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Book Highlights, Faith, Spiritual Growth

Finding Fullness of Joy

December 5, 2016

 

 

We humans naturally pursue what is pleasurable. We were created with innate longings for joy and enjoyment and spend our lifetimes capturing it wherever we can. That longing is a good thing, planted by our Creator to draw us like a magnet toward the fountain of pleasure that is found in Him.

The problem is that sin has distorted things and we’re constantly getting drawn into poisoned pleasures that lead to death. As the Apostle Paul writes in Romans 8, the mind set on satisfying the cravings of the flesh is death. The earthly pleasures found in sex, food, entertainment, days off, observing the beauties of nature, and the like ultimately all fall short. We consume them and walk away needing more. The pleasures and joys of this earth aren’t full. We need more than what they offer.

Where pleasure is found

In Psalm 16 David gives an answer to the pleasure-seeking ache that every human has. He writes,

“You make know to me the path of life;
In your presence there is fullness of joy;
At your right hand are pleasures forevermore.”
– Psalm 16:11

Where are we to find the joy and enjoyment that we need? In the presence of God.

Almost every Christian I know would agree with this in general, but in practice we tend to function as if we don’t quite believe what David’s saying here. Note that it’s not in the Bible that David says joy is found. It’s not in church. It’s not in quiet times. It’s in God’s presence. That means that if we’re in God’s presence we can have joy and pleasure.

The question is, where is God’s presence? If we want joy and pleasure and it’s experienced by being close to God, then we must know where God is and go there.

The Apostle Paul states what echoes throughout the Psalms and the rest of Scripture when he declares God, “is actually not far from each one of us, for ‘‘In him we live and move and have our being’” (Acts 17:28). God is present throughout all the earth. He fills his creation as the waters fill the sea. As David wrote in another Psalm,

Where shall I go from your Spirit?
Or where shall I flee from your presence?
If I ascend to heaven, you are there!
If I make my bed in Sheol, you are there!
If I take the wings of the morning
and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea,
even there your hand shall lead me,
and your right hand shall hold me.
– Psalm 139:7-10

Long story short, God’s presence is everywhere. You can’t get away from it.

This truth has amazing implications for our search for joy. If it is both true that God is present in all places and that in his presence there is total joy and pleasure, that means we can walk in constant fullness of joy, regardless of our location or situation. In the midst of family conflict we can have joy. In the midst of moving to a new city and knowing no one we can have joy. When nothing goes according to plan we can be pleased, because God is present and in his presence is pleasure forevermore.

How to get there

In another Psalm we read,

Enter his gates with thanksgiving,
and his courts with praise!
Give thanks to him; bless his name!
– Psalm 100:4

Want to get into God’s presence where there is pleasure and joy unending? The way to get there is is thanksgiving and praise. Thanksgiving gets you through the gates, praise into the courts of his presence. If we want pleasure and joy we must put praise and thanksgiving as high priorities in our lives.

When you’re feeling dissatisfied with life is your response to start thanking God for all the good he’s given you? When you’re stressed and joyless do you turn on the praise by declaring to God his glorious character and promises? God is present in all places and at all times, and we can encounter that presence in a real, mind-and-emotion-impacting way through thanksgiving and praise.

If you’re struggling to grasp joy and find pleasure in God or in life, set aside regular time to worship. Read the Scriptures and respond with verbal, out-loud declaration of thanks when you read something good. Write out a list of what you’re thankful for in this moment. Turn on worship music and soak in the lyrics. Inevitably you’ll find that as you do so your heart and Spirit rises to the joy and pleasure that is found in the presence of God. And that, my friends, will make all the difference.

 

 

 

 

Book Highlights, Quotations, Theology

Book Highlights: Disarming Scripture

December 9, 2015

Periodically I share some highlights from the books I’ve been reading.  Of late, I’ve been delving into the current literature that is attempting to rewrite how we interpret, understand, and apply scripture. Many of the questions and critiques of Christianity raised by the likes of Rob Bell, Rachel Held Evans, Brian McClaren, and others are important ones. They call out real problems, abuses, and weak spots within evangelicalism and Christianity at large.

My initial impulse was to outright reject the teachings of those who are rejecting the past few thousand years of Christian history. How are we to be so proud as to say that we know better than the tens of thousands who have gone before us? However, I felt like God was challenging me to dig in more deeply and actually hear what’s being said. I started with this book, Disarming Scripture by Derek Flood, because it had been referenced by several people I know and (handily enough) was free for Kindle a month or three ago.

At some point I may write an at-length review of the book, but for now it will suffice to say that even after full, open engagement with what Flood and others with similar viewpoints are saying, I strongly disagree and find – across the board – their reasoning and arguments to be woefully insufficient and based more on a desire to make the gospel ( the small g is intentional) more appealing to popular culture or to remove things that make them personally uncomfortable than on sound logic, evidence, and exegesis.

Below are several quotes that, in my opinion, communicate the key points that Flood makes in Disarming Scripture.

If we as progressives are going to reject violence and instead focus on mercy and social justice, then we need to have a developed hermeneutical rationale for our reading which can stand its ground against a conservative reading that seeks to legitimize violence in God’s name. What we need is an approach that can honestly face and confront violence in the Bible, and do so from the perspective of faith, and as the necessary outgrowth of a developed moral conscience.

The priority of Jesus was not on defending a text, it was on defending people—in particular defending the victims of religious violence and abuse.

In faithfully acting to restore people, the Gospel writers tell us, Jesus continually appeared in the eyes of the religious leaders around him to be breaking God’s laws. Jesus was not particularly concerned with this, and instead was infinitely more concerned with caring for the least, even if this meant his reputation became one of a “blasphemer” and “law breaker” in the eyes of the religious authorities.

The Pharisees’ understanding, as it is presented in the Gospels, is characterized by a rigid observance of laws and rituals. Jesus, in contrast, had a way of interpreting the Bible that put a priority on people over rules and rituals. The way of the Pharisees is focused on fear, and thus insists on strict adherence to all of the commands, even when these commands hurt and shut people out. The way of Jesus in contrast is instead focused on what love requires—even when doing so means breaking rules and commands.

Rather than finding a single narrative throughout the Old Testament, we instead repeatedly encounter these conflicting perspectives within the Hebrew canon: One narrative states that suffering and violence are just and deserved, the other protests and argues against that narrative, calling it unjust.

Paul’s conversion was one away from religious fanaticism. In other words, Paul did not see himself as rejecting his Jewish faith or Israel’s scriptures, but rather as rejecting his former violent interpretation of them.

Looking at the record of dispute found throughout the Old Testament, we can begin to trace the outlines of a people’s slow development away from the primitive view of violent tribal war gods so typical of the worldview of the ancient world. Part of this development involved Judaism moving from polytheism to monotheism.

The New Testament must be regarded as a first step along a trajectory in regards to changing oppressive societal structures which at the time as a persecuted minority group they had little power to change. Finding ourselves in a position to effect those changes in society today, our task is to work out how to apply the spirit of Jesus’ teaching to our time and circumstance.

the way that Jesus read Scripture was shaped by his own direct experience of God in his life. Jesus therefore understands his messianic mission to be radically different from what his fellow Jews were expecting. Jesus’ experience of the Spirit shaped his understanding of Scripture, and not the other way around.

Note that the measure of “right” interpretation here is not based primarily on evaluating whether the text has been properly understood (the question of proper exegesis), but on evaluating the results when it is applied in our lives—observing whether it results in bringing about life or death, flourishing or harm. As we have seen, Jesus saw the primary role and telos of Scripture as leading us to love. If we wish to read the Bible with that same aim, the question we need to ask is therefore not so much “Have I read this right?” but more importantly “Does this reading lead to life?”

In the end, what really matters is how we treat each other. For my part, I am perfectly content to trust God to judge rightly so long as we humans stop hurting each other in God’s name or in the name of justice. The bottom line here is that while we can find disagreement among New Testament authors as to God’s violence, the New Testament is unanimous in its radical rejection of human participation in violence.

Book Highlights, Christian Life, Culture, Evangelism

Book Quotes: Total Truth

September 14, 2015

Periodically I share some highlights from the books I’ve been reading. Below are some of my favorite quotes from the book Total Truth by Nancy Pearcey. It’s easily one of the best worldview books that I’ve ever read, and I would highly recommend it to all!

 

 

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It’s crucial for us to realize that nonbelievers are constantly filtering what we say through a mental fact/value grid. For example, when we state a position on an issue like abortion or bioethics or homo-sexuality, we intend to assert an objective moral truth important to the health of society—but they think we’re merely expressing our subjective bias. When we say there’s scientific evidence for design in the universe, we intend to stake out a testable truth claim—but they say, “Uh oh, the Religious Right is making a political power grab.” The fact/value grid instantly dissolves away the objective content of anything we say, and we will not be successful in introducing the content of our belief into the public discussion unless we first find ways to get past this gatekeeper.

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Developing a Christian worldview means submitting our entire self to God, in an act of devotion and service to Him.

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Every philosophy or ideology has to answer the same fundamental questions: 1. CREATION: How did it all begin? Where did we come from? 2. FALL: What went wrong? What is the source of evil and suffering? 3. REDEMPTION: What can we do about it? How can the world be set right again? By applying this simple grid, we can identify nonbiblical worldviews, and then analyze where they go wrong.

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The Christian message does not begin with “accept Christ as your Savior”; it begins with “in the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.”

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The Bible treats sin primarily as a matter of turning away from God and serving other gods, and only secondarily in terms of lists of specific immoral behaviors. The first commandment is, after all, the first commandment—the rest follows only after we are straight about whom or what it is that we are worshiping.

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Artists are often the barometers of society, and by analyzing the world-views embedded in their works we can learn a great deal about how to address the modern mind more effectively.

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The best way to drive out a bad worldview is by offering a good one, and Christians need to move beyond criticizing culture to creating culture.

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“Contrary to the expectations of the Enlightenment,” Lewy concludes, “freeing individuals from the shackles of traditional religion does not result in their moral uplift.” To the contrary, the evidence now shows clearly that “no society has yet been successful in teaching morality without religion.”

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Most Christian students simply don’t know how to express their faith perspective in language suitable for the public square. Like immigrants who have not yet mastered the grammar of their new country, they are self-conscious. In private, they speak to one another in the mother tongue of their religion, but in class they are uncertain how to express their religious perspective in the accents of the academic world.

—-

If we start with a message of sin, without giving the context of Creation, then we will come across to nonbelievers as merely negative and judgmental…We need to begin our message where the Bible begins—with the dignity and high calling of all human beings because they are created in the image of God.

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The postmodern dilemma can be summed up by saying that ethics depends on the reality of something that materialistic science has declared to be unreal.

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We should avoid the misleading dichotomy that says evolution is scientific, while design is religious. Darwinism and design theory are not about different subjects—science versus religion. Instead they are competing answers to the same question: How did life arise in the universe? Both theories appeal to scientific data, while at the same time both have broader philosophical and religious implications.

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Christianity is the key that fits the lock of the universe.

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From 1960 to 1980 there was a striking 43 per-cent reduction in the amount of time men spend in a family environment where young children are present.

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Christians must not fall into the trap of assuming that paid employment is the only thing that will give women a sense of dignity. That’s a mistake secular feminists often make. Instead Christians need to challenge the prevailing ideology of success by insisting that individuals are most fulfilled when they enjoy a sense of calling or vocation—whether in paid or unpaid work. We all long for a sense that we are contributing to something larger than ourselves, to a greater good, to God’s purposes in the world.

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The only way the church can establish genuine credibility with nonbelievers is by showing them something they cannot explain or duplicate through their own natural, pragmatic methods — something they can explain only by invoking the supernatural.

Book Highlights, Christian Life, Culture, Discipleship, Quotations

Quotes: Mike Breen – Building a Discipling Culture

July 27, 2015
BDC_BookImage
Below are a several quotes from the book Building a Discipling Culture by Mike Breen. We just finished reading the book with Verge’s Leader Community here in central Minnesota, and had some great discussion about the process and practice of discipleship with a few of the ministry leaders from the area.
You can get the book on Amazon or 3DM’s site.

 

 

 

Disciples are the only thing that Jesus cares about, and it’s the only number that Jesus is counting. Not our attendance or budget or buildings. He wants to know if we are “making disciples.”

Jesus has not called you to build his church. In fact, in all of the Gospels he mentions the church only two times. One time he mentions it, it’s about conflict resolution. The other time? To say that he will build his church. Our job, our only job and the last instructions he gave us, was to make disciples.

Teaching is incredibly important. Theology is incredibly important. Doctrine is incredibly important. But Jesus wasn’t able to compartmentalize teaching, theology, and doctrine into ethereal, cognitive realities. Teaching and theology were ways of describing reality, and then he showed his disciples how to live in that reality.

Good leaders always define their own reality. No one else can build a discipling culture for you—it must begin in your own life and then overflow into the lives of those you lead.

We need to externalize the things that have been going on internally. Change doesn’t happen in private.

Prayer was as fundamental an element in the life of Jesus as breathing. He inhaled his Father’s presence so he could exhale his Father’s will.

Many Christian leaders fall into the trap of being so ministry-focused that they spend too little time enjoying God. Sermon preparation takes the place of delighting in his presence. Prayer is something done mainly for the benefit of others, and the familiarity of worship may not necessarily breed contempt but indifference.

A leader’s demand for our time and energy will always exceed our capacity, working harder and longer is not the answer. Jesus said “I only do the things I see my Father doing.” He didn’t get a three year download to his Outlook calendar at his baptism, rather, each morning he had to retreat and establish the priorities for that day.

Book Highlights, Culture, Quotations

Book Highlights: Lesslie Newbigin – The Gospel in a Pluralist Society

April 25, 2015

I love reading books, and I love sharing what I read. This post and others like it are a small section of highlights from some of the books I’ve been reading recently. These ones are from Lesslie Newbigin’s book The Gospel in a Pluralist Society.

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The minister’s leadership of the congregation in its mission to the world will be first and foremost in the area of his or her own discipleship, in that life of prayer and daily consecration which remains hidden from the world but which is the place where the essential battles are either won or lost.

However grievously the Church may have distorted and misused the concept of dogma in the course of history, and it has indeed done so grievously, the reality which this word designated is present from the beginning and is intrinsic to the gospel.

The presupposition of all valid and coherent Christian thinking is that God has acted to reveal and effect his purpose for the world in the manner made known in the Bible.

The gospel gives rise to a new plausibility structure, a radically different vision of things from those that shape all human cultures apart from the gospel. The Church, therefore, as the bearer of the gospel, inhabits a plausibility structure which is at variance with, and which calls in question, those that govern all human cultures without exception.

The relativism which is not willing to speak about truth but only about “what is true for me” is an evasion of the serious business of living. It is the mark of a tragic loss of nerve in our contemporary culture. It is a preliminary symptom of death.

It is obvious that the story of the empty tomb cannot be fitted into our contemporary worldview, or indeed into any worldview except one of which it is the starting point. That is, indeed, the whole point. What happened on that day is, according to the Christian tradition, only to be understood by analogy with what happened on the day the cosmos came into being. It is a boundary event, at the point where (as cosmologists tell us) the laws of physics cease to apply. It is the beginning of a new creation — as mysterious to human reason as the creation itself.

God’s saving revelation of himself does not come to us straight down from above — through the skylight, as we might say. In order to receive God’s saving revelation we have to open the door to the neighbor whom he sends as his appointed messenger, and — moreover — to receive that messenger not as a temporary teacher or guide whom we can dispense with when we ourselves have learned what is needed, but as one who will permanently share our home. There is no salvation except one in which we are saved together through the one whom God sends to be the bearer of his salvation.

The risen Jesus did not appear to everyone. He did not appear (as is often foolishly asserted) to the believers; there were no believers before he appeared to them.

A society which believes in a worthwhile future saves in the present so as to invest in the future. Contemporary Western society spends in the present and piles up debts for the future, ravages the environment, and leaves its grandchildren to cope with the results as best they can.

Mission begins with a kind of explosion of joy. The news that the rejected and crucified Jesus is alive is something that cannot possibly be suppressed.

The important thing in the use of the Bible is not to understand the text but to understand the world through the text.

The Church is not so much the agent of the mission as the locus of the mission. It is God who acts in the power of his Spirit, doing mighty works, creating signs of a new age, working secretly in the hearts of men and women to draw them to Christ.

Healings, even the most wonderful, do not call this present world radically into question; the gospel does, and this has to be made explicit. On the other hand, the preaching is meaningless without the healings. They are the true explanation of what is happening, but if nothing is happening no explanation is called for and the words are empty words. They do not answer any real question.

The very heart of the biblical vision for the unity of humankind is that its center is not an imperial power but the slain Lamb.

When God raised the crucified Jesus, this present age and its structures was exposed, illuminated, unmasked — but not destroyed. Cross and resurrection seen together mean both judgment and grace, both wrath and endless patience. God still upholds the structures; without them the world would collapse and human life would be unthinkable. But the structures lose their pretended absoluteness. Nothing now is absolute except God as he is known in Jesus Christ; everything else is relativized. That is the bottom line for Christian thinking and the starting point for Christian action in the affairs of the world.

Book Highlights, Quotations

Quotes: Mike Breen – Leading Kingdom Movements

September 24, 2013

I recently finished reading Mike Breen‘s book Leading Kingdom Movements. I can’t recommend it highly enough for anyone who has a passion for seeing Jesus do amazing things in and through them. Check out the 3DM store to buy a copy of the book. You won’t regret it.

Below are some of my highlights from the book. May they inspire and help you in your kingdom work.

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“Follow Jesus. And then teach others how to follow Jesus. He’s the compass we can all follow.”

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“Kingdom movement is a community that functions as a portal to the new world that God wants for all his children. Put another way, a Kingdom movement is a community of disciples who passionately seek the expansion of God’s reign here on earth through the reproduction of disciples, seeking the transformation of the places they inhabit.”

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“The more time I spent listening to God, and the more time I spent asking him to show me where he was already at work, the more spiritual breakthrough I saw in my life and in the life of our community. The closer I was to God, the more breakthrough I saw. It was absolutely amazing. By simply paying more attention to where God’s Kingdom was already breaking in, and by resting in him, I spent far less energy and produced far more fruit.”

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“Things like Missional Communities are a fantastic vehicle for mission. They really are. But without the embracing of the Holy Spirit, it’s just another thing you’re doing on your own.”

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“The Father’s gift to you is Kingdom breakthrough. It’s not yours; it’s his.”

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“Living in faith and grace needs to be the warp and weft of your life. Leaders create culture. If you want a culture that looks for the grace in Battle and responds to Frustration with faith, you have to model that for them.”

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“Movement leaders won’t care if their salary is coming from a church or somewhere else. Why? Because of two words that I think define Kingdom movement leaders above and beyond leaders of Christian institutions: disciplined and entrepreneurial.”

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“The higher the challenge, and the more difficult your purpose on the missional frontier, the more you need time playing together. Movies. Dinners. Baseball games. Times to laugh, enjoy each other, and just be team apart from any higher purpose you have.”

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“What Jesus tells us over and over again is to follow the fruit. Ruthlessly find the places where there is fruit (and as we just covered, when Jesus refers to fruit, he means disciples) and put every ounce of yourself in going after it. Having a big tree doesn’t necessarily mean lots of disciples.”

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“We need to be disciples before we become a missionary. You simply can’t be a missionary if you’re not a disciple, first and foremost. It’s impossible. But the natural outgrowth for any disciple of Jesus is the life of a missionary.”

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“I believe the miraculous will happen if you depend on the miraculous power of God, embrace your weakness, and say, “The cracks of my life are the places where the power of God is able to seep through.”

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“Massive conferences with amazing, charismatic leaders aren’t sustainable or scalable.64 History has shown us this time and time again. On the other hand, having people who know how to invest their lives in others, people who disciple others to disciple others, and who create lightweight and low maintenance vehicles for discipleship and mission have always been the principal way the Holy Spirit has created movemental change.”

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“I cannot say it long enough or loud enough: You must lead from your own brokenness so that, as the Lord achieves breakthrough in your life and those you are close to, he will use the overflow of that in the wider community.”

 

Book Highlights, Quotations

Book Highlights: Chesterton – Orthodoxy

September 10, 2013
Man cannot think himself out of mental evil; for it is actually the organ of thought that has become diseased, ungovernable, and, as it were, independent. He can only be saved by will or faith.
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Curing a madman is not arguing with a philosopher; it is casting out a devil. And however quietly doctors and psychologists may go to work in the matter, their attitude is profoundly intolerant.
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Buddhism is centripetal, but Christianity is centrifugal: it breaks out. For the circle is perfect and infinite in its nature; but it is fixed for ever in its size; it can never be larger or smaller. But the cross, though it has at its heart a collision and a contradiction, can extend its four arms for ever without altering its shape. Because it has a paradox in its centre it can grow without changing. The circle returns upon itself and is bound. The cross opens its arms to the four winds; it is a signpost for free travellers.
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Only the supernatural has taken a sane view of Nature. The essence of all pantheism, evolutionism, and modern cosmic religion is really in this proposition: that Nature is our mother. Unfortunately, if you regard Nature as a mother, you discover that she is a step-mother. The main point of Christianity was this: that Nature is not our mother: Nature is our sister. We can be proud of her beauty, since we have the same father; but she has no authority over us; we have to admire, but not to imitate. This gives to the typically Christian pleasure in this earth a strange touch of lightness that is almost frivolity.
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When the world shook and the sun was wiped out of heaven, it was not at the crucifixion, but at the cry from the cross: the cry which confessed that God was forsaken of God. And now let the revolutionists choose a creed from all the creeds and a god from all the gods of the world, carefully weighing all the gods of inevitable recurrence and of unalterable power. They will not find another god who has himself been in revolt. Nay, (the matter grows too difficult for human speech,) but let the atheists themselves choose a god. They will find only one divinity who ever uttered their isolation; only one religion in which God seemed for an instant to be an atheist
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The man who lives in contact with what he believes to be a living Church is a man always expecting to meet Plato and Shakespeare to-morrow at breakfast. He is always expecting to see some truth that he has never seen before.
Book Highlights, Christian Life, Quotations, Spiritual Growth, Theology

Powerful Quotes on Prayer

July 20, 2013

For the last month and a half or so I’ve been digging deep into the topic of prayer and the Christian life. Below are some of my favorite quotes from the books, sermons, and other things I went through during my studies.

 

  • “Prayer is one of the greatest opportunities, one of the greatest privileges and one of the greatest ministries available to all Christians. I do not read that Jesus ever actually taught His disciples how to preach, but He did teach them how to pray.”
  • “The Bible reveals that this world is not really ruled by presidents and governors and dictators. They only seem to rule. The people who really rule the world are those who know how to pray.”
  • “There are some things that I have been praying for ten years. They have not come yet. When that happens, you discover whether you are praying in faith or unbelief. If you are praying in unbelief, you probably say, ‘I have been praying for ten years and nothing has happened.’ But if you are praying in faith you say, ‘The answer is ten years nearer than when I started praying.'”
– Derek Prince – Secrets of a Prayer Warrior

  • It is only by intercession that that power can be brought down from Heaven which will enable the Church to conquer the world. Let us stir up the slumbering gift that is lying unused, and seek to gather and train and band together as many as we can, to be God’s remembrancers, and to give Him no rest till He makes His Church a joy in the earth. Nothing but intense believing prayer can meet the intense spirit of worldliness, of which complaint is everywhere made.”
  • “The attempt to pray constantly for ourselves must be a failure; it is in intercession for others that our faith and love and perseverance will be aroused, and that power of the Spirit be found which can fit us for saving men.”
  • “Blessed the man who is not staggered by God’s delay, or silence, or apparent refusal, but is strong in faith, giving glory to God. Such faith perseveres, importunately, if need be, and cannot fail to inherit the blessing.”
  • “Time spent in prayer will yield more than that given to work. Prayer alone gives work its worth and its success. Prayer opens the way for God Himself to do His work in us and through us.”
  • “Jesus never taught His disciples how to preach, only how to pray. He did not speak much of what was needed to preach well, but much of praying well. To know how to speak to God is more than knowing how to speak to man. Not power with men, but power with God is the first thing. Jesus loves to teach us how to pray.”
  • “The knowledge of God’s Father-love is the first and simplest, but also the last and highest lesson in the school of prayer.”
– Andrew Murray – The Ministry of Intercession and Lord, Teach Us to Pray
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  • “God has appointed a way by which we shall seek and obtain mercy and grace. That way is prayer; bold, confident, outspoken approach to the throne of grace, the most holy place of God’s presence, where our sympathizing High Priest, Jesus Christ, has entered in our behalf.”
  • “Some of us let the hurry of our lives crowd prayer out, and what a waste of time and energy and nerve force there is by the constant worry! One night of prayer will save us from the many nights of insomnia. Time spent in prayer is not wasted but time invested at big interest.”
  • “If we put so little heart into our prayers, we cannot expect God to put much heart into answering them.”
  • “The prayer that God answers is the prayer that is real, the prayer that asks for something that is sincerely desired.”
  • “It is vain to expect power in prayer unless we meditate much upon the words of Christ and let them sink deep and find a permanent abode in our hearts. There are many who wonder why they are so powerless in prayer, but the very simple explanation of it all is found in their neglect of the words of Christ.”
  • “One great question for us to decide, if we would have power in prayer, is, Is God absolutely first? Is He before wife, before children, before reputation, before business, before our own lives? If not, prevailing prayer is impossible.”
  • “The Devil is perfectly willing that the church should multiply its organizations and deftly contrive machinery for the conquest of the world for Christ if it will only give up praying.”
– R.A. Torrey – How To Pray
Book Highlights, Quotations

Book Highlights: R.A. Torrey – How To Pray

June 15, 2013
Those men whom God set forth as a pattern of what He expected Christians to be—the apostles—regarded prayer as the most important business of their lives. When the multiplying responsibilities of the early church crowded in upon them, they “called the multitude of the disciples unto them, and said, It is not reason that we should leave the Word of God, and serve tables. Wherefore, brethren, look ye out among you seven men of honest report, fully of the Holy Ghost and wisdom, whom we may appoint over this business. But we will give ourselves continually to prayer, and to the ministry of the Word” (Acts 6:2–4). It is evident from what Paul wrote to the churches and to individuals about praying for them that much of his time, strength, and thought were given to prayer (Romans 1:9 RV; Ephesians 1:15–16; Colossians 1:9 RV; 1 Thessalonians 3:10; 2 Timothy 1:3 RV). All the mighty men of God outside the Bible have been men of prayer. They have differed from one another in many things, but in this they have been alike.
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Prayer often avails where everything else fails. How utterly all of Monica’s efforts and entreaties failed with her son! But her prayers prevailed with God, and the dissolute youth became St. Augustine, the mighty man of God. By prayer the bitterest enemies of the gospel have become its most valiant defenders, the greatest scoundrels the truest sons of God, and the vilest women the purest saints. Oh, the power of prayer to reach down, down, down where hope itself seems vain, and lift men and women up, up, up into fellowship with and likeness to God! It is simply wonderful! How little we appreciate this marvelous weapon.
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God has appointed a way by which we shall seek and obtain mercy and grace. That way is prayer; bold, confident, outspoken approach to the throne of grace, the most holy place of God’s presence, where our sympathizing High Priest, Jesus Christ, has entered in our behalf.
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If we put so little heart into our prayers, we cannot expect God to put much heart into answering them.
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If we would pray with power, we should pray with fasting. This of course does not mean that we should fast every time we pray; but there are times of emergency or special crisis in work or in our individual lives, when men of downright earnestness will withdraw themselves even from the gratification of natural appetites that would be perfectly proper under other circumstances, that they may give themselves up wholly to prayer. There is a peculiar power in such prayer. Every great crisis in life and work should be met in that way.