quotes by Leonard Ravenhill

25 08 2010

I just saw where one of my friends on Facebook referenced a quote by Leonard Ravenhill.  (Now there’s a good use for Facebook!)  They paraphrased it and I wanted to get the actual wording because I collect good quotes, so I searched online for it.  Here’s that quote (watch your toes!):

How can you pull down strongholds of Satan if you don’t even have the strength to turn off your TV? ~ Leonard Ravenhill

If you aren’t familiar with Leonard Ravenhill, here’s a short summary from a bio of him I found online that had that quote.  Leonard Ravenhill was one of the foremost outdoor evangelists of the 20th century, reaching thousands of people.  There’s a lot more that could be said about that, obviously, but one interesting tidbit in his life story is that he never quit ministry.  Even when he had become frail from old age and couldn’t get around well, he still held prayer meetings in his home, and some people would drive four hours round-trip to attend these prayer meetings.  The man who wrote the short biography at that page attended these meetings, and he said he was always challenged by what Leonard had said.  He always took a notebook to the prayer meetings so he would remember some of these great observations and maxims.  There’s some of them listed at that page.

Just in case you’re not sure if you’re going to read the quotes at that link, here’s a couple more of them that stand out to me.

There are only two kinds of persons: those dead in sin and those dead to sin. ~ Leonard Ravenhill

We must do what we can do for God, before He will give us the power to do what we can’t do. ~ Leonard Ravenhill

If a Christian is not having tribulation in the world, there’s something wrong! ~ Leonard Ravenhill

Many pastors criticize me for taking the Gospel so seriously.  But do they really think that on Judgment Day, Christ will chastise me, saying, “Leonard, you took Me too seriously”? ~ Leonard Ravenhill


What makes something childish?

10 06 2010

Last week I was in Orlando, Florida, for vacation.  I spent two days at Disney World, and it was awesome.   I went to Magic Kingdom and Epcot, spending one day at each.  (Each park really needs a whole day, if you want to experience everything.)  There were fun rides and neat buildings and attractions, but the best part was how the place sparked my imagination.  It made me feel like a kid again.

Later I got to wondering why many of us tend to put away things like imagination when we become adults.   I realize we can’t keep acting like children all the time because we have responsibilities to tend to, but we don’t have to throw away our imagination.  To me, that’s what makes people “old” and stodgy.

Is Disney World more for children?  Perhaps in some ways, but not necessarily overall.  On a similar note, are cartoons only for children?  Some are, because they’re so dumbed-down that there’s really nothing to them.  But many aren’t like that.  Yet it seems like most adults dismiss cartoons as childish.  Why?

Do we quit enjoying fictional / fantasy worlds?  Many adults still watch fictional TV shows, where scenarios are created that aren’t reality.  Do we not like comedy anymore?   Many of us still watch comedy shows.  So why are all cartoons dismissed when we still enjoy the basic principles of them?  Is it because they’re “childish”?   That’s too vague an answer.  What makes them childish?

I’ve seen cartoons that have more entertainment value and substance than “real-life” TV shows, including areas of comedy, action, and intellectual depth.   Those clearly aren’t childish.  In fact, many of the Looney Tunes cartoons we grew up on have jokes made for adults, like referencing war rations.   So how did they become childish?

I’ve wondered about this numerous times, because I sometimes hear these things.   I’m 36 years old, and I still enjoy watching some cartoons and playing video games, and I hear comments sometimes that those things are for “little boys”.  What makes shows for adults better?   From what I hear, many of the “reality TV” and real-life drama shows are stressful and vulgar.   Is that better for adults?

Lest you think this is just my ramblings, I want to quote one of the greatest thinkers of the 20th century, C.S. Lewis.  He also thought about this:

When I was ten, I read fairy tales in secret and would have been ashamed if I had been found doing so.  Now that I am 50, I read them openly.  When I became a man, I put away childish things — including the fear of childishness and the desire to be grown-up. ~ C.S. Lewis

Why do we have a fear of appearing childish?  Why do we want to appear “grown-up”?  (And what does that even mean?)  When we accept these preconceived notions of what is and isn’t grown-up behavior, are we doing it to convince ourselves?  Or to convince others?  What’s the purpose?   Haven’t we learned to be ourselves?  Do you remember how as a teenager you wanted to be grown-up, so you would conform to certain boundaries (in selected areas) so you wouldn’t be a kid anymore?  And likewise, teenagers tend to conform to the crowd they want to be part of, to be “cool” and to fit in.  As you get older, you realize how silly some of that is, and you learn that being “cool” is about being yourself and being confident about it and accepting who you are.  It’s not about what style of clothes you wear or what music you listen to or what car you drive.   It’s about being yourself.  So why would we as adults still do this by saying certain things are childish?

I’d like to hear your opinions on this.

judging someone we don’t know

27 03 2010

I wasn’t planning to write any more about the Tiger Woods “scandal”, and I’m not going to write on the issue directly but use it as an example leading to a related point.  Okay?  (I don’t know why I’m asking — I’m going to write anyway.   I suppose you could stop reading, but you might miss something good.)

I came across a quote by Bill Simmons, an ESPN.com writer, about the media circus revolving around Tiger Woods, which sets up my point:

“We are voyeurs when it comes to our favorite athletes. They thrill us, keep us guessing, keep us on our toes, keep us watching. During the average golf tournament, cameras capture every reaction and emotion from the closest of angles — triumph, anguish, fury, frustration, panic, you name it — which deceives us into thinking we know these guys better than we do. How many times did you hear someone say “Can you believe Tiger did that?” over these past two weeks? Like we knew him. And we didn’t.” ~ Bill Simmons, 12/2009

That was said over two months ago, and yet the media hoopla continues.   Recently SportsCenter there was a poll about whether everyone believed his apology and whether they forgive him for what he did.   Why do the fans have to forgive him?  (I won’t rant on that again — you can read my previous post to go there.)

Notice how Bill Simmons said we didn’t know Tiger Woods, yet we were so shocked and outraged at his behavior.  We really didn’t know him.  And we still don’t really know him . Just as we jumped to conclusions / judgments on his moral character before all this, we shouldn’t jump to conclusions or judgments now.  Sure, we know more now, but there’s also all that we “knew” before (and some of it was true), and we should also consider that one aspect of character doesn’t necessarily make someone overall good or bad.  By the world’s standards, we can be both good and bad, and we probably all are.

Here’s what I’m really wanting to get to in this article.  Why are we so intent on putting people in a box?  We had made all these judgments on Tiger Woods, on what a great guy he was, and we didn’t even know him.  And it’s not just him — this happens to everyone: celebrities, athletes, and even “everyday people”.   I’ve seen this happen a lot — if someone makes good grades in school, they must be a nerd and not be very sociable or “cool”; or if someone is a great athlete then they’re not very smart; or if someone is a musician then they can’t be an athlete also; or if someone is a Republican / conservative then they don’t understand economics; or if someone is a Democrat / liberal then they don’t have morals; etc.

Why are we so intent on grouping people into boxes?  It’s because it’s easy.  We don’t have to think as much, as we can assume we know more than we really do.   Here’s how another blogger explained it:

Isn’t it comforting to fit people into little boxes and categories, so that you can stop caring about what happens to them? I’m as guilty as anyone. … There’s no shortage of little boxes to put people in, either. Marxists think there are financial classes. Feminists think there are sexual classes. Blacks think there are racial classes. I think there are classes of … politics. It’s the human way of dealing with millions of people, with meeting hundreds of people every day. You can’t get to know every one individually. … We just toss them in boxes. This one’s a feminist. That one’s a leftist. That one’s a conservative. That one’s a skinhead. This one’s a single mother. That one’s a divorced father. And for every box we have a list of ready-made qualities we ascribe to it. Self-absorbed. Angry. Annoying. Petty. Self-righteous. Dogmatic. Immature. Cold. Heartless. Vicious. Greedy. Victim. Oppressor. Throughout all of this we forget the one great truth: that there are no boxes. That all there really is are individuals. But, as I said, and as the conversation illustrates, nobody is immune from bigotry and prejudice, not even those, like the left-wing revolutionaries at the next table, who claim to hate bigotry and prejudice. ~ Buster B

Can you see how harmful it is to put people in boxes?   We misinterpret people, because we our interpretation of all they say and do is based on what we think we know about them (and also based on who we are).  If we get a wrong first impression of someone, then when they do anything that resembles your judgment, it’s considered evidence, so you keep thinking that way.  Also, how we are influences how we see others.  If we are greedy and/or can’t manage money, then when we hear someone asking for money (like a preacher), we may assume they want to use it for themselves, even if that’s not true at all.  (I’ve seen that happen.)

I’ve been put in boxes many times, and it gets old.  People have often been surprised that I like a certain style of music, that I can play in a tennis league (and even win it occasionally), that I don’t get offended easily, etc.   I’ve seen people alter their actions around me because they thought that I get offended easily.   (They told me this later.)  Yet I don’t offend easily — it’s something I strive for.  But why did they think this?  Why were they so surprised at how I am?

I suspect we do this more than we realize it, and we probably don’t realize how it can hurt people and hinder relationships.  I’ve heard it said that prejudging people makes us less compassionate.   I think it makes us less open to people and more oblivious to reality.   It can also make us prejudiced. (One definition of prejudice is “a preconceived preference or idea.”)   We may think we won’t like someone based on a few impressions, because we’ve already “figured out” how they are.

This is just something to think about.   If you catch yourself figuring someone is a certain way, ask yourself if you really know that for sure or if it’s just a “hunch” (which could be a preconceived stereotype).   It would make our relationships better if we took things at face value more often and gave people the benefit of the doubt…

living completely for God

21 04 2009

If you’ve been reading this blog for a while, you know that I sometimes “step on your toes” (or meddle, as some call it).  I try to be both challenging and encouraging (and hopefully it never comes across as condemning).   This is the kind of “iron sharpening iron” that I like from my friends, where we share what God is revealing to us and it will be convicting and encouraging at the same time.

This post may be the most challenging one yet, so be forewarned.   🙂  Just remember that this is not directed at anyone in particular, and you are reading it of your own free will.  So if you get offended, don’t blame me.  🙂

In our spiritual growth, we tend to have seasons where it’s challenging and seasons where it’s a little more comfortable.  (I don’t know that we’re supposed to be comfortable too much, but it can happen.)  When we’re comfortable, God sometimes will rock the boat and challenge us to a higher level of devotion, so we’ll grow more.  These times can be quite difficult, because we may have to give up things that aren’t bad at all, in order to move up.

Sometimes we find ourselves challenged to a level where we’re not comfortable, and we may fight against it for a while.  It’s not that we don’t want to move up — although part of us wants to stay where we’re comfortable — but it’s difficult to make the necessary changes, to die to self even more.  So we might struggle to change, and this struggle may last for a while sometimes.

That next step for spiritual growth may mean giving up something you enjoy or it may mean doing something you’ve never done before.   Either way, we know what we should do, but for whatever reasons we’re not fully doing it yet.

I’ll admit I’ve been there, so I can relate to that struggle.  I wish I could say I’ve always stepped out in faith instantly when prompted to do something, but sometimes it has taken a little while to put my will in full submission to His will.   Perhaps you can relate.  (I hope this helps someone.)  You don’t have to share with me and everyone else reading, but at least be honest with yourself.

I was struggling with this in a particular area when I heard a sermon recently by Brian Jarrett (which I’ve already written about a couple of times).  Here’s something he said that really put it in perspective:

“Are you gonna play God for a while and then trust Him, or will you trust Him now?”

He was referring to a huge step of faith and obedience that he was called to, and he wanted to do it, but he wasn’t stepping out immediately.  In his mind he was wrestling with the step and trying to rationalize a way to delay his obedience, so he could find the right time to take that big step.   But he realized that when God tells you to do something, you should do it as soon as possible, unless He wants you to wait.   If you think about it, that’s how it should be.  Delayed obedience is dangerously close to disobedience, and to a degree, it is disobedience.  We don’t get to decide when it’s convenient to do God’s will.

This concept also applies to everyday life.  Even if we aren’t facing a major step of faith, we’re all called to walk in the Spirit and follow Jesus’ example and even do greater works than Jesus did.  If we’re honest with ourselves, we haven’t arrived there yet.  But the bigger question is: do we expect to grow to that point?  Do you expect God to anoint you for awesome works in your ministry every day, and do you expect to know God in a very intimate way, as a friend?   That’s part of His will for your life.

So do you expect those things?   I figure most people who call themselves a Christian would say they want it.  But just wanting it doesn’t make it happen, as you’ve probably figured out.  Are you taking the steps necessary to make it happen?  Along that line of thought, I want to share a quote that has stuck with me for years:

Just when do we plan on beginning to walk in the presence of God moment by moment?  Well, most people don’t plan to.  Most Christians just like to talk about it and read books about it and “intend” to get around to it!  After all, when 99.9% of the people they know who call themselves Christians are able to claim to be the real thing without ever being personally responsible for their own feeding in the Word; and without ever manifesting a hunger and thirst for righteousness; and with more interest in worldly emotionalism in place of obedience and adoration of God; then, why can’t ALL of us get away with that, eh?   Isn’t that really the bottom line? ~ Bro. Dan Jenkins

I don’t think the number is 99.9 percent, at least among people I know.  I’m not going to even try to estimate what it really is — that’s not the point, and I have no way of knowing anyway.  The real question is whether we are taking the necessary steps to live a victorious life in Christ in the fullness we are called to.   It’s not enough to hope it happens and to talk about it — we must do all we can to make sure it happens.  It’s God’s will, so it’s up to us whether it happens or not.

the fasted lifestyle

14 01 2009

Recently I was talking about fasting here on my blog, and today I’m going to continue that trend.  But this time I’m going to discuss a variation of it that some call the “fasted lifestyle”.  That is, giving up some of our excess in all areas of life.  In addition to spending less on food, you spend less on entertainment, you spend less on your home and cars, etc., so you can give more to the work of God.

I recently read an article about this, and I want to share a quote from it, which makes several good points:

Through attempting to live the fasted lifestyle, I realize how addicted I am to false sources of comfort and happiness.  In the words of C.S. Lewis, “We human beings are far too easily satisfied.”  My heart aches with longing for a thousand different things, not knowing its true longing is for God.  Deep down, I really want God, but I eat a Whopper and it makes me feel pretty good, or I watch a funny movie and the ache in my soul goes away for a couple hours.  Many people spend their lives living from one false source of comfort to another — just to get through the day.  It’s how we stop the screaming, raging ache inside that is common to all men. ~ Molly Mosack

I can relate to that.  Sometimes when I’ve felt like there should be more to life, I’ve covered that up with things like eating, video games, sports, and humor.  That’s not to say those things are bad, because they’re not.  But we must be careful that we aren’t sedating our spiritual hunger with “junk food”.

If we aren’t careful, we won’t ever think about all that God wants to do in us and through us.  Do you know we’re supposed to be doing greater works than Jesus did?  Do you ever think about how many unsaved people there are, and that we should be doing a lot more to reach them?  Those are tough questions to chew on, because to act on them requires a very devout lifestyle, which probably means some change is needed.  It may be easier to just watch TV, even though it’s usually not very satisfying.  But we won’t have to look at our shortcomings, and we can just hope everything works out okay (if we even think that much about other people).

If you’re still reading, think on this: someday we will give an account to God for how we lived our life.  He has entrusted us with a mission, and He’s given us talents and gifts to accomplish His will, and He will examine what we did and didn’t do.  It will all be laid bare, and there will be no valid excuses.  I’m not trying to scare you with that, but that day is inevitable, so we would be wise to consider it.

the wages of sin

19 12 2008

After the last post, I was thinking about the nature of sin, how we are deceived by empty promises because we don’t realize what it really costs.  Then I remembered this quote:

Sin wouldn’t be so attractive, if the wages were paid immediately.

If we saw the immediate result, we would dramatically clean up our life.  If we saw how our temper causes long-term pain and division in our relationships, if we saw how lust hurts our marriage (even if you’re single), if we saw how our selfishness hindered the work of God, if we saw how our lack of compassion for the lost let people go to hell, etc.  You get the idea.  We would live differently.

As you know, Jesus has already taken the punishment for our sin.  So even though our sins will be forgiven and washed away forever, that doesn’t change the fact that ministry opportunities were lost and some never regained.  We will still have to stand before God and give an account for all that we didn’t do.

It’s really sobering to think of lost ministry opportunities.  There are people I was supposed to witness to but I missed the chance for whatever reasons.  Some of those people I may never see again, and some might have already passed away, meaning they don’t get another chance.  There are opportunities each day to glorify God and impact the world around us for His Kingdom.  Will we make the most of our opportunities, or will we be distracted?

longing for final deliverance

3 12 2008

Today I’m going to share a quote I read recently.

Every time you acknowledge your sin, you long for Jesus too.  But you’re not longing for the final sacrifice, because it’s already been made.  No, you and I long for final deliverance.  We long for that moment when we’ll be taken to the place where sin will be no more.  We long to see Jesus, to be with Him, and to be like Him.  Isn’t it comforting to know that that final deliverance has been written into the story as well?  It is our guaranteed future.  And so we long with hope. ~ Paul David Tripp, Whiter Than Snow

It is very comforting, and I really long for that day.  But in knowing that it is coming, it’s easier to bear the troubles of the world we live in now.  And, of course, we have work to do, to tell people of that final sacrifice, which makes us want to stay here longer so we can accomplish more for the Kingdom of God…