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Thoughts From Ray Ortlund

Dear Friends,

As the New Year kicks in I felt this was a good set of thoughts to start off the year! In fact, Ray Ortlund, who posted the first one on the website of “The Gospel Coalition” said of the words of Francis Shaeffer – “Let’s Ponder this Francis Schaeffer Quote About Once a Week.” I would agree. And I include two others who interestingly point out the same truth. Good thoughts to ponder as we start out 2024! Enjoy.


“The central problem of our age is not liberalism or modernism, nor the old Roman Catholicism or the new Roman Catholicism, nor the threat of communism, nor even the threat of rationalism and the monolithic consensus which surrounds us [nor, I would add today, postmodernism or materialistic consumerism or visceral sensualism or whatever]. All these are dangerous but not the primary threat. The real problem is this: the church of the Lord Jesus Christ, individually or corporately, tending to do the Lord’s work in the power of the flesh rather than of the Spirit. The central problem is always in the midst of the people of God, not in the circumstances surrounding them.”
Francis A. Schaeffer, from “No Little People” (parenthetical addition by Ray Ortlund)


Roger Ellsworth in his book, “Come Down Lord” shares a similar thought:
‘The church, in order to maintain credibility in the world, has to have the power of God! She is involved in a great spiritual warfare, and only God’s power will enable her to prevail. Human ingenuity and wisdom are simply not equal to the task. Trying to do this kind of work without the power of God is like trying to break huge granite boulders with our bare hands. The problem is that the church is trying to subsist on her own power. She is relying on her own abilities. Human wisdom can produce many things, and the church is trying to pass them off as the hand of God at work, but the world is not buying it. They still bombard us with the disturbing question: ‘Where is your God?’ And if we will get alone and examine our hearts, we will be driven to admit that the many things we are producing are shabby substitutes for the real power of God… If we are not careful, we can think that pushing all the right buttons will produce lasting spiritual results. We can reduce the work of the church to shrewd maneuvering with statistical probabilities and psychological jargon. We can be guilty of doing the very thing David refused to do – fight in Saul’s armor. We can have polish without power. We need to realize that God can do more in one minute with His power than we can do in a lifetime with our ‘strategies.’

David Platt agrees: ‘Perhaps the greatest obstacle to the gospel spreading today, is the people of God trying to do the work of God apart from the power of God.’


Will you join me in praying for Christ’s Body on earth to do His work in His power and not our own? Will you earnestly and regularly petition the Lord that His presence and power might be manifest in His Church? When that happens, mockers cease asking (as they did often in the Old Testament - Ps. 42:3 and 10, Ps. 79:10, Ps. 115:2...) – “Where is your God?”

In Him Who Is Able To Do More Than We can Ask or Imagine, Pastor Jeff

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