Just thought I would share some good stuff I have read/come across lately. It's good stuff.
"If I were a pastor, I would want to preach in the spirit of the New Covenant, inviting everyone in the congregation to see the heart of God revealed in the cross of Christ. I would encourage them to interpret all of life's hardships not as problems to fix or struggles to relieve or pain to deaden, but as important elements in a larger story that all God's children long to tell. I would urge them to accept wherever they are on the journey, whether happy or miserable, as the place where God will meet them, where he loves them, where he will continue to work in them. And I would offer my own life as a growing, struggling, sometimes painfully unattractive example of what doing that might mean. I would beg God to deliver me from Calvary-denying sermons, which leave people feeling scolded and pressured...I would ask God to never let me again preach an Eden-denying message where psychological insights replace biblical wisdom in a misguided effort to repair emotional damage when the real problem is a serpent-inspired determination to experience life without God."
--Shattered Dreams, Larry Crabb (I stole this from our bulletin Sunday)
Here are some more from the readings I did with Michael last week--this devotion is from The Joy of Self-Denial by John Calvin...
If we are not our own, but the Lord's, it is clear to what purpose all our deeds must be directed. We are not our own, therefore neither our reason nor our will should guide us in our thoughts and actions. We are not our own, therefore we should not seek what is only expedient to the flesh. We are not our own, therefore let us forget ourselves and our own interests as far as possible.
We are God's own; to him, therefore, let us live and die. We are God's own; therefore let his wisdom and will dominate all our actions. We are God's own; therefore let every part of our existence be directed towards him as our only legitimate goal.
The most effective poison to lead us to ruin is to boast in ourselves, in our own wisdom and willpower. The only escape to safety is simply to follow the guidance of the Lord.
Scripture draws our attention to the fact that if we want ease and tranquility in our lives, we should resign ourselves and all that we have to the will of God, and at the same time we should surrender our affections to him as our Conqueror.
If then there is any encouragement in Christ, any consolation from love, any sharing in the Spirit, any compassion and sympathy, make my joy complete: be of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind. Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility regard others as better than yourselves. Let each of you look not to your own interests, but to the interests of others...
How many times do I actually do that? It feels like every day I struggle with having "selfish ambitions" and putting myself before others. The desire of my heart is for every part of my existence to be directed toward Christ, but I fail with almost every breath I take throughout the day. My desire lately is to really strive to take the focus off of myself, even in my prayer life. I have noticed lately how much when I spend time in prayer how much of it is focussed on me and things going on in my own life, and spend little time praying for others. I desire to change that. I want to pray well for others. It is so important. I pray the Lord will continue to show me ways to not look to my own interests, "but to the interests of others."