I was young and free and my imagination had no limits, I dreamed of changing
the world. As I grew older and wiser, I discovered the world would not change,
so I shortened my sights somewhat and decided to change only my country. But it
too seemed immovable. As I grew into my twilight years, in one last desperate
attempt, I settled for changing only my family, those closest to me, but alas
they would have none of it. And now as I lie on my deathbed, I suddenly
realize: If I had only changed myself first, then by example I would have
changed my family. From their inspiration and encouragement, I would then have
been able to better my country and who knows, I may have even changed the
-- Written on the Tomb of
an Anglican Bishop (1100 CE) in the Crypts of Westminster Abbey
marriage can be likened to a large house with many rooms to which a couple fall
heir on their wedding day.Their hope is
to use and enjoy these rooms, as we do the rooms in a comfortable home, so that
they will serve the many activities that make up their shared life.But in many marriages, doors are found to be
locked -- they represent areas in the relationship which the couple are unable
to explore together.Attempts to open
these doors lead to failure and frustration.The right key cannot be found.So
the couple resign themselves to living together in only a few rooms that can be
opened easily, leaving the rest of the house, with all its promising
possibilities, unexplored and unused.
is, however, a master key that will open every door.It is not easy to find.Or, more correctly, it has to be forged by
the couple together, and this can be very difficult.It is the great art of effective marital
David and Vera Mace in We Can Have Better Marriages If We Really Want Them
puts the passion in our hearts for a particular cause or concern? Many people
of faith believe that God is the One who places the desire within us, and that
He then proceeds to enable us to fulfill the desire as He works with us in the
situation. One person is stirred up by a need; another is deeply troubled by a
crime or an injustice. In all our various calls to action, God is available --
helping us right the wrong, meet the need, fight the crime, overcome evil with
“Then Jesus told them, ‘Go into all the world
and preach the Good News to everyone.’”(Mark 16:15 NLT)
The church can no longer
fling open the doors and expect the crowds to rush in. We are no longer a “come
here” organization as is evidenced by the large number of people who will not
or no longer “come here.” But what is the alternative? The answer to fulfilling
our call to reach the world is to go to the world. Jesus didn’t instruct the
disciples to stay in Jerusalem
and wait for the world to come to them; he instructed them to go to the world.
Though our going will look different from that of those first disciples, the
command still stands.
-- Bryan Collier in The Go-ToChurch: PostMegaChurch
Growth (Abingdon Press, 2013)
The most mysterious element
of the decline of mainline churches is our unwillingness to invite others in a
gentle, authentic, and natural way. It's as if we believe that what we have
experienced in our faith journey is of no value. Somewhere the movement characterized
by "go to" instincts settled into a "come to" church, and
the deliberate, searching, seeking, sharing, outward-focused quality of discipleship
quieted into a restrained passivity that waits for people to find us. We have
developed an attitude that says, "Let those who know nothing of God's love
come to their senses and show up at our place on Sunday morning." We can
The initiating and
invitational posture is essential to discipleship. Invitation complete us
--there are depths of the inner life
that remain beyond our experience without offering Christ. The receptivity that
opens us to God leads us to encourage, welcome, and support others. Invitation continues
God's love. In us, the Word becomes flesh once more.
-- Robert Schnase in Five Practices of Fruitful
The majesty, magnificence,
and might of God are far beyond description. No human language has words that
are adequate to articulate who He is.
He exists beyond the reach of time and space and inhabits eternity. Poets,
artists, composers, and authors all attempt to put words and pictures around
this awesome God, but even their best efforts fall woefully short. Psalm 148:13
says, “Let them praise the name of God -- it’s the only Name worth praising.
His radiance exceeds anything in earth and sky.” (The Message) “His radiance
exceeds ANYTHING in earth and sky.” Isn’t that a relief? We praise God because
He is bigger than we can understand.
-- Kay Warren in Choose Joy: Because Happiness
we do not want you to be uninformed, brothers and sisters, about those who have
died, so that you may not grieve as others do who have no hope” (1 Thess 4:13
I was a young minister, a person informed me that Christians do not grieve. He
said grief showed a lack of faith. He used this verse as his proof text, which
he quoted this way: “But we do not want you to be uninformed, brothers and sisters,
about those who have died, so that you may not grieve.” It's amazing how we can
make the Bible say what we want by stopping where we like. Paul acknowledged
that Christians grieve the death of loved ones. However, Christian grief is
hope-saturated. It is not the hopeless grief borne by those outside of
the peace of Christ rule in your hearts… Let the message of Christ dwell among
you richly…" (Colossians 15a, 16a NIV)
3:15 could be translated "Let the peace of Christ act as a referee in your
hearts…" When a player breaks a rule in a football game, the referee blows
his whistle to stop the play and make the necessary adjustments before the game
can continue. A lack of peace about either large decisions or daily choices is
like a referee blowing a whistle. It means you should stop before you move
ahead to find out what's wrong -- to discern why you have this lack of peace,
this conflict in your heart or with other people. To do this consistently, ask
God to make you aware of your feelings and how you affect others. And be
willing to slow down and take note of what God is saying to you.
-- Warren and Ruth Myers in Discovering God's Will
said, "And now I will send the Holy Spirit, just as my Father promised.
But stay here in the city until the Holy Spirit comes and fills you with power
from heaven." (Luke 24:49 NIV)
waiting person is a patient person. The word patience means the willingness to
stay where we are and live out the situation to the full in the belief that
something hidden there will manifest itself to us... Patient people dare to
stay where they are. Patient living means to live actively in the present and
wait there... nurturing the moment.
-- Henri J.M. Nouwen in an
article titled "A Spirituality of Waiting"
how is [one] to be united to God? How is it possible for us to be taken into
the three-Personal life?
are not begotten by God, we are only made by Him: in our natural state we are
not [children] of God, only (so to speak) statues. We have not got Zoe or
spiritual life: only Bios or biological life which is presently going to run
down and die. Now the whole offer which Christianity makes is this: that we
can, if we let God have His way, come to share in the life of Christ. If we do,
we shall then be sharing a life which was begotten, not made, which always has
existed and always will exist. Christ is the Son of God. If we share in this
kind of life we also shall be [children] of God. We shall love the Father as He
does and the Holy [Spirit] will arise in us. He came to this world and became a
man in order to spread to other [human beings] the kind of life He has -- by
what I call ‘good infection’. Every Christian is to become a little Christ. The
whole purpose of becoming a Christian is simply nothing else.
now, what does it all matter? It matters more than anything else in the world.
The whole dance, or drama, or pattern of this three-Personal life is to be
played out in each one of us: or (putting it the other way round) each one of
us has got to enter that pattern, take his place in that dance. There is no
other way to the happiness for which we were made. Good things as well as bad,
you know, are caught by a kind of infection, if you want to get warm you must
stand near the fire: if you want to be wet you must get into the water. If you
want joy, power, peace, eternal life, you must get close to, or even into, the
thing that has them. They are not a sort of prize which God could, if He chose,
just hand out to anyone. They are a great fountain of energy and beauty
spurting up at the very centre of reality. If you are close to it, the spray
will wet you: if you are not, you will remain dry. Once a [person] is united to
God, how could [one] not live forever? Once a [person] is separated from God,
what can [one] do but wither and die?
"I begged the Lord three times to take this
problem away from me. But He said to me, “My grace is enough for you. When you
are weak, My power is made perfect in you.' So I am very happy to brag about my
weaknesses. Then Christ’s power can live in me."(2 Corinthians 12:8-9 NCV)
has somehow placed into the Christian's insides a special something, that extra
inner reservoir of power that is more than a match for the stuff life throws at
us.When in operation, phenomenal
accomplishments are achieved, some things even miraculous.
The life that conquers is the life that moves with a
steady resolution and persistence toward a predetermined goal. Those who
succeed are those who have thoroughly learned the immense importance of plan in
life, and the tragic brevity of time.
Listen to the Christ rather than to the voices of
men. Jesus says you can't please men and still be a servant of God. Those who
listen and follow Christ will be received into heaven by the pierced hands of
the one who knows the freedom of giving up what you cannot own in order to
receive what no one can take from you -- eternal life.
If mankind's greatest need
had been knowledge, God would have sent us an
educator. If mankind's greatest need
had been physical health, God would have sent us a
doctor. If mankind's greatest need
had been money, God would have sent us an
entrepreneur. If mankind's greatest need
had been excitement, God would have sent us an
entertainer. But mankind's greatest need
was forgiveness, so
God sent us a Savior.
"Look, He is coming
with the clouds, and every eye will see Him." (Revelation 1:7 NIV)
Every person on earth will
see our Lord when once more He descends to our planet. He will return
personally, suddenly, visibly, loudly, with a cry of command and a blast of
God's trumpet. It will be the most amazing and wonderful sight human eyes have
ever looked on -- the dazzling, brilliant, awesome splendor of our Lord Jesus
Christ in His glory and His Father's glory, and the glory of the holy angels.
-- Warren and Ruth Myers in Discovering God's Will
At the beginning of our life
with God, we are aware of a gap between God and us, separation from God because
We come to understand that
we cannot bridge this gap by our efforts or good behavior.We cannot earn God’s love and forgiveness; it
comes only by God’s grace.Salvation is
given by the grace of God, achieved through the power of God, offered through
the Spirit of God, and made secure by the promise of God.And so we commit our life to God.
But there is still a gap.
Now the gap is between the
me I am right now and the me I’m meant to be -- “current me” and “sanctified
me.”But here’s the problem:People think it is our job to bridge that gap
by our effort.But we can’t.This gap, too, can only be bridged by
grace.Self-improvement is no more God’s
plan than self-salvation.God’s plan is
not just for us to be saved by grace --
it is for us to live by grace.God’s plan is for my daily life to be given,
guided, guarded, and energized by the grace of God.To live in grace is to flow in the Spirit.