Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Eternity: Reclaiming a Passion for What Endures

Eternity: Reclaiming a Passion for What EnduresEternity: Reclaiming a Passion for What Endures by Joseph M. Stowell
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Joseph Stowell is a wonderful Bible teacher. In this book, "Eternity," he helps the reader learn how to focus on the Kingdom to Come. I will leave this one quote, but will add more to my blog as time permits. Malcolm Muggeridge observes, "The only ultimate tragedy we can experience on earth is to feel at home here." I highly recommend this book! 

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Below are some great quotes from this book:

We think that we are in the land of the living going to the land of the dying when in reality we are in the land of the dying headed for the land of the living.  p. 7
If all we have in this world, then revenge, bitterness and hatred will be our response when deep injustices come upon us. If, however, we understand that this world is prone to offense and cruelty but that in the world to come God will guarantee that every wrong will be made right and that justice will be done, we are suddenly released from the pressure of dealing with the issue ourselves. Yielding the tension to God for His care, we can be free emotionally, psychologically, and spiritually to love even our offenders. This is exactly what Paul commands that we do in Romans 12 where he says that we are not to render evil for evil but to put wrath in its proper place. That proper place is at the throne of God who lives today in heaven and sees all that transpires on this earth. Knowing, then, that God will deal from the world beyond with our enemies, we are free to respond in peace. If our enemies are hungry we can feed them, or if they’re thirsty we can give them a drink (Romans 12:17-21).   p. 22
Redemption has liberated us to citizenship in another world, with an insightful view of this present world and fortified by a redeemed world within. We are called to view the reality of this present world clearly, embrace the world beyond, and live by the instincts of the resurrected world within. p. 26
At the funeral of former president Richard Nixon, Reverend Billy Graham closed his message with an intriguing story from the life of Winston Churchill. The British prime minister, as he was making plans for his own funeral, asked to be laid in state in the heart of London in that great architectural masterpiece of Sir Christopher Wren, St. Paul’s Cathedral. He requested that his casket be placed under the massive dome in the center of the cathedra. Churchill then asked that two trumpeters be stationed on each side of the balcony that circles the dome. It was his wish that at the close of the service the trumpeter on one side would play taps. When he was finished the trumpeter on the other side would play revile. pp. 52-53
The only ultimate tragedy we can experience on earth is to feel at home here. ~  Malcolm Muggeridge  p. 77
I believe that the life of our Messiah was spared in His infancy because three wise men during a brief visit gave their resources in worship to the King of kings. How else could Mary and Joseph, who were simple, common folk, be able to afford a long journey and residence in Egypt for two years to escape the wrath of a seething Herod who had decreed that all two year-old boys throughout the land be killed? p. 88
If we think that our reward will be on this side of the grave, we will be easily discouraged and cease to persevere in doing what is right. But if we know that what we do for Him here counts for eternity, though the results may be unseen, we continue to steadfastly carry on for Him regardless of our circumstances (see 1 Corinthians 15:58). A clear view of the other side enables us to persevere on this side. p. 91
German theologian Dietrich Bonhoeffer, when he was led to be hung for his commitment to righteousness in the face of Nazi atrocities, confidently spoke these last words: “Oh, God, this is the end; but for me it is just the beginning.” p. 92
Our government spends millions of dollars each year on its witness protection program to change the identities of those whose lives are endangered. People who have testified against criminals and put their lives at risk are relocated and given a new name and identity. Having been relocated into the kingdom, we too have been given a new identity and, I might add, at a great price. Embracing this new identity is the first step in managing our place in the kingdom. Understanding who we really are transforms all that we do. p. 126
Today in our more liberated Christian environment where many have discarded codes of behavior that smack of legalism, we continue to miss the genuine marks of eternity. Values such as generosity over greed, servanthood over self-centeredness, people over things; the eternal over the temporal and pleasing God over self-satisfaction still elude us. We are short on kingdom traits such as compassion, truth, and the importance of a consistent and compelling testimony. All of these are unique characteristics of a life ruled by Christ, not driven by a sense of responsibility but rather by a glad preoccupation with our eternal identity. pp. 127-128
Parents who have a kingdom identity will be pleased with their children when they live godly lives and use their calling in life to please the king. Students who have embraced a kingdom identity see their studies in light of the eternal truths of their eternal God. They see His fingerprints in the study of creation, biology, anatomy, geography, and astronomy. History becomes the story of the sovereign direction of the King. Mathematics, physics, and geometry reflect to them the fact that the world is governed by the laws that were instituted by the King. Arts and literature reflect the creativity God has placed within us, as we are made in His image. Philosophy, political science, and behavioral studies are evaluated in terms of the principles and perspectives of the kingdom. A student with a kingdom identity sees education from the King’s perspective and is committed to developing his or her mind for maximum use toward the eternal goals of the kingdom. A future career is a launching pad for kingdom gain. A kingdom perspective never lets us see our career as a means to self-gratification and persona advancements but rather as a platform from which Christ is consistently seen and from which His work is advanced. We choose not to compromise the kingdom value of integrity for a raise or promotion, displaying to all that the kingdom is not about wealth and power but about righteousness and peace. Retirees who live in their kingdom identity will not envision their remaining years reclining on a chaise lounge but rather investing their wisdom, accumulated goods, and skills to advance the cause of Christ. They will live with an awareness of their privileged place in His kingdom and volunteer their time and talents to Christian organizations or in their local church. Short-term missionary stints are an exciting and enticing kingdom option for retirees. Grandparents who have found their identity in eternity are committed to spending time with their grandchildren, to help support their children in rearing a new and godly generation. pp. 130–131
There are no “steps up” in the kingdom. There are only servants who are sovereignly assigned to strategic places in the vineyards. This sense of identity unifies us as one in Him. p. 132
The power of His character—in fact, the complete righteousness of all that He is—consumes the culture of the kingdom. And those of us who admire Him assimilate the customs of the King into our lives. Isn’t that the call of the Spirit in our lives, to be like Christ? It is the measure of our maturity and the mark of the kingdom. p. 146
Righteousness is related not to the standards of our politically correct world but rather to who God is and who defines the standard. All of our responses to life, whether social, economic, emotive, sensual, or material, are measured by His correct character and nature. This means we can be unrighteous by both being more strict than God, as it were the Pharisees, or more tolerant than God. Strictness is not next to godliness if it is stricter than He, and liberty is not freedom in Christ if it is a license to leave the righteous center of God. p. 147
Kingdom living relates to whether our lives are governed by what is right before God. In this case we put the needs of others before our own desires; just as Christ the King put our needs before His desires. p. 148
There are at least seven kingdom virtues reflected in Christ’s life. They are best understood in contrast to the earthbound value with which they complete. They are truth, as opposed to tolerance; grace rather than greed; love, rather than self-centeredness; servanthood, in contrast to significance; self-control, as opposed to sensualism; justice, instead of oppression, humility as opposed to haughtiness. These seven virtues, when we embrace them, forge kingdom character that gives our lives a compelling uniqueness. pp. 153-154
Christ goes on in this Sermon (Matthew 5:13-16) to relate that we are to live as salt and light in this world. Salt functions as a flavoring agent. It seems evident that Christ is saying that our practice in this present world needs to deepen and bring richer, truer taste to life. p. 176
Salt has a preserving element as well. During Jesus’ day, many of the soldiers received part of their pay in salt, a valuable commodity that would preserve their food from spoiling. As salt preserved meat, so kingdom people are to preserve truth by promoting the principles of righteousness. When we manage our world within a way that expresses the kingdom practices of righteousness, we function as a preservative in this present world. Through a righteous presence in both proclamation and practice, we help to preserve the sanity and safety that only comes when a society lives righteously. The salt of our righteousness preserves an otherwise decaying world through parents who rear godly children; employers who apply Biblical ethics toward their employees; voters who support righteous causes; citizens who cry out against violence and injustice. p. 177
Spurgeon learned what another generous believer once said: “I shovel out, and God shovels in, and He has a bigger shovel than I do.” p. 185
The trouble for kingdom travelers is that as people of virtues and righteous actions, our very presence is a source of reproof. The light is less than welcome when the world loves darkness. p. 210

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