Friday, August 26, 2011

GOOD CHARACTER


A good character is the best tombstone. Those who loved you and were helped by you will remember you when forget-me-nots have withered. Carve your name on hearts, not on marble.

-- Charles Spurgeon

 
#2829

Thursday, August 25, 2011

COMPLETE SURRENDER


Unless you have made a complete surrender and are doing His will it will avail you nothing if you've reformed a thousand times and have your name on fifty church records.

-- Billy Sunday

 
#2828

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

GET READY TO RECEIVE A BLESSING


Any psychologist will confirm that we only see a part of our true self. We have areas we try and hide from others (called "secret") and we have areas we can't seem to see that others see quite well (called "blind" areas). Other people may indeed see some aspect of our life that we completely miss -- or at least that we don't want to see. If we open our heart to their counsel we have made the first step to a period of growth in our Christian walk. However, growth of this sort usually comes with a little emotional pain…

Seek a close relationship with your fellow travelers on this earth and be blessed. Open your heart to truly hear from each other and remember that you are not alone. Your problems, temptations and difficulties are not unique to only you and your life. Look around and become willing to accept some input from other Christians and get ready to receive a blessing!

-- Pastor Gary Stone

 
#2827

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

BETWEEN TWO WORLDS


No doubt we will always feel a tug between two worlds, for human beings comprise an odd combination of the two. We find ourselves stuck in the middle: angels wallowing in mud, mammals attempting to fly. Plato pictured two horses pulling in opposite directions, with our immortal parts pursuing the divine Good while beastliness strains against it. We have "eternity in our hearts," said the Teacher of Ecclesiastes, and yet bend under the "burden of the gods." We stumble from cradle to grave, tipping sometimes toward eternity and sometimes toward base earth, the humus from which we got our name.

C. S. Lewis once made the observation that the tug of two worlds in humans could be inferred from two phenomena: coarse jokes and our attitude toward death…

… These two "unnatural" reactions hint at another world. In a way unique to our species, we are not fully at home here. As a symptom of that fact, we feel stirrings toward something higher and more lasting. Although our cells may carry traces of stardust, we also bear the image of the God who made those stars.

-- Philip Yancey in Rumors of Another World

 
#2826

Monday, August 22, 2011

ENTER IN BOLDLY

"And so, dear brothers and sisters, we can boldly enter heaven's Most Holy Place because of the blood of Jesus." (Hebrews 10:19 NLT)

Understand how the Father's heart longs that His children draw near to Him boldly. He gave the blood of His Son to secure it. Let us honor God, and honor the blood, by entering the Holiest with great boldness.

-- Andrew Murray

 
#2825

Friday, August 19, 2011

FEELING USED UP?


I sometimes feel "used up." I suppose that is a little blunt but it describes exactly what happens when I begin to believe that I have given all I can possibly give and simply feel depleted! Well, thankfully I don't always feel that way but at times I do forget to return to the everlasting well and replenish myself in the Spirit. As we extend ourselves to a hurt and lost world we must remember the source of strength comes from the Lord - not from ourselves. If we feel like we have nothing more to offer we must have forgotten that we are a conduit - not the source - of God's blessings.

-- Pastor Gary Stone

 
#2824

Thursday, August 18, 2011

A SIGN OF THE TIMES


The world thinks that Christians should be committed.

So does God.

-- Displayed on a rural Wisconsin church sign

 
#2823

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

THE CHRISTIAN'S WITNESS


The best argument for Christianity is Christians; their joy, their certainty, their completeness. But the strongest argument against Christianity is also Christians -- when they are somber and joyless, when they are self-righteous and smug in complacent consecration, when they are narrow and repressive, then Christianity dies a thousand deaths.

-- Sheldon Van Auken in A Severe Mercy

 
#2822

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

LIVING IN FAITH

There remains for us only the very narrow way, often extremely difficult to find, of living every day as though it were our last, and yet living in faith and responsibility as though there were to be a great future.
-- Dietrich Bonhoeffer in After Ten Years


#2821

Monday, August 15, 2011

THEIR FACES ALL AGLOW


What exactly has Christ done for you? What is there in your life that needs Christ to explain it, and that, apart from Him, simply could not have been there at all? If there is nothing, then your religion is a sheer futility. But then that is your fault, not Jesus Christ's. For, when we open the New Testament, it is to come upon whole companies of excited people, their faces all aglow, their hearts dazed and bewildered by the immensity of their own good fortune. Apparently they find it difficult to think of anything but this amazing happening that has befallen them; quite certainly they cannot keep from laying… hands on every chance passer-by, and pouring out yet once again the whole astounding story. And always, as we listen, they keep throwing up their hands as if in sheer despair, telling us it is hopeless, that it breaks through language, that it won't describe, that until a man has known Christ for himself he can have no idea of the enormous difference [Christ] makes. It is as when a woman gives a man her heart; or when a little one is born to very you; or when, after long lean years of pain and grayness, health comes back. You cannot really describe that; you cannot put it into words, not adequately. Only, the whole world is different, and life gloriously new. Well, it is like that….

-- A. J. Gossip in From the Edge of the Crowd

 
#2820

Friday, August 12, 2011

FAITHFULLY EXPOUNDING SCRIPTURE


One of the most fascinating of all the preacher’s tasks is to explore both the emptiness of fallen man and the fullness of Jesus Christ, in order then to demonstrate how He can fill our emptiness, lighten our darkness, enrich our poverty, and bring our human aspirations to fulfillment. For to encounter Christ is to touch reality and experience transcendence. He gives us a sense of self-worth or personal significance, because He assures us of God’s love for us. He sets us free from guilt because He died for us, from the prison of our own self-centeredness by the power of His resurrection, and from paralyzing fear because He reigns... He gives meaning to marriage and home, work and leisure, personhood and citizenship... The main objective in preaching is to expound Scripture so faithfully and relevantly that Jesus Christ is perceived in all His adequacy to meet human need.

-- John Stott in Between Two Worlds

NOTE: John R. W. Stott, Anglican pastor, theologian and evangelist, died July 21, 2011 at the age of 90. In 2005 Time magazine ranked him as one of the 100 most influential people. To learn more, click http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_Stott.


#2819





Thursday, August 11, 2011

LIFE IN THE SPIRIT

The Christian life is essentially life in the Spirit, that is to say, a life which is animated, sustained, directed and enriched by the Holy Spirit. Without the Holy Spirit true Christian discipleship would be inconceivable, indeed impossible.

-- John R. W. Stott (1921-2011)


#2818

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

A GREAT CONFIDENCE


When someone comes to believe in God, to believe that He really is interested and active in human affairs, the issue of learned helplessness changes radically.

Martin Seligman describes the phenomenon this way: "Learned helplessness is the giving up reaction, the quitting response that follows from the belief that whatever you do doesn't matter." …

Alburt Bandura is a Stanford psychologist who has led research on what is commonly called "self-efficacy" -- the belief that I have mastery over events in my life and can handle whatever comes my way. People with a strong sense of self-efficacy are much more likely to be resilient in the face of failure, to cope instead of fear. Self-efficacy is strong confidence in one's abilities.

But for one who believes in God, the hinge point is not simply what I'm capable of. The real question is what might God want to do through me. "I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength." Now, this is not a blank check. In writing these words, the apostle Paul did not intend for us to understand that being a Christian means I can hit more home runs that Mark McGwire and hit higher notes than Pavarotti. It means I have great confidence that I can face whatever life throws at me, that I never need to give up, that my efforts have potency – because of the One at work within me.

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


#2817

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

EACH MOMENT

Man must not allow the clock and the calendar to blind him to the fact that each moment of his life is a miracle and a mystery.

-- H. G. Wells


#2816



Monday, August 8, 2011

TO LOVE IS TO BE VULNERABLE

To love at all is to be vulnerable. Love anything and your heart will be wrung and possibly broken. If you want to make sure of keeping it intact you must give it to no one, not even an animal. Wrap it carefully round with hobbies and little luxuries; avoid all entanglements. Lock it up safe in the casket or coffin of your selfishness. But in that casket, safe, dark, motionless, airless, it will change. It will not be broken; it will become unbreakable, impenetrable, irredeemable. To love is to be vulnerable.
-- C.S. Lewis in The Four Loves


 
#2815

Friday, August 5, 2011

GOD'S REALISTIC LOVE

There is tremendous relief in knowing that God's love to me is utterly realistic, based at every point on prior knowledge of the worst about me, so that no discovery now can disillusion Him about me, in the way I am so often disillusioned about myself, and quench His determination to bless me… God wants me as His friend, and desires to be my friend, and has given His Son to die for me in order to realize this purpose.

-- J. I. Packer in Knowing God

 
#2814

Thursday, August 4, 2011

PERFECT TIMING

The source of strength I get from my relationship with Christ is knowing that through my trials I should have patience; the Lord is perfect with His timing.

-- John Vanbiesbrouck, retired NHL goal tender



#2813

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

THE HIGH SEAS OF COMMITMENT

On a sunny August morning, three different couples prepare for a weekend of "sailing." One couple gets out of their car, the one with the license plate holder that reads, "I'd Rather Be Sailing," and begin to haul their provisions to the boat. It takes them several trips to carry their picnic basket and the rest of their gear to their craft. Once aboard, they change their clothes, turn on the music, and then spend the better part of the day lounging around on the boat (which is still tied to the dock), reading and napping and talking. They sleep in the cabin Saturday night, and on Sunday morning go through roughly the same routine of the previous day, cleaning up the sailboat, reading and napping. Then about four o'clock, they pack everything up and drive back home.

The second couple gets to their boat early on Saturday morning. They travel to the same marina, they have the same license plate frame, they bring the same gear, turn on the same music, socialize a bit, but then they do something somewhat odd: They start up the motor. They untie the ropes. They back out of their slip and cruise around the harbor.

The couple may spend an hour looking at the other boats in the harbor and then drop anchor to cook a dinner meal. That evening, they may even venture out by the breakwater, to gaze out on the open seas, but then come back in, sleep on the sailboat, and repeat the whole process on Sunday.

The third couple gets to their boat early on Saturday, brings their gear aboard, backs out of the slip, and head straight for the breakwater. As they're heading out, they hoist the sails, and when the wind fills them, they shut off the motor and enter the open sea. They hear the sails straining and the water rushing along the hull. They feel the swells rising up underneath them, and they keep going until the sight of land is lost. They spend the entire night out on the seas, cooking in spite of the motion of the boat underneath them. They use a flashlight at night to look at the charts and to keep their bearings. And then they come back into the harbor late Sunday night.

On Monday morning, each couple will be asked, "What did you do this weekend?" and each couple will give the same answer, "We went sailing." But did they really do the same thing?

It's like that with our commitments, isn't it? Take, for instance, the commitment between a man and a woman. Some couples will promise to be committed to each other for a night of romance, but they make no pretence that they will leave the dock of autonomy or independence. In fact, they're not even going to untie the boat.

Another couple might make a deeper commitment. Maybe they'll agree to stay faithful to each other "as long as their love shall last." Perhaps they'll even move in together and share the bills. In this, they're willing to motor around the harbor of relationship for a little while, but they never go so far as to lose sight of the land or to seriously venture into the high seas of commitment.

Yet the third couple might enter into a permanent commitment called marriage. They leave the dock of autonomy far behind and even pass through the harbor of casual relationship, reaching the high seas of commitment. No matter how rough the weather, they rule out the option of returning to the dock. They came prepared to sail, and sail they will.

The same analogy is true of faith. Some people "play" at being a Christian. They show up at church a couple of times a month, drop a five-dollar bill into the offering, and do their best to look religious, but they never untie their boat. They always manage to maintain a connection with the safety of the shoreline. Others attend church every week, boost their offerings, and occasionally even show up to volunteer for something. They're willing to motor around the harbor and "experiment" with dependence on God, but since they stop short of the open water, they never really know what it would be like to trust God deeply and fully.

The really committed leave the safety of the harbor, accept the risk of the open seas of faith, and set their compasses for the place of total devotion to God and whatever life adventures He plans for them. These are the people who eventually experience the commitment-making-and-keeping nature of God. These are the ones who will someday sing, "Great is Thy Faithfulness" at the top of their lungs.

-- Bill Hybels in The God You're Looking For

 
#2812

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

WHAT IS DYING?

What is dying? I am standing on the sea shore. A ship sails to the morning breeze and starts for the ocean. She is an object of beauty and I stand watching her till at last she fades on the horizon, and someone at my side says, "She is gone." Gone where? Gone from my sight, that is all; she is just as large in the masts, hull and spars as she was when I saw her, and just as able to bear her load of living freight to its destination.

The diminished size and total loss of sight is in me, not in her; and just at the moment when someone at my side says, "She is gone," there are others who are watching her coming, and other voices take up a glad shout, "there she comes" – and that is dying.

-- attributed to Henry Van Dyke under the title "A Parable to Immortality" and also to Bishop Brent from All in the End is Harvest: An anthology for those who grieve, edited by Agnes Whitake

(see http://www.gavroche.org/vhugo/toilersdeath.shtml for exploration of the authorship)


 
#2811

Monday, August 1, 2011

ACQUIRING PERSEVERANCE

We survive in the way of faith not because we have extraordinary stamina but because God is righteous. Christian discipleship is a process of paying more and more attention to God's righteousness and less and less attention to our own; finding the meaning of our lives not by probing our moods and motives and morals but by believing God's will and purposes; making a map of the faithfulness of God, not charting the rise and fall of our enthusiasms. It is out of such a reality that we acquire perseverance.

-- Eugene Peterson in A Long Obedience in the Same Direction

 
#2810