Authentic Faith by Gary Thomas

•God is not merely concerned with results, but also with characterand few thing produce character like learning to wait.

•If we want to know whether a building will stand strong or not, we look at it when the wind is blowing hard.  Similarly, we can list the reality of a mans Christian practice when he is under the trials of Gods providence.  Jonathan Edwards
•Maturity in the faith is no guarantee that well experience less suffering.  In fact, it may well mean we will experience more.
•Character is forged only when we pass through the fire.  If character is not tested, its not really characterat least not in the biblical sense.
•We come back to where we started: all of us are born as selfish, arrogant, egocentric beings.  Out of this beginning, we are asked to cooperate with Gods spirit to forge lives of selflessness, compassion, and love.  This transformation is impossible apart from suffering.  Dont be so quick to reject the very thing that will most help you become mature.
•The book of Proverbs suggests that Gods willingness to hear our prayers is contingent on our willingness to hear the cry of the poor (see Proverbs 21:13).  If we stop up our ears to the cry of the poor, God stops his ears to our own prayers of petition.
•Religious duty apart from concern for the poor is entirely unacceptable in Gods mind.
•Jesus ministry was focused intensely on the disenfranchised, the down-and-out, the leftovers of society.  These are the groups Jesus reached out to, the very groups he says validate his ministry as the Messiah.
•Many of us think of holiness in terms of what we dont do; its been an issue throughout history, going right back to the Pharisees.  Jesus taught a positive ethicwhat matters most, he said, is what we do do.
•If your faith begins and ends with you, you are missing the truly profound experience of working with God to make a difference in a needy persons life.
•What have you given to God in recent days that actually cost you something?
•We pay a price when we become leisure-oriented, self-serving, pleasure-seeking people.  Something within us dies.  We lose a certain nobility and self-respect, for we know we are becoming less than we could be.  Sacrifice sharpens our character and refines our faith.
•Does our theology leave room for serving a God who would lead us toward what might turn out to be a poor financial situation but a profitable spiritual one?
•Are we in the Christian faith for what it gives us, or is our chief purpose to glorify God?
•One thing is abundantly clear: God puts greater value on his relationship with us than on our comfort and affluence.  If we get too comfortable and complacent in our disobedience, he is not shy to withhold his blessing and even bring trouble into our lives in order to turn our eyes, hearts, and minds back to him.

RETURN TO MAIN

The Power of a Fire-Tested Life
Author: Gary Thomas
•On a deeper level, I believe many of us are hungry and thirsty for a faith based on sacrifice instead of on self-absorption and simplistic denial.  We dont want to become Christians in order to become an improved man or woman, but an entirely new man or womanpeople who live with a different outlook on life, who find joy while others pursue happiness, who find meaning in what others see as something to simply be overcome or cured, who want to drink deeply of lifewith its mountains and valleys, twists and turnsrather than to rise above it.
•Ultimately, spiritual maturity is not about memorizing the Bible and mastering the spiritual disciplines.  These are healthy things to do, but they are still only means to a greater end, which in itself is learning to love with Gods love and learning to serve with Gods power.
•In short, we are missing out when we insist on self-absorption, affluence, and ease over against pursuing a deeper walk with God.
•The Christ-like life is not simply about practicing impeccable morality and overcoming temptation and faithfully performing a few spiritual disciplines.  All of these were done by the Pharisees far more faithfully than any of us will ever perform them, and yet Christ himself said these religious zealots had missed Gods intention.
•This holy self-forgetfulness is the most genuine mark of true faith, the evidence of Gods merciful grace in our lives.
•When you know youre doing something solely out of love for God and a desire to see his kingdom prosper on this earth, theres an unrivaled inner satisfaction that fills your soul.
•The principle runs through all life from top to bottom.  Give up yourself, and youll find your real self.  Lose your life and youll save it.  Submit to death, death of your ambitions and favorite wishes every day and death of your whole body in the end; submit with every fiber of your being, and you will find eternal life.  Keep nothing back.  Nothing that you have not given away will ever be really yours.  Nothing in you that has not died will ever be raised from the dead.  Look for yourself, and you will find in the long run only hatred, loneliness, despair, rage, ruin, and decay.  But look for Christ and you will find Him, and with Him everything else thrown in.  C.S. Lewis
•If you think selfless living is costly, you havent honestly considered the even higher price we pay for living a selfish life.  We may never know how many powerful times of ministry weve missed out on as we focused only on ourselves.
•The happy state, Dr. Packer said, which we know only rarely, is the unself-conscious state in which all our attention is being given to the people around us, to the situation outside us, and were forgetting ourselves in the service of others.  You see that to perfection in the life of Jesus.
•Ive met too many young Christians who mistakenly think that if theyre called, God will open every door.  What they mean by this is that the road will be easy, obstacles will be removed, and God will bless their obedience.  They think there will be no waiting, or perhaps only a minimum amount of time between the promise and the fulfillment.