Thursday, March 31, 2011


I'm convinced that spiritual growth happens best in an environment of intimacy. And intimacy is not going to happen in the congregation, where people look at the back of one another's heads. The Bible shines best when its truth is being pressed up against the wall of real-life scenarios and situations. You can't get that very often in the sanctuary.

-- Gordon MacDonald


Wednesday, March 30, 2011


What is the one thing every mother wants for her children? To grow up! Picture your preschool child twenty years in the future. He or she has gone off to college or to begin a career. One day there's a knock at the door. When you open it, there stands your fully grown adult child, and the first thing out of his or her mouth is, "Mama, Dada I want my baba." Your heart would drop, and tears would come at the tragedy of your child growing old without growing up.

Life is about progression. Plants mature from seedling to sapling. Musicians progress from chopsticks to Chopin. Human beings grow from childhood to adulthood. Spiritual maturity, like physical maturity, is a growth process. Born-again believers are babies who must grow up.

Preacher and evangelist Leonard Ravenhill told a story about a group of tourists visiting a picturesque village. They walked by an old man sitting beside a fence, and in a rather patronizing way one tourist asked, "Were any great men born in this village?"

The old man replied, "Nope, only babies."

A frothy question yielded a profound answer. There are no instant adults either in this world or in the Kingdom of God. Growth takes time.

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


Tuesday, March 29, 2011


NOTE: Today, March 29, 2011 marks the 12th anniversary of the founding of this SOUND BITES Ministry™. SOUND BITES was begun on March 29, 1999 in memory of our son, Dustin, on the first anniversary of his death. SOUND BITES is THE PRAXEIS OF DAILY REFLECTION, as today's quote from Bishop Robert Schnase describes.

On this 12th anniversary, we would value hearing from you and learning how the Spirit is using this "practice" of SOUND BITES to minister to you, or how you use it to minister to others. You may comment below. You can view other comments here as well. 2737 quotes have been sent since beginning SOUND BITES, and now it is reaching close to 1950 subscribers directly and many, many more as a forward or through this blog. SOUND BITES reaches every state in the U.S. as well as 17 foreign countries that we know of.

Thank you for your support for this practice of daily reflection, and for sharing SOUND BITES with others.

Blessings, in Christ…

Rev. Dave Wilkinson, Deacon
First United Methodist Church
Green Bay, Wisconsin


When we talk about marks, characteristics, or qualities of fruitful living, we too easily fall into a “we have it or we don’t” mode of thinking. It is more helpful to speak of practices that anyone can adopt, change, develop, begin, or improve upon. If we’re not the kind of person we think God intends for us to become, we simply begin to act like it by adopting the practices until they help us become a new person in Christ living fruitfully.

The Greek word for the Book of Acts is praxeis apostolon, or Acts of the Apostles. Praxeis is the Greek word from which we derive the English word practice. Thus, the Book of Acts is about the happenings and doings of the early church! The practice of Intentional Faith Development puts us in the most advantageous place to perceive and receive God’s activity and will for our lives. We become something new in Christ.

Intentional Faith Development refers to all the ministries that help us grow in faith outside of weekly worship… By these practices we mature in faith; we grow in grace and in the knowledge and love of God. We pray that we are closer to Christ today than we were five years ago, and that by the grace of God, we may be closer to Christ five years from now than we are today.

Intentional refers to deliberate effort, purposeful action, and high priority. Growing in grace does not come without purposeful commitment to learning the faith and cultivating our love for God.

-- Robert Schnase from


Monday, March 28, 2011


The spiritual life is never a solitary affair.

John Wesley, founder of Methodism, intentionally organized people into small groups for the study of Scripture, prayer, and "to watch after one another in love." Early Methodists met in societies, classes, and bands. They gathered in homes and workplaces and schools. They inquired after one another's spiritual progress with a supportive intimacy. They shared their doubts and hopes and talked about how they had seen God's grace at work in their lives. They learned to "rejoice with those who rejoice" and to "weep with those who weep" (Romans 12:15). They encouraged one another.

Theologically, Wesley based the class meetings on the sanctifying grace of God. Sanctification involves our growing in faith and how the Holy Spirit works within us to help us mature in Christ.

-- Robert Schnase in Five Practices of Fruitful Living


Friday, March 18, 2011


Worship describes those times we gather deliberately seeking to encounter God in Christ. We cultivate our relationship with God and with one another as the people of God. We don't attend worship to squeeze God into our lives; we seek to meld our lives into God's. It's a time to think less about ourselves and more about faith, less abut our personal agendas and more about God's will. We encounter a fresh vision of God's reality in Christ so that God's Spirit can reshape our lives and form us into the Body of Christ.

Comprehending the meaning of worship requires looking beyond what people do to see with the eyes of faith what God does. God uses worship to transform lives, heal wounded souls, renew hope, shape decisions, provoke change, inspire compassion, and bind people to one another. God through Christ actively seeks relationship to us through worship.

-- Robert Schnase in Five Practices of Fruitful Congregations


Thursday, March 17, 2011


"You alone are the LORD. You made the heavens, even the highest heavens, and all their starry host, the earth and all that is on it, the seas and all that is in them. You give life to everything, and the multitudes of heaven worship you." (Nehemiah 9:6 NIV)

Worship is the key to renewal of the church.

-- Robert E. Webber


Wednesday, March 16, 2011


Accept that you are accepted. In the moment that grace strikes, grace conquers sin. Lingering guilt that has grown tumor-like for years in the dark recesses of a person's soul can lose its deathly power. Grace helps us face the truth about ourselves, to embrace it rather than run from it; and by embracing this truth and offering it to God, we discover that God will shape us from this day forward anew. God's been waiting for us, desiring us to let Him in. Can we accept that we are accepted?

-- Robert Schnase in Five Practices of Fruitful Living


Tuesday, March 15, 2011


Jesus never brainwashed anyone. To the contrary, He depicted the cost of following Him in the most realistic terms imaginable, "Take up your cross and follow Me." He never imposed Himself on another person but always left room for choice and even rejection. In that same style, any changes God works in a person will come about not as a result of coercion from the outside but by a Spirit working from within, summoning up new life, transforming from the inside, out. The words used to describe God's Spirit -- Comforter, Helper, Counselor -- imply that change may involve a slow, internal process, with many fits and starts.

After considering the various words used of the Holy Spirit, both in Greek and in English, James Houston summarizes them in the simple word "friend." A true friend always has my best interest at heart. Sometimes the Spirit must, like a good friend, use tough love to remind me of what needs to change -- knowing me from the inside out. God can bring to mind shortcomings I would prefer to overlook. Yet when I feel empty, misunderstood, and lonely, the Spirit offers comfort, calming my anxiety and fear. Most of all, the Spirit reminds me of God's love, His very presence a token of the fact that I have been graciously adopted as God's child.

-- Philip Yancey in Reaching for the Invisible God


Monday, March 14, 2011


Christian hospitality is the active desire to invite, welcome, receive, and care for those who are strangers so that they find a spiritual home and discover for themselves the unending richness of the life of Christ.

Radical describes that which is drastically different from ordinary practices, outside the norm, that which exceeds expectations and goes the second mile.

Radical Hospitality in our personal walk with Christ begins with an extraordinary receptivity to the grace of God. In distinctive and personal ways, we invite God into our hearts and make space for God in our lives. We say Yes to God and open ourselves to the spiritual life. We accept God’s love and acceptance of us. We receive God’s love and offer it to others.

Practicing Radical Hospitality means we offer the absolute utmost of ourselves, our creativity, and our abilities to offer the gracious invitation and welcome of Christ to others. We pray, plan, and work to invite others and help them feel welcome and to support them in their spiritual journeys.

-- Robert Schnase from


Friday, March 11, 2011


At its root, hospitality isn't about planning, entertaining, or even making someone "comfortable" in the usual sense of that word. Rather, Christian hospitality is about making space in one's life for others, and receiving them, the stranger and the familiar, as one would receive the Christ. Whether we always recognize -- or even like -- it or not, we're all on the journey together. We might as well stop every once in a while and make room for each other…

-- Bill Treadway, Associate Editor of


Thursday, March 10, 2011


[May] the Lord lead further and further those who do in earnest want to live the Joshua [i.e., transformed] life. It means a daily dying to self and what self wants; a daily turning to our Master with a "Yes, Lord" to everything, even to what is most against the grain. May He [arouse] those who have not yet begun to live this life to see what they are missing, before it is too late.

-- Amy Carmichael in Edges of His Ways


Wednesday, March 9, 2011


The truth is that none of us deserves anything from God. The Bible says that there is none righteous, no, not one! (Romans 3:10). Even those who seem to be super spiritual have a righteousness that the Bible calls "filthy rags" (Isaiah 64:6). The good news of the gospel is that God loves us anyway. By grace, God reaches out to all of us, regardless of our shortcomings. (Ephesians 2:8,9)

-- Tony Campolo in Following Jesus Without Embarrassing God


Tuesday, March 8, 2011


A Christian must never be filled with pride in any task that God gives him to do; he must be filled with wonder that God thought him worthy of a share in His work.

– William Barclay in The Letters to the Galatians and Ephesians


Monday, March 7, 2011


It may not be blatant, it may not be radical sin, but the effect is the same. You are loosening your grip, and you are starting to slide. That is why we must always be on guard against this and do everything we can to encourage spiritual growth in our lives.

-- Greg Laurie


Friday, March 4, 2011


"They did wicked things that aroused the LORD’s anger. They worshiped idols, though the LORD had said, 'You shall not do this.'" (2 Kings 17:11b-12 NIV)

Since failure is our unforgivable sin, we are willing to ignore all forms of deviance in people if they just achieve the success symbols which we worship.

-- Anthony Campolo in The Success Fantasy


Thursday, March 3, 2011


"God comforts us in all our troubles so that we can comfort others. When they are troubled, we will be able to give them the same comfort God has given us." (2 Corinthians 1:4 NLT)

Gracious Father, You took the initiative to reach out to me -- even in my sin and selfishness -- in order to bring me into Your eternal kingdom, through the work of Christ. I cannot fathom such love! And yet, Father, I try to hoard Your grace! Put up walls of protection that I might keep hurt out and blessing in. I am like the clam that shuts itself up in its shell, afraid of threats from the outside. You call me to unshell myself and to partner with You in Your mission of love. Unshell me, Lord, that I, too, may reach out to a lonely, discouraged, and even hopeless world. In Jesus' name, amen.

-- Max Lucado in Outlive Your Life


Wednesday, March 2, 2011


Two thousand years of failure have not taught some reformers that you can't stop sin by declaring it illegal. Two thousand years have not taught them that you can't save a man's soul by force -- you can only lose your own in the attempt. Drunkenness and gambling and secularism and lechery -- various hopeful churchmen have earnestly tried to outlaw them all; and what is the result? A drunken nation, a gambling nation, a secularist nation, an adulterous nation. And, often, a ruined Church.

-- Joy Davidman in Smoke on the Mountain


Tuesday, March 1, 2011


"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)
Lives change, not through the amount of baptismal water but the amount of grace God gives us to live out our desire to change.

-- Rebecca Irene Foote The Upper Room Disciplines 2000