God Is Easy to Live With

Psalm 46v1-2Oftentimes folks tend to think of God (and who He is) on a wide continuum that ranges from one extreme to the other. For example, an actress from years ago and long since dead now used to say that she viewed God as her own personal “Sugar Daddy.” Still others tend to think of Him in terms ranging from  “The Man Upstairs” to a mean old tyrant or a killjoy bully. And none of these descriptions are accurate.

Not by a long shot . . . .

I know in my own life I’ve tended at times to view God in ways that are very inaccurate, and more times then I hate to admit it has been from the perspective of a tyrannical boss who is never quite satisfied with anything I do (or don’t do), and that is an awful tightrope to be walking on. I’ve also met folks who have thought of God (much like the long since dead actress mentioned above) as their own personal “Sugar Daddy” or genie just waiting to give them everything their heart desires regardless of the cost to others or any detrimental effects their “desires” might have on them long term. There are probably as many false images of God as there are people living on the planet, and most are born out of our own fears and/or desires.

Over these past 5 1/2 years of unemployment that have also been some of the toughest years of my life to get through, I’ve discovered just how inaccurate my view of God has been at times over the years. There is a lot of evil in this world of ours and plenty of opportunities to run into it all the time whether in temptations, lusts, or through others (like actual flesh-and-blood tyrannical bosses, or on a larger scale tyrannical dictators or terrorists). However, God doesn’t operate by what we think or how we feel about Him at any given moment in time.

It’s hard for me to recount the number of times that God has come to my aid at the exact time I needed it during this prolonged period of unemployment; and in a myriad of ways and not just from a financial standpoint (although that has been amazing in and of itself). He has been a constant source of amazement and encouragement to me in ways I never would have noticed had I been employed and earning a steady paycheck during this time. In fact, I would not replace anything I have learned about Him during this time with a fancy title and big paycheck or for anything else this world has to offer in the material realm–not that God isn’t fully aware of our needs in that particular area. It just goes to show you how skewed our view of God can get until something happens in our lives that is way beyond our control.

To quote A.W. Tozer (1897-1963), “Nothing twists and deforms the soul more than a low or unworthy conception of God.” If we really want to get to know who God is, we need to lay aside our misconceptions of who we think He is and all of the accompanying stereotypes found in our culture. One of the best descriptions I’ve read was written by A.W. Tozer, and the following essay is taken from The Best of A.W. Tozer (1978) compiled by Dr. Warren Wiersbe, Chapter 27, titled, God Is Easy To Live With.” The book was republished in 2007 under the title, The Best of A.W. Tozer, Book 1.” Here is Tozer’s essay:

Satan’s first attack upon the human race was his sly effort to destroy Eve’s confidence in the kindness of God. Unfortunately for her and for us, he succeeded too well. From that day, men have had a false conception of God, and it is exactly this that has cut out from under them the ground of righteousness and driven them to reckless and destructive living.

Nothing twists and deforms the soul more than a low or unworthy conception of God. Certain sects, such as Pharisees, while they held that God was stern and austere, managed to maintain a fairly high level of external morality; but their righteousness was only outward. Inwardly they were “white sepulchers,” as our Lord Himself told them. Their wrong conception of God resulted in a wrong idea of worship. To a Pharisee, the service of God was a bondage which he did not love but from which he could not escape without a loss too great to bear. The God of the Pharisee was not an easy God to live with, so his religion became grim and hard and loveless. It had to be so, for our notion of God must always determine the quality of our religion.

Much Christianity since the days of Christ’s flesh has also been grim and severe. And the cause has been the same – an unworthy or an inadequate view of God. Instinctively we try to be like our God, and if He is conceived to be stern and exacting, so will we ourselves be.

From a failure to properly understand God comes a world of unhappiness among good Christians even today. The Christian life is thought to be a glum, unrelieved cross-carrying under the eye of a stern Father who expects much and excuses nothing. He is austere, peevish, highly temperamental, and extremely hard to please. The kind of life which springs out of such libelous notions must of necessity be but a parody on the true life in Christ.

It is most important to our spiritual welfare that we hold in our minds always a right conception of God. If we think of Him as cold and exacting, we shall find it impossible to love Him, and our lives will be ridden with servile fear. If, again, we hold Him to be kind and understanding our whole inner life will mirror that idea.

The truth is that God is the most winsome of all beings and His service is one of unspeakable pleasure. He is all love, and those who trust Him need never know anything but that love. He is just, indeed, and He will not condone sin; but through the blood of the everlasting covenant He is able to act toward us exactly as if we had never sinned. Toward the trusting sons of men His mercy will always triumph over justice.

Fellowship with God is delightful beyond all telling. He communes with His redeemed ones in an easy, uninhibited fellowship that is restful and healing to the soul. He is not sensitive nor selfish nor temperamental. What He is today we shall find Him tomorrow and the next day and the next year. He is not hard to please, though He may be hard to satisfy. He expects of us only what He has Himself first supplied. He is quick to mark every simple effort to please Him, and just as quick to overlook imperfections when He knows we meant to do His will. He loves us for ourselves and values our love more than galaxies of newly created worlds.

Unfortunately, many Christians cannot get free from their perverted notions of God, and these notions poison their hearts and destroy their inward freedom. These friends serve God grimly, as the elder brother did, doing what is right without enthusiasm and without joy, and seem altogether unable to understand the buoyant, spirited celebration when the prodigal comes home. Their idea of God rules out the possibility of His being happy in His people, and they attribute the singing and shouting to sheer fanaticism. Unhappy souls, these, doomed to go heavily on their melancholy way, grimly determined to do right if the heavens fall and to be in the winning side in the day of judgment.

How good it would be if we could learn that God is easy to live with. He remembers our frame and knows that we are dust. He may sometimes chasten us, it is true, but even this He does with a smile, the proud, tender smile of a Father who is bursting with pleasure over an imperfect but promising son who is coming every day to look more and more like the One whose child he is.

Some of us are religiously jumpy and self-conscious because we know that God sees our every thought and is acquainted with all our ways. We need not be. God is the sum of all patience and the essence of kindly good will. We please Him most, not by frantically trying to make ourselves good, but by throwing ourselves into His arms with all our imperfections, and believing that He understands everything and loves us still.

As Tozer stated above, “From a failure to properly understand God comes a world of unhappiness among good Christians even today…. Unfortunately, many Christians cannot get free from their perverted notions of God, and these notions poison their hearts and destroy their inward freedom.” But the good news is this (as stated above):

How good it would be if we could learn that God is easy to live with. He remembers our frame and knows that we are dust. He may sometimes chasten us, it is true, but even this He does with a smile, the proud, tender smile of a Father who is bursting with pleasure over an imperfect but promising son who is coming every day to look more and more like the One whose child he is.

When unfortunate circumstances come our way (like my own battle with long term unemployment), it is an opportunity to experience God in a whole new way if we don’t fall back on our tainted image of who we think God is and blame Him for our misfortune. No, it is in the midst of our hardest trials that He shines forth in ways we cannot imagine if we will follow His lead and not try to come up with solutions on our own.

God’s ways are, indeed, not our ways (Isaiah 55:8-9). And His ways are for our very best in order to conform us to His Son, Jesus Christ.

May we never . . .

Lose sight . . .

Of that fact . . . .

YouTube Video: “My Help” sung by The Brooklyn Tabernacle Choir:

Photo credit here

What Does It Mean To Accept Christ

WhatsInItForMeEasy believism has become the bane of today’s modern Christianity (see GotQuestions?org at this link for a definition on what is meant by the term easy believism”). Another catch phrase used in evangelical circles is that a person needs to Accept Christ.” But what exactly does it mean to accept Christ? Is it just something we do or a prayer we say at some point in time and then continue on our merry way through life doing whatever it is we want to do? More times than not, it seems that way in our culture today. We put on a good show by looking good and saying all the right words and maybe showing up for church on Sunday, but underneath it all there’s often not much depth if any at all, and our foundation crumbles when the bottom falls out of our lives. In other words, we never learned how to walk the talk. And there are too many Pied Pipers out there saying we don’t ever need to learn to do it, either.

Obviously, some clarification is needed on what it really means to accept Christ. One of the best explanations I’ve read was written by A.W. Tozer (1897-1963). The following essay is taken from The Best of A.W. Tozer (1978) compiled by Dr. Warren Wiersbe, Chapter 21, titled, “What Does It Mean To Accept Christ?” The book was republished in 2007 under the title, The Best of A.W. Tozer, Book 1.” Here is Tozer’s response:

What Does It Mean To Accept Christ

by A.W. Tozer

A few things, fortunately only a few, are matters of life and death, such as a compass for a sea voyage or a guide for a journey across the desert. To ignore these vital things is not to gamble or take a chance; it is suicide. Here it is: either be right or be dead.

Our relation to Christ is such a matter of life or death, and on a much higher plane. The Bible-instructed man knows that Jesus Christ came into the world to save sinners and that men are saved by Christ alone altogether apart from any works of merit.

That much is true and known, but obviously the death and resurrection of Christ do not automatically save everyone. How does the individual man come into saving relation to Christ? That some do, we know, but that others do not is evident. How is the gulf bridged between redemption objectively provided and salvation subjectively received? How does that which Christ did for me become operative in me? To that question “What must I do to be saved?” we must learn the correct answer. To fail here is not to gamble with our souls: it is to guarantee eternal banishment from the face of God. Here we must be right or be finally lost.

To this anxious question evangelical Christians provide three answers, “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ,” “Receive Christ as your personal Saviour,” and “Accept Christ.” Two of the answers are drawn almost verbatim from the Scriptures (Acts 16:31, John 1:12), while the third is a kind of paraphrase meant to sum up the other two. There are, therefore, not three but one.

Being spiritually lazy we naturally tend to gravitate toward the easiest way of settling our religious questions for ourselves and others; hence the formula “Accept Christ” has become a panacea of universal application, and I believe it has been fatal to many. Though undoubtedly an occasional serious-minded penitent may find in it all the instruction he needs to bring him into living contact with Christ, I fear too many seekers use it as a short cut to the Promised Land, only to find that it has led them instead to “a land of darkness, as darkness itself; and of the shadow of death, without any order, and where the light is as darkness.”

The trouble is that the whole “Accept Christ” attitude is likely to be wrong. It shows Christ applying to us rather than us to Him. It makes Him stand hat-in-hand awaiting our verdict on Him, instead of our kneeling with troubled hearts awaiting His verdict on us. It may even permit us to accept Christ by an impulse of mind or emotions, painlessly, at no loss to our ego and no inconvenience to our usual way of life.

To accept Christ is to form an attachment to the Person of our Lord Jesus altogether unique in human experience. The attachment is intellectual, volitional (action of the will) and emotional. The believer is intellectually convinced that Jesus is both Lord and Christ; he has set his will to follow Him at any cost and soon his heart is enjoying the sweetness of His fellowship.

For this ineffectual manner of dealing with a vital matter we might imagine some parallels; as if, for instance, Israel in Egypt had “accepted” the blood of the Passover but continued to live in bondage, or the prodigal son has “accepted” his father’s forgiveness and stayed on among the swine in the far country. Is it not plain that if accepting Christ is to mean anything there must be moral action that accords it?

Allowing the expression “Accept Christ” to stand as an honest effort to say in short what could not be so well said any other way, let us see what we mean or should mean when we use it.

To accept Christ is to form an attachment to the Person of our Lord Jesus altogether unique in human experience. The attachment is intellectual, volitional and emotional. The believer is intellectually convinced that Jesus is both Lord and Christ; he has set his will to follow Him at any cost and soon his heart is enjoying the exquisite sweetness of His fellowship.

This attachment is all-inclusive in that it joyfully accepts Christ for all that He is. There is no craven division of offices whereby we may acknowledge His Saviourhood today and withhold decision on His Lordship until tomorrow. The true believer owns Christ as his All in All without reservation. He includes all of himself, leaving no part of his being unaffected by the revolutionary transaction.

Further, his attachment to Christ is all-exclusive. The Lord becomes to him not one  of several rival interests, but one exclusive attraction forever. He orbits around Christ as the earth around the sun, held in thrall by the magnetism of His love, drawing all his life and light and warmth from Him. In this happy state he is given other interests, it is true, but these are all determined by his relation to his Lord.

That we accept Christ in this all-inclusive, all-exclusive way is a divine imperative. Here faith makes its leap into God through the Person and work of Christ, but it never divides the work from the Person. It believes on the Lord Jesus Christ, the whole Christ without modification or reservation, and thus it receives and enjoys all that He did in His work of redemption, all that He is now doing in heaven for His own and all that He does in and through them.

To accept Christ is to know the meaning of the words “as he is, so are we in this world” (I John 4:17). We accept His friends as our friends, His enemies as our enemies, His ways as our ways, His rejection as our rejection, His cross as our cross, His life as our life and His future as our future.

If this is what we mean when we advise the seeker to accept Christ, we had better explain it to him. He may get into deep spiritual trouble unless we do.

I hope that Tozer’s explanation can lift the cloud that has hovered over the church for too long. There are a whole lot of folks who call themselves Christian but in reality have no idea what it means other than to parrot the beliefs of others. Their personal relationship with Jesus Christ is as dry as dust (and perhaps it never really existed) and it’s apparent by the way they live their lives and treat others they don’t like or don’t want to get to know, or are just different from them. And there are a lot of “church goers” who fall under that category. So many, in fact, that they can’t see the real problem that exists because their numbers are large and they all agree with each other. And Jesus has a lot to say about following the crowd and it’s not good.

There is no “cookie-cutter” pattern we can follow in our relationship with Jesus Christ. The pattern we are to follow is clearly spelled out in the Bible, particularly in the New Testament. It’s about a real and vital relationship with Jesus Christ, and if we are always looking for a front row seat for ourselves and what we hope to get from Him we will never “get it.”

It’s not about us and what we want . . .

It’s about Him . . . .

YouTube Video: “Revelation Song” by Phillips, Craig & Dean: 

Photo credit here

The Only Way I Know

Taste-of-CountryI made an interesting discovery the other day while driving down a well traveled road in Houston. I’ve been here almost five weeks now just looking around for a place to land since the past five years in Florida have gone nowhere fast.

And I’m tired of going nowhere fast . . . .

The discovery I made was quite surprising and rather refreshing, too. I discovered country music isn’t what it used to be years ago. I never thought I liked country music but after I stumbled upon 100.3 FM here in Houston I’ve totally changed my mind. All I can say is, “Wow!” They call it The Bull and it’s a new station here. And it really makes all that driving around this city very enjoyable.

I heard a song yesterday that really hit the spot. Some words in the chorus, “Full Throttle, Wide Open,” stuck in my mind and I just had to look it up on the internet when I got back to my weekly-rate hotel room on the north end of Houston. I just love this song and thought I’d share it with you. It is sung by Jason Aldean and the actual title of it is The Only Way I Know.” So without further ado, here are the words to that song and the YouTube Video is below:

The Only Way I Know

Well I grew up in one of them old farm towns
Where they hit it hard till the sun goes down
Nobody really seemed to care
That we were living in the middle of nowhere
We just figured that’s how it was
And everybody else was just like us
Soaking in the rain baking in the sun
Don’t quit till the job gets done

That’s the only way I know
Don’t stop till everything’s gone
Straight ahead never turn round
Don’t back up, don’t back down
Full throttle wide open
You get tired, you don’t show it
Dig a little deeper when you think
You can’t dig no more
That’s the only way I know

That old red dirt the first thing you learn
You don’t get nothing that you don’t earn
Humble pride that I grew up on
You find out just how bad you want it
Sun in our eyes backs to the fences
We didn’t know the odds were against us
Hit the wall smoking and spinning
Still wasn’t thinking ’bout nothing but winning

That’s the only way I know
Don’t stop till everything’s gone
Straight ahead never turn round
Don’t back up, don’t back down
Full throttle wide open
You get tired, you don’t show it
Dig a little deeper when you think
You can’t dig no more

That’s the only way I know

Maybe there’s another path
That will get you there a little bit faster,
But I’m sticking with the one inside of me.

That’s the only way I know
Don’t stop till everything’s gone
Straight ahead never turn round
Don’t back up, don’t back down
Full throttle wide open
You get tired, you don’t show it
Dig a little deeper when you think
You can’t dig no more
That’s the only way I know

[Lyrics compliments of  AZLyrics.com]

Full throttle, wide open . . .

And that’s the only way I know, too . . .

How about you?

YouTube Video: “The Only Way I Know” (Luke Bryan and Eric Church) sung by Jason Aldean:

Photo credit here

Miracles Follow the Plow

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAIn the introduction to The Best of A.W. Tozer,” originally published in 1978 and republished as The Best of A.W. Tozer, Book 1,” in 2007, Dr. Warren Wiersbe, who compiled the book, writes the following about A.W. Tozer (1897-1963):

“I guess my philosophy is this: Everything is wrong until God sets it right.”

That statement from Dr. A.W. Tozer perfectly summarized what he believed and what he tried do during his years of ministry. The entire focus of his preaching and writing was on God. He had no time for religious hucksters who were inventing new ways to promote their wares and inflate their statistics. Like Thoreau, whom he read and admired, Tozer marched to a different drummer; and for this reason, he was usually out of step with many of the people in the religious parade.

But it was this evangelical eccentricity that made us love him and appreciate him. He was not afraid to tell us what was wrong. Nor was he hesitant to tell us how God could make it right. If a sermon can be compared to lights, then A.W. Tozer released a laser beam from the pulpit, a beam that penetrated your heart, seared your conscience, exposed sin, and left you crying, “What must I do to be saved?” The answer was always the same: surrender to Christ; get to know God personally; grow to become like Him . . . .

The book contains 52 chapters from the works of A.W. Tozer. Even though Tozer died in 1963, his sermons and writings are still very much a clarion call to our generation several decades after his death. We don’t often hear a lot of preaching like Tozer preached from today’s pulpits, and it is a travesty of major proportions. We’ve catered to a “softer and easier” brand of Christianity that doesn’t require much from us except to sit in a pew on Sunday (if we do that), sing a few worship songs, and listen to a carefully timed (usually a 20-30 minute) sermon that coddles us instead of correcting us. If Tozer were alive today he would have none of it.

Chapter 51 in this book is titled, “Miracles Follow the Plow.” Inherently we know that we can’t get something from nothing; however, rarely are we challenged to go beyond the boundaries of our comfortable lives and routines. Our society is filled with excesses that we indulge in frequently, and those excesses have made us drowsy and apathetic to spiritual matters. We may know a lot of “God talk” and sound good talking with other Christians and even look good in church on Sunday, but obedience is a word we haven’t heard since we were children. And we are slowing being boiled to death like the proverbial frog in a kettle from our apathy. In fact, we are so used to our daily routines that we don’t even recognize it for what it is . . . a spiritual death. We may look alive on the outside and follow all the latest trends that flood the marketplace of Christendom, but our lives haven’t been changed. In this chapter Tozer describes the solution; so without further ado, here is that chapter:

Miracles Follow the Plow
by A.W. Tozer

“Break up your fallow ground: for it is time to seek the Lord,
till He come and rain righteousness on you” (Hosea 10:12)

Here are two kinds of ground: fallow [e.g., inactive; unused] ground and ground that has been broken up by the plow.

The fallow field is smug, contented, protected from the shock of the plow and the agitation of the harrow. Such a field, as it lies year after year, becomes a familiar landmark to the crow and the blue jay. Had it intelligence, it might take a lot of satisfaction in its reputation: it has stability; nature has adopted it; it can be counted upon to remain always the same, while the fields around it change from brown to green and back to brown again. Safe and undisturbed, it sprawls lazily in the sunshine, the picture of sleepy contentment. But it is paying a terrible price for its tranquility; never does it feel the motions of mounting life, nor see the wonders of bursting seed, nor the beauty of ripening grain. Fruit it can never know, because it is afraid of the plow and the harrow.

In direct opposite to this, the cultivated field has yielded itself to the adventure of living. The protecting fence has opened to admit the plow, and the plow has come as plows always come, practical, cruel, business-like and in a hurry. Peace has been shattered by the shouting farmer and the rattle of machinery. The field has felt the travail of change; it has been upset, turned over, bruised and broken.

But its rewards come hard upon its labors. The seed shoots up into the daylight its miracle of life, curious, exploring the new world above it. All over the field, the hand of God is at work in the age-old and ever renewed service of creation. New things are born, to grow, mature, and consumate the grand prophecy latent in the seed when it entered the ground. Nature’s wonders follow the plow.

There are two kinds of lives also: the fallow and the plowed. For example of the fallow life, we need not go far. They are all too plentiful among us.

The man of fallow life is contented with himself and the fruit he once bore. He does not want to be disturbed. He smiles in tolerant superiority at revivals, fastings, self-searching, and all the travail of fruit bearing and the anguish of advance. The spirit of adventure is dead within him. He is steady, “faithful,” always in his accustomed place (like the old field), conservative, and something of a landmark in the little church. But he is fruitless.

The curse of such a life is that it is fixed, both in size and in content. “To be” has taken the place of “to become.” The worst that can be said of such a man is that he is what he will be. He has fenced himself in, and by the same act he has fenced out God and the miracle.

The plowed life is the life that has, in the act of repentance, thrown down the protecting fences and sent the plow of confession into the soul. The urge of the Spirit, the pressure of circumstances and the distress of fruitless living have combined thoroughly to humble the heart. Such a life has put away defense, and has forsaken the safety of death for the peril of life. Discontent, yearning, contrition, courageous obedience to the will of God: these have bruised and broken the soil till it is ready again for the seed. And, as always, fruit follows the plow. Life and growth begin as God “rains down righteousness.” Such a one can testify, “And the hand of the Lord was upon me there” (Ezek. 3:22).

Corresponding to these two kinds of life, religious history shows two phases, the dynamic and the static.

The dynamic periods were those heroic times when God’s people stirred themselves to do the Lord’s bidding and went out fearlessly to carry His witness to the world. They exchanged the safe of inaction for the hazards of God-inspired progress. Invariably, the power of God followed such action. The miracle of God went when and where his people went. It stayed when His people stopped.

The static periods were those times when the people of God tired of the struggle and sought a life of peace and security. They busied themselves, trying to conserve the gains made in those more-daring times when the power of God moved among them.

Bible history is replete with examples. Abraham “went out” on his great adventure of faith, and God went with him. Revelations, theophanies, the gift of Palestine, covenants and the promises of rich blessings to come were the result. Then Israel went down into Egypt, and the wonders ceased for four hundred years. At the end of that time, Moses heard the call of God and stepped forth to challenge the oppressor. A whirlwind of power accompanied that challenge, and Israel soon began to march. As long as she dared to march, God sent out His miracles to clear a way for her. Whenever she lay down like a fallow field, God turned off His blessing and waited for her to rise again and command his power.

This is a brief but fair outline of the history of Israel and the Church as well. As long as they “went forth and preached everywhere”, the Lord worked “with them…confirming the Word with signs following” (Mark 16:20). But when they retreated to monasteries or played at building pretty cathedrals, the help of God was withdrawn till a Luther or a Wesley arose to challenge hell again. Then, invariably, God poured out His power as before.

In every denomination, missionary society, local church or individual Christian, this law operates. God works as long as His people live daringly: He ceases when they no longer need His aid. As soon as we seek protection out of God, we find it to our own undoing. Let us build a safety-wall of endowments, by-laws, prestige, multiplied agencies for the delegation of our duties, and creeping paralysis sets in at once, a paralysis which can only end in death.

The power of God comes only where it is called out by the plow. It is released into the Church only when she is doing something that demands it. By the word “doing,” I do not mean mere activity. The Church has plenty of “hustle” as it is, but in all her activities, she is very careful to leave her fallow ground mostly untouched. She is careful to confine her hustling within the fear-marked boundaries of complete safety. That is why she is fruitless; she is safe, but fallow.

Look around today and see where the miracles of power are taking place. Never in the seminary where each thought is prepared for the student, to be received painlessly and at second hand; never in the religious institution where tradition and habit have long ago made faith unnecessary; never in the old church where memorial tablets plastered over the furniture bear silent testimony to a glory that once was. Invariably where daring faith is struggling to advance against hopeless odds, there is God sending “help from the sanctuary.”

In the missionary society with which I have for many years been associated, I have noticed that the power of God has always hovered over our frontiers. Miracles have accompanied our advances and have ceased when and where we allowed ourselves to become satisfied and ceased to advance. The creed of power cannot save a movement from barrenness. There must be also the work of power.

But I am more concerned with the effect of this truth upon the local church and the individual. Look at that church where plentiful fruit was once the regular and expected thing, but now there is little or no fruit, and the power of God seems to be in abeyance. What is the trouble? God has not changed, nor has His purpose for that church changed in the slightest measure. No, the church itself has changed.

A little self-examination will reveal that it and it’s members have become fallow. It has lived through its early travails and has now come to accept an easier way of life. It is content to carry on its painless program with enough money to pay the bills and a membership large enough to assure its future. Its members now look to it for security rather than for guidance in the battle between good and evil. It has become a school instead of a barracks. Its members are students, not soldiers. They study the experiences of others instead of seeking new experiences of their own.

The only way to power for such a church is to come out of hiding and once more take the danger-encircled path of obedience. Its security is its deadliest foe. The church that fears the plow writes its own epitaph. The church that uses the plow walks in the way of revival. (Source: The Best of A.W. Tozer, Book 1,” Chapter 51: “Miracles Follow the Plow” compiled by Warren Wiersbe).

YouTube Video: “Change Me” (2007) by Shannon Wexelberg:

Photo credit here

Teach Your Children Well

577052_430564170329734_982059609_nI don’t have any children and that’s mostly because I’ve never been married. Love (well, romantic love) has been very elusive over my lifetime, not that I didn’t try as I was engaged twice but wasn’t “in love” with either of those fellows. However, as I read the following reblogged post below by “The Daily Way,” I was reminded of the incredible responsibility that comes with raising children and how very important it is to teach our children well in order for them to have a positive influence in our world when they grow up. So, for my readers who are also parents, I thought I’d share this reblogged post (below) with you, even if your children are now adults with children of their own. You can still have a great impact on your grandchildren, too.

YouTube Video: “Teach Your Children” (1970) by Crosby, Stills, Nash, & Young (click link for video).

Photo credit here

The Daily Way

Training children to love and to serve the Lord, to be compassionate toward others, and to have consistent walks of faith is the most noble and important work any parent can do. Therefore, we should find great joy in the fact that the Lord has called us and entrusted us to be parents!

Never lose sight of the fact that you are training your child not only to take a role in God’s kingdom on this earth, but also to assume a place and an inheritance in heaven.

Many parents wonder what the most important lesson is that they can teach their children. The answer is simple. Nothing can take the place of teaching your child about the forgiveness and love of God. Telling him or her about the saving grace of Jesus Christ is the most important thing you will ever do.

Too often, mothers and fathers become weary…

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A Real Friend

The reblogged post below which I’ve repeated here says it all. Thanks to Laura’s Lens for a great reminder and a beautiful pic taken by her, also.

A real friend is one who walks in
when the rest of the world walks out.
~Walter Winchell

Prov 18v24

YouTube Video: Love is a Beautiful Thing by Al Green (click link for video).

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Laura's Lens


A real friend is one who walks in when the rest of the world walks out.

Walter Winchell

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The Inadequacy of “Instant Christianity”

absolutely-free-get-instant-access-nowWe live in an instant society. If we have to wait for even ten minutes for anything we find it to be a major chore. We want what we want and we want it now. And this attitude has infected our view of Christianity, too. A.W. Tozer (1897-1963) wrote an essay on this very topic decades ago. We would be very wise to heed his words. Here is that essay:

The Inadequacy of “Instant Christianity”

by A.W. Tozer

It is hardly a matter of wonder that the country that gave the world instant tea and instant coffee should be the one to give it instant Christianity. If these two beverages were not actually invented in the United States it was certainly here that they received the advertising force that has made them known to most of the civilized world. And it cannot be denied that it was American Fundamentalism that brought instant Christianity to the gospel churches.

Ignoring for the moment Romanism and Liberalism in its various disguises, and focusing our attention upon the great body of evangelical believers, we see at once how deeply the religion of Christ has suffered in the house of its friends. The American genius for getting things done quickly and easily with little concern for quality or permanence has bred a virus that has infected the whole evangelical church in the United States and through our literature, our evangelists and our missionaries, has spread it all over the world.

Instant Christianity came in with the machine age. Men invented machines for two purposes. They wanted to get important work done more quickly and easily than they could do it by hand, and they wanted to get the work over with so they could give their time to pursuits more to their liking, such as or enjoying the pleasures of the world. Instant Christianity now serves the same purpose in religion. It disposes of the past, guarantees the future, and sets the Christian free to follow the more refined lusts of the flesh in all good conscience and with a minimum of restraint.

By “instant Christianity” I mean the kind found almost everywhere in gospel circles and which is born of the notion that we may discharge our total obligation to our own souls by one single act of faith, or at the most by two, and be relieved thereafter of all the anxiety about our eternal spiritual condition. We are saints by calling, our teachers keep telling us, and we are permitted to infer from this that there is no reason to seek to be saints by character. An automatic, once-for-all quality is present here that is completely out of mode with the faith of the New Testament.

In this error, as in most others, there lies a certain amount of truth imperfectly understood. It is true that conversion to Christ may be and often is sudden. Where the burden of sin has been heavy, the sense of forgiveness is usually clear and joyful. The delight experienced in forgiveness is equal to the degree of moral repugnance felt in repentance. The true Christian has met God. He knows he has eternal life and he is likely to know where and when he received it. And those also who have been filled with the Holy Spirit subsequent to their regeneration have a clear-cut experience of being filled. The Spirit is self-announcing, and the renewed heart has no difficulty identifying His presence as He floods in over the soul.

But the trouble is that we tend to put our trust in our experiences and as a consequence misread the entire New Testament. We are constantly being exhorted to make the decision, to settle the matter now, to get the whole thing taken care of at once—and those who exhort us are right in doing so. There are decisions that can and should be made once and for all. There are personal matters that can be settled instantaneously by a determined act of the will in response to Bible-grounded faith. No one would want to deny this; certainly not I. The question before us is, “Just how much can be accomplished in that one act of faith? How much yet remains to be done and how far can a single decision take us?”

Instant Christianity tends to make the faith act deadly and so smothers the desire for spiritual advance. It fails to understand the true nature of the Christian life, which is not static but dynamic and expanding. It overlooks the fact that a new Christian is a living organism as certainly as a new baby is, and must have nourishment and exercise to assure normal growth. It does not consider the act of faith in Christ sets up a personal relationship between two intelligent moral beings, God and the reconciled man, and no single encounter between God and a creature made in His image could ever be sufficient to establish an intimate friendship between them. By trying to pack all of salvation into one experience, or two, the advocates of instant Christianity flaunt the law of development which runs through all nature. They ignore the sanctifying effects of suffering, and practical obedience. They pass by the need for spiritual training, the necessity of forming right spiritual habits and the need to grapple against the world, the devil, and the flesh.

An undue preoccupation with the initial act of believing has created in some a psychology of contentment, or at least non-expectation. To many it has imparted a mood of disappointment with the Christian faith. God seems too far away, the world is too near, and the flesh is too powerful to resist. Others are glad to accept the assurance of automatic blessedness of eternal security. It relieves them of the need to watch and fight and pray, and sets them free to enjoy this world while waiting for the next. Instant Christianity is twentieth century orthodoxy. I wonder whether the Apostle who wrote Philippians 3:7-16 would recognize it as the faith for which he finally died for. I am afraid today that he would not (quote source here).

Philippians 3:7-16 states:

But whatever were gains to me I now consider loss for the sake of Christ. What is more, I consider everything a loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them garbage, that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ—the righteousness that comes from God on the basis of faith. I want to know Christ—yes, to know the power of his resurrection and participation in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, and so, somehow, attaining to the resurrection from the dead.

Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already arrived at my goal, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.

All of us, then, who are mature should take such a view of things. And if on some point you think differently, that too God will make clear to you. Only let us live up to what we have already attained.

May we heed these words . . .

While there is still time . . . .

YouTube Video? Not this time. A moment of quiet reflection is a much better option (if we don’t get too impatient).

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Making Our Time Count

timeAll too often we live for today and what we can get in the “here and now.” Eternity rarely ever enters our mind. We spend most of our time running after everything this world has to offer us. And it’s not even a drop in the bucket compared to eternity.

The apostle Paul has some words for us to consider in Romans 12 regarding how we should be living our lives. Let’s read those 21 verses:

Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship. Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.

For by the grace given me I say to every one of you: Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the faith God has distributed to each of you. For just as each of us has one body with many members, and these members do not all have the same function, so in Christ we, though many, form one body, and each member belongs to all the others. We have different gifts, according to the grace given to each of us. If your gift is prophesying, then prophesy in accordance with your faith; if it is serving, then serve; if it is teaching, then teach; if it is to encourage, then give encouragement; if it is giving, then give generously; if it is to lead, do it diligently; if it is to show mercy, do it cheerfully.

Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good. Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves. Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord. Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer. Share with the Lord’s people who are in need. Practice hospitality.

Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse. Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn. Live in harmony with one another. Do not be proud, but be willing to associate with people of low position. Do not be conceited.

Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everyone. If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. Do not take revenge, my dear friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: “It is mine to avenge; I will repay,” says the Lord. On the contrary:

“If your enemy is hungry, feed him;
if he is thirsty, give him something to drink.
In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head.”

Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.

“Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good . . . Overcome evil with good.” Do we even know what that means anymore? We need to stop letting the world own us by running after everything it offers to us while still thinking (if we are Christian) that we are serving God.

Also, James 4 is very clear about the things we need to avoid. Let’s take a look at what it has to say to us:

What is the source of quarrels and conflicts among you? Is not the source your pleasures that wage war in your members? You lust and do not have; so you commit murder. You are envious and cannot obtain; so you fight and quarrel. You do not have because you do not ask. You ask and do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, so that you may spend it on your pleasures. You adulteresses, do you not know that friendship with the world is hostility toward God? Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God. Or do you think that the Scripture speaks to no purpose: “He jealously desires the Spirit which He has made to dwell in us”? But He gives a greater grace. Therefore it says, “God is opposed to the proud, but gives grace to the humble.” Submit therefore to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you. Draw near to God and He will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners; and purify your hearts, you double-minded. Be miserable and mourn and weep; let your laughter be turned into mourning and your joy to gloom. Humble yourselves in the presence of the Lord, and He will exalt you.

Do not speak against one another, brethren. He who speaks against a brother or judges his brother, speaks against the law and judges the law; but if you judge the law, you are not a doer of the law but a judge of it. There is only one Lawgiver and Judge, the One who is able to save and to destroy; but who are you who judge your neighbor?

Come now, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go to such and such a city, and spend a year there and engage in business and make a profit.” Yet you do not know what your life will be like tomorrow. You are just a vapor that appears for a little while and then vanishes away. Instead, you ought to say, “If the Lord wills, we will live and also do this or that.” But as it is, you boast in your arrogance; all such boasting is evil. Therefore, to one who knows the right thing to do and does not do it, to him it is sin.

Wrong motives; seeking after our own pleasures . . . . and it will destroy us in the end. We need to take seriously the words to humble ourselves before the Lord and draw near to Him so that He will draw near to us. Selfish motives kill our relationship with God.

James reminds us that we are all like a vapor that is here today and gone tomorrow. This life is fleeting for every single one of us. So who counts? Us (as in that great pursuit of everything we want) or God? As the reblogged post below by “The Daily Way” states: “Patterns of sin quickly take root and soon a stronghold for the enemy is established.” And it is those very strongholds that will eventually destroy us. Instead, as the writer states, “Make your time count for positive change in this world by embracing God’s values. Take time to study His Word and seek His wisdom” instead of being wise in our own eyes (which isn’t wisdom at all).

Proverbs 3:7 states: “Do not be wise in your own eyes; fear the Lord and shun evil.”

‘Nough said . . . .

YouTube Video: “Does Anybody Really Know What Time It Is?” by Chicago (click link for video).

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The Daily Way

God has wonderful plans for our lives. However, in order to experience these, we must learn to obey Him and not be drawn off course by the enemy’s schemes. For example, not only are we to be good stewards of our money, but we also need to be good stewards of the time we spend on earth.

It is amazing how much time we waste by filling our minds with thoughts that are far from what God wants us to think. Before we know it, we can become entranced by various media—radio, television, and movies—and begin to think that these have greater moral value than the truth of God’s Word.

The world’s ways are diametrically opposed to God’s way. The world screams, “Look out for yourself!” God says, “Put others first.”

It should come as no surprise that God’s principles are in direct opposition to those of the world. Nor…

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Created for Relationships

relationshipsGod created us for relationships (see reblogged post below by “The Daily Way”). Unfortunately, we live in a “Disposable Culture” (see devotion titled, “Disposable Culture,” at this link). As stated in the first two paragraphs of this devotion:

“More than ever, we live in a disposable culture. Think for a minute about some of the things that are made to be thrown away—razors, water bottles, lighters, paper plates, plastic eating utensils. Products are used, tossed, and then replaced.

“This disposable culture is also reflected in more significant ways. Many times true commitment in relationships is seen as optional. Marriages struggle to survive. Long-term employees are discharged just before retirement for cheaper options. A highly revered athlete leaves to join another team. It seems as if nothing lasts.”

Sad but so very, very true. I look back on my experience with long-term unemployment (over 5 1/2 years now) and can count the number of friendships that have either waned or died during this time. Because we live in such a transient society nowadays, it seems like anything that requires a long-term commitment is suspect and impinges on our personal freedom. Divorce and serial relationships are commonplace. Many children are raised by stepparents or live-in (for the moment) “significant others” or child care instead of being raised by their original parents (as in both of them and not just one). And the effect (now two generations strong) on the younger generations is staggering. An article dated September 24, 2014, in Time.com reports that 25% of Millenials will never get married. And the reason? It’s “partly because they don’t have jobs and partly because marriage is becoming less highly-regarded. Most people think it’s important for couples who intend to stay together to be married, but the number of single Americans who want to get married has dropped significantly even in the last four years” (quote source here).

Disposable culture. And we’ve created it, folks. We throw away relationships like we throw away plastic bottles. And this was never God’s intent. We were made for relationships; first with God, and then with others. Unfortunately, we’ve thrown away God, too. Oh, it may not look like it on the outside (after all, we have thousands of churches that dot our landscape), but we rarely consult with Him regarding anything in our personal lives, unless we need something or want Him to put His stamp of approval on something we want to do. But really getting to know Him? Well, not so much . . . and that attitude is now reflected in how we regard and often treat others. Humility is not our strong suit in America.

And we need to get back to the basics before it’s too late . . .

God first, others second, and self last . . .

Got it? Good . . . .

YouTube Video: “Testify to Love” by Avalon. Click here for video.

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The Daily Way

For the past several decades, the roles of men and women have been compared, debated, and challenged. If the numerous books and articles about the roles of men and women confuse you, you are not alone. In our society, there are conflicting ideas on the position of men and women in the workplace, the church, and in relationships, particularly marriage.

While these countless philosophies attempt to capture our attention, there is one reliable source we can turn to for answers and assurance—the inspired and infallible Word of God.

Some people see the biblical duty of a husband and wife as outmoded and obsolete. However, when we study God’s Word we gain a far greater perspective on the subject of marriage. Marriage is a complex and wonderful relationship ordained by God. In fact, He created us for relationships. God knew that it was not good for man to remain alone (Genesis…

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Never Stop Loving

Never-Stop-LovingWhy does it often seem like hate is so much easier to do than love? We love to hate mostly by the way we disparage others we don’t like or understand or even know. We love to gossip (another form of hate) and tear people down, especially if it will benefit us in some way. We’ve become a nation of National Enquirer on steroids, peering into others’ lives and judging them accordingly. And we are not very good at minding our own business, either. No, we love making other people’s business our own, even it if requires stretching the truth or lying about them. And, we only like those folks we want or choose to like. And love (genuine love) gets lost in the shuffle.

So what does genuine love look like? I’m glad you asked. It looks just like this:

If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing.

Love is patient,
Love is kind.
It does not envy,
It does not boast,
It is not proud.
It does not dishonor others,
It is not self-seeking,
It is not easily angered,
It keeps no record of wrongs.
Love does not delight in evil
But rejoices with the truth.

It always protects,
Always trusts,
Always hopes,
Always perseveres.

Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away. For we know in part and we prophesy in part, but when completeness comes, what is in part disappears. When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put the ways of childhood behind me. For now we see only a reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.

And now these three remain: faith, hope and love.

But the greatest of these is love (I Corinthians 13).

Hmmm . . . on a scale of 1 to 10, we hardly even rank much of the time. Judging others and gossiping about those we know or don’t know has become the great American pastime. And as long as we aren’t one of those folks being gossiped about or judged, anybody else is fair game. But love? Genuine love? Not so much . . . .

Jesus Christ (see the Gospel of John) came to break that curse, but it seems, even among many folks who consider themselves to be Christian, that his message isn’t getting through very well. We can’t “be the message” if we don’t love others, and that means ALL others. We can’t “be the message” if we gossip about others or try to do harm to them in any way (especially if it will benefit us by doing so). Unfortunately (and far too frequently), we’d rather follow the gossip even when the source of that gossip is often rotten to the core. And who checks out the real source anyway? And if money is involved, watch out. We can be a very greedy bunch. And, we can manage to justify just about anything if we want it bad enough. And if we can find others to follow us, the more the merrier. Pied pipers are everywhere nowadays and they are singing the tune we want to hear.

Funny how it just doesn’t fit in with what Jesus had to say about loving others (all others), doing no harm to them, and living at peace with them. We rarely even consult with I Corinthians 13 anymore as to what real, genuine love looks like, and it’s to our detriment.

Duplicity. We live it, we breathe it, and we are convinced that others can’t see it in us. Whether they can or they can’t, God can see it. And therein lies the problem. We don’t take God seriously. But then, we don’t take sin seriously, or repentance seriously, or much of anything or anyone else seriously if others get in the way of what we want. We can destroy others with our words and actions and we don’t even think twice about doing it, either.

We sing songs like Our God Reigns when in reality most of the time we reign over our own lives and ask God to bless us in the process. We tell Him what we want, instead of following His lead. And we have it entirely backwards. When we put ourselves and our wants first we ignore the basic tenet of Christianity, which is to serve others, and do no harm to them in the process. Real Christianity is not self-serving . . . .

And it’s not about us and what we want . . .

It’s about God and what He wants . . .

Period . . . .

“‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart
and with all your soul and with all your mind.’
This is the first and greatest commandment.
And the second is like it:
‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’
All the Law and the Prophets hang
on these two commandments.”
~Jesus (Matthew 33:37-40)

YouTube Video: “Our God Reigns” by Brandon Heath:

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