Book Review: Relentless by John Bevere

I recently finished Relentless by John Bevere. I have always enjoyed the author’s writing style and why I don’t always agree with his theology, I deeply appreciate his defense of Scripture and desire to communicate the truths of God’s Word.

relentless

This book is really about the empowerment of God’s grace. We tend to think of grace only in relation to our sin but grace is meant for so much more. Grace is not only the power to overcome sin but it is the power to live an overcoming life as a warrior for the Kingdom of God.

One of the highlights of the book is the chapter on humility. We often think of pride as the opposite of humility but as the author points out, Habakkuk 2:4 portrays pride and faith as opposites. “Behold the proud, His soul is not upright in him; but the just shall live by faith.” This should show us how God links faith and humility. Some hide their pride and disbelief behind a shadow false humility.

A perfect example is the ten spies of the promised land. “If the ten spies had humbly relied on God’s promises, they would have moved out and conquered the land. They would have submitted to the Word of the Lord rather than their limited strength and human reasoning, and they they would have been submitted to one another – under the same mission.”

True humility is absolute obedience and dependance on God.

For me, the whole book was worth these few paragraphs at the end.

Sadly, I have witnessed our spiritual (scriptural) foundations shifting to accommodate the trends of the times. It’s gotten so out of control that minister of a large church can stand before his congregation, declare he’s a homosexual, and receive a standing ovation. Another can declare it’s no longer God’s will to heal, and his people believe him instead of God’s Word. Another can author a book declaring that all humanity is going to eventually enter heaven – that no person will burn in eternal fire – and he remains a ‘rock star’ in Christendom. Another can challenge the virgin birth and the return of Jesus Christ and still be celebrated as a leader of the Christian faith. More and more sad scenarios such as these play our among “Christians” each day.

Some recent surveys may help us understand these ludicrous shifts. According to one national survey, only 46 percent of ‘born-again Christians’ believe in absolute moral truth. More than 50 percent of ‘evangelical Christians” believe people can attain heaven through avenues other than the sacrifice of Jesus Christ. Only 40 percent of ‘born-again Christians’ believe Satan is a real force. How can this be? The answer is found in Paul’s words to Timothy: “They will not endure sound doctrine” – we are not remaining relentless in truth.

More and more we are hearing and declaring a non transformational gospel. Its core message is unfaithful to the core doctrine of God’s Word, as in “Jesus died for our sins to get us to heaven, but we are human, and God understands our different vices and sexual preferences.” A popular teaching of late in the removal of the need for repentance from sin. Multitudes of believers are gleefully told that there’s no need to embrace godly sorrow over disobedience or to confess it to God because sin has already been covered by grace. I’ve heard men and women who embrace this teach boast of how simple, fresh, and liberating the message is. But if simple, fresh, and liberating war the real indicators of truth, then any doctrine that gratifies the flesh would be truth! If it’s an accurate teaching that Christians no longer need to repent, then Jesus Christ was way off base when he told five of the seven churches to “repent” in the book of Revelation.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from bloggingforbooks.com book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Markings

What mark will your life leave?

Every life makes a mark on the lives of others. Some lives mark many other lives, some lives mark few. What is even more important than the number of lives marked by yours is the type of mark you leave. Some people mark others with their own personal mark, leaving an impression that lasts a lifetime and seldom much more. Some people mark others with the mark of Christ, hiding behind the cross as the love of Jesus shines through them. They are often forgotten in death and even overlooked in life, but the mark that they leave last for an eternity.

What mark will you make on others? Your mark or His?

He must increase, but I must decrease.

photo credit: Twistiti via photo pin cc

Seven Prayers

At some point (I don’t know when) and somewhere (I don’t know where) I picked up a list of seven things to pray for. I jotted the list down on a prayer guide that I use and these seven prayer requests have been a part of my daily prayer ever since. I thought I would share them with you today.

1. Humility of Wisdom
I am briefly interrupting my series of posts on First Corinthians to share this with you today. If you have followed this series, you know that the Corinthians were extremely proud of their knowledge and yet they were completely lacking in love and humility. If you hold Truth, you hold a valuable possession which cannot be held in the slippery hands of pride. If you have human wisdom, it is nothing. But if you have heavenly wisdom, remember that it did not come from you. Remain humble.

2. Understanding of the Future
We are certainly living in tumultuous times. Uncertainty seems to be steering the ship. John begins his Revelation with these words, “Blessed is he that readeth, and they that hear the words of this prophecy, and keep those things which are written therein: for the time is at hand” (Revelation 1:3). We should pray that God would help us to understand the spirit of the age and how to combat it. Let us also pray that He would prepare us to live, and if necessary die, for the Gospel in the days ahead.

3. Counsel for Decisions
Try counting how many decisions you make over the course of a day. Good luck. I am fairly certain that it doesn’t matter to God if you wear the blue shirt or the red shirt today, but His council should be sought in every important decision that we must make. After all, His name is Counselor (Isaiah 9:6).

4. Power for Service
Let’s face it, serving is rarely an easy thing for our flesh to do. Paul encouraged the Thessalonians, “Be not weary in well doing” (Thessalonians 3:13). Where do we find power for service? In Jesus Christ and the power of His Spirit. “Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest” (Matthew 11:28). “But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you:” (Acts 1:8).

5. Knowledge of Revelation
One of the greatest battlefields for the Christian is the mind. The enemy will do anything to get you to believe a lie and be damned. Always remember, that which is closest to the truth is the most dangerous lie. Pray that God would guard your mind, protect you from every lie and false doctrine, and give you a love for Truth.

6. Respect for Holiness
It often seems that holiness is mocked and despised at worst, or defended in ignorance at best. We need to do more than practice holiness (inward and outward) because that is what our parents and grandparents did. We need develop a love and a respect for holiness. We develop a respect for holiness when we gain an understanding of the importance and benefits of living a holy life. Pray that God would give you knowledge, wisdom, and understanding in every issue of holiness.

7. Dependance on the Holy Spirit
We would be foolish to believe that we could do anything by our own talent, ability, or willpower. Paul even called the Galatians foolish for believing the same thing, “Are ye so foolish? having begun in the Spirit, are ye now made perfect by the flesh?” (Galatians 3:3). What we need more than ever, in our church services and in our daily walk, is a move of the Holy Ghost. May we ever realize our complete dependance upon Him.

The Place The King Calls Home

What place does the King call home? What is the address of the high and lofty One? Where does the One who inhabits eternity make His dwelling?

“For thus saith the high and lofty One that inhabiteth eternity whose name is Holy; I dwell in the high and holy place, with him also that is of a contrite and humble spirit, to revive the spirit of the humble, and to revive the heart of the contrite ones.” -Isaiah 57:15

What a mystery it is, that the King of eternity, the One who lives in the high and holy place would also dwell with the humble. The creator of all things was born in a manger. How do you come to grip with the fact that the same God by whom all things were made and without whom was there nothing made that is made, who upholds all things by the word of His power, holds my hand when I am lonely? How do you come to grip with the fact that the same God who reclines in the big dipper and props His feet up on planet Earth will stop in His tracks at the weakest cry of His weakest child? How do you get a hold of the fact that the same God who measures the sea in the hollow of His hand, who meets out the heavens with a span, who takes up the dust of the Earth as if it was a small thing, is yet touched by the feelings of my infirmities?

When I think about His holiness, His majesty, His righteousness, and the glory of who He is, I can’t help but be amazed at the fact that He wants to make His dwelling with me. He has taken up residence in my heart and I couldn’t be happier.

He Sees

I recently read that proportionally the surface of the earth is smoother than a billiard ball. Just think, if we shrunk the whole earth down to a size that rested easily in the palm of our hand, we wouldn’t be able to perceive Mount Everest or the ocean floor! Those differences matter much to those who live on this planet, but from God’s point of view, they are hardly recognized.

Photo by Suzan Marie

Remember this the next time you are in the valley and you can’t find your way. Remember this when you aren’t sure if you can climb that next mountain. Remember this when you are on top of the mountain unless you find yourself soon in the valley of despair. To us these differences matter much, but from God’s view they are not the obstacles that we perceive. He sees you and He is with you.

Remember this when you feel inadequate compared to others. Remember this when your past haunts you. Remember this when the enemy tells you that you have sinned too much to live for God. Remember this when you begin to feel like you are holier than everybody else. To us the difference between the pastor in the pulpit and the sinner in the street matters much, but from the perspective of God’s righteousness, all our righteousness is as filthy rags. He sees His child and He loves you.

Chick-fil-A Leadercast: Part 2

Chick-fil-A Leadercast Conference 2010

Part 1: Connie Podesta

Part 2: Jim Collins

 This is part two of my series of “Takeaways” from the Chick-fil-A Leadercast Conference 2010.  I was so blessed to be able to attend this year.  Here are a few nuggets from the conference’s second speaker.  This post is a little long, but the lessons are very powerful.   I encourage you to read the entire post.

Speaker #2: Jim Collins – Business & Leadership Guru.  Author of Good to Great, How the Mighty Fall, and coauthor of Built to Last.

Jim Collins spoke to us about the lessons that he has learned from studying failure.  Many leadership and business books focus on success but, “the contrast between success and failure always teaches us more than just studying success.”  When you contrast two companies (or individuals) with similar circumstance but different outcomes, you learn a great deal about the importance of choices and character.  We learn that we are not imprisoned by our circumstances, we are freed by our choices!

Collins found that the stages of failure are very similar to the stages of cancer (This speech was taken from Collin’s book, How the Mighty Fall).  The one major difference; cancer is not self-inflicted, failure is.  The five stages of failure are as follows:

1.  Hubris (Outrageous Arrogance) Born of Success – In other words, there is a serious lack of humility.  The difference between a good company and a great company is not leadership; both have great leadership.  The difference is the type of leadership.  Great companies have a leader marked by humility (this is different from weakness).  These leaders are not self-consumed; their concern is for the team.  A company or an individual who does not display this quality is in the first step of decline.

2.  Undisciplined Pursuit of More – A little taste of success results in an unquenchable thirst for more which often leads to overreaching.  It is possible to grow too fast, to take on more that you can handle.  How do you tell if your growth is disciplined?  By following Packard’s Law:  if growth exceed you ability to fill all your key positions with the right people you have went too far.  Why is this?  Because it all starts with having the right people.  Many times in this stage, a lot of growth in a short period of time causes companies to hire people who aren’t really the best fit for the job.  As a result, everything looks good on the outside, but cancer is spreading on the inside!

3.  Denial of Risk and Peril – We have all been here before.  The facts are staring us in the face but we try to excuse them.  The key at this stage is to practice true leadership as defined by Napoleon (this is my favorite definition of leadership); define reality and give hope.

4.  Grasping for Salvation – This is the stage when the fall actually happens.  As the free fall begins, most companies reach out for help.  This may bring some temporary relief but in most cases it is only prolonging the fall.  The evidence of false hopes and undisciplined growth has now made its way to the surface and is visible to everyone.  Remember, most overnight successes took twenty years or more.

5.  Capitulation to Irrelevance or Death – There is not much to say about this final stage.  The End.

 We learn some very important lessons in leadership and growth by looking at this process of a fall.  We learn that we will make many changes but we must not abandon our values (truth).  As we grow and experience success we must preserve the core and at the same time stimulate progress.  Mr. Collins put it best when he married together two very famous speeches; “We hold these truths to be self-evident” goes with “I have a dream”.

My challenge to you, take a moment and consider what these lessons can teach the Church about growth.  Consider what these lessons can teach you as an Individual about growth.  Let’s not make the same mistakes as those who now lay in the graveyard of the once mighty.

What Goes Down Must Come Up

Yes, I got that right.  It isn’t a mistake.  I know the saying is, “What goes up must come down,” but in the context of this post, we need to have faith that what goes down must come up as well.

Matthew 23:12 “And whosoever shall exalt himself shall be abased; and he that shall humble himself shall be exalted.”

So you see, if you will go down in humility, God will also exalt you.  What goes down must come up!

But we struggle with this principle so much. 

We don’t have a problem believing the opposite, that what goes up must come down.  We are very good at pointing this truth out in the lives of others.  When someone makes a mistake and comes crashing down, you are sure to hear someone saying, “pride before a fall.”

So if we can believe this principle so easily, and see it played out in life on a regular basis, why do we struggle to believe that if we will humble ourselves, God will exalt us to the place that He has for us in His time?

Most of you reading this are probably in your late teens or twenties.  I’m right there with you.  We are ready to take on the world.  We have great ideas, great talent, and great passion.  But sometimes it feels like life (people and circumstances) is keeping us from doing all the great things that God has put in our hearts to do.  Be encouraged!  What goes down must come up!

Humility comes before honor (Proverbs 18:12).  Jesus was the greatest example of this.  Philippians 2 sums it up nicely.  “[Jesus made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross. Wherefore God also hath highly exalted him, and given him a name which is above every name:”  Notice the line, He came down and was lifted back up.  The song paints the picture; Heaven to Earth, Earth to Cross, Cross to Grave, Grave to Sky! 

Now if Jesus submitted Himself to this principle, shouldn’t we also?

 

God’s promises require from us two things; faith and patience.  I don’t struggle with having faith in the call God has placed on my life, but I do struggle with the patience.  I struggle with waiting for it to happen.  And I know that many of you do as well.  Just remember, before you teach, you must learn.  The more you learn, the more you have to teach.

Lord help me to stay in the school of humility, the place of learning.  Because someday, when I am older and wiser, someone will need to be taught what I learned.

1 Peter 5:6 “Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, that he may exalt you in due time:”

What goes down must come up!