Friday, January 30, 2009


"Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted." (Matthew 5:4)

A form of denying reality often says words like these: "If I am truly faithful, I will not experience grief, sorrow, anger, or confusion in the face of tragedy or loss. Instead, I will keep my chin up, my eyes dry, my lips smiling, so others will see how strong I am as a Christian. When tragedy strikes, true believers should have real peace about it."

Really? Since when? This serious problem leads to unresolved emotions and a complete split from reality. I have heard people who have lost children, spouses, fortunes, jobs and dreams say that they have this "wonderful peace" just moments after they hear the awful news. What they have is shock, not peace! Shock is a natural reaction designed to protect us, to cushion the reality and depth of our pain and other feelings. Those who profess instant peace will suffer a troubled future full of a greater pain than the original loss and disappointment.

-- Stephen Arterburn and Jack Felton in More Jesus, Less Religion


Thursday, January 29, 2009


This is essentially Jesus' work during His earthly ministry. He makes people whole.

He takes a brash, boisterous braggart named Peter who is spiritually as shifty as sand, and fashions him into a solid rock, so that thousands will hear the gospel through him.

He takes a John of boiling temperament and fiery disposition and channels that fire into love and gives gentleness in place of harshness.

He takes a sinful woman twisted in all her thoughts, torn apart in her conscience, tormented by seven demons, and releases Mary of Magdala from her captivity, even gives her the honor of being the first to see Him risen from the dead.

He takes a greedy, selfish, despicable tax collector and transforms Zacchaeus into a person of Christian charity and benevolence who in turn makes a deep committal: "Behold, Lord, the half of my goods I give to the poor; and if I have taken any thing from any man by false accusation, I restore him fourfold." (Luke 19:8)

He transforms [men and women] by the power of His love. A group of very ordinary people are forgiven for their sins, changed in their goals, given a vision, empowered with His Holy Spirit, and these Christians turn the world upside down, or shall we say, right-side up?

-- H.S. Vigeveno in Jesus the Revolutionary


Wednesday, January 28, 2009


"Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need." (Hebrews 4:16, emphasis added)

Those two little words jumped out at me. How often do I approach prayer time with confidence? How often do I approach moments of worship with confidence? I need to confess that most of those times are approached out of necessity and not with the confidence that God can and will do what only He can do. As with many things in life, confidence is the key. I need to approach prayer and worship with confidence in God -- in His presence, His plan, and His provision. It’s the least I can do.

Let’s commit to one another that as we approach His throne today and everyday that we will do so WITH CONFIDENCE!

-- Unknown


Tuesday, January 27, 2009


NOTE: I have just returned from a two-week pilgrimage to the Holy Land where we, among many other things, sailed on the Sea of Galilee where Jesus and the disciples sailed, saw a large Sycamore tree that Zacchaeus may have climbed, and went into the tomb that Lazarus came out of. Today’s quote comes from a book I was reading as we traveled.

Have you ever noticed how often people in the Old Testament built altars? It seems like they were building them all over the place all the time. Why? Because we have a natural tendency to remember what we should forget and forget what we should remember. Altars help us remember what God doesn’t want us to forget. They give us sacred place to go back to.

So why did we stop building altars? I honestly wonder if our lives seem more routine than they really are simply because we don’t have any altars dotting the landscape. I wonder if many of us feel spiritually lost because we don’t have any milestones that help us find our way back to God. We need altars that renew our faith by reminding us of the faithfulness of God. And every once in a while, we need to go back to those sacred places to repent of our sin, renew our covenant with God, and celebrate what God has done.

I wonder if Peter ever rowed out to that spot on the Sea of Galilee where he walked on water. Did Zacchaeus ever take his grandchildren back to climb the sycamore tree where he caught his first glimpse of Jesus? Did Lazarus ever revisit the tomb where he was buried for four days? Did Paul ever ride out to the mile marker on the road to Damascus where God knocked him off his high horse? Did Abraham ever take Isaac back to Mount Moriah, where God provided a ram in the thicket? And I wonder if Moses ever returned to the burning bush, took off his sandals, and thanked God for interrupting the forty-year routine of his life by giving him a second chance to make a difference.

I think we underestimate the interconnection between geography and spirituality.

– Mark Batterson in Wild Goose Chase: Reclaim the Adventure of Pursuing God


Monday, January 12, 2009


Sometimes, when I think of the "worship wars" of our day, I try to imagine similar arguments going on at the foot of Mount Sinai when the children of Israel had fled Egypt, the waters had parted into a temporary expressway, Pharaoh and his army had been drowned, the mountain was smoking and trembling, and the people were told to gather for worship.

-- I don't like this worship. I like that tambourine song that Miriam sang after we crossed the Red Sea. How come we don't do that song anymore?

-- This service is too long. Three days is inconvenient. I'm going with the Hittites, they do two-day theophanies.

-- I like it when Aaron leads worship. How come Moses has to be the worship leader? His vestments don't speak to my generation.

I suspect that when the Israelites gathered for worship, they trembled and shook along with the mountain because they had staked everything on this God.

-- John Ortberg in If You Want to Walk on Water, You've Got to Get Out of the Boat


Friday, January 9, 2009


“So we are ambassadors for Christ, since God is making His appeal through us; we entreat you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God.” (2 Corinthians 5:20)

This proposition is absolutely basic to any contemporary understanding of the Christian movement: A non-ministering Christian is a contradiction in terms.

The Christian faith is not comprised of spectators listening to professionals. And it is not for individuals who are seeking, primarily, to save their own souls.

It is necessarily made up of persons who are called to serve as representatives of Christ in the world. And to serve means to minister.

-- from St. Paul Lutheran Church, Michigan City, IN


Thursday, January 8, 2009


The strength of a man consists in finding out the way God is going, and going that way.

“Jesus spoke to them, saying, ‘I am the light of the world. Whoever follows Me will never walk in darkness but will have the light of life.’” (John 8:12)

Two young Americans with high adventure in their hearts arrived in the city of Quito, Ecuador, on their way to the 'Great Amazon Rain Forest' east of the Andes. They were going on a six-week trek and planned to write a book about their experiences… They had been to an army surplus store before they left home and bought everything the salesman told them they would need… What more could they want? There was, it occurred to them when they reached Quito, one thing -- the language -- and when they learned that a jungle missionary was in town, they came to see me…'Just give us a few phrases,' they said… They described their equipment to me with great pride, and I could see that it was not going to be of much use. I wanted to tell them that what they ought to have was a guide…

Sometimes we come to God as the two adventurers came to me -- confident and, we think, well-informed and well-equipped. But it has occurred to us that with all our accumulation of stuff something is missing… What we really ought to have is the Guide Himself.

-- Elizabeth Elliot in A Slow and Certain Light


Wednesday, January 7, 2009


“And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, full of grace and truth.” (John 1:14)

God became man that men might learn to live in a Godlike way. He took residence on the earth that earth might be more like heaven. He showed us in His own Son that flesh need not be a devilish thing, but full of grace and truth.

This historic event is the symbol of a process. It is ever God's purpose that the Word shall be made flesh, that the physical shall be filled with His glory, that truth shall connect with life, that virtue shall get into action and conduct, that the world shall be a continual incarnation of spiritual forces in human form. God writes His truth not in flaming letters on the sky, nor does He cast them in bronze or chisel them in marble for the guidance of the race. He writes His truth in human life.

-- Cynthia Pearl Maus in Christ and the Fine Arts


Tuesday, January 6, 2009


There are many things which a person can do alone, but being a Christian is not one of them. As the Christian life is, above all things, a state of union with Christ, and of union of His followers with one another, love of the brethren is inseparable from love of God. Resentment toward any human being cannot exist in the same heart with love to God. The personal relationship to Christ can only be realized when one has "come to himself" as a member of His Body, the Christian fellowship.

-- William T. Ham


Monday, January 5, 2009


“Those who accepted Peter’s message were baptized, and about three thousand were added to their number that day. They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer.” (Acts 2:41-42)

People by the thousands became Christians because they saw Simon Peter's commitment to the church. Peter was devoted to the church, and with good reason. There is no institution in the world that serves people better than the church does. There is no institution in the world that helps families more than the church does. There is no institution in the world that redeems lives like the church. There is no institution in the world that teaches love like the church. There is no institution in the world that lifts God up and inspires righteousness like the church does. There is no institution in the world that cultivates goodness like the church does.

But even more than that, the church has Jesus Christ! The world is starving to death for Jesus Christ, and we have Him. We are here to share Jesus Christ with a needy world, and everything we do is for that purpose. We have worship services and Sunday-school classes, Bible-study groups and enrichment groups; we have youth groups, children's groups, singles groups, and mission-work groups; we take trips, put on dramas, play games, and present concerts; we paint houses, build clinics, feed the hungry, and help the needy -- all for one purpose: so that we can share the love of Christ; so that we can tell people about Him.

-- James W. Moore in When You're a Christian, the Whole World is from Missouri


Friday, January 2, 2009


I look on all the world as my parish; thus far I mean, that, in whatever part of it I am, I judge it meet, right, and my bounden duty, to declare unto all that are willing to hear, the glad tidings of salvation.

-- John Wesley