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Living Well

Jun 16, 2015 | Ray Ortlund

Loughwood-Meeting-House-4844
“Isaac Hann was a little-known Baptist pastor who served a small church in Loughwood, England, in the mid-18th century.  At the close of his ministry the membership of his church numbered twenty-six women and seven men.  Underneath the list of members for that year this poignant note appears: ‘These are the men that remain at present, though not above four of these do in any shape keep their places [attend].’

Rev. Hann would be unnoticed today, one of those pastors who never quite ‘made’ it.  But when he died at the age of 88, his parishioners placed a commemorative plaque in his honor of the wall of their little meeting house.  It reads in part:

Wit sparkled in his pleasing face,
With zeal his heart was fired;
Few ministers so humble were,
Yet few so much admired.

For the rest of the post…

candle-flameFrom prayer that asks that I may be
Sheltered from winds that beat on Thee,
From fearing when I should aspire,
From faltering when I should climb higher
From silken self, O Captain, free
Thy soldier who would follow Thee.

From subtle love of softening things,
From easy choices, weakenings,
(Not thus are spirits fortified,
Not this way went the Crucified)
From all that dims Thy Calvary
O Lamb of God, deliver me.

Give me the love that leads the way,
The faith that nothing can dismay
The hope no disappointments tire,
The passion that will burn like fire;
Let me not sink to be a clod;
Make me Thy fuel, Flame of God.

Amy Wilson Carmichael

“100 years from now the only thing that will matter in any of our lives is what we have done for Jesus”

~ Dr. Phil Kidd

“If a person doesn’t have a growing sensitivity toward sin and doesn’t have a desire to become more like Christ, it’s questionable whether that person ever had an authentic conversion.”

~ Jim CymbalaSpirit Rising97.  

Keith Green“If your heart takes more pleasure in reading novels, or watching TV, or going to the movies, or talking to friends, rather than just sitting alone with God and embracing Him, sharing His cares and His burdens, weeping and rejoicing with Him, then how are you going to handle forever and ever in His presence…?  You’d be bored to tears in heaven, if you’re not ecstatic about God now!” 

~ Keith Green

“To pray earnestly and live carelessly is to proclaim that a man is not spiritually minded in his prayer.”

~ John Owen

John Owen by John Greenhill.jpg

The culture wars will always be with us. Most recently, Phil Robertson, the godly patriarch of the Robertson clan on the very popular Duck Dynasty show on A & E, was suspended by the network because of his anti-gay comments.  Soon after, the Robertson family issued statement indicating the show probably could not continue without Phil. I would hate to see the show end because it really quacks me up. I also love the show because of its focus on Christian values and family. Plus, I have guns and am a hunter!

This will not be the last battle in the culture wars in our country.  Thus, it is important that those who claim to follow Jesus need to act like Jesus especially in the heat of the battle. I have been a Baptist pastor for 30 years, and I am dedicated to the Word of God which is the Bible. If the Bible is not true, then I have wasted my life, along with thirteen years of higher education.

There are Biblical principles that the followers of Jesus need to remember when it comes to the culture wars…

  • We are to love all people! Jesus made this crystal clear in Matthew 22:37-38: “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And the second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” Our “neighbor” is everyone around us. It does not matter how different our neighbor is from us, we are to love that person. We are even to love those people who hate us: “But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you” (Jesus in Matthew 5:44).
  • We are to honor everyone! 1 Peter 2:17 commands us this: “Honor everyone. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honor the emperor.” As Christians we are honor and respect our political leaders and everyone else. It does not matter if the person disagrees with us when it comes to politics, favorite sport’s team (Go Huskers, Red Sox, Steelers and Blue Jays Basketball!), religion (or lack of it), sexual orientation or anything else. We are to honor and respect and love all people. This is the way of Jesus.
  • We are to exhibit the character of Jesus. Our country needs to see authentic Christians in action. When people think of an “evangelical Christian”, they often think of someone who is angry and is against stuff. Most Christians that I know are not angry and busy signing petitions. But there are just enough angry followers of Jesus out there to give the impression that the mission of the church is to protest and fight for the rights of Christians.

That is why I am against boycotts. How many people have turned to Jesus for salvation because of a boycott that originated with Christians? I doubt any have. What should the Christian look like? Well, according to Galatians 5:22-23, Christians are to exhibit the fruit of the Spirit: “love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control.”  In other words, we are to be like Jesus.

Now, Jesus, the most loving and joyful person who ever lived, was against sin. That is why, as the eternal son of God, he came into our world nearly 200o years ago. His God-ordained mission in life was to go to the cross as the perfect Lamb of God to die for our sins and to absorb the wrath of God on our behalf. His death and resurrection broke the power of sin and death and Satan.

Yet, Jesus loved all people. Let us do the same!   

Jesus said in John 15:7…If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you.

What does it mean to remain (or abide) in Christ?

So, so to sum up, remaining in Christ means that we  consciously, every day, value Him as our source of life and stop demanding anyone else fill us up. It means that we depend on Him for everything good coming out of us and that we want His goodness coming out of us into others more than we want His goodness out of others into us. And it means that we pray whatever price is required and sacrifice whatever ambition we must in order to draw close to Him, to experience a level of union that arouses our awareness of His life within us. That’s relational prayer (Dr. Larry CrabbThe Papa Prayer61). 

Stop Faking and Wake Up Your Walk with God

12/01/13

Author: Peter Scazzero

Don’t be deceived. We often settle for a defeated, complacent walk with God-even if we are supposed to be spiritual leaders. Self-examination is critical if we are to be the powerful people Christ calls us to be. Here are some valuable principles I learned to keep my faith fresh.

1. Be Yourself. I spent too much time in my early years trying to be someone I was not. As Rumi said, “To live unfaithfully to yourself is to cause others great damage.” David models this for us in 1 Sam. 17 as he takes off Saul’s armor. This takes great courage and faith.

2. Seek God First. Above all else, let your life be about dwelling in His presence and seeking His face (Ps. 27:4). We are not CEO’s or social workers. Our greatest gift is to bring people to an encounter with the living God in Christ.

3. Practice Sabbath-keeping.  The rhythm of a 24 hour period to stop, rest, delight and contemplate God is foundational to ensure we trust God to be in control and not us. This is as key to prayer and Bible study if we are to remain centered in Him amidst the demands of leadership.

4. Lead out of the Vow of Your Marriage (if applicable). Our earthly marriages are a pointer and sign of what it means to be in an eternal marriage with Jesus. There is no greater message we preach. If you are married, it is not an option to live as if you are single. Let this vow inform your decisions, pace, and priorities.

5. Embrace the Gift of Your Limits. Surrendering to God’s love, and not grasping or pushing beyond what He has given us to do, is one of my primary challenges as a leader. As John the Baptist says, “A person can receive only what is given from heaven” (Jn.3:27).

6. Wait on the Lord. This is our life — waiting on Him as a Person (not simply to help us get something done!).  Relax. See Ps. 37:7.

7. Be relational and relevant. Take seriously the model of the early church fathers (e.g. Athanasius, Basil, Gregory the Great) who led local churches and prayed their theology. They also engaged their culture with the gospel. Part of our calling now is to bring the gospel to our culture – that involves using all forms of social media.

8. Be a person of integrity. Like Jesus, we want to complete the Father’s work in and through us (Jn. 17:4). Regardless of the cost, there is nothing more important than being the same person on the inside that we are on the outside – with God, others and in our leadership.

For the rest of the post…

Prayer is a gift, a context for living our lives with God.

~ Del Fehsenfeld III. Revive, Fall 2013, 5.

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