Thursday, April 28, 2011


Hoping can break your heart. That is why we carry one big hope, the secret hope you don't even dare to breathe: that when you have lost the something you were hoping for, and it might have been really, really big, there is a Someone you can put your hope in.

-- John Ortberg in Faith & Doubt


Wednesday, April 27, 2011


To believe in Christ's rising and death's dying is also to live with the power and the challenge to rise up now from all our dark graves of suffering love. If sympathy for the world's wounds is not enlarged by our anguish, if love for those around us is not expanded, if gratitude for what is good does not flame up, if insight is not deepened, if commitment to what is important is not strengthened, if aching for a new day is not intensified, if hope is weakened and faith diminished, if from the experience of death comes nothing good, then death has won. Then death, be proud.

-- Nicholas Wolterstorff in Lament for a Son


Tuesday, April 26, 2011


Are you brokenhearted? God's heart, the heart of Christ, there in the room with you, shares all you feel and offers to carry its full weight.

Do you feel unfree, captive, imprisoned in your life and spirit? The risen Christ, the mighty one, who comes in power without force, longs for your freedom and is able to free you.

Are you mourning, deeply sad, depressed? The Beloved grieves with you, weeps with you, sits with you in the dimness, and will send the Holy Spirit, the "Comforter."

Do you feel that your life is in ashes? If you bond with the living Jesus, you will rise from the ashes in undreamed beauty and healing power.

Have you been wounded from generations of a hurting family or some other wounded community? If you take this full pain into the Healer's heart, you will be released from the "devastations of many generations" and will release a powerful current of healing into that family history.

You may not yet be able fully to believe these promises, to trust this presence, or to feel this power. Do not try to contrive appropriate feelings. At this point, just simply hear what is being offered. The healing of truth, the ability to open to God's heart, often comes very slowly. Just rest quietly, breathing gently, while the promises from God's heart are given in your presence.

-- Flora Slosson Wuellner in Heart of Healing, Heart of Light, published by The Upper Room, Nashville, TN. Used with permission.


Monday, April 25, 2011


Margaret Sangster Phippen wrote that in the mid 1950s her father, British minister W. E. Sangster, began to notice some uneasiness in his throat and a dragging in his leg. When he went to the doctor, he found that he had an incurable disease that caused progressive muscular atrophy. His muscles would gradually waste away, his voice would fail, his throat would soon become unable to swallow.

Sangster threw himself into his work in British home missions, figuring he could still write and he would have even more time for prayer. "Let me stay in the struggle Lord," he pleaded. "I don't mind if I can no longer be a general, but give me just a regiment to lead." He wrote articles and books, and helped organize prayer cells throughout England. "I'm only in the kindergarten of suffering," he told people who pitied him.

Gradually Sangster's legs became useless. His voice went completely. But he could still hold a pen, shakily. On Easter morning, just a few weeks before he died, he wrote a letter to his daughter. In it, he said, "It is terrible to wake up on Easter morning and have no voice to shout, 'He is risen!'--but it would be still more terrible to have a voice and not want to shout."

-- Vernon Grounds in Leadership, Vol. 8


Friday, April 22, 2011


"Surely this man was the Son of God." (Matthew 27:54)
Six hours on one Friday. Six hours that jut up on the plain of human history like Mount Everest in a desert. Six hours that have been deciphered, dissected, and debated for two thousand years.

What do these six hours signify? They claim to be the door in time through which eternity entered man's darkest caverns. They mark the moments that the Navigator descended into the deepest waters to leave anchor points for His followers.

What does that Friday mean? For the life blackened with failure, that Friday means forgiveness. For the heart scarred with futility, that Friday means purpose. And for the soul looking into this side of the tunnel of death, that Friday means deliverance.

-- Max Lucado in Six Hours One Friday


Thursday, April 21, 2011


We want Easter without Lent. We want Resurrection without Crucifixion. We want to share in the victory of Christ without sharing in the suffering of Christ, and that's impossible.

We want to jump over that part about suffering, taking up the cross, entering into the suffering of others, repentance. That's part of the dilemma of the North American church. If we separate Easter from Lent, we are providing a theological and liturgical undergirding for imitating the wrong god. The gospels never separate Resurrection from Crucifixion.

-- U. M. Bishop Kenneth L. Carder in Alive Now, published by The Upper Room, Nashville, TN. Used with permission.


Wednesday, April 20, 2011


"Father forgive them, for they know not what they do" (Luke 23:34).

"Truly, I say to you, today you will be with Me in paradise" (Luke 23:43).

"Woman, behold your Son: behold your mother" (John 19:26-27).

"My God, My God, why have you forsaken Me" (Matthew 27:46 and Mark 15:34).

"I thirst" (John 19:28).

"It is finished" (John 19:30).

"Father, into Your hands I commit My spirit" (Luke 23:46).

Each statement made by Jesus on the cross is like a post that we see sometimes on the side of the road that reads "Power Line Buried Here" - - and if you dig down, sure enough, you're going to strike power. Those words of Christ are a source of energy into which all of us can tap.

-- Max Lucado


Tuesday, April 19, 2011


I argue that the cross be raised again at the center of the marketplace as well as on the steeple of the church... that Jesus was not crucified in a cathedral between two candles, but on a cross between two thieves; on the town garbage heap; at a crossroads so cosmopolitan that they had to write his title in Hebrew and Latin and in Greek; at the kind of place where cynics talk smut, and thieves curse, and soldiers gamble. Because that is where he died. And that is what he died about... that is where churchmen should be and what churchmen should be about.

-- George MacLeod


Friday, April 15, 2011


"The next day the great crowd that had come for the Feast heard that Jesus was on His way to Jerusalem. They took palm branches and went out to meet Him, shouting, 'Hosanna! Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord! Blessed is the King of Israel!'" (John 12:12-13)

But everyone who lined the streets had a different reason for waving those palms. Some were political activists; they'd heard Jesus had supernatural power, and they wanted Him to use it to free Israel from Roman rule. Others had loved ones who were sick or dying. They waved branches, hoping for physical healing. Some were onlookers merely looking for something to do, while others were genuine followers who wished Jesus would establish Himself as an earthly king. Jesus was the only one in the parade who knew why He was going to Jerusalem -- to die. He had a mission, while everyone else had an agenda.

-- Bill Hybels


Thursday, April 14, 2011


We will not bear fruit if we put our confidence in people, programs and strategies instead of in Christ. But if our confidence is in Christ, then almost any program will bear fruit.

-- from "One Day at a Time” by Neil Anderson & Mike & Julie Quarles


Wednesday, April 13, 2011


Some people choose doubt. But doubt is not always the best strategy…
Theologian Lesslie Newbigin writes that we live in an age that favors doubt over faith. We often speak of "blind faith" and "honest doubt." Both faith and doubt can be honest or blind, but we rarely speak of "honest faith" or "blind doubt." Both faith and doubt are needed, yet it is faith that is more fundamental. Even if I doubt something, I must believe there are criteria by which it can be judged. I must believe something before I can doubt anything. Doubt is to belief what darkness is to light, what sickness is to health. It is an absence. Sickness may be the absence of health, but health is more than the absence of sickness. So it is with doubt and faith. Doubt is a good servant but a poor master.

"Doubt is useful for a while…. If Christ spent an anguished night in prayer, if He burst out from the cross, 'My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?' then surely we are permitted doubt. But we must move on. To choose doubt as a philosophy of life is akin to choosing immobility as a means of transportation."

-- John Ortberg in Faith & Doubt


Tuesday, April 12, 2011


He was born in an obscure village, the child of a peasant woman. He grew up in another obscure village, where he worked in a carpenter shop until he was thirty. Then for three years he was an itinerant preacher. He never set foot inside a big city. He never traveled two hundred miles from the place he was born. He never wrote a book, or held an office. He did none of these things that usually accompany greatness. While he was still a young man, the tide of popular opinion turned against him. His friends deserted Him. He was turned over to his enemies, and went through the mockery of a trial. He was nailed to a cross between two thieves. While he was dying, his executioners gambled for the only piece of property he had -- his coat. When he was dead, he was taken down and laid in a borrowed grave through the pity of a friend.

[Twenty] centuries have come and gone, and today his is the central figure for much of the human race. I am well within the mark when I say that all the armies that ever marched, and all the navies that ever sailed, and all the parliaments that ever sat, and all the kings that ever reigned, put together have not affected the life of man upon this earth as powerfully as this …

"One Solitary Life."

-- Adapted from a sermon by Dr. James Allen Francis in The Real Jesus and Other Sermons


Monday, April 11, 2011


What makes some people generous and others stingy? One explanation is gratitude. When we realize that the hand of God gave us the things we have, we aren't so inclined to greedily hoard them. Generosity assumes that there is an unlimited storehouse of blessings available to us, and that we can never exhaust it. Generosity is a practical way of saying, "Thank You!" It is our gift to God and to the men and women who have shared with us, asking for nothing in return.

-- Stephen Arterburn in The Power Book


Friday, April 8, 2011


"You will be enriched in every way for your great generosity." (2 Corinthians 9:11)

Jesus' teachings abound with tales of rich and poor, generous and shrewd, givers and takers, charitable and selfish, faithful and fearful. He commends the poor widow putting her two coins in the treasury; giving out of her poverty, she "put in all she had to live on" (Luke 21:1-4). The story upsets expectations by pointing to proportion rather than amount as the measure of extravagance.

In the story of the farmer who built bigger barns, placing his trust too much on earthly possessions, Jesus asks the spiritually probing question, "And the things you have prepared, whose will they be?" He warns, "Take Care! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; for one's life does not consist in the abundance of possessions" (Luke 12:13-21)…

And Jesus recounts the parable of the three servants entrusted with varying talents to illustrate God's desire for the faithful to use what has been given to them responsibility and productively. The steward who fearfully hoards and buries his talent for safe-keeping is rebuked (Matthew 25:14-30). How people use what they have matters to God.

-- Robert Schnase in Five Practices of Fruitful Congregations


Thursday, April 7, 2011


"When you were dead in your sins and in the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made you alive with Christ. He forgave us all our sins, having canceled the charge of our legal indebtedness, which stood against us and condemned us; He has taken it away, nailing it to the cross." (Colossians 2:13-14 NIV)

In the cross, and only in the cross, Jesus put an end to the law of eternal consequences.

-- Philip Yancey in What's So Amazing About Grace?


Wednesday, April 6, 2011


This is the true joy in life, the being used for a purpose recognized by yourself as a mighty one; the being thoroughly worn out before you are thrown on the scrap heap; the being a force of nature instead of a feverish selfish little clod of ailments and grievances complaining that the world will not devote itself to making you happy.

-- George Bernard Shaw from the introduction to his play "Man and Superman"


Tuesday, April 5, 2011


The Bible says something remarkable about how to bridge the gap between God and man. It says that God saw the chasm that separated immoral men and women like you and me from Him. He saw the infinite distance for what it really was -- more immense than human beings could ever fathom. God knew that no amount of human construction -- no amount of bridge work -- would ever be enough to span a chasm that wide. So, motivated by love, God took on the chasm-spanning responsibility Himself. He laid the foundation. He built a bridge that went the distance in order to reach sinful man. He sent His son, Jesus Christ, to die on the cross for us -- the cross that would serve as the ultimate bridge.

It was a lot of trouble to go to for a single bridge. But God's desire to span the chasm was just that great. After hours of grueling labor that demanded Christ's physical blood, sweat, and tears, God declared that His bridge was now open to the public, ready to be crossed by anyone willing to take the walk.

-- Bill Hybels in Just Walk Across the Room


Monday, April 4, 2011


When we come to a fork in the road, where a decision on which way to go is required, it becomes a crucial moment in our lives and the life of the church. Crucial moment literally means "the moment of the cross". So when we face a fork in the road we need to take the path where the shadow of the cross falls. As you look down the path called Risk-Taking Mission and Service, I believe wholeheartedly that you'll not only see the shadow of the cross, you will see the fresh footprints of the savior.

-- Rev. David T. Wilkinson, from a sermon entitled "Risk-Taking Mission and Service"


Friday, April 1, 2011


Nothing in the spiritual life adds so much satisfaction as truly making a positive difference in the lives of others. Serving others helps those we serve flourish; and we flourish in the serving of others.
-- Robert Schnase in Five Practices of Fruitful Living