Tuesday, March 31, 2015


It is to the Cross that the Christian is challenged to follow his Master: no path of redemption can make a detour around it.

-- Hans Urs von Balthasar in Unless You Become Like This Child


Monday, March 30, 2015


NOTE: Yesterday was the 16th anniversary of our SOUND BITES Ministry™.  It was begun on March 29, 1999, in memory of our son, Dustin, who had died on March 29, 1998. While today's quote is a repeat from over a year ago, it speaks to what I believe SOUND BITES is all about.

On this 16th anniversary, as I have done each year, I 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

To make my mind a home for Jesus, I deliberately fill my mind with the kinds of things God says are important.  Paul puts it like this: "Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable -- if anything is excellent or praiseworthy -- think about such things." (Philippians 4:8)
We often want to be able to hear guidance from God about important decisions such as whom to marry or what job to take.  But we also want to reserve the right to feed our minds on whatever junk comes along.  Whatever repeatedly enters the mind occupies the mind, eventually shapes the mind, and will ultimately express itself in what you do and who you become.  The events we attend, the material we read (or don't), the music we listen to, the images we watch, the conversations we hold, the daydreams we entertain -- these are shaping our minds.  And ultimately they make our minds receptive or deaf toward the still small voice of God.
-- John Ortberg in God Is Closer Than You Think

Friday, March 27, 2015


"Jesus asks the disciples, 'Who do you say I am?'" (Matthew 16:15)

We observe that the teaching of our Lord Himself, in which there is no imperfection, is not given in that cut-and-dried, fool-proof, systematic fashion we might have expected or desired.  He wrote no book.  We have only reported sayings, most of them uttered in answer to questions, shaped in some degree by their context.  And when we have collected them all, we cannot reduce them to a system.  He preaches but He does not lecture.  He uses paradox, proverb, exaggeration, parable, irony, even (I mean no irreverence) the 'wisecrack.'  He utters maxims, which, like popular proverbs, if rigorously taken, may seem to contradict one another.  His teaching therefore, cannot be grasped by the intellect alone, cannot be 'got up' as if it were a 'subject'.  If we try to do that with it, we shall find Him the most elusive of teachers.  He will not be, in the way we want, 'pinned down.'  The attempt is (again I mean no irreverence) like trying to bottle a sunbeam."

-- C. S. Lewis


Thursday, March 26, 2015


In Romans 7, St. Paul says, "The law is spiritual." What does that mean?  If the law were physical, then it could be satisfied by works, but since it is spiritual, no one can satisfy it unless everything he does springs from the depths of the heart.  But no one can give such a heart except the Spirit of God, who makes the person be like the law, so that he actually conceives a heartfelt longing for the law and henceforward does everything, not through fear or coercion, but from a free heart.

-- Martin Luther (1483-1546) in Preface to the Letter of St. Paul to the Romans


Wednesday, March 25, 2015


If you have a Sunday school image of Jesus as mousy and passive, [the Book of] Revelation will help you forget it.  The risen Christ appears to John in chapter 1, and John faints.  Jesus declares, "Do not be afraid, I am the First and the Last.  I am the Living One, I was dead, and behold I am alive forever and ever!  And I hold the keys of death and Hades.  Write, therefore, what you have seen." (Revelation 1:17-19)

Jesus proceeds to give instructions for all the churches John is overseeing.  He then reveals the throne room of heaven, a place of awe-inspiring worship. If you allow yourself to picture these scenes, your private world will shrink and you'll see why this is a King worth following, even into the mouth of hell.

Revelation is not primarily about Satan or the Antichrist.  It's about Jesus Christ, King of a glorious kingdom in which you are invited, even now, to participate.

-- Karen Lee-Thorp in A Compact Guide to the Bible


Tuesday, March 24, 2015


"In My Father's house are many dwelling places; if it were not so, I would have told you; for I go to prepare a place for you. If I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself, that where I am, there you may be also. And you know the way where I am going." (John 14:2-4)

It was a warm Saturday afternoon.  A Carolina breeze was steadily moving through the long grass and the proud, full branches.  I was driving home, back to the little corner of the world where I grew up.  I was en route to a modest house on a corner lot bordered by pine trees, vegetable gardens, and neighbors who still bake casseroles for each other.

I was thinking that when I arrive, my dad (most likely atop his newly painted tractor) will head across the freshly mowed lawn.  He'll hug me long and hard until the back door slams.  My mom will reach for me, smiling, and announce, "I've a fresh pitcher of iced tea.  Who's ready for a glass?"…

What really matters is home.  This is the stuff I am made of. This is what is important to me.

We are all on a homeward journey.  God patiently plans our routes and polices our perils.  He watches us maneuver through detours and treacherous places.  He even sees us make an occasional wrong turn then keep going anyway.

But always He waits.  Long ago He paved the way and marked the direction for us to come to Him.  He prepared a place of rest that is beyond the reaches of our imaginations - a welcome center built by His own hand.

-- Janet Pachal in The Good Road


Monday, March 23, 2015


"Jesus answered, 'I am the way and the truth and the life.'" (John 14:6a NIV)

In the two thousand years since the birth of Christ, men and women in all parts of the world have found that the key to the present and to the future has been centering their lives in Christ. They have sought to understand His unique life and death and discover what it means to follow Him in the circumstances of their lives.

In each of the twenty centuries since Christ's birth, people of faith have recorded rich and colorful images of Christ and His impact on their lives. Consider that the Epistle of Barnabus in the second century described Christ as the true and eternal milk and honey by which we will be fed and given understanding. John Climacus in the seventh century called Christ the Sun whose light we can see as we become accustomed to the light through meekness and humility... Catherine of Siena envisions Christ as the true bridge between humanity and God so that we might pass over the bitterness of the world and reach life. Each of these persons was seeking to express in simple, understandable language how his or her life had been reshaped and given new meaning through the presence of the living Christ. The language and the images are strikingly different, but each adds nuances of lived meaning as these persons try to capture the difference that Christ has made for them.

-- Janice T. Grana, adapted from 2000 Years Since Bethlehem


Friday, March 13, 2015


"He has made us competent as ministers of a new covenant -- not of the letter but of the Spirit; for the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life."  (2 Corinthians 3:6 NIV)
A recent study by the Barna Group found that the number one challenge to helping people grow spiritually is that most people equate spiritual maturity with trying hard to follow the rules in the Bible.  No wonder people also said they find themselves unmotivated to pursue spiritual growth.  If I think God’s aim is to produce rule followers, spiritual growth will always be an obligation rather than a desire of my heart.

“Rule-keeping does not naturally evolve into living by faith,” Paul wrote, “but only perpetuates itself in more and more rule-keeping.”  In other words, it only results in a rule-keeping, desire-smothering, Bible reading, emotion-controlling, self-righteous  person who is not like me.  In the end, I cannot follow God if I don’t trust that He really has my best interests at heart.

The letter kills, but the Spirit gives life.  There is an enormous difference between following rules and following Jesus, because I can follow rules without cultivating the right heart.

-- John Ortberg in The Me I Want to Be

Thursday, March 12, 2015


Just allow people to see Jesus in you -- to see how you pray, to see how you lead a pure life, to see how you deal with your family, to see how much peace there is in your family. Then you can look straight into their eyes and say "This is the way." You speak from life, you speak from experience.

-- Mother Teresa


Wednesday, March 11, 2015


"I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me." (Philippians 4:13)

Limitations force us to yield, to abandon ourselves to our creator, God. And when we do, His creativity flows!

-- Joni Eareckson Tada


Tuesday, March 10, 2015


Here is the great truth that, only when we see things in the light of God, do we see things as they are.  It is only when we see things in the light of God that we see what things are really important, and what things are not.  These things that seem vastly important, things like ambition, and prestige, and money and gain, lose all their value and importance when they are seen in the light of God.  Pleasures and habits and social customs which seem permissible enough, are seen for the dangerous things they are when they are seen in the light of God.  Things which seem evil, hardship, toil, discipline, unpopularity, even persecution, are seen in their glory when they are seen in the light of God.

-- William Barclay (1907-1978) in The Revelation of John (Vol. II)


Monday, March 9, 2015



Jesus said, "I am the light of the world. Whoever follows Me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life." (John 8:12)

In 1986, there was a woman by the name of Rose Crawford who had been blind for 50 years. Why? Because no one had told her that for twenty years her particular medical condition could be corrected by surgery. All she had to do was have someone tell her and then make the intelligent decision to do something about her blindness. When the bandages were removed from her eyes she wept with joy. Where there had been darkness, now there was light. She was not unwise, she simply had not known. Once she was told what she could and ought to do, she made the most of her opportunity.

So it is with Jesus -- the Light of the World. Follow Him and there is light. Refuse the opportunity and remain in darkness.

-- adapted from Rev. V. Neil Wyrick in a sermon titled "Out of Tune, Out of Sync -- What to Do?"


Thursday, March 5, 2015


Some of the most obvious considerations, when thinking about the supremacy of Christ, are the claims He made about Himself.  Other teachers said they were telling the truth.  Christ said, "I ... am the truth" (John 14:6).  Other teachers asked people to follow their teachings.  Christ asked people to follow Him.  More than twenty times in the Gospels Jesus spoke about the need to follow Him.  The other great leaders taught people to worship God… Jesus accepted the worship of Thomas (John 20:28).  Jesus made statements that clearly implied that He was God, and some of His hearers were so scandalized by these remarks that twice they wanted to stone Him for blasphemy (John 8:54-59; 10:30, 31).

Seven "I am" statements appear in John's Gospel, showing that Christ claimed to be the source of eternal life.  He said, "I am the bread of life" (6:35); "I am the light of the world" (8:12); "I am the gate" (10:7, 9); "I am the good shepherd" (10:11); "I am the resurrection and the life" (11:25); "I am the way and the truth and the life" (14:6); "I am the true vine" (15:1).  Leon Morris reminds us that "in each case the Greek form of 'I am' is emphatic."  Each saying includes the personal pronoun "I."  "There is no need to include the personal pronoun unless emphasis is required."  Morris concludes that to Jewish ears, the words I am "aroused associations of the divine."  These and other statements of Christ make us agree with J. T. Seamands' statement that the uniqueness of Christ "is not something we concede to Christ, but something He confronts us with."

-- Ajith Fernando in The Christian's Attitude Toward World Religions


Wednesday, March 4, 2015


The Christian faith is really not ours till we live by it, till it is the focus of our thoughts, words, and actions, till it goes with us into every place, sits uppermost on every occasion, and forms and governs our hopes and fears, our cares and pleasures.

-- adapted from William Law (1686-1761)


Tuesday, March 3, 2015


What is faith? Is it belief? Like flipping a light switch from the off to the on position, flipping our inner ideology from disbelief to belief, from no to yes?

… Faith, saving faith, is more than a flip of the switch. Faith requires more than intellectual assent to a proposition or set of statements about God. Instead, faith is an active trust, an orientation of our lives toward One we have met and find trustworthy. Faith is less about the details about what we believe, more about transformation of our very lives.

-- from Disciplines: A Book of Daily Devotions 2015


Monday, March 2, 2015


Jesus said, "I am the living bread that came down from heaven. Whoever eats of this bread will live forever; and the bread that I will give for the life of the world is My flesh.” (John 6:51 NRSV)

Jesus Christ is the living bread of life -- bread for sustenance, bread for daily use. He is not cake for special occasions.

-- Unknown