I publish WendellNotes for significant books I read to make their perspective available to friends and GIN subscribers who may not otherwise have time for them. Before I started writing WendellNotes in 2011, book notes were part of my Journal. [Brackets separate my comments from the author's.]
Seeing Jesus from the East
[This is Ravi’s last book before he died.] Both story and argument have a place. The defining difference between the claims of the biblical text and those of other faiths is that the Bible’s stories claim to be fact. Finding meaning and purpose is the fundamental pursuit of life. He conquers not in spite of our pain but through it.
Serve in Spirit
[This may be the most significant of Nee’s books I have read.] All of the disciplines of God upon us are for one purpose: the breaking of our outward man. All some see is wrong treatment or bad environment. They have no light; they do not see God’s hand. The more thoroughly we are trained and the more drastically the cross works in our lives, the more useful we will be in helping others. In whatever point we have been disciplined and broken, in that very point we are able to touch others. All who try to imitate will have one more layer of self to be broken. Take special notice of where the Lord strikes hard; that is, discover the target upon which the hand of the Lord hits. The breaking of the outward man leaves an undeniable mark on our lives in order that throughout our lives we can never forget what the hand of the Lord has done in us.
Shaping History Through Prayer and Fasting
The presence of righteous believers is the decisive factor in God’s dealings with a community. As kings, we rule with Him. As priests, we share His ministry of prayer and intercession. Through prayer and intercession we administer the authority that is ours in the name of Jesus. There is a delicate balance between the fulfillment of God’s purposes and the exercise of human free will. To understand this and apply it in prayer is the essence of true intercession. It will take united prayer and fasting to precipitate the final fullness of the latter rain.
Shift in Leadership: Transitioning from Pastoral to Apostolic
Apostles, prophets, and teachers are the governmental gifts of the church. The apostle has a grace to release the other gifts and is anointed by God to think largely and incorporate all the gifts of God. The commission Jesus gave the church is apostolic. Teaching helps release the apostolic and helps develop a taste for the new wine. Apostles are spiritual architects. When believers deal with demons on a continual basis, they will mature in warfare. People respond to the supernatural.
Shifting Atmospheres: A Strategy for Victorious Spiritual Warfare
With spiritual warfare, much of our success comes from displaying the goodness of God. Lies are the primary way evil spirits communicate with us. To shift atmospheres over regions, I make sure to operate in a group setting so we are all in one accord. When I encounter a demonic atmosphere I use the words, “I see you and I am not partnering with you. I send you back in Jesus’s name.” Discernment is the single most valuable tool relative to shifting atmospheres.
Smartest Kids in the World
Everything depends on what teachers, parents, and students did, not how much money is spent. PISA scores are a better predictor of who will go to college than report cards. It was measuring aspiration. Finland built a system on trust in which kids achieved higher-order thinking without excessive competition or parental meddling; Without its education obsession, Korea could not have become the economic powerhouse that it is. Korea’s sky-high PISA scores are mostly a function of students’ tireless efforts. The education superpower countries found that performance was mostly a product of hard work. This attitude meant that all kids tried harder and that was more valuable to a country than gold or oil. The real innovation in Korea was their shadow education system—the after school tutoring complex . After WW2 the Finns were desperate to modernize and their leaders agreed that education was the only thing that could save their country from being left behind. They selected highly educated teachers and trained them rigorously. Accountability mandates became unnecessary and a burden, Most Korean parents saw themselves as coaches. To work, praise must be specific, authentic, and rare. Student autonomy was a symptom of rigor. Thoroughness (in answering all the questions on a test) is more predictive of countries’ scores than socioeconomic status, class size or any other factor studied. Many countries are delaying tracking to later grades. When they do so, all kids tend to do better. Autonomy mattered as much to teachers as cash. Private schools did not add much value. The in-school variable that matters most is the teacher. The principal acts as the filter instead of the education college or the teacher certification system
The most important thing in your life is not what you do; it’s who you become. That’s what you will take into eternity. The soul never thinks without a picture. The more we focus on ourselves, the more we neglect our souls. The soul integrates the will, mind and body. Sin disintegrates them. Conviction is a God-given ache for goodness. The soul’s infinite capacity to desire is the mirror image of God’s infinite capacity to give. The unlimited neediness of the soul matches the unlimited grace of God. What the Bible calls idolatry we call addiction. The soul needs a keeper. I am my soul’s keeper, not its captain. The main thing you will give others is the person you become. Easy is a soul word, not a circumstance word. The soul was not made for an easy life. It was made for an easy yoke. The soul was made to rest in God the way a tree rests in soil. Good habits are enormously freeing--we accomplish good things almost on autopilot. Work is a soul function. A paradox of the soul is that it is incapable of satisfying itself, but incapable of living without satisfaction. Without a grateful heart the soul suffers because the soul needs gratitude.
Spark: A Mother's Story of Nurturing Genius
Any child will outperform your expectations if you can find a way to feed his or her passion. Curing autism would be the same as “curing” science and art. All of his other skills would come along naturally as long as he was doing what he loved. He remembers everything he’s ever learned and has all that information immediately accessible to him whenever he wants it.
Speed of Trust
One of the fastest ways to restore trust is to make and keep commitments—even very small ones. Nothing is as fulfilling as a relationship of trust, as inspiring as an offering of trust, as profitable as the economics of trust, or has more influence than a reputation of trust. Trust is a function of character and competence. The best time to plant a tree is 20 years ago. The 2nd best time is today (Chinese proverb). Trust is like a tree. Credibility is based on your track record which consists of your integrity, intent, capabilities, and results. Capabilities are the talents, attitudes, skills, knowledge, and style that inspire confidence. The agenda that inspires the greatest trust is seeking mutual benefit. If you don’t like change, you’re going to like irrelevance even less. The quickest way to decrease trust is to violate a behavior of character, while the quickest way to increase trust is to demonstrate a behavior of competence. The only relationships that have ever been worthwhile and enduring have been those in which there is trust and alignment. You can judge a person’s character by the way he treats people who can’t help him or hurt him. Keeping commitments is the number one influencing behavior. Trust is the vital component in customer loyalty and brand strength. The ability to establish, grow, extend, and restore trust is the key leadership competency of the new global economy.
She’s made countless mistakes and committed unthinkable atrocities, yet the church has also shown the world its most grace-filled, life-giving, love-splattered moments. The church is the epicenter of God’s activity in the world. The Jerusalem church was an exceptional situation and was never to be the “norm” of church life. God is too creative to write the same story twice. Perseverance seems to be one of God’s most desired characteristics in the lives of His children and churches. Meaningful repetition is nigh impossible when read or spoken; yet when sung it deepens the truths within us.
Start with Why
The only ways to influence human behavior are to manipulate it or inspire it. People don’t buy WHAT you do, they buy WHY you do it. Value, by definition, is the transference of trust. Great companies hire already motivated people and inspire them. The Golden Circle is, in practice, a megaphone. A WHY provides a clear filter for decision-making. The volume of the megaphone comes solely from growth of WHAT. Every person has a WHY and every organization has one too.
Storm before the Calm
[This is the most useful explanation I’ve found of the rhythms of American history and its likely future]. The unity of the utterly divers—cowboy, scientist, inventor-businessman, warrior—constantly reinvents. Socioeconomic cycles are shaped by social and economic failure. Institutional cycles are shaped by wars. To date there have been 5 socioeconomic 50-year cycles: 1) Washington to Adams; 2) Jackson to Grant; 3) Hayes to Hoover; 4) Roosevelt to Carter; 5) Reagan to whomever will be elected in 2028. Institutional 80-year cycles: Revolutionary War, Civil War, and WW2. The next cycle is emerging from the war against jihadists since 2001. The first institutional cycle created the federal government, the second redefined its relationship to the states, the third redefined its relation to the economy and society, and the fourth cycle will redefine its relationship to itself. The source of the current problem is the notion that because expertise is essential, it should govern. We are governed by people who know a great deal about narrow subjects, but few who can see the whole. This is the difference between knowledge and wisdom. The rise of a class based on expertise attacks common sense. The emerging transformations of the 2020s crisis will revolve around the institutions of higher learning. The concept of common sense will have to be reintroduced. The financial problem that will frame the sixth cycle is a surplus of money in the economic system and its distribution. The extension of old age may be the consequence on which the 21st century pivots.
Strong and Weak
The rich are most at risk for missing life that is real (1 Tim 6:19). Vulnerable at root means woundable. Money can keep you swaddled far beyond your tender years, well into an adulthood or risk-averse entitlement. Idolatry is the use of created things to purse godlike power without risk or limit. The goal of police power is flourishing—actually increasing the capacity for meaningful action in a community. Vulnerability shed by one group of people is inevitably borne oy others’ suffering. The root of the problem is the quest for authority without vulnerability. The greatest paradox of flourishing is that it is only found on the other side of suffering, because of the extraordinary grip of idols over our world. Our competence is helpful—but our vulnerability is transformative. What we are missing, to become like Jesus, is not more authority—it is more vulnerability. Leaders take responsibility for others’ flourishing.
Experts are often untroubled by doubt. Declaration of high confidence mainly tells you that an individual has constructed a coherent story in his mind, not necessarily that the story is true. There was an inverse correlation between fame and accuracy. Bait and switch—replacing “Was it a good decision?” with “Did it have a good outcome?” leads us to draw false lessons from experience, making our judgment worse over time. Meaningful accountability requires systematic tracking of accuracy. Many equate confidence and competence. Feelings masquerade as knowledge, as thoughts. We need “tacit knowledge,” the sort we only get from bruising experience. Plans are useless but planning is indispensable. Our minds crave certainty and when they don’t find it, they impose it. Brushing off surprises makes the past look more predictable than it was—and this encourages the belief that the future is much more predictable than it is. Avoid conflating facts with values.
As many as 1 million European women were executed for witchcraft. Homes sold on FSBOMadisonl.com typically fetched about the same prices as those sold by Realtors, but they 20 days longer to sell. Children who grew up watching a lot of TV were more likely to engage in crime when they got older. Seatbelts costs $30,000 per life saved, while airbags cost $1.8 million. Articles published by climate researches in the mid-1970s were predicting the effect of global cooling. Doctors are the leading cause of preventable wound infection.