Monday, September 30, 2013

THE ANCHOR OF HOPE

Hope is symbolized in Christian iconography by an anchor.  And what does an anchor do? It keeps the ship on course when wind and waves rage against it.  But the anchor of hope is sunk in heaven, not on earth.

-- Gregory Floyd in A Grief Unveiled


#3295

Friday, September 27, 2013

KEEP AT IT

Don’t make the mistake of Florence Chadwick.  In 1952 she attempted to swim the chilly ocean waters between Catalina Island and the California shore.  She swam through foggy weather and choppy seas for fifteen hours.  Her muscles began to cramp, and her resolve weakened.  She begged to be taken out of the water, but her mother, riding in a boat alongside, urged her not to give up.  She kept trying but grew exhausted and stopped swimming.  Aids lifted her out of the water and into the boat.  They paddled a few more minutes, the mist broke, and she discovered the shore was less than a half mile away.  “All I could see was the fog,” she explained at a news conference.  “I think if I could have seen the shore, I would have made it.”

Take a long look at the shore that awaits you.  Don’t be fooled by the fog...  The finish may be only strokes away.  God may be, at this moment, lifting his hand to signal Gabriel to grab the trumpet.  Angels may be assembling, saints gathering, demons trembling.  Stay at it!  Stay in the water.  Stay in the race.  Stay in the fight.  Give grace, one more time.  Be generous, one more time.  Teach one more class, encourage one more soul, swim one more stroke.

-- Max Lucado in Facing Your Giants


#3294

Thursday, September 26, 2013

A SENSE OF CALLING

Lutheran professor and author Martin Marty described his professional life this way: "I go to work because I have a job that’s part of a career, which is part of a profession that I do because of my vocation that is the shape of my life."  Marty had grasped the big picture, his calling, which put everything else in place.  Somehow the daily tasks required -- in his case, grading papers, lectures, committee meeting, writing, and research -- fit together as rungs of a ladder leading all the way up to vocation, a word taken from the Latin for "calling."  Marty went on to say that a sense of calling may be the most important step for any who seek fulfillment and meaning.

Marty was following the pattern of Martin Luther himself, who saw a potential calling in any kind of work.  "Even dirty and unpleasant work, such as shoveling manure or washing diapers, is pure and holy work if it comes from a pure heart," he said.  Luther urged ordinary folk -- farmers, milkmaids, butchers, and cobblers -- to perform their work as if God Himself was watching.

-- Philip Yancey in Rumors of Another World


#3293

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

LIVING THE BEATITUDES

Blessed are you with means,
          who share generously with the poor.
Blessed are you who are full now,
          after sharing your bread with the hungry.
Blessed are you who are laughing now,
          since first you comforted the lonely
          and the sorrowful, the sick and the dying.
And blessed are you when people call you foolish
          or naïve or a religious nut
          when you try to bring the Reign of God to your home
          or your neighbor-hood or your work place,
for you will be doing….the Gospel!.  

-- Father Richtsmeier
 
 
#3292

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

THE BREAD OF LIFE

We thrive when we eat properly.  If we eat right, we feel healthy and full of energy.  If we eat the wrong foods, we tend to drag around and not feel quite like ourselves.

To sustain ourselves spiritually, we must feed on the living bread of life that comes from the Bible, the Word of God.  The Lord promises we will never be hungry or thirsty if we eat the bread of life.

-- Elisabeth Elliot


#3291

Monday, September 23, 2013

FAITH INTO ACTION

In today's world, wracked by terrorism, poverty, lawlessness, disease, and violence, the message of the gospel and the need for Christians who put their faith into action has never been more acute.  We, the followers of Jesus Christ, are an integral part of God's plan for the world -- the same world that God loved so much -- "that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have everlasting life" (John 3:16).  In this famous verse we see the depth of God's love for our world. It was not a passive and sentimental love but rather a dynamic, active, and sacrificial love.  For God so loved the world that He acted!

-- Richard Stearns, President of World Vision, Inc., in Introduction to Faith In Action Study Bible: Living God's Word in a Changing World


#3290

Friday, September 20, 2013

THE SUCCESS SYNDROME

In his book, Halftime, Bob Buford challenges men to change the game plan for their lives from success to significance. He writes that men pursue success the first half of their lives, but this quest always ends in a need for something more. In a time of evaluation, each man must ask himself the hard questions of life. If a man has answered these questions correctly, he will not get caught up in the "success-syndrome" of our day, but will desire to be and do something significant in the last half of his life.

-- Ronnie W. Floyd in The Meaning of a Man


#3289

Thursday, September 19, 2013

A TWENTY-FOUR LETTER WORD FOR FORGIVENESS

Forgiveness is not foolishness.

Forgiveness is, at its core, choosing to see your offender with different eyes.  When some Moravian missionaries took the message of God to the Eskimos, the missionaries struggled to find a word in the native language for forgiveness.  They finally landed on this cumbersome twenty-four-letter choice: issumagijoujungnainermik.  This formidable assembly of letters is literally translated “not being able to think of it anymore.”

To forgive is to move on, not to think about the offense anymore.  You don’t excuse him, endorse her, or embrace them.  You just route thoughts about them through heaven.

-- Max Lucado in Facing Your Giants


#3288

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

CHRISTIAN PRACTICE

The ministry of Jesus is grounded in personal practices.  Jesus' life is marked by prayer, solitude, worship, reflection, the study of Scripture, conversation, community, serving, engagement with suffering, and generosity.  These personal practices sustained a ministry that opened people to God's grace, transformed human heart, and changed the circumstances of people in need.  Jesus modeled going away to quiet places, spending time in the Temple, and listening for God.  Jesus spoke to the woman at the well; the tax collector in the tree; the rich young ruler on the road; the paralyzed man beside the pool; to the lepers and the blind and the widowed and the wealthy; to Mary and Martha and Peter and John.  He held a child in His arms, noticed the woman who touched His robe, healed a soldier's servant, ate with sinners, told stories to Pharisees, and blessed the thief beside Him on the cross.  He intervened to challenge unjust systems that abused vulnerable people, overturning the money changers' tables and dispersing those ready to kill a woman accused of adultery.  He connected people to God, opened their hearts and minds to God's kingdom, invited them to follow in His steps, and set them on a path toward God.  Jesus knitted them into community, interlaced their lives with one another by the Holy Spirit, and wove them into the body of Christ, the church.  By example and story, by lessons and parables, and by inviting them into ministry and sending them out in His name, He taught them to practice and live the ways of God.  Jesus made maturing in faith and growth toward God unexpectedly and irresistibly appealing.

-- Robert Schnase in Five Practices of Fruitful Living


#3287

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

MAKE GOD YOUR REFUGE

"Be merciful to me, O God, be merciful to me!
For my soul trusts in You;
And in the shadow of Your wings I will make my refuge." (Psalm 57:1)

Make God your refuge.  Not your job, your spouse, your reputation, or your retirement account.  Make God your refuge.  Let Him… encircle you.  Let Him be the ceiling that breaks the sunshine, the walls that stop the wind, the foundation on which you stand.

-- Max Lucado in Facing Your Giants


#3286

Monday, September 16, 2013

THE PRACTICE OF HUMILITY

"For the Lord takes delight in His people; He crowns the humble with victory." (Psalm 149:4 NIV)

Quiet, unpretentious deeds, done out of the way and in quietness, attack our pride, our hunger for power and prestige, our desire for recognition and approval, our determination to be important.  They train us in the practice of humility, which is the essential practice of godliness.

Great acts of virtue, it seems to me, come rarely, and rarely are they hard to do.  They have their own reward:  the rush and recognition we get from tackling difficult and demanding endeavors, the following we attract by doing them.  It's much harder to give ourselves to hidden, unheralded acts that no one sees.  But these are the greatest deeds of all, the elements of which are found in no other religion or ethical system.

-- David Roper in Growing Slowly Wise


#3285

Friday, September 13, 2013

KNOWING GOD

"Now this is eternal life: that they know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom You have sent." (John 17:3 NIV)

I am deeply motivated to know God. I want to know Him as He truly is, not through the distorted reflection of those who call themselves by His name. And I want to make Him known to others as accurately, winsomely, clearly, and compellingly as I can.

And God is knowable. He has declared that He is light. (1 John 1:5) Since one of the primary characteristics of light is that it makes itself visible, God is saying He has made Himself visible.

He can be clearly seen in the person of His Son, Jesus Christ. And He can be seen in the pages of the unique revelation of Himself, which we call the Bible.

-- Anne Graham Lotz in an article in FoxNews.com on 9/8/13


#3284

Thursday, September 12, 2013

ALL YOU WERE MEANT TO BE

Here is a great secret of the Bible: Your longing to become all you were meant to be is a tiny echo of God’s longing to begin the new creation.  The rabbis spoke of this as tikkun olam -- to fix the world.  The more concerned you are about your own fulfillment, the less fulfilled you will be.  When your life is devoted to yourself, it is as small as a grain of wheat.  When your life is given to God, however, it is as if that grain is planted in rich soil, growing into part of a much bigger project.

The picture used at the end of the Bible is that of a wedding, a glimpse of what God has been up to all this time:  "I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband."  One day there will be a glorious harmony between God and all that He has made.  God wants no one left out.  As you flourish, you help in God’s re-creation of the world He wants to see.

-- John Ortberg in The Me I Want to Be


#3283

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

GRIPPED BY THE STORY

C. S. Lewis wrote years ago that "pain is God's megaphone to a deaf world."  In that way, some tragedies may serve as wake-up calls for spiritually sleeping people.  In a way, "tragedy" is a big reason why the cross and crucifixion of Christ still grip our imagination.  There is something so profound about Calvary that even people whose religion has nothing to do with Christianity, even people who reject Christ both intellectually and verbally, nevertheless are gripped by the story.  Thank God, perhaps, that He allows tragedy to so grab people.

-- Luis Palau in Where Is God When Bad Things Happen?


#3282

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

NO EXCUSES

In his book with Ken Blanchard, Everyone's a Coach, Don Shula tells of losing his temper near an open microphone during a televised game with the Los Angeles Rams. Millions of viewers were surprised and shocked by Shula's explicit profanity. Letters soon arrived from all over the country, voicing the disappointment of many who had respected the coach for his integrity.

Shula could have given excuses, but he didn't. Everyone who included a return address received a personal apology. He closed each letter by stating, "I value your respect and will do my best to earn it again."

There are two ways to gain respect. One is to act nobly. The other is, when you fail to do so, to make no excuses.

-- from Leadership, Vol. 17, No. 1


#3281

Monday, September 9, 2013

NO ROAD THAT WAY

"For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through Him." (John 3:16-17 NIV)

The radical failure in so-called religion is that its way is from man to God. Starting with man, it seeks to rise to God; and there is no road that way.

-- J. Arundel Chapman  in The Theology of Karl Barth


#3280

Friday, September 6, 2013

WHO WE'RE BECOMING

Do the best you can with what you have where you are.  Success is not circumstantial.  We usually focus on what we're doing or where we're going, but God's primary concern is who we're becoming in the process.  We talk about "doing" the will of God, but the will of God has much more to do with "being" than "doing".  It's not about being in the right place at the right time; it's about being the right person, even if you find yourself in the wrong circumstances.  Success has nothing to do with how gifted or how resourced you are; it has everything to do with glorifying God in any and every situation by making the most of it.  Success is spelled stewardship, and stewardship is spelled success.

-- Mark Batterson in The Circle Maker


#3279

Thursday, September 5, 2013

IN THE TANGLEDNESS

Spirituality is not about perfection; it is about connection. The way of the spiritual life begins where we are now in the mess of our lives. Accepting the reality of our broken, flawed lives is the beginning of spirituality not because the spiritual life will remove our flaws but because we let go of seeking perfection and, instead, seek God, the one who is present in the tangledness of our lives.

-- Mike Yaconelli


#3278

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

THE HONEY OF LOVE

"Everyone who believes that Jesus is the Christ is born of God, and everyone who loves the father loves His child as well.  This is how we know that we love the children of God: by loving God and carrying out His commands.  In fact, this is love for God: to keep His commands. And His commands are not burdensome,…" (1 John 5:1-3)

Honor and glory are indeed due to God and to Him alone, but He will accept neither of them if they be not preserved in the honey of love. Love is sufficient of itself; it pleases by itself and on its own account. Love seeks no cause beyond itself and no fruit. It is its own fruit, its own enjoyment. I love because I love; I love that I may love. Love is a great thing provided it recurs to its beginning, returns to its origin, and draws always from that Fountain which is perpetually in flood. Of all the feelings and affections of the soul, love is the only one by which the creature, though not on equal terms, is able to respond to the Creator and to repay what it has received from Him. For when God loves us He desires nothing but to be loved. He loves for no other reason, indeed, than that He may be loved, knowing that by their love itself those who love Him are blessed.

-- St. Bernard of Clairvaux (1091-1153)


#3277

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

HAVING HOPE

Hope makes an extraordinary difference. Academic performances of freshman at the University of Pennsylvania were predicted more accurately by tests that measured their level of optimism than by their SAT scores or high school grades.  Daniel Goleman writes, "From the perspective of emotional intelligence, having hope means that one will not give in to overwhelming anxiety, a defeatist attitude, or depression in the face of difficult challenges or setbacks. Indeed, people who are hopeful evidence less depression than others as they maneuver through life in pursuit of their goals, are less anxious in general, and have fewer emotional distresses."  The conviction that our effort makes a difference and that we are not victims of circumstance is what keeps us persisting in the face of setbacks. It saves us from apathy, hopelessness, and despair.

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


#3276