of fuel. Have a sane estimate of your abilities and stick to them. pp. 96-97

PLAN

Am I fitting into God’s Plan?

What are my Longings?

What are my Abilities?

Am I serving God Now? p. 98

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Saturday, March 13, 2010

God Isn't In A Hurry

One of my favorite Bible teacher's Warren Wiersbe has a book titled, God Isn't In A Hurry: Learning to Slow Down and Live. Most of us can take his advise to heart. Several quotes below were helpful t me and I trust they will be for you too!

Churches do not grow by addition; they grow by nutrition. True growth is from the inside out-at least the kind of growth that lasts. During more than forty years of ministry in many parts of the world, I have seen all sorts of schemes for building the church; and some of them, unfortunately, have worked-on;y to the detriment of the ministry. George Macdonald was right: "In whatever man does without God, he must either fail miserably, or succeed more miserably.

If you are interested in the praise of men, then use the shortcuts and publicize your statistics. But if you are interested in the glory of God, stick with God's methods-the Word, prayer, witnessing, sacrifice, and suffering-and leave the results with Him. After all, it is "God who gives the increase" (1 Cor. 3:7). p. 13

I may be wrong, but I have the feeling that we are looking for shortcuts because we don't want to pay the price for doing things God's way. Travail in prayer, hard study, serious heart searching, and patient sowing of the seed have been replaced by methods that guarantee instant results. Results, yes; fruit, no. You cannot have fruit without roots, and you cannot have roots unless you dig deep; and that takes time.

I recently read again an address that Spurgeon gave to his Pastors' College students and alumni back in 1881, and I was struck by his closing words: "Do not be afraid of hard work for Christ; a terrible reckoning awaits those who have as easy time in the ministry, but a great reward is in reserve for those who endure all things for the elect's sake."

Beware of the high cost of shortcuts. p. 15

Faith is not believing in spite of evidence; it is obeying in spite of consequence. p. 24

Times of adversity are always times of opportunity. "For a great and effective door has opened to me, " wrote Paul , "and there are many adversaries" (1 Cor. 16:9). When you look at the difficulties through God, they turn into opportunities, and you see open doors. p. 24

Corporate worship is only as good as what each person brings to it, and that means each of us must spend time alone with the Lord. p. 40

There is a subtle danger in cramming ourselves full of Bible knowledge that never really gets into our inner person. We start equating knowledge with spirituality , and activity with ministry; and then we start living on substitutes. Manton also said, "Then end of study is information, and the need of meditation is practice." He is right. Knowing Bible facts is not the same as receiving Bible truths and making them a vital part of our inner person. p. 48

The bridge between learning and living is meditating-prayer over the Word, pondering it, applying it to our own lives. p. 49

When some American visitors asked Charles Haddon Spurgeon the secret of his ministry, the great preacher quietly replied, "My people pray for me." p. 50

Said Spurgeon, "Texts will often refuse to reveal their treasure till you open them with the key of prayer." p. 51

"Beloved brethren, " said Spurgeon to his ministerial students, "let us pray. We cannot all argue, but we can all pray; we cannot all be leaders, but we can all be pleaders; we cannot all be mighty in rhetoric, but we can all be prevalent in prayer. I would sooner see you eloquent with God than with men." p. 53

The way we respond to criticism depends on the way we respond to praise. If praise humbles us, then criticism will crush us; and both responses lead to defeat. p. 60

William Lyon Phelps, who headed the English department at Yale for many years, used to say that a knowledge of the Bible apart from a college education is more valuable than a college education without a knowledge of the Bible. He was right.

The person who chooses to ignore Jesus Christ is actually destroying himself; for Jesus Christ came as man to show us what God wanted us to be. He came as man that He might die to make us what God wanted us to be. p. 82

We are supposed to "proclaim the praises" of God who saved us (1 Peter 2:9)-which literally means "to advertise God's wonderful character"-and yet we busy ourselves competing among ourselves and arguing who is the greatest. p. 87

"Therefore putting aside all filthiness and all that remains of wickedness, in humility receive the Word implanted, which is able to save your souls" (James 1:21 NASB). We must pull out the weeds before we can receive the seeds. p. 92

What was the Word of God before 1611 when the King James Version was published? What is the Word of God on the mission field where people cannot read English? Who authorized the King James Version to be the Word of God?

If some person or group authorized a translation to be the Word of God, then that person or group would have a higher authority than the Bible itself. And it is inconceivable that the great saints and martyrs from Pentecost to 1611 did not have the Word of God. It is even more inconceivable that our missionaries, who dedicate their lives to the translation and distribution of the Bible, are wasting their time on publications that are not the Word of God. p. 111

We Christians pride ourselves on not being worldly. We shun alcohol, tobacco, and impure entertainment; but at the same time we join the world's rat race and compete with each other for all the time we can get. We forget that God gives each of us only twenty-four hours a day. The entire universe operates a day at a time while we attempt to cram a week's work into a weekend.

In the final analysis, it still takes time to be holy. The great masters of the spiritual life in church history were not jet-propelled. They were not afraid to be alone, to wait. When I was in high school, I had to read John Milton's "Sonnet on His Blindness;" and for the life of me, I could not understand the meaning of the last line: "They also serve who only stand and wait." Today, I have a better grasp of what the blind English poet was trying to say, even though I may not always practice it. p. 126

Who knows? If all of us slowed down a bit, if we cancelled a few meetings from the church calendar, if we took time to wait before God in prayer, we might see God work in wonderful ways. We might see some fractured marriages mended again, some discordant ministries brought back into God's harmony, some exhausted believers given new strength and zeal for God. We might even see revival!

Be still, and know that I am God" (Ps. 46:10).

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The Family

The Family
Braves Game 2012