Monday, August 31, 2009


"You see that a person is justified by works and not by faith alone." (James 2:24 NRSV)

What James is protesting is not Pauline theology, but a perversion of it: acting as though God's Word is mere advice and then wending our own way. Few Christians would ever put it quite so boldly, but in effect that's the way many so-called believers live. They say, "We believe," but there's nothing to distinguish them from unbelievers. They live by their own lusts rather that by the will of God.

How sad that we would claim to be Jesus' followers and go our own way. (I recall Ambrose Bierce's bitter definition of Christians as those "who believe in the teachings of Jesus Christ insofar as they are not inconsistent with the life of sin.") It only confirms the world in its opinion that we Christians are up to no good and makes unbelievers by the score. How sad -- indeed, how tragic. Can that "faith" save us? Can it draw others to salvation? "No, indeed!" says James.

-- David Roper in Growing Slowly Wise


Friday, August 28, 2009


I know a man who lives in another state and claims to be very religious. Many people regard him as a man of great faith. He can quote scripture with the best of them. He can rattle off important dates in church history. He can recite the creeds eloquently. He can spout high-sounding theology in the air. But I'm not impressed, because I've seen how he treats his wife and children. I've seen how he treats his neighbors and those who work for him. He is harsh with people. He is tough and hostile and critical. He's judgmental, ill-tempered, and impatient with everyone around him.

All the outer religious fervor and activity mean nothing if we are cruel and hateful toward other people. When we show love, compassion, and kindness to others, that's when they really begin to see our faith. If you want to do good for Christ, then treat others with respect and love.

Does the way you speak bring others to Christ? And how about the way you treat other people? Does that bring them to Christ and Christian faith?

-- James W. Moore in When You're a Christian, the Whole World is from Missouri


Thursday, August 27, 2009


Carmen Renee Berry's recent book, The Unauthorized Guide to Choosing a Church, was "inspired by her odyssey from the deeply conservative church of her childhood into the world of seekers and cynics, and back again." She eventually found that the very reason she withdrew from the church -- her disappointment in church members who often failed to act as Christians -- was what drew her back.

She writes: "I had overlooked one essential factor -- that I am as finite and flawed as everyone else. … When a friend [died by] suicide, I realized I could become too cynical, too lost, and too alone. I needed a church, a community of believers. I needed to live in my faith and visit my doubts. Something happens there that simply doesn't when you are alone in prayer or on the Internet. As much as I hate to admit it, my faith is enhanced and enlarged when in relationship to other less-than-perfect human beings."

-- from USA Today (6-2-03)


Wednesday, August 26, 2009


[Jesus said,] "My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in Me through their message, that all of them may be one, Father, just as You are in Me and I am in You. May they also be in Us so that the world may believe that You have sent Me." -- John 17:20,21 (NIV)

We cannot expect the world to believe that the Father sent the Son, that Jesus' claims are true, and that Christianity is true, unless the world sees some reality of the oneness of true Christians.

-- Francis Schaeffer in The Church at the End of the Twentieth Century


Tuesday, August 25, 2009


For all the negative things we have to say to ourselves, God has a positive answer for it:

We say: “It’s impossible.”
God says: “All thing are possible.” (Luke 18:27)

We say: “I’m too tired.”
God says: “I will give you rest.” (Matthew 11:28-20)

We say: “Nobody really loves me.”
God says: “I love you.” (John 3:16, John 13:34)

We say: “I can’t go on.”
God says: “My grace is sufficient.” (II Corinthians 12:9, Psalm 91:15)

We say: “I can’t figure things out.”
God says: “I will direct your steps.” (Proverbs 3:5-6)

We say: “I can’t do it.”
God says: “You can do all things.” (Philippians 4:13)

We say: “It’s not worth it.”
God says: “It will be worth it.” (Romans 8:28)

We say: “I can’t forgive myself.”
God says: “I forgive you.” (I John 1:9, Romans 8:1)

We say: “I can’t manage.”
God says: “I will supply all your needs.” (Philippians 4:19)

We say: “I’m afraid.”
God says: “I have not given you a spirit of fear.” (II Timothy 1:7)

We say: “I’m always worried and frustrated.”
God says: “Cast all your cares on ME.” (I Peter 5:7)

We say: “I don’t have enough faith.”
God says: “I’ve given everyone a measure of faith.” (Romans 12:3)

We say: “I’m not smart enough.”
God says: “I give you wisdom.” (I Corinthians 1:30)

We say: “I feel all alone.”
God says: “I will never leave you or forsake you.” (Hebrews 13:5)

-- Source Unknown


Monday, August 24, 2009


It's safe to give ourselves up to God's love. He created us out of love and His love is never wearied or worn out by our sins. He is relentless in His pursuit of us and in His determination that one day we will be pure love, at whatever cost to us or to Himself.

"Good and upright is the Lord," the psalmist reminds us, "therefore He instructs sinners in His ways. He guides the humble in what is right and teaches them His way" (Psalm 25:8-9, italics added). The only requirement is humility and the patience to wait for His working. God is not known for haste, but He does mean business.

-- David Roper in Growing Slowly Wise


Friday, August 21, 2009


Who is the God you know?

Is the God you know full of grace and mercy and compassion? Is the God you know mysterious, surprising, captivating? Is He forever unchanging and yet always brand new? Does He inspire you with His big ideas about how your life can really count? Is He faithful?

In my experience, the people who find themselves taking walks across rooms [to share their faith] have first landed on the belief that the God they know is worth knowing! They have cultivated a heart posture that says, "Well, of course everyone I know would want this type of relationship with God! I'm absolutely sure you'd all love what I'm experiencing here…"

Friends, if you have been [blessed] by God's gift of new life -- as I thankfully have -- and if you want to live your life as an expression of love for the great God you know, then let's crank up our boldness meters and introduce as many people as possible to the God who wants desperately to enfold them in His grace!

-- Bill Hybels in Just Walk Across the Room


Thursday, August 20, 2009


"Wisdom is proved right by her actions." (Matthew 11:19b NIV)

Ideas are funny things... they do not work unless you do. The fact is, that to do anything in the world worth doing, we must not stand back shivering and thinking of the cold and danger, but jump in and scramble through as well as we can.

-- Robert Cushing


Wednesday, August 19, 2009


Joy is at the heart of God's plan for human beings. The reason for this is worth pondering awhile: Joy is at the heart of God Himself. We will never understand the significance of joy in human life until we understand its importance to God. I suspect that most of us seriously underestimate God's capacity for joy.

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


Tuesday, August 18, 2009


I have learned that we can't box God in. But we keep trying to put boundaries around our Lord. We insist that God follow ways that we approve of. No wonder, then, that when we come across places in the biblical story that don't appeal to us, we discard them with a philosophical wave of the hand. "God isn't like that," we say -- as if we are the ones chosen to determine the nature of God. Scholars often complain about anthropomorphism in religion; that is, that we create gods in our own image. Ironically, scholars themselves are often guilty of doing so, as they decide how much of the biblical portrayal they will choose to endorse. Unhappy with the divine image they find in the Scriptures, they opt for a divinity more in their own perceived image. But we're all like that in some measure.

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


Monday, August 17, 2009


"I will praise the Lord with my whole heart…" (Psalm 111:1a NKJV)

As you learn to thank God more and more, you will more and more see God in the little happenings of daily life, and increasingly see much about which to rejoice.

-- from God at Eventide


Friday, August 14, 2009


Have you ever heard a long-term Christian on their death bed share regret of their having faith in Jesus? No, probably not. Many people lay on that same bed and recognize they had every opportunity to serve God and regret some wrong turns, but never do you hear someone regretting choosing for Jesus!... We must decide whom we will serve and that decision must be personal and real.

-- Pastor Gary Stone


Thursday, August 13, 2009


We have no need to be afraid that God will do mean or destructive things. We do not need to be afraid that God's love is not fully trustworthy. Cold Comfort Farm, an English film, featured a sect called "the quivering brethren," who constantly shook from their fear of God. Their favorite hymn ended with the words, "The world will burn, but we will quiver."

When the Bible says that "the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom," it does not call us to be quivering brethren. One of C.S. Lewis's characters expresses fear at the prospect of meeting his Christ-figure, the great lion Aslan, and wonders if he is quite safe. "Safe? Who said anything about safe? Of course he's not safe. But he's good."

This fear involves reverence and awe, a healthy recognition of who God is.

-- John Ortberg in If You Want to Walk on Water, You've Got to Get Out of the Boat


Wednesday, August 12, 2009


NOTE: A number of subscribers wondered about yesterday's reference to C. S. Lewis' comment about a "poached egg." I thought it best to repeat the quote from Mere Christianity that gives some background to yesterday's quote. Thanks for your feedback.

A man who was merely a man and said the sort of things Jesus said would not be a great moral teacher. He would either be a lunatic -- on the level with a man who says he is a poached egg -- or he would be the devil of hell. You must take your choice. Either this was, and is, the Son of God, or else a madman or something worse. You can shut Him up for a fool or you can fall at His feet and call Him Lord and God. But let us not come with any patronizing nonsense about His being a great human teacher. He has not left that open to us.

-- C. S. Lewis in Mere Christianity


Tuesday, August 11, 2009


I remember it like it was yesterday. There I was, a young skeptic, sitting on the porch of an oceanfront hotel in the summer of 1993, reading C. S. Lewis' "Mere Christianity," which I'd picked up at a used bookstore down the street. God was working in my life, and Lewis, the scholar-turned-Christian, appealed to me. I should also say that reading Lewis was a lot easier than trying to have a discussion with the evangelists near our hotel who held placards with vivid pictures of sinners burning in the fires of Hell.

When I got to Lewis' famous "poached egg" section, goosebumps formed on my arms, and I remember thinking, "This Lewis guy may be on to something." (I'd later learn that many people before and since have had similar reactions to "Mere Christianity.") On that hot summer day, I somehow knew that Lewis was playing the role of a midwife, helping me give birth to a new faith in the risen Christ.

For all his brilliance, though, I recognized that Lewis was simply delivering a message. And it was the message -- that Jesus, the Son of God, died on the cross and rose again on the third day for my sins -- that transformed my life. Like many other children of the Enlightenment, I had been blind to both the supernatural and my sinful nature. But as I read Lewis, my doubts melted and my heart warmed to the possibility that maybe, just maybe, I needed to reevaluate this Jesus fellow and the claims He made.

-- Matt Donnelly, Christianity Online


Monday, August 10, 2009


King Solomon said that where the tree falls, there it lies. It is done, and we will not raise it up again. But it is what we do from this point forward that makes the difference.

Something that seemed so sure turns questionable and something for which we had little hope suddenly works out. Regardless of how things appear, they can be totally different -- and it is what we do from now on that will make or break us. Moving on does not mean we do not care; it means we will not let it keep us from living fully.

-- Toni Engstrom