I know of no other person in the Bible, aside from Christ himself, who had a more profound influence on his world and ours than Paul.

Grit—firmness of mind or spirit, unyielding courage in the face of hardship or danger.

A proud man is always looking down on things and people: and of course, as long as you are looking down, you cannot see something that is above you.  CS Lewis

We confuse conversion with maturity.  We’d rather these new converts clean up their act straight away before we grant them our genuine seal of Christian approval.  How sad.  Somewhere along the way we’ve forgotten the details of our own miserable pasts and the grace of God at work in us.

The conversion of a soul is the miracle of a moment, the manufacture of a saint is the task of a lifetime.  Alan Redpath

For the first time in his proud, self-sustained life, Saul found himself a desperate dependent.  Not only was he pinned to the ground, he was blind.  His other senses were on alert, and to his amazement, he heard a voice from heaven say, “Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting Me?

The transformation is stunning.  Saul, no doubt with blood stains still on his garment from Christians he had tortured, now stood with arms out-stretched announcing, “I’m here to testify to you that Jesus is the Messiah, God’s Son.”  And the people who heard it were amazed.

In less than a week, God transformed Saul from a vicious, Christian hating murderer into a passionate preacher.

Obedience always stimulates growth.  Obeying God drives the roots of your faith much deeper.  And that obedience stimulates growth in every area of life.  We’re stretched emotionally, often physically, but most importantly, spiritually.

Superficiality is the curse of our age.  The doctrine of instant satisfaction is a primary spiritual problem.  The desperate need today is not for a greater number of intelligent people, or gifted people, but for deep people.  Richard Foster

For 3 years, Saul lived somewhere in the desert, cut-off from his former manner of life—in solitude, quietness, and obscurity.  This is where and how Paul developed his theology.

Today we have forgotten the importance of this hidden work of God.  As a result (and remember this), we immediately thrust people into notoriety, bestowing on them unbelievable power, and then we wonder why they are corrupted.  Unless we are ready for it, power will destroy us.  This is no small matter in the Church today.  Because of our wholesale ignorance of the importance of hidden preparation, we have thrust untold numbers of workers into the limelight before they were ready.  Richard Foster

May God cultivate within us a greater hunger for authenticity as He grows us into deep people, who keep a lot more behind the counter than we ever have on display.

God is never pleased with an independent spirit.  We not only need the Lord, we need each other desperately.  Nowhere in the Bible does it say that God helps those who help themselves.  God much prefers the humble, the broken, the bruised, even the crushed.  He works much more effectively in the lives of people who’ve learned they can’t make it on their own, especially those who acknowledge they desperately need God and others.

It is difficult for you and me to imagine what it would be like to have a contract out on us.  But that’s what Saul experienced fresh out of the gate.  As we often say, “What goes around comes around.”  The mighty hunter became the hunted.

The secret of the church then and now is not a remarkably gifted individual like Saul (or someone as uniquely gifted and talented as you).  The secret to the blessing and health of any church is Almighty God.  Period.  It’s not you, it’s certainly not me, or anyone else we may be tempted to think is indispensable to the cause.

You and I are not indispensable.  You and I are not irreplaceable.  God is both.  It’s His church.  He’s looking for broken vessels, wounded hearts, and humble servants, even those with bad track records who have some scars, who have learned not to hide them or deny them—people who understand and appreciate the value of others.

You and I are neither the “masters of our fate” nor are we the “captains of our souls.”  We are to be wholly, continually, and completely dependent on the mercy of God, if we want to do the Lord’s work the Lord’s way.

Waiting is a common instrument of providential discipline for those to whom exceptional work has been appointed.  James Stalker

Waiting is one of God’s preferred methods of preparing special people for significant projects.  The Bible makes that principle plain from cover to cover.

If you’re gifted, they’ll find you.  Self-promotion is neither necessary or attractive.

We’re not indispensable.  That realization cultivates genuine humility.

You may be surprised to know that there are times when pain comes as part of God’s sovereign plan to prepare us as useful servants.  He knows what is best for us in light of what He’s doing in us.

Specific pain enables us to comfort others specifically.

What was the thorn in Paul’s flesh?  Suggestions abound.  Some say it was a series of spiritual temptations.  Others point to carnal temptations.  Still others suggest relentless opposition and persecution.  Physical deformity.  Epilepsy.  Migraines.  Chronic eye trouble.  A hunchback.  Recurring bouts with malaria and its accompanying throbbing head pain.  The truth is, we don’t know.  It doesn’t matter.  The man who endured it calls it a “messenger of Satan.”  God used it to keep the gifted servant on his knees.

No was God’s final answer to Paul’s prayer for deliverance from suffering.  It is not always God’s will that you be healed.  Our happiness is not God’s chief aim.  Remember, He is forming us more and more into the image of His Son, it helps us understand His answer is based on His long-range plan, not our immediate relief.  Thankfully, he gently whispers, “My grace is sufficient for you.”

Pain plants the flag of reality in the fortress of a rebel heart.  Mothers and Fathers keeping vigil in the leukemia ward of a children’s hospital do not wrestle with issues of pride.  They are humbled to the point of despair.

God’s goal is not to make sure you’re happy.  Life is not about your being comfortable, happy, successful and pain free.  It is about becoming the man God has called you to be.  Life is not about you.  It’s about God.  He doesn’t exist to make us happy.  We exist to bring Him glory.

Amazingly, while scraping sores from his diseased and pain-racked body, Job asked, “Shall we indeed accept good from God and not adversity?”

Release the idea that contentment requires comfort.  Contentment is possible no matter how dire your circumstances.

Ministry takes place when divine resources meet human needs through loving channels to the glory of God.  Warren Wiersbe

Life is not a problem to be solved; it is an adventure to be lived.  That’s the nature of it and has been since the beginning when God set the dangerous stage for this high-stakes drama and called the whole wild enterprise good.  He rigged the world in such a way that it only works when we embrace risk as the theme of our lives, which is to say, only when we live by faith.  A man just won’t be happy until he’s got adventure in his work, in his love and in his spiritual life.

One word best characterizes the essence of obedience: Change.  I know very few people who enjoy change.  It threatens our comfort, interrupts our routines, challenges our priorities, and introduces anxiety.  Yet, I’m convinced that living a life of obedience is an impossibility if you and I are unwilling to change.  That’s much easier to write than it is to put into practice.  Either way, I’m convinced the statement is true.

Serving in the center of God’s will can be dangerous business.  But whether in times of relative ease or abject hardship the primary principle stands; obedience requires change.

3 essentials for a fulfilling life: a clear sense of personal identity, a strong sense of mission, and a deep sense of purpose.

Obstacles are those frightful things you see when you take your eyes off the goal.  Henry Ford

We who lived in the concentration camps can remember the men who walked through the huts comforting others, giving away their last pieces of bread.  They may have been few in number, but they offer sufficient proof that everything can be taken from a man but one thing.  The last of his freedoms is to choose his own attitude in any given set of circumstances—to choose one’s own way.  Viktor Frankl

One of the characteristics I find most attractive about the Bible is its raw realism.  When God paints portraits of His servants in the Scriptures, He resists airbrushing away all the warts and blemishes.  Moses was a murderer.  David has adultery and hypocrisy on his record.  Jonah was a proud and stubborn prophet, who nearly missed an opportunity of a lifetime because of his ugly bigotry.  Jacob had deceitful ways.  Abraham lied, more than once.  Peter waffled when the pressure was on.  Even John the Baptist struggled with doubt.  So did Thomas.  So we shouldn’t be surprised that Paul and Barnabas had their conflict.

The 2 groups Paul preached to in Greece: Stoics and Epicureans.

Stoics taught that a man should strive, fearless and proud, to accept the laws of the universe, however harsh.  They were to work toward a world state founded on reason.  They believed the soul survived the body, but only in a kind of ethereal state, bodiless and free.  Emotionally they remained passive, disengaged.

Epicureans taught that happiness and pleasure were the highest good.  Both were to be pursued with unbridled passion.  “Eat, drink, and be merry, for tomorrow we die.”  We simply die like animals, without the fear of judgment or consequence.  “So live it up.”

To have followers, one must have their confidence.  Hence, the supreme quality for a leader is unquestionable integrity.  If one’s associates find him or her guilty of phoniness, if they find that he lacks forthright integrity, he will fail.  His teachings and actions must square with each other.  Dwight Eisenhower

To describe Paul’s life of ministry, he used words like afflicted, perplexed, persecuted, and struck down.  That was Paul’s life as an ambassador for Christ.  More often than not, he was like a sheep ready for slaughter.  Any takers?

The only way you qualify to receive God’s strength is when you admit your weakness, when you admit you’re not capable and strong, when, like Paul, you’re willing to boast in nothing but your weakness and God’s power.

It is always upon human weakness and humility, not human strength and confidence, that God chooses to build His Kingdom; and that He can use us not merely in spite of our ordinariness and helplessness and disqualifying infirmities, but precisely because of them.  James Stewart

For every achievement there is a price.  For every goal there is an opponent.  For every victory there is a problem.  For every triumph there is sacrifice.  William Henry Ward

Abraham Lincoln: If I were to read, much less answer, all the attacks made on me, this shop might as well be closed for any other business.  I do the very best I know how—the very best I can; and I mean to keep doing so until the end.  If the end brings me out all right, what is said against me won’t amount to anything.  If the end brings me out wrong, 10,000 angels swearing I was right would make no difference.

A hero is someone who stands tall when others shrink back.  A hero is someone who swims upstream while the majority of people go with the current.  It’s someone who speaks up for what’s right as others look away, sitting silently on the sidelines.

Contentment results from an attitude that is learned, having been deliberately cultivated over time.  Attitude governs contentment.