Friday, September 30, 2011


In the created world around us we see the Eternal Artist, Eternal Love at work.

– Evelyn Underwood (1875-1941), as quoted in The Green Bible


Thursday, September 29, 2011


God moved dramatically in [John] Wesley's heart because Wesley had put himself in the position for his heart to be warmed. That morning he read his Bible; he prayed for an hour or more. He attended a worship service at St. Paul's cathedral, he went to a small Christian fellowship group on Aldersgate Street -- and he did these things on that day after many years of daily Bible study, prayer, fasting, visiting the prisons, and traipsing off on a mission junket to another continent. Americans tend to wait until the heart is warmed... and then I will serve, then I will pray, then I will go out in mission. But this is as if I wish to converse comfortably in a language I have never studied, as if I want to propose to a woman I've never met, as if I'd like to make a hole in one without ever swinging a club on the driving range.

-- Dr. James Howell, Senior Minister of Myers Park UMC in Charlotte, NC


Wednesday, September 28, 2011


When French philosopher and mathematician Blaise Pascal died, a piece of paper was found sewn in his cloak. He had written it nine years earlier, on Monday, November 23, 1654. Before then he had been wildly successful and deeply unhappy. On that Monday night, he met God.

People knew that Pascal had changed. One day he had been drowning in confusion; the next he was free of it. One day he had been unhappy with his life, disgusted with his world and himself, and then there was a change in his world. My own favorite indicator was that he began to make his own bed. He began to rely less and less on his servants. He became one of the servants.

But Pascal never told anyone about his "night of fire," never breathed a word. No one would have known, except after Pascal died, his nephew and a servant were sorting through Pascal's clothing when the servant found what he thought was extra padding. It turned out to be a piece of crumpled parchment with a faded piece of paper. Pascal had sewn it into his clothes so he could wear it next to his heart. These were the words he had penned:
      GOD of Abraham, GOD of Isaac, GOD of Jacob.
      But the God of the philosophers and of the learned.
      Certitude. Certitude. Feeling. Joy. Peace.
      GOD of Jesus Christ . . .
      Forgetfulness of the world and of everything, except GOD.
      Grandeur of the human soul.
      Joy, Joy, Joy, tears of joy …

-- John Ortberg in Faith & Doubt


Tuesday, September 27, 2011


From a Christian perspective, human relations reach toward full realization when there is a common love, when there is shared faith in God and joint commitment to God. To love God together with others is to be drawn into the deepest sharing of life with one another. It is to find the true base of community and it is to extend community. A new dimension of relationship is established by common life as each person is drawn out of his or her subjectivity into a new way of being as "we" is created. Love is the bearer of this new way of being, and this new way of being is the inclusive expression of Christian love.

-- Thomas A. Langford in Christian Wholeness


Monday, September 26, 2011


The beautiful, the special, the extraordinary are found in the ordinary if they are to be found at all, and everywhere, over everything done for Jesus' sake, no matter how small, there hovers a sense of holiness.
-- David Roper in Growing Slowly Wise


Friday, September 23, 2011


"Do we know what it means to be struck by grace?" Tillich asks. This was a provocative notion to me, an odd metaphor, to describe God's grace as something that strikes, that jars us into a new way of thinking, that collides with our old way of being. He continues, "We cannot transform our lives, unless we allow them to be transformed by that stroke of grace." This first movement toward the new creation, the transformed life, and becoming the person God wants us to be begins when we face the startling reality of God's unconditional love for us. Receiving the love and forgiveness of God, beginning to comprehend its meaning, and opening ourselves to the new life it brings can be as disrupting as an earthquake, as abrupt as lightening striking across the black night sky. It means we've been struck by grace.

-- Robert Schnase in Five Practices of Fruitful Living


Thursday, September 22, 2011


General William Nelson was a Union general in the Civil War. Though he faced death every day, he never prepared for his own. Who knows what he was thinking as he rode into battle after battle? Maybe he was too busy staying alive to prepare for death.

All that changed, however, one day as he was relaxing in a house with his men. A brawl broke out, and he was shot in the chest. Knowing he was dying, he had only own request: "Send for a clergyman."

What had happened? Why the urgency? Did the general suddenly learn something about God that he had never known? No. But he did learn something about himself. He realized death was near. Suddenly only one thing mattered.

Why hadn't it mattered before? Couldn't he have said yes to God the week before or that very morning? Absolutely. Why didn't he? Why was the salvation of his soul so urgent after the shot and so optional before it? Why had he postponed his decision to accept Christ until his deathbed?

Because he thought he had time.

A dangerous assumption. "Teach us how short our lives really are," prayed Moses, "so that we may be wise" (Psalm 90:12).

-- Max Lucado in A Gentle Thunder


Wednesday, September 21, 2011


Come, my Light, and illumine my darkness.
Come, my Life, and revive me from death.
Come, my Physician, and heal my wounds.
Come, Flame of divine love, and burn up the thorns of my sins,
      kindling my heart with the flame of Thy love.
Come, my King, sit upon the throne of my heart and reign there.
For Thou alone art my King and my Lord.

-- Dimitri of Rostov, Russia, 17th century, from The Orthodox Way, by Kallistos Ware


Tuesday, September 20, 2011


We worship the Lord not only because of who He is but also because of what He has done. Above all, the God of the Bible is the God who acts. His goodness, faithfulness, justice, mercy all can be seen in His dealings with His people. His gracious actions are not only etched into ancient history, but are engraved into our personal histories. As the apostle Paul said, the only reasonable response is worship (Romans 12:1). We praise God for who He is, and thank Him for what He has done.

-- M. Scott Peck in Celebration of Discipline


Monday, September 19, 2011


Live in such a way that those who know you, but don't know God, will come to know God because they know you.

-- Unknown


Friday, September 16, 2011


There is more of God available than we have ever known or imagined, but we have become so satisfied with where we are and what we have that we don't press in for God's best. Yes, God is moving among us and working in our lives, but we have been content to comb the carpet for crumbs as opposed to having the abundant loaves of hot bread God has prepared for us in the ovens of heaven! He has prepared a great table of His presence in this day, and He is calling to the Church, "Come and dine."

-- Tommy Tenney in The Heart of A God Chaser


Thursday, September 15, 2011


The psalmists approached their friendship with God with... awe and wonder, and often turned their words into insistent witness. The sense of wonder is always there for the psalmist. He may complain about his life and even about the way he thinks God is treating him, yet the sense of wonder is never lost. I know of no literature that so recklessly brings together the immanence of God and the transcendence of God. The psalmist feels God is so approachable that he dares to raise questions about God's very character; then, suddenly, God is so eternal that the poet struggles for words to express his awe.

-- J. Ellsworth Kalas in Longing to Pray: How the Psalms Teach Us to Talk with God


Wednesday, September 14, 2011


Our first task is not to forgive, but to learn to be the forgiven. Too often to be ready to forgive is a way of exerting control over another. We fear accepting forgiveness from another because such a gift makes us powerless, and we fear the loss of control involved…. Only by learning to accept God's forgiveness as we see it in the life and death of Jesus can we acquire the power that comes from learning to give up control.
-- Stanley Hauerwas in The Peaceable Kingdom


Tuesday, September 13, 2011


The prominent thrust of the Christian faith is to lead us to build our lives around eternal values, and to teach us not to attach ourselves to things that are perishable.

-- The Rev. Thomas L. Butts


Monday, September 12, 2011


As John Wesley [the founder of Methodism] was making his way to Georgia from England aboard the merchant ship "Simmonds" in 1735, he watched in total amazement as a community of Moravian passengers continued to worship God and sing in the midst of an Atlantic storm as if nothing were happening. Wesley marveled at this kind of faith. Then he asked God to help him develop a faith for when the big storms blow. If more people were to see that kind of faith today, there would surely be a population explosion of wave-riding believers.

-- Leonard Sweet in A Cup of Coffee at the SoulCafe


Friday, September 9, 2011


Our beloved country, and the world, has entered a new era, no longer secure from the deadly attacks of terrorists who seek to destroy us. But some shafts of light have broken forth out of the darkness. Leaders of government joined in a prayer vigil and sang "God Bless America" on the Capitol steps. We have witnessed our nation on its knees, in prayer to God Almighty.

Tragedies can hit us like emotional earthquakes. What can we do when shattering experiences come upon us? "Come and see the works of the Lord" (Ps. 46:8), counsels the Psalmist. When we contemplate the might and grace of God, we will have confidence that He will sustain us amid life's most devastating circumstances.

The Psalmist reminds us of:

- God's protection: "God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble" (Ps. 46:1).

- God's presence: "There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God, the holy place where the Most High dwells" (Ps. 46:4).

- God's power: "He makes wars cease to the ends of the earth; He breaks the bow and shatters the spear, He burns the shields with fire" (Ps. 46:9).

"Therefore we will not fear." In contrast to the devastation about him, the Psalmist sees God's grace bringing sustenance to the believer. We can experience this renewal by entering the stillness to which He directs us: "Be still, and know that I am God."

-- Colonel Henry Gariepy, The Salvation Army


Thursday, September 8, 2011


NOTE: As we approach the 10th anniversary of 9/11 it might be helpful to reflect on words of hope that were shared at that time and reflect on where we are today. Here's what Billy Graham had to say in 2001.

No matter how hard we try, words simply cannot express the horror, the shock and the revulsion we all feel over what took place in this nation on Tuesday morning [September 11, 2001]… Today, we say to those who masterminded this cruel plot, and to those who carried it out, that the spirit of this nation will not be defeated… The Bible's words are our hope: "God is our refuge and strength, an ever present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea" (Ps. 46:1,2)…

The lesson of this event is not only about the mystery of iniquity and evil, but secondly, it is a lesson about our need for each other… A tragedy like this could have torn this country apart, but instead it has united us and we have become a family…

Yes, there is hope. There is hope for the present because I believe the stage has already been set for a new spirit in our nation.

One of the things we desperately need is a spiritual renewal in this country. We need a spiritual revival in America. And God has told us in His Word, time after time, that we are to repent of our sins and we're to turn to Him and He will bless us in a new way… And from the Cross, God declares, "I love you. I know the heartaches and the sorrows and the pains that you feel. But I love you."…

But now we have a choice: whether to implode and disintegrate emotionally and spiritually as a people and a nation - or, whether to choose to become stronger through all of this struggle - to rebuild on a solid foundation. And I believe we're in the process of starting to rebuild on that foundation. That foundation is our trust in God…

My prayer today is that we will feel the loving arms of God wrapped around us, and will know in our hearts that He will never forsake us as we trust in Him.

-- Reverend Billy Graham, 2001 BGEA


Wednesday, September 7, 2011


In Washington and Chicago, as I talked about the special [9/11] edition of [my book] "Where Is God When It Hurts?", inevitably the interviewer would turn the question back on me. "Well, where is God at a time like this?"....

I thought for a moment and said, "I guess the answer to that question is another question. Where is the church when it hurts? If the church is doing its job -- binding wounds, comforting the grieving, offering food to the hungry -- I don't think people will wonder so much where God is when it hurts. They'll know where God is: in the presence of His people on earth."

-- Philip Yancey, "Where Was God on 9/11?", in Christianity Today


Tuesday, September 6, 2011


We have created a culture of violence, one that numbs the minds of children who are often not supported by parents. We've created a culture where drugs, alcohol, and teen sex are endorsed everywhere we turn. We indulge our children with violent toys and video games; we let them see movies or television programs that are saturated with violence. A moment of silence at the beginning of the [school] day would not change these realities. What would change them is a personal and genuine Christian faith. It is through our faith in Jesus Christ and the power of the Holy Spirit working in us that we find the strength, convictions, and power to live as Christ's people.

But it is not the job of the school to bring our children to Christ; it is the responsibility of parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles, friends, and the church. If kids meet Christ today it will be because of churches that are willing to be lighthouses and because, during the hour a week we have these kids in Sunday school, church members take seriously the call to teach and mentor children and lead children to discipleship or because others are willing to be youth group sponsors and youth Bible study leaders. Lives are changed because of what our Sunday school teachers and youth leaders do. Children's lives are affected by every adult they interact with at church. And more children from our community need to be invited to church. If our children will learn the Lord's Prayer, if they will come to know Noah and Abraham, Esther and Ruth, Joseph and Mary, and most important, Jesus Christ, they will do so because we are doing our job in caring for children and loving them into the kingdom of God!

-- Adam Hamilton in Confronting the Controversies