Faithlife
Faithlife

20lesson

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20 - 20 Vision

"The church is not a small business enterprise - it is an outpost of the living God."

-H.C. Wilson

I wouldn’t attempt to reduce 20 years to 20 insights and just leave it at that but it would seem only proper with my preacher-type peers to take a stab at it anyway.  Hind sight having the greatest  accuracy and being the least available when we need it the most, perhaps could be of some value to others if it is represented to others as “disposable wisdom”.  What that means is that if you find good in something here, then that’s great.  If on the other hand my hind sight is not relevant to you because your experience has not yet called for it, then you can either file it where you can find it again or forget it. 

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1.  Your potential is determined by God alone.  The way to become all that you can be then is to nurture that relationship above all others. 

2.  There are no God-ordained temperaments that suit us better for leadership.  Anyone can lead and anyone can rise above the limits of their temperament and everyone needs to rise above the limits of their temperament.  Most seminars are led by sanguines or cholerics.  God is phlegmatic.  Temperament percentages.

3.  Christians should learn to be nice.  It is normal and okay to be persecuted for righteousness sake but many times we are persecuted for stupidity’s sake.  “If you can’t say anything nice about a person then the chances are . . . you must think they are a real jerk.”

There is another problem that we need to be aware of.  Some Christians find it very tempting tobe so very certain about what is right that they start laying down the law.  Often it is difficult to be both firm and loving.

A.W. Tozer put it this way:

"It requires great care and a true knowledge of ourselves to distinguish a spiritual burden from a religious irritation.  Often acts done in a spirit of religious irritation have consequences far beyond

what we could have guessed.  It is more important that we maintain a right spirit toward the others than that we bring them to our way of thinking even if our way is right.  Satan cares very little whether we go astray after false doctrine or merely turn sour.  Either way he wins."

Do you know what Tozer means by "sour Christians"?  Often they have a good grasp of doctrine and a clear analysis of the situation, but seem to lack gentleness and peace.  Any follower of religion can have a religious irritation: . . . It is very easy to right in the wrong way.

4.  It is painful to see yourself as you are.  You can’t see the truth about yourself.  You need a faithful friend who will tell you the truth and the humility to listen to him/her.

5.  The greatest commission is not behavior modification.  Non-Christians act like non-Christians.  Thoreau.  There are 1,000 hacking at the branches of evil for every one striking at the root.

THE DISCIPLE

He that hath a gospel,

To loose upon mankind,

Though he serve it utterly---

Body, soul and mind---

Though he go to Calvary

Daily for it's gain---

It is his disciple

Shall make his labor vain.

He that hath a Gospel,

For all earth to own---

Though he etch it on the steel,

Or carve it on the stone---

Not to be misdoubted

Through the after-days---

It is His Disciple

Shall read it many ways.

It is His Disciple

(Ere those bones are dust)

Who shall change the Charter

Who split the trust---

Amplify distinctions,

Rationalise the Claim,

Preaching that the Master

Would have done the same.

It is His Disciple

Who shall tell us how

Much the Master would have scrapped

Had he lived till now---

What he would have modified

Of what he said before---

It is His Disciple

Shall do this and more ......

He that hath a Gospel

Whereby heaven is won

(Carpenter or Cameleer,

Or Maya's dreaming son),

Many swords shall pierce Him,

Mingling blood with gall;

But His Own Disciple

Shall wound Him worst of all!

  Thoreau

6.  When you go to a different church your job is not to transplant a ministry but to find out what the Senior Pastor wants and to do it.

7.  Great faith is evidenced by great works.  If you are believing God for great things then you had better be prepared for a whole lot of personal involvement.

8.  God may not be involved in as many of our moves as we are.  Short tenure may have something to do with low pain tolerance.

9.  Pre-mature soapbox

10.  Most of life is preparation.

11.  Some of the things in life that you least expect will become the greatest and most fruitful blessings.

12.  It is possible to become so narrow in your focus relative to church ministry that you lose perspective of the ministry at large.

13.  In the long run, character and integrity are more important than any ability that a person can have and they will outdistance the others.

14.  Tacking - It is the way that a sailor uses the headwind to make progress against it.  Requires an understanding of the basic art of sailing.  The wind takes you where you want to go not where it wants you to go.

15.  One of the greatest marks of spirituality is personal lack of awareness of it.  The closer a person gets to Christ the more aware they become of how much they really are unlike Him.

16.  As far as winning the lost goes, there are very few issues that are worth a higher place in the priority scale.  Some that we might want to place there can actually retard our progress in the greatest goal.

I Stand By The Door

I stand by the door.

I neither go too far in nor stay too far out,

The door is the most important door in the world --

It is the door through which men walk when they find God.

There's no use my going way inside and staying there,

When so many are still outside and they as much as I,

Crave to know where the door is.

And all that so many ever find Is only the wall where a door ought to be.

They creep along the wall like blind men,

With outstretched groping hands.

Feeling for a door, knowing there must be a door,

Yet they never find it . . .

So I stand by the door.

The most tremendous thing in the world

Is for men to find that door -- the door to God.

The most important thing any man can do

Is to take hold of one of those blind groping hands,

And put it on the latch -- the latch that only clicks

And opens to each man's own touch.

Men die outside that door, as starving beggars die

On cold nights in cruel cities in the dead of winter --

Die for want of what is within their grasp.

They live, on the other side of it -- live because they have not found it,

Nothing else matters compared to helping them find it,

And open it, and walk in, and find Him . . .

So I stand by the door.

Go in great saints, go all the way in --

Go way down into the cavernous cellars,

And way up into the spacious attics --

It is a vast roomy house, this house where God is.

Go into the deepest of hidden casements,

Of withdrawl, of silence, of sainthood.

Some must inhabit those inner rooms,

And know the depths and heights of God,

And call outside to the rest of us how wonderful it is.

Sometimes I take a deeper look in,

Sometimes venture in a little farther;

But my place seems closer to the opening . . .

So I stand by the door.

There is another reason why I stand there.

Some people get part way in and become afraid

Lest God and the zeal of his house devour them;

For God is so very  great and asks all of us.

And these people feel a cosmic claustrophobia,

And want to get out.  "Let me out!" they cry.

And the people way inside only terrify them more.

Somebody must be by the door to tell them they are spoiled

For the old life; they have seen too much:

Once taste God and nothing but God will do any more.

Somebody must be watching for the frightened

Who seek to sneak out just where they came in,

To tell them how much better it is inside.

The people too far in do not see how near these are

To leaving, -- preoccupied with the wonder of it all.

Somebody must watch for those who have entered the door,

But would like to run away.  So for them, too,

I stand by the door.

I admire the people who go way in.

But I wish they would not forget how it was

Before they got in.  Then they would be able to help

The people who have not yet even found the door,

Or the people who want to run away again from God.

You can go in too deeply and stay in too long,

And forget the people outside the door.

As for me, I shall take my old accustomed place,

Near enough to God to hear Him and know He is there,

But not so far from men as not to hear them,

And remember they are there, too.

Where?  Outside the door --

Thousands of them, millions of them.

But -- more important for me --

One of them, two of them, ten of them,

Whose hands I am intended to put on the latch.

So I shall stand by the door and wait

For those who seek it.

"I had rather be a door-keeper . . ."

So I stand by the door.

17.  God will purify the church by taking it out of the world, not by taking the world out of it.

18.  People’s response to us is more often than not, a reflection of our approach.

19.  Luke 5:16 -

20.  Sometimes we must say and do things that we do not feel deeply more for the benefit of others than anything else.

21.  Don’t tolerate cynicism in your own life.  It is poison.

Please beware of a cynical spirit in any area.  Don't be cynical for any reason.  Don't be cynical even toward yourself.  For every Christian who is troubled by pride, I suspect there is another whose opinion of himself is so low that it hinders him from seeing that God is bigger than his faults. 

Tozer offers some good sense on the subject.

"In this world of real corruption, there is a real danger that the earnest Christian may overreact in his resistance to evil and become a victim of the religious occupational disease, cynicism.  The constant need to go counter to popular trend may easily develop in him a sour habit of fault-finding and turn him into a critic of other men's manners, without charity and without love.  What makes this cynical spirit particularly dangerous is that the cynic is usually right.  His analyses are accurate, his judgements are correct, yet for all that he is frightfully, pathetically wrong.  As a cure for the sour,  fault-finding attitude, I recommend the cultivation of the habit of thanksgiving.  Thanksgiving has great curative powers, and a thankful heart cannot be cynical

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