Tuesday, May 31, 2016


“Now there was a Pharisee named Nicodemus, a leader of the Jews.  He came to Jesus by night and said to him, ‘Rabbi, we know that you are a teacher who has come from God; for no one can do these signs that you do apart from the presence of God.’”  (John 3:1-2 NRSV)

Jesus doesn't hold back with Nicodemus. Following Jesus would require a commitment that would cost Nicodemus a great deal....In fact, it's true throughout all of Scripture.... Following Jesus isn't something you can do at night where no one notices. It's a twenty-four-hour-a-day commitment that will interfere with your life. That's not the small-print --  that's a guarantee.

-- Kyle Idleman in Not a Fan: Becoming a Completely Committed Follower of Jesus


Friday, May 27, 2016


“Looking at [the rich young ruler], Jesus felt a love for him and said to him, ‘One thing you lack: go and sell all you possess and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow Me.’ But at these words he was saddened, and he went away grieving, for he was one who owned much property.”  (Mark 10:21-22)

Some of you know you can’t find satisfaction in a box. You can’t buy happiness off a rack or order it off the internet or drive it off a lot.

“They exchange their Glory for an image of a bull, which eats grass.” (Psalm 106:20) That’s just not a good trade. Have you exchanged the glory of God for a car that can really handle the corners? Have you exchanged the glory of God for a job that He hasn’t called you to, but pays really well? Have you exchanged the glory of God for a house that has all the upgrades? These things are fine and good, but we have turned good things into God things. Fans of Jesus hold back because they’re afraid they will miss out. Followers of Jesus go all in and find that when they finally let go, they discover what they really wanted all along.

I wonder what happened to the rich young ruler. He walked away sad, but that’s all we know. I wonder if he went on to become a richer older ruler.”

-- Kyle Idelman in Not a Fan: Follower’s Journal


Thursday, May 26, 2016


“We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to our own way; and the LORD has laid on Him the iniquity of us all.”  (Isaiah 53:6 NIV)

Human beings have a predisposition, a tendency, to be drawn to do that which is not God’s will. Here I will mention the word sin. The Hebrew and Greek words most frequently translated by the English word sin mean to “stray from the path” or to “miss the mark.” The path is God’s path. The mark is God’s will for humankind. Human beings, even the best of us, have something within us that draws us to stray from the path. This is sometimes called the “sin nature.”

The story of Adam and Eve is illustrative and defining. Adam and Eve know the path God wants them to take -- “Don’t eat the fruit of the tree” -- but they find themselves drawn to examine the fruit. A serpent whispers to them, beckoning them to eat the fruit. They convince themselves that it is beautiful and that God did not really mean for them to miss out on such a lovely fruit. They rationalize sin and then eat of the fruit of the tree and paradise is lost.

What I love about this story is that it is so powerfully captures what happens in my life on nearly a daily basis. I hear the serpent beckoning me to do what I know I should not do or convincing me that it’s okay not to do what I should do. I have to decide each day, often many times in a day, whether I will follow God’s way or the path of the serpent. And when I choose the serpent’s path, inevitably some part of God’s paradise in my life is lost.

-- Adam Hamilton in Why?: Making Sense of God’s Will


Wednesday, May 25, 2016


“Though your sins are like scarlet, they can be white as snow.

Though your sins are deep red, they can be white as wool.”  (Isaiah 1:18)

Sometimes we try to deal with a mistake by covering it up with more mistakes, or by repressing it, or by justifying it. That’s like walking around with a pebble in our shoe -- it causes us so much frustration that our whole body compensates for its presence, when all we have to do is take it out and toss it away.

-- Max Lucado in Walking with the Savior


Friday, May 20, 2016


"It's morphing time."… This little word morph has a long history. It actually comes from one of the richest Greek words in the New Testament… Morphoo means "the inward and real formation of the essential nature of a person." It was the term used to describe the formation and growth of an embryo in a mother's body.

Paul used this word in his letter to the Galatians: "… until Christ is formed in you." (Galatians 4:19) He agonized until Christ should be born in those people, until they should express His character and goodness in their whole being. Paul said they -- like us -- are in a kind of spiritual gestation process. We are pregnant with possibilities of spiritual growth and moral beauty so great that they cannot be adequately described as anything less than the formation of Christ in our very lives.

-- John Ortberg in The Life You've Always Wanted


Thursday, May 19, 2016


The teachings of Christ reveal Him to be a realist in the finest meaning of that word. Nowhere in the Gospels do we find anything visionary or overoptimistic. He told His hearers the whole truth and let them make up their minds. He might grieve over the retreating form of an inquirer who could not face up to the truth, but He never ran after him to try to win him with rosy promises. Jesus would have men follow Him, knowing the cost, or He would let them go their ways.

-- A. W. Tozer (1897-1963), quoted by Edythe Draper in Draper's Book of Quotations for the Christian World (Wheaton: Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., 1992).


Wednesday, May 18, 2016


To the Infinite all finites are equal. There is no easy or difficult, big or small, possible or impossible. To an omnipotent God, there are no degrees of difficulty.

Anything is possible. Nothing is impossible.

When I need a miracle, I have a tendency to pray louder and longer. I sometimes even pray in King James English like a Shakespearean playwright. Or I pull out some of the Greek words I learned in seminary. But God is unimpressed with our theological words and oratorical cadence. He hears our heart more than our words. He responds to faith, not vocabulary.

-- Mark Batterson in The Grave Robber


Tuesday, May 17, 2016


C. S. Lewis was probably the most articulate defender of the Christian faith in the latter half of the twentieth century.  But he was an atheist when he set off on a weekend holiday during his university years.  He purchased a novel from the kiosk in the railroad station for reading during his trip.  It was a novel by George MacDonald, chosen haphazardly.  But as Lewis read, he later reported, his imagination was converted; the rest of him would follow later.  How strange that the Wind [-- the Sprit --] would blow through a novel one might buy at a railroad newsstand!

But that wasn't all.  Though Lewis had now acknowledged the existence of God, he did not believe in the primary essential of the Christian faith, that Jesus Christ is the Son of God.  Then one sunny morning, while being driven to Whipsnade on a motorcycle by a friend, Lewis set out not believing in Jesus Christ, but "when we reached the zoo I did."  It wasn't the product of thought, though Lewis was a scholar; nor was it, he says, a matter of great emotion.  "It was more like when a man after long sleep, still lying motionless in bed, becomes aware that he is now awake" (Surprised by Joy, 237).

-- J. Ellsworth Kalas in New Testament Stories from the Back Side


Friday, May 13, 2016


Most surveys of Christians point to an individual (sometimes two or three but generally one) who had the most influence upon their coming to know Jesus. And that person is very often a friend or family member. An unbelieving person can come to know our Lord through the observation of a Christian in their day-to-day activity that exalts and demonstrates their love for Jesus.

I am not referring to preaching. In fact, that is probably a turn off for most people. Rather, I am pointing to a way of life that quietly and assuredly broadcasts our connection to Jesus Christ. It is the simple things that exude from our life that draw attention to our Savior. Think of the fruit of the Spirit: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control [Galatians 5:22]… These attributes, injected into daily life, speak so loudly for Christ they can hardly be unnoticed… Many times a hard and cold heart melts before the honest warmth of a Christ-centered fellow traveler on this earth.

-- Pastor Gary Stone


Thursday, May 12, 2016


Jesus said to him, "I am the way, and the truth, and the life." (John 14:6a NRSV)

On this trail called life, all of us are following someone's directions. None of us are really blazing our own trail. We all follow a path that's been laid out for us by someone claiming to know the way. The question is: whose directions are you following? What path are you on?

-- Kyle Idleman in Not a Fan


Tuesday, May 10, 2016


Many Christians know a lot more about their faith than they live... What you know doesn't matter until it is what you show. We are challenged in our spiritual journeys to translate information to personal transformation. This is the real work of the faith requiring our personal wills, empowerment by the Holy Spirit, and the encouragement of fellow believers.

-- Larry Malone in UMMen Magazine, Spring 1999


Friday, May 6, 2016


You go nowhere by accident.

You may not be right where you want to be, but God can use you right there. In fact, God may have you right where He wants you. Whether you're taking a mission trip halfway around the world, or a trip to the local grocery store, God is setting up divine appointments along the way. The challenge, of course, is that they are harder to recognize closer to home because we operate on autopilot. Don't be in such a hurry to get where you're going that you miss the miracles along the way -- or the miracles that may be out of your way!

-- Mark Batterson in The Grave Robber


Thursday, May 5, 2016


"The law was added so that the trespass might increase. But where sin increased, grace increased all the more, so that just as sin reigned in death, so also grace might reign through righteousness to bring eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord." (Romans 5:20-21)

The law did not encourage obedience, rather it magnified disobedience. Law merely indicated the sickness; grace brought about the cure.

-- Philip Yancey in What's So Amazing About Grace?


Wednesday, May 4, 2016


Do not pray for easy lives; pray to be a stronger [follower of Christ].  Do not pray for tasks equal to your powers; pray for powers equal to your tasks.  Then the doing of your work shall be no miracle, but you yourself shall be a miracle.  Every day you shall wonder at yourself, at the richness of life which has come to you by the grace of God.

-- Phillips Brooks (1835-1893)


Tuesday, May 3, 2016


"I am crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but it is Christ who lives in me."  (Galatians 2:20)

Imagine yourself as a living house. God comes in to rebuild that house. At first, perhaps you can understand what He is doing. He is getting the drains right and stopping the leaks in the roof and so on: you know that those jobs needed doing and so you are not surprised. But presently he starts knocking the house about in a way that hurts abominably and does not seem to make sense. What on earth is He up to? The explanation is that He is building quite a different house from the one you thought of -- throwing out a new wing here, putting on an extra floor there, running up towers, making courtyards. You thought you were going to be made into a decent little cottage: but He is building a palace. He intends to come and live in it Himself!

-- C.S. Lewis in Counting the Cost