Category Archives: Quotes
I am working my way through an encouraging book, Replenish: Leading From a Healthy Soul, by Lance Witt. In a chapter entitled, “Approval Addiction,” he made a statement that I am all too familiar with.
It has been said that for those of us in ministry, compliments are written in sand, but criticism is written in wet cement. That has certainly been true for me. I have carried disapproval deeply, and it takes a long time to wear off. As a result, you can end up working hard at being a diplomat and constantly sharpening your people skills to minimize criticism.
While that has certainly been my experience, I have attempted to counteract that tendency but saving every encouraging comment and note I receive. I have four notebooks with all the notes I have received over 33 years of ministry. Perhaps I should go back and reread a few of them. That might help firm up the compliments and soften some of the criticisms.
In his book, Abba’s Child: The cry of the heart for intimate belonging, author Brennan Manning tells the story of how prayer can be an intimate conversation with God.
Once I related the story of an old man dying of cancer. The old man’s daughter had asked the local priest to come and pray with her father. When the priest arrived, he found the man lying in bed with his head propped up on two pillows and an empty chair beside his bed. The priest assumed that the old fellow had been informed of his visit. “I guess you were expecting me,” he said.
“No, who are you?”
“I’m the new associate at your parish,” the priest replied. “When I saw the empty chair, I figured you knew I was going to show up.”
“Oh yeah, the chair,” said the bedridden man. “Would you mind closing the door?”
Puzzled, the priest shut the door. “I’ve never told anyone this, not even my daughter,” said the man,” but all my life I have never known how to pray. At the Sunday Mass, I used to hear to hear the pastor talk about prayer, but it always went right over my head. Finally I said to him one day in sheer frustration, ‘I get nothing out of your homilies on prayer.’
“Here,’ says my pastor, reaching into the bottom drawer of his desk. ‘Read this book by Hans Urs von Balthasar. He’s a Swiss theologian. It’s the best book on contemplative prayer in the twentieth century.’
“Well, Father,” says the man, “I took the book home and tried to read it. But in the first three pages I had to look up twelve words in the dictionary. I gave the book back to my pastor, thanked him, and under my breath whispered, ‘for nothin.’
“I abandoned any attempt at prayer,” he continued, “until one day about four years ago my best friend said to me, ‘Joe, prayer is just a simple matter of having a conversation with Jesus. Here’s what I suggest. Sit down on a chair, place an empty chair in front of you, and in faith see Jesus on the chair. It’s not spooky because He promised, “I’ll be with you all days.” Then must speak to Him and listen in the same way you’re doing with me right now.’
“So, Padre, I tried it, and I’ve like it so much that I do it a couple of hours every day. I’m careful, though. If my daughter saw me talking to an empty chair, she’d either have a nervous breakdown or send me off to the funny farm.”
The priest was deeply moved by the story and encouraged the old guy to continue on the journey. Then he prayed with him, anointed him with oil, and returned to the rectory.
Two nights later the daughter called to tell the priest that he daddy had died that afternoon.
“Did he seem to die in peace?” he asked.
“Yes, when I left the house around two o’clock, he called me over to his bedside, told me one of his corny jokes, and kissed me on the cheek. When I got back from the store an hour later, I found him dead. But there was something strange, Father. In fact, beyond strage—kinda weird. Apparently just before Daddy died, he leaned over and rested his head on a chair beside his bed.”
Book Review: The Logic of God: 52 Christian Essentials for the Heart and Mind, by Ravi Zacharias
Ravi Zacharias has written a thought-provoking book aimed at those seeking to better understand the Christian faith. The Logic of God: 52 Christian Essentials for the Heart and Mind addresses the most common struggles, obstacles, and questions that Ravi hears from both skeptics and Christians alike.
As the author explains in the introduction,
Today, many people think it is naïve to believe in God because there is not enough evidence for His existence. Others conclude that even if He does exist, He has insufficiently revealed and inadequately explained Himself; therefore He has not convinced us that He is real. Even less has He affirmed that the claims of the gospel of Jesus Christ are true and lead to a worldview that offers the most coherent and logical answers to life’s four essential questions—origin, meaning, morality, and destiny.
For the Christian this is where the battle must be fought, for no worldview suffers more from the loss of belief in God than the Christian one. And unless the “logic” of God—the evidence He has provided us of His existence—is defended, is sought after, is fully engaged with our hearts and minds, every essential of the Christian faith will be deemed illogical and untrue, thereby making them unworthy of rational assent.
The question then is, how does a person come to view this “logic” (this “evidence”) as a reason to believe in a God on whom all other essentials of the Christian faith are built, by which life must be governed, and with which your personal beliefs, your culture, and the unique message of Jesus Christ are examined? The purpose of this book and the way it is designed to be used, is to guide you on that journey.
As the subtitle indicates, the book focuses on 52 key issues including “The Pathway of Pain,” “Behind every question,” “Christianity without Christ?” “Does prayer matter?” “Scandal of the Cross” “Are you lonely?” and many more. The book is designed to be read one topic or question a week. Each topic is relatively short—2 or 3 pages followed by two “Reflection Questions” and two ideas for “Personal Application.” By taking the time to work through the various ideas and arguments, one will gain the conviction that God is real, the He loves us, and that He desires to fulfill the longings of our hearts.
Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the BookLook Bloggers <http://booklookbloggers.com> book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own.
I started rereading Replenish: Leading from a Healthy Soul, by Lance Witt. It was one of the books recommended at the SonScape Retreat. I agree with the author’s statement at the end of the first chapter.
I want to get to the finish line still in love with Jesus, still in love with the church, still in love with being a pastor. With my head held high, with my dignity and honor still intact, I want to look back over my shoulder and say it was worth it.
To that, I say, “Amen!” I want to finish well. But it means I need to guard my heart and feed my soul.
SonScape devotional Day 7
You are headed home with new commitments to do life differently. The most normal reaction would be to go home and add your new list to the already overloaded existing list waiting for you. Don’t do it.
God is calling you to something deeper than a bigger “to do” list. He is calling you to deep change.
”Deep change differs from incremental change in that it requires new ways of thinking and behaving. It is change that is major in scope, discontinuous with the past and generally irreversible. The deep change effort distorts existing patterns of action and involves taking risks. Deep change means surrendering control.
Most of us build our identity around our knowledge and competence in employing certain known techniques or abilities. Making a deep change involves abandoning both and “walking naked into the land of uncertainty.” (Robert Quinn, Deep Change)
”Walking naked into the land of uncertainty!” Totally exposed to God. Totally exposed to yourself. Willing to face whatever obstacles may be to this new journey in the “real” world.
Let us remind you one last time: intimacy with God is the top priority. This being with God must come before everything else, and thus give expression to what you do. It is not your job to fix your world or even yourself when you go home—it is your job to find your “rest in the shadow of the Almighty.”
”Those who live in the shelter of the Most High will find rest in the shadow of the Almighty. This I declare about the Lord: He alone is my refuge, my place of safety; he is my God, and I trust him.” (Psalm 91:1-2, NLT)
Someone asked me recently what was my biggest regret in life. I thought a moment, surveying the vast and cluttered landscape of my blunders and losses, the evil I have done and the evil that has been done to me.
”Being in a hurry,” I said.
”Being in a hurry. Getting to the next thing without fully entering the thing in front of me. I cannot think of a single advantage I’ve ever gained from being in a hurry. But a thousand broken and missed things, tens of thousands, lie in the wake of all that rushing.”
Through all that haste, I thought I was making up time. It turns out I was throwing it away.
Mark Buchanan, The Rest of God