Desiring Great Things

Too often, Christians (and by “Christians,” I’m talking about myself!) live as if they’re convinced our desires and plans are better than God’s.  Not True!

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “Plans to proper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” (Jeremiah 29:11)

May you be encouraged along with me to reconsider whether or not you’re living for big enough dreams.  Today I’ve been reminded of the following two quotes:

1) C. S. Lewis in “The Weight of Glory”

Indeed, if we consider the unblushing promises of reward and the staggering nature of the rewards promised in the Gospels, it would seem that Our Lord finds our desires, not too strong, but too weak.

We are half-hearted creatures, fooling about with drink and sex and ambition when infinite joy is offered us, like an ignorant child who wants to go on making mud pies in a slum because he cannot imagine what is meant by the offer of a holiday at the sea. We are far too easily pleased.”

2) A portion of a prayer from “Valley of Vision” reads:

Help me not only to desire small things, but with holy boldness to desire great things for thy people, for myself, that they and I might live to show thy glory.

Some Great Quotes…

Each week I include a “Quote of the Week” in the Youth Page insert that’s in the bulletin you receive when you come to Sunday morning worship at Emmanuel Baptist Church.  Here are some of the quotes I’ve shared over the past few months:

“As the seed does not spring up as soon as it is thrown into the earth, so the result of the works of God is not immediately seen.”  John Calvin

“We terribly overestimate what we can do in one year and underestimate what we can do in five.”  Ted Engstrom

“The renewal of our natures is a work of great importance. It is not to be done in a day. We have not only a new house to build up, but an old one to pull down.”  George Whitefield

“To clasp hands in prayer is the beginning of an uprising against the disorder of the world.”  Karl Barth

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

“I have found the paradox that if I love until it hurts, then there is no more hurt, but only more love.”  Mother Theresa

“There is an eagle in me that wants to soar, and there is a hippopotamus in me that wants to wallow in the mud.”  Carl Sandburg

“When I was young I admired clever people. Now that I am old, I admire kind people.”  Abraham Joshua Heschel

William Temple on Worship

Pastor John read this quote in his sermon today and it really struck me, I hope it challenges you to re-think what worship is too:

“Worship is the submission of all of our nature to God.
It is the quickening of conscience by His holiness,
Nourishment of mind by His truth,
Purifying of imagination by His beauty,
Opening of the heart to His love,
And submission of will to his purpose.
And all this gathered up in adoration is the greatest of human expressions of which we are capable.”

William Temple (Archbishop of Canterbury from 1942-1944)

Life is Short… Live Well

Pastor John shared this quote in his sermon today: “The tragedy of life isn’t that it ends so soon, but that we wait so long to begin it.” (Richard Evans)

This made me think of another great quote: “Only one life, ’twill soon be past – only what’s done for Christ will last.” (C.T. Studd)

That really challenges me to take a good, honest look at how I’m spending my time and focusing my days on.  I hope it challenges you too…

G.K. Chesterton Quotes

G.K. Chesterton lived in the early 1900’s in England.  He dabbled in the occult and other types of spirituality before converting to Roman Catholicism.  Many consider him one of the greatest Christian writers of the 20th century; certainly, he’s one of the most quotable!  Personally, I haven’t read as much of what he’s written as I wish I have, but here are some of my favorite quotes of his:

“The point of an open mind, like having an open mouth, is to close it on something solid.”

“The Christian ideal has not been tried and found wanting; it has been found difficult and left untried.”

“If there were no God, there would be no atheists.”

“A dead thing can go with the stream, but only a living thing can go against it.”

“Fallacies do not cease to be fallacies because they become fashions.”

“I agree with the realistic Irishman who said he preferred to prophesy after the event.”

“The modern world is a crowd of very rapid racing cars all brought to a standstill and stuck in a block of traffic.”

“When a politician is in opposition he is an expert on the means to some end; and when he is in office he is an expert on the obstacles to it.”

“I think the oddest thing about the advanced people is that, while they are always talking about things as problems, they have hardly any notion of what a real problem is.”

Christians: The Cause of Atheism?

“The greatest single cause of atheism in the world today is Christians who acknowledge Jesus with their lips and walk out the door and deny Him by their lifestyle. That is what an unbelieving world simply finds unbelievable.” (Brennan Manning)

This is a fairly popular quote, and one that I’ve been thinking through a lot lately.  Do I, by the way I live my daily life, reflect or reject the Jesus I believe in?  It’s so common for the children of devout Christians to grow up and reject the faith they were raised in, and I’m definitely NOT pointing fingers at anyone, but I wonder how much the parents’ “devoutness” left a stale taste in their children’s mouths.

I firmly believe with all my heart that I am a sinner and have earned only judgment for myself, but that God in his infinite love and grace gave Jesus Christ as the perfect sacrifice on the cross so that I no longer bear the judgment I deserve.  But if I expect those around me to always be godly and don’t ever give them grace to mess up, then I’m living totally contrary to what I claim to believe.

The reality is, a lot of atheists are really kind people (at least the ones I know are).  And so if we claim to “Love God with all our heart & soul & strength & mind” and to “love our neighbor as ourselves,” but since we look just like them, they think “If he’s just like me, then Jesus really doesn’t make any difference!”

Here are a few Scripture verses I can think of which support what Brennan Manning is saying:

  • Isaiah 29:13 – The Lord says, “These people come near to me with their mouth and honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me.”
  • Matthew 5:44 & 46 – But I tell you: Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you. … If you love those who love you, what reward will you get?  Are not even the tax collectors doing that?
  • James 2:16-17 & 19 – If one of you says to him, “Go, I wish you well; keep warm and well fed,” but does nothing about his physical needs, what good is it? In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead. … You believe that there is one God. Good!  Even the demons believe that – and shudder.

Now a word of caution: There’s not one, single, definitive reason behind someone completely rejecting the existence of God.  There are usually a number of factors that contribute to that person’s disbelief (hurtful family background; hurtful church experience; suffering or loss; lack of exposure to loving Christians; etc.).

“Therefore let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven.” (Matthew 5:16).

  • Do you receive grace from God while withholding grace from others?
  • Do you fit in and conform to the people who surround you, or do you stand for Jesus?
  • Do you shine for Jesus, or are you content to just talk about him?

Wonder & Age

I was listening to Ravi Zacharias today on my way to EBC and in his message he said, “The older you get the more it takes to fill your heart with wonder.”

He explained it with the example of telling stories to children.  Young children can get excited over a simple story (“…and then the man opened the door, and jumped back when he saw…”).  Similarly, we might think seeing a lion in a zoo was exciting, but if you’ve worked at the zoo for a few years, then the caged lion isn’t so special to see anymore… it’s just become “normal.”

When was the last time you were truly caught in wonder?  Was it the sight of a fantastic sunset at the beach?  Was it watching a baby being born?  Whatever it was, it was likely something that caused you to realize that you are not the center of the universe.  We all need experiences like that from time to time.

God is truly “wonderful” enough to possess our attention and imaginations throughout the course of our lives without ever making us bored, unless we stop seeking Him.  And by “imaginations” I don’t mean to imply God is imaginary, but that He is so far beyond our understanding that there are times we can only imagine what it will be like to see Him face-to-face.

In the early 400’s, Saint Augustine wrote, “You have made us for yourself, O Lord, and our heart is restless until it rests in you.”

We could jump from one “wonderful” thing to the next throughout our entire lives, never finding that landing pad that’s wonderful enough to really hold us enough to keep us from jumping to the next pad.  Some people really live their lives like that: always seeking, but never finding joy and contentment.

Are you looking for Someone or something really worthy of your awe and wonder?  Do you jump from hobby to hobby, looking for that place where you find your purpose and significance?

Remember Augustine’s words: “You have made us for yourself, O Lord, and our heart is restless until it rests in you.”

Great Quote!

Tracy had a handout with a bunch of quotes about perseverance and I just loved this one as soon as I read it…

“It is by perseverance that the snail reached the ark.”  (Charles Spurgeon)

I just love it… sometimes we feel like we’ll never get there, wherever there is. 

I wouldn’t mind being like that snail: I’d get there slowly, but I’m going to the right place.  Lots of people go lots of places quickly… but are they dry when the rain comes?