Disenchantment, the “end of the honeymoon,” is common and has been for centuries. It is normal, even inescapable. But the depth of the disillusionment people experience in our time is something new, as is the speed with which marriages collapse. In our day, something has intensified this natural experience and turned it toxic. It is the illusion that if we find our one true soul mate, everything wrong with us will be healed; but that makes the lover into God, and no human being can live up to that.
Through the years I’ve learned that God rarely speaks so loudly that everyone around you hears it too.
While marriage is many things, it is anything but sentimental. Marriage is glorious but hard. It’s a burning joy and strength, and yet it is also blood, sweat, and tears, humbling defeats and exhausting victories. No marriage I know more than a few weeks old could be described as a fairy tale come true.
Jesus told His followers that He would build His church. Then one of the last things He told them to do was make disciples. It’s that simple. We make disciples, and He builds the church. We do not build the church, and He does not make disciples.
If two spouses each say, “I’m going to treat my self-centeredness as the main problem in the marriage,” you have the prospect of a truly great marriage.
Nothing can mature character like marriage.
Love anything, and your heart will certainly be wrung and possibly broken. If you want to make sure of keeping it intact, you must give your heart to no one, not even to an animal. Wrap it carefully round with hobbies and little luxuries; avoid all entanglements; lock it up safe in the casket or coffin of your selfishness. But in that casket—safe, dark, motionless, airless—it will change. It will not be broken; it will become unbreakable, impenetrable, irredeemable. The alternative to tragedy, or at least to the risk of tragedy, is damnation.
If you do one thing consistently and focus on it exclusively, you cannot help but get better at it.
“Stop looking for the path of least resistance and start running down the path of greatest glory to God and good to others because that’s what Jesus, the real Man, did.”
Mark Driscoll, Real Marriage: The Truth About Sex, Friendship, and Life Together
Come my tan-faced children,
Follow well in order, get your weapons ready,
Have you your pistols? have you your sharp-edged axes?
Pioneers! O pioneers!
For we cannot tarry here,
We must march my darlings, we must bear the brunt of danger,
We the youthful sinewy races, all the rest on us depend,
Pioneers! O pioneers!
O you youths, Western youths,
So impatient, full of action, full of manly pride and friendship,
Plain I see you Western youths, see you tramping with the foremost,
Pioneers! O pioneers!
Have the elder races halted?
Do they droop and end their lesson, wearied over there beyond the seas?
We take up the task eternal, and the burden and the lesson,
Pioneers! O pioneers!
—Excerpt from O, Pioneers! by Walt Whitman
“How glibly we talk of praying without ceasing! Yet we are quite apt to quit, if our prayer remained unanswered but one week or month! We assume that by a stroke of His arm or an action of His will, God will give us what we ask. It never seems to dawn on us, that He is the Master of nature, as of grace, and that, sometimes He chooses one way, and sometimes another in which to do His work. It takes years, sometimes, to answer a prayer and when it is answered, and we look backward we can see that it did. But God knows all the time, and it is His will that we pray, and pray, and still pray, and so come to know, indeed and of a truth, what it is to pray without ceasing.” — ANON.
I’ve decided to take a little detour from the current task of trying to shrink the stack of new books next to my bed and re-visit/re-read the books from my “Personal Classics” list. (You can see my 2011 list of books I’ve just finished or am currently reading here.)
Each of these books made a huge impact on my life. I can actually tell you where I was and what I was going through personally when I read each of these books. That’s the impact they had.
Now, I don’t agree with EVERYTHING said by the authors in some of these and other books they’ve written, but, if we only read or listen to the people we agree 100% with, we will never really grow. I want to be stretched. I want to think things I have never thought about subjects I have never thought about. Even better, I want to hear a new perspective on an old subject that I might think I know everything there is to know and am completely secure in my opinions of that subject.
Most of these books were like that for me. Ground breaking. Mindset breaking. Habit breaking. In some cases, will breaking.
Here’s my list of personal classics:
- Mere Christianity- C.S. Lewis
- Maximized Manhood- Edwin Louis Cole
- How to Win Friends and Influence People- Dale Carnegie
- The Jesus I Never Knew- Philip Yancey
- Faith- Phil Pringle
- How to Experience Revival- Charles G. Finney
- In The Name of Jesus- Henry J. M. Nouwen
- A Generous Orthodoxy- Brian McClaren
- The Wounded Healer- Henry J. M. Nouwen
- The Person and Work of the Holy Spirit- R.A. Torrey
- Ever Increasing Faith- Smith Wigglesworth
- A Tale of Three Kings- Gene Edwards
- The Master & The Apostle- John Pollock
- Smith Wigglesworth, A Man Who Walked With God- George Stormont
- Moving In The Spirit- Phil Pringle
What books have made a major, life changing impact on your life? I would love to check them out. Leave a comment with the book title and author. I really will try to read every book suggested.
If you have an extra copy of the book and want to send it my way you can send it here:
Shady Grove Church
2404 N. Carrier Pkwy
Grand Prairie, TX 75050
Last month I read two amazing books that I would strongly encourage you to read.
The first was “Awakening: A New Approach to Faith, Fasting, and Spiritual Freedom” by Stovall Weems. This was a great book to start the year off with because it’s also accompanied by a 21 day fasting plan, that you can actually sign up for online and be partnered with literally thousands of other people doing the same fast, reading the same materials and having the same prayer focus as you for that 21 days. Pretty powerful stuff.
Even if you can’t read this at the first of the year and participate in the corporate fast, you still should read this book. It really opened my eyes to some misconceptions I had about fasting, and helped my break out of some serious religious mindsets that I had and didn’t even know it. Reading this book has really lead to a new level in my prayer and fasting life, simply because it’s caused me to approach both differently.
Another book I read was by Mark Batterson called “Soulprint: Discovering Your Divine Destiny”. Mark has quickly become my favorite (living) author. I think I’ve read all of his books that are currently in print. Mark has such a great writing style and such an easy delivery system that there is literally something mind bowing and “highlightable” on every page. “Soulprint” walks through the life of King David and the choices he made to walk into his divine destiny and helps you look at your life to discover what you were created for. The book also has a study section that would be great for a family or church small group to go through.
There was so much great stuff in both of these books that I don’t have the time or energy to put them all down on this post, though I did out down a few highlights below.
Trust me and go get both of these books.
Here are just a few of my highlights from “Awakening” by Stovall Weems:
“True followers of Jesus are enthusiastic (not weird or obnoxious!) followers.”
“Harshness isn’t holiness, but it is easy to confuse the two”
“When you pray in the name of Jesus, it has the same power as if Jesus were praying Himself. The difference between us and Jesus is that Jesus is always in complete alignment with His Father. This is why periodic seasons of fasting are so important.”
“When the whole focus of our prayers is only our relief and happiness, not the glory of God, we will become easily discouraged when we don’t see a quick answer to our prayers.”
“Fasting is not for God; it’s for us. We are the ones who need to fast—and not to get what we want or to try and get more from God. We need to fast to go full throttle after what God wants so that we can come into full cooperation (or agreement) with His will.”
“When we are too disconnected from God and too connected to the world and its distractions, the result is always unbelief. Instead of walking in faith, we walk in unbelief, and God’s kingdom doesn’t manifest with power.”
“Prayer and fasting should be proactive, not reactive.”
Here are a few highlights from “Soul Print” by Mark Batterson:
“There has never been and never will be anyone else like you. But that isn’t a testament to you. It’s a testament to the God who created you. You are unlike anyone who has ever lived. But that uniqueness isn’t a virtue. It’s a responsibility. Uniqueness is God’s gift to you, and uniqueness is your gift to God. You owe it to yourself to be yourself. But more important, you owe it to the One who designed you and destined you.”
“God is painting a picture of grace on the canvas of your life. God is writing His-story, history with a hyphen, through your life. God is crafting your character through the circumstances of your life. To see yourself as anything other than God’s masterpiece is to devalue and distort your true identity.”
“All of us start out as one-of-a-kind originals, but too many of us end up as carbon copies of someone else.”
“I don’t know what difficulties you’ve endured, but they don’t have to define you if you simply let them refine you. That’s the choice: define or refine. And if you let them refine you, God will actually use those negative experiences to redefine you.”
“Every occupation has its ladder, and if you climb over people to climb the ladder, it’ll be awfully lonely at the top. If you skip rungs, you may get to the top quicker, but you’ll also be much more likely to fall. Without integrity, the ladder has nothing to lean against. Without integrity, you cannot fulfill your destiny, because your integrity is your destiny.”
“Just because something looks like or feels like a God thing doesn’t necessarily mean it’s a God thing. Just because it’s endorsed by your closest confidants doesn’t mean it’s a God thing. Just because it seems like a golden opportunity doesn’t mean it’s a God thing. An opportunity isn’t an opportunity if you have to compromise your integrity.”
“It’s the little compromises that lead to major problems.”
I LOVE THIS! I CAN’T WAIT TO READ THIS BOOK…
T-minus three days till Soulprint releases. Here’s an excerpt from a chapter titled The Crags of the Wild Goats. It’s a chapter about epic integrity.
He came to the sheep pens along the way; a cave was there, and Saul went in to relieve himself. David and his men were far back in the cave. The men said, “This is the day the Lord spoke of when he said to you, “I will give your enemy into your hands for you to deal with as you wish.” Then David crept up unnoticed and cut off a corner of Saul’s robe.
I Samuel 24:3-4
David and his band of brothers are deep within the crevices of the cave when Saul shows up. Then, in a comedic scene that would have the most catatonic Broadway critic rolling in the aisles, Saul goes into the cave to relieve himself. What he doesn’t know is that David is in the stall next to him!
Now, this is where my seminary training comes in handy. This is where I dive into the original Hebrew language and ask questions like these: What does the word “relieve” really mean? Are we talking number one or number two? What do the text and context suggest? What is the scholarly consensus on the point?
Based on the amount of time spent in the cave, and leaning on personal experience, I think the evidence points to number two. Why? Because David has time to cut off a corner of Saul’s robe! I don’t think he would have time to make that maneuver if we’re talking about number one. And I think this number one vs. number two business has far more spiritual significance than we may realize.
If it had been number one, David would not have had much time to think about what he was going to do. If we’re talking number two, however, his integrity is far more impressive. David had plenty of time to kill Saul. He didn’t just resist a short-fused temptation. He had time to think about it and act on it. It had to feel like an eternity to David as he weighed his options. Do I kill the king and assume the throne that rightfully belongs to me? Or do I risk missing the opportunity of a lifetime and keep living as a fugitive?
The men who are with him certainly perceive it as a divine opportunity, but just because something looks like or feels like a God thing doesn’t necessarily mean it’s a God thing. Just because it’s endorsed by your closest confidants doesn’t mean it’s a God thing. Just because it seems like a golden opportunity doesn’t mean it’s a God thing. An opportunity isn’t an opportunity if you have to compromise your integrity. If you have to lie on a résumé or withhold information during an interview process, then it’s not worth getting the job. If you get the job by compromising your integrity, then you’ll keep compromising your integrity. But if you are straight up right from the get-go, then either your potential employer will respect you for it and hire you because of your integrity or they’ll do you a favor and not hire you.