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C.S. Lewis: Friendship

One who has unreliable friends soon comes to ruin, but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother. Proverbs 18:24

“Every real friendship is a sort of secession, even a rebellion. It may be a rebellion of serious thinkers against accepted clap-trap or of faddists against accepted good sense; of real artists against popular ugliness or of charlatans against civilised taste; of good men against the badness of society or of bad men against its goodness. Whichever it is, it will be unwelcome to top people. In each knot of friends there is a sectional “public opinion” which fortifies its members against the public opinion of the community in general. Each therefore is a pocket of potential resistance. Men who have real friends are less easy to manage or “get at”; harder for good authorities to correct or for bad Authorities to corrupt.

Hence if our masters, by force or by propaganda about “Togetherness” or by unobtrusively making privacy and unplanned leisure impossible, ever succeed in producing a world where all are companions and none are friends, they will have removed certain dangers, and will also have taken from us what is almost our strongest safeguard against complete servitude. But the dangers are perfectly real. Friendship (as the ancients saw) can be a school of virtue; but also (as they did not see) a school of vice. It is ambivalent. It makes good men better and bad men worse.”

C.S. Lewis in Four Loves on “Friendship” (Project Gutenberg Canada ebook #1202) excerpt from chapter 4.

Today marks the start of the first-ever Global Gathering in Dubai, UAE, for Global Trust Partners. We convene as 27 men and women from 15 countries for the week. Most importantly, we come together as as good men and women aiming to ask God through confession, prayer, and fasting to clean up what is bad in the global church.

Pray with us that our coming together will make us all better. And make that same difference where you are! Lock arms with other generous people to make a difference. You will develop bonds deeper than family ties, these will become friends for who you will give your life in collaborative service to Christ.

Find people who will look you in the eyes regardless of the challenge and say, “With you!” These are some of the greatest treasures in the world. They are the people with whom I find myself. Their friendship makes me a better person. Go make your community or your world better today through friendship.

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John M. Mason: Godliness

For physical training is of some value, but godliness has value for all things, holding promise for both the present life and the life to come. 1 Timothy 4:8

“When I go to the house of God I do not want amusement; I want the doctrine which is according to godliness. I want to hear the remedy against the harassing of my guilt and the disorder of my affections. I want to be led from weariness and disappointment to that goodness which filleth the hungry soul. I want to have light upon the mystery of providence; to be taught how the judgments of the Lord are right; how I shall be prepared for duty and for trial; how I may fear God all the days of my life, and close them in peace.”

John M. Mason in Dictionary of Burning Words of Brilliant Writers, compiled by Josiah Hotchkiss Gilbert (New York: Wilbur B. Ketcham, 1895) 151.

This post touched me deeply and paints a well-rounded picture of the work I aim to do all over the world. In training overseers of the work in God’s house and in ministries in accordance with godliness, I (and those who serve with me) shape peoples’ lives and their eternity, and they have that impact on others. So, wherever you gather to worship, this is my prayer for you from Dubai on the even of the first-ever GTP Global Gathering. Herein, hear my commitment to helping you nurture such faithfulness through these daily posts.

May your church for ministry setting be a place that trains people in godliness, that helps everyone have rightly ordered affections, that leads everyone to trust in the goodness of God. May that light of the mystery of God’s providence and the richness of His judgments be lifted up in order to build everyone up for Christian duty and to endure suffering. May you fear God and show that reverence through an obedient and generous life and a peaceful departure to your eternal home. And may you hear “well done” upon arrival from Jesus. Amen.

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Richard Cecil: Good to edification

It is a trustworthy statement, deserving full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, among whom I am foremost of all. Yet for this reason I found mercy, so that in me as the foremost, Jesus Christ might demonstrate His perfect patience as an example for those who would believe in Him for eternal life. 1 Timothy 1:15-16

“The man who labors to please his neighbor for his good to edification has the mind that was in Christ. It is a sinner trying to help a sinner. Even a feeble, but kind and tender man, will effect more than a genius, who is rough and artificial.”

Richard Cecil in Dictionary of Burning Words of Brilliant Writers, compiled by Josiah Hotchkiss Gilbert (New York: Wilbur B. Ketcham, 1895) 128.

When asked who my favorite character is in Scripture (apart from the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, of course), I always answer: Paul. Most would guess this right as I am a Pauline scholar, and I serve as a modern-day apostle for accountability.

For my part, I love Paul because he understood himself as a sinner, he had a deep knowledge of God who saved him, and he wanted everyone to know that God personally. The power the drove Paul, in part, was confession, that is, proclaiming what is true with humility.

When I convene with the GTP board, regional facilitators, and the staff this week in Dubai, we will focus on the practices of confession, prayer, and fasting. Through these rhythms, our strength will grow out of our weakness. We are sinners co-laboring for our neighbors in nations.

What does this have to do with generosity? The greatest commandment of Christ, to love your neighbor, propels us to empty ourselves in order to edify others. Some do this on a local level, others on a national level, and a few on a global scale.

The key is not to try to be the genius, who comes across as rough and artificial, but to take a feeble, kind, and tender posture. Was Paul feeble, kind, and tender? Rather than go there, just ask yourself if you are those things.

How do we become more feeble, kind, and tender? We become these things by laboring and loving our neighbors for their good and God’s glory. So, go build others up today do “good to edification,” and your generosity will exceed that of the greatest genius.

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Thomas Guthrie: Hold your post

“Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it.” 1 Corinthians 12:27

“If the world is ever conquered for our Lord, it is not by ministers, nor by office-bearers, nor by the great, and noble and mighty, but by every member of Christ’s body being a working member; doing his work; filling his own sphere; holding his own post; and saying to Jesus, “Lord, what wilt Thou have me to do?”

Thomas Guthrie in Dictionary of Burning Words of Brilliant Writers, compiled by Josiah Hotchkiss Gilbert (New York: Wilbur B. Ketcham, 1895) 128.

The first snowstorm of the year greatly delayed my departure (5 hours) from Denver to Chicago to Frankfurt, so, thankfully, United Airlines re-routed me on the direct (and more expensive) flight to Frankfurt from Denver at no extra charge. Thanks to God and United Airlines I am safely in Germany.

I am en route to Dubai. Yes, Dubai is home to Burj Khalifa, the tallest building in the world (pictured above back in May 2019). You may recall this huge building in the “Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol” movie. The GTP board (12), regional facilitators (12), and staff (4) will convene in Dubai shortly.

We are a group of ordinary people—lawyers, accountants, ministry administrators, and business professionals—who serve an extraordinary God. We are 28 men and women from 15 countries. Our focus is not so much to conquer the world though. We gather, largely speaking, to encourage each other to hold our posts and do our part in the regions of the world.

We claim territory for God by taking the “Lord, what wilt Thou have me to do?” posture each and every day and by calling others to the faithful administration of God’s work. In this light, our generosity is deeply Christian. It’s “deeply Christian” because we are all doing our part as members of the body of Christ.

So, whether you are in Dubai, Delhi, Daegu, or Denver, hold your post. Not one of us is more important than the other. Need inspiration to stand fast? Read 1 Corinthians 12 to remind yourself that everyone matters. Or read Nehemiah 3 and discover how rebuilding projects require each one to do their part.

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John Angel James: Bring down heaven

Then He said to them all: “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow Me. For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for Me will save it. Luke 9:23-24

“The question is not merely what we can feel but what we can do for Christ; not how many tears we can shed, but how many sins we can mortify. Not what raptures we can experience, but what self-denial we can practice. Not what happy frames we can enjoy, but what holy duties we can perform. Not simply how much we can luxuriate at sermon or at sacrament, but how much we can exhibit of the mind of Jesus in our intercourse with our fellow men. Not only how far above earth we can rise to the bliss of heaven, but how much of the love and purity of heaven we can bring down to earth. In short, not how much of rapt feeling we can indulge, but how much of religious principle we can bring to bear on our whole conduct.”

John Angel James in Dictionary of Burning Words of Brilliant Writers, compiled by Josiah Hotchkiss Gilbert (New York: Wilbur B. Ketcham, 1895) 126.

The idea of bringing heaven down to earth motivated by self-denial struck me. Without self-denial we cannot be followers of Jesus. And what is our mission? It is to do the will of the Father, which is to bring the love and purity of heaven to every situation on earth.

Take a moment to assess your self-denial and your social interaction? It’s humbling to admit that days like today, when I travel, I can fail to bring heaven to my social interaction. I’m focused on my work. Remember the religious leaders who by-passed the needy person in the Good Samaritan story?

When our Christian faith informs our giving, our self-denial helps us see the needs around us and shapes our whole conduct and interaction. Open our eyes to this, Father, so that we bring heaven down generously, and so we shift from “happy frames” to “holy duties.”

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Edward Payson: Your business is to trust

Immediately Jesus made the disciples get into the boat and go on ahead of Him to the other side, while He dismissed the crowd. After He had dismissed them, He went up on a mountainside by himself to pray. Later that night, He was there alone, and the boat was already a considerable distance from land, buffeted by the waves because the wind was against it. Shortly before dawn Jesus went out to them, walking on the lake. When the disciples saw Him walking on the lake, they were terrified. “It’s a ghost,” they said, and cried out in fear. But Jesus immediately said to them: “Take courage! It is I. Don’t be afraid.” “Lord, if it’s you,” Peter replied, “tell me to come to you on the water.” “Come,” He said. Then Peter got down out of the boat, walked on the water and came toward Jesus. But when he saw the wind, he was afraid and, beginning to sink, cried out, “Lord, save me!” Immediately Jesus reached out his hand and caught him. “You of little faith,” he said, “why did you doubt?” And when they climbed into the boat, the wind died down. Then those who were in the boat worshiped Him, saying, “Truly you are the Son of God.” Matthew 14:22-33

“Your only safety lies in placing yourself in circumstances which will make exertion necessary, and which will secure divine assistance. Never mind your infirmities. You have nothing to do with them. Your business is to trust, and to go forward. If you wait till the sea becomes land, you will never walk on it. You must leave the ship, and, like Peter, set your feet upon the waves, and you will find them marble.”

Edward Payson in Dictionary of Burning Words of Brilliant Writers, compiled by Josiah Hotchkiss Gilbert (New York: Wilbur B. Ketcham, 1895) 125.

“Your business is to trust, and to go forward.”

What does this mean for you? Is it your aim to ride comfortably and try to weather the storms that come? Is it time to leave the ship?

For me it means to pack and head to Dubai. Today I am making final preparations for the inaugural GTP global gathering of 12 board members from 7 countries, 12 regional facilitators from 12 countries, and 4 staff from 3 countries. 28 people in all from 15 countries. I fly out tomorrow, arrive in Dubai late on Friday and convene with my colleagues on Saturday.

We come together with a shared purpose: In obedient service to Jesus Christ, GTP multiplies disciples of faithful administration and mobilizes peer accountability groups to increase gospel participation in every nation.

Over the past five years my work in this area has resulted in training God’s servants in 20+ countries and setting up ECFA type groups in 7 countries. Now this global team wants to collaborate to multiply that impact and mobilize more groups. Coordinating this effort is the step God has put before me.

What step is God calling you to take today?

Only when you step out of the boat do you find the waves as solid as marble. You don’t figure it out until you leave the ship. Risking everything positions you for divine assistance from God’s rich and generous supply. You may not be headed to Dubai, but it may be a big step. Whatever it is. Take it and keep your eyes fixed on Jesus.

“Your business is to trust, and to go forward.”

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S. F. Smith: Cheerful and humble giving

Each of you should give what you have decided in your heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. 2 Corinthians 9:7

“If you cannot be great, be willing to serve God in that which is small. If you cannot do great things for Him, cheerfully do little ones. If you cannot be an Aaron to serve at the altar, or a Moses to guide the tribes, consent to be “a little maid ” to Naaman the Syrian, for the honor of God’s prophets, or a little child, for Christ’s sake, to be set by Him in the midst of the people, as an illustration of the sweetness of humility.”

S. F. Smith in Dictionary of Burning Words of Brilliant Writers, compiled by Josiah Hotchkiss Gilbert (New York: Wilbur B. Ketcham, 1895) 123.

When we think of growing in generosity, our minds often wonder what greater things God would have us do for Him. Growth in the measure God uses looks altogether different. Often He wants to nurture in us a willingness to give in little rather than great ways and to do so with cheerfulness and humility. In that sense growth in generosity, the kind of giving that God loves, is not so much linked to ‘how much’ we give but ‘how’ we give.

How do you give? Do you find joy in giving in little ways? Do you give cheerfully with the sweetness of humility?

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George MacDonald: Learn these two things

“If you do away with the yoke of oppression, with the pointing finger and malicious talk, and if you spend yourselves in behalf of the hungry and satisfy the needs of the oppressed, then your light will rise in the darkness, and your night will become like the noonday. The Lord will guide you always; He will satisfy your needs in a sun-scorched land and will strengthen your frame. You will be like a well-watered garden, like a spring whose waters never fail.” Isaiah 58:9b-11

“Learn these two things: never be discouraged because good things get on so slowly here, and never fail daily to do that good which lies next to your hand. Do not be in a hurry, but be diligent. Enter into the sublime patience of the Lord. Be charitable in view of it. God can afford to wait; why cannot we, since we have Him to fall back upon? Let patience have her perfect work, and bring forth her celestial fruits. Trust to God to weave your little thread into a web, though the patterns show it not yet.

George MacDonald in Dictionary of Burning Words of Brilliant Writers, compiled by Josiah Hotchkiss Gilbert (New York: Wilbur B. Ketcham, 1895) 122.

MacDonald’s advice helps us stay the course. In life, good things just don’t get on as fast as we would like. In response, we must not be discouraged, and we must remain diligent. In the words of Isaiah, we must spend ourselves in doing good and in time, God will produce a well-watered garden through our lives.

I don’t know where you find yourself today but I am preparing for the first-ever GTP global gathering of 27 men and women from 15 countries. MacDonald’s wisdom spoke to me, as our progress is slow but sure. I often say that we are planting acorns for the oak trees of tomorrow. We must not get discouraged but remain diligent.

If God has you spending yourself on something that may take a long time to get on, don’t be discouraged. Stay the course. Give yourself and the resources God has supplied to that good work. In time you will see fruit. Our generous God is watching and working out something beautiful through your diligence.

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Francis Quarles: Neglect, Profess, and Nourish

‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ Mark 12:31

“If thou neglectest thy love to thy neighbor, in vain thou professest thy love to God; for by thy love to God, the love to thy neighbor is begotten, and by the love to thy neighbor, thy love to God is nourished.’

Francis Quarles in Dictionary of Burning Words of Brilliant Writers, compiled by Josiah Hotchkiss Gilbert (New York: Wilbur B. Ketcham, 1895) 47.

Three words struck me in this statement by Quarles: neglect, profess, and nourish.

‘Neglect’ is what we tend to do toward our neighbor because we are too busy or self-centered. I am guilty of that, especially in busy times (like right now). But we can’t do that if we ‘profess’ to be followers of Jesus.

Today is the Block Party at church. We are nurturing community with those who live nearby. When we show love of neighbor, we nourish our love relationship with God. In this doing, God lifts us all up.

Don’t neglect, but do what you profess, and find that it will nourish you! This post also reminds me, it’s time to study God’s Word together and play dominos with my neighbor in the development where I live.

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Ichabod Spencer: Waiting or Acting

Therefore, my dear friends, as you have always obeyed — not only in my presence, but now much more in my absence — continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you to will and to act in order to fulfill his good purpose. Philippians 2:12-13

“There are multitudes in our congregations who are just waiting while they ought to be acting. They must work, if they would have God work in them. There can be no religion without obedience.”

Ichabod Spencer in Dictionary of Burning Words of Brilliant Writers, compiled by Josiah Hotchkiss Gilbert (New York: Wilbur B. Ketcham, 1895) 122.

This is one of those mysteries of the faith. As we work our our faith, God works in us. The operative factor is obedience. We don’t figure it out until we live it out. That’s how the faith works in general, and specifically with regard to to teachings of Jesus on money.

Most people don’t obey them. Rather than enjoy and share all God richly supplies, most people hold on it money, and it takes hold on them. This was my story for years. In Spencer’s words, I was waiting instead of acting. Is that you and your story?

What might it look like for you to take a step of obedience? Sit with the Lord. Ask Him if there’s a teaching with regard to money you that you need move from waiting to acting on. Whatever comes to mind, do it. Don’t wait. The time for obedience is today.

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