Monday, December 31, 2012

The Hole in Our Gospel

The Hole in Our Gospel: What Does God Expect of Us? the Answer That Changed My Life and Might Just Change the WorldThe Hole in Our Gospel: What Does God Expect of Us? the Answer That Changed My Life and Might Just Change the World by Richard Stearns
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I heard that my favorite coach, Mark Richt had read this book and how it changed his life. He coaches the University of Georgia football team. He decided to sell his Lake house and use the money to help the needy. This book is full of great quotes. Please take the time to read them.

What is God asking for, really, from you and me?  Much more than church attendance. More than prayer too. More than belief, and even more than self-denial. God asks us for everything. He requires a total life commitment from those who would be His followers. p. 1

When we committed ourselves to following Christ, we also committed to living our lives in such a way that a watching world would catch a glimpse of God’s character – His love, justice, and mercy – through our words, actions, and behavior. “We are … Christ’s ambassadors,” wrote the apostle Paul, “as though God were making His appeal through us” (2 Cor. 5:20). God chose us to be His representatives. He called us out, to proclaim the “good news” – to be the “good news” – and to change the world. Living out our faith privately was never meant to be an option.  p. 3

Let my heart be broken by the things that break the heart of God.  ~Bob Pierce p.9

Christ has no body on earth but yours, no hands but yours, no feet but yours. Yours are the eyes through which Christ’s compassion for the world is to look out; yours are the feet with which He is to go about doing good; and yours are the hands with which He is to bless us now.  ~Saint Teresa of Avila  p. 13

Kindness has converted more sinners than zeal, eloquence, or learning.  ~Frederick W. Faber p. 13

Faith today is treated as something that only should make us different, not that actually does or can make us different. In reality we vainly struggle against the evils of this world, waiting to die and go to heaven. Somehow we’ve gotten the idea that the essence of faith is entirely a mental and inward thing.   ~Dallas Willard  p. 15

The kingdom of God, which Christ said is “within you” (Luke 17:21), was intended to change and challenge everything in our fallen world in the here and now. It was not meant to be a way to leave the world but rather the means to actually redeem it.  p. 17

God's love was intended to be demonstrated, not dictated.  ~Richard Stearns p. 18

God is responsible for the harvest – but we must plant, water, and cultivate the seeds.  p. 18

Think about all the things that must happen before there can be a good harvest of crops. First, someone has to go and prepare the land. This is backbreaking work that involves felling trees, pulling massive stumps out of the ground, extracting rocks and boulders from the field, moving them aside. But there’s no harvest yet. Next the soil has to be broken up. The earth needs to be plowed, fertilizer churned in with the soil, and orderly rows tilled to prepare for the seed. Then the seeds must be carefully planted and covered. But still no harvest. Perhaps a fence needs to be built to protect the plants from animals that might devour them. And always, the seedlings must be carefully watered, nurtured, and fed over the long growing season.  There are sometimes setbacks – bad weather, blights, floods, and insects – that can jeopardize the harvest. But if all of the hard work is done faithfully and with perseverance, and if God provides good seed and favorable weather, finally a glorious harvest is the result. Haven’t we heard the stories of faithful missionaries who dedicated their whole lives in another country without seeing even one person embrace Christ as Savior – only to learn that fifty years later there was a tremendous harvest? In our instant-gratification society, we would prefer to go directly to the harvest. Who wants to do all that hard work of stump pulling and boulder moving? But isn’t all that “other” work the essence of the coming of the kingdom of God in its fullness? When we become involved in people’s lives, work to build relationships, walk with them through their sorrows and their joys, live with generosity toward others, love and care for them unconditionally, stand up for the defenseless, and pay particular attention to the poorest and most vulnerable, we are showing Christ’s love to those around us, not just talking about it. These are the things that plant the seeds of the gospel in the human heart.  pp.  19-20

Preach the gospel always; when necessary use words.  ~Saint Francis of Assisi  p. 23

We have shrunk Jesus to the size where He can save our soul but now don’t believe He can change the world.  ~Anonymous p. 23

To know what is right and not to do it is the worst cowardice.  ~Confucius p. 25

The true gospel is a call to self-denial. It is not a call to self-fulfillment.  ~John MacArthur  p. 25

Whosoever claims to live in Him must walk as Jesus did.  ~1 John 2:6  p. 26

Why did God make me? The answer? To love, serve, and obey Him.  p. 29

Are you willing to be open to God’s will for your life?  p. 34

The place God calls you to is the place where your deep gladness and the world’s deep hunger meet.  ~Frederick Buechner p. 36

Choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve . . . But as for me and my household, we will serve the Lord.  ~Joshua 24:15 p. 36

When we say that we want to be His disciple, yet attach a list of conditions, Jesus refuses to accept our terms. His terms involve unconditional surrender.  p. 38

God expects us to serve Him on His terms – not ours.  p. 39

If money be not thy servant, it will be thy master. The covetous man cannot so properly be said to possess wealth, as that may be said to possess him.  ~Sir Francis Bacon  p. 42

Growth demands a temporary surrender of security.   ~Gail Sheehy p. 44

God never picks the person you or I would choose. He chose a posse of fishermen, tax collectors, and insurgents to be His disciples. He picked Paul, the greatest persecutor of Christians, to be Apostle to the Gentiles and to write most of the New Testament. He selected David, the runt of Jesse’s litter, to be king over Israel, and Moses, a shepherd, to confront the most powerful man on earth, the Pharaoh, and to lead several hundred thousand Israelites out of slavery. [So way wouldn’t He chose you?]  p. 45

For I desire mercy, not sacrifice, and acknowledgment of God rather than burnt offerings.  ~Hosea 6:6  p. 51

Hell will be full of people who thought highly of the Sermon on the Mount. You must do more than that. You must obey it and take action.  ~John Macarthur p. 53

In the end, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends.  ~Martin Luther King Jr. p. 53

He has showed you, O man, what is good. And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.  ~Micah 6:8  p. 53

Live as if Christ died yesterday, rose this morning, and is coming back tomorrow.  ~Martin Luther  p. 64

If we truly love God, we will express it by loving our neighbors, and when we truly love our neighbors, it expresses our love for God.  p. 66

To love God with all our hearts, souls, and minds – means that we must love God with our whole being – totally and completely. All forms of obedience to God must first and foremost flow out of our love for Him.  p. 66

We are not to give up on the world, nor retreat from it – just the opposite. We are to reclaim and redeem the world for Christ’s kingdom.   p. 68

Two roads diverged in a wood, and I – I took the one less traveled by. And that has made all the difference  ~Robert Frost  p. 73

I believe in Christianity as I believe that the sun has risen: not only because I see it, but because by it I see everything else.   ~C.S. Lewis p. 73

God uses broken and imperfect people to challenge and inspire others.  He utilizes our mistakes and our victories to shine a light on the path, so that others might follow. p. 73

Brothers, think of what you were when you were called. Not many of you were wise by human standards; not many were influential; not many were of noble birth. Both God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong. He chose the lowly things of this world and the despised things – and the things that are not – to nullify the things that are, so that no one may boast before Him.  ~1 Corinthians 1:26-29  pp. 76-77

He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain what he cannot lose.   ~Jim Elliot  p. 82

A holy life will produce the deepest impression. Lighthouses blow no horns, only shine.   ~D.L. Moody  p. 88

If God only used perfect people, nothing would get done. God will use anybody if you’re available.  ~Rick Warren  p. 88

Anything we put ahead of God in our lives becomes an idol.  p. 89

God can’t give you the blessings He has for you until you first put down the other things you are clutching in your hands. p. 89

Those who cling to worthless idols forfeit the grace that could be theirs.  p. 89

God chose those deemed to be weak and imperfect by the world to do great things. p. 90

Every follower of Christ was made for a purpose and our most important task is to discern what that purpose is.  ~Bill Hybels p. 92

He created us all for a purpose and envisioned our lives at the very beginning of time itself. He gave us each a unique personality and a set of aptitudes and placed us each in a particular family. Day by day, He brings key people into our lives and provides life experiences that shape us. God does all this with His purpose in mind, tailored to the individual – you and me.  p. 92

Discerning our unique calling is not always a simple thing. We need to be quiet enough to hear God’s still, small voice. We must also faithfully read the Scriptures, pray diligently, follow the Lord’s teachings, listen to wise friends who know us, and consistently make ourselves available to serve. Finally, we have to remain open to God’s possibilities, always willing to take the outrageous risk and do the unpredictable thing.   p. 93

Often we are too busy pursuing our careers to discern our calling. But there is a vast difference between career and calling. Read what Pastor John Ortberg had to say about it:
“American society does not talk much about calling anymore. It is more likely to think in terms of career. Yet, for many people a career becomes the altar on which they sacrifice their lives. A calling, which is something I do for God, is replaced by a career, which threatens to become my god. A career is something I chose for myself; a calling is something I receive. A career is something I do for myself; a calling is something I do for God. A career promises status, money or power; a calling generally promises difficulty and even some suffering – and the opportunity to be used by God. A career is about upward mobility; a calling generally leads to downward mobility.”  p. 93

For perhaps the first time in my (Richard Stearns) life, God had me right where He wanted me, helpless and relying completely on Him.  Mother Teresa once said, "I am a little pencil in the hand of a writing God who is sending a love letter to the world." She had it right. We're not authors, any of us. We are just the "pencils." Once we understand that, we might actually become useful to God. p. 94

The poverty of our century is unlike that of any other. It is not, as poverty was before, the result of natural scarcity, but of a set of priorities imposed upon the rest of the world by the rich. Consequently, the modern poor are not pitied … but written off as trash. The twentieth-century consumer economy has produced the first culture for which a beggar is a reminder of nothing.  ~John Berger p. 95

More and more I come to value charity and love of one’s fellow being above everything else … All our lauded technological progress – our very civilization – is like the ax in the hand of the pathological criminal.  ~Albert Einstein p. 97

Facts are stubborn things.  ~John Adams p. 106

The truth does not change according to our ability to stomach it.  ~Flannery O’Connor p. 106

The Bible is clear from the Old Testament through the New that God’s people always had a responsibility to see that everyone in their society was cared for at a basic-needs level. Ruth was able to glean wheat from Boaz’s field because God had instructed those who controlled the land to not harvest everything, so that there would be food left for the poor: “When you reap the harvest of your land, do not reap to the very edges of your field or gather the gleanings of your harvest. Leave them for the poor and the alien” (Lev. 23:22). A modern-day version of this might read: “If your job produces a decent income for you, do not spend it all on yourself. Make some of it available to the poor and the less fortunate, that they, too, might live a decent life.” For Christians, this is a justice issue or, stated more bluntly, a moral issue in which those of us who have plenty seem willing to allow others to have nothing.   p. 123

Although the world is full of suffering, it is also full of the overcoming of it.  ~Helen Keller p. 125

We are continually faced with a series of great opportunities brilliantly disguised as insoluble problems. ~John W. Gardner p. 125

While providing things like these in urgent situations is sometimes necessary, it neither addresses the underlying stubbornness of poverty, nor is it sustainable; it just creates a dependency. Frankly, giving things to the poor does much more to make the giver feel good than it does to fundamentally address and improve the condition of those in need.  p. 126
When we see [those in poverty] as God sees them, we will glimpse His image in their faces   - Christ in His distressing disguise.  ~Mother Teresa  p. 130

He who is dying of hunger must be fed rather than taught.  ~Thomas Aquinas  p. 132

Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everything.  ~Martin Luther King Jr.  p. 151

Don’t fail to do something just because you can’t do everything.  ~Bob Pierce  p. 152

He who is kind to the poor lends to the Lord, and he will reward him for what he has done.  ~Proverbs 19:17  p. 152

Sometimes I would like to ask God why He allows poverty, suffering, and injustice when He could do something about it.  Well, why don't you ask Him? Because I'm afraid He would ask me the same question.   ~Anonymous  p. 161

Bad news goes about in clogs, good news in stockinged feet.   ~Welsh Proverb p. 161

In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world   ~John 16:33  p. 161

Pray, but when you pray, move to your feet.  ~African Proverb  p. 164

We’ve drifted away from being fishers of men to being keepers of the aquarium.  ~Paul Harvey  p. 169

Baseball is like church. Many attend, few understand.  ~Leo Durocher  p. 169

If a man shuts his ears to the cry of the poor, he too will cry out and not be answered.  ~Proverbs 21:13  p. 171

The Lord says: “These people come near to me with their mouth and honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me. Their worship of me is made up only of rules taught by men.”  ~Isaiah 29:13 p. 179

When our churches become spiritual spas in which we retreat from the world, our salt loses its saltiness, and we are no longer able to impact the culture. Morgan Chilulu, an African pastor of a small and humble church in the midst of the AIDS pandemic, once told me, “A church that lives within its four walls is no church at all.”   p. 180

The world can no longer be left to mere diplomats, politicians, and business leaders. They have done the best they could, no doubt. But this is an age for spiritual heroes – a time for men and women to be heroic in their faith and in spiritual character and power. The greatest danger to the Christian church today is that of pitching its message too low.   ~Dallas Willard  p. 181

We tend to drift away from God’s bold vision, replacing it with a safer, tamer vision of our own.  p. 183

One of the highest and best ways of expressing our love for God is by demonstrating His love tangibly to those around us.  p. 185

We will never effectively demonstrate Christ’s love to the world, if we cannot first demonstrate it to the Church – the whole Church, and that includes those struggling just to survive.  p. 189

We will have to repent in this generation not merely for the vitriolic words and actions of the bad people, but for the appalling silence of the good people.  ~Martin Luther King Jr. p. 190

Our Christian habit is to bewail the world’s deteriorating standards with an air of rather self-righteous dismay. We criticize its violence, dishonesty, immorality, disregard for human life, and materialistic greed. “This world is going down the drain,” we say with a shrug. But whose fault is it? Who is to blame? Let me put it like this. If the house is dark when nightfall comes, there is no sense in blaming the house; that is what happens when the sun goes down. The question to ask is “Where is the light?” Similarly, if the meat goes bad and becomes inedible, there is no sense in blaming the meat; that is what happens when bacteria are left alone to breed. The question to ask is “Where is the salt?” Just so, if society deteriorates and its standards decline until it becomes like a dark night or a stinking fish. There is no sense in blaming society; that is what happens when fallen men and women are left to themselves, and human selfishness is unchecked. The question to ask is “Where is the Church? Why are the salt and light of Jesus Christ not permeating and changing our society?” It is sheer hypocrisy on our part to raise our eyebrows, shrug our shoulders, or wring our hands. The Lord Jesus told us to be the world’s salt and light. If therefore darkness and rottenness abound, it is largely our fault and we must accept the blame.   ~John Stott p. 199

Three clear principles, then, differentiate the scriptural view of our money from the “American Dream” view:
1. It’s not our money – it all comes from God.
2. We are not entitled to it but entrusted with it.
3. God expects us to use it in the interest of His Kingdom.  P. 207

Can you imagine the impact on our own culture if American Christians began using their riches as if they belonged to God and were intended primarily to further God’s kingdom? I’m pretty certain the world would take notice.   p. 208

How different our standard is from Christ’s. We ask how much a man gives. He asks how much he keeps.   ~Andrew Murray  p. 210

If charity cost nothing, the world would be full of philanthropists.  ~Jewish Proverb p. 210

We must never for a single moment lose sight of the stark realization that whenever we deal with money, we are dealing with dynamite. What is one day that which we control, the next day becomes the controller. Such dynamite must be defused, and the greatest defuser that we as Christians have at our disposal is the opportunity to take that, which seeks to dominate us and simply give it away. Think about it. There is no greater expression of money’s total lack of dominance over us or of its low priority in our lives than when we can with joy and peace, give it away for the Lord’s work. You cannot worship the God of mammon and be a free and cheerful giver. Likewise, you cannot serve the living God and be a hoarder of His resources. Giving, both how we give and how much we give, is the clearest outward expression of who our God really is. Our check stubs speak more honestly of our priorities than our church memberships.  ~R. Scott Rodin  p. 212

I love the recklessness of faith. First you leap, and then you grow wings.   ~William Sloane Coffin p. 214

Obedience to the Great Commission has more consistently been poisoned by affluence than by anything else.  ~Ralph Winter p. 215

Command those who are rich in this present world not to be arrogant nor to put their hope in wealth, which is so uncertain, but to put their hope in God, who richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment. Command them to do good, to be rich in good deeds, and to be generous and willing to share. In this way they will lay up treasure for themselves as a firm foundation for the coming age, so that they may take hold of the life that is truly life.  ~1 Timothy 6:17-19  p. 215

Endeavor to live so that when you die, even the undertaker will be sorry.  ~Anonymous  p. 226

I like your Christ; I do not like your Christians. Your Christians are so unlike your Christ.   ~Mohandas Gandhi  p. 226

Going to church doesn’t make you a Christian any more than standing in a garage makes you a car.  ~Billy Sunday  p. 231
As Americans, we tend to be impressed with bigness. God is not. I’ve always like the saying, “Its not the size of the dog in the fight that matters; it’s the size of the fight in the dog.”    p. 235
Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world, indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.  ~Margaret Mead p. 241
Vision without action is merely a dream. Action without vision just passes the time. Vision with action can change the world.  ~Joel Barker p. 243
The probability that we may fail in the struggle ought not to deter us from the support of a cause we believe to be just.  ~Abraham Lincoln p. 243
The difference between the pre- and postresurrection disciples was astonishing. Fear became courage; timidity became boldness; uncertainty became confidence as their lives were given over to the revolution that the gospel – the good news – envisioned. Everything changed because they had been changed, and they had been changed because Christ had risen. He is risen indeed. pp. 244-245

If you think you are too small to make a difference, try spending the night in a closed room with a mosquito.   ~African Saying  p. 250

There are no ordinary people. You have never talked to a mere mortal.  ~C.S. Lewis  p. 250

God has created each of us with a unique contribution to make to our world and our times. No other person has our same abilities, motivations, network of friends and relationships, perspectives, ideas, or experiences. When we, like misplaced puzzle pieces, fail to show up, the overall picture is diminished.  p. 251

In the New Testament, the story of the feeding of the five thousand is found in all four Gospels. Jesus used it to change the way we think about underwhelming resources in the face of over whelming challenges. p. 251

God never asks us to give what we do not have … But He cannot use what we will not give. p. 253

Be the change that you want to see in the world.   ~Mohandas Gandhi  p. 253

Use what talents you possess: the woods would be very silent if no birds sang there except those that sang best.   ~Henry Van Dyke  p. 257

What has God given you? Moses had a stick. David had a slingshot, and Paul had a pen. Mother Teresa possessed a love for the poor; Billy Graham, a gift for preaching; and Joni Eareckson Tada, a disability. What did they have in common? A willingness to let God use whatever they had, even when it didn’t seem very useful. If you will assess what you have to offer in terms of your time, your treasure, and your talents, you will have a better understanding of how you might uniquely serve.  p. 259

My faith demands – this is not optional – my faith demands that I do whatever I can, wherever I am, whenever I can, for as long as I can with whatever I have to try to make a difference.  ~Jimmy Carter  p. 263

That bread which you keep belongs to the hungry, that coat which you preserve in your wardrobe, to the naked, those shoes, which are rotting in your possession, to the shoeless; that gold which you have hidden in the ground, to the needy. Wherefore, as often as you are able to help others, and refuse, so often did you do them wrong.  ~Augustine  p. 266

Earl Palmer said, “God can’t steer a parked var.”  If we sit in the parking lot with our engines turned off, just waiting for a voice from the sky, we’ll never get anywhere in our quest to solve the world’s problems. We need to at least “start our engines.”  p. 273

The one who says it can’t be done should get out of the way  of the one who is doing it.   ~Chinese Proverb  p. 274

Make your life a mission – not an intermission.  ~Arnold Glasgow  p. 274

 There are those who look at things the way they are, and ask why … I dream of things that never were, and ask why not?    Robert Kennedy  p. 275

Isn’t it better to light a candle than curse the darkness?  p. 275

The Kingdom of God is within you.  ~Luke 17:21  p. 276

We can do no great things, only small things with great love.  ~Mother Teresa  p. 277

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The Owner's Manual for Christians

The Owner's Manual for ChristiansThe Owner's Manual for Christians by Charles R. Swindoll
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Chuck Swindoll is my favorite Bible teacher. He always is so practical. I pray the quotes from this book will bless and challenge you:

It’s never too late to start doing what is right.    p. x

Donald Grey Barnhouse said, “ Love that goes upward is worship; love that goes outward is affection; love that stoops is grace.” To show grace is to extend favor or kindness to one who doesn’t deserve it and can never earn it.   p. 5

One more thing should be emphasized about grace: it is absolutely and totally free. You will never be asked to pay it back. You couldn’t even if you tried.   p. 6

Do you know what the most often-repeated command from Jesus’ lips was?  “Fear not.” p. 16

Ron Allen in a footnote in the Nelson Study Bible says, “The word, agape, describes a love that is based on the deliberate choice of the one who loves rather than the worthiness of the one who is loved. This kind of love goes against natural human inclination. It is a giving, selfless, expect-nothing-in-return kind of love . . .. Our modern ‘throw-away’ society encourages us to get rid of people in our lives who are different to get along with, whether they are friends, family, or acquaintances. Yet this attitude runs in complete contrast to the love described by Paul. True love puts up with people who would be easier to give up on.”  Chuck Swindoll says, “ . . . eros is a mystery that evokes good feelings, agape is a choice that reveals good character.” pp. 22-23

As I attempt to probe the mind of Paul, trying to find some common denominator, some secret clue to his joy, I have to conclude that it was his confidence in God. To Paul, God was in full control of everything. Everything! If hardship came, God permitted it. If pain dogged his steps, it was only because God allowed it. If he was under arrest, God still remained the sovereign director of his life. If there seemed to be no way out, God knew he was pressed. If things broke open and all pressure was relieved, God was responsible.  pp.  37-38

Basically there are two kinds of people: people who choose joy and people who don’t. People who choose joy pay no attention to what day of the week it is . . . or how old they are . . . or what level of pain they are in. They have deliberately decided to laugh again because they have chosen joy.  p. 40

The way of God is complex. He is hard for us to predict. He moves the pieces and they come somehow into a kind of order.  ~Euripides  p. 53

There is something fundamentally flawed about a purely academic interest in God. God is not an appropriate object for cool critical detached, scientific observation and evaluation. No, the true knowledge of God will always lead us to worship . . .. Our place is on our faces before Him in adoration.  John R. W. Stott  p. 53

Remember, nothing is a surprise to God. His plan may seem unfair, humanly illogical, even lacking compassion, but that’s because we dwell in the here and now. We lack the vertical view.  p. 55

This determined, decreed dimension of God’s will has four qualities: (1) It is absolute. (2) It is immutable, which means “unchangeable.” (3) It is unconditional. (4) It is always in complete harmony with His nature. In other words, the decreed will of God will be holy, it will be just, it will be good, it will be righteous; therefore, it will be best. And everything – even the evil intended by others and the afflictions of a world given over to evil – will work toward God’s predetermined ends.   p. 56

Just remember: no one ultimately is able to frustrate God’s plan . . . no one. No one who lets us down surprises God. No one who walks away from his or her responsibilities causes God to wonder why.  In the final analysis, God will have His way. What He has determined will transpire.   p. 58

The better you get to know the Word of God; the less confusing is the will of God. Those who struggle the least with the will of God are those who know the Word of God best.  p. 61

God’s Word provides all the light we will ever need on our journey through this life. It’s “a lamp to [our] feet, and a light to [our] path” (Psalm 119:105). It brings light to our darkened minds. It helps us think theologically. Strange and mysterious though His leading may seem, when we derive our understanding from a serious investigation of the written Word of God, we will not be led astray. And we will continue to stand on the solid rock of God’s Word of truth.  All other ground is sinking sand.   p. 64

1. Foremost you must be a Christian (Romans 8:14).
2. You must be wise (Ephesians 5:15-16).
3. You must really want to do the will of God. (John 7:17).
4. You must be willing to pray and to wait (Matthew 7:7-8).
5. Following the will of God means you must be willing to give up your creature comforts (Acts 20:22-24).   pp. 65-66

1. Most Basic, God leads us through His written Word (Psalm 119:105).
2. God leads us through the inner prompting of the Holy Spirit (Philippians 2:12-13).  Nothing wrong with planning. Nothing wrong with thinking it through, listing all the pros and cons, talking it over. But as you are moving along, stay sensitive to the quiet, yet all-important prompting of God through His Holy Spirit. By doing so, you may well sense inner promptings that will spur a thought, such as, “I can’t believe I’m still interested in that. I wonder what the Lord is doing? I wonder where He’s going with this?”
3. God leads us through the counsel of wise, qualified trustworthy people (Proverbs 11:4).
4. God leads us into His will by giving us an inner assurance of peace (Colossians 3:15).    pp.  67-69

Are you willing to make a major change in your life – assuming that it’s the Lord’s will? I’m now convinced that the real issue is not so much “What does the Lord want me to do?” as it is, “Am I willing to do it once He makes it clear?”    p. 70

Distance from God is a frightening thing. God will never adjust His agenda to fit ours. He will not speed His pace to catch up with ours; we need to slow our pace in order to recover our walk with Him. God will not scream and shout over the noisy clamor; He expects us to seek quietness, where His still, small voice can be heard again. God will not work within the framework of our complicated schedules; we must adapt to His style. We need to conform to His way if our lives are to be characterized by all-encompassing word Godliness.   p. 76

God often does His best work in us when He catches us by surprise and introduces a change that is completely against our own desire.   p. 81

Prayer is listening as well as speaking, receiving as well as asking; and its deepest mood is friendship  held in reverence. So the daily prayer should end as it begins – in adoration.  ~George A. Buttrick  p. 87

A primary purpose of prayer is connecting with God in order to transfer His will into your life.  It’s collaborating with God to accomplish His goals. p. 87

Prayer often involves other disciplines, such as meditation, worship, silence, solitude, and surrender – always surrender.   p. 87

Prayer is an authentic seeking of His plan as we willingly adjust our will to match His. p. 89

Prayer is not a natural response; it's a Spirit response. If we fail to cultivate this discipline, prayer winds up being our last resort rather than our first response.    p. 90

I am especially fortunate to serve in a church whose elders are mature spiritual leaders. Their dedication to prayer reveals their maturity. Our meetings are punctuated by times of prayer. We begin by praying then dive into general matters of the church only to realize it’s time once again … time for more prayer. We may see matters on the agenda that are beyond our ability to handle, so we lay them before the Lord in prayer. We stop everything to spend at least fifteen to twenty minutes each meeting in prayer as each one of us comes before the Lord with specific concerns.

This would probably seem like a huge waste of valuable time to a corporation. Some might say, “You can’t keep doing that; you’ve got a church to run.” No. Actually, we don’t. It’s not our church; it’s God’s  - and it’s not our responsibility to run it! Fortunately, He is responsible for the church’s success, however that should be defined. Our priority is to devote ourselves to prayer and to the ministry of the Word. In the end, we find that our time praying is an investment that pays for itself many times over. When each elder or pastor has his will aligned with the Lord’s, we waste no time arguing for our own. It’s amazing what effect prayer has on our relationships with one another. Barriers are broken down. Hearts are softened. Wills become submissive. And fresh ideas flow freely.  pp. 92-93

Worry is wrestling with anxiety on your own rather than releasing it to the Father.   p. 95

So if you tend to worry a lot, here’s a better plan; pray a lot. For such relief to become a reality, you will have to exercise the discipline of surrender as you rely on Him to solve the problem … in His way and in His time. Effective, results-getting prayer includes the thought, Lord, this is Your problem to fix. You take control. Let me know what You want me to do if I’m to be involved in the solution. By leaving it with You, I will consider it solved.  P. 95

Our primary goal in calling out to God … can be summed up in four words: intimacy with the Almighty. Seek that first, and you will have everything you’ve longed for in life, including all the things you never knew you needed.   p. 102

Humility must always be the portion of any man who receives acclaim earned in the blood of his followers and the sacrifices of his friends.   ~Dwight D. Eisenhower  p. 103

No, humility isn’t a result of having a poor self-image. True humility comes from a place of strength and inner security. p. 104

In God’s kingdom plan, suffering brings reward. p. 113

When grace changes the heart, submission out of fear changes to submission out of love, and true humility is born.  ~William Hendriksen  p. 115

I am convinced that wise planning is good. But plans, like material possessions, must always be held loosely. Yes – always! Plan wisely, but be ready for God to rearrange things and take you along paths that may feel dangerous to you. Don’t sweat it; He knows what He’s doing. And He isn’t obligated to inform you … or request permission to upset your neat little agenda!   p. 126

Forgive us, O God, for the doubting suspicion with which we regard the heart of God. We have faith in checks and banks, in trains and airplanes, in cooks, and in strangers who drive us in cabs. Forgive us for our stupidity, that we have faith in people whom we do not know and are so reluctant to have faith in Thee who knowest us altogether. We are always striving to find a complicated way through life when Thou hast a plan, and we refuse to walk in it. So many of our troubles we bring on ourselves. How silly we are.  Wilt Thou give to us that faith that we can deposit in the bank of Thy love, so that we may receive the dividends and interest that Thou art so willing to give us. We ask it all in the lovely name of Jesus Christ, our Savior.  ~Peter Marshall, the late chaplain on the United States Senate, concluded his message, “Sin in the Present Tense” with this prayer  p. 127

Never miss a good chance to shut up.  ~Will Rogers  p. 129

“We must obey God rather than men” (Acts 5:29).  To do what is right is to side with the truth of God. And never doubt it, the truth of God will always prevail. Evil may cause setbacks, and it may hamper the steady march of God’s plan, but it is ultimately powerless to stop it. To do what is right is to join the winning side of the fight, though the battle will not be without pain or struggle.   p. 150

We aren’t just thrown on this earth like dice tossed across a table. We are soverignly and lovingly placed here for a purchase, having been chosen by God. His choosing us was according to His foreknowledge, by the sanctifying work of the Spirit, that we may obey Jesus Christ, having been sprinkled with His blood. Powerful words!  God has given us a purpose for our existence, a reason to go on, even though that existence includes tough times. Living through suffering, we become sanctified – in other words, set apart for the glory of God. We gain perspective. We grow deeper. We grow up!   p. 156

I'm absolutely convinced that nothing - nothing living or dead, angelic or demonic, today or tomorrow, high or low, thinkable or unthinkable - absolutely nothing can get between us and God's love because of the way that Jesus our Master has embraced us.  (Romans 8:31-39 MSG)  p. 177

Where sin abounds, grace superabounds!  p. 180

They cared nothing about the woman [the woman caught in adultery] or her future. At the moment she meant nothing to them or to anyone else for that matter – no one except JESUS (John 8:1-11).   p. 183

The only person on earth qualified to condemn the woman [the woman caught in adultery] refused to do so. Instead, He freed her. p. 185

To all weighed down by shame remember those most unqualified to condemn you, will and the One most qualified to condemn you, won’t.  p. 185

There lives more faith in honest doubt, believe me, than in half the creeds.  ~Alfred Lord Tennyson  p. 186

A reflective Christian is one who is thinking deeply, questioning often. When we doubt, our minds are at work.  p. 187

He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain what he cannot lose.  ~Jim Elliot  p. 195

I realized that life doesn’t revolve around me – my comfort, my desires, my dreams, my plans. Clearly, it is all about Him. p. 197

The discipline of sacrifice is one in which we forsake the security of meeting our needs with what is in our hands. It is total abandonment to God, a stepping into the darkened abyss in the faith and hope that God will bear us up …. The cautious faith that never saws off a limb on which it is sitting never learns that unattached limbs may find strange, unaccountable ways of not falling.  ~Dallas Williard  p. 201

We’re often hindered from giving up our treasures to the Lord out of fear for their safety. This is especially true when our treasures are loved ones, relatives, and friends. But we need have no such fears. Our Lord came not to destroy but to save. Everything is safe which we commit to Him, and nothing is really safe which is not so committed.  ~A.W. Tozer p. 204

How and why we give is of far greater significance to God than what we give. Attitude and motive are always more important than amount.  p. 206

We know that it was no accident. God performs all things according to the counsel of His own will. The real issues at stake on January 8, 1956, were very far greater than those, which immediately involved five young men and their families, or this small tribe of naked “savages.” Letters from many countries have told of God’s dealings with hundreds of men and women, through the examples of five who believed literally that “the world passeth away, and the lust thereof: but he that doeth the will of God abideth for ever.”   ~ Elisabeth Elliot  p. 211

God will not likely expect you to surrender your life all at one as these men [Jim Elliot, Nat Saint, etc.] did. Instead, He patiently waits for you to sacrifice yourself in small amounts, one decision at a time, one day at a time, so that you might enjoy an ever-increasing intimacy with Him. And this deepening intimacy with Him will inevitably make you more like Christ.  p. 212

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Saturday, December 29, 2012

Final RoarFinal Roar by Bob Briner
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Finally getting around to posting some good things I've read from books. The book "Final Roar" is an excellent book about the entertainment industry. I did not agree with everything the author had to say but he made some good points. The author actually pasted away before the book was published. I trust you will enjoy the quotes below from this book:

This book challenges readers to offer the world the best that we have. The problem, with America is not the unbelieving world, or the secular media, as we so often hear from the undiscerning. The problem with America is us – the church. When you put the people of God in this country up against the Scriptures, we’re in big trouble. Briner’s perspective is that when you compare the American church with the lost world, there virtually is no difference between the two. We are broken in nearly all our human relationships, almost as if we had no faith or theology on which to depend. Therefore, our gospel is canceled by the way we live. Many American Christians do not even know how far we have moved from what we should be. We’re like the people in the Book of Malachi, where God says, “I want you to return to me,” but then we say, “How is it that we’ve departed?” Yes, the Christian community is still salt and light to the world, but we are losing our saltiness, and we are no longer a preserving ingredient in our society. p. 3

Serious students of the Bible know that Christians will never win as most count winning. We are not called to win. We are called to be obedient to all Jesus commanded us to do. The admonition to be “salt” in our society is not about reversing the tide of cultural decay. It is about retarding the growth of evil better and preparing people to hear and understand the offers we make of biblical truths. The command to proclaim the gospel is given with the understanding that most with whom we come into contact will refuse to hear and believe. The instruction to make disciples was surely given with the understanding of how difficult it would be. p. 32

“Far better it is to dare mighty things, to win glorious triumphs, even though checkered by failure, than to take rank with those poor spirits who neither enjoy much or suffer much, because they live in the gray twilight that knows not victory or defeat.”   ~Theodore Roosevelt   p. 45

“He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain what he cannot lose.”  ~ Jim Elliott  p. 53

One of the paradoxes for which Christians will have to answer is that the things about which we complain the loudest are the things about which we do the least to change. It is always much easier to complain than it is to do the real work of effecting change or of offering alternatives to troubling things.  p. 62

Never begin to think that politics can do the job in the hearts and lives of people that only the gospel can do. To think that we can change the course of history through Christian political activity is sheer folly. To think we can change the hearts of men and women by anything other than Christ is blasphemy. And changing hearts is what true kingdom making is all about.  p. 83

The Christian’s only real, solid, positive, and productive response to any evils of the world, including abortion, is the cross of Christ and the Christ of the cross.  p. 85

All our efforts [should]  be aimed at promoting not ourselves or our organizations but Jesus Christ and His gospel. p. 115

Richard Halverson, chaplain of the United States Senate:

Dear Friend:
Through the years as a pastor of four churches (in Missouri, California and Maryland), it was my responsibility (and privilege) to minister to those who were homosexual.
Based on this experience, let me share how I would respond to a child of mine who discovered that he/she was homosexual…
First, and most importantly, I would not cease loving them, or love them less than before they shared their situation with me.
As a matter of fact, I would love them more than ever, if that were possible.
They would have my hearing—as often and as long as they wanted to discuss the matter with me.
I would do my best not to be judgmental!
I would not treat them as “queer” or whatever other designation is a “put down.”
I would do all I could to persuade them to be chaste (just as I would a heterosexual child before marriage).
I would remind them with all the wisdom God gives me, that He loves them, that He understands them, and that His love is unconditional and everlasting.
I would urge their total commitment to Jesus Christ, that He might change them—as He transformed my live from pleasure loving playboy, and as He transformed many others to be His obedient servants—to conform to His perfect plan for their lives.
I would do all in my power—and with love—to try and dissuade them from adopting a homosexual life-style.
I would remind them that Christ created them for Himself, and they could become themselves, only as they gave themselves to Him that He might rule in their bodies. (Colossians 1:16, 27-29; 2:9-10; Romans 12:1-2). “Know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit? (1 Corinthians 6:19).  pp. 125-126

We American Christians have much more important things to do with our time, energy, and money than expend them in frivolous pursuits—even if these pursuits make us feel righteous. We really must begin to take a closer look at our priorities. We need to measure everything we do against what we are uniquely and specifically called to do as followers of Christ. As always, Scripture must point the way. p. 132

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The Family

The Family
Braves Game 2012