109 – Things I know for Sure: Lessons from the Great Digger
J. C. Ryle began his book Holiness by writing, “He must dig down very low if he would build high.” I have come to see that Jesus is The Great Digger. The higher He wants to build, the deeper He will dig our foundation. For the most part, the thoughts which follow came when Jesus was digging.
STRANGE GRACE – That if we don’t go where He sends us, He will not hesitate to scatter us there anyway.
HUMOROUS GRACE – That because God is good our lives will not turn out like we planned.
SLOW TO RECOGNIZE GRACE – That I spent the first 20 years of my adult life working and praying for something that was destroying me, then was disappointed when I was spared.
PATIENCE VS. PERMISSION – That we often mistake God’s patience as God’s permission.
PREFACE TO THE BRUTALITY OF GRACE – That the only thing I need is Jesus. And I mean it.
THE BRUTALITY OF GRACE – That when I make statements to God that I really mean, He will make me mean them. He freely prunes. This I would call the brutality of grace, nevertheless grace.
THE LIBERALITY OF GRACE – That no matter what I’ve done I can be forgiven.
WORKS – That service is not trying to build, or improve, a good record. (If it could, Christ died in vain).
RIGHTEOUSNESS – That there is only one righteous person who has ever lived, and his name is Jesus.
DOING GOOD – That no man has any “good” with regard to salvation, but that does not mean men do no good for culture and society.
THE FALL – That because of the Fall we must do our work while feeling the prick of thorns. We must manage against the Fall.
EVIL IN THE WORLD – That I should not be surprised at how much evil is in the world, but by how little. His grace sustains the saint, and restrains the sinner. Christians are not surprised by the evil we see in the world. Instead, Christianity predicts that we will see exactly what we see.
TWO NATURES – That the paradox of man is hid in the knowledge that he is a product of both the Creation and the Fall. The Creation made me like a god, but the Fall made me like a devil. When I would do good, evil is right there with me.
BIG IDEAS – That most of the really big ideas about Christianity take 10 to 20 years (or more) before they start sinking in. Even then, there is more to learn.
THE GOD WE WANT VS. THE GOD WHO IS – That there is a God we want, and there is a God who is. They are not the same God. The turning point of our lives is when we stop seeking the God we want, and start seeking the God who is.
PRAYER – That the best way to pray is not to bring a list of things I want and plead for God to grant my requests, but to come with a blank sheet of paper and ask, “What is it, dearest Father, that you would have me do?”
DANGER OF PIETY – That the flesh is wicked, weak, and deceitful. But the flesh is most wicked, most weak, and most deceitful when disguised as piety. The only thing worse than flesh is pious flesh.
THE PRIORITY OF THE HEART – That people do exactly what they want to do. “Out of the overflow of the heart, the mouth speaks. For from within, out of men’s hearts come evil thoughts and actions.
THE PRIORITY OF THE HEART – That belief determines behavior. Therefore, my greatest task is to align my heart into a one-to-one correlation of my Bible, my belief, and my behavior.
ON BEING WRONG – That it is easy to look at the data and come to the wrong conclusion. Ask the residents of Ai who did not inquire of the LORD before making treaty with the Gibeonites.
CHRISTIANITY AND SECULARISM – That Christianity and secularism are not trying to solve different problems. They are both trying to solve the same problems in different ways.
TWO LANGUAGES – That there are only two languages in the world: truth and lies. The native tongue of all men is lies. Converts gain a second language—the language of truth. But as all know, when a second language is not practiced a person will revert to their native tongue.
GREATEST RISK – That the core of unbelief and idolatry is the thought, “Jesus alone is not enough to make me happy. I need something else.” On a most practical level, our greatest risk.
GREATEST DANGER – That my greatest danger is to want what belongs to God.
CHRISTIANITY AND CULTURE – That Christianity is lived inside cultures. That’s why Paul was such a chameleon—circumcising Timothy while saying it wasn’t necessary. That’s why Paul could speak about circumcision and slavery without abolishing them. That’s why in Jerusalem Paul could purify himself and four others in accordance with Jewish law.
ENGAGING CULTURE – That Christians embrace, withdraw, or engage culture. That the correct stance is to engage culture…to be in but not of… to be sent into the world.
THE WORLD – That Jesus does not want to take men out of the world; he wants to take the world out of men.
WORK AND FAMILY – That Christianity means having the good sense to leave work for your son’s first day of kindergarten.
VOCATION – That my true vocation is loving Jesus and other people.
THE HEART – That the most important contribution I can make is to help a man change the core affections of his heart. First, my heart.
THE REAL PRESENCE OF JESUS – That the best use of my time is to bring myself into the real presence of Jesus. I will not leave my private altar in the morning until I have experienced a moment of humility, a moment when I have sensed the real presence. That is all I can tell you about it.
GOD’S SUPERNATURAL PROVISION – That “God will make a way when there is no way” means when there really is no way.
MEANINGS OF WORDS – That sincere Christians who believe the same way will become divided over different meanings of the same words, like saved, born again, good works, faith, predestination, sovereignty, anointing, Holy Spirit, justification, sanctification, and so on.
THE POWER OF IDEAS – That we must be careful with our words. Words form ideas. Ideas are more powerful than labor. Ideas set forces in motion that, once released, can no longer be contained.
RIGHT/WRONG STRATEGY – That whether we pick the right or the wrong strategy, whatever we do is going to be hard work.
COSMIC LONELINESS – That a cosmic loneliness will from time to time come over a man. This is the grace that leads us to, or back to, God. Welcome it in yourself. Observe it in others and discuss it.
WITNESSING – That witnessing is simply being with people and helping them go as far with Jesus as they want to go.
WITNESSING, OR ANYTHING – That sometimes we have to substitute discipline for a lack of natural interest.
METHODS – That the best method of witnessing (or anything) is the one you will use.
Pick one of these truths and meditate on it. What scriptures come to mind? How could you apply this to specific situations?
Read through the truths again. What men come to mind as you read them? Pray for these men. How could you share these ideas with them in a way they will understand?
Business leader, author, and speaker, Patrick Morley helps men think more deeply about their lives, to be reconciled with Christ, and to be equipped for a larger impact on the world. David Delk is the President of Man in the Mirror © 2003. Patrick Morley and David Delk. All rights reserved.