Archive for the ‘Thought for the Day / Quotes’ Category

It is important to distinguish between intuition and discernment.  One is rooted in experience (1Cor.3:19), and the way that seems right (Prov.14:12), while the other comes from the Spirit (Luke10:23) and allows the unseen to be seen (2Cor.4:18).

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In the midst of the rising waters, I cried out to You.  But instead of evicting the storm You declared, “Behold, I am changing the landscape.  I am washing away the deadwood, and debris of the past.  I am peeling back the top layer of depleted soil.  I am softening the hard ground.  I Am the living water, and my grace is sufficient for you.”

As I looked for a means of escape, I found the main road had been washed away, and once again I cried out to You.  But instead of placing my feet on dry ground You declared, “Behold, I am cutting off the old routes.  I am leading you in a new direction.  I Am the way, and my grace is sufficient for you.

As I began to ascend the mountain side, I found the forests ablaze with fire, and for a third time I cried out to You.  But instead of extinguishing the flames, You declared, “Behold, I am burning away the brush that chokes off new growth.  I am replenishing the soil with life giving minerals.  I Am the holy fire, and my grace is sufficient for you.  

And slowly my heart began to see that what I had been viewing as calamity, was actually the change I had been praying for.  And little by little, I learned to step upon the rock amidst the rushing waters.  To listen for Your voice instead of looking for a marked trail.  And to allow the rain of Your presence to sustain me in the middle of the smoke and flames.

Only You can make a way where there seems to be no way. 

You are I Am, and Your grace is sufficient for me!    

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This morning I awoke to the sound of gunfire.  I could hear the bullets whistling by my ears, and exploding into the wall just above my head; or maybe it was just my alarm clock going off.  Either way, I was in a daze, and knew that I had to get moving. 

Every morning the enemy waits beside my bed, fighting to make sure that he gets my first thought of the day.  He understands what a prize that first one is, because if he can get it, he knows that he’ll probably get a fist full of others in the bargain.  It’s even better for him if he can infiltrate a dream, because it almost assures that he’ll get that first catch of the day. 

Stumbling around in a dark and quiet house, in a half conscious state, makes me a great target too.  He can get miles out of a stubbed toe, or a step onto one of the little landmines that the kids may have left in the hallway. 

How I choose to handle these first moments of the day can set the tone for the whole rest of it.  God’s direction is clear, this is the day that the Lord has made, so I should be rejoicing in it (Psalm 118:24), and I need to choose this day who I will serve (Josh.24:15). 

Some might see this as a little dramatic, but this is the battle that we face every day.  I don’t wake up every morning “feeling” like jumping out of bed, or looking forward to what I’ll face during the day; but I know that as a man thinks in his heart, so is he (Prov.23:7).  How I think about my life, about myself, about others, about my situation, about God… will dictate what will be reaped over the course of a day. 

If I dread the day, I will likely have a dreadful day.  It is the self-fulfilling prophecy.  To engage in this battle I must remember that though we live in the world, we do not wage war as the world does.  The weapons that we fight with are not the weapons of the world.  On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds.  We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ (2Cor.10:3-6).

When it says the knowledge of God, it doesn’t mean our knowledge of Him, but what He knows, which means that every thought that doesn’t line up with what God says gets cast out; especially when it comes to what God says about us; who He made us to be, and His plan for our lives. 

We need to pick up the sword (i.e. the Word of God), and start using it to shut up our enemy.  We need to be as ruthless with him as he is with us.  Let God be true and every man a liar (Rom.3:4).  Greater is He that is in us, than he that is in the world (1John 4:4).  If we believe this is the truth, we must move on to living by it.

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I recently saw a quote which I believe beautifully encapsulates the prevailing spirit that hangs over the western religious landscape.  The words were attributed to Bishop John Shelby Spong, and though I was not able to confirm that they were his, they did seem to be indicative of what I know of his particular worldview.

Ostensibly, he said, “I do not think of God theistically, that is, as a being, supernatural in power, who dwells beyond the limits of my world.  I rather experience God as a source of life willing me to live fully, the source of love calling me to love wastefully, and to borrow a phrase from the theologian, Paul Tillich, as the Ground of being, calling me to be all that I can be.”

I believe that many who would heartily endorse these concepts would also count themselves as “Christians”.  Still others might not find these ideas particularly troublesome, despite their distinctly anti-Christ nature.  The author embraces a nameless, faceless, person-less power, who will not contradict his sense of what is right, or hold him accountable in any way.  Indeed, he’s found a god who will empower his sense of “self” instead of demanding that he die to it.  This would seem to go well with much of what passes for “Christianity” in the west.

Recently, the Cultural Research Center at Arizona Christian University published findings from their survey of over 1,000 “Senior Pastors”.  According to their results, one third of the pastors believe that “good people” can earn their way to heaven, that the Holy Spirit isn’t a person (just a symbol of God’s power, presence, or purity), and that having faith matters more than which faith you have. 

Perhaps more alarming, is that almost 40% of the evangelical pastors surveyed believe that there is no absolute truth, and that individuals “determine their own truth”.  It’s impossible to reconcile that paradigm with a Jesus who claimed to be the truth (John 14:6), and who declared that He is the same yesterday, today, and forever (Heb.13:8).  The overarching conclusion of this survey was that only about 37% of US based pastors hold a worldview that might be considered “biblical”.

Within this off-brand of “Christianity” (i.e. Humanism dressed in religious garb), which doesn’t include the fundamental principle of taking up our cross and following (i.e. dying to self), Christ becomes little more than a tool for our endless pursuit of happiness.

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In Charismatic/Pentecostal circles there is much attention given to God’s “Glory”, and for the most part it seems to be centered on the story of Moses asking God to, “Show me Your glory?” (Ex.33:18)  Within that account, the Lord informs Moses that no man can look into His face and live (Ex.33:20), and so He has to hide him in the cleft of the rock in order to pass by. 

In many ways this appears to be a failed attempt to experience God’s glory, and yet this story seems to be revered amongst modern worshippers.  I suspect that the epic nature of the mystical glory cloud stirs our imaginations, and appeals to our desire for the spectacular, but I sense that the Lord is seeking something more profound and personal.

Recently, I felt like the Lord pointed out that this scene was eventually played out again, in a new covenant context that dramatically altered the narrative.  The most significant change being that because of Christ, we can now look into the face of God, and live.  Indeed, the Hebrew writer said that Jesus is the perfect representation of God’s glory (Heb.1:3), and Christ told His followers that anyone who had seen Him had seen the Father (John 14:9). 

There are multiple gospel accounts (Matt.17, Mark 9) of the transfigured Christ (along with Moses and Elijah) appearing to a select group of disciples (Peter, James & John), allowing them to witness the Son in a glorified form.  And like many worshippers today, these followers had a strong desire to camp atop the mountain, basking in the midst of heaven’s glory.  But when the moment passed, Jesus led them back down to the valley, back into the sea of a lost and struggling humanity.

It is this picture that the Lord used to speak about His glory in our current context.  In light of what Jesus accomplished on the cross, and given the indwelling of His Holy Spirit, Paul told the Colossians that it is “Christ in you” that is now the hope of His glory (Col.1:27).  In other words, the manifestation of God’s glory on the earth isn’t a mystical cloud descending from heaven, it is Christ emerging from within those who claim to belong to Him.

After years of gathering with folks beseeching God to reveal His glory, I now sense the Lord Himself challenging us to do the same.

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We don’t fix our eyes on Jesus, or seek first the Kingdom of God, or stay focused on what is eternal.

We are easily offended, quick to express our opinions, and we struggle to be good listeners.

We don’t often consider others before ourselves, or cheerfully give, and we’re frequently trying to gain our lives.

His words are not written on our hearts, we don’t accurately reflect His character, and the work He’s called us to remains largely undone.

And yet, somehow we’ve convinced ourselves that we’re waiting on Him to move.

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The danger in a systematic approach to theology is that we risk reducing the God who can do exceedingly, abundantly more than we could ask for, or imagine, into a god that fits within the confines of our understanding.

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What often keeps us from discerning what God is doing in the current season is our desire to recreate what He did in a previous season.

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When a man cannot conceive of something greater than himself, his perceptions become his reality, and his thoughts become his cage.

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Because the heart is deceitful above all things (Jer.17:9), we need to be on guard,

Lest we confuse:

The incessant need to be right with a love of righteous

Religious complacency with standing in faith

The right to choose with genuine freedom

Craving relaxation with finding rest

Vain imaginings with visions from God

Loving what someone brings to our life with loving them

Receiving God’s grace with using it as license to go our own way

Or mistake:

An insatiable desire to win with living the victorious life

A calling from God with what we want to be called

The ministry of the Comforter with being comfortable

A sense that life is unfair with a commitment to justice

Being prosperous with being a witness for Christ

Having a good heart with having God’s heart

Knowing about Jesus with knowing Jesus

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