Paul Madson

THOUGHTS, QUOTES & REFLECTIONS

Five Ways to be a More Effective Leader in 2019

I’ve always learned a great deal over the years from Ed Stetzer. Ed holds the Billy Graham Distinguished Chair of Church, Mission, and Evangelism at Wheaton College. He also serves as Dean of the School of Mission, Ministry, and Leadership at Wheaton and is executive director of the Billy Graham Center.

As we move into this new year, here are five ways that Stetzer suggests can help all of us be more effective leaders (whether you are a leader in your church, your business or at home… these principles apply to all of these spheres).


Five Ways to Be a More Effective Leader in 2019

Some food for thought as you reflect on where God has you and who he has under your care.
By Ed Stetzer

As another year begins, we all have resolutions of things we’d like to change or start. We make many promises to ourselves and sometimes others. One of the things I want to commit to is being a better leader in 2019.

As I’ve considered what this means, I want to share with you five ways I think all of us can be more effective and Christ-honoring as we begin our leadership service this year. I hope these will provide you some food for thought as you reflect on where God has you and who he has under your care.

First, make that hard decision.

For most of us, there are things that we’ve been knowing we should do and we haven’t done them, or maybe we’ve been putting off making the decision. One of the things I’ve learned is that good leaders tend to lean into pain in a way that makes them a better leader.

For a lot of people, their inability or avoidance of a painful decision causes a cascading effect. Maybe you don’t make the right decision so something else isn’t getting done well. Maybe there’s an opportunity cost. Maybe we will lose integrity as those around us watch and say, “Well, you’re just not making the hard calls.”

So not only can your inability to make hard decisions impact other people’s ability to see you as a leader, but not making hard decisions can also drag YOU down. There’s a freedom in being on the other side of a hard decision.

Second, stop doing some things.

Almost every person I know (including me) is spending too much time doing things that don’t have the maximum impact. This ‘maximum impact’ looks different to different people—only you will know what that looks like for you as a leader. Sometimes this actually means less ‘bigness’ and more one-on-one time with people.

I’ve actually been thinking about that in a few areas of my own life. My dad is getting older and I am asking myself how I can spend more time with him.

But I have to stop doing something so I can have the freedom to do something else.

We all want to say “yes” to everything that comes our way. We want to meet with everyone who asks and respond quickly and kindly to all who email or call. But it’s simply not possible. My carte blanche yes is ineffective and harmful to what God has called me to do. I think that’s true for all of us.

I understand saying no is hard, particularly in Christian ministry. But your no could be the best decision you make in 2019.

Third, invest in younger leaders.

If you make the hard decision you didn’t make and stop doing some things, you can then have the time to invest in some younger leaders.

As I consider my own 2018, I’ve been frustrated.

I haven’t had time to invest in many leaders, young or old. I’ve decided to make some hard decisions and stop doing some things so I can have more time to invest in them. I’ve got good leaders and I need to invest in them and develop them so that they can be the leaders that God has called them to be. This requires me to say no and to have a plan for how to strategically step into mentoring and investing in the many leaders under my care.

Fourth, decide to last.

This is legacy. It’s having the long view in mind. I had a friend who challenged me on this, asking, “How are you deciding to last as a leader? How is Ed Stetzer going to be here in 10 or 20 years?”

The new year is a good time to commit to (1) taking care of yourself so that you can be a more effective leader and (2) do the things that will live on for years to come.

For me, part of my ‘lasting’ has to do with some physical things. I’ve got to take better care of myself physically and spiritually so that I can still be ministering and leading in 10 or 20 years.

Finally, be a better learner.

Keep learning—and re-learning.

Commit to reading books and watching videos that will help you be a more effective leader, friend, and servant in this world. All of us must acknowledge that what we know is only a drop in the bucket of all the knowledge in the world. No matter if you are 25 or 85, there is still much to know.

As we all live into these five tips, I believe God will do much in and through us in 2019.

Ed Stetzer holds the Billy Graham Distinguished Chair of Church, Mission, and Evangelism at Wheaton College, serves as Dean of the School of Mission, Ministry, and Leadership at Wheaton College, is executive director of the Billy Graham Center, and publishes church leadership resources through Mission Group.

Five Bible Reading Plans for 2019


“Lead me to the rock that is higher than I.”

(Psalm 61:2b ESV)

As we launch into 2019, I want to encourage you to put a Bible reading plan together for the new year (if you don’t have one already).

Here are 4 Principles and 5 Plans to Read the Bible this Year from Pastor Philip Nation (everything in italics below):


 

Many believers look for a systematic Bible reading plan as they enter a new year. As you consider how you’ll deepen your devotional life and understanding of the Bible, let me make a few suggestions.

  1. Remember the goal. The main reason for reading the Bible is to encounter God. The Scriptures are His self-revelation to us. Use “finishing the plan” as a goal but not thegoal. Make your aim to become more intimate with God through engaging His Word.
  2. Plans are made for you and you are not made for the plans. Over the course of the year, you will likely have a smattering of days where the Bible reading plan goes unattended. It will be because of a blip of spiritual apathy and sinfulness. You’ll have an emergency that interrupts the whole of life. Events will occur where you need to abandon the plan for reading and studying some other portion of the Bible. Remember that the reading plan is a tool for you to use, not a master that decides your spiritual fate. Be faithful to God and His Word; not to a plan that someone wrote and posted online.
  3. Seek the whole counsel of God. Too many people hop, skip, and jump through topical readings about their favorite subjects. Finding a solid plan and sticking with it will allow you to get the full overview of God’s revelation and a deeper understanding of how it all works together.
  4. Pick a plan that will benefit you. There are no shortages of plans to use. In a previous post, I listed 14 different plans. Besides the ones listed there, here are a few others to consider using.

Here are five plans that you could consider using in the year ahead.

90 Day Reading. On occasion, I have plowed through the Bible with a 90-day plan. It requires reading somewhere around 13 chapters per day. However, I’ve developed my own version that fluctuates between nine chapters (in some places of the New Testament) and 25 (in the Psalms). It is an intense process.

Day-by-Day Chronological Bible edited by George Guthrie. I’m utilizing this edition in my devotional life this year.

Foundation 260 Plan from Robby Gallaty. Replicate Ministries has wonderful resources for discipleship and Bible engagement. I love the F260 Plan. The Foundations books and The Disciples Bibles are great resources that help you move through it as well.

The Discipleship Journal Bible Reading Plan. The Navigators developed this plan and it is a great one to mix the OT and NT each day in your reading.

Robert Murray M’Cheyne Bible Reading Plan. The original by M’Cheyne with a few various ways to print are available. A solid system for anyone who wants a one-year plan.

You Version app. There are no shortages of Bible reading plans on the most popular Bible app.

Ultimately, we should discipline ourselves to read the Bible because it is the great Sword of the Spirit (Ephesians 6:17) that God uses to reveal Himself and conform us to the image of Christ. Reading it is the spiritual endeavor to know Him, seek His ways, and understand ourselves better. It is a primary habit for our holiness.


This Christmas… take time to read a good book

Karen Swallow Prior (Author and professor of English at Liberty University) has written an excellent book entitled On Reading Well: Finding the Good Life through Great Books (Brazos Press – 2018).

Here are a few quotes I pulled out as I read her book this Fall. May they motivate and encourage you to slow down and pick up a good book this Christmas… and savor it.


“Literature helps to humanize us. It expands our range of experiences. It fosters awareness of ourselves and the world. It enlarges our compassion for people. It awakens our imaginations. It expresses our feelings and insights about God, nature, and life. It enlivens our sense of beauty.” (Leland Ryken)

“Reading virtuously means, first, reading closely, being faithful to both text and context, interpreting accurately and insightfully.”

“Indeed, there is something in the very form of reading – the shape of the action itself – that tends toward virtue. The attentiveness necessary for deep reading (the kind of reading we practice in reading literary works as opposed to skimming news stories or reading instructions) requires patience.”

Nicholas Carr explains in The Shallows: What the Internet is Doing to Our Brains that ‘the linear mind is being pushed aside by a new kind of mind that wants and needs to take in and dole out information in short, disjointed, often overlapping bursts – the faster, the better.’”

“Whether you feel you have lost your ability to read well, or you never acquired that ability at all, be encouraged. The skills required to read well are no great mystery. Reading well is, well, simple (if not easy). It just takes time and attention.”

“Therefore, even as you seek books that you will enjoy reading, demand ones that make demands on you: books with sentences so exquisitely crafted that they must be reread, familiar words used in fresh ways, new words so evocative that you are compelled to look them up, and images and ideas so arresting that they return to you unbidden for days to come.”

“Also, read slowly. Just as a fine meal should be savored, so, too, good books are to be luxuriated in, not rushed through. Certainly, some reading material merits a quick read, but habitual skimming is for the mind what a steady diet of fast food is for the body.
         Speed-reading is not only inferior to deep reading but may bring more harm than benefits: one critic cautions that reading fast is simply a ‘way of fooling yourself into thinking you’re learning something.’
         When you read quickly, you aren’t thinking critically or making connections. Worse yet, ‘speed-reading gives you two things that should never mix: superficial knowledge and overconfidence.’”

“Don’t be discouraged if you read slowly. Thoughtfully engaging with a text takes time. The slowest readers are often the best readers, the ones who get the most meaning out of a work and are affected most deeply by literature.”

“Read with a pen, pencil, or highlighter in hand, marking in the book or taking notes on paper. The idea that books should not be written in is an unfortunate holdover from grade school, a canard rooted in a misunderstanding of what makes a book valuable.
         The true worth of books is in their words and ideas, not their pristine pages. One friend wisely observed that ‘readers are not made for books – books are made for readers.’”

“Reading well adds to our life – not in the way a tool from the hardware store adds to our life, for a tool does us no good once lost or broken, but in the way a friendship adds to our life, altering us forever.”

“Some books are to be tasted, others to be swallowed and some few to be chewed and digested; that is, some books are to be read only in parts; others to be read, but not curiously; and some few to be read wholly, and with diligence and attention.” (Francis Bacon)

“Seventeenth-century Puritan pastor Richard Baxter writes, ‘It is not the reading of many books which is necessary to make a man wise or good; but the well reading of a few, could he be sure to have the best… Good books are a very great mercy to the world.’”


The greatest benefit will always come from reading and engaging Scripture… in the midst of reading other good books, make time for the Good Book.

“Who is wise and understanding among you?
Let them show it by their good life,
by deeds done in the humility that comes from wisdom.”

(James 3:13)

Fall 2018 Quotes to Note

“In everything give thanks.”

(1 Thessalonians 5:18 – NASB)

God calls us to be thankful, grateful people. When we follow His command to “give thanks in all things,” we benefit. Bitterness and cynicism are unrooted from our hearts. It’s easy for us to think that the unhappiness in people leads them to have a complaining spirit. But I would suggest that it is truer to say: consistent complaining leads to unhappiness.

In other words, becoming a grateful person will result in us being much happier. Joy is the long-term by-product of daily, consistent expressions of thanksgiving and gratitude.

Here are a few quotes on gratitude, thanksgiving – and the link they have to happiness.


“As you therefore have received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in Him, having been firmly rooted and now being built up in Him and established in your faith, just as you were instructed, and overflowing with gratitude.” (Colossians 2:6-7 – NASB)

“No amount of regret changes the past.
No amount of anxiety changes the future.
Any amount of grateful joy changes the present.”
(Ann Voskamp)

“When someone continually talks about how happy they are, I tend to doubt them; but when they talk about how grateful they are, I know they have found happiness.” (Rob Hawkins)

“It’s one thing to be grateful. It’s another to give thanks. Gratitude is what you feel. Thanksgiving is what you do.” (Tim Keller)

“Undeniable guilt,
plus undeserved grace,
should equal unbridled gratitude.”
(Nancy Leigh DeMoss)

“Seek… to cultivate a buoyant, joyous sense of the crowded kindnesses of God in your daily life.” (Alexander Maclaren – 1826-1910)

“Keep your own happiness journal. Record God’s evident goodness around you every day. You’ll find that in time, you’ll see more and more gifts from him – not because there are more, but because you’re finally seeing what has been there all along.” (Randy Alcorn)

“Ultimately, in his essence, Satan is an ingrate. And he sinks his venom into the heart of Eden. Satan’s sin becomes the first sin of all humanity: the sin of ingratitude… Our fall was, has always been, and always will be, that we aren’t satisfied in God and what He gives.” (Ann Voskamp)

“If only we could see our situation clearly. We deserve expulsion; he [God] gives us a diploma. We deserve the electric chair; he gives us a parade. Anything less than overwhelming gratitude would be unthinkable. He owes us nothing. We own him everything. ‘Who has ever given to God, that God should repay them?’ (Romans 11:35 – NIV), The answer is: nobody.”(Randy Alcorn)

“The person who has chosen to make gratitude his or her mind-set and lifestyle can view anything – anything! – through the eyes of thankfulness. The whole world looks different when we do.” (Nancy Leigh DeMoss)

“Once we experience thanksgiving as our default condition, we’ll find it’s inseparable from our happiness, and we’ll never want to go back to the barren wasteland of ingratitude.” (Randy Alcorn)

“No matter what our circumstances, we can find a reason to be thankful.” (David Jeremiah)

“It is only with gratitude that life becomes rich!”
(Dietrich Bonhoeffer)

“He is richest who is content with the least, for contentment is the wealth of nature.” (Socrates)

“Gratitude is an offering precious in the sight of God, and it is one that the poorest of us can make and be not poorer but richer for having made it.” (A.W. Tozer)

“One of the clearest descriptive phrases of sinful mankind (according to Romans 1), is they are “ungrateful” or “do not give thanks.” This is another reason why it is so important that we as parents raise our children to always be thankful and grateful (as opposed to complaining or griping) – as if life owes them something – as they journey through this world.
You will always find gratitude at the heart of happy, mature, godly people. The average westerner lives better than 99.4 percent of all the human beings who have ever lived. Knowing that we are better off than nearly every other human who has ever lived should inspire… a daily prayer of thanksgiving, not a sense of dread. And it should prompt us to generosity, rather than a desire for more.” (Chuck Colson)

“Instruct those who are rich in this present world not to be conceited or to fix their hope on the uncertainty of riches, but on God, who richly supplies us with all things to enjoy. Instruct them to do good, to be rich in good works, to be generous and ready to share, storing up for themselves the treasure of a good foundation for the future, so that they may take hold of that which is life indeed.” (1 Timothy 6:17‐19 – NASB)

“O Lord my God, I will give thanks to you forever!”
(Psalm 30:12 – ESV)

God’s Faithfulness

Dr. Charles “Chip” Kingery
April 6, 1954 – September 10, 2018

A few weeks ago, I had the privilege of speaking at the Memorial Service for one of our Global Training Network staff members, Dr. Chip Kingery.

Chip was one of the most optimistic, warm-hearted people I’ve ever met. It was truly a privilege to work with Chip and Jean over the past 10 years as they served with GTN in Bangalore, India.

Before I got up to speak, Joni Eareckson Tada shared. Before coming on staff with GTN, Chip had served as International Director for Joni and Friends and Jean as Joni’s Director of Response.

After sharing a clear presentation of the gospel, Joni led everyone in singing the timeless hymn, Great is Thy Faithfulness. As we sang together the words to this beautiful song, I was reminded again of God’s gracious faithfulness throughout our lives as His children.

I’ve sung and listened to that hymn hundreds of times in my life, but this time there was a greater “weightiness” to it. Joni’s incredible testimony of God’s goodness in the face of suffering is powerful. She’s lived as a quadriplegic for the last 51 years (after a diving accident at the age of 17). To hear her sing the final verse of this hymn brought tears to my eyes.

Pardon for sin 
And a peace that endureth 
Thine own dear presence to cheer 
And to guide 
Strength for today 
and bright hope for tomorrow 
Blessings all mine, 
with ten thousand beside

The line,“Strength for today and bright hope for tomorrow, blessings all mine, with ten thousand beside,” was particularly meaningful. To hear Joni sing with such enthusiasm out of a lifetime of experiencing God’s grace in affliction was incredibly moving, to say the least.

Be encouraged, brother and sister in Christ. God is faithful.

His mercies are new every morning (Lamentations 3:21-23).

He is with you and promises He will never leave you or forsake you (Matthew 28:20; Hebrews 13:5).

He has “loved you with an everlasting love” (Jer. 31:3).

A few months ago, my wife Lisa was able to attend The Gospel Coalition National Women’s Conference in Indianapolis (along with almost 10,000 other women).

One of the final songs they sang at the conference was Great is Thy Faithfulness. I had a chance to view it online before Lisa flew home and it moved me once again. When she arrived home, I asked her:

“When you were singing Great is Thy Faithfulness toward the end of the conference, were you a bundle of tears?” 

Her reply? “How did you know?” After 38 years of marriage, you learn a thing or two about your partner (today we celebrate our 38th wedding anniversary).

You see, for all of our married life, that song has been an anchor for our souls. We have rejoiced in singing it when we have been on the brightest, highest mountain tops… and have clung to the truths while in the deepest, darkest valleys. And we have found over and over again that… God is faithful (1 Corinthians 1:9; 2 Thessalonians 3:3; Hebrews 10:23).

If you would like to listen to Great is Thy Faithfulness from the TGC 2018 Women’s Conference, you can do so here (led by the Austin Stone Worship Band). It’s both beautiful and powerful… reminding us of God’s gracious favor, kindness and mercy.

October Quotes to Note

“Sooner or later he [God] withdraws, if not in fact, at least from their conscious experience, all supports and incentives. He leaves the creature to stand up on its own legs – to carry out from the will alone duties which have lost all relish …

“He cannot ‘tempt’ to virtue as we do to vice. He wants them to learn to walk and must therefore take away his hand …

“Our cause [Satan] is never more in danger than when a human, no longer desiring, but still intending, to do our enemy’s [God’s] will, looks round upon a universe from which every trace of him seems to have vanished, and asks why he has been forsaken, and still obeys.”

– Uncle Screwtape (The Screwtape Letters by C.S. Lewis)


“Nazi death camp survivor Viktor E. Frankl (1905-1997) wrote

‘Happiness [is] the unintended side-effect of one’s personal dedication to a cause greater than oneself or as the by-product of one’s surrender to a person other than oneself.’

“This explains why so many of us aren’t happy – we’re our own biggest cause, the most important people in our lives. And we’re way too small and powerless to create or sustain our own happiness.”

– Randy Alcorn (Happiness – Page 172)


“Prayer is never just asking, nor is it merely a matter of asking for what I want. God is not a cosmic butler or fix-it man, and the aim of the universe is not to fulfill my desires and needs.

“On the other handI am to pray for what concerns me, and many people have found prayer impossible because they thought they should only pray for wonderful but remote needs they actually had little or no interest in or even knowledge of.”

– Dallas Willard (The Divine Conspiracy – Page 242)


“Today very few people any longer understand what it means to ‘hallow’ something and are apt to associate hallow only with ghosts and Halloween.

“So we would do better to translate the language here as ‘let your name be sanctified.’

“Let it be uniquely respected.

“Really, the idea is that his name should be treasured and loved more than any other, held in an absolutely unique position among humanity.”

– Dallas Willard (The Divine Conspiracy – Page 258)


“The most important commandment of the Judeo-Christian tradition is to treasure God and his realm more than anything else. That is what it means to love God with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength.

“It means to treasure him, to hold him as dear… then we will also treasure our neighbors rightly, as he treasures them.”

– Dallas Willard (The Divine Conspiracy – Page 203)


 

Quotes to Note

“Joy is a byproduct experienced by people who are aiming for something else.” (David Brooks)

“Old age is no time to hunker down, unless disability demands it. Old is just another word for nothing left to lose, a time of life to take bigger risks on behalf of the common good.” (Parker Palmer)

“Implosion happens when your charisma has carried you further than your character can take you.”

“The life of faith is lived one day at a time…. not looking forward as though the ‘real’ living were around the next corner. It is today for which we are responsible. God still owns tomorrow.” (Elisabeth Elliot)

“No one ever died saying, ‘I’m so glad for the self-centered, self-serving, and self-protective life I lived.'”

“The temptation of the age is to look good without being good.” (Brennan Manning)

“The way of wisdom is not the way of quick fixes and dramatic turnarounds. It is the way of long training and discipline.”(Tim Keller)

“We do not find [the Apostle] Paul concerning himself with the size of churches or with questions about their growth. His primary concern is with their faithfulness, with the integrity of their witness.” (Lesslie Newbigin)

Loving & Forgiving Others out of  ‘Emotional Wealth’

Tim Keller, in his book The Meaning of Marriage: Facing the Complexities of Commitment with the Wisdom of God, tells the amazing story of Olympic Runner and World War II hero Louie Zamperini and how both he and his wife came to know Christ – and the dramatic changes that occurred to their (at the time) broken and disintegrating marriage.

Keller makes the point that when we come to know God’s profound love, grace and forgiveness toward us, we are then able to love and forgive others out of “emotional wealth.”

In other words, because “we are loved so deeply [by God]… when someone wrongs us we can afford to be generous, able to forgive.”

Here’s the story (it’s worth taking 2-3 minutes to read)…


“One of the more dramatic examples of this principle [loving out of ‘emotional wealth’] can be found in Laura Hillenbrand’s bestselling biography of World War II hero Louis Zamperini. On a mission over the Pacific in 1943, Zamperini’s plane crashed into the ocean, killing most on board.

After forty-seven days afloat in shark-infested waters, Louie and one other survivor were captured and endured two and a half years of imprisonment, which consisted of almost constant beatings, humiliation, and torture.

Returning after the war, he suffered from severe post-traumatic stress disorder and became an alcoholic. His wife, Cynthia, lost hope for their marriage. Louie spent most of his time dreaming and planning about returning to Japan to murder “the Bird,” a Japanese sergeant who had repeatedly assaulted and tormented him in the camps.

One night he dreamt that the Bird was looming over him. He reached out to defend himself. A scream woke him up and there he was, straddling Cynthia’s chest, his hands locked around the throat of his pregnant wife.

Not long afterward, Cynthia announced to him that she was filing for divorce.  He was distressed, but even the threat of losing his wife and child could not stop his drinking or his self-destructive behavior. He was too tormented by his past and his bitterness to change, even to save his family.

Then one day in the fall of 1949, Cynthia Zamperini was told by an acquaintance that there was a young evangelist, Billy Graham, preaching downtown at a special series of tent meetings. She attended and “came home alight.”

She went immediately to Louie and told him she didn’t want a divorce, that she had experienced a spiritual awakening, and that she wanted him to accompany her to hear the preaching. After days of resisting, he finally gave in.

That night, the young preacher’s sermon homed in on the concept of human sin. Louie was indignant. I am a good man, he said to himself. But almost as soon as he had the thought, “he felt the lie in it.” Several nights later he returned and “walked the aisle,” repented, and received Christ as Savior.

Zamperini was immediately delivered of his alcoholism. But more crucially, he felt God’s love flood his life and realized that he was able to forgive all those who had imprisoned and tortured him.

The shame and sense of powerlessness that had stoked his hate and misery had vanished. His relationship with Cynthia “was renewed and deepened. They were blissful together.”

In October 1950, Louie was able to return to Japan and speak through an interpreter at the prison where many of his former camp guards were now imprisoned. He spoke about the power of Christi’s grace to bring forgiveness, and to the prisoners’ shock, he embraced each of them with a loving smile.

I offer this example with hesitation, because dramatic testimonies of instantaneous change can be misleading. Louis Zamperini’s emotional wounds were unusually deep and so the work of the Spirit – making God’s love in Jesus Christ real to the heart – was also very powerful and dramatic.

God’s Spirit doesn’t always work in such a sudden and obvious way, but he always does this same work. He gave Cynthia hope and Louie release from bitterness, thereby renewing their marriage. He will always have the same influence, whether suddenly or gradually.
(Romans 5:1-2, 5)

Louie Zamperini had been literally tortured, and his inner shame, anger, and fear had eaten up his ability to love and serve others.

But each of us comes to marriage with a disordered inner being. Many of us have sought to overcome self-doubts by giving ourselves to our careers. That will mean we will choose our work over our spouse and family to the detriment of our marriage.

Others of us hope that unending affection and affirmation from a beautiful, brilliant romantic partner will finally make us feel good about ourselves. That turns the relationship into a form of salvation, and no relationship can live up to that.”

(Pages 70-72 – The Meaning of Marriage by Timothy Keller)

Notable Quotes on Marriage

One of the best books on marriage that I have read over the years is The Meaning of Marriage: Facing the Complexities of Commitment with the Wisdom of God by Tim Keller. Ever since it was released in 2011, Lisa and I have used it in all of our pre-marital counseling, hoping to help young couples prepare for a healthy, lifelong marriage.

Here are a few notable quotes from his book…

“To be loved but not known is comforting but superficial. To be known and not loved is our greatest fear. But to be fully known and truly loved is, well, a lot like being loved by God. It is what we need more than anything. It liberates us from pretense, humbles us out of our self-righteousness, and fortifies us for any difficulty life can throw at us.” (Tim Keller– Page 95)

“We never know whom we marry; we just think we do. Or even if we first marry the right person, just give it awhile and he or she will change. For marriage, being [the enormous thing it is] means we are not the same person after we have entered it. The primary problem is . . . learning how to love and care for the stranger to whom you find yourself married.” (Stanley Hauerwas– Page 134)

“When I married my wife, I had hardly a smidgen of sense for what I was getting into with her. How could I know how much she would change over 25 years? How could I know how much I would change? My wife has lived with a least five different men since we were wed – and each of the five has been me.” (Lewis Smedes– Page 92)

“Even in social life, you will never make a good impression on other people until you stop thinking about what sort of impression you are making. Even in literature and art, no man who bothers about originality will ever be original: whereas if you simply try to tell the truth (without caring two pence how often it has been told before), you will, nine times out of ten, become original without having noticed it. The principle runs through life from top to bottom. Give up yourself, and you will find your real self. Lose your life and you will save it. . . . Nothing that you have not given away will be really yours. . . ” (C.S. Lewis– from Mere Christianity– page 190)

 

Hope in the Dark: Encouragement in Times of Suffering

“I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33 ESV)

“For I consider that our present sufferingsare not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us.” (Romans 8:18 NIV84)

“God is in the business of turning rough coals into diamonds through pressure. When we suffer, it is a God-given opportunity to become more like the One who suffered most.” (Randy Alcorn)

“Is there nothing to sing about today? Then borrow a song from tomorrow; sing of what is yet to be. Is this world dreary? Then think of the next.” (C.H. Spurgeon)

“Do not be anxious about what may happen tomorrow; the same everlasting Father who cares for you today will take care of you tomorrow and every day. Either He will shield you from suffering, or He will give you unfailing strength to bear it. Be at peace, then, put aside all anxious thoughts and imaginations.” (St. Francis de Sales)

“Never be afraid to trust an unknown future to a known God.” (Corrie ten Boom)

“Christ followers contract malaria, bury children, and battle addictions, and as a result, face fears. It’s not the absence of storms that sets us apart. It’s whom we discover in the storm: an unstirred Christ.” (Max Lucado)

“There is an old proverb which says, ‘Never cross a bridge before you come to it.’ How many Christians are filled with sorrow on account of imaginary troubles! Many timid Christians have a trouble manufactory in their own houses; they sit from morning to night endeavoring to make trouble for themselves. We have quite enough real trials to bear; and if we make any more of our own, we have no promise that God will give us grace to bear our self-made sorrows. How unwise are those people who crowd a whole year’s troubles into a single day!” (C.H. Spurgeon)

“God’s promises are like the stars; the darker the night, the brighter they shine.” (David Nicholas)

“Therefore, we do not lose heart, but though our outer man is decaying, yet our inner man is being renewed day by day. For momentary, light affliction is producing for us an eternal weight of glory far beyond all comparison, while we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen; for the things which are seen are temporal, but the things which are not seen are eternal.” (2 Corinthians 4:16-18 NASB)

“God writes with a pen that never blots, speaks with a tongue that never slips, acts with a hand that never fails.” (C.H. Spurgeon)

“Though He slay me, yet will I trust in Him.” (Job 13:15 NASB)

“We’re called to love him even when we feel abandoned.

We’re called to look for him even in the midst of the darkness.

We’re called to worship him even through our tears.”

 (Pete Wilson)

“But He knows the way I take;

When He has tried me,

I shall come forth as gold.

My foot has held fast to His path

I have kept His way and not turned aside

I have not departed from the command of His lips

I have treasured the words of His mouth more than my necessary food.”

(Job 23:10-12 NASB)

“When we allow God to be exalted in our difficulties we are in the perfect place to smell the fragrance of His Presence.” (A.W. Tozer)

“What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us?… No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Romans 8:31, 37-39 ESV)

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