Thursday, May 31

10 Dynamic Warren Wiersbe Quotations

I love a good quotation. When in college and seminary, my profs encouraged us to keep illustrations in files (the old fashioned paper ones). I did that. But now with my Logos Bible software, I can find all kinds of illustrations! The following, in fact, came from their own blog post (HERE). His was a household name growing up. I include Logos' brief bio of Wiersbe on the chance that you may not have heard of him.  Blessings . . .

Warren Wiersbe
Born May 16, 1929, beloved author, pastor, and preacher Dr. Warren Wiersbe is best known for the Old Testament “Be” Series and New Testament “Be” Series of expositional Bible studies, which have sold more than four million copies. But not many know that Wiersbe’s first foray into publishing had more to do with his love of magic tricks than with his spiritual pursuits.

As a teenager, Wiersbe wrote a book and sent his manuscript to the L. L. Ireland Magic Company. In 1944 they published his For Magicians Only: Action with Cards. This early success fed Wiersbe’s desire to write. 68 years later, he has written more than 150 books.

Here are 10 inspiring Wiersbe quotes:

1. “The Christian life is not a playground; it is a battleground, and we must be on our guard at all times.”—from The Bumps Are What You Climb On

2. “This modern emphasis only on personal salvation makes us lose sight of the grandeur and glory of God’s church. I am not minimizing our personal experience with Christ, but I am affirming that it is not the primary goal that God has in mind. He is building His church. He is building up the Body of Christ. The glory and greatness of our personal salvation is but a reflection of what God is doing corporately in and through His church.”—from Prayer: Basic Training

3. “You don’t have to read very far in your Bible to discover that God forgives His servants and restores them to ministry.”—from Be Amazed

4. “The immediate purpose of prayer is the accomplishing of God’s will on earth; the ultimate purpose of prayer is the eternal glory of God.”—from On Earth as It Is in Heaven: How the Lord’s Prayer Teaches Us to Pray More Effectively

5. “For the most part, the people we serve in our congregations don’t look like Josephs, Esthers, or Davids, nor do we; but the same God who glorified himself in the lives of ‘ordinary people’ in ancient days will glorify himself in our lives today if we will trust him.”—from 10 Power Principles for Christian Service

6. “God’s people don’t live on explanations; they live on promises.”—from Be Heroic

7. “We may be statistics and numbers as far as the world’s computers are concerned, but we are precious individuals as far as our Shepherd is concerned. He knows his sheep personally.”—from Be What You Are

8. “Satan wants us to think that our ‘disobedience detours’ must become the permanent road for the rest of our lives, but this is a lie.”—from Be Obedient

9. “The most important meeting we as leaders attend is that daily personal meeting with the Lord, before the day begins, when worship and meditation increase our faith as we receive the orders for the day.”—from On Being a Leader for God

10. “If you serve only to earn a salary, you will never do your best as long as you think you’re underpaid. If you minister to get recognition, you will start doing less when people don’t show their appreciation. The only motivation that will take you through the storms and keep you on the job is, ‘I’m serving Jesus Christ.’ “—from On Being a Servant of God

Tuesday, May 29

The Most Important Concern Ever!


In a day when we talk all around a subject and can probe Google ad nauseum, we need someone to force us into the central, the most important, the sine qua non of the Christian life. There are times that I utter, "Stop the world I want to get off!!" Do you ever feel that way? Meditate instead on love to Jesus Christ? If you have this, you'll have all else. Without this, having all else, you will lack everything. No exaggeration!! Did I say, DON'T SKIP THIS? . . .
WHEN Jesus is near, all is well and nothing seems difficult. When He is absent, all is hard. When Jesus does not speak within, all other comfort is empty, but if He says only a word, it brings great consolation.
Did not Mary rise at once from her weeping when Martha said to her: “The Master is come, and calleth for thee”? [John 11:28]  Happy is the hour when Jesus calls one from tears to joy of spirit.

How dry and hard you are without Jesus! How foolish and vain if you desire anything but Him! Is it not a greater loss than losing the whole world? For what, without Jesus, can the world give you? Life without Him is a relentless hell, but living with Him is a sweet paradise. If Jesus be with you, no enemy can harm you.

He who finds Jesus finds a rare treasure, indeed, a good above every good, whereas he who loses Him loses more than the whole world. The man who lives without Jesus is the poorest of the poor, whereas no one is so rich as the man who lives in His grace.
It is a great art to know how to converse with Jesus, and great wisdom to know how to keep Him. Be humble and peaceful, and Jesus will be with you. Be devout and calm, and He will remain with you. You may quickly drive Him away and lose His grace, if you turn back to the outside world. And, if you drive Him away and lose Him, to whom will you go and whom will you then seek as a friend? You cannot live well without a friend, and if Jesus be not your friend above all else, you will be very sad and desolate. Thus, you are acting foolishly if you trust or rejoice in any other. Choose the opposition of the whole world rather than offend Jesus. Of all those who are dear to you, let Him be your special love. Let all things be loved for the sake of Jesus, but Jesus for His own sake.

Thomas à Kempis. (1996). The imitation of Christ (76). Oak Harbor, WA: Logos Research Systems.
To this I would add Jesus' comment to the religious of his day . . .
“You search the Scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life; [and one may find eternal life there, if . . .] and it is they that bear witness about me, [what you should be looking for] yet you refuse to come to me that you may have life.” [the crux of the matter, always!] (John 5:39–40). Really. How many who call themselves "Christian" today come to Jesus? Or are we expert (at best) in knowing things pertaining to him? I do not exclude myself from this questioning; not at all! In fact, I relish the reminder for therein lies the greatest joy, and I frankly don't want to miss it!

Saturday, May 26

Winning Souls is Our Business--Yes, No?

Thomas Brooks (1608-1680)
I must make a confession . . .

I'm a graduate of Bob Jones University (1975). No, that's not the confession!! As a member of the "Preacher Boys" class--BJ senior's endearing moniker--if I were to distill their instruction down to one central driving issue, it would be this, we must go out there and "win souls!" We heard this a lot! And I sometimes felt guilty. I say this is my confession, not that they pushed this, but that after a while I wondered if that really is to be our driving passion. And I think that there is merit in denying that it is, on the basis of God's superior glory. What I mean is that one could go after souls and not do it for God's glory. So seeking God's glory in all we do must take precedence. (There's much more to this argument, but we'll save that for a later post). Now, having given this disclaimer (as it were), let me hasten to add that inculcating such a passion into future preachers is a most noble aim and one to be commended. Further, one would certainly be off-base to suggest that no BJ prof believed in the centrality of God's glory. We would not want to so "pigeon-hole" anyone. Nor do we wish to so mince words that the very import of a most worthwhile goal is lost in debate.

Why bring this up? Well, because of the following quotation culled from the writings of the revered Puritan, Thomas Brooks. Well before we were graduated from any biblical institution, Brooks published this (1662). Hear him out . . . It'll be worth your time.
Beloved! the salvation of souls is that which should be first and most in a minister’s eye, and that which should always lie closest and warmest upon a minister’s heart. O sirs! our dear Lord Jesus was infinitely tender of the souls of men. He left his Father’s bosom for souls; he trode the wine-press of his Father’s wrath for souls; he prayed for souls; he paid for souls; he sweated for souls; he bled out his heart’s blood for souls; and he made himself an offering for souls: and oh, what an encouragement should this be to all his faithful messengers to woo for souls, to mourn for souls, to pray for souls, to study for souls, and in preaching to spend and to be spent for the salvation of souls! Ah, friends, there is no work nor wisdom on earth to that of winning souls, Prov. 11:30, and ‘he that winneth souls is wise.’ There is no art, no industry to that of winning souls, of ‘taking’ souls, as fowlers take birds, as the Hebrew word ולקח imports. Now, though there is a great deal of art required to take birds, yet there is ten thousand times more art required to take souls. In a word, to convert a soul is a greater work than to sway a sceptre, or than it is to pour out ten thousand talents into the baskets of the poor.

Brooks, T. (1867). The Complete Works of Thomas Brooks, Volume 4 (A. B. Grosart, Ed.) (35–36). Edinburgh; London; Dublin: James Nichol; James Nisbet and Co.; G. Herbert.
Do you see how Brooks makes his point? Still, I think we'd be reading too much into what he says to infer that winning souls is his greatest aim, even if it seems as though that is what he saying. After all, the above statement occurs in the introduction he made at the head of volume 4 of his works wherein is recorded 58 sermons on the Christian's pursuit of holiness based upon Hebrews 12:14, “Strive for peace with everyone, and for the holiness without which no one will see the Lord.” In short, Brooks was saying that he was aiming at "winning souls" by preaching on the pursuit of holiness in people's lives. The lost need it, and the saved need to keep living it. So, winning souls, at least in Brooks' mind meant far more than getting someone converted; it meant converting them to a changed life, a life lived godly.

Friday, May 25

True Christians CAN Give Up Their Rights

Please read this carefully! It is at once both one of the greatest lessons we Christians can live out and the most ignored. This comes right out of Oswald Chambers' My Utmost For His Highest for today's date. Emphasis is mine (bold print). Question: If you had the right to claim something, would you give up that right IF it meant you'd honor God in the process? Now read Chambers' comment on Abraham's (then, Abram) choice to let Lot choose first.
Oswald Chambers

If thou wilt take the left hand, then I will go to the right; or if thou depart to the right hand, then I will go to the left. Genesis 13:9

As soon as you begin to live the life of faith in God, fascinating and luxurious prospects will open up before you, and these things are yours by right; but if you are living the life of faith you will exercise your right to waive your rights, and let God choose for you. God sometimes allows you to get into a place of testing where your own welfare would be the right and proper thing to consider if you were not living a life of faith; but if you are, you will joyfully waive your right and leave God to choose for you. This is the discipline by means of which the natural is transformed into the spiritual by obedience to the voice of God.

Whenever right is made the guidance in the life, it will blunt the spiritual insight. The great enemy of the life of faith in God is not sin, but the good which is not good enough. The good is always the enemy of the best. It would seem the wisest thing in the world for Abraham to choose, it was his right, and the people around would consider him a fool for not choosing. Many of us do not go on spiritually because we prefer to choose what is right instead of relying on God to choose for us. We have to learn to walk according to the standard which has its eye on God. “Walk before Me.”

Chambers, O. (1993). My utmost for his highest : Selections for the year. Grand Rapids, MI: Discovery House Publishers.

Did you see that? "Many of us do not go on spiritually because we prefer to choose . . ." In other words, we see the immediate benefit that we know belongs to us, but we fail to realize that a far greater benefit awaits those who do not insist upon their own rights. Again, this is most evidently one of the greatest lessons and most ignored in the church today. PLEASE, DO NOT BECOME A FAITHLESS STATISTIC ON THIS COUNT. Rise above the superficial claim it mentality and prefer the higher path to self-abnegation. 

I know, it's not popular in the world, but then again . . .  

Thursday, May 17

Josh Hamillton, Relapse, and the Means of Grace

I, we (my wife & son) like baseball. So this article is of particular importance. But nothing interests us like faith in Jesus Christ. We are a bit leary of "rock star" testimonies. But we watch this young man with interest and hope. Thank you Desiring God (David Mathis) for posting this. 

In case you missed it, Texas Ranger Josh Hamilton hit four home runs in one game last week.

In case you don't know baseball, that's a big deal. Only 15 other players in Major League history have accomplished the feat.

But what's impressive about Hamilton is that it's not just one good game. It's now several outstanding seasons, and an unusual career. An unashamed evangelical, Hamilton is one of the more amazing sports stories of our time as he has recovered from drug addition and alcoholism, with God's help, to become one of the game's elite players. Not only is he a four-time All-Star, and the 2010 Most Valuable Player, but he currently leads the American League in batting average, home runs, and runs batted in.

ESPN's Pardon the Interruption interviewed Hamilton the day after his four-home-run performance, and in the course of the interview, he was asked about his recent "relapse" (he admitted in February to consuming 2 or 3 drinks at a bar in Dallas). Hamilton responded with depth and authenticity about his faith and that he's been learning to evaluate the weeks and months that lead up to temptations to relapse. In particular, he says he's learned to ask, "Did I stop praying? Did I stop getting into the Word? Did I stop fellowshipping and allowing people who care for me into my circle?"

What he's talking about are the so-called "means of grace." In fact, John Frame (who explains the means of grace as "certain channels by which God gives spiritual power to his church") categorizes the various Christian means of grace under the three precise headings Hamilton mentions: Word, prayer, and fellowship.

So how do we Christians, recovering sinners as we are, avoid relapse, grow in our faith, and continue to avail ourselves of the grace of God for everyday life? Here's Frame:

Without God’s grace, we are lost. And we need God’s grace not only at the beginning of the Christian life but throughout. So, naturally we ask, where can we go to find God’s continuing grace to us? Where do we go to get the resources for sanctification, for continuing spiritual growth? The short answer is that there are three places: the Word, fellowship, and prayer.

Except for the second, we can find those resources either privately or publicly. The second, fellowship, is by definition public. But we can receive the Word either by individual Bible study or through the public preaching and teaching of the church. And we can pray, of course, either privately or publicly. In our private use of the means of grace, we come to God as members of the church, the body of Christ. Apart from Christ, our Bible study and prayer will not help us. Indeed, we need other members of the church to help us understand the Bible and to teach us how to pray. So, in an important sense, even the private means of grace are within the church. . . .

It is not typical in Reformed theology to regard fellowship as a means of grace. But I think it clearly is. Remember all the passages . . . on one-anothering? Those make it plain that our spiritual health depends on one another — both what other believers do for us and what we do for them. The larger concept that includes all those one-anotherings is the concept of fellowship.*

This is the stuff of healthy Christianity — for superstars and unknowns alike. The ground is level at the cross, not just at conversion, but for everyday spiritual wherewithal. We're all invited to avail ourselves daily of God's means of grace in the Word, prayer, and fellowship.


* John M. Frame, Salvation Belongs to the Lord (P&R, 2006), 260–261.