Friday, December 24, 2010

WHAT MIGHT HAPPEN?

What might happen to us and within us and among us if we were indeed to prepare our hearts and follow the star and leave our flocks and our fields and make haste to Bethlehem to see this thing which has come to pass? What might we see and what might we hear and what might we come to believe that would change everything for us forever?

We might begin to believe that the Light will indeed shine in the darkness and that the darkness will never overcome it. We might begin to know in our hearts that no darkness that we find ourselves in is too dark for us after all, that the One who made us will come searching for us again and again, choosing to come and be among us, choosing to share in that darkness and to burst it apart with light and life and hope and love . . . .

We might begin to believe that indeed love has gotten loose on earth somehow -- not just any love but the one true Love -- the Love that has the power to change us all, the Love that has brought us into being and has now brought Love itself into being in the person of this baby in a manger.

We might begin to believe that the sharing in and the sharing of that Love, however and wherever we can, in ways great and small, is the only thing worth doing while we are here. And that all of our lives must be ordered around that one true necessity.

-- Robert Benson in The Night of the Child (Nashville, Tenn.: Upper Room Books, 2001)


#2681

Thursday, December 23, 2010

AMONG THE ANIMALS

A young woman about to give birth and her husband seek hospitality and find it, not among human society, but in a cave with cattle. After the Child is born and has a time of intimacy with His mother, He is presented in the animals' feeding trough. He is greeted by lowing sounds and warm breath from gentle muzzles.

And as the invisible forces of the universe commune with the visible, those humans who are in harmony with Creation -- the earth, sheep, plant life; the heavens, stars, planets, cosmic life -- come to this cave singing praise and thanksgiving to the God of infinite courtesy.

-- Susan Mangam, S.T.R. in "Sing to the Lord a New Song" from The Weavings Reader, published by The Upper Room, Nashville, TN. Used with permission.


#2680

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

A HOPELESS MUDDLE?

Christmas has really become a hopeless muddle of confusion. The humility and the poverty of the stable are somehow confused with the wealth and indulgence and selfishness of gift giving. The quietness of Bethlehem is mingled with the din of shopping malls and freeway traffic. The soberness of the Incarnation is somehow mixed with the drunkenness of this season. Blinking colored lights somehow have some connection to the star of Bethlehem.

-- John F. MacArthur Jr. in The Incarnation of the Triune God


#2679

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

GOD'S GIFT OF LOVE

Perhaps the most amazing response to God's gift [of love in Jesus Christ] is our reluctance to accept it. We want it. But on our terms. For some odd reason, we feel better if we earn it. So we create religious hoops and hop through them -- making God a trainer, us His pets, and religion a circus.

-- Max Lucado in In the Eye of the Storm


#2678

Monday, December 20, 2010

DRAWN TO CHRIST

The Lord's chief desire is to reveal Himself to you and, in order for Him to do that, He gives you abundant [prevenient] grace. The Lord gives you the experience of enjoying His presence. He touches you, and His touch is so delightful that, more than ever, you are drawn inwardly to Him.

-- Jeanne Guyon


#2677

Friday, December 17, 2010

THAT CHRISTMAS GIFT

If God had a refrigerator, your picture would be on it.
If God had a wallet, your photo would be in it.
He sends you flowers every spring and a sunrise every morning.
When you want to talk, He'll listen.
He could live anywhere in the universe and He chose your heart.
And that Christmas gift He sent you in Bethlehem?
Face it friend, He's crazy about you!

-- Max Lucado


#2676

Thursday, December 16, 2010

WE NEED JOY

"A cheerful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones." (Proverbs 17:22)

We hunger for joy. "Satisfy us in the morning," writes the psalmist -- but not with more money or power or applause. "Satisfy us in the morning with Your unfailing love so that we may sing for joy and be glad all our days." (Psalm 90:14)

Joyful people make us come alive.

When the book of the law was read to the people in Nehemiah's day, they were overwhelmed by inadequacy and guilt. Nehemiah gave to them and us a remarkable statement: "The joy of the Lord is your strength." (Nehemiah 8:10) We know we love joy, but we often forget the power of joy. Joy gives us the strength to resist temptation. It brings the ability to persevere. Joy is the Velcro that makes relationships stick. Joy gives us energy to love. A person who brings joy to us is an oasis in a desert land. We don't just need air and food and water. We need joy.

-- John Ortberg in The Me I Want to Be


#2675

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

THE SINGLE GREATEST GIFT

When I was in my early twenties and a student at Trinity College, my professor Dr. Gilbert Bilezikian delivered lessons that inspired me, convicted me, and compelled me to action. To a group of us who were leading a high school ministry at the time, Dr. B said, "Throughout the course of your life, you're going to give your life to something. You will. All people do. They give their lives to pleasure or to possessions, to the attainment of popularity or to the acquisition of more power. But always to something."

"True followers of Christ who really get it right," he said, "give themselves to people. Most importantly, they give themselves to pointing people to faith in Christ. That is the highest and best use of a human life -- to have it serve as a signpost that points people toward God." Dr. B summed up my entire belief system with a brilliant flash of insight: if you really believe in the redeeming and transforming power of God's presence in a person's life, then the single greatest gift you can give someone is an explanation of how to be rightly connected to Him.

Let me say it again: the single greatest gift you can give someone is an introduction of the God who asked His Son to go the unthinkable distance to redeem them.

-- Bill Hybels in Just Walk Across the Room


#2674

Monday, December 13, 2010

GOOD NEWS OF GREAT JOY

"But the angel said to them, 'Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; He is Christ the Lord.'" (Luke 2:10-11 NIV)

Joy is the most infallible sign of the presence of God.

-- Leon Bloy in Alive Now, May/June 2002, published by The Upper Room, Nashville, TN. Used with permission.


#2672

Friday, December 10, 2010

THE GIFT OF JOY

"The fruit of the Spirit is… joy…" (Galatians 5:22)

We live in a sad world -- a world of despair, depression, lack of fulfillment, and dissatisfaction. Man defines happiness as an attitude of satisfaction and delight based upon present circumstances. He relates happiness to happenings and happenstance. It is something that can't be planned or programmed.

Biblical joy consists of the deep and abiding confidence that all is well regardless of circumstance and difficulty. It is something very different from worldly happiness. Biblical joy is always related to God and belongs to those in Christ. It is the permanent possession of every believer -- not a whimsical delight that comes and goes as chance offers it opportunity.

A good definition of joy is this: it's the flag that flies on the castle of the heart when the King is in residence. Christians can know true and lasting joy.

A Christian's joy is a gift from God to those who believe the gospel, being produced in them by the Holy Spirit as they receive and obey the Word, being mixed with trials with a hope set on future glory.

-- John MacArthur in a sermon entitled "Joy and Godliness: The Epistle of Joy"


#2671

Thursday, December 9, 2010

THE JOY OF THE LORD

"…the joy of the LORD is your strength." (Nehemiah 8:10b)

Joy was characteristic of the Christian community so long as it was growing, expanding, and creating healthfully. The time came when the Church had ceased to grow, except externally in wealth, power, and prestige; and these are mere outward adornments, or hampering burdens, very likely. They do not imply growth or creativeness. The time came when dogmatism, tyranny, and ignorance strangled the free intellectual activity of the Church, and worldliness destroyed its moral fruitfulness. Then joy spread her wings and flew away. The Christian graces care nothing for names and labels; where the Spirit of the Lord is, there they abide, but not in great Churches that have forgotten Him. How little of joy there is in the character of the religious bigot or fanatic, or in the prudent ecclesiastical statesman! A show of cheerfulness they may cultivate, as they often do; but it is like the crackling of thorns under a pot: we cannot mistake it for the joy of the Lord which is the strength of the true Christian.

-- William R. Inge (1860-1954) in Personal Religion


#2670

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

WAITING FOR THE LORD

Our waiting is always shaped by alertness to the word. It is waiting in the knowledge that someone wants to address us. The question is, Are we home? Are we at our address, ready to respond to the doorbell? We need to wait together, to keep each other at home spiritually, so that when the Word comes it can become flesh in us. That is why the Book of God is always in the midst of those who gather. We read the Word so that the Word can become flesh and have a whole new life in us.

-- Henri Nouwen in Weavings, January 1987, published by The Upper Room, Nashville, TN. Used with permission.


#2669

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

UNLIKELY MESSENGERS

In John [the Baptist], the messenger of God's Advent… came in a most unlikely person.

So let us not be surprised if the messengers of God's Advent among us are not the highly visible, duly advertised spokespersons of God and society in our midst. If we want to see signs of God's coming among us, perhaps the persons to seek out are those whose lives quietly but profoundly reveal the fruits of repentance announced by John: fruits of sharing from abundance, fruits of practicing vocations in ethical ways, fruits of translating Sunday words into weekday works.

-- John Indermark in Setting the Christmas Stage (Nashville, Tenn.: Upper Room Books. Used with permission.)


#2668

Monday, December 6, 2010

THE GIFT OF INNER PEACE

People try to find happiness, joy and gladness in people, places and things and sooner or later discover that only God is the true source of such inner peace. Counterfeit claims of the path to joy abound. People attempt to fill that "God-shaped-void" with alcohol, drugs, people, power and all kinds of imaginable trinkets but nothing outside the love of God is lasting or even real. They might offer a temporary fix but the long-term solution is acceptance of a loving and caring God.

-- Pastor Gary Stone


#2667

Friday, December 3, 2010

PEACE

In French you say it "paix."
In Spanish you say it "paz."
In Norwegian you say it "fred."
In Hungarian you say it "beke."
At work you say it in a job well done.
At home you say it with smiles and affection.
At church you say it in the words of the tax collector, "God, be merciful to me a sinner" (Luke 18:13, NKJV).
With enemies you say it in forgiveness.
With loved ones you also say it in forgiveness.
In your heart, you say it by surrender of all to Jesus Christ.

-- Mike and Amy Nappa in A Heart Like His


#2666

Thursday, December 2, 2010

THE SOLID ROCK

Nineteenth-century hymn writer Edward Mote (1797-1874) wrote the following: "My hope is built on nothing less than Jesus' blood and righteousness… On Christ the solid rock I stand, all other ground is sinking sand." If we understand little else on our Advent journey toward Christmas, let's understand that.

There is nothing else that solid, and there is nothing else that real… Through Jesus Christ, we can have a hope that means something.

-- Derek Maul in In My Heart I Carry a Star: Stories of Advent


#2665

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

PARTNERS WITH GOD

Eventually, you come to understand something really fundamental and important about God: God will always get done what God wants to get done. And so, the key question for us is simply: will we choose to work with God, or against God?…

Lord knows, in our lives, we often want things to work out our way. Lord knows, we sometimes get angry if our team doesn't win, or if our plans are not the one everyone else adopts. And, sometimes, we may even get angry with God, because we have a vision for how we think things are supposed to be.

But, what if we could learn to simply trust instead? What if we could believe that God can use us for some real good in the world? What if we could learn to follow what God wants from us, instead of fighting against God's plans? I think, if we could do all these things, then God could use us to accomplish far more than if we fight against God's plans and always suggest our own. We could be partners with God in the great things God will still do.

But, whether we decide to do things God's way or not, there is good news: sometimes despite us, God will always get done what God wants to get done; and the only real choice is whether we will choose to work for or against God.

-- Copyright Eric Folkerth 2000. All Rights Reserved. (Used with Permission)


#2664

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

FAITHFUL EXPECTATION

In modern language, hope has become little more than a strong wish or a way of stating our preference. Hope, however, is a holy word, a powerful and exciting word. The word hope really means "faithful expectation." We hope, that is we faithfully expect that God is acting on our behalf to create, to save, and to sustain us. We claim an expectation for the future, even when the present does not provide proof that the future will be good; and we do so faithfully, within the relationship we claim with God in Jesus Christ. When we as faithful people say "hope," we should use the word with our feet firmly planted, our head held high, and our life relying on the God who will not let us go. We need to say "hope" as a prayer, as an affirmation of faith, and as a doxology to the living God.

-- Randy Cross in Born to Save: An Advent Study Based on the Revised Common Lectionary


#2633

Monday, November 29, 2010

WHAT IS HOPE?

"We wait in hope for the LORD; He is our help and our shield." (Psalm 33:20 NIV)

Hope is faith holding out its hand in the dark.

-- George Iles


#2662

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

RECOGNIZING THE GIFT

"When the LORD your God brings you into the land He swore to your fathers, to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, to give you -- a land with large, flourishing cities you did not build, houses filled with all kinds of good things you did not provide, wells you did not dig, and vineyards and olive groves you did not plant -- then when you eat and are satisfied, be careful that you do not forget the LORD, who brought you out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery." (Deuteronomy 6:10-12 NIV)

When you come to the place where you recognize that everyone and everything you love is a gift, it becomes possible to enjoy those gifts -- not with an attitude of greed but with one of gratitude.

-- Nancy Guthrie in Holding on to Hope


#2661

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

GRATITUDE

Gratitude is not only the greatest of virtues, but the parent of all the others.

-- Cicero

"Let the message of Christ dwell among you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom through psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit, singing to God with gratitude in your hearts." (Colossians 3:16 NIV)


#2660

Monday, November 22, 2010

THE KINGDOM OF GOD

"For the kingdom of God is not food and drink but righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit." (Romans 14:17 NRSV)

It is sometimes said that even if no rules were laid down for the conduct of its affairs, the Church, being created by Jesus to "further the work of the Kingdom of God," can be judged by the extent to which it is successful in continuing His work. This supposition rests upon a misunderstanding of what is meant by "the Kingdom of God"... The Kingdom itself is not something to be "furthered" or "built" by men's efforts.

It is something which we are invited to recognize as already present, after a manner, in the life and work of Jesus. It is something to be inherited or entered into by those who believe. The task of the Church, in other words, is not to set the stage for a better world than this one but to draw the curtain from it, to reveal something that is already there.

-- Nick Earle in What's Wrong with the Church?


#2659

Friday, November 19, 2010

FORMING AND SHAPING

"The words that You gave to Me I have given to them, and they have received them and know in truth that I came from You." (John 17:8)

Deliberate and prayerful consideration of the Bible is foundational to our life together as followers of Jesus. God's words not only form us, but they shape our character too.

-- Derek Maul in Get Real: A Spiritual Journey for Men


#2658

Thursday, November 18, 2010

REGARDING THE BIBLE

Sunrise and sunset, promise and fulfillment, birth and death, the whole human drama, everything is in this Book.

-- Heinrich Heine (1797-1856), German Poet


#2657

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

OPEN THE WINDOWS

God has a special way of satisfying the cry of His children. He is waiting to open to us the windows of heaven until He has so moved in the depth of our heart that everything unlike Himself has been destroyed.

-- Smith Wigglesworth


#2556

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

BE CONSISTENT

When you want to become a spiritual leader on your football team or in your classroom or in your work force, whatever it may be, you've got to be consistent. People have to see you in the same light, no matter what you're going through. That comes with getting into the Word and finding out what God has for you and His will for you. Rather than being concerned with what the world has to offer, you need to be concerned with what Jesus Christ accomplished on Calvary.

-- Jay Riemersma, former NFL player, in Sports Spectrum


#2655

Monday, November 15, 2010

SEEING GOD

I suddenly saw that all the time it was not I who had been seeking God, but God who had been seeking me. I had made myself the centre of my own existence and had my back turned to God. All the beauty and truth which I had discovered had come to me as a reflection of His beauty, but I had kept my eyes fixed on the reflection and was always looking at myself. But God had brought me to the point at which I was compelled to turn away from the reflection, both of myself and of the world which could only mirror my own image. During that night the mirror had been broken, and I had felt abandoned because I could no longer gaze upon the image of my own reason and the finite world which it knew. God had brought me to my knees and made me acknowledge my own nothingness, and out of that knowledge I had been reborn. I was no longer the centre of my life and therefore I could see God in everything.

-- Bede Griffiths in The Golden String


#2654

Friday, November 12, 2010

SPIRITUAL RENEWAL

"So if anyone is in Christ, there is a new creation: everything old has passed away; see, everything has become new!" (2 Corinthians 5:17 NRSV)

The renewal of our natures is a work of great importance. It is not to be done in a day. We have not only a new house to build up, but an old one to pull down.

-- George Whitefield (1714-1770) in a letter


#2653

Thursday, November 11, 2010

LAMENT PSALM EIGHTEEN

O God, why have You left me in the wilderness
with no bread?
I hunger for Your righteousness;
I am starved for Your justice.
O God, feed me!
My soul is starving without Your nourishment.
I need You;
why have You left me in this desolate land?
Are You ashamed to be my God?
Will You no longer welcome me
into the city You are building for the faithful?
Is there no end to my loss?
Must I lose heart and now my soul?

Listen to me, O God:
My soul is shriveling within me.
It is hard and crusty and needs to be watered
with Your Holy Spirit.
My soul is numb with neglect.
Why are You ignoring me?
O God who counts the birds of the air,
have mercy on my soul.

Take away the bitter herbs
and bring me the bread of life
so that I might have the strength
to join those who gather together
to praise Your holy name.

My soul cries out to You;
my soul longs for You.
Remember me, Holy One,
for You are my Alpha and Omega.

-- Ann Weems in Psalms of Lament


#2652

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

OFFERING COMPASSION

Recently one of my friends was buying groceries for her family. She was hurrying because she had guests coming for dinner, so she was frustrated when she discovered she had ended up in a slow-moving line. She looked to the front of the line and saw a woman frantically rummaging through her purse; then the checker shouted, "What do you mean, you don't have any money?" My friend's first thought was, Why do I always pick the wrong line? Doesn't she care that I'm in a hurry? Everyone else in the line behind her began complaining.

But then my friend felt God tugging at her heart suggesting that she pay the woman's bill! "But, God," she said. "You know I hate giving up my money. And I don't think my husband will understand. Besides that I…" Then she looked at the woman – at her frazzled demeanor and her shabby clothes – and she imagined the children who might be waiting for the woman at home. Then she thought about all that God had done for her. Smiling, she leaned over to the checker and quietly said, "Can you add my groceries to hers, and I'll pay for it all."

My friend said she felt like she was floating as she drove home, in an unplanned, unscheduled and unpretentious way, she had opened her eyes and extended her hand, and God had blessed her with joy. The opportunities are all around us and God's Spirit is whispering, "Go for it. Do it. Offer compassion." All we have to do is respond.

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


#2651

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

LIVING CONSISTENT LIVES

We are not only to renounce evil, but to manifest the truth. We tell people the world is vain; let our lives manifest that it is so. We tell them that our home is above and that all these things are transitory. Does our dwelling look like it? Oh to live consistent lives!

-- J. Hudson Taylor (1832-1905)


#2650

Monday, November 8, 2010

SEEING CLEARLY

It is as if we are meant to be wearing bifocals in our attitude to life in the world. We are to see clearly the job at hand and do it hard and well, but we are to have long-distance vision as well so that we can be aware of God's perspective and the relevance of His work in our lives.

-- from an Ophthalmologist's Newsletter


#2649

Friday, November 5, 2010

RESURRECTION FAITH

God does not cheapen Himself or us by offering us easy answers to the anguished, "Why?" that we who are human cannot help but ask. The mystery of life and death and suffering remains a mystery in all human generations, and it is no less a mystery for us. We don't get a quick fix from our faith.

But we do encounter a God who sits patiently beside us in grief, usually silently, like an orthodox Jew sitting shivah with his bereaved friend, offering no words to explain away a mystery that is beyond words. God sits with us in our sorrow. In the days and weeks after a loss, as we sit together in the silence, something new begins to creep into our consciousness. The faith that has sustained our whole lives will begin to knot our sorrow over this death together with what we believe about the life to come. Faith and experience will knit together like a broken bone knits together as time passes. We begin to be able to see for ourselves what is already a reality for those who have gone on ahead of us, something the tears of early bereavement make it hard for us to see at first. They begin to appear in our vision of heaven, taking their place in the communion of the saints. We begin to feel their presence, not just their absence. Once again, the resurrection faith to which we cling gently bathes our hearts, and our hearts are healed.

-- Bishop Edmund Lee Browning from "A Year of Days with the Book of Common Prayer"


#2648

Thursday, November 4, 2010

A NEW AND LIVING WAY

In a letter written on this day, November 4, in 1852, John McLean, Justice of the United States Supreme Court, told the American Bible Society:

"Aside from Revelation, darkness rests upon the world and upon the future… The Bible has shed a glorious light upon the world. It shows us that in the coming day we must answer for the deeds done in the body. It has opened to us a new and living way, so plainly marked out that no one can mistake it. The price [Jesus] paid for our redemption shows the value of our immortal souls."

-- Stephen Abbot Northrop in A Cloud of Witnesses


#2647

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

CROSSING THE LINES

It belongs to the very nature of the gospel that the Church is built across cultural, social, and racial barriers. There are siren voices (as well as gut reactions) telling Christians that the way to success in evangelism is to follow the natural divisions, and to try to build churches along cultural, social and racial divisions. In doing so, they ignore the "success" in the New Testament in crossing these lines; more importantly, they are in fact stressing success more highly than the truth of the gospel. To buy success at the price of treating the fundamental nature of the gospel as dispensable is to follow a false gospel.

-- David Bronnert in "The Gospel and Culture" in The Changing World


#2646

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

SPIRITUAL LEADERSHIP BEGINS WITH CHRIST

"Now to Him who by the power at work within us is able to accomplish abundantly far more than all we can ask or imagine, to Him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus to all generations, forever and ever. Amen” (Eph. 3:14-21 NRSV)

To think rightly about spiritual leadership within the frame of Christian faith is to start not with ourselves but with Christ. Spiritual leadership does not issue primarily from our skills in persuasion, motivation, mediation, or administration. It does not come from gifts of passionate preaching, brilliant teaching, fine writing, or even effective action. It does not follow from mere individual vision or force of personality. Spiritual leadership begins with God. It issues from a living relationship with Christ, in which the purposes of God may be brought to light through our faithfulness.

-- Marjorie J. Thompson, excerpt from an article entitled “Rooted and Grounded in Christ,” in “Leading from the Center”


#2645

Monday, November 1, 2010

REFLECTIONS ON REFORMATION SUNDAY

Jesus says, "For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost." (Luke 19:10)

Woe to those who go to great depths to hide their plans from the Lord, who do their work in darkness and think, "Who sees us? Who will know?" (Isaiah 29:15)

Take care that none of you may have an evil, unbelieving heart that turns away from the living God. (Hebrews 3:12)

It is so easy, Lord, to get caught up in planning, strategizing, and seeking our own way; we let the confusion and tension overwhelm us when things do not go as planned. As our forefathers challenged a church that did not always hold you at its head, may we also confront all in our own lives that compromises Your purpose for this world. Forgive us, loving Lord. Turn our hearts again to You. Amen.

-- from The Moravian Church in America Daily Texts


#2644

Friday, October 29, 2010

WANTED: COURAGEOUS PEOPLE

Courage instills confidence in a person... A person without courage cannot be an encourager. This is one of the reasons so many people today are so discouraged; few courageous people exist to encourage them.

-- Ronnie W. Floyd in The Meaning of a Man


#2643

Thursday, October 28, 2010

GIVING TO GOD

Rather than giving God our ability, He wants our availability.

-- Unknown


#2642

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

ENJOYING THE ROSES

One of the most tragic things I know about human nature is that all of us tend to put off living. We are all dreaming of some magical rose garden over the horizon -- instead of enjoying the roses that are blooming outside our windows today.

-- Dale Carnegie


#2641

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

GIVING GOD CREDIT

My life isn't good because I'm a football player; I'm a football player because my life is good. Jesus Christ has made my life good. His grace and His forgiveness have changed me…

There's no way I would have gotten to the NFL without becoming a Christian. I was on the road to destruction. A lot of people want to hear how hard I've worked. That's part of it. But without God's provisions, the road I've traveled doesn't happen. I laugh at people wanting to give me credit.

-- Jon Kitna, NFL Quarterback, from Sports Spectrum


#2640

Monday, October 25, 2010

TRUTH WILL PREVAIL

Truth never yet fell dead in the streets. It has such an affinity for the soul of man, the seed however broadcast will catch somewhere and produce its hundredfold.

-- Theodore Parker


#2639

Friday, October 22, 2010

LIVING ON

These are the concluding words of A Way to Die, the book that Rosemary and Victor Zorza wrote about their daughter Jane, who died from cancer when she was twenty-five:

When we went back to Washington at the end of the summer, we became aware of a change in ourselves. We were thinking far more than ever before about what really matters in life, about feelings, about the more abiding human values, about people – people as individuals. Jane talked of all these matters in her last weeks, and she made them more real to us than they had been. She also took pleasure in passing on her more cherished possessions to her friends. She gave a lot of thought to it. She liked to see them walk away with something she had given them, after they had said goodbye.

"I don't need a 'thing' to remember Jane by," said one of her friends. "Jane taught me how to make bread. Whenever I make bread, I think of her."

Before she died, we had talked of how people live on in what they do, in their actions, in the memories of those they have influenced. That was how Jane hoped she would live on. And she will.


#2638

Thursday, October 21, 2010

LIFE'S WORK OF ART

All of us are engaged daily with works of art, even if we are neither professional nor amateur artists. We read books, we listen to music, we look at posters, we admire flower arrangements. Art, as I am using the word, does not include just "high art," that is, painting, sculpture, poetry, classical music, but also the most popular expression -- the novel, the theater, the cinema, popular music and rock. In fact, there is a very real sense in which the Christian life itself should be our greatest work of art. Even for the great artist, the most crucial work of art is his life.

-- Francis A. Schaeffer in Art & the Bible


#2637

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

MAKING THE RIGHT CHOICES

"Choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve,… But as for me and my household, we will serve the LORD." (Joshua 24:15)

Making the right choices about faith -- like making good choices for life in general -- does not seem to rest primarily on IQ. Smart people mess up as easily as the rest of us.

Three men are in a plane: a pilot, a Boy Scout, and the world's smartest man. The engine fails, the plane is going down, and there are only two parachutes. The smart man grabs one. "I'm sorry about this," he says, "but I'm the smartest man in the world. I have a responsibility to the planet," and he jumps out of the plane. The pilot turns to the Boy Scout and speaks of how he has lived a long, full life and how the Boy Scout has his whole life in front of him. He tells the Boy Scout to take the last parachute and live. "Relax, Captain," the Boy Scout says. "The World's smartest man just jumped out of the plane with my backpack."

Our world is full of smart people jumping out of planes with backpacks. One of the paradoxes of faith and doubt is that it is the ultimate intellectual challenge, yet simple and uneducated people may live with great wisdom and PhDs may choose folly.

One thing is for sure: sooner or later the plane is going down. We all are on the same plane. Smart guys and Boys Scouts alike: everybody has to jump. Everybody has to choose a parachute. No one will know who chose wisely until after they jump.

-- John Ortberg in Faith & Doubt


#2636

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

HUMBLE SERVICE

"If anyone wants to be first, he must be the very last, and the servant of all," Jesus told His disciples…

For most of his life Albert Einstein had the portraits of two scientists, Newton and Maxwell, hanging on his wall as role models to inspire him. Toward the end of life, however, he took them down and replaced them with portraits of Albert Schweitzer and Mahatma Gandhi. He needed new role models, he said -- not of success, but of humble service.

-- Philip Yancey in Christianity Today, 12/4/2000


#2635

Monday, October 18, 2010

THE KNOWLEDGE OF GOD'S LOVE

The greatest honor we can give almighty God is to live gladly because of the knowledge of His love.

-- Julian of Norwich


#2634

Friday, October 15, 2010

WHAT IS WORSHIP?

You will find throughout the Word, and then continued throughout history, that when a human heart truly encounters the love of God -- in essence when the created connects with the Creator -- the response is worship, or worth-ship, as we often say. Worship as a response to revelation is displayed through consecrated lives (Romans 12), through wholehearted songs of love and devotion (the Psalms), and by living lives of love and justice (Micah 6:8). Worship is required not in perfection by man's standards, but in truth, by God's standards. He has never been impressed by offerings that look good, but offerings that are good. As the worship of God continues to gather momentum across the earth, so too does the awareness of His power and presence, along with the understanding of the authority that comes with exalting the name of Jesus over all things.

And whether we follow or lead, the ultimate goal of all we pursue in worship is His honor… As Pastor Jack Hayford says, "Where worship is released, God's presence comes to dwell, and where God's presence abides, there will be power." Let's be committed to seeing the fullness of this word "worship," so that it may reach its potential on earth as it is in heaven.

-- Darlene Zschech in The Worshiper Magazine, Summer 2008


#2633

Thursday, October 14, 2010

MEETING GOD ONE-ON -ONE

One of the most difficult things Christian parents face is relinquishing their child to God, knowing that "God has no grandchildren, only children." Each of us must come to God on our own… We know God deals with us individually, but sometimes we are tempted to wish our children could just slide into God's kingdom on our coattails and be spared the struggle. But if we look back through time, we see a record of individuals and their God. Parents can set godly examples, whet their children's appetites for the things of God. But throughout Scripture, the quest to know God is a solitary one.

"Work out your own salvation with fear and trembling", Paul admonished in Philippians 2:12. It's not that we earn salvation, negating Christ's work of grace on the cross….

At some time in our lives, we must meet God one-on-One.

-- William and Nancy Carmichael in Lord Bless My Child


#2633

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

GOD'S POWERFUL WORK

Do you want something more in your Christian life? You want your life to make a difference for God? Do you want to experience, in a deep and unmistakable way, exactly what Jesus meant when He announced: "I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly" (John 10:10 NASB)? You know you have life in Christ -- that's a gift! What you are hungry for is the abundantly part. Are you really fed up with being part of a Christianity that claims to be life transforming but too often looks like nothing more than a religious subculture that promises much but delivers little?

It's time for holy ambition. It's time for Christians who will live up to their claims and live out their calling. For a church that shakes the world. For a people of God who make a difference. It's time for us to be what God wants: people who will let Him do a powerful work in them and through them!

-- adapted from the introduction to Holy Ambition by Chip Ingram


#2631

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

CHANGING SEASONS OF LIFE

I cannot say whether things will get any better if they change;
what I can say is that they must change if they are going to get better.

-- G. C. Lichtenberg


#2630

Monday, October 11, 2010

ASKING THE RIGHT QUESTION

Cowardice asks, Is it safe?
Expediency asks, Is it politic?
Vanity asks, Is it popular?
But conscience asks, Is it right?

-- William Morley Punshon, quoted in Parenting with Values


#2629

Friday, October 8, 2010

THE TRUTH CHANGES US

"Then Jesus said to the Jews who had believed in Him, ‘If you continue in My word, you are truly My disciples; and you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free.'" (John 8:31-32 NRSV)

We don't change the truth, the truth changes us.

-- Unknown

Thursday, October 7, 2010

NOTHING BUT GOOD

Like most psychopaths, Satan is suave and charming. "He hath power to assume a pleasing shape," Hamlet said. He is a gentleman with civil manners and impeccable taste. He was highborn and therefore can insinuate himself into good company. He surrounds himself with beautiful people and makes their behavior---even deviant and dangerous acts---look good to us. We read about their lifestyles and "eat it up," as we say, not knowing that we are the ones who are about to be consumed. Satan is up to no good.

God, on the other hand, is up to nothing but good, and has nothing but good in store for us: "Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows." He is the Creator of light---all that is good and true and beautiful---and the One who gives us light. There are no shadows or darkness in Him, no double-dealing, no deceit, no duplicity. He is pure truth.

-- David Roper in Growing Slowly Wise


#2627

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

THE EXISTENCE OF LOVE

I had thought that your death
Was a waste and a destruction,
A pain of grief hardly to be endured.
I am only beginning to learn
That your life was a gift and a growing
And a loving left with me.
The desperation of death
Destroyed the existence of love,
But the fact of death
Cannot destroy what has been given.
I am leaning to look at your life again
Instead of your death and your departing.

-- Marjorie Pizer in To You the Loving


#2626

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

HOPE BEYOND OURSELVES

Faith -- like doubt -- grows in unexpected places. A few months ago I received an email requesting a thousand copies of a book I had written. That was an unprecedented request from anyone besides my mother, so I was curious about the story.

It was from a young man named Kirk, a high-functioning corporate type, father of three young daughters with a brilliant future before him, who found out one year ago that he had ALS -- Lou Gehrig’s disease.

But Kirk was convinced that in the midst of tragedy faith was his only hope. And he decided to use his final months to invite the people he loved deepest to reflect on what mattered most.

The doctors told him he had two to five years to live, but he died in nine months. I write these words on a plane returning home from a dinner that his family sponsored, with hundreds of people, where we saw a videotape of Kirk, in a wheelchair, fighting for breath, speaking of his faith in God as the only force that could sustain him.

Kirk’s dad drove me to the airport. He told me of difficulties in his life -- how his mother had died when he was four, how now in his seventies he had lost his son. He told me of how he had once been an agnostic, and how he had come to believe.

I do not know why tragedy, which destroys faith in some people, gives birth to it in others. Suffering both raises unanswerable questions and tells us that our only hope must be a hope beyond ourselves.

There is a mystery to faith, as there is to life, that I don't fully understand.

-- John Ortberg in Faith & Doubt


#2625

Monday, October 4, 2010

SECOND CHANCES

"Lord, You are kind and forgiving and have great love for those who call to You." (Psalm 86:5)

It's never too late to get a second chance with God. It's never too late! Think about Paul - - he had been a murderer and a blasphemer. He had to look into the faces of people whose fathers he had persecuted, whose children he had killed. He could have spent his life looking at yesterday, but he didn't do that. He started life over again in the confidence of His forgiveness.

-- Max Lucado


#2624

Friday, October 1, 2010

TALK AND WALK

"Be doers of the word, and not merely hearers who deceive themselves." (James 1:22 NRSV)

My conduct is the only trustworthy indicator of what I truly value. It is the difference between Christianity as talk and as walk. All of us value evangelism, but when was my last spiritual conversation with a person in need of faith in Christ? All of us value unity, but when was the last time I resisted the urge to say something negative about a peer? All of us value our families, but when was the last time I took a day off just to be with them (and turned off my cell phone)?

-- Dr. Earl Creps in the United Methodist Reporter, January 7, 2010


#2623

Thursday, September 30, 2010

WAITING TO BE BORN

Dreams are renewable. No matter what our age or condition, there are still untapped possibilities within us and new beauty waiting to be born.

-- Dr. Dale Turner


#2622

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

OUR BIBLICAL REFERENCE

Instinctively people do want to decide and know what is proper and helpful and what is not. But because most of them never bother to read the Bible they have no final terms of reference for their conduct, so that anything goes. The net result has been to create a climate of confusion and chaos in social behavior that leaves people baffled and bewildered.

-- W. Phillip Keller in SERENITY: Finding God Again For The First Time


#2621

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

MAKING YOUR CONTRIBUTION

There is an overall plan of which you are not aware and to which you can only contribute by being who you are, doing your best, seeking your higher truth, and following your heart.

-- Pat Rodegast and Judith Stanton in Emmanuel's Book


#2620

Monday, September 27, 2010

HEAVEN BREAKING THROUGH

All that is sweet, delightful, and amiable in this world, in the serenity of the air, the fineness of the seasons, the joy of light, the melody of sounds, the beauty of colors, the fragrancy of smells, the splendor of precious stones, is nothing but Heaven breaking through the veil of this world.

-- William Law in Rules for Living a Holy Life, as quoted by the Green Bible Devotional by Carla Barnhill


#2619

Friday, September 24, 2010

THE DEPTH OF SCRIPTURE

The Scriptures are shallow enough for a babe to come and drink without fear of drowning and deep enough for theologians to swim in without ever reaching the bottom.

-- St. Jerome

#2618

Thursday, September 23, 2010

COME AND EAT

Leo Buscaglia once said that teaching is like putting out a great buffet. The job of the teacher is to lay out all this delicious food. But, he said, you can't force-feed anyone. They've got to eat for themselves.

The same is true for faith. The same is true for belief. Our job, as Christians, is to simply stand for the truth of Christ the best way we know. And to know this: if someone wants to not believe, there may be absolutely nothing we can do about that. We can't make them believe. But, like a buffet, like scattering seeds, we can invite them to come and eat.

-- Copyright Eric Folkerth 2000. All Rights Reserved. (Used with Permission)


#2617

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

AN APPEAL FOR PRAYER

One of the chief characteristics of Paul's letters is his constant appeal for the prayers of his converts. In Ephesians 6:18, he writes: "Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit… for all the saints -- and for me that utterance may be given to me, that I may open my mouth boldly to make known the mystery of the gospel."

Again in Colossians 4:3,4: "Meanwhile praying also for us, that God would open to us a door for the word, to speak the mystery of God… that I may make it manifest, as I ought to speak."

Christians should pray regularly for their pastors, missionaries and evangelists, that God would throw open doors of opportunity and enable them to preach Christ courageously and clearly.

-- Ronald Dunn in Don't Just Stand There, Pray Something


#2616

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

NO CHANGE NECESSARY

"Whatever is good and perfect comes to us from God above, who created all heaven's lights. Unlike them, He never changes or casts shifting shadows." (James 1:17, NLT)

Now for God to alter or change at all, to be different from Himself, one of three things has to take place:
1) God must go from better to worse, or
2) He must go from worse to better, or
3) He must change from one kind of being to another.

Now that's so plain that anybody can follow it; there's nothing profound about that. (Occasionally somebody will say I preach over their head. All I can say is, they must have their head awfully low!) Isn't it reasonable to assume that if anything changes it has to change from better to worse, from worse to better or from one kind of thing to another?...

Therefore, if God is to change, then God either has to get better or worse or different. But God can't go from better to worse, because God is a Holy God. Because God is eternal holiness, He can never be any less holy than He is now. And of course, He never can be any more holy than He is now, because He is perfect just as He is. There will never be a change in God -- no change is necessary!

-- A.W. Tozor in Tozer on the Almighty God


#2615

Monday, September 20, 2010

HUMAN RELATIONSHIPS

The Apostle Paul gave us divine perspective on human relationships in every dimension of life. He wrote, "Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility regard others as better than yourselves." (Philippians 2:3 NRSV) That one verse contains more wisdom than most marriage manuals, family system guides, and employee handbooks combined. If heeded, it could virtually eliminate divorce, estranged families, and employee strife from the catalogue of human experience. It will give you guidance and stability when the storms in a relationship begin to howl.

-- Unknown


#2614

Friday, September 17, 2010

A CHANGED LIFE

The Christian life is not about political ideology, or about condemnation, or about trumping someone else's experience. It is about Jesus, about being His disciple, about falling in love with God, and about having the courage to let that kind of devotion actually change your life.

-- Derek Maul in Get Real: A Spiritual Journey for Men


#2613

Thursday, September 16, 2010

TRUST THE LORD

"It is better to trust the LORD than to put confidence in people. It is better to trust the LORD than to put confidence in princes." (Psalm 118:8-9)

Pilots put confidence in their planes. Commuters place confidence in trains, cars, or buses. Each day we must put our confidence in something or someone. If you are willing to trust a plane or car to get you to your destination, are you willing to trust God to guide you here on earth and to your eternal destination? Do you trust Him more than any other human being? How futile it is to trust anything or anyone more than God.

-- from the Life Application Bible


#2612

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

DEALING WITH ANGER

Unrecognized anger is an enemy to our spiritual sensitivity and to our ethical commitments. It can be a stumbling block to the redemptive process and sabotage the abundant life. This anger can be called demonic because it gives birth to hate instead of to nurturing love. It forsakes grace and pushes for punishment. Instead of working toward reconciliation, it breeds alienation. It short-circuits the gift of forgiveness and promotes vengeance.

-- Andrew D. Lester in Coping With Your Anger


#2611

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

THE COMPASSION OF THE SHEPHERD

"When [Jesus] saw the multitudes, He was moved with compassion … because they were as sheep not having a shepherd." (Mt. 9:36)

How does a shepherd see his sheep? The shepherd "cares for the sheep … calls his own sheep by name … knows his sheep … lays down his life for the sheep … gives unto them eternal life." (John 10:3,13-15,28) The shepherd sees each individual sheep. When only ninety-and-nine out of one hundred are within the fold, the shepherd thinks only of that one which is lost, and goes out into the night, searching, until he finds it. Jesus sees every one in a crowd. Every one is important.

Here is the difference between other attempts to help man, and the outlook of Jesus. Socially we may belong to the same service organizations. Politically we may belong to the same party and espouse common views. Economically we may be a part of the same union and agree on improving conditions. Even ecclesiastically we may be herded together into the same denomination. But in every such attempt we count sheep instead of seeing sheep. In numbers we lose the individual. Not so with Jesus.

-- H.S. Vigeveno in Jesus the Revolutionary


#2610

Monday, September 13, 2010

INVERTED CHRISTIANITY

Two thousand years ago Jesus extended an unbelievable invitation: "follow me." And the invitation is still on the table. But let me drill down on this a little bit. I think there are lots of people who think they have accepted the invitation. They think they are following Jesus. But the reality is that they have invited Jesus to follow them. And there is a world of difference!
For the first nineteen years of my life, if I'm being totally honest, I think it was more about Jesus following me. I didn't want to go anywhere without him. But it wasn't about me serving His purposes. It was about Him serving my purposes. I think many Christians have an inverted relationship with Christ. Call it spiritual selfishness. Our relationship with Him is all about us. And then we wonder why we're unfulfilled and bored with our faith.

Are you following Jesus? Or is Jesus following you?

-- Mark Batterson, from his blog Evotional.com


#2609

Friday, September 10, 2010

REMEMBERING 9/11

"What if earth be but the shadow of heaven?"

Sometimes the shock hits not one person but a community, a whole nation even, a shock so great that… it does turn thoughts to God. That happened to the United States on September 11, 2001. As a side effect, an act of monstrous evil exposed the shallowness of an entire society. Professional sports ground to a halt, television comedians went off the air, as did all commercials. In a flash we saw the comparative meaninglessness of much of our lives. That three thousand people could go to work as part of their daily routine and never come home made us all aware of our fragile mortality. Married couples canceled divorce plans; mothers and fathers trimmed work hours to spend more time with their children. We found a new kind of hero: firefighters and police officers who, contra the principles of sociobiology, gave their lives for people they never knew.

Over the next months, the New York Times ran a separate article commemorating every single person who died, not just the famous or the newsworthy, as if each person killed on that day had a life of value and meaning, a life that mattered. And for a time attendance at churches swelled. The shock conveyed good and evil, death and life, meaning and absurdity in such stark terms that we turned for answers to the people – pastors, priests, rabbis – who have always warned us not to build our houses, let alone our skyscrapers, on shifting sand.

-- Philip Yancey in Rumors of Another World


#2608

Thursday, September 9, 2010

OUR PURSUING GOD

Our God is not patiently standing by and waiting for us to offer love; He is actively and vigorously pursuing us… He is the father running down the trail to embrace the prodigal son even before the boy can speak his act of contrition. He is the mad farmer showering a full day's wage on men who hadn't even worked. He is Jesus forgiving the sinful woman even before she spoke her sorrow. He is the king lavishing a banquet on beggars. These are all symbols of a God whose love for us is so active, so strong, that by human standards He would be at least, said to be mad.

-- Andrew Greeley, quoted by Joni Eareckson Tada in Glorious Intruder


#2607

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

A STEP OF FAITH

"What is faith? It is the confident assurance that what we hope for is going to happen. It is evidence of things we cannot yet see." (Hebrews 11:1 NLT)

Take the first step in faith. You don't have to see the whole staircase, just take the first step.

-- Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr.


#2606

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

JESUS MUST DISTURB US

A couple was traveling in Alaska by dogsled. It was 40º below. He walked with the dog team, while she sat comfortably on the sled. He kept an eye on her and noticed her beginning to doze. Suddenly he took hold of the sled, jarred it violently, shook her off, and drove the dogs on. She woke up and called out. He did not stop. She picked herself up, started running, calling all the while. Half a mile later he stopped the sled. She climbed aboard, visibly annoyed, but she didn't say a word. They arrived home. She could not contain herself any longer: "Why did you do that to me?" "Because," he said, "if you had fallen asleep, you would have frozen to death."

You begin to see why Jesus must disturb us. We have grown content with ourselves, satisfied in our thinking, traditional in our practices. He must shake us loose. And if He is the Lord, the Word made flesh, the Light in the midst of our darkness, He must show us reality behind the appearance of things. Our values are so irrelevant. He must establish totally different standards for us.

-- H.S. Vigeveno in Jesus the Revolutionary


#2605

Friday, August 20, 2010

TRANSFORMED

"I appeal to you therefore, brothers and sisters, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your minds, so that you may discern what is the will of God -- what is good and acceptable and perfect." (Romans 12:1-2 NRSV)

In Christ, obedience is not an obligation to a never-ending set of rules but a joyful service in love to a Person… Just as our hearts have been changed… so our behavior will be "transformed" …

Christians think differently if their minds are renewed. Faith not only leads to life; it is life. Love is better than hate; integrity is better than lies; self-giving is better than greed. The power to live the godly life comes from Christ's cross and resurrection and our participation in it. It comes from the reign of God, hurling itself toward us. It comes from the Spirit of Jesus Christ in our hearts. People who are being transformed can see, can hear, can "discern what is the will of God".

-- Richard and Julia Wilke in DISCIPLE: Remember Who You Are


#2604

Thursday, August 19, 2010

LOVING JESUS

A large portion of disciples, it seems, are being attracted to Jesus because of what He can do for them and they appear to have little interest in considering what they should do for Him. Many of today’s Christians appear to follow Christ for the same reason they frequent their favorite restaurant; they both give them what they want. They love Jesus the same way they love the restaurant.

-- Selwyn Hughes, speaker and author


#2603

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

TRUSTING GOD

Trust Him when dark doubts assail you,
Trust Him when your faith is small,
Trust Him when simply to trust Him
Is the hardest thing of all.

-- Poem found in Rosalind Russell's prayer book after her death in 1976


#2602

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

A FOLLOWER OF CHRIST

There is no currency in this world that passes at such a premium anywhere as good Christian character… The time has gone by when the young man or the young woman in the United States has to apologize for being a follower of Christ… No cause but one could have brought together so many people, and that is the cause of our Master.

-- William McKinley, 25th President of the United States, in a speech before the Christian Endeavor's International Convention in Cleveland, Ohio on July 14, 1894


#2601

Monday, August 16, 2010

INVITING GOD'S LEADERSHIP

The only thing that can prevent God's power from changing our lives is the power of our human will. God will influence us with His Spirit; He will encourage us through the words of other Christians; He will hear the prayers of our loved ones. But God will not take over the leadership of our lives unless we invite Him to. Once He does, we are amazed at His power and overwhelmed by His love.

-- Stephen Arterburn in The Power Book


#2600

Friday, August 13, 2010

WE NEED A GUIDE

"Jesus said, 'Follow Me.' " (Matthew 4:19, 16:24; Mark 1:17, 10:21; Luke 5:27, 18:22; John 1:43, 21:19)

Ben Patterson tells of a common experience of westerners, particularly missionaries, traveling through jungle sections of the Amazon. They will ask members of a village to give them directions to where they want to go. "I have a compass, a map, and some coordinates."

The villager knows precisely the directions to get them there, but he offers to take them himself.

"No, that's okay. I don't want a guide. I just want directions."

"That's no good. I must take you there."

"But I have a map right here. And I have a compass. And the coordinates."

"It does not work that way. I can get you there, but I must take you myself. You must follow me."

We prefer directions, principles, steps, keys. We prefer these things because they leave us in control. If I'm holding the map, I'm still in charge of the trip. I can go where I want to go. If I have a guide, I must trust. I must follow. I must relinquish control.

God is not much on maps and compasses and coordinates. Life just doesn't work that way. We don't need directions. We need a Guide.

-- John Ortberg in Faith & Doubt


#2599

Thursday, August 12, 2010

AS LOVE DICTATES

Bernard [of Clairvaux] did not stop with love for God or Christ, he insisted also that the Christian must love his neighbors, including even his enemies. Not necessarily that he must feel affection for them -- that is not always possible in this life, though it will be in heaven -- but that he must treat them as love dictates, doing always for others what he would that they should do for him.

-- A. C. McGiffert in A History of Christian Thought


#2598

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

MERELY GOOD ADVICE?

Is not the popular idea of Christianity simply this, that Jesus Christ was a great moral teacher and that, if only we took His advice, we might be able to establish a better social order and avoid another war? Now, mind you, that is quite true; but it tells you much less than the whole truth about Christianity, and it has no practical importance at all. It is quite true that, if we took Christ's advice, we should soon be living in a happier world. You need not even go as far as Christ. If we did all that... Confucius told us, we should get on a great deal better than we do. And so what?... If Christianity only means one more bit of good advice, then Christianity is of no importance. There has been no lack of good advice for the last four thousand years. A bit more makes no difference.

-- C. S. Lewis in Mere Christianity


#2597

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

THE ADVENTURE OF THE SPIRIT

The power of God is the worship He inspires. That religion is strong which in its ritual and its modes of thought evokes an apprehension of the commanding vision. The worship of God is not a rule of safety: it is an adventure of the spirit, a flight after the unattainable. The death of religion comes with the repression of the high hope of adventure.

-- Alfred North Whitehead in Science and the Modern World [1926]


#2596

Monday, August 9, 2010

"M" IS FOR MISSION

John Belushi and Dan Ackroyd once starred in a movie called "The Blues Brothers". They played a couple of ex-convict-wanna-be musicians who were trying to raise money for an orphanage. Anytime they were asked about their work, they had a standard response: "We're on a mission from God." They always said it as if they believed it. The very idea that two inept, unworthy human beings could be on a mission from God was, of course, the central joke of the whole story.

Here is the story of your life: You are on a mission from God.

Either that is true, or you have no purpose, no mission at all. Jesus put it like this: "You are the salt of the earth. You are the light of the world." Others have come before you. Others will come after you. But this is your day. If God's kingdom is to manifest itself right now, it will have to be through you. God Himself will not come to take your place. You are on a mission from God.

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

#2595

Thursday, August 5, 2010

CHOOSING WHICH ROAD TO FOLLOW

How deeply both faith and doubt are part of my life. We often think of them as opposites. Many books argue for one or the other. But while in some respects they are enemies, in other ways they are surprisingly alike: both are concerned with ultimate issues; both pop up unasked for at unexpected moments; both are necessary.

I must have truth. Therefore I doubt. If I did not doubt, I'd be just another one of those suckers P. T. Barnum was so grateful get born once a minute; I'd fall for every carnival sideshow delusion that comes along. And I scorn delusion.

I must have hope. Therefore I believe. If I did not believe, I would cave in to despair. And I dread despair.

In addition to believing and doubting, there is choosing. I must decide which road I will follow. I must place my bet.

-- John Ortberg in Faith & Doubt


#2593

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

PURE RELIGION

Some religion is "worthless," to use James' precise word, in that it has no effect on us at all. It leaves us unchanged. The one who practices that religion "deceives himself" (a phrase that takes us back to verse 22: "Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves"). We think we're doing well, but we're not.

This is a religion that comes of prattling about the Word but not doing it. The Word tries to act upon us, but we will not humbly receive it and so it makes no imprint upon our souls. That religion, says James, is illusory and fanciful because it leaves us unchanged.

Pure religion shows itself in quiet, spontaneous acts of love -- looking after "orphans and widows in their distress," caring for the hapless and helpless, the mournful, the friendless, the forsaken, the ragamuffins, "the wretched of the earth." It does what most people are unwilling to do. It "exaggerates what the world neglects," says G.K. Chesterton.

God is on the side of the widow and orphan, perhaps because most people are not: "Leave your orphans [with Me]," He says, "I will protect their lives. Your widows too can trust in Me" (Jeremiah 49:11). He is "a father to the fatherless, a defender of widows…" (Psalm 68:5). We are most like God when we care for those He cares for.

-- David Roper in Growing Slowly Wise


#2592

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

UNEXPECTED SUCCESS

If one advances confidently in the direction of his dreams, and endeavors to live the life which he has imagined, he will meet with a success unexpected in common hours.

-- Henry David Thoreau


#2591

Monday, August 2, 2010

PASSING GRACE ON

The grace of our loving heavenly Father has filled our lives, giving us a solid hope. Now we have the privilege of sharing that grace to those around us. As grace-filled men and women relate to each other, they communicate in tangible ways the value placed on each other's lives. And we bear witness that our lives are significant to another person.

We live in a throwaway culture. Sadly many people move through numerous throwaway relationships. The beauty of someone who prizes and protects relationships is obvious. Our challenge is to be daily renewed and refreshed in our Lord's grace and then pass it on to others.

-- Dr. Norm Wakefield & Jody Brolsma in Men Are from Israel, Women Are from Moab


#2590

Friday, July 30, 2010

THE OVERWHELMING GENEROSITY OF GOD

Jesus told about a landowner who hired day laborers to work in his fields and paid them all a day's wage, in spite of the fact that he had hired workers all day long – some right up until the last hour. To make it doubly hard on the ones who worked all day, he made them watch everyone else get paid first. Well, you can imagine there was a good deal of grumbling from this group over those who worked only an hour or two getting the same thing they got laboring under the hot sun all day. To which the landowner replied: Wait a minute. Didn't I pay you what we agreed upon? If I want to be generous to these others, what is that to you? Take your money and go. (Matthew 20:1-16)

Here's what I love about this parable: slipping away from there with a day's pay in your pocket for an hour's work. You're wondering if someone made a mistake and paid you too much, but you're reluctant to point it out to anyone for fear it was a mistake and you'll have to give most of it back. But then you hear that the generosity of the employer was the reason your pocket is full, and you can't believe your good fortune.

This is precisely what it feels like to be a Christian. You didn't contract for this righteousness. You didn't labor to get into this family. You didn't study hard and read your Bible every day and go to church every Sunday and gain extra credit for being on the worship committee in order to ensure your place in Heaven. You are in this for one reason and one reason alone – the overwhelming generosity of God.

Grace is what makes you keep checking your pocket to make sure your life with God is still there. Worship is what happens when you find out it is. In fact, what you receive is so overwhelmingly generous that you will probably need a tote bag to carry it all!

-- John Fisher in The Purpose Driven Life Daily Devotional


#2589

Thursday, July 29, 2010

THE HEALING LOVE OF JESUS

I cannot prove to you that Jesus will accept you, should you come into His presence to let down your guard. I can tell you that the whole character of Jesus as we meet Him in the Gospels suggests this kind of love. "Come to Me, all you that are weary and are carrying heavy burdens, and I will give you rest," said Jesus in a famous passage (Matt. 11:28). I can tell you as well that this love has been true for me and others… In Jesus' presence we may safely drop our strengths and reveal our weakness…

It takes faith, in the presence of all the voices that condemn us, to open up the old wounds before God. Jesus' love… draws us now. One elicits the other: faith and forgiving love. They circle around each other in glorious harmony.

I wish you the courage to enter that loop and be swept up in the healing love of Jesus.

-- Gerrit Scott Dawson in Heartfelt


#2588

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

JUST IN TIME

When Corrie ten Boom was a girl, her first realization of death came after a visit to the home of a neighbor who had died. Suddenly it occurred to her that someday her parents would die. The idea upset her.

"Corrie," her father comforted her, "when you and I go to Amsterdam, when do I give you your ticket?"

"Why, just before we get on the train," she said.

"Exactly," her father replied. "And our wise Father in heaven knows exactly when we're going to need things, too. Don't run out ahead of Him, Corrie. When our death comes, you will look into your heart and find the strength that you need -- just in time."

-- Steve Farrar in Get in the Ark


#2587

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

GETTING THE MOMENTUM GOING

The common conception is that motivation leads to action, but the reverse is true -- action precedes motivation. You have to 'prime the pump' and get the juice flowing, which motivates you to work on your goals. Getting momentum going is the most difficult part of the job, and often taking the first step is enough to prompt you to make the best of your day.

-- Robert J. McKain


#2586

Monday, July 26, 2010

TRUST AND OBEY

Many Christians, when they trust in Christ, seem to expect some supernatural event to happen in their life that enables them to be holy. Yes, the Holy Spirit indwells and empowers us to live for God. Yes, we have the Word of God readily available at our fingertips. But, ultimately we have to choose to listen to God or to the world. In the final seconds obedience is always a personal and deliberate act of the will.

-- Pastor Gary Stone


#2585

Friday, July 23, 2010

TO THE BEREAVED PARENT

You probably never thought you could live through your child's funeral. What could have been more dreadful? But you did.

Certainly surviving all the grief you felt seemed impossible. Those days and nights of crying, exhaustion, and pain were almost beyond endurance. You were certain, at times, you would never get past that time in your life. But you did.

There were times you felt great guilt because somehow you had not filled the role of 'parent' as society interprets the role. You were unable to save your child and keep him/her alive. As that cold, clammy feeling would come over you and your back would prickle thinking about what you could have done differently, you were sunk into such a pit of grieving that you never dreamed it would be possible to go on. But you did.

Often, you were beset with anger and a feeling of powerlessness because events that should have been in your control simply were not. You did not think you could overcome these feelings especially the hopelessness that accompanied them. But you can.

Just when you needed your mate most, you would find he or she could help you least. You expected comfort from someone incapable of comforting. You argued. Sometimes you even hated. You never thought you would rise from the bottom of the well of sorrow. But you can.

You thought never again could you take an interest in the world and retain friendships and attend weddings and happy occasions for other people's children. You were certain you could never live through the trauma. But you will

There was no doubt in your mind that you never again could enjoy yourself. Never want to travel. Never give parties -- or attend them. Never have fun. You would only be sorrowful and certainly you would never laugh. Above all, not laugh. But you will.

And most of all, you were sure it would be impossible for you to function as a whole human being not buffeted by the waves of sorrow that swept over you in the early days of your tragedy. But you will.

You will do all that and you will do more.

-- Harriet Sarnott Schiff in The Bereaved Parent


#2584

Thursday, July 22, 2010

TOTAL COMMITMENT

The idea of a leap of faith (a term often associated with Danish philosopher Soren Kierkegaard, who was not just a brilliant mind but also a Scandinavian) has frequently been misunderstood. It does not mean choosing to believe an impossible thing for no good reason. Sometimes people talk about it as if it is the "leap" in which you ignore evidence, give up on reason, and embrace fantasy. But leap was Kierkegaard's term for a genuinely free action. Any freely chosen commitment is a leap, such as the choice to marry or to bear children. The move from innocence to sin is also a leap.

The leap of faith is a "leap" because it involves making a total commitment. It can be made for good reasons -- reasons we have carefully considered. But it is nevertheless a leap, because we have to commit in spite of our fears and doubts, for there is no other way to soar, no other way to fly.

Certain fundamental decisions in life require 100 percent commitment -- passionate engagement. Kierkegaard spoke of faith as a "passion." Certain decisions require intense commitment -- for example, to live by certain values, to get married, to raise a child (there are no guarantees that the child won't break your heart), to have a friend, to follow God. And some decisions, generally the most important ones, require total commitment but do not give any guarantees.

-- John Ortberg in Faith & Doubt


#2583

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

SERVANTS OR CUSTOMERS

One of the most fundamental lessons Jesus taught the early disciples was servanthood. The word was synonymous with Christianity for centuries. In many third world countries today, where the Christian church is growing by leaps and bounds, it remains so. However, in the United States this basic, critically important concept has fallen prey to our popular use of "substitute theology" so rampant today.

Original Principle vs. USA Substitute Theology Principle
1. Servanthood vs. Church Members as Customers
2. "GO, Make Disciples" vs. "COME, We Will Be Nice to You"
3. Overcome Fear vs. Maximize Comfort
4. Vows Are Sacred vs. Vows Are [Optional]

If our orientation comes from servanthood, then our lifestyle reflects giving and sharing. We put others first. We love unconditionally. We take the burdens of others and bear them with the love and compassion of Christ.

On the other hand, if we see ourselves as customers, we WANT. We demand. We criticize and comment on little things that don't amount to much. We can agitate, aggravate and irritate because we are the ones being served. This entire mindset was about as far from Jesus Christ as one could move. It still is today. Let's check our hearts. Are we servants or customers? We can make an incredible impact for Christ if we live for Him and not for ourselves.

-- Rev. Jim Hollis in MENS News Newsletter, May-June 1999


#2582

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

TRUSTING GOD WHEN MIRACLES DON'T COME

[In Holding On to Hope, a book about the life and death of her daughter named Hope, Nancy Guthrie writes:]

We had Hope for 199 days. We loved her. We enjoyed her richly and shared her with everyone we could. We held her during seizures. Then we let her go.

The day after we buried Hope, my husband said to me, "You know, I think we expected our faith to make this hurt less, but it doesn't." Our faith gave us an incredible amount of strength and encouragement while we had Hope, and we were comforted by the knowledge that she is in heaven. Our faith keeps us from being swallowed by despair.

But I don't think it makes our loss hurt any less.

Early on in my journey, I said to God, "Okay, if I have to go through this, then give me everything. Teach me everything you want to teach me through this. Don't let this incredible pain be wasted in my life!"

God ... allows good and bad into our lives and we can trust Him with both.... Trusting God when the miracle does not come, when the urgent prayer gets no answer, when there is only darkness -- this is the kind of faith God values most of all....

I believe that the purpose of Hope's short life, and my life, was and is to glorify God.

-- Nancy Guthrie in Holding On to Hope


#2581

Monday, July 19, 2010

THINKING ABOUT OUTCOMES

"Peter answered [Jesus], ‘Lord, if it is you, command me to come to you on the water.’ He said, ‘Come.’ So Peter got out of the boat, started walking on the water, and came towards Jesus. But when he noticed the strong wind, he became frightened, and beginning to sink, he cried out, ‘Lord, save me!’ " (Matthew 14:28-30 NRSV)

Failure is not an event, but rather a judgment about an event. Failure is not something that happens to us or a label we attach to things. It is a way we think about outcomes.

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


#2580

Friday, July 16, 2010

MARRIAGE TAKES WORK

Romans 12:18 says, "If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone."

A number of years ago a friend of mine entered a difficult phase of his marriage. Eventually he tired of working on the relationship, and he divorced his wife. Last summer I took a long walk with him. I wish I could play a tape recording of our conversation. "I gave up the most important relationship in my life because of laziness," he said. "That's all it was. If I could, I'd set the clock back and do it all over again. And this time I wouldn't quit working."

Another man wrote to me, "Being out and alone, divided from my kids, has ripped a hole in my heart that just doesn't heal. Dealing with the pain of loss is harder than the relational work ever was. I wish I hadn't given up so easily."

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


#2579

Thursday, July 15, 2010

GOD DESIRES TO BE APPROACHED

"Come unto ME." A call not to join an organization, to follow an ethic, a new teaching, or even a way of life, but a call to meet a Person -- an invitation to come directly to Him, and through Him to God. He is the Door. He is the Way.

God desires to be approached. God can be approached through Jesus. Can anyone hold an intimate conversation with one of the Greek gods or with the Holy Other of the Old Testament? But the Father of Jesus Christ offers Himself to us: "Come unto Me."

And if we come -- "salvation." That is, the burden lifted, the weight removed. "I will give you rest." The release of sin. The removal of every fear. Freedom of conscience. Everlasting life. "Salvation comes only as the result of a vision of God," says D.T. Niles. Jesus brings us the vision of God -- the God Who desires to be approached. "It is not the fear of sin but the love of God which sets men free." (D.T. Niles, Seeing The Invisible)

-- H.S. Vigeveno in Jesus the Revolutionary


#2578

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

MY CONDUCT

"Be doers of the word, and not merely hearers who deceive themselves." (James 1:22 NRSV)

My conduct is the only trustworthy indicator of what I truly value. It is the difference between Christianity as talk and as walk. All of us value evangelism, but when was my last spiritual conversation with a person in need of faith in Christ? All of us value unity, but when was the last time I resisted the urge to say something negative about a peer? All of us value our families, but when was the last time I took a day off just to be with them (and turned off my cell phone)?

-- Dr. Earl Creps in the United Methodist Reporter, January 7, 2010


#2577

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

THE "UNFINISHEDS"

That time runs out before one's life's work is completed by no means makes it worthless. The fragmentary quality of life does not detract from its meaning. It is not from the length of its span that we can ever draw conclusions as to life's meaningfulness. We cannot, after all, judge a biography by its length, by the number of pages in it; we must judge by the richness of its contents. The exuberant life of one who has died young certainly has more content and meaning than the existence of some long-lived dullard.

Sometimes the "unfinisheds" are among the most beautiful symphonies.

-- Viktor Frankl in The Doctor and the Soul


#2576

Monday, July 12, 2010

PRICELESS BLESSINGS

Our thanks are due to God for all temporal blessings; they are more than we deserve. But our thanks ought to go to God in thunders of hallelujahs for spiritual blessings. A new heart is better than a new coat. To feed on Christ is better than to have the best earthly food. To be an heir of God is better than being the heir of the greatest nobleman. To have God for our portion is blessed, infinitely more blessed than to own broad acres of land. God hath blessed us with spiritual blessings. These are the rarest, the richest, the most enduring of all blessings; they are priceless in value.

-- Charles Spurgeon


#2575

Friday, July 9, 2010

SURROUNDED

Paul O'Neil, [former] right fielder for the New York Yankees, experienced just about the worst thing you can imagine, the day of the final World Series game [in 1999]: his father died. It was an "expected," death. He'd been sick a long time. And because his father's death had been expected, and because he hoped, I suppose, that this would be the last game, he chose to show up to play...

I watched his face closely during the game. Every time he came up to bat, you could tell he really wanted to make a statement for his Dad... the winning homer... the fielding play that saves the game. But he didn't. He walked once. He flew out once. And I can't remember what he did the other times, but it wasn't memorable.

Anyway, when the game was over, there was obviously an incredible sense of relief and celebration among all the Yankee players. You've seen the scene a hundred times: the pitcher and catcher hug, just in front of the mound. Within seconds, they are swarmed by all their other teammates in a huge group hug that defies all rules for how guys are supposed to act around each other. I saw as Paul O'Neil also joined this circle, too. He was celebrating with the rest of them. But all of a sudden, I think the reality of his father's death finally first sank in, right there on that field in front of fifty thousand fans, and millions more on television. The pressure of the game was gone, and the reality of the sadness hit him like a ton of bricks. He began to cry. He turned his back away from the cameras. But the camera tried to follow him. And then, what happened is that Paul O'Neil simply moved into the big middle of that celebration amoeba. His teammates could see how he was feeling. And when they saw him, those closest to him, immediately encircled him and stopped their cheering and their celebrating too. They physically surrounded him, and made a space for him. And they quite literally turned and shoved the camera away! And then, Paul O'Neil, still crying, simply fell to his knees, hidden and surrounded by those teammates. And those friends, as he fell to his knees, encircled him like a cloud, like some band of angels, sent to care for him in that moment.

If your loved ones have died, what I want you to hear is this: when they came into heaven, they too were surrounded by a loving cloud of angels that enveloped them like those Yankees enveloped Paul O'Neil. They were welcomed, with open arms, into that great cloud of witnesses. The angels comforted them. And the angels can come and surround and comfort you in your grief too.

-- Copyright Eric Folkerth 1999. All Rights Reserved. (Used with Permission)


#2574

Thursday, July 8, 2010

LASTING MEMORIES

I was wondering if you thought of her often now that you're back in the house where she used to be. I think of her often too. She may not be here herself anymore, but the memory's here, isn't it, and because no one can take [those memories] away from you, and although she's dead yet in a way she's still alive, alive in your mind, and that's how God can bring her back for you. And although that's not as good as having her here alive and well, it helps to look across at the past, doesn't it, to look at her and know that she'll be there always in your memory to be a comfort to you when you want to remember.

-- Susan Howatch in Wheel of Fortune

#2573

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

REMEMBERING

A man in his early forties died after a long bout with cancer, leaving behind a wife and two children. There was a particular casserole that was his favorite meal. Once a week his wife would continue to prepare this meal. As she and the children ate, she would tell her children stories of their father; and they would recall their own memories of their dad. His chair sat empty at the table, and they remembered him in a way that made them feel close to him and that continued to shape their lives.

I wonder if this is not what Jesus had in mind when he said, "As often as you do this, remember me." We should remember him not only in a morsel of bread and sip of wine during worship, but every time we sit down to break bread. Here I am reminded of the old tradition, now nearly forgotten, of setting an extra place at the supper table as a way of inviting the Lord to "be present at our table." How might you remember him at each supper you eat?

-- Adam Hamilton in 24 Hours That Changed the World - 40 Days of Reflection


#2472

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

DISCERNING THE WILL OF GOD

For those who maintain a close relationship with Christ through a daily surrender to the Holy Spirit, there comes a sense of "oughtness"… and affirmation when they are doing the will of God. Contrariwise, they claim to have an inner awareness of when they are not in the will of God. There are a couple of safeguards in all of this to protect us from confusing God's actual will with what we "feel" is God's will. These two safeguards are Scripture and Christian fellowship with close friends.

It's a forgone conclusion that God doesn't lead us in ways that run contrary to the clear teachings of Scripture… The second means for helping us to figure out the will of God is through membership in a support group of fellow Christians who share our faith and commitments.

-- Tony Campolo in Following Jesus Without Embarrassing God


#2571

Monday, July 5, 2010

FOUNDING FAITH

"Unless the LORD builds the house, its builders labor in vain. Unless the LORD watches over the city, the watchmen stand guard in vain." (Psalm 127:1)

I've lived a long time, and the longer I live, the more convincing proofs I see of this truth: That God governs in the affairs of men. If a sparrow cannot fall to the ground without His notice, is it probable that an empire can rise without His aid? We've been assured in the sacred writings that unless the Lord builds the house, they labor in vain who build it.

-- Benjamin Franklin

Friday, July 2, 2010

WALKING IN THE LIGHT

Jesus said, "No follower of mine shall ever walk in darkness, no, he shall possess the light of life." (John 8:12)

Jesus is the beacon of my journey through life. When fears and doubts, misunderstandings and rejection tend to darken my path, I can always depend on Him to be my guiding light. At times He guides me gently like reflectors on the road. At other times a low beam headlight will amply illuminate the way. Sometimes I will need the high beam for cosmic vision. Whichever way it is, no followers of Jesus will every walk in the darkness. Like David prayed, “make Your way plain for me to follow" (Psalm 5:8). He will surely show you His way if you ask Him to.

-- Joseph Matthews

Thursday, July 1, 2010

A TAXI DRIVER'S WISDOM

I had an interesting conversation this morning with a Nigerian taxi driver on the way to the airport. It started when I asked him about the rap song on the radio. I only caught a few words but it was enough to make me wonder if it was a Christian group. So I asked him.

“I don't know,” he said, “but in my country all our popular singing groups are Christian. That's your problem in America; you have left God out of everything. Everything is 'Me,' 'Me,' 'Me.' No one has any fear of God. There's no respect for anyone but the almighty 'Me.'”

A wakeup slap in the face at five o'clock in the morning to say the least! But he's right. The Book of Proverbs in the Bible opens with: “The fear of God is the beginning of wisdom,” and that pretty much sums up its contents. To fear God is to care about what God thinks about you and what you do, and to know there are right and wrong attitudes and actions, and consequences for those who disregard any of this. There might have been a time in this country when this kind of attitude was a part of everyone's moral framework, but it is not so today. Leave it to an African to tell an American about the fear of God. I told him maybe it was his country's turn to send missionaries to us. He didn't disagree.

-- John Fischer, Senior Writer for Purpose Driven Life Daily Devotionals


#2568

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

THE GOD OF THE SCRIPTURES

What comes into your mind when you think about God? The great preacher A.W. Tozer wrote that "we tend, by a secret law of the soul, to move toward our mental image of God." So it's crucial that our idea of God correspond as nearly as is possible to the true being of God.

Certainly, in our limited human condition, we cannot think of God as He really is. But if we are drawing our image of God from the wrong sources, then He'll be too small.

Today, since "spirituality" is so big in our culture, celebrities and people of influence often talk about their relationship with God... but for many, God seems to be a vague deity they've made up, a personalized edition of a spiritual force who exists to make people feel good about themselves.

We need to take care not be squeezed into the mind-set of the culture around us. In every situation of each day, we have a choice. We can fix our attention on ourselves, and recast God in our own image. Or we can fix our attention on God, as the Scriptures really reveal Him to be.

-- Ellen Vaughn in Daily Seeds from Women Who Walk in Faith


#2567

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

THE HUMBLE GOD

[God] delights, it seems, in using trees, flowers, rivers, automobiles, friends, enemies, church buildings, paintings in order to announce His presence or to work out His purposes… There is something crude in the depiction of God intervening directly in the play, the clumsy deus ex machina interrupting the speeches of the other actors and upsetting the stage. How much more tantalizing the God who hints and lurks and cajoles hiddenly through and around the actors, even unbeknownst to them. It is the humble God who chooses so to act.

-- Robert Barron in And Now I See


#2566

Monday, June 28, 2010

MARRIAGE RELATIONSHIPS

William Menninger once suggested that relationships in marriage depend on how effectively we can change from preferring to get to preferring to give.

-- U. M. Bishop George W. Bashore


#2565

Friday, June 25, 2010

SIMPLE OBEDIENCE

We grow spiritually by obeying God through the words of Jesus being made spirit and life to us, and by paying attention to where we are, not to whether we are growing or not. We grow spiritually as our Lord grew physically, by a life of simple, unobtrusive obedience.

-- Oswald Chambers in My Utmost for His Highest


#2564

Thursday, June 24, 2010

COMMITMENTS SHAPE YOUR LIFE

You don't have to understand all the implications of your decision when you choose to follow Jesus. You simply need to respond to His invitation, to make a commitment to follow Christ.

Your commitments shape your life more than anything else. Your commitments can develop you or they can destroy you, but either way, they will define you.

Tell me what you're committed to and I'll tell you what you'll be in twenty years. We become whatever we're committed to.

It is at this very point of commitment that most people miss God's purpose for their lives. Many are afraid to commit to anything and just drift through life. Others make half-hearted commitments to competing values, which lead to frustration and mediocrity. Others make a full commitment to worldly goals, such as becoming wealthy or famous, and end up disappointed and bitter.

Every choice has eternal consequences so you need to choose wisely: "Since everything around us is going to melt away, what holy, godly lives you should be living!" (2 Peter 3:11 LB).

Christ-likeness comes from making Christ-like commitments.

-- Rick Warren in The Purpose Drive Life Daily Devotional


#2563

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

THE WISE COUPLE

There is no question that husbands and wives are different. The challenge is to put these differences together and become a team. When working out differences, the goal is for neither spouse to win; the goal is to have the marriage win. Differences in the backgrounds of husband and wife come out of life style, birth order, and how they were parented. The wise couple is aware of these differences and makes allowances for them.

-- Dr. Kevin Leman in Keeping Your Family Together


#2562

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

GIVING IN

Religion today is not transforming people; rather it is being transformed by the people. It is not raising the moral level of society; it is descending to society's own level, and congratulating itself that it has scored a victory because society is smilingly accepting its surrender.

-- A. W. Tozer



#2561

Monday, June 21, 2010

ALL ARE HEALERS

It is important to stress that every human being is called upon to be a healer. Although there are many professions asking for special long and arduous training, we can never leave the task of healing to the specialists. We are all healers who can reach out.

-- Henri Nouwen in The Wounded Healer



#2560

Friday, June 18, 2010

BEING A FATHER

No life experience makes you feel more like a man, more in touch with God's very heart, more determined to battle for His Kingdom, and thereby, more genuinely alive than being a father.

-- Gordon Dalbey


#2559

BEING A FATHER

No life experience makes you feel more like a man, more in touch with God's very heart, more determined to battle for His Kingdom, and thereby, more genuinely alive than being a father.

-- Gordon Dalbey


#2559

Thursday, June 17, 2010

BEREAVED FATHERS

… the deceased has removed into a better country, and bounded away to a happier inheritance; … thou has not lost thy son, but bestowed him henceforward in an inviolable spot. Say not then, I pray thee, I am no longer called 'father', for why art thou no longer called so, when thy son abideth? For surely thou didst not part with thy child, nor lose thy son? Rather thou hast gotten him, and hast him in greater safety. Wherefore, no longer shalt thou be call 'father' here only, but also in heaven; so that thou hast not lost the title 'father', but hast gained it in a nobler sense; for henceforth thou shalt be called father not of a mortal child, but of an immortal …. For think not, because he is not present, that therefore he is lost; for had he been absent in a foreign land, the title of thy relationship had not gone from thee with his body.

-- St. John Chrysostom


#2558

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

GOD'S CALL AT RETIREMENT

So our call consists of daily marching orders rather than an invitation into a guild from which we may never be released…

There is no retirement from our calling, even though we may retire from a specific occupation. We are called to love God and to enjoy Him forever.

-- Paul B. Maves


#2557

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

CALLED INTO COMMUNITY

Let him who cannot be alone beware of community. He will only do harm to himself and to the community. Alone you stood before God when He called you; alone you had to answer that call; alone you had to struggle and pray; and alone you will die and give an account to God. You cannot escape yourself; for God has singled you out. If you refuse to be alone, you are rejecting Christ's call to you, and you can have no part in the community of those who are called....

Let him who is not in community beware of being alone. Into the community you were called -- the call was not meant for you alone; in the community of the called you bear your cross, you struggle, you pray. You are not alone even in death, and on the Last Day you will be only one of the great congregation of Jesus Christ. If you scorn the fellowship of the brethren, you reject the call of Jesus Christ.

-- Dietrich Bonhoeffer (1906-1945) in Life Together


#2556

Monday, June 14, 2010

ADMIRERS OR DISCIPLES?

Jesus does not want admirers, but disciples.
Admirers commend the great deeds of Jesus in the world of yesteryear.
Disciples know that Jesus wants to be present in the world today.
Admirers deftly dodge an irrevocable decision for Jesus.
Disciples unreservedly connect their fate to Jesus' fate.
Admirers are thrilled by Jesus today and thrilled by another one tomorrow.
Disciples cannot undo their change of Master.
Admirers ask: What can Jesus give me?
Disciples ask: What can I give to Jesus?
Admirers love to bask frequently in the light of Jesus.
Disciples love to turn willingly to alleviate the world's darkness and misery.
No - Jesus does not want admirers;
He can do without them.
But not without disciples.

-- Soren Kierkegaard


#2555

Friday, June 11, 2010

THE MISSION OF THE CHURCH

The church is in the world to save the world. It is a tool of God for that purpose; not a comfortable religious club established in fine historical premises. Every one of its members is required, in one way or another, to co-operate with the Spirit in working toward that end.

-- Evelyn Underhill


#2554

Thursday, June 10, 2010

DISCERNING GOD'S CALLING

In addition to taking it seriously, discerning a calling requires one of the greatest challenges of self-exploration and judgment a human being can undertake. Callings are usually not easy to discover. You will have to be ruthlessly honest about your gifts and your limitations. You will have to be willing to ask hard questions and live with the answers. Discerning God's calling will take many attempts and failures. You will have to be willing to let some dreams die a painful death. You did not arrive on this planet with your calling pre-clarified and your gifts pre-developed. You arrived with a little warning: "Some assembly required."

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


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Wednesday, June 9, 2010

MAKING DECISIONS

Every day we are all faced with making decisions. Some, like getting up when the alarm rings, are so familiar that we act without giving them much thought. Others are so important that they challenge us at a very deep level. These are the choices that determine who we are in the eyes of God as well as in our own eyes. These are the decisions that involve searching our hearts, our attitudes, and our beliefs. Our conscious and unconscious values determine our responses.

-- Marianna K. Neal and Carolyn Ross Tomlin in an article in Today's Catholic Teacher, August/September 2000


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