Give Yourself Permission

AT A BAZAAR IN NORTHERN INDIA, an old farmer brought in a whole covey of quail. He had tied a string around one leg of each bird. The other ends of all the strings were tied to a ring which fit loosely over a central stick. He had taught the quail to walk dolefully in a circle, around and around, like mules at a sugarcane mill. Nobody seemed interested in buying the birds until along came a devout Brahman. He believed in the Hindu idea of respect for all life, so his heart of compassion went out to those poor little creatures walking in monotonous circles.

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The Next Generation

THE BIBLE doesn’t try to paint its heroes as anything but real people with real flaws. Consequently, Abraham becomes real, not despite his frailties, but because of them. Like all real people, he had weaknesses.

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Slow Down!

Part of the solution is to pursue the benefits of solitude and silence found in times of obscurity. For the first time in seven years, I took six weeks off one summer. No preaching, no writing, no counseling, no speaking engagements . . . no nothing.

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Four Antilegalistic Strategies

Grace killers cannot be mildly ignored or kindly tolerated. You can no more allow legalism to continue than you could permit a rattlesnake to slip into your house and hide. Before long, somebody is going to get hurt. So then, since liberty is worth fighting for, how do we do it? Where can our personal grace awakening begin?

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Defining Legalism

In contrast to yesterday’s thoughts on liberty, what does it mean to say that legalism puts people under bondage? Legalism is an attitude, a mentality based on pride. It is an obsessive conformity to an artificial standard for the purpose of exalting oneself. A legalist assumes the place of authority and pushes it to unwarranted extremes.

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Claiming the Package

This day—this very moment—millions are living their lives in shame, fear, and intimidation who should be free, productive individuals. The tragedy is they think it is the way they should be. They have never known the truth that could set them free. They are victimized, existing as if living on death row instead of enjoying the beauty and fresh air of the abundant life Christ modeled and made possible for all of His followers to claim. Unfortunately, most don’t have a clue as to what they are missing.

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Self-Praise

“Self-praise,” says an ancient adage, “smells bad.” In other words, it stinks up the works. Regardless of how we prepare it, garnish it with little extras, slice and serve it up on our finest silver piece, the odor remains. No amount of seasoning can eliminate the offensive smell. Unlike a good wife, age only makes it worse. It is much like the poisoned rat in the wall—if it isn’t removed the stench becomes increasingly unbearable.

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Comparison

Odious . . . disgusting, detestable. If you want to be a miserable mortal, then compare. You compare when you place someone beside someone else for the purpose of emphasizing the differences or showing the likenesses. This applies to places and things as well as people. We can become so proficient at this activity that we sustain our addiction through an unconscious force of habit. Inadvertently, the wheels of our thinking slide over into the ruts of this odious mindset. Comparison appears in at least two patterns.

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Prayer God Will Answer

If you knew God would answer your petitions, how would that change your prayer life? Would you pray more fervently and more often? Philippians 1:9–11 records Paul’s plea for the Philippian church—it was a prayer God was certain to answer. Joy saturated Paul’s prayers for the believers at Philippi. They had joined Paul in the […]

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A Rare and Remarkable Virtue

If one attempts to lead a congregation without this Spirit-given virtue, he is driven to frustration, irritability, and severity. His pulpit becomes an avenue of anger, his preaching a diatribe of demands, and his person insulting and intolerant as Diotrephes of old. No, God encourages me and my ilk to be “long-tempered.”

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