Tuesday, June 30, 2009

THROUGH THE VALLEY

Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,
I will fear no evil, for You are with me… (Psalm 23:4a NIV)

When illness, bereavement, and the losses…cast a shadow over our lives, God is there… Shadows are cast only because the sun is shining somewhere, to take us by the hand and lead us through the valley of the shadow and into the sunlight.

-- Harold Kushner in The Lord is My Shepherd


#2328

Monday, June 29, 2009

IRRATIONAL LOVE

Proverbs 2:25 says, "May your father and mother be glad; may she who gave you birth rejoice!" Make no mistake about it. Children are treasures from God — "a reward from Him,' we read in Psalm 127:3 – and they should be treated accordingly. They should be prized and cherished. They should hear tens of thousands of times that their parents are crazy about them. They should grow up in an environment in which expressions of love seem as natural as breathing.

One child-development expert cited studies that indicate that people who grow up to become healthy, well-adjusted adults can almost always look back to one parent who loved them irrationally. (That was the expert's word.) People who perpetually struggle through life and do not become well-adjusted adults or people who sink into the extremes of depression, crime or hyperachiemement usually cannot recall being irrationally loved by ether parent. The researcher concluded that in order to grow up normal, every human being has to be loved abnormally.

I think the writer of Proverbs knows that the human heart needs irrational love.

-- Bill Hybels in Making Life Work: Putting God's Wisdom into Action


#2327

Friday, June 26, 2009

FACING YOUR GIANTS

Write today's worries in sand.
Chisel yesterday's victories in stone.

-- Max Lucado in Facing Your Giants


#2326

Thursday, June 25, 2009

JOB ONE

Why all of this emphasis upon evangelism? Because evangelism is "Job One" for the church. Do you remember those old Ford commercials which claimed "Quality is Job One"? I believe we can modify that motto to say "Evangelism is Job One" for the church. The church exists for sharing the Good News of Jesus Christ... The church is one of the few institutions which exists not for itself, but for the world. Yes, of course, we must share the Good News with those inside the church who need to hear the Gospel, respond, and grow in faith. But too often we have stopped there. We have focused only upon ourselves, our comfort, and our institution, rather than focusing upon reaching the world for Christ.

Evangelism is not about saving the church. Evangelism is not about institutional survival. Evangelism is about being faithful to the call of Christ. We are called to change lives and to transform the world, and in the process we will discover the church itself becoming more vital and alive.

Yes, indeed, I am ready to say "Evangelism is Job One." How about you?

-- U.M. Bishop Michael J. Coyner


#2325

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

REMEMBER YOUR CREATOR

"Remember your Creator in the days of your youth, before the days of trouble come," warned the Teacher of Ecclesiastes in the pangs of foreboding over old age and death. His book chronicles a systematic search for an alternative, a life apart from a Creator. In the end, he found that both hedonism and despair lead to a vexing sense of meaninglessness. "Fear God and keep His commandments, for this is the whole duty of man," the Teacher concluded, in words reminiscent of the Westminster Shorter Catechism.

Astonishingly, the Creator seldom imposes Himself on His creatures. It requires attention and effort on our part to "remember your Creator," because the Creator slips quietly backstage. God does not force His presence on us. When lesser gods attract, God withdraws, honoring our fatal freedom to ignore Him.

-- Philip Yancey in Rumors of Another World


#2324

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

WHAT DOES IT TAKE TO SERVE?

Everybody can be great, because everybody can serve. You don’t have to have a college degree to serve. You don’t have to make your subject and your verb agree to serve. You don’t have to know about Plato and Aristotle to serve. You don’t have to know Einstein’s theory of relativity to serve. You don’t have to know the second theory of thermodynamics in physics to serve. You only need a heart full of grace, a soul generated by love.

-- Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. in a sermon entitled “The Drum Major Instinct” delivered at Ebenezer Baptist Church, Atlanta, Georgia, February 4, 1968


#2323

Monday, June 22, 2009

GOD LOOKS AT THE HEART

Recently I read about a woman who, on the advice of her doctor, went to see a pastor to talk about joining the church. She had recently had a face-lift, and when her doctor dismissed her, he gave her this advice. "My dear, I have done an extraordinary job on your face, as you can see in the mirror. I have charged you a great deal of money, and you were happy to pay it. But I want to give you some free advice. Find a group of people who love God and who will love you enough to help you deal with all the negative emotions inside of you. If you don't, you'll be back in my office in a very short time with your face in a far worse shape than before."

What happens on the outside is only a reflection of what's occurring on the inside. A face-lift won't disguise a faulty heart. Solomon said, "As a face is reflected in water, so the heart reflects the person" (Proverbs 27:19, NLT). God sees past your face and into your heart.

-- Lenya Heitzig and Penny Pierce Rose in Pathway to God's Treasure: Ephesians


#2322

Friday, June 19, 2009

DAD'S ROLE

"We wanted to present ourselves as a model for you, so that you might imitate us." (2 Thessalonians 3:9 NAB)

Every dad is the family role model, whether he wants the job or not.

-- Dennis Rainey


#2321

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

THE PRIORITY OF WORSHIP

If the Lord is to be Lord, worship must have a priority in our lives. The first commandment of Jesus is "Love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength" (Mark 12:30). The divine priority is worship first, service second. Our lives are to be punctuated with praise, thanksgiving and adoration. Service flows out of worship. Service as a substitute for worship is idolatry. Activity may become the enemy of adoration.

-- M. Scott Peck in Celebration of Discipline


#2320

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

PURSUING THE SPIRIT'S LEADING

The Celtic Christians had a name for the Holy Spirit that has always intrigued me. They call Him An Geadh-Glas, or 'The Wild Goose.' I love the imagery and implications. The name hints at the mysterious nature of the Holy Sprit. Much like a wild goose, the Spirit of God cannot be tracked or tamed. An element of danger and an air of unpredictability surround Him. And while the name may sound a little sacrilegious at first earshot, I cannot think of a better description of what it's like to pursue the Spirit's leading through life than Wild Goose Chase. I think the Celtic Christians were on to something that institutionalized Christianity has missed out on. And I wonder if we have clipped the wings of the Wild Goose and settled for something less -- much less -- than what God originally intended for us.

-- Mark Batterson in Wild Goose Chase


#2319

Monday, June 15, 2009

THE VALUE OF A FRIEND

Faithful friends are a sturdy shelter: whoever finds one has found a treasure.
Faithful friends are beyond price; no amount can balance their worth.

-- Sirach 6:14-15


#2318

Friday, June 12, 2009

SHEPHERDS OF THE CHURCH

"For I have not hesitated to proclaim to you the whole will of God. Keep watch over yourselves and all the flock of which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers. Be shepherds of the church of God, which He bought with His own blood… Now I commit you to God and to the word of His grace, which can build you up and give you an inheritance among all those who are sanctified." (Acts 20:27,28,32)

As the great test of medical practice is that it heals the patient, so the great test of preaching is that it converts and builds up the hearers.

-- Herman L. Wayland (1830-1898)


#2317

Thursday, June 4, 2009

KEEP DIGGING

In Genesis 26, there is a story about the Philistines filling the wells Abraham had dug with dirt and debris. Isaac reopens the wells by removing the debris, but the shepherds of Gerar stake claim to them. Then Isaac does something interesting. Instead of arguing over the old wells, he keeps digging new ones.

I don't want to stretch this analogy too far, but I think every generation needs to keep digging new wells. We can't just drink from the wells dug by our fathers. We need to dig new wells.

The 17th century Japanese Poet, Matsuo Basho, said, "Do not seek to follow in the footsteps of the men of old; seek what they sought."

Listen, I'm a conference junkie. So take this the right way. But it seems like we spend so much time and energy trying to learn from others. And that is good. But we better be investing more time seeking God because God has the key to our cities. God has the solution to our problems. God has the magic model of ministry. We don't just need good ideas. We need God ideas. You can get good ideas from a conference speaker, but God ideas come from God Himself. And one God idea is worth more than a thousand good ideas!

Keep digging!

-- Mark Batterson, from his blog at www.evotional.com


#2316

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

A LETTER TO YOUR CHURCH

In the book of Revelation, John includes a lengthy passage addressed to seven churches, commending some and correcting others. The letter affirms service, patient endurance, courage, faithfulness, aliveness, sacrifice, and passion for the gospel of Jesus Christ. The letter also tells the truth about lukewarm commitment, poverty of spirit, waning love, lost focus, conflict, and division. The churches are invited and encouraged to come back, turn around, and return to their former passion and mission. Each of the seven churches is addressed personally in ways that are contextual, authentic, and tailored to its own circumstances. The tone is both pastoral and prophetic, positive and critical, encouraging and honest, building up communities while also holding them accountable.

…Suppose your congregation received such a letter. What would the letter say? What characteristics, spiritual qualities, practices, and ministries would be commended, worthy of praise, affirmed, and celebrated? And what characteristics, spiritual qualities, practices, and ministries of your congregation would be prophetically challenged, called into account, pierced by the spirit of truth? What truth would you be asked to confront? How would your congregation be invited to change?

-- Bishop Robert Schnase, excerpted from his Five Practices blog


#2315

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

A GOD THING

Did you happen to notice what word was the winning word at the 2009 Spelling Bee Championship this week? LAODICEAN.

You might say, "who cares?" Or like I did, "What does it mean?"

So I looked it up in the Webster Dictionary and this is what it said: 1. Of the ancient city of Laodicea. 2. Indifferent or lukewarm in religion, as the early Christians of that city: Revelation 3:14-16.

Well I must say that I was surprised that the secular Webster dictionary quoted Biblical scripture so I looked up that as well. And it said: "This is what you must write to the angel of the church in Laodicea: I am the one called Trustworthy. I am the faithful and true witness and the source of God's creation. Listen to what I say. I know everything you have done, and you are not cold or hot. I wish you were either one or the other. But since you are lukewarm and neither cold nor hot, I will spit you out of my mouth."

Is this just a random occurrence or is it what a friend calls "A God Thing"? It makes you wonder... if it had been answered incorrectly it would have gone into obscurity like every other word at the Spelling Bee. Instead, there may be others around the country like me who wondered what it meant and looked it up... only to be reminded of the importance of not being lukewarm in our Christian faith.

-- Karen Brown


#2314

Monday, June 1, 2009

EASTER NEEDS PENTECOST

Without Pentecost, Easter reminds the church that Jesus has now gone to be with God and His followers are left alone in the world. Without Pentecost, Easter offers us a risen Christ whose return to glory leaves the church to face the world armed with nothing but fond memories of how it once was when Jesus was here. But with Pentecost, Easter’s Christ promises to return and has returned in the Holy Spirit as comforter, guide, teacher, reminder, and power. With Pentecost, the church does not simply celebrate but participates in Easter. With Pentecost, the risen Christ says hello and not good-bye to the church.

-- Dr. Fred Craddock


#2313