Christian Book Review – @stickyJesus: How to Live Out Your Faith Online

I’ve been reading an enlightening book about sharing faith in Christ online. I wanted to share the following passage as it’s inspiring for those of us who blog and use other means to tell our stories online:

http://www.amazon.com/stickyJesus-Live-Your-Faith-Online/dp/1426741898

40 And with many other words did he testify and exhort, saying, Save yourselves from this untoward generation.

41 Then they that gladly received his word were baptized: and the same day there were added unto them about three thousand souls.
(Acts 2:40-41)

Simply through hearing, more than three thousand people confessed Christ that day. The disciples didn’t form a committee, write a communication plan, or hold a big conference (complete with a worship band) to figure out how to share the most incredible message in the world.

They told the crowd who Jesus was and how everyone within earshot could receive forgiveness, salvation, and the same Holy Spirit power that had lit up all of them. They walked onto the dusty streets of Jerusalem with believing hearts and the willingness to be consumed with and led by the Holy Spirit.

God could have done this without the disciples. Supernatural is supernatural. He could have let loose a light show on the streets of Jerusalem that day that would have left the masses speechless. But He loved us too much to leave us out of His story and His glory. He was and is a God of relationship, love, and community. He wants to raise His kids by experiental relationship, not dead religion.

The same holds true today. God doesn’t need you to share your faith to save the world. There’s no cape required. He’s almighty. He can touch any heart at any moment, anywhere, in any way He chooses. The glory and gift of this holy equation are that He has called you. He’s called you out of your stunted, insular self and into a limitless and vast relationship with Him. He will do a holy work in you and others each time you recount that story. Now that’s a transformational mission worth logging on for.

The Case for the Psalms

This afternoon the Lord Jesus’ Spirit gently prompted me to read the following book by N. T. Wright:

http://www.amazon.com/The-Case-Psalms-They-Essential/dp/0062230506

Widely regarded as the modern C. S. Lewis, N. T. Wright, one of the world’s most trusted and popular Bible scholars and the bestselling author of “Simply Christian” and “Surprised by Hope”, presents a manifesto urging Christians to live and pray the Bible’s Psalms.

Wright seeks to reclaim the power of the Psalms, which were once at the core of prayer life. He argues that, by praying and living the Psalms, we enter into a worldview, a way of communing with God and knowing him more intimately, and receive a map by which we understand the contours and direction of our lives. For this reason, all Christians need to read, pray, sing, and live the Psalms.

One passage in particular rang true to me today, which I wanted to share with people reading this site, as you might find it uplifting and hopeful too:

As Jesus Himself said in his fresh use of the same image, the seed is the Word of God, and however unworthy or muddled the one who sows it, it remains God’s word, and it will do its work, never failing to astonish us at its abundant productivity.

Praise God from whom all blessings flow, for this inspiring little gem of a book. Highly recommended.

Are you a spiritual invalid?

Are you a spiritual invalid, or do you know someone who is? Lack of boundaries contributes to this problem: we can become confused about where our needs and values end and those of others begin. How can we tell if someone we are interacting with is a spiritual invalid? As it is written:

Matthew 7:16
Ye shall know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles?

For those who are interested, the following books by the Christian author Henry Cloud are wonderful and empowering, helping people to value themselves and others by the appropriate use of boundaries:

1. Boundaries: When to Say Yes, How to Say No to Take Control of Your Life (see http://www.amazon.com/Boundaries-When-Take-Control-Your/dp/0310247454)
2. Safe People: How to Find Relationships That are Good for You and Avoid Those That Aren’t (see http://www.amazon.com/Safe-People-Relationships-Avoid-Those/dp/0310210844/ref=pd_sim_b_3)

The following article casts much needed light on the phenomenon of spiritual invalids. Thank you to Rayola Kelley for the helpful insights.

http://www.gentleshepherd.com/articles/church/AreYouASpiritualInvalid.htm

A couple of months ago, I was thinking how a healthy person could become an invalid. I have met a few individuals who have chosen this type of physical route. As I considered the wasted life of such a person, I thought about Christians who end up becoming spiritual invalids in the kingdom of God.

The first point of consideration is why one would choose to become an invalid. Does it have to do with control and manipulation? Perhaps it is about getting attention or feeling special. Whatever the reason for wasting one’s life, Scriptures speak of a life totally contrary to invalidism. Spiritual invalidism involves one becoming inactive in his or her life before God. In a sense, it is like waiting for God to pour out all of the deserved benefits. This concept of a free ride without paying the price makes the Christian life self-serving and unrealistic.

The Word talks about running the race, maintaining the faith, fighting the battle, and finishing the course. It points out exercising unto godliness (1 Corinthians 9:24; 1 Timothy 4:7; 2 Timothy 4:7-8). As individuals study the Scriptures, they have to realize that the Christian life is anything but inactive. Spiritual inaction is nothing more than unbelief and disobedience in action which causes spiritual atrophy or complacency towards the things of God.

The Word clearly speaks of victory that must be won. Overcoming enemies is not an option, but a must if one is to enjoy the fruits of the kingdom of God (1 John 5:4-5; Revelation 2-3). God has provided the tools to overcome. However, in spite of God’s incredible Word and powerful tools, some Christians still insist on becoming spiritual invalids. Such individuals refuse to partake of the Word for themselves as they depend on others to spoon-feed them. Faith becomes an intellectual concept or method that blinds them to personal unbelief and disobedience. They use prayer for self-serving reasons, often resulting in skepticism because God appears to remain silent. They either ignore the Holy Spirit or they allow a counterfeit spirit to replace Him as a means to control their world. They either mock spirituality or use it as a door to operate on a level of spiritual elitism and delusion. The results are always the same. They refuse to take personal responsibility for the status of their spiritual life. These spiritual invalids come across as the helpless victim, while judging God and others for the failure in their personal lives.

What creates spiritual invalids? An invalid in the spiritual realm points to weakness due to the absence of a proper foundation. After considering those who resort to this physical state without reason, I believe it goes deeper than just an absence of a foundation. Spiritual invalidism is absence of character. Any time you deal with the character of a person, you will have to confront his or her disposition. Therefore, a spiritual invalid has something amiss in his or her disposition. It is a weakness that has not been honestly confronted through repentance or effectively dealt with by the Word of God and obedience to it.

The following is my observation as to the ingredients that will cause a physical or spiritual invalid in disposition. The two main motivations behind this type of condition are fear or resignation. Both fear and resignation are self-centered. The more a person gives in to these two culprits, the more life becomes overwhelming. Eventually, these two stifling factors cause a person to retreat from reality, declaring that life as unfair, too frightening or hopeless in its present state. Therefore, the person resigns self to a world of depression, fantasy or a small controllable world no bigger than a tomb.

Life is unfair to everyone, but it is especially hard on man’s different forms of pride. Pride strives to be an exception rather than the rule. It sees itself as superior and deserving of honor. It wants to believe that its circumstances or burdens are far worse than they are. This will earn the individual the right to be treated according to personal opinions or preference. Pride always becomes offended when life does not exalt it. It becomes hopeless as life challenges its imperfections and faulty claims to reveal failure, rejection and incompetence causing it to lose control. In fact, life on earth is a test to see whether a person will choose life that only comes by way of God or the ways of pride that lead to death, the path of least resistance.

The foundation under the path of death is made up of lies; therefore, it allows for the compromises and excuses of pride. It feeds and clings to the concept that life is unfair. As the individual gives in to this arrogant claim, self-pity begins to consume the person’s disposition. This self-pity feeds various vain imaginations that operate without hindrance, always giving way to the rights of pride.

Rights cause a person to consider how he or she must be treated in his or her incapacitated condition. As the individual continues to give in to various excuses for his or her condition, rights begin to put demands on others. Personal irresponsibility and complacency brought on this condition, but now others are burdened with the responsibility to serve the person in this state, or they are deemed unchristian and uncaring as they fall into the trap of guilt. Those who do care are often taken advantage of as their kindness is never considered sacrificial, but a responsibility.

Another ingredient of spiritual invalidism is ingratitude. Self-pity also serves as a manifestation of ingratitude. Self-pity declares that the person is feeling sorry for self because he or she has not received the desired results. The person’s tears are not for personal sin, but because the insidious game has been uncovered. Now that the game has been exposed, all that is left is repentance. True repentance is an enemy of invalidism. Therefore, rebellion begins to act out to confuse the issues in order to get its way. Tears are part of the game as they often throw unsuspecting people into confusion about the insidious ingratitude that is behind much of it.

The final element to spiritual invalidism is laziness. Galatians 6:4-5 states: “But let every man prove his own work, and then shall he have rejoicing in himself alone, and not in another. For every man shall bear his own burden.” The Word tells believers to wake up and arise. However, those who glory in personal spiritual invalidism will find various excuses and justifications as to why they can’t get up and do what is right and necessary (Ephesians 5:14-17; 2 Timothy 1:6; 2 Peter 1:13). They will always see themselves as the victim, rather than the thief who abuses the gift of life and the kindness of others.

As you study the different ingredients in the disposition of a spiritual invalid, you can see where this type of individual simply gives in to the works and ways of the flesh. He or she will refuse to stir self up to pursue God’s perspective, Spirit and will in a matter. Eventually, this person will give in to lies and pride, rather than choose the ways of life and righteousness and walk these out by obedient faith.

Sadly, these people become leeches that end up robbing others of valuable time and resources. These people never see what a stench they become to God and those who see through the games. People will resist their pride, avoid their self-pity, and become disgusted at their excuses as to why they have become and remain an invalid in the kingdom of God. In the end, such people become a dead weight too great to bear.

My prayer is that if any reader fits this scenario that he or she will see the errors of his or her way. The ingredients that make up spiritual invalidism definitely fit in the hall of fame for the most accepted sins. However, these sins are unacceptable to God and will bring judgment in due time.

You may know someone who fits this description. If so, restrain from enabling him or her. This will put you in a bad light, but truly seek God’s will and perspective about such a person. As long as you enable a person who maintains the disposition of an invalid, he or she can remain so. Ask the Lord to give this person a love for the truth and a consuming desire to please God. Then challenge the person by not playing his or her games.

Further excellent Christian resources

Our Daily Bread

1. Our Daily Bread (http://odb.org/)

Since it was first published in 1956, Our Daily Bread has become the resource for which RBC Ministries is best known. The daily devotional thoughts published in Our Daily Bread help readers spend time each day in God’s Word.

Our Daily Bread is published and distributed worldwide in more than 40 languages by RBC Ministries offices around the globe. RBC Ministries also produces a variety of other Bible resources, which are available for the asking. RBC Ministries is not funded or endowed by any group or denomination. Many people, making even the smallest of donations, enable RBC Ministries to reach others with the life-changing wisdom of the Bible.

Our Daily Bread radio is a daily audio program that features insights from the pages of Our Daily Bread. Each daily thought is designed to draw the listener into a closer relationship with Jesus Christ and to evoke responses of worship, love, trust and obedience.

2. My Utmost for His Highest (daily devotionals by Oswald Chambers)

http://utmost.org/

My Utmost for His Highest is a classic of devotional literature. One of the most enduring bestsellers of our time, these devotionals have touched the lives of millions, leading them into a deeper and more passionate walk with God.

Discover the wisdom of Oswald Chambers, a man who challenges you to give yourself fully to God. The powerful content of this visionary work speaks straight to the heart, helping you hear what God wants to say to you each day of the year. Shedding fresh light on the Scriptures, Chambers explores the depths of our humanity and our profound need for a God-focused life.

3. A Woman God Can Use and a Woman Jesus Can Teach Set
http://www.dhp.org/Products/A-Woman-God-Can-Use-and-A-Woman-Jesus-Can-Teach-Set__KU436.aspx

Gain a fresh perspective on balancing life’s priorities and making wise decisions in “A Woman God Can Use” and “A Woman Jesus Can Teach.” Exploring the lives of Old and New Testament women, author Dr. Alice Mathews shares insights to help you strengthen your faith, align your priorities with God’s will, and be used for His glory. Addressing the everyday issues faced by women, this inspiring combo is perfect for individual or small group study.

Christian resources that are extra special because they glorify Christ

1. Matthew Henry’s Commentary on the Whole Bible.
The Spirit lead me to this book while perusing the Journal for Biblical Accuracy website (also listed as one of the special resources below).

This book was written by a man who was a devout Christian: humble, merciful, careful and persevering. If some of the light that shines through from his faith rubs off on me I will die happy. 🙂

http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/962955.Matthew_Henry_s_Commentary_on_the_Whole_Bible

From the review site:
“First among the mighty (commentaries) for general usefulness we are bound to mention the man whose name is a household word, Matthew Henry. He is the most pious and pithy, sound and sensible, suggestive and sober, terse and trustworthy . . . he is deeply spiritual, heavenly, profitable; finding good matter in every text, and from all deducting the most practical and judicious lessons . . . It is the Christian’s companion, suitable to everybody, instructive to all.”
” Charles H. Spurgeon

2. The Journal of Biblical Accuracy website
http://www.jba.gr/

3. My Lord is Jesus wordpress blog
http://mylordisjesus.wordpress.com/

John Dulleck is the author. His About page reads as below:

I have been a follower of Jesus Christ since 1980. With the grace of God, I do my best to make Him the center of my life in all things. Twenty six years ago I married my wife, a woman who could only be a gift from my Father in heaven. She is the best companion a man could wish for, and the first focus of my ministry in Christ.

The Lord has blessed us in so many ways, but first and foremost, He has blessed us with our salvation, the forgiveness of our sins, and eternal life with Him. Having received such a precious gift, one purchased with the blood of Jesus, God made flesh, how can I do less than my utmost to share God’s most precious gift with others who are in desperate need of the same?

4. I am Jesus Christ, My Works Are With Out End and My Words Will Never Cease Facebook page
https://www.facebook.com/GodVine4HappyLife

Inspiring messages from this site:

Tolerance is to love people for who they are no matter what they stand for, it is not condoning their actions but it is also not casting stones at them when we ourselves are not with out sin, Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself and pray for your enemies, by this shall men know that you are my disciples.

Being a disciple of Christ: It doesn’t come to any person naturally, anyone can be selfish, unloyal, lazy, dishonest, sinful and hurtful with out exhorting much effort at all, but to have Charity, to be patient, kind, to cherish, love and serve his brother takes sacrifice of ones natural self to rise above the flesh, as this process takes place we become true disciples of Jesus Christ and the Light of Christ increases in each of us.

Helpful Christian Resources – the Old Paths

Jeremiah 6:16
Thus saith the Lord, Stand ye in the ways, and see, and ask for the old paths, where is the good way, and walk therein, and ye shall find rest for your souls…

Malachi 3:6
For I am the Lord, I change not; therefore ye sons of Jacob are not consumed.

Here are some helpful Christian resources I have found in my walk with the Lord Jesus. I’ve listed them here, with brief descriptions, in the hope that they may help someone else in their Christian walk:

1. How to worship Jesus Christ (by Joseph S. Carroll)

Amazon.com: http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/266946.How_To_Worship_Jesus_Christ as a Kindle eBook or hard copy.

Review taken from Good Reads:
http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/266946.How_To_Worship_Jesus_Christ
Can a normal person enter the presence of Christ or is that something that only happened for biblical characters? Maybe that question leads you to ask “What does it even mean to be in Jesus’ presence?” In How to Worship Jesus Christ, Joseph Carroll explains what it means to enter Christ’s presence and that it is something available to every Christian – through true worship.

There is much more to truly worshipping Jesus than simply church services and personal devotions. True worship requires complete commitment of emotions, intellect, and will, but the reward is great. Carroll points the reader into the presence of Christ by teaching practical steps of personal worship. He also draws on the habits and experiences of some of history’s greatest saints to serve as examples and guides.

This deeply practical and personal book will help you know Jesus more intimately on a daily basis. It will draw readers close to Christ in a real way, to experience His presence, and to worship Him in ways far better than what most imagine to be possible.

2. The Knowledge of the Holy (by A.W. Tozer)

Review from Amazon.com (http://www.amazon.com/The-Knowledge-Holy-Attributes-Christian/dp/0060684127/ref=pd_sim_b_5/180-5909967-2392810):

“Love and faith are at home in the mystery of the Godhead. Let reason kneel in reverence outside.”

A true classic of faith and devotion, The Knowledge of the Holy by A.W. Tozer attempts to restore the majesty and wonder of God in the hearts and minds of all Christians. Informative and inspiring, this remarkable and important work shows us how we can rejuvenate our prayer life, meditate more reverently, in order to more deeply understand God and experience His presence in our daily lives. The Knowledge of the Holy is a superb aid to strengthening and deepening the spiritual life by returning the towering Christian concept of God to the center of the religious mind.

3. Morning and Evening – Classic KJV Edition (by Charles Spurgeon)

Review from Amazon.com (http://www.amazon.com/Morning-Evening-Classic-KJV-Edition/dp/0943575532):

For tens of thousands of Christians over the last century, Charles Haddon Spurgeon’s “Morning and Evening” has been a daily devotional guide through life’s ups and downs. New generations can once again enjoy Spurgeon’s beautiful prose and elegant command of the English language in this completely revised edition. “Morning and Evening “offers readers the best of Spurgeon’s insight and wise counsel on themes that are as relevant to our day as they were in his day. In this updated version, Spurgeon’s work is returned to its former brilliance while retaining the beautiful language of the original King James Version.

Special Features:
– Each day’s devotions are presented on a two-page spread for complete ease of use.
– Each of the 732 devotions–one for every morning and evening of the year–provides inspiring meditations on portions of Scripture drawn from every book of the Bible.
– A new topical index helps readers discover Spurgeon’s thoughts on various topics important to Christian life.
– An index of texts lets readers find what Spurgeon had to say about a particular Bible verse. Spurgeon has penned meditations, expressed simply but eloquently, that continue to draw readers to faith and obedience.

Though Spurgeon published thousands of sermons and many books, “Morning and Evening” remains by far his most popular work.

4. The Book of Common Prayer (Episcopal Church) – Special Kindle Edition
http://www.amazon.com/Book-of-Common-Prayer-ebook/dp/B0029ZALLC

My own reflections:
I have found it is vital to have some time alone with God each day, preferably morning and night, to ask for grace and strength to serve Him each day faithfully. This involves prayer, hence reference 4) above to the Book of Common Prayer.

I have found that praying the Psalms aloud, particularly the ones extolling God’s virtues and praising Him, really helps orient the heart towards Him in love, gratitude and obedience.