“But whatever gain I had, I counted as loss for the sake of Christ. Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith”— (Philippians 3:7-9 ESV)
Are you going through a difficult time? It’s easy to get discouraged when things get tough. Discouragement can hit anyone. Last week I found out that a well known evangelist I knew committed suicide. It was a shock to say the least. The man was 51 years old and had an 11 year old daughter. He had built up a decent sized ministry and had led many people to Jesus over his 30 year career as an evangelist. Despite all that God had done through him however, he still chose to end his life. He was facing an unknown personal crisis and it caused him to lose hope…
What is your limit?
As long as we follow God in our own strength, there will always be a limit to what kind and what amount of trials and difficulties that we’ll endure. Our human flesh has very real limits. We also naturally idolize people, work, objects or ideas. If God removes these things from us we lose hope. We may even lose our will to live and go to the extreme of taking our own life. In moments like this it is so easy to shake our fist at God and question whether he really loves us.
Our human concept of love and God’s love aren’t the same. Humans tend to believe that if you love someone you’ll accept the person as they are with no expectations of their ever changing. To expect someone to change is to control or manipulate them… God on the other hand accepts us as we are but he isn’t content to leave us as we are. He wants to live inside of us!
“Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and eat with him, and he with me.” (Revelation 3:20 ESV)
Now, when we ask Him to live inside of us, he starts doing a clean up! He starts going through our stuff. Looking through our closets. Starts doing a spring cleaning! This isn’t what most of us want from God. We would love to feel his love while being able to keep things from changing as much as possible. The thing it though, God loves us too much to leave us as we are. Like an earthly father who has hopes and dreams for his son, God the Father has hopes and dreams for all his children. He sees us as having much greater potential than any of us realize! It’s for this reason that he sends us trials. He is disciplining us.
“And have you forgotten the exhortation that addresses you as sons? “My son, do not regard lightly the discipline of the Lord, nor be weary when reproved by him. For the Lord disciplines the one he loves, and chastises every son whom he receives.” It is for discipline that you have to endure. God is treating you as sons. For what son is there whom his father does not discipline? If you are left without discipline, in which all have participated, then you are illegitimate children and not sons. Besides this, we have had earthly fathers who disciplined us and we respected them. Shall we not much more be subject to the Father of spirits and live? For they disciplined us for a short time as it seemed best to them, but he disciplines us for our good, that we may share his holiness. For the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant, but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it.” (Hebrews 12:5-11 ESV)
We need trials in order to grow. In order for us to start resembling God more. In order to develop love and humility. Just like an earthly child gets spoiled if he or she is never disciplined, we too would be spiritual spoiled brats without trials and difficulties in our life. Instead of complaining about the trials we are facing today. We need to thank God for them! We need to examine them and ask God what he wants us to learn through them. This is how we can turn trials from something unpleasant to being something that is a blessing.
Joe Stowell’s book, Simply Jesus is a home run in my books. Any book that encourages me to develop a deeper walk with Jesus will already be a hit with me. Stowell’s perspective is certainly welcome. The book is well written, short but not too short and easy to read.
This is a book I intend to re-read on a regular basis. While the book is short it is also very deep. Stowell has done an excellent job of making me take stock of my relationship with Jesus. A couple of points in the book stand out for me. One was his conversation with Billy Graham at a dinner. Stowell asked Graham”Of all your experiences in ministry, what have you enjoyed most?” Stowell thought that Graham might mention a specific meeting with a president, celebrity or head of state. Graham responded by saying, “By far the greatest joy of my life has been my fellowship with Jesus…”
The second point where I was impacted by the book came in the last chapter on surrender… It was another reminder to me of my need to give Jesus access to my whole heart, my life, my wife, kids and all I own and dream to accomplish…
Overall, I recommend this book to everyone who desires to draw closers to Jesus.
DISCLAIMER: I received a free digital review copy in return for this review.
Gordon MacDonald’s book, Going Deep takes you by the hand through the process MacDonald took to initiate an intentional discipleship training process in his church. The book is written in such a way as to give you first hand access to the conversations that took place between MacDonald and all the people who made his discipleship training process he ends up calling CDP (Cultivating Deep People).
I didn’t care for the way the book was written. The conversations recorded in the book were clearly fictional. Unless MacDonald had carried with him a recorder everywhere he went (which he doesn’t disclose that he did anywhere in the book) there is no way a person would remember conversations going back over two years in the detail they are found in the book. As such, the writing style and my lack of belief in its actual historicity interfered with my ability to assimilate and learn from the concepts found within. I also felt that the book was at least 100 pages too long. It took me a few months to read as I initially lost interest about half way through… I had to force myself to finish the book.
Now that I have finished it I will say that despite the negatives, it was still a worthwhile read. If you can approach the book with the understanding that it is a fictional work that outlines a real life process it will help you look past the writing style. No one is left to wonder how they came to bring the CDP concept to life or how it was implemented in MacDonald’s church. The book even takes you inside the first CDP group to get a taste for the types of interactions, problems and celebrations that occurred. The book lacks any meaningful dialogue as to how the reader could implement such a process in their own church. The book was already 383 pages long and yet it felt like there should have been some kind of debriefing where MacDonald would have given us an idea of where to go from here…
I would recommend this book to someone who is looking to expose themselves to as many different books on church discipleship as possible. I would not recommend this book to just anyone due to its lack of practical how-to’s and application. It is more of a what-if kind of book.
DISCLAIMER: I received a free copy of this book from booksneeze.com in return for this review.
I recently had to go to Hamilton, Ontario to bring my mother-in-law back home. I like the city of Hamilton because it feels like home to me since I’ve spent many years living there. As I write this however, I now live in a whole different world. Where I used to live in the big city, I now live in farm country. Where in a prior life I loved the convenience and accessibility found in the big city, I now find myself much calmer and refreshed living in the peacefulness of country life…
Here’s the thing though. As I come back to visit the big city I’m struck by how many people can fit in such a small space. Out in the country where I live we see very few people go by. Even if you count the cars that drive by our home, it isn’t unusual to have ten minutes or more go by between cars… I must confess that I like this quietness and solitude. I love the open spaces and the occasional smell of manure… I love hearing the sound of crickets at night and being able to see the sky literally bursting with stars at night in one of God’s truly breathtaking sights in nature…
Having said all this however, I have a problem. God loves the sinner. God doesn’t want a single person to be lost. He wants to see every sinner come to repentance. (2 Peter 3:9) God loves the masses of people found in the cities of the world. The problem I have is this… Why haven’t all these people been reached with the gospel? Why aren’t the churches mobilizing more to reach them? What am I doing to reach them?
How will God reach them? Matthew 24:14 tells us, “And this gospel of the kingdom will be proclaimed throughout the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come.” God doesn’t need us to do anything… He is quite capable of accomplishing his will without us, without me… The thing is though, if I love God, I’ll do what makes Him happy. What brings Him joy. Certainly one thing that brings God joy is when sinners come to repentance. What would church be like if this was truly our priority?
I enjoyed reading Man Alive. Overall I found it to be an easy read. Patrick Morley speaks throughout the book from his own experience seeking to be a man after God’s own heart. At times, the book felt like it was trying to tackle too many topics in insufficient depth. Having said that though, there is something for every man.
I appreciated how Morley calls on men to prioritize their time with their wife and children. He goes further by outlining a list of ten ideas on showing love to our wives and another ten ideas on how to show love to our children. He used a catch phrase I had not heard about before but plan to use from now on, “love is time and time is love.”
Another point brought out in the book that I had not considered before but is excellent is on a man’s calling to ministry. Many men fall into the trap of thinking that ministry can only be done by pastors or bible teachers. Morley tells men that they have been ordained to whatever job they love to do and that doing their job for Christ is as great a calling as being ordained to the gospel ministry. God needs people in every walk of life and every line of work giving him glory and being a light for Him.
I recommend this book to any man who is looking to grow in his walk with the Lord. It is especially well suited to small group ministries.
DISCLAIMER: I received a free electronic copy of this book in return for this review.