Friday, January 30, 2015

TESTIMONY AT A FOOTBALL GAME

I learned that consistency, honesty, and integrity are indispensable elements of an effective testimony. It happened just days after [my wife] and I moved into the parsonage of our first pastorate. I was asked to referee a "touch football game" for some boys in the community. I replied that I didn't know all the rules of the game but was willing to do the best that I could. They accepted the offer. I had not met some of the boys and felt this would be an opportunity to relate to them.

The game went well at first. Then came the "big play." A pass was thrown and caught for a long gain. As I was placing the ball at the new starting point, Elliot, a deaf and mute player, indicated to me in sign language that he had been illegally held and prevented from breaking up the pass. I had not seen the infraction of the rule. Several of the boys from each team said, "Preacher Mitchell, you can depend on what Elliot tells you. He is honest and truthful." This posed a problem for the referee who was supposed to "call the games as he saw it." I turned to the one who supposedly held him and asked, "Did you hold him?"

Embarrassingly he replied, "Yes I did." I nullified the play and assigned a penalty. The entire group was satisfied. What a testimony for consistency, truth, and integrity on communicating our message to others! Even the offender agreed with the testimony of the offended. If beneficial in a "touch football game," it is demanded in Christian testimony.

--Virgil Mitchell in Wesley Press' Teacher Helps


#3595

Thursday, January 29, 2015

THE KINGDOM OF GOD

Jesus spoke a lot about the kingdom of God. In one sense that kingdom is all of creation, and God is the "King of the Universes," a phrase my Jewish friends use to address God. But human existence has been marked by rebellions against God. From Adam and Eve on, people have regularly turned aside from God's will (a practice we call sin), with the result that human history is littered with wars, acts of inhumanity, and injustice. As we say in the pray of confession that often accompanies the Eucharist, "We have not loved You with our whole heart. We have not loved our neighbors as ourselves." So when Jesus speaks about the kingdom of God, He is usually articulating a vision not of what life is, but what it should be. Through new birth and the sanctifying work of the Spirit, we seek to reflect that kingdom in our lives.

-- Adam Hamilton in Revival: Faith as Wesley Lived It


#3594

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

THE DEVIL'S SALE

There is a story that the devil once announced he was going out of business and offered to sell his tools to anyone who would pay the price. On the night of the sale, the tools were all attractively displayed. They were a nasty looking lot -- malice, hatred, envy, jealousy, deceit -- each marked with a price tag. A little off from the rest lay a harmless looking wedge-shaped tool, much worn, and priced higher than any of the others.

"What is it?" someone asked the devil.

"That's discouragement," he replied.

"Why is it priced so high?" the prospective customer asked.

"Because," said the devil, "it is more useful to me than any of the others. I can pry open and get inside a person with it when I could never get near him with any of the others. Once inside, I can use the person in whatever way it suits me best. That's why it is so worn, you see. I use it with nearly everybody, because few people yet know that it belongs to me."

It is probably not necessary to add that the devil's price for this tool was so high that there were no bidders. And he is still using it.

-- told by Colin McKay in Scouting (U.K.) magazine


#3593

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

DISCIPLESHIP

"You have heard me teach things that have been confirmed by many reliable witnesses. Now teach these truths to other trustworthy people who will be able to pass them on to others. "  (2 Timothy 2:2 NLT)

Discipleship is life rubbing off on life.  It's one follower of Jesus, further along on the journey, seeking to influence those who also want to follow Jesus.

-- Unknown


#3592

Monday, January 26, 2015

DECISIONS THAT DIRECT OUR FAITH

I suspect that very few Christians make a conscious effort to depart from God. Some do no doubt get their feelings hurt over some issue or something in their life and sadly make a choice to abandon their faith, but I would think that is not the normal departure. No, I believe that for most people it is an unconscious and slow process of one compromise after the other until we (hopefully) realize we have lost the grip in our faith…

We… must be careful to review our walk with the Lord and be on guard for any signs of slipping. The Lord gives each of us free will and free choice. It is our responsibility to ground ourselves in the Word of God and therefore make decisions that bolster our faith. When we allow "only a little leaven" we find that very soon the whole batch of dough is corrupted. A little wander here and little drift there and soon we find ourselves completely off course. Take note of the "things" that make a Christian strong and practice them over and over.

-- Pastor Gary Stone


#3591

Friday, January 23, 2015

SPIRITUAL FRUITFULNESS

In all cases, fruitfulness refers to what results from what we've received, the change wrought within us and through us by the Holy Spirit, and the impact we have with our lives.  The quality of effect God has on our inner lives and the resulting outward impact we have on the lives of people around us -- these comprise spiritual fruitfulness.

When Jesus says, "I am the vine; you are the branches," He reminds us that all our fruit derive from our relationship to God in Christ.  Our fruit is God's fruit.

The word fruit refers to the way plants reproduce.  Fruit contain seeds that multiply and create life apart from the original plant and yet related to it.  Through fruit, life passes along to another generation.  Fruit is new life.  Fruit is growth.  Fruit is future.

-- Robert Schnase in Five Practices of Fruitful Living


#3590

Thursday, January 22, 2015

TAKING A KNEE

Some football players, when they break away for a go-ahead score or cause a key third-down sack, want to be sure they get their full ESPN's worth -- the dances, the struts, the jerky moves they've been saving up for just such an opportunity.

Then there's the other approach -- the guy who rips off a long touchdown run, flips the ball back to the referee, and trots to the sideline without all the show and the secret handshakes. He lives by this code: Don't act like it's the first time you've ever seen the inside of the end zone. Look like you've been there . . . like you never expected to be anywhere else.

When Jesus returns, you can be sure there will be a lot of people doing a lot of tap dancing, trying hard to prove why their occasional big plays should be enough to earn them a spot on His team. But eventually, "every knee" will bow, "in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father" (Philippians 2:10-11). That's when the people who'd already humbled themselves before Him on earth will have no hesitation taking a knee and giving Him praise in heaven. It'll be like they've been there... like they never expected to be anywhere else. And where they'll be thankful now that there's no more penalty for excessive celebration.

-- Joe Gibbs in Two Minute Drills online devotional


#3589

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

A COMPELLING VISION

Professor John Kotter, now retired from Harvard Business School, noted that two of the most important tasks of any leader are to cast a compelling vision for the future and then to motivate and inspire people to pursue it. That vision has to be a clear and compelling picture of where we want to go, our preferred picture of the future. Moses led the slaves out of Egypt, but that was not enough. Very quickly they grumbled and began to go back to Egypt where there were leeks and cucumbers to eat. It was at least safe there; the wilderness was hard. Moses had to constantly remind them of the vision. He said, “We’re marching to the promised land, a land flowing with milk and honey, where we can worship freely, where we can love, where we can practice justice, where we can live in harmony."

A compelling vision unifies us. It excites us, it leads people to a willingness to sacrifice, and imbues them with a sense of purpose.

-- U.M. Pastor Adam Hamilton in his message at the 2013 Inaugural Prayer Service


#3588

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

THE HEARING HEART

The hearing heart pays attention to the many ways in which God acts in our lives and in the world. God leaves metaphorical breadcrumbs that lead us along a path of God's choosing if we're paying attention. Learn to notice the gifts God gave you and watch the way your own life story is developing if you want to know more about God's will for you. God may not put a burning bush in your path, but there will be plenty of other clues about what God may want you to do or be.

The hearing heart also pays attention to its body since bodies often judge wisely long before intellects do. Stress responses -- shallow breathing or bodily discomfort versus relaxed, deep breathing and sensations of well being -- can be major clues in discerning the wrong path from the right one.

The hearing heart comes to God in prayer and study with a sense of openness to hearing God's word. Prayer is a conversation with God, one in which we are silent as often as we speak so God gets a turn to talk. With a hearing heart we listen for God's desires and dreams as often as we share our own.

-- Debra Farrington in "Alive Now" Magazine, published by The Upper Room, Nashville, TN.   Used with permission.


#3587

Monday, January 19, 2015

THE PRESENCE OF LIGHT

We are not saints, we are not heroes.  Our lives are lived in the quiet corners of the ordinary.  We build tiny hearth fires, sometimes barely strong enough to give off warmth.  But to the person lost in the darkness, our tiny flame may be the road to safety, the path to salvation.

It is not given us to know who is lost in the darkness that surrounds us or even if our light is seen.  We can only know that against even the smallest of lights, darkness cannot stand.  A sailor lost at sea can be guided home by a single candle.  A person lost in a wood can be led to safety by a flickering flame.  It is not an issue of quality or intensity or purity.  It is simply an issue of the presence of light.

-- Kent Nerburn in Make Me an Instrument of Your Peace


#3586

Friday, January 16, 2015

WHAT FAITH CAN DO

Faith makes
The Uplook good,
The Outlook bright,
The Inlook favourable,
And the Future glorious.

-- Barbara Johnson in Splashes of Joy in the Cesspools of Life


#3585

Thursday, January 15, 2015

VISIBLES AND INVISIBLES

"Ever since the creation of the world God's eternal power and divine nature, invisible though they are, have been understood and seen through the things God has made." (Romans 1:20)

People cannot see your faith. So they judge your faith by what they can see. People will trust their eyes long before they will ever trust your words. What do your visibles say about the invisible things you believe?

-- Author Unknown


#3584

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

INCOMPLETE CONVERSION - Part 3

A conversion is incomplete if it does not leave Jesus Christ in the central place in one's life.  The shortest possible description of a Christian -- a description with which the New Testament would fully agree -- is that a Christian is a person who can say: "For me Jesus Christ is Lord."  Herbert Butterfield's words about facing the future are good: "Hold to Christ, and for the rest be totally uncommitted."  Any alleged conversion which does not leave one totally committed solely to Jesus Christ is incomplete and imperfect.

-- William Barclay (1907-1978) in In the Hands of God


#3583

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

INCOMPLETE CONVERSION - Part 2

A conversion is incomplete if it does not leave one integrated into the Church.  By this we do not mean any particular part of the Church; what we do mean is that conversion must leave one linked in loving fellowship with one's fellow believers.  Conversion is not something simply between a man and Jesus Christ, with no other person involved.  True, it may start in that way; but it cannot end in that way. Conversion is not individualistic.  It is, in fact, just the opposite.  It joins man to his fellow men, and certainly does not separate him from them.

-- William Barclay (1907-1978) in In the Hands of God


#3582

Monday, January 12, 2015

INCOMPLETE CONVERSION

A conversion is incomplete if it does not leave one with an intense social consciousness, if it does not fill one with a sense of overwhelming responsibility for the world.  It has been said... truly that the Church exists for those outside of itself.  The Church must never be in any sense a little huddle of pious people, shutting their doors against the world, lost in prayer and praise, connoisseurs of preaching and liturgy, busy mutually congratulating themselves on the excellence of their Christian experience.

-- William Barclay (1907-1978) in In the Hands of God


#3581

Friday, January 9, 2015

OUR GUIDING LIGHT

"Your word is a lamp for my feet, a light on my path." (Psalm 119:105)

Sink the Bible to the bottom of the sea, and man's obligation to God would be unchanged. He would have the same path to tread, only his lamp and his guide would be gone; he would have the same voyage to make, only his compass and chart would be overboard.

-- Henry Ward Beecher


#3580

Thursday, January 8, 2015

LIVING THE NEW YEAR DAY BY DAY

As we grow older in life, years somehow seem to shorten and New Year's Day approaches with an ever increasing tempo. The more mature we get, the more we realize that time is only relative; how we live means more than how long we live. Haply also we do not live by years, but by days. In His wisdom God does not show us all that lies ahead. So we enter a new year to live it day by day. What is past is past. Today we start anew, and what we do today will make our life for tomorrow. Chin up, shoulders straight, eyes agleam, let us salute the New Year, and each day let us follow more faithfully, more courageously, more daringly the lead of our great Captain who bids us follow Him.

-- William Thomson Hanzsche


#3579

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

A FRESH START

"Now we look inside, and what we see is that anyone united with the Messiah gets a fresh start, is created new”. (2 Corinthians 5:17, The Message).

[Renovation] takes solid work, requires real change in behavior, and sometimes the recognition that failing will be part of the journey. A fascinating and convicting book is “Renovation of the Heart” by Dallas Willard. It’s one to put on your reading list – and recognize that you might be reading one chapter over and over and over. He spends some interesting time thinking about the role of the will and the relation to the Holy Spirit in this “renovation”, in becoming “new creatures”.

The key to this renovation, however, as opposed to the fad of New Year’s resolutions, is that spiritual fresh starts are based in a power that is not our own power. In fact, we have to give up our “own power” in order to be effective, and that makes all the difference.

So looking at that verse again, we can be assured that when we unite with the Messiah, when we are reborn in Christ, when the Holy Spirit becomes part of our hearts and minds… we have a true chance at a fresh start.

-- Lt. Colonel Carol Seiler, the Salvation Army


#3578

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

THE TIME BETWEEN

The day that we accept Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior is a special and blessed day. Likewise, the day that we enter the heavenly places will be glorious and splendid. But what about the time between these two precious events? That space of time is occupied with the business of living life including its ups and downs. We awake each day to a gift from God. All of our interactions with life spring from our relationship with our Lord Jesus Christ. If we allow ourselves to stagnate in the Lord and in His Word and works, it shows in our attitudes and actions… The fact remains that "living" as a Christian is not nearly as easy as becoming a Christian!

-- Pastor Gary Stone


#3577

Monday, January 5, 2015

HEADED TOWARD GOD

Once I started toward God, I never really stopped and was never really in need of starting over.

Was I ever in need of confession and forgiveness and grace and a touch of providence itself?  Certainly.  Was I in need of turning toward God as though we were strangers to each other and had never met?  No, not once.  Which makes me no different from you, though it may well have taken me a lot longer to figure it out.

Once we start home toward God… we simply do not ever turn around and head in another direction.  There is no other direction.  And in the moments when we feel as if we are so turned around that we will never get home, somebody turns up and nudges us a couple of points to starboard, whichever direction that is.  Suddenly, without being particularly conscious of it or faithful about it, we sense that we are headed toward God again full blast.

-- Robert Benson in Between the Dreaming and the Coming True


#3576