Tuesday, June 30, 2015


"Your word is a lamp to guide my feet and a light for my path." (Psalm 119:105 NLT)

You meet a thousand times in life with those who, in dealing with any religious question, make at once their appeal to reason, and insist on… rejecting [what] lies beyond its sphere -- without, however, being able to render any clear account of the nature and proper limits of the knowledge thus derived,… I would invite you, therefore, to inquire seriously whether such persons are not really bowing down before an idol of the mind, which, while itself of very questionable worth, demands as much implicit faith from its worshipers as divine revelation itself.

-- Theodor Christlieb


Monday, June 29, 2015


The more you have to circle something in prayer, the more satisfying it is spiritually.  And, often, the more glory God gets.

Until recently, I wanted God to answer every prayer ASAP.  That is no longer my agenda.  I don’t want easy answers or quick answers because I have a tendency to mishandle the blessings that come too easily or too quickly.  I take the credit or take them for granted.  So now I pray that it will take long enough and be hard enough for God to receive all of the glory.  I’m not looking for the path of least resistance; I’m looking for the path of greatest glory.  And that requires high-degree-of-difficulty prayers and lots of circling…

When you live by faith, it often feels like you are risking your reputation.  You’re not.  You’re risking God’s reputation.  It’s not your faith that is on the line.  It’s His faithfulness.  Why?  Because God is the one who made the promise, and He is the only one who can keep it.  The battle doesn’t belong to you; it belongs to God.  And because the battle doesn’t belong to you, neither does the glory.  God answers prayer to bring glory to His name, the name that is above all names.

-- Mark Batterson in The Circle Maker


Friday, June 26, 2015


Before Louis XII of France came to power, he had been thrown into prison and kept in chains.  Later when he became king, he was urged by others to seek revenge on those who imprisoned him.  But he refused and instead prepared a scroll listing the name of all those who had perpetrated crimes against him.  Next to each person's name he placed a cross in red ink.  When the guilty people heard about this, they fled in fear for their lives.  Then the king explained that that cross he had drawn beside each name was not a sign of punishment but a pledge of forgiveness extended for the sake of the crucified Savior, who upon His cross forgave His enemies and prayed for them.


Kindness, tenderheartedness, and forgiveness don't come naturally; they are acquired supernaturally through the redeeming power of the Cross.  King Louis XII had been completely transformed.  Outwardly his clothes were upgraded from prison rages to palace robes, and inwardly his attitude toward his enemies changed from bitterness to blessing.  He was dressed for success.

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


Thursday, June 25, 2015


“For surely I know the plans I have for you,” says the Lord, “plans for welfare and not for harm, to give you a future with hope.” (Jeremiah 29:11 NRSV)

Peter Steinke’s book A Door Set Open: Grounding Change in Mission and Hope contrasts hopefulness and hopelessness. Hopefulness, according to Steinke, stirs imagination, expands horizons, influences events, energizes, and creates a sense of buoyancy. Hopelessness shrinks the radius of possibility, becomes apathetic, entraps, minimizes options, resigns to existing conditions, and loses heart. Steinke also writes that hopefulness remembers the future so that we will not remain trapped in the present arrangement of things (p. 41).

Since reading Steinke’s book, the phrase Remember the Future has lingered in my mind. At first, the words are disorienting. Remember points backward, future looks forward. Yet in every discussion, deliberation, discernment, and decision, a leader must give deep and conscientious consideration to the future -- to the future of the mission, to future contexts, to future generations, to a future with hope. Hope carries us across the threshold of “can’t.” We must always remember the future.

-- U.M. Bishop Robert Schnase


Wednesday, June 24, 2015


“The moment you began praying, a command was given.”  (Daniel 9:23)

This one revelation has the power to change your perspective on prayer.  It will inspire you to dream big, pray hard, and think long.  The answer is given long before it is revealed.  It’s not unlike the Jericho miracle when God said He had already given them the city, past tense.  Do you realize that the victory has already been won?  We’re still waiting for its future tense revelation, but the victory has already been won by means of the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.  It is finished.  This isn’t just when God made good on grace; it is when God made good on every promise.  Every single one is yes in Christ.  Past tense.  Present tense.  Future tense.  The full revelation won’t happen until His return, the return that Daniel prophesied, but the victory has already been won, once and for all, for all time.

-- Mark Batterson in The Circle Maker


Tuesday, June 23, 2015


"Have I not commanded you?  Be strong and of good courage; do not be afraid, nor be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go." (Joshua 1:9)

No fear haunts more than the fear of the unknown.  Whether it be facing a new job or relocating our home or the dread we feel before surgery or awaiting results of medical tests, it stalks our path all our days. …

The life of the Christian is always uncertain.  There are no guarantees.  Paul tells the Ephesian elders at a time of change in his life, "And now, compelled by the Spirit, I am going to Jerusalem, not knowing what will happen to me there" (Acts 20:22).  Going and Not Knowing seems to be the paradigm of the life of faith.  But in the unknown places, God is there before you.

-- Richard L. Morgan in I Never Found That Rocking Chair


Monday, June 22, 2015


"Surely God is my salvation; I will trust and not be afraid,

The Lord, the Lord, is my strength and my song;
He has become my salvation." (Isaiah 12:2 NIV)

You've heard Lord Acton's famous phrase, "Power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely." I can name a four-letter word that corrupts more than power. The word is FEAR. Fear corrupts the world, fear corrupts the church, more than power does. Granted, it is not easy to make sense of the "moronific inferno" of contemporary North American culture, to quote Saul Bellow; but whatever tack one takes, we are living in a culture of fear. Our faith communities are especially suffering from fear fever, and are desperately looking for health insurance protection rather than prevention and cure. The two most important words for every one of us to confront are these words: FEAR and TRUST.

-- Leonard Sweet in A Cup of Coffee at the SoulCafe


Friday, June 19, 2015


"For this command is a lamp, this teaching is a light, and correction and instruction are the way to life,…" (Proverbs 6:23 NIV)

I believe in starting the day in God’s Word.  It doesn’t just prime our minds; it also primes our hearts.  It doesn’t just prime us spiritually; it also primes us emotionally and relationally.  When we read the words that the Holy Spirit inspired, it tunes us to His voice and primes us for His promptings.

-- Mark Batterson in The Circle Maker


Thursday, June 18, 2015


Sometimes we don't have much of a sense for God's presence in our lives, but there's no mystery to it at all.  The truth is that our desire for God can be pretty selective.  Sometimes we don't want God to be around.

Dallas Willard writes about a two-and-a-half-year-old girl in the backyard who one day discovered the secret to making mud (which she called "warm chocolate").  Her grandmother had been reading and was facing away from the action, but after cleaning up what was to her a mess, she told little Larissa not to make any more chocolate and turned her chair around so as to be facing her granddaughter.

The little girl soon resumed her "warm chocolate" routine, with one request posed as sweetly as a two-and-a-half-year-old can make it: "Don't look at me, Nana.  Okay?"

Nana (being a little codependent) of course agreed.

Larissa continued to manufacture warm chocolate.  Three times she said, as she continued her work, "Don't look at me, Nana, Okay?"

Then Willard writes, "Thus the tender soul of a little child shows us how necessary it is to us that we be unobserved in our wrong."

Any time we choose to do wrong or to withhold doing right, we choose hiddenness as well.  It may be that out of all the prayers that are ever spoken, the most common one -- the quietest one, the one that we least acknowledge making -- is simply this: Don't look at me, God.

-- John Ortberg in God Is Closer Than You Think


Wednesday, June 17, 2015


God showed the prophet Ezekiel a vision of languishing: a valley full of dry bones.  It was the image of a failure to thrive.  God asked “Ezekiel, “Can these bones live?” and Ezekiel answered, “You alone know.”  God did know, and he made them come alive.

I know a man named Tim who was an addict, lost his family, lost everything, found God, gave up his addiction, and got his life back again.  I know a man named Peter who was a tormented slave to sexual impulses, and God got ahold of him and that changed.  I know a woman who hated confrontation so badly she once drove on an extended road trip with her best friend for three days in silence to avoid confrontation.  Today she confronts recreationally.

God wants you to grow!  He created the very idea of growth.  The Talmud says that every blade of grass has an angel bending over it, whispering, “Grow, grow,” Paul said that in Christ the whole redeemed community “grows and builds itself up in love.”

Your flourishing is never just about you.  It is a “so that” kind of condition.  God designed you to flourish “so that” you could be part of His redemptive project in ways that you otherwise could not.  He wants you to flourish “so that” people can be encouraged, gardens can be planted, music can be written, sick people can be helped, or companies can thrive in ways they otherwise would not.  When you fail to become the person God designed, all the rest of us miss out on the gift you were made to give.

-- John Ortberg in The Me I Want to Be


Tuesday, June 16, 2015


"…Choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve… But as for me and my household, we will serve the LORD."  (Joshua 24:15)

What are your choices? Whom are your choices for? Not just for yourself. Choose now whom you will serve, and that choice is going to affect the next generation, and the next generation, and the next. Choice never affects just one person alone. It goes on and on and the effect goes out into geography and history. You are part of history and your choices become part of history.

-- Edith Schaeffer


Monday, June 15, 2015


"In [Christ] we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of His grace that He lavished on us. With all wisdom and insight [God] has made known to us the mystery of His will, according to His good pleasure that He set forth in Christ, as a plan for the fullness of time, to gather up all things in Him, things in heaven and things on earth." (Ephesians 1:7-10 NRSV)

I'm a mystery buff, and I'm crazy about Sherlock Holmes books, movies, and trivia.  I guess the attraction lies in trying to detect all the clues Holmes considered so obvious.  As he would say to his sidekick, "It's elementary, my dear Watson."  Because I love mysteries, I'm intrigued by the clues God has given us about the great mystery of His will.  I've become a detective in the Word of God, where I find solutions to the mysteries of the universe.

[We can unlock] some of the mysteries found in God's Word: God's plan for redemption through Christ, His mysterious timetable for the gathering of His people into one, and His rich spiritual inheritance to all believers.  These are significant discoveries for all Christians.  But the greatest mystery to ponder is not what Christ has done but why.  Why would Jesus pay for the penalty of my sin, with His precious blood?  Because "Jesus loves me, this I know."  It's elementary, my dear.

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


Friday, June 12, 2015


"You made all the delicate, inner parts of my body and knit me together in my mother’s womb. Thank You for making me so wonderfully complex! Your workmanship is marvelous -- how well I know it. You watched me as I was being formed in utter seclusion, as I was woven together in the dark of the womb." (Psalm 139:13-15 NLT)

Twenty-eight thousand pounds at birth! That's what Dr. Bernard Nathanson estimates we would weigh if we continued to grow throughout gestation at the rate we grow in the first two weeks of life. That's how steep the trajectory of cell division is.

Add to this biological tumult the unimaginably intricate and precise processes of organization that take place during this time, and the picture is breathtaking. Everything from the ability to hit a baseball to the swirl of cowlicks to the sound of a person's laugh are fixed into place. In magnitude, the change is comparable to a tsunami; in complexity, to the transformation of winter into spring. The first two weeks of life may be the most important.

But the real glory and mystery of it all is that it takes place on a scale that is microscopic. The grandest, most awesome stage of human life is, for all practical purposes, invisible.

-- Ben Patterson


Thursday, June 11, 2015


Scott Adams, creator of the popular "Dilbert" cartoon, tells this story about his beginnings as a cartoonist:

You don't have to be a "person of influence" to be influential. In fact, the most influential people in my life probably are not even aware of the things they've taught me.

When I was trying to become a syndicated cartoonist, I sent my portfolio to one cartoon editor after another -- and received one rejection after another. One editor even called and suggested that I take art classes. Then Sarah Gillespie, an editor at United Media and one of the real experts in the field, called to offer me a contract. At first, I didn't believe her. I asked if I'd have to change my style, get a partner -- or learn how to draw. But she believed I was already good enough to be a nationally syndicated cartoonist. Her confidence in me completely changed my frame of reference and altered how I thought about my own abilities. This may sound bizarre, but from the minute I got off the phone with her, I could draw better. You can see a marked improvement in the quality of the cartoons I drew after that conversation.

-- James M. Kouzes and Barry Posner in Encouraging The Heart


Wednesday, June 10, 2015


One of the blessings of living in daily fellowship with God is developing a settled heart. You realize your salvation is accomplished and complete. You recognize how many things are beyond your control. And you begin to understand that trusting Him is a lot more effective than fretting and losing sleep. He takes care of you either way. So why waste the nervous energy?

Inner peace is not a formula. It's not treating God like a good-luck charm. It's about spending time reading His Word. Praying when you could be listening to sports radio. Talking to Him instead of talking to yourself. Relationship, not ritual. Try it consistently for a month, and you'll look back a few weeks from now amazed at the amount of perspective and security He's given you. You'll be more like a [person] who has "no fear of bad news," whose "heart is steadfast, trusting in the Lord" (Psalm 112:7).

-- Joe Gibbs in his blog Game Plan for Life: Two-Minute Drills, 12/10/12


Tuesday, June 9, 2015


The more God blesses you, the harder it is to keep that blessing from becoming an idol in your life. Money may be the best example. The more money you make, the harder it is to trust Almighty God and the easier it is to trust the Almighty Dollar. Isn't it ironic that [in the U.S.] "In God We Trust" is printed on the very thing we find most difficult to trust God with? If you are financially blessed, it is a gift from God. But God doesn't financially bless us so we can use it selfishly to acquire more things. He blesses us more so we can be more of a blessing.

-- Mark Batterson in All In


Friday, June 5, 2015


If the gift ever becomes more important than the Gift Giver, then the very thing God gave you to serve His purposes is undermining His plan for your life. God is no longer the End All and Be All. And when God becomes the means to some other end, it's the beginning of the end spiritually because you have inverted the gospel.

God-given gifts are wonderful things and dangerous things. One of my recurrent prayers is this: 'Lord, don't let my gifts take me farther than my character can sustain me.' As we cultivate the gifts God has given us, we can begin to rely on those gifts instead of relying on God. That's when our greatest strength becomes our greatest weakness.

-- Mark Batterson in All In


Thursday, June 4, 2015


God has set this whole thing up so that we cannot truly know who we are and how we are to operate except by coming to Him and hearing it straight from Him.  It is imperative for us to fellowship with the Father to understand Him, to understand ourselves, and to comprehend His plan for us.  Without intimacy with Him, we are clueless!

-- Tommy Tenney in The Heart of A God Chaser


Wednesday, June 3, 2015


Millions call themselves by His name, it is true, and pay some token homage to Him, but a simple test will show how little He is really honored among them. Let the average man be put to the proof on the question of who or what is ABOVE, and his true position will be exposed. Let him be forced into making a choice between God and money, between God and men, between God and personal ambition, God and self, God and human love, and God will take second place every time. Those other things will be exalted above. However the man may protest, the proof is in the choice he makes day after day throughout his life.

-- A. W. Tozer


Tuesday, June 2, 2015


In God there is no hunger that needs to be filled, only plenteousness that desires to give…. God who needs nothing, loves into existence wholly superfluous creatures in order that He may love and perfect them.

-- C. S. Lewis in The Four Loves


Monday, June 1, 2015


"Amazing love!  How can it be, that Thou, my God, shouldst die for me!"  This great hymn by Charles Wesley conveys the wonder of God's desire to have fellowship with us.  The God who created us has not abandoned us to grope blindly through life.  He has provided, at great expense, all that we need for life and Godliness.  God is our personal Creator, and He wants to be our Shepherd who protects and provides for us.  He has proclaimed His love for us, and He waits only for our response. 


-- Cynthia Heald in Intimacy with God