Friday, August 23, 2013


The death of a dear one is the most profound of all sorrows.  The grief that comes with such a loss is intense and multifaceted, affecting our emotions, our bodies and our lives.  Grief is preoccupying and depleting.  Emotionally, grief is a mixture of raw feelings such as sorrow, anguish, anger, regret, longing, fear, and deprivation.  Grief may be experienced physically as exhaustion, emptiness, tension, sleeplessness, or loss of appetite.  'Grief invades our daily lives in many sudden gaps and changes, like that empty place at the dinner table, or the sudden loss of affection and companionship, as well as in the many new apprehensions, adjustments, and uncertainties.  The loss of a dear one throws every aspect of our lives out of balance.  The closer we were to the person who died, the more havoc the loss creates.  Love does not die quickly.  Hence to grieve is also 'to celebrate the depth of the [relationship].  Tears are then the jewels of remembrance, sad but glistening with the beauty of the past.  So grief in its bitterness marks the end … but it also is praise to the one who is gone.'

-- Judy Tatelbaum in The Courage to Grieve


Thursday, August 22, 2013


"You have set our iniquities before You,
our secret sins in the light of Your countenance." (Psalm 90:8 NRSV)

[Forgiveness] cannot mean that we cover up a fault with the "mantle of charity." Divine things are never a matter of illusion and deception. On the contrary, before the sin is forgiven the mantle with which it is covered must be removed. The sin must be unmercifully -- yes, unmercifully -- exposed to the light of God's countenance.

-- Helmut Thielicke in Our Heavenly Father


Wednesday, August 21, 2013


The writer of Proverbs says that the opposite of wisdom is foolishness and the opposite of a wise person is a fool.

Today the word fool often means someone with low intelligence, but in biblical usage, fools may have a high I.Q. and a reputation for success.  What makes them fools is that they ignore God's wisdom, preferring to follow the shifting dictates of the crowd or their own fallible opinions.  While fools often consider themselves clever -- people who know how to beat the system -- their cleverness all too often leads to their ruin.  Their penchant for distorting the truth, their lack of discernment and discipline, their unwillingness to exhibit self-control and their apparent delight in throwing caution to the wind put them on a path to disaster.

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


Tuesday, August 20, 2013


“To God’s holy people in Ephesus, who are faithful followers of Christ Jesus.” (Ephesians 1:1b NIV)

“Faithful followers of Christ Jesus” -- what an excellent reputation! Such a label would be an honor for any believer. What would it take for others to characterize you as a faithful follower of Jesus Christ? Hold fast to your faith, one day at at time; faithfully obey God, even in the details of life. Then, like the Ephesians, you will be known as a person who is faithful to the Lord.

-- from The Life Application Study Bible


Monday, August 19, 2013


You could almost believe the apostle had today in mind when he wrote to his young friend, "Timothy, guard what has been entrusted to your care.  Turn away from Godless chatter and the opposing ideas of what is falsely called knowledge, which some have professed and in so doing, have wandered from the faith"  (1 Timothy 6:20-21).

With all of this information and all these options at our fingertips, it is more important than ever that we stay focused on the true God and His Son, Jesus, not allowing ourselves to be sidetracked into areas of false teaching that could prove destructive to our faith.

When you stop to think about it, the key to just about everything lies in focus.

The writer to the Hebrews called it "fixing our thoughts" and "fixing our eyes."  "Therefore, holy brothers, who share in the heavenly calling, fix your thoughts on Jesus, the apostle and high priest whom we confess … Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith" (Hebrews 3:1; 12:2). In other words, rivet your attention on Jesus.  Lock onto God's Son for dear life. Even when distractions around you seem overpowering.  Even when your heart is breaking.

-- Stephen Arterburn and Jack Felton in More Jesus, Less Religion


Friday, August 16, 2013


The beauty of God's power is that it points people directly back to the source: God Himself. When Peter and John healed a lame man, and people stopped to gawk at them, the apostles were quick to remind the onlookers that the greatness they had seen was evidence of God's power, not their own. Peter responded: "Men of Israel, why do you marvel at this? Or why look so intently at us, as though by our own power or godliness we had made this man walk?"

When people see human power revealed, they might be impressed. But the call of the gospel goes much too deep for anybody to be "impressed" into the kingdom. They have to be humbled, amazed, and awed at a power that comes from a completely different source, and only God's power, revealed in us, is up to the task.

God's power will liberate us from our weakness and equip us to do His will. It will also give us the strength to become like Christ.

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


Thursday, August 15, 2013


The Unknown Cause of the universe is Himself a Spirit,
     whose Word is perfect truth,
     whose nature is perfect righteousness,
     whose law is perfect love.

-- Washington Gladden


Wednesday, August 14, 2013


If the universe is a machine, a giant accident, a blind, pitiless indifference, where did we get the idea that there is a way that things are supposed to be!

This is a very simple picture. It is not philosophically profound, but it helps me to think about it in a simple way: A woman I know named Sheryl went to a salon to have her nails manicured. As the beautician began to work, they began to have a good conversation about many subjects. When they eventually touched on God, the beautician said, "I don't believe God exists."

"Why do you say that?" asked Sheryl, who has MS.

"Well, you just have to go out on the street to realize God doesn't exist. Tell me, if God exists, would there be so many sick people? Would there be abandoned children? If God existed, there would be neither suffering nor pain. I can't imagine loving a God who could allow all these things."

Sheryl thought for a moment. She didn't respond because she didn't want to start an argument. The beautician finished her job, and Sheryl left the shop.

Just after she left the beauty shop, she saw a woman in the street with long, stringy, dirty hair. She looked filthy and unkempt. Sheryl turned, entered the beauty shop again, and said to the beautician, "You know what? Beauticians do not exist."

"How can you say that?" asked the surprised beautician. "I am here. I just worked on you. I exist."

"No," Sheryl exclaimed, "beauticians do not exist, because if they did, there would be no people with dirty, long hair and appearing very unkempt like that woman outside!"

"Ah, but beauticians do exist," she answered. "The problem is, people do not come to me."


-- John Ortberg in Faith & Doubt


Tuesday, August 13, 2013


The sad truth is that most people spend more time planning their summer vacation than they do planning the rest of their life.  That’s poor stewardship of right-brain imagination.  Goal setting is good stewardship.  Instead of letting things happen, goals help us make things happen.  Instead of living by default, goals help us live by design.  Instead of living out of memory, goals help us live out of imagination. 

-- Mark Batterson in The Circle Maker


Monday, August 12, 2013


"Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil."
No man consciously chooses evil because it is evil.
He only mistakes it for the happiness he seeks. 
-- Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley

Friday, August 9, 2013


Take courage, fainting Christians: you are encompassed with a great cloud of witnesses! The race that you are running has been run by millions before; you think that no one ever had such trials as yourself -- but every step that you are journeying has been safely walked by others; the valley of the shadow of death has been securely passed by a multitude of trembling, doubting ones like yourself. They had their fears and anxieties, like you -- but they were not cast away. The world, the flesh and the devil can never overwhelm the weakest person who will set their face towards God. These millions journeyed on in bitterness and tears like your own, and yet not one perished -- they all reached their eternal home.

-- J.C. Ryle in The Christian Race & Other Sermons


Thursday, August 1, 2013


"Nevertheless I am continually with You. You hold me by my right hand. You will guide me with Your counsel, and afterward receive me to glory."  (Psalm 73:23-24)

I am sure everyone reading this is facing or has recently faced a major decision in their life. Why is it that we seem to have so much difficulty making decisions? The answer is quite simple, but the solution is often a difficult one for us to accept and follow. The reason it is so hard for us to decide upon things is that we try to do it all on our own without proper guidance. None of us would dare go on a jungle safari without a proper guide to lead us to our destination, yet we face a jungle of decisions every day and try to make it on our own.

The wonderful reality is that we do indeed have a guide who is there to help us with even the smallest of decisions. In today's Scripture, the Psalmist tells us that God has us by our right hand and that He will guide us with His counsel. What better guide could we ask for than the omnipotent, omniscient creator of the universe? God is always there with the right answer and the proper direction for us to follow, and all we have to do is ask. But that is where it gets so difficult for most of us. We have become so self-reliant that we think we can handle all of these things on our own.

I for one have come to realize that I cannot make it on my own, or even with the help of my wife and family. Not until we give our decisions over to God can we be truly confident that we have made or will make the right decision. God has promised to never forsake or leave us, and that He will always provide for our needs. We need only to look to Him to guide us along life's journey.

So don't try to tame the jungle on your own. Let God be your guide.

-- Chad Janey