I started swearing when I was about 12. Not just the damns and the hells but in short order I’d memorized and perfected the full Glossary of Foulness in fine fashion. Peers at school were my tutors. Public school, but years later at my Christian high school it wasn’t any different. I turned it off when I got home and back on the next morning at the bus stop.
- With resolve in her voice Irma declared “I’m going to start praying 30 minutes a day!” Two weeks later the best she’s done so far is 12.4 minutes.
- Kevin told friends he was going to start reading a Christian classic a month. Starting with Bunyan’s Pilgrim’s Progress, he (Kevin, not Bunyan) got bogged down in the third chapter and never finished. He feels guilty.
- Trevor slumps across the keyboard, the computer now black. He wonders if he’ll ever be able to go more than 2 days without looking at pornography. “If Lauren finds out she’ll kill me. I tried confessing to God my wounds from the past but nothing’s changed. I tried keeping myself extra busy but I still seem to find time for this dark hobby.”
- Candice came home from the woman’s conference and admitted to her husband, “I feel like a real washout. Our speaker was so vibrant, so in love with Jesus and she says her secret is fasting and Bible memorization.” With a sigh she shook her head. “Maybe I’m not even a real Christian.”
Although I know intellectually that God just wants me to love Him with everything I am and have, I sometimes find myself deciding how close to or far from that goal I am by measuring prayer minutes, comparing myself to other’s evangelistic zeal, etc. And despairing.
I can only describe Larry Osborne’s Spirituality for the Rest of Us as a breath of fresh air. Originally published in 2007 as A Contrarian’s Guide to Knowing God, Osborne, a west coast Free Church pastor known for the multiple worship venue innovation, gives hope to Christians who don’t fit the spiritual-growth molds cast by well-intentioned Christians. Like pastors. But even if you don’t read many Christian books, or don’t fast, or don’t pray as long as someone else, or don’t positively confess, or aren’t as emotionally as bouncy as others about Jesus, or can’t seem to memorize Scripture, maybe you can still know Him deeply even if you don’t do things like I do, or like someone else does.
Larry introduces the book with a frustration I resonate with: the “must see” marriage conference (or book, or retreat) that told him and his wife how to have a great marriage.
I think you’ll be surprised–maybe initially even alarmed at chapters like “Why Results Don’t Matter” and “Glass House Living”, but press on; it’ll be well worth it.
Chesterton was a Christian and knew his heart because he knew his Bible. I think only a believer has a true shot at being humble. If the person actually succeeds he/she won’t know it. But since God says he gives grace to humble people, it’s something to reach for.
…where there’s an absence of edifying words there’s also normally the presence of pride and of self-righteousness, because those who are proud are too preoccupied with themselves and think too highly of themselves to care about building others up or to be sensitive to their true needs. It’s the humble who are perceptive; they’re skilled in discerning the work of God in others because they care about others and want to serve others. (p.121)
Starting today, most Fridays I’ll post an excerpt from a recommended book. Today, one of my alltime favorites which was just republished in a 25th anniversary edition, Desiring God. It first introduced me to the ministry of John Piper. It’s not for light evening reading but a half hour with it will do for your heart what an hour in the gym will do for your body.
Who is it for? Spiritual pro or novice; whether you’ve already achieved heady heights in your sanctification, or if people wonder if you’re really saved. The book’s not so much for those who are something, but those who crave something: being happy in God. Though many serve God, fewer find delight in Him. They are like marines who dutifully soldier on despite finding their work tedious, dangerous, and unsatisfying.