Category Archives: quotes

How Gratitude Catches Up to Us as Leaders

Frodo had leadership thrust upon him, and his long journey is, in one sense, a process of his acceptance of his own leadership. He can’t escape it, even with the Ring, and he certainly wasn’t sufficient for it alone. One dear Christ-like figure in the story is Frodo’s friend, Sam.

My dear friend, Will Coats, pictured them this way.

We all rage against God at some point after we were converted, called, and empowered to lead in our particular place. God shows us favor when He chooses us in love to fulfill His gracious plans to many. Some times the person runs ahead of God’s plans, presupposing that they are entitled to it and quite self-sufficient for the task (i.e. Moses; cf. Acts 7:25). Other leaders attempt to manipulate the blessing out of His Hands with an outrageous mo for strategic planning without God’s wisdom. For example, Rebekah and Jacob. God particularly loves to invite reluctant leaders like Moses, Jonah, and Esther to courageous lead for the sake of others’ welfare, but reluctance is yet another way we rage against God’s timing and call on our lives.

What we need is Gospel-rest that comes only after we have raged against God to the point of futility, only to finally realize we were already given the favor – already discovered and wanted and secure in God’s redemptive story. One of my favorite authors, Dan Allender writing on leadership, put it this way:

“Remember, only repeated encounters with our furious flight from God can bring us the genuine rest we seek . . . God invites the one who rages to collapse in his arms of love. Rest comes when we can no longer sustain our flight, and we find God waiting for us. But rest is not true rest without surrender.” How do we surrender? “We must eventually be caught face to face with God and be unnerved by his kindness. Only then will we surrender” (p. 104).

Do you know when a leader knows that she knows she has surrendered to God? When he has assurance that the calling and place and people God gave him to lead was a gift? It is when the leader is thankful, even for the furnace of affliction that has forged her to become the leader she now is, and worn out from avoiding it. Allender adds: “The funny thing about gratitude is that it is not earned or deserved; it, too, is a gift. We can’t force ourselves to be grateful, but we can stumble into the arms of gratitude when we’re exhausted from our running” (p. 108).

Dan B. Allender, Leading with a Limp: Take Full Advantage of Your Most Powerful Weakness (The Crown Publishing Group).

Staying Warmly Present

On the present moment

“Never, in peace or war, commit your virtue or your happiness to the future. Happy work is best done by the man who takes his long-term plans somewhat lightly and works from moment to moment “as to the Lord.” It is only our daily bread that we are encouraged to ask for. The present is the only time in which any duty can be done or any grace received.”

From The Weight of Glory
Compiled in Words to Live By

The Weight of Glory: And Other Addresses. Copyright © 1949, C. S. Lewis Pte. Ltd. Copyright renewed © 1976, revised 1980 C. S. Lewis Pte. Ltd. All rights reserved. Used with permission of HarperCollins Publishers. Words to Live By: A Guide for the Merely Christian. Copyright © 2007 by C. S. Lewis Pte. Ltd. All rights reserved. Used with permission of HarperCollins Publishers.


Legacy from Christ

Allistair Begg writes: “In January of 1981, he invited me to speak at the Londonderry Young People’s Convention. Just what a man in his late seventies was doing as the chairman of such a gathering, you might well ask. The answer had to do with a particular ministry of his. He was the founder and leader of a boys’ Bible class called Crusaders, a weekly duty he fulfilled for fifty years. His mission statement was clear. He wanted every boy that came to class to have: A Bible in his hand, A Savior in his heart, and A Purpose in his life. Many boys had come to faith in Christ through the years as a result of his ministry, and not on account of T.S.’s athletic ability or dress sense or knowledge of contemporary music. He was devoid of all of that.
When I stayed as his guest for the week during which I spoke, I was introduced to what he referred to as his ‘rogues’ gallery.’ His sitting room had large windows, extremely high ceilings, and a central fireplace he kept stocked with coal. The furniture was plain and comfortable, and a large table over by the window was stacked with books and correspondence. And everywhere, pictures of his ‘rogues.’ Some were by this time successful surgeons. It had been one of “his boys” who had performed open-heart surgery on T.S. some years before. Others were schoolteachers, others in banking and commerce, a significant number in pastoral ministry, and all of them regularly in his prayers. Prior to my visit and certainly afterward, he had written to me and never failed to remind me that he remembered me ‘regularly at the best place.’
T.S. lived alone and had a housekeeper who came in regularly to take care of his domestic affairs. When she arrived on this particular morning, she was not met by the normal cheery smile and bright eyes. She found T.S. sprawled across his bed. He was fully dressed and had obviously begun his day as usual, because when others were called to help and they moved his body, they discovered that he had fallen on top of his prayer list. He had gone to heaven praying for his “rogues.” He could never have died that way had he not lived in such discipline. It is a matter of great concern to me that the varied opportunities of my life can be an excuse for neglecting the kind of routine that is clearly necessary for the maintenance of a meaningful walk with God.”
Begg, Alistair, Made For His Pleasure: Ten Benchmarks of a Vital Faith (Kindle Locations 583-603). (Chicago,IL: Moody Publishers, 2005). Kindle Edition.


“Thine the Amen” by Carl F. Schalk

Thine the amen Thine the praise

alleluias angels raise

Thine the everlasting head

Thine the breaking of the bread

Thine the glory Thine the story

Thine the harvest then the cup

Thine the vineyard then the cup is

lifted uplifted up.

Thine the life eternally

Thine the promise let there be

Thine the vision Thine the tree

all the earth on bended knee

Gone the nailing gone the railing

gone the pleading gone the cry

Gone the sighing gone the dying

what was loss lifted high.

Thine the truly Thine the yes

Thine the table we the guest

Thine the mercy all from Thee

Thine the glory yet to be

Then the ringing and the singing

then the end of all the war

Thine the living Thine the loving

evermore evermore.

Thine the kingdom Thine the prize

Thine the wonder full surprise

Thine the banquet then the praise

then the justice of Thy ways

Thine the glory Thine the story

Then the welcome to the least

Then the wonder all increasing

at Thy feast at Thy feast.

Thine the glory in the night

no more dying only light

Thine the river Thine the tree

Then the Lamb eternally

Then the holy holy holy

celebration jubilee

Thine the splendor Thine the brightness

only Thee only Thee.

We Rest on Thee and in Thy Name we Go

One of my Christian friends is an artist. Angel sent me a recent image of hers based on a scripture from John’s Gospel.


“This image is the next step from Abiding. It is “Rivers of Living Water” from John 7:38 It shows rivers of living water (HS) flowing through and out of us as we abide in Christ. God, the husbandman and gardener holds us in place (eternal covenant: white sling) and takes care of all things needed (providence). As we rest in Christ, we produce fruit, more fruit, and much fruit (John 15). All that we do, as we rest in Him, is a cup of living water in His name, to a lost and dying world.” Artist Angel Ambrose

God is the Ocean of Enjoyment

“God is the highest good of the reasonable creature. The enjoyment of him is our proper end; and is the only happiness with which our souls can be satisfied. IMG_0171To go to heaven, fully to enjoy God, is infinitely better than the most pleasant accommodations here. Better than fathers and mothers, husbands, wives, or children, or the company of any, or all earthly friends. These are but shadows; but the enjoyment of God is the substance. These are but scattered beams; but God is the sun. These are but streams; but God is the fountain. These are but drops, but God is the ocean.”

Jonathan Edwards, Sermon and Discourses, Volume 17, 1730-1733

Hypocrisy is Laying Aside Your True Identity for a False One – John Stott

As I sat at a memorial service in Wheaton for Rev. John Stott with Karen and our friends the VanGemeren’s, Michael Card was singing before Pastor Tim Keller came up to speak. Card sang about coming as we are to Jesus in worship by lifting up our sorrows and offering our pain – with honesty and in our true identity as sons and daughters of the Father. Michael Card’s “Come Lift Up Your Sorrows”

In Matthew chapter six Jesus teaches us to be honest with people and God, especially in giving alms, prayer, and fasting. John Stott, it seems to me, was the best expositor of scripture in the 20th century. Stott warns us against laying aside our true identity in Christ:

“Our good works must be public so that our light shines; our [Christian] devotions must be secret lest we boast about them.”  Practically speaking, we are to show what we are tempted to hide; we are to hide what we are tempted to show.

Stott defines what a hypocrite is:

“In classical Greek the hupokritēs was first an orator and then an actor. So figuratively the word came to be applied to anybody who treats the world as a stage on which he plays a part. He lays aside his true identity and assumes a false one. He is no longer himself but in disguise, impersonating somebody else. He wears a mask. Now in a theatre there is no harm or deceit in the actors playing their parts. It is an accepted convention. The audience knows they have come to a drama; they are not taken in by it” (italics mine).

Later Stott writes: “He is like an actor in that he is pretending (so that what we are seeing is not the real person but a part, a mask, a disguise), yet he is quite unlike the actor in this respect: he takes some religious practice which is a real activity and he turns it into what it was never meant to be, namely a piece of make-believe, a theatrical display before an audience. And it is all done for applause.”

We thank God for the life and ministry of John Stott.

John R. W. Stott The Message of the Sermon on the Mount (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1978), Kindle Locations 2045-2046, 2049, 2051.

Tim Keller, Building Your Identity

“Sin is building your identity—finding your greatest meaning, significance and security—on something besides God. Everyone centers his or her life on something, and whatever that is becomes by definition and function: a) your “god”—something you adore and serve with your whole heart, and b) your “savior”—something you have to have in order to feel spiritually and emotionally significant and meaningful. So even the seemingly most nonreligious people are living lives of worship, working for their “salvation” though not expressing it so to themselves.”

Removing Idols of Heart (a wonderful sermon Tim Keller gave and can be found @ or in his fantastic book Counterfeit Gods: The Empty Promises of Money, Sex, and Power and The Only Hope that Matters)


A Christian Martyr Considers his Identity Before his Death

“Who Am I?”  by Dietrich Bonhoeffer

Who am I? They often tell me
I stepped from my cell’s confinement
Calmly, cheerfully, firmly,
Like a Squire from his country house.

Who am I? They often tell me
I used to speak to my warders
Freely and friendly and clearly,
As thought it were mine to command.

Who am I? They also tell me
I bore the days of misfortune
Equably, smilingly, proudly,
like one accustomed to win.

Am I then really that which other men tell of?
Or am I only what I myself know of myself?
Restless and longing and sick, like a bird in a cage,
Struggling for breath, as though hands were compressing my throat,
Yearning for colors, for flowers, for the voices of birds,
Thirsting for words of kindness, for neighborliness,
Tossing in expectations of great events,
Powerlessly trembling for friends at an infinite distance,
Weary and empty at praying, at thinking, at making,
Faint, and ready to say farewell to it all.

Who am I? This or the Other?
Am I one person today and tomorrow another?
Am I both at once? A hypocrite before others,
And before myself a contemptible woebegone weakling?
Or is something within me still like a beaten army
Fleeing in disorder from victory already achieved?

Who am I? They mock me, these lonely questions of mine.
Whoever I am, Thou knowest, O God, I am thine!

Risk: There is a tide in the affairs of men

There is a tide in the affairs of men.
Which, taken at the flood, leads on to fortune;
Omitted, all the voyage of their life
Is bound in shallows and in miseries.
On such a full sea are we now afloat,
And we must take the current when it serves,
Or lose our ventures. Julius Caesar Act 4, scene 3, 218–224

Brutus and Cassius are discussing the final phase of their civil war with the forces of Octavian and Marcus Antonius. Cassius has been urging that they group their forces at Sardis and take advantage of the secure location to catch their breath. Brutus, however, advocates heading off the enemy at Philippi before Octavian can recruit more men. Brutus’s main point is that, since “the enemy increaseth every day” and “We, at the height, are ready to decline” (lines 216–217), he and Cassius must act now while the ratio of forces is most advantageous. “There’s a tide in the affairs of men,” he insists; that is, power is a force that ebbs and flows in time, and one must “go with the flow.” img_2862

Waiting around only allows your power to pass its crest and begin to ebb; if the opportunity is “omitted” (missed), you’ll find yourself stranded in miserable shallows.

Ships usually need high tides to enter a port or leave it. We cannot control these tides. When these tides come or leave the coast, the ships in waiting must use this opportunity by making no delay. Brutus here says that it is the ripe time, and their army should tackle Octavious and Antony’s forces. However, if they wait further, then they would lose their soldiers and might face defeat. Are you trusting God when opportunities arise? Ecclesiastes 11 warns us about delaying: “Cast your bread upon the waters, for you will find it after many days.”

This is a metaphorical expression of ebbs and flows helps us to recognize whether the tide is an opportunity or an obstacle. This requires us to risk and interpret providence, and avail it as an opportunity or a warning sign.

Oswald Chambers in My Utmost for His Highest (June 8th) above offers discerning thoughts on the nature of risk.