Paul Madson

THOUGHTS, QUOTES & REFLECTIONS

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What is your life’s mission statement?

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Almost 30 years ago, I took several days during a vacation to evaluate all that I was doing and to state in one brief sentence what my purpose in life was (my Mission Statement) – i.e. Why do I get out of bed in the morning? What is it that drives me day in and day out?

The statement I wrote back then has been a guiding compass over the last few decades. I still have this statement as part of my daily prayer list to help keep me centered on what is most important.

Here is my life’s mission statement…

When I come to the end of my life and have nothing but death to look forward to and nothing but memories to look back upon, I want to be able to say that I sought to be…

• God’s man (2 Cor. 5:15; 1 Thess. 2:4)
• in God’s place (Acts 20:24)
• doing God’s work (1 Cor. 3:6-8; 1 Cor. 15:58)
• for God’s glory! (1 Cor. 10:31; Phil. 1:21; 1 Peter 4:10-11)

To explain what I mean by those four brief statements:

  • I don’t want to be “my own man” (or as Frank Sinatra said, “I Did It My Way”). I only want to be God’s man.
  • I don’t want to do ministry in someone else’s place; only the place that God has called me… no matter where that is or how small and seemingly insignificant.
  • I don’t want to do anyone else’s work, only the work that God has called me to do (Acts 20:24).
  • And finally, my ultimate reason for living, my reason for breathing air each day, my reason for taking up space on this dust chip called planet earth, is to live for God’s glory. Not my glory. Not some ministry’s glory. Only God’s glory. It’s not about me. It’s about Him.

What’s your mission statement? If you haven’t written one, I would encourage you to do so.

Quotes to Note – Fall 2017

“The world is a book, and those who do not travel read only one page.” (Augustine)

“I look in the mirror and say, ‘What is a young man like me doing in an old body like that?’” (Haddon Robinson)

“Two things are said to be rare sights in the world; one is a young man humble, and the other is an old man content.” (J.C. Ryle)

“To be loved but not known is superficial. To be known and not loved is our great fear. But to be known and loved is what will transform us.” (Dr. Timothy Keller)

“A book I’m reading states that there are 4 kinds of people.
1. Those who make things happen.
2. Those who watch things happen.
3. Those to whom things happen.
4. Those who have no clue what’s happening.
I’m determined to be in the 1st category. How about you?”
(Dr. David Sills)

“You are always responsible for how you act, no matter how you feel.” (Anonymous)

“Death and sorrow are merely a middle chapter.” (Scott Sauls)

“Men fall in private long before they fall in public.” (J.C. Ryle)

“If you understand what holiness is, you come to see that real happiness is on the far side of holiness, not the near side.” (Dr. Timothy Keller)

“But this is what I know: God is who He says He is. In the hurt and the pain and the suffering, God is near, and He is good, even when the ending isn’t. It’s not, ‘They lived happily ever after,’ but, They leaned into an unknown future with a very knowable Father.’” (Ann Voskamp)

“We would be more patient and kind with people and less hurt if we regularly remembered that we all have deep core faults.” (Dr. Timothy Keller)

“The poet James Allen Francis noted: ‘All the armies that ever marched, and all the navies that ever were built, and all the parliaments that ever sat, all the kings that ever reigned, put together have not affected the life of man upon this earth as powerfully as has that One Solitary Life.’”

“Fighting sheep are strange animals, and fighting Christians are self-evident contradictions.” (C.H. Spurgeon)

“God sees us as we are, loves us as we are, and accepts us as we are. But by His grace, He does not leave us as we are.” (Dr. Timothy Keller)

“The weakness of your faith
will not destroy you.
A trembling hand
may receive a golden gift.”
(C.H. Spurgeon)

“Unhealthy leaders, when criticized, will spin, manipulate, and regroup. Healthy leaders, on the other hand, will confess and repent.” (Scott Sauls)

“No man is worse for knowing the worst about himself. If an X-ray reveals a serious break in one of your bones, do you blame the X-ray? Do you break the thermometer if it shows you with a fever of 105? Would you blame a doctor for informing you of a life-threatening situation? In the same way, when God talks about sin, it’s the diagnosis of the very disease He wants to cure. God condemns sin because He redeems from sin! We can’t receive His forgiveness by redefining sin; don’t let anyone deceive you into thinking that something the Bible calls sin is normal and not necessarily wrong. God says He condemns it—but only because He can redeem you from it. Are you willing to hear all that He says?”
(Darryl DelHousaye)

“Maturity is always a return to the reality about yourself.”
(Dr. Joseph C. Aldrich)

“Motivation is what gets you started. Habit is what keeps you going.” (Jim Ryan)

“It is only an infinite God, and an infinite good, that can fill and satisfy the precious and immortal soul of man.” (Thomas Brooks)

“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, from his new book Fearless)

“Like it or not, each of us is personally at war with the Devil, for the Devil has personally declared war upon each of us.” (J.I. Packer)

“How does Satan accuse us? By causing us to look at our sin rather than our Savior.” (Dr. Timothy Keller)

“We cannot add time; we can only exercise stewardship over the time we are given.” (Albert Mohler)

“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)

“I used to think of life as a highway with lots of potholes along the way. Now, I see it as a country road with a smooth place every once in a while.” (Haddon Robinson)

“In Jesus, God battles our sin with reassurance not shame, kindness not punishment, mercy not judgment, love not abandonment.” (Scott Sauls)

“I’ve never regretted seeking to understand the best representatives of a position I disagree with. I do regret my hasty, uninformed responses.”
(Scotty Smith)

“I wonder if I’ve ever done anything out of a pure motive. How in the world could I ever hope to have relationship with a righteous God? I find myself thinking that I can’t. So, I live with grace. If you knew me like God knew me, you probably wouldn’t like me. The marvel of the Bible is that God is gracious.” (Haddon Robinson)

“Life is hard. God is good. Glory is coming. Therefore, stand firm in his grace. Rejoice in hope, fill your life with good deeds, and show the world that God is gloriously satisfying.” (John Piper)

“The moment we say don’t give me doctrine, don’t give me all that Bible stuff, just give me Jesus, just strip it down to the basics — is the moment we become culpable of a fallacy. The Bible is the very book on which Jesus based His entire life.” (Scott Sauls)

The Practical Blessings of Humility, Forgiveness and Gratitude

Christianity Today recently published an article I found fascinating. The article shared the results of studies that show the practical benefits that come to a person who readily forgives others, practices gratitude and demonstrates humility in their relationships.

Here’s a short excerpt from the original article (with the tongue-in-cheek title of “What Brilliant Psychologists Like Me Are Learning About Humility” by Mark R. McMinn)…

“…For example, studies have now found a striking array of benefits around forgiveness. Compared to less-forgiving peers, forgiving people have lower blood pressure; lower bad cholesterol and resting heart rates; improved sleep and immune systems; less depression, anxiety, and anger; enhanced relationships; more optimism; and a greater sense of overall well-being.

“Similarly, 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.

“As with forgiveness and gratitude, humility fosters physical, mental, and relational health. Humble people are more grateful and forgiving, so they enjoy the benefits of those virtues. They are also more generous and helpful than others, have better romantic relationships, have less anxiety about death, and experience less spiritual struggle. They perform better at school and work, show more compassion to others, and even have better self-esteem than less humble people.”

Click here to read the entire article.

Quotes to Note – Fall Edition

“Life is not measured by length but by depth. Birthdays tell us how long we have been on the road, not how far we have travelled.”  (Vance Havner)

“Christianity, if false, is of no importance, and if true, of infinite importance, the only thing it cannot be is moderately important.” (C.S. Lewis)

“We need to be reminded more than we need to be instructed.” (G.K. Chesterton)

“Christianity can be summed up in the two terms faith and love… receiving from above [faith] and giving out below [love].” (Martin Luther)

“Kindness makes a person attractive. If you would win the world, melt it, do not hammer it.” (Alexander MacLaren)

“God’s design in our pain enables us to look back and say: He loves me enough to take me where I would have never wanted to go in order to produce in me what I never could have achieved on my own.” (Paul David Tripp)

“God is our portion, Christ our companion, the Spirit our Comforter, Earth our lodge, and Heaven is our home.” (C.H. Spurgeon)

“The storms of life no more indicate the absence of God than clouds indicate the absence of the sun.”  (John Blanchard)

“Pain insists upon being attended to. God whispers to us in our pleasures, speaks in our consciences, but shouts in our pains. It is his megaphone to rouse a deaf world.” (C.S. Lewis)

“The safest road to hell is the gradual one – the gentle slope, soft underfoot, without sudden turnings, without milestones, without signposts.” (C.S. Lewis)

“No one expects to attain to the height of learning, or arts, or power, or wealth, or military glory, without vigorous resolution, strenuous diligence, and steady perseverance. Yet we expect to be Christians without labor, study, or inquiry.” (William Wilberforce)

“Humility is not thinking less of yourself, it’s thinking of yourself less.” (C.S. Lewis)

“Discipleship: When Jesus said to make disciples, the disciples understood that to mean that they should make out of others what Jesus has made out of them.” (Don Whitney – Professor at Southern Seminary, Louisville, KY)

“Grace and truth are both necessary. Neither is sufficient. Christ’s heart is equally grieved by grace-suppression and truth-suppression, by grace-twisting and truth-twisting. ‘For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ’ (John 1:17).” (from The Grace and Truth Paradox by Randy Alcorn)

“Some want to live within the sound of church or chapel bell; I want to run a rescue shop within a yard of hell.” (C.T. Studd)

“Your approval before God is woven into the life and sacrifice of Jesus Christ on the cross, not what other men and women think about you.” (Matt Chandler)

“Man is indeed lost, but that does not mean that he is nothing. We must resist humanism, but to make a man a zero is not the right way to resist it … [The] Christian position is that man is made in the image of God and even though he is now a sinner, he can do things that are tremendous – he can influence history for this life and the life to come, for himself and for others… From the biblical viewpoint, man is lost, but great.” (Francis Schaeffer)

“An honest preacher’s prayer: Lord, by your Spirit, may your people hear a better sermon than the one I am about to preach.” (Kevin DeYoung)

The Best Quotes from 12 Ways Your Phone is Changing You

Pastor Scott Slayton recently posted some of the best quotes from Tony Reinke’s excellent new book 12 Ways Your Phone is Changing You. Eye-opening and well worth reading. Enjoy!


The Best Quotes from 12 Ways Your Phone is Changing You 
by Pastor Scott Slayton

This year I have been giving time to reading on the effects that our digital culture is having on our lives. This journey is taken me through some works that are not explicitly Christian like Deep WorkThe Lonely AmericanIrresistible, and Alone Together. (This week I picked up World Without Mind and The Tech-Wise Family, which is explicitly Christian.) Tony Reinke approaches the issue from a God-centered perspective in his book 12 Ways Your Phone is Changing You. In looking at how we think about and use our phones, he explores the inner workings of our hearts and causes us to see how something that seems as harmless as a glance at a screen can have serious spiritual repercussions.

In these “best quotes” posts, I usually like to share my favorite twenty. For Reinke’s work, I started with a list of over fifty and had a difficult time cutting them down. This is an important book and I hope these quotes whet your appetite. These are the best quotes from 12 Ways Your Phone is Changing You.

“If we must give an account of every idle word, we are probably the first generation that can truly appreciate the volume of our idle words, since we have published more of them that any group in human history.” (24)

“The glowing screen on my phone projects into my eyes the desires and loves that live in the most abstract corners of my heart and soul, finding visible expression in pixels of images, video, and text for me to see and consume and type and share. This means that whatever happens on my smart phone, especially under the guise of anonymity, is the true expose of my heart, reflected in full-color pixels back into my eyes.” (27)

“We find ourselves in the middle of this garden-to-city unfolding of history, and God is governing the entire process in several ways. Between the guardrails of natural law, as well as the guardrails of the abundance and scarcity of certain raw materials in the earth, and carried forward through his image bearers, each wired for innovation, the trajectory of technological progress–from the garden to the city–was set in motion. This process is entirely initiated, intended, and guided by God.” (31)

“We check our smartphones about 81,500 times each year, or once every 4.3 minutes of our waking lives.” (41)

“As digital distractions intrude into our lives at an unprecedented rate, behavioral scientists and psychologists offer statistical proof in study after study: the more addicted you become to your phone the more prone you are to depression and anxiety, and the less you are able to work and sleep at night.” (43)

“The human appetite for distraction is high in every age, because distractions give us an easy escape from the silence and solitude whereby we become acquainted with our finitude, our inescapable mortality, and the distance of God from all our desires, hopes, and pleasures.” (45)

“Distraction management is a critical skill for spiritual health, and no less in the digital age.” (51)

“My phone can connect me to many friends, but it can also decouple me from an expectation for real-life engagement. When I go into my social media streams, too often I use Facebook to insulate me from the real needs of my friends. Facebook becomes a safe and sanitized room where I can watch the ups and downs as an anonymous spectator, with no compulsive impulse to respond and care in any meaningful way.” (53)

“Our typing thumbs lack empathy without living faces in front of us. It is much easier to slander an online avatar than a real-life brother.” (59)

“Maybe this is a key function of church attendance in the digital age. We must withdraw from our online worlds to gather as a body in our local churches. We gather to be seen, to feel awkward, and perhaps to feel a little unheard and underappreciated, all on purpose. In obedience to the biblical command not to forsake meeting together, we each come as one small piece, one individual member, one body part, in order to find purpose, life, and value in union with the rest of the living body of Christ.” (72)

“The more time I spend reading ten-second tweets and skimming random articles online, the more it affects my attention span, weakening the muscles I need to read Scripture for long distances. But before we delete our Bible apps, we should consider that studies also tell us that Christian readers are more faithful to follow digital Bible reading plans on smartphones (with daily prompts) than print plans and offline reading.” (85)

“Photography is a blessing, but if we impulsively turn to our camera apps too quickly, our minds can fail to capture the true moments and the rich details of an experience in exchange for visually flattened memories.” (98)

“It’s awkward to say it this way, but like Narcissus staring down into the water, enchanted with himself, we bend over our phones–and what most quickly captures our attention is our own reflection: our replicated images, our tabulations of approval, and our accumulated ‘likes.’” (109)

“In the digital age, we idolize our phones when we lose the ability to ask if they help us (or hurt us) in reaching our spiritual goals.” (115)

“The smartphone is causing a social reversal: the desire to be alone in public and never in seclusion. We can be shielded in public and surrounded in isolation, meaning we can escape the awkwardness of human interaction on the street and the boredom of solitude in our homes. Or so we think.” (124)

“Every attempt to bleach-wash our digital footprint is vain. You can delete the most immature images from your Twitter, Instagram and Facebook feeds. But nothing you do on your phone, have ever done on your phone, or will ever do on your phone is secret. Eternal regret will follow forever for private smartphone clicks happening right now. Before God, our browsing history remains a permanent record of our sin and shame–unless he shows mercy. Before his omniscient eyes, our browsing history can be washed clean only with the blood of Christ.” (138)

“When I grow bored with Christ, I become bored with life–and when that happens. I often turn to my phone for a new consumable digital thrill. It is my default habit.” (143)

“In all the noise, we must embrace our freedom in Christ, as we step back from the onslaught of online publishing and the proliferation of digital sages. By grace, we are free to close our news sources, close our life-hacking apps, and power down our phones in order to simply feast in the presence of friends and enjoy our spouses and families in the mystery, majesty, and ‘thickness’ of human existence.” (151)

“Christians, perhaps like never before, are tempted to remain tethered to the daily news cycle, viral videos, political forecasts, and entertainment gossip. Our hyperconnection is fueled by our FOMO. We hate being left out, so we focus on every Next Big Thing, such as the upcoming blockbuster film. And we forget about big, glorious realities like the inbreaking new creation of God.” (155)

“There’s a very real temptation for those who are not called into a certain situation to attempt to judge cases remotely, make premature conclusions, and then attract an online groundswell of support. But crowdsourcing verdicts and spreading unfounded conclusions online can destroy the reputation of a Christian.” (166)

An Open Letter to Those Frustrated by Their Progress in Sanctification

An Open Letter to Those Frustrated by Their Progress in Sanctification

By David Powlison

“I do think that if you add these two things together—realism about the ongoing struggle that makes you actually need the Lord and then contentment with these quiet, unspectacular graces that are about living a human life that’s worth living—then sanctification can, in fact, go forward even when you’re going through a hard patch in life.”

Dear friend,

We all love it when life leaps into forward gear and we make all kinds of progress. Problems just seem to fall away. Perhaps in your life you’ve had a season like that, a season when your life seemed to shine and flourish. Maybe it was when you first became a believer or during some period when you were very well nurtured by good community and wise input.

Then there are those seasons where things go very slowly. You wonder, “Is this all there is? Why do I keep struggling with the same old things? I keep losing my temper, or feeling anxious, or being clumsy in relationships . . . ” What vision does God give us for what our lives are supposed to look like, especially when we’re dealing with the long, hard struggle part of being a Christian? Let me say two things.

First, often when we hear the words sanctification, growth, and transformation, we have an idealized image of what that might look like. Though each of us may picture slightly different things, I doubt for most of us that the image includes three quarters of the book of Psalms which portray life where faith and hope happen in the midst of honest struggles—hard struggle, a sense that “I need God to hear me.”

Psalm 28, for example, says, “If you don’t hear me, God, I will die!” It is not unusual for life to be difficult. We bump up against things in the world around us that are intimidating or overwhelming or discouraging. We see things within ourselves that we wish would change, but we keep failing in some way.

The Psalms are about that. They’re about struggle with hard things in our world and in ourselves. And the Psalms are a window into the heart of Jesus Christ himself.

If sanctification means becoming like Christ, then the way we struggle is as much a part of our sanctification as some idealized image of what we hope that we would become. Struggling honestly, actually needing help, is what the Psalms are about.

The Lord is enough. You can go through hard things and not lose your faith.

Second, there are particular kinds of growth and strength that may be happening in our lives that we don’t even see. Jesus’s first four Beatitudes are about needing help: feeling your need, grieving the wrong in the world, submitting to God’s will, hungering for all wrongs to be made right.

Living such weakness doesn’t necessarily feel like growth. And the second half of the Beatitudes can also happen in ways that you’re not always aware.

The fifth Beatitude says that the merciful are blessed because they’ll receive mercy. In your life—in part because you struggle, in part because you know God’s mercies to you—your heart may be becoming more generous to other people.

You have less of a sense of me, me, me, of my rights and prerogatives, what I want to accomplish, that I need to own this piece of turf, need to get credit. You have a growing sense that other people really matter.

You can be gracious to them in their shortcomings and their heartaches. Are you gradually decentering off yourself?

And think about the sixth Beatitude, about the pure heart. That means that you go into conversations as less conniving, less fearful, less manipulative, less comparative, less performance oriented. You’re able to simply be truer to what it actually means to care for others. You look out for their interests as well as your own.

Or think about being a peacemaker, the seventh Beatitude.

You are less prone to leap into conflict, less prone to be defensively self-righteous when someone criticizes you. You may be changing into a more gracious person, and others see it in you more than you see it in yourself.

And, finally, consider the final Beatitude, about persevering and having courage in the face of suffering and difficulty. You’re able—in a deep-down way—to say “It’s okay that life is a long, hard road.”

You don’t have to always get your way. Not everybody has to agree with you. You aren’t living for your dreams and your bucket list. The Lord is enough. You can go through hard things and not lose your faith.

Now none of those things—becoming a more generous-hearted person, having more simplicity in the way you approach people, being the one seeking to solve conflict instead of instigate it, and having courage and perseverance—are splashy transformations. They’re just good, quiet, strong, steady fruits of the Lord working in our lives.

I do think that if you add these two things together—realism about the ongoing struggle that makes you actually need the Lord and then contentment with these quiet, unspectacular graces that are about living a human life that’s worth living—then sanctification can, in fact, go forward even when you’re going through a hard patch in life.

David

David Powlison (MDiv, Westminster Theological Seminary) is a teacher, a counselor, and the executive director of the Christian Counseling & Educational Foundation. He is also the senior editor of the Journal of Biblical Counseling and the author of Seeing with New Eyes, Good and Angry, and Speaking Truth in Love.

How to Treat Others

44 Scripture Passages

Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor.” (Romans 12:10)

Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse them.” (Romans 12:14)

Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep.” (Romans 12:15)

Live in harmony with one another. Do not be haughty, but associate with the lowly. Never be wise in your own sight.” (Romans 12:16)

Repay no one evil for evil, but give thought to do what is honorable in the sight of all. If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all.” (Romans 12:17)

“Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.” To the contrary, “if your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink; for by so doing you will heap burning coals on his head.” Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.” (Romans 12:18-21)

Love does no wrong to a neighbor; therefore love is the fulfilling of the law.” (Romans 13:10)

“As for the one who is weak in faith, welcome him, but not to quarrel over opinions. One person believes he may eat anything, while the weak person eats only vegetables. Let not the one who eats despise the one who abstains, and let not the one who abstains pass judgment on the one who eats, for God has welcomed him. Who are you to pass judgment on the servant of another? It is before his own master that he stands or falls. And he will be upheld, for the Lord is able to make him stand.” (Romans 14:1-4)

“So then let us pursue what makes for peace and for mutual upbuilding.” (Romans 14:19)

“We who are strong have an obligation to bear with the failings of the weak, and not to please ourselves. Let each of us please his neighbor for his good, to build him up.” (Romans 15:1-2)

“Therefore do not pronounce judgment before the time, before the Lord comes, who will bring to light the things now hidden in darkness and will disclose the purposes of the heart. Then each one will receive his commendation from God.” (1 Corinthians 4:5)

“All things are lawful,” but not all things are helpful. “All things are lawful,” but not all things build up. Let no one seek his own good, but the good of his neighbor.” (1 Corinthians 10:23-24)

Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.” (1 Corinthians 13:4-7)

“Let all that you do be done in love.” (1 Corinthians 16:14)

“Now the works of the flesh are evident: sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, envy, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.” (Galatians 5:19-21)

“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self- control; against such things there is no law.” (Galatians 5:22-23)

“Brothers, if anyone is caught in any transgression, you who are spiritual should restore him in a spirit of gentleness. Keep watch on yourself, lest you too be tempted. Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.” (Galatians 6:1-2)

“I therefore, a prisoner for the Lord, urge you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.” (Ephesians 4:1-3)

“Let no unwholesome word proceed from your mouth, but only such a word as is good for edification according to the need of the moment, that it may give grace to those who hear.” (Ephesians 4:29 NASB)

“Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. And be kind to one another, tender- hearted, forgiving each other, just as God in Christ also has forgiven you.” (Ephesians 4:31-32 NASB)

Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children. And walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.” (Ephesians 5:1-2)

Do all things without grumbling or disputing.” (Philippians 2:14)

“But now you must put them all away: anger, wrath, malice, slander, and obscene talk from your mouth. Do not lie to one another, seeing that you have put off the old self with its practices.” (Colossians 3:8-9)

“Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony.” (Colossians 3:12-14)

“Walk in wisdom toward outsiders, making the best use of the time. Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you ought to answer each person.” (Colossians 4:5-6)

“For I fear that perhaps when I come I may find you not as I wish, and that you may find me not as you wish—that perhaps there may be quarreling, jealousy, anger, hostility, slander, gossip, conceit, and disorder.” (2 Corinthians 12:20)

“Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.” (Phil. 2:3-4)

“You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy. ’ But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven. For he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust. For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? And if you greet only your brothers, what more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same.” (Matthew 5:43-47)

Judge not, that you be not judged. For with the judgment you pronounce you will be judged, and with the measure you use it will be measured to you. Why do you see the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye? Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when there is the log in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother’s eye.” (Matthew 7:1-5)

“So whatever you wish that others would do to you, do also to them, for this is the Law and the Prophets.” (Matthew 7:12)

“A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” (John 13:34-35)

“I do not ask for these only, but also for those who will believe in me through their word, that they may all be one, just as you, Father, are in me, and I in you, that they also may be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me. The glory that you have given me I have given to them, that they may be one even as we are one, I in them and you in me, that they may become perfectly one, so that the world may know that you sent me and loved them even as you loved me.” (John 17:20-23)

“We ask you, brothers, to respect those who labor among you and are over you in the Lord and admonish you, and to esteem them very highly in love because of their work. Be at peace among yourselves. And we urge you, brothers, admonish the idle, encourage the fainthearted, help the weak, be patient with them all. See that no one repays anyone evil for evil, but always seek to do good to one another and to everyone.” (1 Thessalonians 5:12-15)

“As for the rich in this present age, charge them not to be haughty, nor to set their hopes on the uncertainty of riches, but on God, who richly provides us with everything to enjoy. They are to do good, to be rich in good works, to be generous and ready to share, thus storing up treasure for themselves as a good foundation for the future, so that they may take hold of that which is truly life.” (1 Timothy 6:17-19)

Do not neglect to do good and to share what you have, for such sacrifices are pleasing to God.” (Hebrews 13:16)

Do not grumble against one another, brothers, so that you may not be judged; behold, the Judge is standing at the door.” (James 5:9)

“Above all, keep loving one another earnestly, since love covers a multitude of sins.” (1 Peter 4:8)

“Show hospitality to one another without grumbling.” (1 Peter 4:9)

“For this is the message that you have heard from the beginning, that we should love one another.” (1 John 3:11)

Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God. Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love.” (1 John 4:7-8)

We love because he first loved us. If anyone says, “I love God,” and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen cannot love God whom he has not seen. And this commandment we have from him: whoever loves God must also love his brother.” (1 John 4:19-21)

“If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. If I give away all I have, and if I deliver up my body to be burned, but have not love, I gain nothing.” (1 Corinthians 13:1-3)

“So now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love.” (1 Corinthians 13.13)

“And have mercy on those who doubt.” (Jude 22)

(Emphasis mine)

(All Scripture taken from the English Standard Version unless otherwise noted)

Cumulative Little Choices

All of the little choices that you and I make have a long term cumulative effect on our lives. Randy Alcorn recently wrote a great article on this subject. Here are a few quotes that I pulled from the post (emphasis mine).

Cumulative Little Choices
By Randy Alcorn

“Every day we’re becoming someone—the question is, who? Author Jerry Bridges, hearing me address this, told me that Dawson Trotman, founder of The Navigators, used to say, ‘You are going to be what you are now becoming.'”

“Who you become will be the cumulative result of the daily choices you make.”

“‘A long obedience in the same direction,’ to borrow a Eugene Peterson phrase, is sustained by the small choices we make each day. Most of us know the difference between eating cottage cheese and donuts, or the difference between a daily workout and spend­ing life on a couch. What I eat and whether I exercise will determine the state of my body. The same is true of our spiritual lives. Whether I read Scripture and great books, or spend my best hours watching TV and looking at my phone, will make me into the person I will be several years from now. I should discipline myself today, not for discipline’s sake, but for the purpose of godliness (1 Timothy 4:7, 8).”

“Following Christ isn’t magic. It requires repeated actions on our part, which develop into habits and life disciplines. Our spirituality hinges on the development of these little habits, such as Bible reading and memorization and prayer. In putting one foot in front of the other day after day, we become the kind of person who grows in Christlikeness. Once we develop Christ-honoring habits and experience their rewards, we’ll instinctively turn our minds to what makes us happy in Christ.”

“A decade from now, would you like to look back at your life, knowing you’ve made consistently good decisions about eating right and exercising regularly? Sure. But there’s a huge gap between wishes and reality. The bridge over the gap is self-control, a fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22–23).”

“The key to self-control is discipline, which produces a long-term track record of small choices in which we yield to God’s Spirit, resulting in new habits and lifestyles. In fact, Spirit-control and self-control are interrelated in Scripture, because godly self-control is a yielding of self to the Holy Spirit.”

“It’s true we are creatures of habit—but it’s also true Christ can empower us to form new habits.”

“So how can you start to make the right small choices? Ephesians 5:15-16 tells us to “Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, making the best use of the time.” Why not redeem two hours of your day that you would have spent on television, newspa­per, video games, phone, working overtime, or hobbies? Change your habits. Spend one hour meditating on and/or memorizing Scripture. Spend the other hour reading a great book. Share what you’re learn­ing with your spouse and children, or a friend.”

“May we call upon Christ’s strength today to make choices that will honor Him, bring us great happiness, and help us become the kind of people we want to be ten years from now!”

Click here for the full article.

Quotes to Note – Spring Edition


“Worrying is carrying tomorrow’s load with today’s strength – carrying two days at once. It is moving into tomorrow ahead of time. Worrying does not empty tomorrow of its sorrows; it empties today of its strength.” (Corrie Ten Boom)

“As soon as we think God owes us mercy, we’re not thinking about mercy anymore.”
(R.C. Sproul)

“There is no way to have a real relationship without becoming vulnerable to hurt.”
(Tim Keller)

“May I be far more concerned with being godly, than appearing godly.”
(J.C. Ryle)

“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)

“If you’ve forgotten the language of gratitude, you’ll never be on speaking terms with happiness.”

“You can do more with 12 disciples than you can with 12,000 religious consumers.”
(Alan Hirsch)“Apathy, more so than atheism, is a bigger challenge to the American church.”
(Tim Keller)

“Cheap grace is the grace we bestow on ourselves. Cheap grace is the preaching of forgiveness without requiring repentance, baptism without church discipline, Communion without confession…. Cheap grace is grace without discipleship, grace without the cross, grace without Jesus Christ, living and incarnate.”
(Dietrich Bonhoeffer, from The Cost of Discipleship)

“I have done less waiting than working, and my works would have been better had I waited more. But I have enjoyed God’s incomparable companionship. I have walked the world with God as my friend.” (Carl F.H. Henry)

“Do all the good you can, by all the means you can, in all the ways you can, in all the places you can, at all the times you can, to all the people you can, as long as ever you can.” (John Wesley)

“I think the devil has made it his business to monopolize on three elements: noise, hurry, crowds … Satan is quite aware of the power of silence.” (Jim Elliot)

“Lord, give me character that is greater than my gifts, and humility that is greater than my influence.” (Scott Sauls)

“There’s nothing that makes you more miserable, or less interesting, than self-absorption.” (Tim Keller)

“We may never know the treacherous journey people have taken to land in the pew next to us.” (Rosaria Butterfield)

“We do not grieve as those who have no hope. But we grieve. We grieve.” (Russ Ramsey)

“If it’s petty, get over it. If it’s not petty, deal honestly with it. Simmering resentment is not only sin. It’s like a cancer to the soul.” (Beth Moore)

“How can you be totally sure when you look at all the horrible stuff that has happened in your life and out in the world that someday God is going to make it all right? How can you not just hope so, but be absolutely sure that in spite of your own failures, God loves you and will never let you go? How can you know that when you face death it is not the end? Only if you know that Jesus rose from the dead and therefore so will you.” (Tim Keller)

“The check engine light is blinking in my soul when… My sense of wonder is low, I don’t want to pray, I’m easily angered, and the Bible is boring.” (Scotty Smith)

“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)

“Living for Jesus is just as grace-filled as coming to Jesus.” (Ray Ortlund)

“The least secure person in the room is the one who gossips the most.” (Scott Sauls)

“Jesus did not come with a sword in his hands; he came with nails in his hands. He did not come to bring judgment; he came to bear judgment.” (Tim Keller)

“Grace is humbling and restorative. It pulls you down because Christ had to die for you, but also lifts you up because he wanted to die for you.” (Tim Keller)

“Refuse resentment like you would refuse to put a straw in used motor oil and start sucking. Resentment is just as deadly.” (Scotty Smith)

“Resentment sucks… the heart, life, freedom, and beauty right out of us.” (Scotty
Smith)

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

“To say there is no absolute truth is an absolute. To say all truth is relative means even that truth is relative. All people make truth claims. The only difference is between those who know it and those who don’t. The question isn’t about if there is truth or not, but which truth will lead to human flourishing.” (Tim Keller)

“You will never reach your destination if you stop and throw stones at every dog that barks.” (Winston Churchill)

“People know instinctively that if Christianity is true they will lose control, and they will not be able to live anyway they wish. So they are rooting for it not to be true, and are more than willing to accept any objections to the faith they hear.” (Tim Keller)

“God hides his most precious treasures from his saints in their most difficult and painful experiences.” (Jon Bloom)

“You don’t get to decide to worship. Everyone worships something. The only choice you get is what to worship.” (Tim Keller)

“Fear not, sleepless one, I am with you and for you. I’ve numbered your sorrows, bottled your tears, and will redeem your pain.” (Scotty Smith)

“Courage is facing your heart’s greatest nightmare and doing the right thing anyway.” (Tim Keller)

“I have fought the good fight, I have finished the course, I have kept the faith; in the future there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day; and not only to me, but also to all who have loved His appearing.” (2 Timothy 4:7-8 – NASB)

 

Holding on to God when He seems distant and silent

If you’ve ever been through a time when God seems absent and heaven seems silent, you’ll be encouraged by  pastor and seminary professor Jared Wilson’s recent article entitled: The Lord is Never Late.

The Lord is Never Late
by Jared Wilson

Reading in my friend Michael Kelley’s book Wednesdays Were Pretty Normal, about his family’s journey of faith through their young son’s battle with leukemia, I found a passage of reflection taking me back in time. I do not know the fear and grief of having a child with a life-threatening illness, but when Michael writes —

I prayed. I petitioned. I cried. And I felt . . . nothing. Emptiness. Despair. Isolation. Darkness. Where was He, this God who so loved the world? Where was the great Healer? We needed Him there, in that cubicle of a hospital room. Doing something. Healing something. Springing into action. I didn’t need a Jesus that was sleeping in the boat while the storms raged around His friends. I needed a Jesus who was turning over the tables of sickness and disease and calling out cancerous cells like they were demons.

— this I know.

I was taken back to the smell of the guest bedroom carpet, where my nose had been many hours of many nights, my eyes wetting the fabric as I cried out to God. You ever groaned? If you have, you’d know. I planted my face in that floor and prayed guttural one-word prayers til I couldn’t speak any more. The lullaby music from my daughter’s room across the hall haunted me. I felt alone, unloved, unaccepted, and unacceptable. But I knew I deserved it all, so I was trying to be as submissive to God’s discipline as I could. But it hurt. Oh God it hurt.

I was clinging to the hem of Christ’s garment in desperation in those days, beyond begging him for the restoration of my marriage, beyond begging him for forgiveness of my sins, beyond begging him to take away my thoughts of suicide. I just wanted to know he was there.

The Bible says “faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen” (Heb. 11:1). And by his grace I had that faith. A tiny sliver of it, to be sure, but I had it. Half a mustard seed maybe, clenched in my fist. All visible evidence to the contrary, I was still too afraid of the alternative. I was too scared to believe God didn’t exist, that he didn’t love me, that he didn’t care. I was exhausted, but my stubbornness and that speck of faith persisted even in the spiritual silence.

And then one night I heard the voice of the Spirit, not audibly mind you, but clearly, straight to my heart, applying the word of the gospel to me: “I love you, and I approve of you.” Because I had been exposing my mind to the gospel at that time, I knew he meant that he approved of me “in Christ,” not that he approved of my sin or righteousness; that much was clear by the devastation I was in. Like the prodigal son, “I came to my senses.”

In my pained estimation in those dark days, the Lord was moving much too slowly, but I knew in that moment that he is not slow in keeping his promises (2 Pet. 3:9). He was holding me all along, and his reviving word came right on time. I pray I will remember this in dark days to come.

The Lord is never late.
Don’t give up.
For still the vision awaits its appointed time;
it hastens to the end—it will not lie.
If it seems slow, wait for it;
it will surely come; it will not delay.
 Habakkuk 2:3


 

“Though the fig tree does not bud
and there are no grapes on the vines,
though the olive crop fails
and the fields produce no food,
though there are no sheep in the pen
and no cattle in the stalls,
yet I will rejoice in the Lord,
I will be joyful in God my Savior.
The Sovereign Lord is my strength;
he makes my feet like the feet of a deer,
he enables me to tread on the heights.”
Habakkuk 3:17-19 (NIV)

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