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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