Saturday, January 26, 2019
Continue steadfastly in prayer, being watchful in it with thanksgiving. At the same time, pray also for us, that God may open to us a door for the word, to declare the mystery of Christ, on account of which I am in prison— that I may make it clear, which is how I ought to speak.
Walk in wisdom toward outsiders, making the best use of the time. Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you ought to answer each person (Colossians 4:1-6, ESV).
How are we to be present in the world? What does faithful presence look like? How are we to think, speak and act as Christians during our limited time here? These are questions I’m pondering more lately having just read The Year of Our Lord 1943: Christian Humanism in an Age of Crisis by Alan Jacobs.
Whatever your vocation, “it has no meaning,” wrote Jacques Ellul in 1946, ‘if it is not guided, accompanied, and sustained by another work, one that Christians alone can do and yet often do not” (in Jacobs, p. 200). What is that work? Steadfast, expectant prayer guided with Biblical wisdom as we relate with those around us who are outside the kingdom of God.
Do you believe that by God’s grace, followers of Jesus are participants in a work of preservation of what is good, salvation of the lost and transformation of the saved? If so, understand that our “making the best use of the time” requires Spirit-renewed hearts that demonstrate right behavior and Gospel witness in the world.
This year, as your relationship with Jesus deepens through practicing various spiritual disciplines (Scripture reading, mediation, prayer, fasting, worship, gratitude, generosity, etc.) and is aided by the Spirit of grace, take every opportunity to tell the Good News of Jesus. An authentic Christian witness in lifestyle accompanied with a clear telling of the Good News will surely bear eternal fruit that benefits the world today.
Tuesday, January 16, 2018
I didn’t set out to read a minimum number of books last year. But, I remember wanting to read more than I did in 2016. Part of the motivation came from something Matt Perman writes in his book, What’s Best Next: How the Gospel Transforms the Way You Get Things Done: “Books are for insight, articles are for awareness. Give preference to books (70 percent) without neglecting articles (30 percent)” (p. 187). By the end of 2016, I knew I had been heavy on the articles and light on the books.
To my surprise, I ended up reading a dozen books in 2017. All of them were worthy of my time. A couple or three are what we sometimes call “life changing.” So, here they are:
- The Three Hostages by John Buchan
- The Island of Sheep by John Buchan
- Sick Heart River by John Buchan
- Wabash: A Novel of the American Frontier by Collin Higginbotham
- Deep Work: Rules for Focused Success in a Distracted World by Cal Newport
- How God Became King: The Forgotten Story of the Gospels by N.T. Wright
- The King Jesus Gospel: The Original Good News Revisited by Scot McKnight
- Living Jesus: Doing What Jesus Says in the Sermon on the Mount by Randy Harris
- To End All Wars by Ernest Gordon
- A Year with C.S. Lewis: Daily Readings from His Classic Works edited by Patricia S. Klein
- For the Glory: Eric Liddell’s Journey from Olympic Champion to Modern Martyr by Duncan Hamilton
- Some Writer: The Story of E.B. White by Melissa Sweet
Grace and peace to you!
Friday, January 12, 2018
Each year, for the past several years, I’ve chosen a daily devotional to supplement my morning Bible reading and focused prayer time. Such works include, but are not limited to, Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s I Want to Spend These Days with You, Henry & Richard Blackaby’s Experiencing God Day by Day, A.W. Tozer’s Mornings with Tozer and Tozer on Christian Leadership (now titled Tozer for the Christian Leader), Eric Liddell’s The Disciplines of the Christian Life, Oswald Chambers’ My Utmost for His Highest. In 2017 I read, with great benefit to my walk with Jesus, A Year with C.S. Lewis: Daily Readings from His Classic Writings.
In addition to daily edification, I’ve found that devotionals such as A Year with C.S. Lewis provide opportunity to nibble (feast?) and savor an author’s works that I have yet to read, or a pleasant review of works read previously. For example, in A Year with C.S. Lewis, daily selections are gleaned from Mere Christianity, The Screwtape Letters, The Great Divorce, The Problem of Pain, Miracles, A Grief Observed, The Weight of Glory and The Abolition of Man.
Sometimes such devotionals spark interest not only in reading more of the author’s works from which excerpts were obtained, but also in the author’s life. More than once the result has been reading at least one biography of the author. For example, I’ve read biographies of A.W. Tozer (A Passion for God: The Spiritual Journey of A. W. Tozer by Lyle W. Dorsett and The Life of A.W. Tozer: In Pursuit of God by James L. Snyder), Dietrich Bonhoeffer (Dietrich Bonhoeffer 1906-1945: Martyr, Thinker, Man of Resistance by Ferdinand Schlingensiepen) and Eric Liddell (For the Glory by Duncan Hamilton). After reading A Year with C.S. Lewis, I may reread the short biography No Tame Lion: The Spiritual Legacy of C.S. Lewis by Terry W. Glaspey or perhaps something new to me such as The Narnian: The Life and Imagination of C.S. Lewis by Alan Jacobs.
For 2018, my daily devotional selection is George McDonald: An Anthology compiled by C.S. Lewis. McDonald was the writer who most influenced C.S. Lewis. But this is a topic for another day.
Do you do something similar? If so, please share your experience in the comments section.
Grace and peace to you in Christ Jesus.