Friday, August 20, 2010


"I appeal to you therefore, brothers and sisters, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your minds, so that you may discern what is the will of God -- what is good and acceptable and perfect." (Romans 12:1-2 NRSV)

In Christ, obedience is not an obligation to a never-ending set of rules but a joyful service in love to a Person… Just as our hearts have been changed… so our behavior will be "transformed" …

Christians think differently if their minds are renewed. Faith not only leads to life; it is life. Love is better than hate; integrity is better than lies; self-giving is better than greed. The power to live the godly life comes from Christ's cross and resurrection and our participation in it. It comes from the reign of God, hurling itself toward us. It comes from the Spirit of Jesus Christ in our hearts. People who are being transformed can see, can hear, can "discern what is the will of God".

-- Richard and Julia Wilke in DISCIPLE: Remember Who You Are


Thursday, August 19, 2010


A large portion of disciples, it seems, are being attracted to Jesus because of what He can do for them and they appear to have little interest in considering what they should do for Him. Many of today’s Christians appear to follow Christ for the same reason they frequent their favorite restaurant; they both give them what they want. They love Jesus the same way they love the restaurant.

-- Selwyn Hughes, speaker and author


Wednesday, August 18, 2010


Trust Him when dark doubts assail you,
Trust Him when your faith is small,
Trust Him when simply to trust Him
Is the hardest thing of all.

-- Poem found in Rosalind Russell's prayer book after her death in 1976


Tuesday, August 17, 2010


There is no currency in this world that passes at such a premium anywhere as good Christian character… The time has gone by when the young man or the young woman in the United States has to apologize for being a follower of Christ… No cause but one could have brought together so many people, and that is the cause of our Master.

-- William McKinley, 25th President of the United States, in a speech before the Christian Endeavor's International Convention in Cleveland, Ohio on July 14, 1894


Monday, August 16, 2010


The only thing that can prevent God's power from changing our lives is the power of our human will. God will influence us with His Spirit; He will encourage us through the words of other Christians; He will hear the prayers of our loved ones. But God will not take over the leadership of our lives unless we invite Him to. Once He does, we are amazed at His power and overwhelmed by His love.

-- Stephen Arterburn in The Power Book


Friday, August 13, 2010


"Jesus said, 'Follow Me.' " (Matthew 4:19, 16:24; Mark 1:17, 10:21; Luke 5:27, 18:22; John 1:43, 21:19)

Ben Patterson tells of a common experience of westerners, particularly missionaries, traveling through jungle sections of the Amazon. They will ask members of a village to give them directions to where they want to go. "I have a compass, a map, and some coordinates."

The villager knows precisely the directions to get them there, but he offers to take them himself.

"No, that's okay. I don't want a guide. I just want directions."

"That's no good. I must take you there."

"But I have a map right here. And I have a compass. And the coordinates."

"It does not work that way. I can get you there, but I must take you myself. You must follow me."

We prefer directions, principles, steps, keys. We prefer these things because they leave us in control. If I'm holding the map, I'm still in charge of the trip. I can go where I want to go. If I have a guide, I must trust. I must follow. I must relinquish control.

God is not much on maps and compasses and coordinates. Life just doesn't work that way. We don't need directions. We need a Guide.

-- John Ortberg in Faith & Doubt


Thursday, August 12, 2010


Bernard [of Clairvaux] did not stop with love for God or Christ, he insisted also that the Christian must love his neighbors, including even his enemies. Not necessarily that he must feel affection for them -- that is not always possible in this life, though it will be in heaven -- but that he must treat them as love dictates, doing always for others what he would that they should do for him.

-- A. C. McGiffert in A History of Christian Thought


Wednesday, August 11, 2010


Is not the popular idea of Christianity simply this, that Jesus Christ was a great moral teacher and that, if only we took His advice, we might be able to establish a better social order and avoid another war? Now, mind you, that is quite true; but it tells you much less than the whole truth about Christianity, and it has no practical importance at all. It is quite true that, if we took Christ's advice, we should soon be living in a happier world. You need not even go as far as Christ. If we did all that... Confucius told us, we should get on a great deal better than we do. And so what?... If Christianity only means one more bit of good advice, then Christianity is of no importance. There has been no lack of good advice for the last four thousand years. A bit more makes no difference.

-- C. S. Lewis in Mere Christianity


Tuesday, August 10, 2010


The power of God is the worship He inspires. That religion is strong which in its ritual and its modes of thought evokes an apprehension of the commanding vision. The worship of God is not a rule of safety: it is an adventure of the spirit, a flight after the unattainable. The death of religion comes with the repression of the high hope of adventure.

-- Alfred North Whitehead in Science and the Modern World [1926]


Monday, August 9, 2010


John Belushi and Dan Ackroyd once starred in a movie called "The Blues Brothers". They played a couple of ex-convict-wanna-be musicians who were trying to raise money for an orphanage. Anytime they were asked about their work, they had a standard response: "We're on a mission from God." They always said it as if they believed it. The very idea that two inept, unworthy human beings could be on a mission from God was, of course, the central joke of the whole story.

Here is the story of your life: You are on a mission from God.

Either that is true, or you have no purpose, no mission at all. Jesus put it like this: "You are the salt of the earth. You are the light of the world." Others have come before you. Others will come after you. But this is your day. If God's kingdom is to manifest itself right now, it will have to be through you. God Himself will not come to take your place. You are on a mission from God.

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


Thursday, August 5, 2010


How deeply both faith and doubt are part of my life. We often think of them as opposites. Many books argue for one or the other. But while in some respects they are enemies, in other ways they are surprisingly alike: both are concerned with ultimate issues; both pop up unasked for at unexpected moments; both are necessary.

I must have truth. Therefore I doubt. If I did not doubt, I'd be just another one of those suckers P. T. Barnum was so grateful get born once a minute; I'd fall for every carnival sideshow delusion that comes along. And I scorn delusion.

I must have hope. Therefore I believe. If I did not believe, I would cave in to despair. And I dread despair.

In addition to believing and doubting, there is choosing. I must decide which road I will follow. I must place my bet.

-- John Ortberg in Faith & Doubt


Wednesday, August 4, 2010


Some religion is "worthless," to use James' precise word, in that it has no effect on us at all. It leaves us unchanged. The one who practices that religion "deceives himself" (a phrase that takes us back to verse 22: "Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves"). We think we're doing well, but we're not.

This is a religion that comes of prattling about the Word but not doing it. The Word tries to act upon us, but we will not humbly receive it and so it makes no imprint upon our souls. That religion, says James, is illusory and fanciful because it leaves us unchanged.

Pure religion shows itself in quiet, spontaneous acts of love -- looking after "orphans and widows in their distress," caring for the hapless and helpless, the mournful, the friendless, the forsaken, the ragamuffins, "the wretched of the earth." It does what most people are unwilling to do. It "exaggerates what the world neglects," says G.K. Chesterton.

God is on the side of the widow and orphan, perhaps because most people are not: "Leave your orphans [with Me]," He says, "I will protect their lives. Your widows too can trust in Me" (Jeremiah 49:11). He is "a father to the fatherless, a defender of widows…" (Psalm 68:5). We are most like God when we care for those He cares for.

-- David Roper in Growing Slowly Wise


Tuesday, August 3, 2010


If one advances confidently in the direction of his dreams, and endeavors to live the life which he has imagined, he will meet with a success unexpected in common hours.

-- Henry David Thoreau


Monday, August 2, 2010


The grace of our loving heavenly Father has filled our lives, giving us a solid hope. Now we have the privilege of sharing that grace to those around us. As grace-filled men and women relate to each other, they communicate in tangible ways the value placed on each other's lives. And we bear witness that our lives are significant to another person.

We live in a throwaway culture. Sadly many people move through numerous throwaway relationships. The beauty of someone who prizes and protects relationships is obvious. Our challenge is to be daily renewed and refreshed in our Lord's grace and then pass it on to others.

-- Dr. Norm Wakefield & Jody Brolsma in Men Are from Israel, Women Are from Moab