Monday, March 31, 2014


NOTE: This is the 15th anniversary of our SOUND BITES Ministry™.  It was begun on March 29, 1999, in memory of our son, Dustin. Because of his disabilities and death he might have been considered to be THE LEAST CAPABLE SPOKESMAN for Christ. But now, 15 years later, God is still inspiring through Dustin's life.

So on this 15th anniversary, as we have done each year, we invite you to share how SOUND BITES has ministered to you and how you have used SOUND BITES to minister to others. Since SOUND BITES is now available via e-mail, blog, Facebook, and Twitter, you are welcome to respond through any of those means.


Rev. Dave Wilkinson


I think often of a young man in his early teens whom Dr. Tony Campolo described in one of his messages. This boy was named Jerry, and he had been afflicted from birth with cerebral palsy. Jerry walked and talked with great difficulty, yet he came to a Christian summer camp where Dr. Campolo was the principal speaker. It was apparent from the first day that Jerry would be rejected by the other junior highers who immediately set about establishing a hierarchy of social power. An "in group" emerged, as it always does, composed mostly of the good-looking guys and the cute girls. They were far too sophisticated and selfish to mess around with a "cripple" -- a "loser" like Jerry. They were also rude to the other outcasts -- the kids who had been hurt and those who lacked confidence. They didn't stand a chance.

All week Dr. Campolo watched Jerry struggle to find his place. It was brutal to witness. The popular kids mocked the way he walked and talked. They would imitate his labored speech, saying "Whaaaaaaaat . . . tiiiimmmme . . . issssssss . . . ccrrrraaaaafffftttss . . . cclllaaaaasssss?" Then they would all laugh hysterically as though Jerry were deaf. At other times, they avoided him like a plague. Dr. Camplolo said he has never hated anyone in his life, but he came close to it in that instance -- seeing what those insensitive and cruel teenagers were doing to the spirit of one who had already suffered more than his share.

A service was held the final morning of the camp, during which the students were invited to give their testimonies about what Jesus Christ meant to them. One by one, the superstars came to the microphone -- the athletes, the cheerleaders, and the [other] popular kids. They delivered their little canned speeches, but there was no power in their witness. Their words were empty.

Then, as Dr. Campolo sat on the platform, he was startled to see Jerry making his way down the aisle from the back of the auditorium. The other students saw him too, and they began to whisper and point. Then a ripple of laughter passed over the crow. Ever so slowly, Jerry came to the platform and then carefully and painfully climbed the three stairs at the side. Finally, he reached the microphone. He stood for a moment looking at his peers, and then said with great effort, "I . . . looooovvvve . . . Jeeeeesssssuuuusss . . . aaannnndddddddd . . . Jeeeeeeeessssuuusssss . . . loooooovvvvvvesssssss . . . mmeeeeeeeeeee!" Then Jerry turned to make his long journey back to his seat.

Campolo said Jerry's simple testimony went through that crowd of teenagers like a bolt of lightning. His expression of love for God, despite the physical disability and the ridicule he had taken, exposed the sin and selfishness in their lives. They began streaming into the aisles and down to a place of prayer at the front. The Lord had used the least capable spokesman among all those teenagers to accomplish His purposes.

-- Dr. James Dobson in When God Doesn't Make Sense


Friday, March 28, 2014


Our generation desperately needs to rediscover the difference between praying for and praying through.  There are certainly circumstances where praying for something will get the job done.  I believe in short prayers before meals because, quite frankly, I believe in eating food while it's still hot.  But there are also situations where you need to grab hold of the horns of the altar and refuse to let go until God answers… you refuse to move from the circle until God moves.  You intercede until God intervenes.

Praying through is all about consistency.  It's circling Jericho so many times it makes you dizzy.  Like the story Jesus told about the persistent widow who drove the judge crazy with her relentless requests, praying through won't take no for an answer.  Circle makers know that it's always too soon to quit praying because you never know when the wall is about to fall.  You are always only one prayer away from a miracle.

Praying through is all about intensity.  It's not quantitative; it's qualitative.  Drawing prayer circles involves more than words; it's gut-wrenching groans and heartbreaking tears.  Praying through doesn't just bend God's ear; it touches the heart of your heavenly Father.

-- Mark Batterson in The Circle Maker


Thursday, March 27, 2014


Professor Donald Francis Toney often said to his students at Edinburgh that in music the rests are just as important as the notes. At first that appears to be an exaggeration, but musicians tell me that a choral or orchestra director soon learns that without careful attention to pause, the music will lose much of its beauty. So in the music of life, the rests must be written into the score. That's the way we keep coming in trust to God. We deliberately wait on the Lord to receive the gift of [rest].

-- Maxie Dunnam in Living the Psalms: A Confidence for All Seasons


Friday, March 21, 2014


"…we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us." (Romans 5:3b-5 NIV)

Ultimately there is tremendous grace in suffering -- not because of the pain of the suffering itself but because suffering allows us to reorient ourselves in ways that we simply could never have done had life proceeded in an untroubled manner.  Suffering gives us the occasion to listen as we never have listened before -- both to new words and to new sources of wisdom -- and to turn listening into seeing.

-- William Long & Glandion Carney in A Hard-Fought Hope


Thursday, March 20, 2014


A sentence in one of the books [I was reading on osteoporosis prevention] struck me: "Like all living tissue, bone is constantly being broken down and reformed."  The words seemed to apply not only to our bodies but to the perpetual Christian emphasis on brokenness.  Repent!  Confess!  Acknowledge your sinfulness!  I grow tired of this continual retracing of steps, impatient for the beckoning road ahead.  But it was the word ‘living’ that leaped out at me.  It's living tissue that is continually torn down and rebuilt.  As long as my relationship to God is alive, this biological fact seems to suggest the tearing-down process will be part of it.  The confession of sin, the admission of guilt, will go hand in hand with renewal. ... There can be no growth without pruning, no rebirth without death.

-- Elizabeth Sherrill in Journey into Rest


Wednesday, March 19, 2014


“How is your spiritual life going?”

I used to answer this question by looking at the state of my devotional activities:  Did I pray and read the Bible enough today?  The problem is that by this measure the Pharisees always win.  People can be very disciplined but remain proud and spiteful.  How do we measure spiritual growth so that the Pharisees don’t win?

I asked a wise man, “How do you assess the well-being of your soul?”

He immediately said, “I ask myself two questions”:
  1. Am I growing more easily discouraged these days?
  2. Am I growing more easily irritated these days?
At the core of a flourishing soul are the love of God and the peace of God.  If peace is growing in me, I am less easily discouraged.  If love is growing, I am less easily irritated.  It was a brilliantly helpful diagnostic to assess the health of my soul.
-- John Ortberg in The Me I Want to Be

Tuesday, March 18, 2014


Jesus said, "Do you not believe that I am in the Father and the Father is in Me? The words that I say to you I do not speak on My own; but the Father who dwells in Me does His works. Believe Me that I am in the Father and the Father is in Me;…" (John 14:10-11a NRSV)

We may with complete detachment study and form a judgment upon a religion, but we cannot maintain our detachment if the subject of our inquiry proves to be God Himself.  This is, of course, why many otherwise honest intellectual people will construct a neat by-pass around the claim of Jesus to be God. Being people of insight and imagination, they know perfectly well that once to accept such a claim as fact would mean a readjustment of their own purposes and values and affections which they may have no wish to make.  To call Jesus the greatest Figure in History or the finest Moral Teacher the world has ever seen commits no one to anything.  But once to allow the startled mind to accept as fact that this man is really… God, may commit anyone to anything!  There is every excuse for blundering in the dark, but in the light there is no cover from reality.  It is because we strongly sense this, and not merely because we feel that the evidence is ancient and scanty, that we shrink from committing ourselves to such a far-reaching belief as that Jesus Christ was really God.

-- J. B. Phillips, in Your God is Too Small


Monday, March 17, 2014


Christ be with me, Christ within me,
Christ behind me, Christ before me,
Christ beside me, Christ to win me,
Christ to comfort and restore me,
Christ beneath me, Christ above me,
Christ in quiet, Christ in danger,
Christ in hearts of all that love me,
Christ in mouth of friend and stranger.

-- Attributed to St. Patrick, Fifth Century


Friday, March 14, 2014


"You are the salt of the earth…" (Matthew 5:13a)

"It is the nature of the divine savour [salt] which is in you, to spread to whatsoever you touch; to diffuse itself, on every side, to all those among whom you are.   This is the great reason why the providence of God has so mingled you together with [others], that whatever grace you have received of God may through you be communicated to others…"

-- John Wesley, quoted by Robert Schnase in Five Practices of Fruitful Living


Thursday, March 13, 2014


"The time has come," he said. "The kingdom of God is near. Repent and believe the good news!"  (Mark 1:15 NIV)

Repentance prepares us for God's presence.  In fact, you cannot live in His presence without repentance.  Repentance permits pursuit of His presence.  It builds the road for you to get to God (or for God to get to you!).

--  Tommy Tenney in The Heart of A God Chaser


Wednesday, March 12, 2014


Grace strikes at unexpected times, Tillich suggests: when we are in pain, feeling restless, empty, alone, estranged, or when we feel disgust, weakness, or hostility.  It strikes us when other things don't work, when we feel directionless and useless, when compulsions reign, and darkness overshadows.  When the ordinariness of life grinds us down, or the vacuity of the world's promises leaves us empty, when we finally realize our churning and churning is taking us nowhere fast, in such moments, grace comes to us like a wave of light in the darkness, and we perceive a voice saying, "You are accepted."

"We don't know the name of it at the time; there will be much to learn later," Tillich writes.  We don't have to promise anything at the time, for in that moment we are fundamentally the recipients of a promise.  We don't have to give anything; only to receive what is given.  Our only and singular task is to accept that we are accepted.

You are loved.  You are loved.  You are loved.

Can you accept that?

-- Robert Schnase in Five Practices of Fruitful Living


Tuesday, March 11, 2014


"Yet in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us. For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord." (Romans 8:37-39)

I cannot continuously say 'No' to this or 'No' to that, unless there is something ten times more attractive to choose. Saying 'No' to my lust, my greed, my needs, and the world's powers takes an enormous amount of energy. The only hope is to find something so obviously real and attractive that I can devote all my energies to saying 'Yes.' ... One such thing I can say 'Yes' to is when I come in touch with the fact that I am loved. Once I have found that in my total brokenness I am still loved, I become free from the compulsion of doing successful things.

-- Henri Nouwen, in an interview in Leadership Journal


Monday, March 10, 2014


Iris Bammert walked slower than most to the podium.  Her face reflected a quiet confidence that no matter how long it took, she would reach her goal.  At last, she reached the microphone and spoke with gentle strength.  "God has let me know that in this life we have tribulation, but be of good cheer.  I have overcome the world."

Iris had suffered a debilitating stroke in the prime of her life.  Her whole world changed in a moment -- from self-sufficiency to complete dependency.  She can't drive a car anymore; instead she's driven to her knees in prayer, seeking a strength that is not her own.  She can barely speak, but God enabled her to remind the women in our Bible study, "This life is not so important.  Don't forget the Lord is the One who does everything in and through us."

God does not ask you to walk in your own strength -- He knows that is impossible.  However, He does promise to give you the strength you need to walk in a way that is pleasing to Him.  Philippians 4:13 reminds us, "I can do everything with the help of Christ who gives me the strength I need" (NLT).

-- Lenya Heitzig and Penny Pierce Rose in Pathway to God's Treasure: Ephesians


Friday, March 7, 2014


Jesus said that we should "not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God."  As our bodies are fed by food, so our spirits are fed by words with ideas and images.  We are flooded by words that can mislead us, so we need to feed our minds each day from the Word of God.

I often feed my mind by taking a thought from Scripture:
     -- Nothing can separate us from the love of God.
     -- I can do all things through Christ, who strengthens me.
     -- God is light, and in Him is no darkness at all.

Try to let your mind feast on the Word of God throughout the day. 

-- John Ortberg in God Is Closer Than You Think


Thursday, March 6, 2014


I recently read an article at by Sophia Agtarap, a United Methodist deacon candidate, about creating sacred space in your home. In it she noted that "With the change in seasons comes the opportunity for a change not just in our schedules and wardrobes, but also in our physical, mental and spiritual spaces… This act of creating a sacred space, when done with purpose, can help move us into a deeper connection with ourselves, with God and with our physical environment." She goes on to suggest that while some might set aside a small room to transform, others may simply find a small corner of their space, however big or small.

What are those reminders of the sacred, of faith, that you might include? What are those reminders of love and fellowship, of peace and calm? What are those reminders of the beauty and uniqueness of God's creation? It may be a painting or photograph. It may be the warmth of a glowing candle or the simple shape of the cross. It may be that Bible your grandmother gave you, or a smooth stone from a walk along the lakeshore. "Whatever those pieces are that ground you, and tell you that you are beloved," she wrote, "assemble them to call to you so that whenever you pass them by, you are reminded that you are safe and you are loved."

On my photography website I have captured some images that you might want to consider in creating a sacred space for yourself. They have to do with sunsets and water, wood and stones, crosses and crucifixes, and Lent and Easter. I invite you to visit the various galleries on the website to see what might help you create a sacred space this Lenten season. 
-- Rev. David T. Wilkinson 
David T Wilkinson Photography


Wednesday, March 5, 2014


"The sacrifice You desire is a broken spirit. You will not reject a broken and repentant heart, O God." (Psalm  51:17 NLT)

Repentance is but a kind of table-talk, till we see so much of the deformity of our inward nature as to be in some degree frightened and terrified at the sight of it...  Sooner or later repentance must have a broken and a contrite heart…

-- William Law in Christian Regeneration


Tuesday, March 4, 2014


A filmmaking technique teaches us a way to see God in the ordinary.  A cinematographer, Bob Fisher, wrote a passionate article recently about the need for movie crews to spend some time every day reviewing the film that was shot the day before.  By delaying production temporarily to review the previous day's work, filmmakers can spot little mistakes while they can still be corrected and can celebrate what is going right.  In Fisher's words, "Watching film dailies is uplifting. It energizes everyone."

In a similar way, it's a very helpful thing for us to take a few moments to "review the dailies" with God.  You can do this right now by walking through yesterday in your mind with God and asking where He was present and at work in each scene.  Start with the moment when you woke up in the morning.  God was present, waking you up, giving you a mini-resurrection.  What were your first thoughts?  What do you think God wanted to say to you in that moment?

Then go on from one scene to the next through your day.  As I review what happened when I greeted my family, ate breakfast, and went through meetings at work, I see patterns emerging -- the ongoing presence of anxiety or anger -- that I miss when I don't take time to review the dailies.  Most of all, I look and listen to see how God is speaking to me through these scenes.  I realize He was talking to me through the words of another person or the lines of a book or the therapy of laughter.  The more often I review, the better I get at recognizing Him in "real time."

-- John Ortberg in God Is Closer Than You Think


Monday, March 3, 2014


“For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things He planned for us long ago.” (Ephesians 2:10 NLT)

We were fashioned from the Creator, in God's own image.  The apostle Paul notes in Ephesians 2:10 that we are God's poema, the Greek word from which our English word poem is derived.  We are God's poetry, God's works of art!

-- Adam Hamilton in Confronting the Controversies