Thinking Out Loud

December 20, 2018

A Cup of Cold Water; A Stack of Good Books

Filed under: books, Christianity, evangelism — Tags: , , , , , — paulthinkingoutloud @ 9:18 am

I came across this quotation while preparing an article for another blog I edit.

If he shall not lose his reward who gives a cup of cold water to his thirsty neighbour, what will not be the reward of those who by putting good books into the hands of those neighbours, open to them the fountains of eternal life? – Thomas a Kempis

As a book guy, it resonated.

At Christmas, it’s timely.

It now sits atop my Facebook page; in perfect ratio for FB if you wish to borrow!

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February 25, 2018

Billy Graham in His Own Words

Filed under: Christianity, evangelism, Jesus — Tags: , , , , , , , , , — paulthinkingoutloud @ 8:32 am

Two days ago on the devotional blog we honored Billy Graham with an excerpt from his final book. Then yesterday, we added Rev. Graham to a select group of people who have been part of a quotation series at Christianity 201. Quotation columns at C201 always run the danger of being pithy — such as the shorter ones found here — so I’ve tried to include some more substantive quotes as they were available. Preparing this was an amazing opportunity to learn more about a servant of God who was willing to be obedient to the call of God. His presence and influence will be missed.


The greatest need in our world today is the need for hope. We thrive on hope, we rejoice in hope, we witness in hope, knowing that experience works hope. ‘Happy is he . . . whose hope is in the Lord his God (Psalm 146:5).’ There is hope for the future. It is centered in the Person of Jesus Christ who died for our sins and rose from the grave and is alive now. I have staked all that I am or ever hope to be on Him.


One response was given by the innkeeper when Mary and Joseph wanted to find a room where the Child could be born. The innkeeper was not hostile; he was not opposed to them, but his inn was crowded; his hands were full; his mind was preoccupied. This is the answer that millions are giving today. Like a Bethlehem innkeeper, they cannot find room for Christ. All the accommodations in their hearts are already taken up by other crowding interests. Their response is not atheism. It is not defiance. It is preoccupation and the feeling of being able to get on reasonably well without Christianity.


God proved his love on the Cross. When Christ hung, and bled, and died, it was God saying to the world, ‘I love you.’


Jesus was not a white man; He was not a black man. He came from that part of the world that touches Africa and Asia and Europe. Christianity is not a white man’s religion and don’t let anybody ever tell you that it’s white or black. Christ belongs to all people; He belongs to the whole world.


Ruth and I don’t have a perfect marriage, but we have a great one. How can I say two things that seem so contradictory? In a perfect marriage, everything is always the finest and best imaginable; like a Greek statue, the proportions are exact and the finish is unblemished. Who knows any human beings like that? For a married couple to expect perfection in each other is unrealistic. We learned that even before we were married.


The highest form of worship is the worship of unselfish Christian service. The greatest form of praise is the sound of consecrated feet seeking out the lost and helpless.


The happiness which brings enduring worth to life is not the superficial happiness that is dependent on circumstances. It is the happiness and contentment that fills the soul even in the midst of the most distressing circumstances and the most bitter environment. It is the kind of happiness that grins when things go wrong and smiles through the tears. The happiness for which our souls ache is one undisturbed by success or failure, one which will root deeply inside us and give inward relaxation, peace, and contentment, no matter what the surface problems may be. That kind of happiness stands in need of no outward stimulus.


There is nothing wrong with men possessing riches. The wrong comes when riches possess men.”


Although I have much to be grateful for as I look back over my life, I also have many regrets…I would also spend more time in spiritual nurture, seeking to grow closer to God so I could become more like Christ. I would spend more time in prayer, not just for myself but for others. I would spend more time studying the Bible and meditating on its truth, not only for sermon preparation but to apply its message to my life. It is far too easy for someone in my position to read the Bible only with an eye on a future sermon, overlooking the message God has for me through its pages.


The cross tells us that God understands our sin and our suffering, for he took them upon himself in the Person of Jesus Christ. From the cross God declares, ‘I love you. I know the heartaches and the sorrows and the pain that you feel. But I love you.’


The men who followed Him were unique in their generation. They turned the world upside down because their hearts had been turned right side up. The world has never been the same.


The cross shows us the seriousness of our sin—but it also shows us the immeasurable love of God.


I have a certainty about eternity that is a wonderful thing, and I thank God for giving me that certainty. I do not fear death. I may fear a little bit about the process, but not death itself, because I think the moment that my spirit leaves this body, I will be in the presence of the Lord.


Like Joseph storing up grain during the years of plenty to be used during the years of famine that lay ahead, may we store up the truths of God’s Word in our hearts as much as possible, so that we are prepared for whatever suffering we are called upon to endure.


The message I preach hasn’t changed. Circumstances have changed. Problems have changed, but deep inside man has not changed, and the gospel hasn’t changed.


“What is the greatest surprise you have found about life?” a university student asked me several years ago. “The brevity of it,” I replied without hesitation. … Time moves so quickly, and no matter who we are or what we have done, the time will come when our lives will be over. As Jesus said, “As long as it is day, we must do the work of him who sent me. Night is coming, when no one can work” (John 9:4).


When wealth is lost, nothing is lost; when health is lost, something is lost; when character is lost, all is lost.


I know that soon my life will be over. I thank God for it, and for all He has given me in this life. But I look forward to Heaven. I look forward to the reunion with friends and loved ones who have gone on before. I look forward to Heaven’s freedom from sorrow and pain. I also look forward to serving God in ways we can’t begin to imagine, for the Bible makes it clear that Heaven is not a place of idleness. And most of all, I look forward to seeing Christ and bowing before Him in praise and gratitude for all He has done for us, and for using me on this earth by His grace–just as I am.


Sources:

January 23, 2011

C. S. Lewis Defines “Progress”

…You may have felt you were ready to listen to me as long as you thought I had anything new to say; but if it turns out only to be religion, well, the world has tried that and you can’t turn back the clock.  If anyone is feeling that way…

First, as to putting the clock back.  Would you think I was joking if I said that you can put a clock back, and that if the clock is wrong it is often a very sensible thing to do?  But I would rather get away from that whole idea of clocks.

We all want progress.  But progress means getting nearer to the place you want to be. And if you have taken a wrong turn, then to go forward does not get you any nearer. If you are on the wrong road, progress means doing an about turn and walking back to the right road; and in that case, the man who turns back soonest is the most progressive man.

…I think if you look at the present state of the world, it is pretty plain that humanity has been making some big mistake. We are on the wrong road. And if that is so, we must go back. Going back is the quickest way on.

~C. S. Lewis, Basic Christianity

December 27, 2010

Not All Tweets are Mindless

Randy Morgan writes this past week of joining the Twitter-ers.    Well, reluctantly:

One of the reasons I’ve resisted using this medium for so long, is that some people “tweet” some pretty inane things.  Call me unkind, but I don’t care what you order at Starbuck’s.  Another pet peeve of mine is people quoting people who quoted someone else.  I would think if I had nothing to say, I simply would not tweet.

But then he came across Bob Goff who seems to have taken a higher road when it comes to the 140-character limitation.

Goff is an attorney who founded Restore International, a non-profit organization which was established to address the atrocities and injustices committed against children.  Besides traveling around the world to save children, this guy is totally quote-worthy.  He almost single-handedly restored my faith in Twitter.  If you don’t follow Bob Goff, let me share a few of his most recent tweets…

“Gold? Incense? Myrrh??? I wanted a bike”

“Jesus never hides, but even wise men needed to look for Him”

“We all get a chance to be Innkeepers; who we let in can make us wise men too

“The gospel story is just as much about the beginning as the ending; us too

“We get to be Christmas; we don’t need to just celebrate it”

“I love that Christmas isn’t an event; it’s an invitation

“Our faith doesn’t just happen; some assembly required”

“The whole world is holding its breath, hoping that you will be incredible

“Eat, drink and be helpful

“Do everything that you can to put yourself in the position of doing everything that you can

“Take off your shoes; God is present. We may not know all of the steps to take, but we usually know the next barefoot one

“Stop loving people like we’re on probation; do it like you’re on the honor role”

Unfortunately, Randy didn’t include the @name, or should that be #name?   Don’t know.  But I did find this.   It’s great to find people out there who are raising the bar; who want to be influencers.

So today’s question(s) to fellow-bloggers:   Do you have an epic post?   Do you think Bob Goff has the right idea?   Are you willing to join me in committing to stepping up our use of social media to publish the occasional item of richer substance?

P.S.:  You can always link from here to Randy’s blog anytime using the blogroll at right, look for Blog: Your Best Life Later.

December 5, 2009

Great Quotations from Christian Literature

Filed under: quotations — Tags: , , , , — paulthinkingoutloud @ 9:38 am

Can you name the source?  Sorry; we don’t have prizes.

The History of every major religious civilization tends to pass through three distinct and recognizable phases, those of Survival, Inquiry and Sophistication, otherwise known as the ‘How’, ‘Why’ and ‘Where’ phases.  For instance, the first phase is characterized by the question, “How can we worship?” the second by the question, “Why do we worship?” and the third by the question, “Where are we going to church on Sunday?”

Heads up sneak preview:

Speaking of prizes: This just in from Rick Apperson at the blog, Just a Thought:

On Tuesday I am having a big book giveaway. I am giving away the book Busted by Fred von Kamecke which is a myth-busters style apologetic book. Zondervan is letting me give away ten copies and Fred will pop in on the blog as well from time to time that day to respond to comments.

I will be asking people to leave comments on what myths or pre-conceptions they have encountered when sharing their faith or has kept them from sharing their faith. That will qualify them for the draw.

Wow!  That’s ten — count ’em — ten books.   Move your mouse a bit to the right and scroll down the blogroll to Blog: Just a Thought.   Yes, that’s right, no link here, ya gotta work for it.  (Subscribe so you don’t forget!)  See you over there on Tuesday.  I might just enter this one myself!  Update 9 PM Saturday: TWENTY books?  Check out the comments section…

December 2, 2009

Best of this Week’s Links

Before we get into this week’s lynx links, I want to refer back to something on this blog a few days ago.

When I wrote a post a few days ago questioning some aspects of the Samaritans Purse Christmas shoebox project, I was simply giving voice to some things that were rumbling in the back of my mind.   I was hesitant to formulate much more than a few random thoughts because I really thought I was alone in criticizing a program that is so widely subscribed to by local churches.

I was wrong.   When Sarah’s comment came, I realized I had only begun to scratch the surface of issues raised by the program.   Here’s a reprint of her comment, but I want to strongly recommend you visit the link, which documents why in one Canadian province, a large denomination isn’t encouraging support of the program.   It takes you to a 16-page (.pdf file) report of which pages 4 to 11 are most important and will only take you a couple of minutes.

Thanks for this article–I think all your questions and concerns are excellent. If you’re interested in more, with a powerful eyewitness story about shoebox problems, see http://ucskco.sasktelwebhosting.com/TheGiftMattersSchoolkit.pdf

It shouldn’t be about followup for the giver at all; that’s a form of strings-attached giving.

Additional questions:

Does this encourage children to value Western cultures more than their own?

Do “shoebox” gifts become better than something simpler made lovingly by a family member?

Are they introducing commercial gift-giving into a culture that doesn’t celebrate Christmas in that way?

Do they respect people of other faiths who don’t celebrate Christmas at all?

Do they portray one race/culture as being better or more successful than others?

Most importantly, how do they work to bring about real change, in places where the needs are for justice, peace, and access to the necessities of life?

~ Comment by Sarah Shepherd

Your responses to this can go here or in the comment section of the original post.    If anyone has seen other good pieces online where the program has been critiqued, feel free to put the link in a comment as well.

Other links this week:

  • Bill Kinnon looks at youth culture ministry and points out that, “What we win them with, is what we win them to. Win them with entertainment, and you’ve created customers – who expect to be continually entertained.”
  • Here’s a book that’s got me curious.   Trevin Wax reviews Chris Armstrong’s book Patron Saints for Postmoderns. “Chris focuses on ten ‘saints’ from Christian history and offers insights from their lives that can be learned and applied today.”
  • Some of the Christian cartoons I use here are a lot of fun.  This one digs a little deeper, and could only be written by someone with an intimate understanding of life in the Charismatic or Pentecostal environment.  So some of you are going to really, really connect with this, and others maybe not so much.   But if you’ve been in those circles, you won’t want to miss this.   Check out World of Dod’s blog.
  • Speaking of all things Charismatic, over a week ago Christianity Today did a really good article on that community’s voice of reason, Charisma magazine editor J. Lee Grady.   I also recommend subscribing to Lee’s weekly e-mail, although it’s bundled with other things from Strang Communications, so it’s an all or nothing subscription.
  • Our iKettle still needs the support of our Canadian readers.   Money given to the Salvation Army stays in the donor’s community.   Click here.
  • Jessica at the general-interest blog, Indexed accurately sums up why people feel the way they do about their wealth.    It’s all relative.    Ain’t that the truth!
  • Paul Stoecklein, author of the general market humor book You Had Me At Idiot, has a very irreverent post about surviving the Thanksgiving holiday in a ‘religious’ family.  Sample:  “Protestants are different. With them, saying grace is like really bad performance art. I swear, I think these people believe that saying grace should have been one of the categories on Star Search… Read — if you dare — the whole piece here. [HT: Shallow Frozen Water blog]

  • Christian apologist Josh McDowell and coauthor David Sterrett discuss why they wrote a book, titled ‘O’ God, about Oprah Winfrey and why they don’t think Christians are equipped to respond to Oprah’s ‘teaching.’  This link takes you a four minute video on YouTube.
  • Speaking of Christian Apologists, New York Magazine profiles Timothy Keller and his Redeemer Presbyterian Church in the Big Apple.  “Although relatively few secular New Yorkers know about it—Keller prefers to keep Redeemer mostly under the media radar… —an Evangelical Christian megachurch is growing in the heart of Manhattan.”
  • Carlos Whitaker invites readers at his blog, Ragamuffin Soul, to leave their favorite quotation.   So far, over 80 responses, but plenty of room for you to add yours.

November 14, 2009

Choosing and Picking The Parts of Christianity We Like Best

Filed under: quotations, theology — Tags: , , , , , , , , — paulthinkingoutloud @ 5:59 pm

Graham Peacock at the blog, Digging a Lot in a November 14th post, offers us this quotation — with some emphasis added — from the  book The Naked Now by Richard Rohr:

Naked Now

If I counted right on Wikipedia, this is Rohr's 24th book

“Within the Christian churches, how else can we explain the obvious avoidance of so many of Jesus’ major teachings? Jesus’ direct and clear teachings on issues such as nonviolence, a simple lifestyle, love of the poor, forgiveness, love of enemies, inclusivity, mercy, and not seeking status, power, perks, and possessions: throughout history, all have been overwhelmingly ignored by mainline Christian churches, even those who call themselves orthodox or biblical. This avoidance defies explanation until we understand how dualistic thinking protects and pads the ego and its fear of change. Notice that the things we ignored above require actual change of our lifestyle, our security systems, or our dualistic thought patterns. The things we emphasized instead were usually intellectual beliefs or moral superiority stances that asked little of us: the divinity of Christ, the virgin birth, the atonement theory, and beliefs about reproduction and sex. After a while, you start to recognize the underlying bias. The ego diverts your attention from anything that would ask you to change, to righteous causes that invariably ask others to change.(p. 94)

November 10, 2008

Don’t Let the Truth Ruin Your Day

Filed under: Humor, quotations — Tags: , — paulthinkingoutloud @ 10:49 pm

Man will occasionally stumble over the truth, but usually manages to pick himself up, walk over or around it, and carry on.    ~Winston Churchill

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