Category Archives: Church Life

worst trade ever

We swapped the glory of the eternal God for a fabricated greatness we’ve forged on our own, one that never seems to be enough. We were created to image God, to resemble and reflect his glory, but we’ve seen it, suppressed it, and sold it, and now we’re left with an emptiness that nothing else can fill.

That’s the problem of sin. We’ve gotten rid of the very thing that gives us lasting pleasure.

Jonathan Parnell, Never Settle For Normal, p. 50

 


obedience asks more of us than we are

if obedience is not asking more of us that we are, then it won’t lead us to more of Jesus. Obedience that doesn’t need him won’t have him. But really, there’s no such thing as obedience like that.

Jonathan Parnell, Never Settle For Normal, p. 124

 


don’t skip steps

To further illustrate faith-sized requests, I’d like to give you the experience of a married couple who moved into a new neighborhood. One of the first requests Mary and Jack made was, “Lord, we’d like to get acquainted with our neighbors, and if they don’t know You personally as their Saviour, we’d like to introduce them to You.”

That was a fine request and right in line with what Cod wanted to do. But it was the description of a goal to be reached, not a step to take. They got down to business then, and took the first step.

“Lord,” prayed Jack, “I’d like to meet the fellow living next door in some casual way and begin to get acquainted with him. I’d like to begin today, and I believe You can arrange it for me. Thank you, Lord.” Mary agreed with Jack in her prayer, and gave thanks with Him.

The morning had scarcely turned to afternoon when the answer came. Their children got into a quarrel over a tricycle with the neighbor’s children. Both fathers rushed to the scene. Jack took all the blame for his children, and put out his hand, “I’m Jack M., just moved in, glad to meet you.” The first request had been answered. The first step had been taken.

The second step: “Lord, I’d like to know what that man is interested in, so we could become friends.” The answer came within two days. He was interested in football.

The third step: “Lord, I need two complimentary football tickets, and could I have them by this weekend, please.” The tickets came. The friendship grew.

The fourth step: “Lord, I’d like to invite this new friend to the Bible class I teach a few miles from here. Would You put it in his heart to accept when I ask him to go with me tonight?” He accepted. All the way over as they drove, they talked about football. All the way home they talked about Jesus Christ, and what it meant for Him to become one of us . . . God became a Man.

The fifth step: “Lord, Mary and I would like to invite my friend and his wife to our home some evening this week and have a little talk and Bible reading together.” The friends came, and they read and talked quietly together.

The sixth step, “Lord, next week when I ask them over again, will You prepare their hearts, so that they will be ready to accept You as their Saviour? I believe this is the time to ask for this, and I thank you for all You’ll be doing in the meantime to draw them to Yourself.” When the next week came, the neighbors willingly and gladly accepted Jesus Christ.

This method also works in matters of guidance about getting a job, taking a trip, buying or selling a house, getting married, writing a book, or anything you may think of yourself, large or small.

Rosalind Rinker, Prayer – Conversing with God, page 71-72.


what are you praying for?

About the time I began to be aware of honesty and simplicity and brevity in audible prayer, I listened carefully when others prayed, and also checked myself after I had prayed. I asked myself these questions:

For what definite thing had I prayed?

Did I believe that I would get it?

Could I picture myself receiving it?

The tragic answer was, that I wasn’t asking anything definite, and I wasn’t receiving anything definite. I was merely praying platitudes, “Lord, bless my family in America, and bless the Chinese pastors working in Shanghai, and bless . . . and bless . . . and bless . . . .” The words bless and blessing do get a workout when people pray! But what exactly are we asking for? Are we asking for anything? Are we talking to anyone? Are we expecting an answer from Him?

Rosalind Rinker, Prayer – Conversing with God, page 69.


we don’t learn to pray in six easy lessons

I was more convinced than ever that people do want to pray, and all that is needed is simple instruction at the personal level, and an opportunity to pray. We don’t learn how to pray in six easy lessons, we learn to pray by praying.

Rosalind Rinker, Prayer – Conversing with God, page 44.


piety: ignorance, inability or intent

If you were here to stop and ask yourself why you are not as Pious as the Primitive Christians were, your own heart will tell you, that it is neither through ignorance or inability, but purely because you never really intended it.

Quoting William Law
C. S. Lewis, The Problem of Pain, p. 61


disciple making defined

I offer my personal definition of disciple-making. It is simply this: “Out of my love for God, using my gifts and talents, to multiply the character and priorities of Christ in as many people as possible.”

Dann Spader, 4 Chair Discipling, pp. 126


never closer than when pruning

One of the most critical times to prune is early in the branch’s history. Failure to prune early will result in a weak root system, which can cause the branches to become a tangled web of foliage unable to produce enough sap to bear fruit. If not pruned, a branch will eventually die a premature death. But if pruned carefully, though, its life span and fruitfulness dramatically increases.

A typical young branch will surface ten to twelve buds that can become clusters of grapes. But early on, it will need to be pruned back to two or three buds, in order to product rich, luscious clusters of grapes. Two or three luscious clusters is preferable to ten or twelve mediocre clusters. Interestingly, the gardener is never closer to the branch than when he is pruning it. Each branch is unique, so each branch needs to be carefully analyzed in order to be pruned most effectively. The gardener scrutinizes each branch, because he knows than an abundant harvest is at stake.

Dann Spader, 4 Chair Discipling, p 118-119.


xmas and crissmas

I have always loved this obscure piece written by C. S. Lewis. I hope you enjoy it as well.

A LOST CHAPTER FROM HERODOTUS


And Beyond this there lies in the ocean, turned towards the west and north, the island of Niatirb which Hecataeus indeed declares to be the same size and shape as Sicily, but it is larger, though in calling it triangular a man would not miss the mark. It is densely inhabited by men who wear clothes not very different from the other barbarians who occupy the north-western parts of Europe though they do no agree with them in language. These islanders, surpassing all the men of whom we know in patience and endurance, use the following customs.

In the middle of winter when fogs and rains most abound they have a great festival which they call Exmas, and for fifty days they prepare for it in the fashion I shall describe. First of all, every citizen is obliged to send to each of his friends and relations a square piece of hard paper stamped with a picture, which in their speech is called an Exmas-card. Bur the pictures represent birds sitting on branches, or trees with a dark green prickly leaf, or else men in such garments as the Niatirbians believe that their ancestors wore two hundred years ago riding in coaches such as their ancestors used, or houses with snow on their roofs. And the Niatirbians are unwilling to say what these pictures have to do with the festival, guarding (as I suppose) some sacred mystery. And because all men must send these cards the market-place is filled with the crowd of those buying them, so that there is great labour and weariness.

But having bought as many as they suppose to be sufficient, they return to their houses and find there the like cards which others have sent to them, And when they find cards from any to whom they also have sent cards, the throw them away and give thanks to the gods that this labour at least is over for another year. But when they find cards from any to whom they have not sent, then they beat their breasts and wail and utter curses against the sender; and, having sufficiently lamented their misfortune, they put on their boots again and go out into the fog and rain and buy a card for him also. And let this account suffice about Exmas-cards.

They also send gifts to one another, suffering the same things about the gifts as about the cards, or even worse. For every citizen has to guess the value of the gift which every friend will send to him so that he may send one of equal value, whether he can afford it or not. And they buy as gifts for one another such things as no man ever bought for himself. For the sellers, understanding the custom, put forth all kinds of trumpery, and whatever, being useless and ridiculous, they have been unable to sell throughout the year they now sell as Exmas gifts. And though the Niatirbians profess themselves to lack sufficient necessary things, such as metal, leather, wood and paper, yet an incredible quantity of these things is wasted every year, being made into the gifts.

But during these fifty days the oldest, poorest and most miserable of the citizens put on false beards and red robes and walk about the market-place; being disguised (in my opinion) as Cronos. And the sellers of gifts no less than the purchasers become pale and weary, because of the crowds and the fog, so that any man who came into a Niatirbian city at this season would think some great public calamity had fallen on Niatirb. This fifty days of preparation is called in their barbarian speech the Exmas Rush.

But when the day of the festival comes, then most of the citizens, being exhausted with the Rush, lie in bed till noon. But in the evening they eat five times as much supper as on other days and, crowning themselves with crowns of paper, the become intoxicated. And on the day after Exmas they are very grave, being internally disordered by the supper and the drinking and reckoning how much they have spent on gifts and on the wine. For wine is so dear among the Niatirbians that a man must swallow the worth of a talent before he is well intoxicated.

Such, then, are their customs about the Exmas. But the few among the Niatirbians have also a festival, separate and to themselves, called Crissmas, which is on the same day as Exmas. And those who keep Crissmas, doing the opposite to the majority of the Niatirbians, rise early on that day with shining faces and go before sunrise to certain temples where they partake of a sacred feast. And in most of the temples they set out images of a fair woman with a new-born Child on her knees and certain animals and shepherds adoring the Child. (The reason of these images is given in a certain sacred story which I know but do not repeat.)

But I myself conversed with a priest in one of these temples and asked him why they kept Crissmas on the same day as Exmas; for it appeared to me inconvenient. But the priest replied, “It is not lawful, I Stranger, for us to change the date of Crissmas, but would that Zeus would put it into the minds of the Niatirbians to keep Exmas at some other time or not to keep it at all. For Exmas and the Rush distract the minds even of the few from sacred things. And we indeed are glad that men should make merry at Crissmas; but in Exmas there is no merriment left.” And when I asked him why they endured the Rush, he replied, It is, O Stranger, a racket; using (I suppose) the words of some oracle and speaking unintelligibly to me (for a racket is an instrument which the barbarians use in a game called tennis.)

But what Hecataeus says, that Exmas and Crissmas are the same, is not credible. For first, the pictures which are stamped on the Exmas-cards have nothing to do with the sacred story which the priests tell about Crissmas. And secondly, the most part of the Niatirbians, not believing the religion of the few, nevertheless send the gifts and cards and participate in the Rush and drink, wearing paper caps. But it is not likely that men, even being barbarians, should suffer so many and great things in honour of a god they do not believe in. And now, enough about Niatirb.

C. S. Lewis


do we not know what true worship is?

For thousands of people and pastors, however, the event of worship on Sunday morning (that is, the worship service) is conceived of as a means to accomplish something other than worship. We “worship” to raise money; we “worship” to attract crowds; we “worship” to heal human hurts; we “worship” to recruit workers; we “worship” to improve church morale. We “worship” to give talented musicians an opportunity to fulfill their calling; we “worship” to teach our children the way of righteousness; we “worship” to help marriages stay together; we “worship” to evangelize the lost among us; we “worship” to motivate people for service projects; we “worship” to give our churches a family feeling, and so on.

If we are not careful, when we speak of aiming at these things “through worship,” we bear witness that we do not know what true worship is.

John Piper, Let the Nations Be Glad, p. 228-229