Paul Madson

THOUGHTS, QUOTES & REFLECTIONS

Month: April 2020

Quotes to Note

It is impossible to be happy without humility.

Unless we have a true sense of our insignificance in the wider scheme of things, unless we experience gratitude for the small blessings in life—the little graces that bring joy precisely because they are unearned and undeserved, we will never know joy.

The more towering the façade of our own importance, the more shrunken is our capacity for happiness.

Entitlement destroys the virtue best equipped to bring happiness—gratitude.”

(Trevin Wax)

“Theology doesn’t just think. Theology walks. Theology weeps. Theology bleeds.”
(Russell D. Moore)

“One sign you’ve encountered God is you walk with a limp, not a strut.”
(Matt Smethurst)

“If our identity is in our work, rather than Christ, success will go to our heads, and failure will go to our hearts.”
(Tim Keller)

“Restlessness and impatience change nothing except our peace and joy. Peace does not dwell in outward things, but in the heart prepared to wait trustfully and quietly on Him who has all things safely in His hands.”
(Elisabeth Elliot)

“Imagination was given to man to compensate him for what he is not; a sense of humor to console him for what he is.”
(Francis Bacon)

“When a newspaper posed the question, ‘What’s Wrong with the World?’ the Catholic thinker G. K. Chesterton reputedly wrote a brief letter in response: ‘Dear Sirs: I am. Sincerely Yours, G. K. Chesterton.’ That is the attitude of someone who has grasped the message of Jesus.”
(Timothy Keller)

“Gratitude. Collect your blessings. Catalog God’s kindnesses. Assemble your reasons for gratitude and recite them.”
(Max Lucado)

“…for the growing good of the world is partly dependent on unhistoric acts; and that things are not so ill with you and me as they might have been, is half owing to the number who lived faithfully a hidden life, and rest in unvisited tombs.”
(George Eliot, quoted at the end of
Terrance Malick’s movie A Hidden Life)

“The strength of patience hangs on our capacity to believe that God is up to something good for us in all our delays and detours.”
(John Piper)

Quotes to Encourage: On Gratitude

“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)

“Studies have shown that….
grateful people view their lives more favorably than others,
have increased energy and self-confidence,
and demonstrate better coping.
They are more generous and optimistic,
have a greater sense of purpose,
have fewer medical problems,
exercise more,
and sleep better than their peers.…”
(Christianity Today article: “What Brilliant Psychologists Are Learning About Humility” by Mark R. McMinn)

“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) 

“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)

“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) 

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

“Joy and cynicism. Both are contagious. Everyone infects the world with one or the other.” (Scott Sauls)

“Gratitude isn’t only a celebration when good things happen. Gratitude is a declaration that God is good no matter what happens!” (Ann Voskamp)

Leadership in Times of Crisis: Both Realistic and Reassuring

The best leadership during turbulent times is both realistic and reassuring. And the more realistic people believe it to be, the more reassured they will become.

This is one of the great challenges all leaders face – whether they are pastors, prime ministers or presidents. Being able to articulate the reality of a given situation – as accurately as possible, and yet reassuring the people you lead that there is hope on the horizon – is always a challenge.

Leadership must be realistic.

The people you lead must believe that your assessment of the current situation is realistic. That’s not an easy target to hit. Some will feel you are being too optimistic, others too pessimistic.

As one writer described it (our current Covid-19 crisis and the corresponding economic fallout), we are either entering:

  • a blizzard that will be over in 6-8 weeks.
  • Or a blizzard, followed by an economic winter.
  • Or a blizzard, followed by an economic winter, which would then be followed by a mini-economic ice age.

All of us would agree that we are in both an economic and health blizzard (at the very least). As of this morning, just under 10 million Americans have filed jobless claims in the past two weeks. In the last week alone, 6.6 million people filed jobless claims. The previous highest week in the history of our country was just over 680,000 in one week in 1982. These numbers are certainly eye-opening and sobering. We are truly living in unprecedented times.

Though I don’t think (at this point) we will head into an economic mini-ice-age, I do believe we will be facing an economic winter of some length. Some argue that the “winter” will be relatively short. Others say it will be prolonged and drawn out for a year to two years (or more).

No one knows for sure – outside of our omniscient Lord – exactly what the future looks like. Who would have predicted accurately back in January the circumstances that we are facing today?

But even though we may not know the extent of this crisis and how long and deep it will be, there are several things that we can know and hold onto.

Leadership must be reassuring.

Here are four things we can know and cling to that will help us as we proceed through this blizzard and into some type of economic winter:

ONE: If you are in Christ, you always have hope.

Kevin DeYoung said it this way, “The Bible doesn’t tell us that we have to be a pessimist or that we ought to be an optimist. What it does tell us is that we ought to be people of hope …. Hope is not wishful thinking. Hope is an unwavering confidence in the power and the promises of God.”

What anchors us in times like this? What is our foundation? Anything less than God (and God alone) will ultimately fail us.

“Find rest, O my soul, in God alone;
my hope comes from him.
He alone is my rock and my salvation;
he is my fortress; I will not be shaken.
My salvation and my honor depend on God;
he is my mighty rock, my refuge.”
(Psalms 62:5-7 – NIV84)

TWO: Prayer will bring peace to your soul – it will help alleviate your worries and fears.

“Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:6-7 – ESV)

The Apostle Paul is essentially saying, “Turn your worries and anxieties into prayer.”

Billy Graham was once asked what his favorite Christian hymn was. His answer was What a Friend We Have in Jesus.

The words to the chorus are appropriate in times like these:

“Oh, what peace we often forfeit
Oh, what needless pain we bear
All because we do not carry
Everything to God in prayer.”

During this season (and every season) it is wise to focus on one day at a time. Don’t catastrophize the future. Trust your good and loving Father to guide you each day, each step of the way.

Jesus said in Matthew 6:34, “Therefore, do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.”

THREE: Your perspective of the world and your circumstances makes a huge difference in your mental, emotional and spiritual health.

As God’s children, we view life through the lens of biblical truth.

This point brings to mind the story of Elisha’s servant, who couldn’t see all of the resources God had brought to the battle. Elisha prayed:

“’O Lord, open his eyes so he may see.’ Then the Lord opened the servant’s eyes, and he looked and saw the hills full of horses and chariots of fire all around Elisha.” (2 Kings 6:17 – ESV)

Our perspective of our current circumstances can make a huge difference in whether we go through our days filled with peace or filled with panic.

I just returned home from visits to four poverty-stricken nations last month. In these Majority World countries, many people (and pastors) are living in mud huts with dirt floors, no running water and no electricity. They have no health insurance and very little, if any, access to decent, basic health care.

And yet, the individuals I interacted with were some of the (truly) happiest people I have ever met. They have a peace and a joy that comes from knowing and trusting Jesus. Their faith translates into how they view life each day.

Scripture teaches us that, ultimately, our life is in God’s hands.

As the Psalmist said, “But I trust in you, Lord; I say, ‘You are my God.’ My times are in your hands…” (Psalm 31:14-15a – NIV)

Similarly, contemporary Christian music artist Kathy Troccoli recorded a song with these powerful lyrics:

My life is in your hands
My heart is in your keeping
I’m never without hope
Not when my future is with you
(from My Life is in Your Hands)

C.S. Lewis once wrote, “I believe in Christianity as I believe that the sun has risen; not only because I see it, but because by it I see everything else.”

Christianity gives us a worldview and a true and clear perspective on life.

FOUR: God is a good and gracious God. He can (meaning He is sovereign) and He cares(He is good and loving).

God is good and gracious. He loves you more than you know. As Isaiah the prophet said:

“Lift your eyes and look to the heavens: Who created all these? He who brings out the starry host one by one and calls them each by name. Because of his great power and mighty strength, not one of them is missing.” (Isaiah 40:26 – NIV84)

The Lord who flung the stars into space and calls them each by name also cares for you in a deep and profound way. In that same chapter, Isaiah writes…

“He tends his flock like a shepherd: He gathers the lambs in his arms and carries them close to his heart; he gently leads those that have young.” (Isaiah 40:11 – NIV84)

Scripture tells us that this same sovereign God “bottles (our) tears.” (Psalm 56:8 – NKJV)

So, in the midst of what we’re facing, let’s keep our eyes on Jesus, our hearts connected to His Word and our lips filled with prayers.

“Whoever dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty. I will say of the Lord, “He is my refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust.”
(Psalm 91:1-2 – NIV)

“The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases;
his mercies never come to an end;
they are new every morning;
great is your faithfulness.
“The Lord is my portion,” says my soul,
“therefore, I will hope in him.”
(Lamentations 3:21-23 – ESV)

 

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