Monday, October 31, 2011


Salvation is always granted on God's terms, and it reflects the nature of God Himself. The most identifiable characteristic of salvation is the quality of our love, first toward God and then toward His people. Without a love relationship on both levels, vertically and horizontally, we have not experienced God's salvation. If we get this basic truth wrong, we are in desperate trouble.

God's strategy to touch this world is vitally linked with these two basic relationships. When Jesus was asked about the greatest commandment, He said in Matthew 22:37--40, "'You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.' This is the great and foremost commandment. The second is like it, 'You shall love your neighbor as yourself.' On these two commandments depend the whole Law and the Prophets."

-- Henry Blackaby and Melvin D. Blackaby in Experiencing God Together: God's Plan to Touch Your World


Friday, October 28, 2011


Jesus said, "I give you a new commandment, that you love one another. Just as I have loved you, you also should love one another. By this everyone will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another." (John 13:14-35)

To the loved, a word of affection is a morsel, but to the love-starved, a word of affection can be a feast.

-- Max Lucado


Thursday, October 27, 2011


Who is this Jesus? What is His mission and message? What is it to follow? To walk in His footprints? To hear ourselves called beloved daughters and sons? To know ourselves as children of God? To be sent? Missioned? These are the questions laid before us…

The invitation is clear. We must wrestle with having heard ourselves called, like Peter; like Paul; like Mary of Magdala. Like generations of Christians who have entered deeply enough into the drama of the Scriptures to have allowed the threads of their lives to be incorporated into the fabric of the divine mystery... We are called to be both more than we ordinarily are and what we are; in fact, [we are] created to be holy, saints.

Will we follow? What will that following look like?

-- Wendy M. Wright in The Time Between


Wednesday, October 26, 2011


By definition, a disciple is a follower, one who accepts and assists in spreading the teachings of a Master. A Christian disciple is a person who accepts and assists in the spreading of the Good News of Jesus Christ. Christian discipleship is the process by which disciples grow in faith and are equipped by the Holy Spirit for ministry. This process requires believers to respond to the Holy Spirit’s prompting to examine their thoughts, words and actions and compare them with the Word of God. This requires that we read, study and apply biblical teachings; pray regularly; participate in worship and fellowship with other believers; and reach out in witness and mission sharing the love of Christ in word and deed.

-- from


Tuesday, October 25, 2011


"Blessed be Your glorious name, and may it be exalted above all blessing and praise. You alone are the Lord. You made the heavens, even the highest heavens, and all their starry host, the earth and all that is on it the seas and all that is in them. You give life to everything, and the multitudes of heaven worship You." (Nehemiah 9:5b–6 NIV)
During the French Revolution many leaders were determined to do away with Christianity forever. One lovely, clear night an atheist boastfully proclaimed his satanic doctrine to a poor countryman. "Everything," he ranted, "will be abolished--churches, Bibles, clergymen. Yes, even the word 'God' itself! We shall remove everything that speaks of religion." The listener gave a quiet chuckle. "Why do you laugh?" demanded the other. The peasant pointed to the stars and replied, "I was just wondering how you and your crew would manage to get them down!"

-- James R. Davis


Monday, October 24, 2011


"Christianity is as much caught as it is taught." ...The importance of solid teaching about the basics of the faith cannot be denied. But... some of the most significant spiritual lessons I have learned through the years have been "picked up" observing others share real life experiences in a small Bible study or prayer group, a Sunday school class, or in one-on-one conversation. "If that's occurring in someone else's life... then, it could happen in my life too!" is a frequent thought pattern I experience in such situations. Spending time with other believers in formal and informal settings has "spurred me on toward love and good deeds," to borrow a phrase from Hebrews 10:24. Because of this I want to enthusiastically echo the verse that follows, "Let us not give up meeting together... but let us encourage one another..." (Hebrews 10:25). I believe this encouragement or prodding process is usually more productive in smaller (instead of larger) groups... Make certain you're a part of one!
-- Steve Bell in The Chapel Newsletter


Friday, October 21, 2011


The city dump caught the attention of a young black woman named Mary McLeod Bethune in 1904. Mary didn't see just a dump, she saw a way to fulfill her dream that, with God's help, she could teach illiterate black women to read and write. She shared her dream, and others came alongside her to help build a shack on the desolate place. They built desks from wooden crates and used blackberry juice for ink.

If you wander among the tall buildings, classrooms, and dormitories of [the United Methodist related] Bethune-Cookman University, you will find a headstone that commemorates where Mrs. Bethune's body was laid to rest at the age of seventy-nine. The inscription on the stone tells her story: "She has given her best so that others might live a more abundant life."

It takes a unique personality to see ruins and dream of restoration… God saw our desolate lives and was delighted to send our Deliverer to restore our souls. He gave His Son so that we, who were dead, might live.

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


Thursday, October 20, 2011


You need discipline, you need to be committed, you need to work hard, and you always need to be ready. You've got to do all those things both as a Christian and as an athlete.

-- Mark Brunell, in Sports Spectrum


Wednesday, October 19, 2011


God calls the church to "aqua-esce" in God's mission -- to leave the harbor, lift anchor, and launch out into the joy and risk of the deep sea. Our mission is not to hug harbors, or drop anchors where it is safe, or cheer as other boats sail into the deep. The place for the church is on the high seas where it is turbulent and dangerous, where storms gather with their fiercest intensity. In early Christian art, the church was portrayed as a boat driven upon a perilous sea.

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


Tuesday, October 18, 2011


He was looking forward to this moment all week long. After 6 days of labor, it finally arrived - Visiting Day! The man with the keys arrived to swing open the large, heavy doors. The cold, gray hall springs to life in the warm glow of light. He could hardly control his emotions. The families began to arrive. He peers from the corner of the room longing for the first glimpse of his loved ones.

He lives for the weekends. He lives for these visits. He watches intently as the cars arrive. He loves them so and would do anything for them. They embrace, eat a light lunch and reminisce about how things used to be. At one point, they break into singing, with interruptions of laughter and applause.

But all too soon it is over. A tear comes to his eyes as they depart. Then the man with the keys closes the heavy doors. He hears the key turn in the lock marking the end of a special day. There he stands, alone again. He knows that most of his visitors will not contact him again until next week.

The last car pulls away from the parking lot... Jesus retreats into loneliness as He waits until next Sunday - Visiting Day.

-- Author Unknown

(If you know the source of this quote, please let us know.)


Monday, October 17, 2011


How powerful words are when they speak to our heart! When they strengthen us in our weakness. When they impart peace amid turmoil. When they build us up when others have been tearing us down. When they refresh our weary spirit…

The New Testament… urges us to be men and women who speak grace-filled words. In Ephesians 4:29 we read, "Let no unwholesome word proceed from your mouth, but only such a word as is good for edification according to the need of the moment, that it may give grace to those who hear" (NASB). This is a powerful thought that the apostle Paul is urging on his hearers. Can you hear him saying, "Your words can communicate grace. They can be God's words to someone else"?

It's true. Our words can build others up… Our hearers can feel strengthened, refreshed or affirmed by our words. As men and women who are empowered and led by God's Spirit, our conversations can literally be a means whereby the Spirit communicates His grace to the one who is listening to us. That's why the next statement Paul makes is "And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God" (Ephesians 4:30). Do you see what he's driving at? When we are not speaking to others in a grace-full manner, we deny God's Spirit the opportunity to encourage or strengthen someone else.

We think that's a powerful truth. We think it's exciting to know that we can be our Lord's ambassador of good news to those around us.

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


Friday, October 14, 2011


It is said that when Robert Fulton was building his steam engine, his wife came to him in his workshop and said, "You'll never get that thing to work and even if you do you'll never be able to get it out." Well, miraculously, according to his wife, he got it to work.

The engine sat in his front yard as he worked to fit it on a boat. His wife came to him and said, "I don't know why you are spending so much time on that thing, you'll never get it to the river." Well, miraculously, according to his wife, he got the steam engine attached to a boat and got it down to the river.

His wife came down to the river and said, "I don't know why you are wasting your time, you'll never get that thing to start." Well, miraculously, it did start and Fulton began moving down the river. He was happy on two accounts: one, his invention worked, and, two, he left his wife back on the dock. But just then, he heard a voice calling out from the bank. It was his wife running after him saying, "You'll never get that thing stopped. You never will."

-- Rick Ezell in Strengthening the Pastor's Soul


Thursday, October 13, 2011


"God also bound Himself with an oath, so that those who received the promise could be perfectly sure that He would never change His mind. So God has given us both His promise and His oath. These two things are unchangeable because it is impossible for God to lie. Therefore, we who have fled to Him for refuge can take new courage, for we can hold on to His promise with confidence." (Hebrews 6:17-18, NLT)

The perfect and the absolute and the infinite God cannot become anything else but what He is ….

If you remember that, it will help you in the hour of trial. It will help you at the time of death, in the resurrection and in the world to come, to know that all that God ever was, God still is. All that God was and is, God ever will be. His nature and attributes are eternally unchanging. I have preached about the uncreated selfhood of God; I'll never have to change or edit it in any way… I go back over some of my old sermons and articles, and I wonder why I wrote them like that. I could improve them now. But I can't improve on the statement that God is always the same -- He is self-sufficient, self-existent, eternal, omnipresent and immutable. There would be no reason to change that because God changes not. His nature, His attributes, are eternally unchanging.

-- A.W. Tozor in Tozer on the Almighty God


Wednesday, October 12, 2011


The nature of mankind is to blame someone or something for our problems. If you don't believe that just go back and read the story of Adam and Eve. They were both well engaged in "finger pointing" efforts to take away their own personal responsibility. We grow up with all kinds of expectations of what adult life will be like and the thing that keeps smacking us in the forehead is the need for accepting responsibilities in our life. We can try and avoid it or we can accept it as from God but in either case we cannot escape the fact that we are responsible for our own behavior. Sooner or later it comes back home to roost.

-- Pastor Gary Stone


Tuesday, October 11, 2011


"Rejoice with those who rejoice, and weep with those who weep." -- Romans 12:15

A four-year-old child lived next door to an elderly gentleman who had recently lost his wife. Upon seeing the man cry, the little boy went into the old gentleman's yard, climbed onto his lap, and just sat there. When his mother asked him what he had said to the neighbor, the little boy said, "Nothing, I just helped him cry."

-- Unknown


Monday, October 10, 2011


The day started out rotten. I overslept and was late for work. Everything that happened at the office contributed to my nervous frenzy. By the time I reached the bus stop for my homeward trip, my stomach was one big knot.

As usual, the bus was late -- and jammed. I had to stand in the aisle. As the lurching vehicle pulled me in all directions, my gloom deepened.

Then I heard a deep voice from up front boom, "Beautiful day, isn't it?" Because of the crowd I could not see the man, but I could hear him as he continued to comment on the fall colors, calling attention to each approaching landmark. This church. That park. This cemetery. That firehouse. Soon all the passengers were gazing out the windows. The man's enthusiasm was so contagious I found myself smiling for the first time that day.

We reached my stop. Maneuvering toward the door, I got a look at our "guide": a plump figure with a black beard, wearing dark sunglasses and carrying a thin white cane. Incredible! He was blind!

I slipped off the bus and, suddenly, all my built-up tensions drained away. God in His wisdom had sent a blind man to help me see -- see that, though there are times when things go wrong, when all seems dark and dreary, it is still a beautiful world. Humming a tune, I raced up the steps to my apartment. I couldn't wait to greet my husband with "Beautiful day, isn't it?"

-- Unknown, quoted by Barbara Johnson in So, Stick a Geranium in Your Hat and Be Happy!


Friday, October 7, 2011


"A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; even as I have loved you, that you also love one another. By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another." (John 13:34--35)

Someone once said that the church is a lot like Noah's ark. If it were not for the storm on the outside, one could hardly stand the smell on the inside. The church is not perfect. That should not come as a surprise to anyone. The church is, after all, a very human institution as well as a divine instrument… Jesus gave His disciples a new commandment. He insisted that they love one another, and He explained His commandment in strategic terms. The disciples should love one another so that others would find their witness credible. The disciples' love would cause people to know that these were true disciples of Jesus. How the disciples live their love toward one another would undergird their credibility to the others they hoped to reach with the gospel of Jesus.

-- Harold K. Bates in Witness for Christ


Thursday, October 6, 2011


Revelation is understood as an experience of light. Light is God's self-communication. The difference between "God is nowhere" and "God is now here" is but the addition of a span, a space of light. Creation itself was the first self-revelation of God.

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


Wednesday, October 5, 2011


We live in an age where "Christian leaders" can quite simply be created with the help of wealth and technology. Men and women, in the name of Christ, are wielding great influence over the lives of hundreds of thousands of believers.

And yet their own lives may be in moral shambles.

A true Christian leader is one whose public moral influence is simply an extension of a deeply nurtured and mature innermost private life in Christ.

The rapid pace of modern society often forces us to react on the spot out of who we already are. To meet those demands we must rely on the much deeper resource of the Spirit. How we are guided becomes a reflection of our core values.

We need a fresh call to the holiness and integrity of the Christian way.

-- Gordon Aeschliman in Leadership in the 21st Century


Tuesday, October 4, 2011


When we let go of our usual categories and the productivity-oriented measuring systems so common in our culture, we can be surprised by the abilities that people with developmental disabilities often reveal - their keen sensitivity to interpersonal situations, the depth of their empathy, their willingness to overlook and to forgive, their faithfulness, their acceptance of difference, their originality, their capacity to be present and to cut through pretense, their resilience, the creativity of what they produce, and their gift for celebration.
-- From More Than Inclusion, L'Arche Canada, 2005


Monday, October 3, 2011


Max DePree said that the first task of a leader is to define reality. God, being the ultimate Leader, takes that task quite seriously. And worship fundamentally is about the definition of reality.

Now, in worship I use every tool at my disposal -- memory, imagination, music, Scripture, images, pictures, and dance -- to magnify God in my life. In worship, I remember that reality is more than what I can see and touch. In worship I acknowledge that I look at a shrunken God on a regular basis, looking at Him through the wrong end of the telescope.

So in worship, at its heart, we magnify God. One of the Greek words for worship begins with the prefix mega, meaning large, which gets attached in our day to everything from malls to churches. In worship I remember again that we worship the great God, the Mega God, the Lord of lords. In one of the classic songs of worship in the New Testament, Mary cries out, "My soul magnifies the Lord." Worship enlarges my capacity to experience and understand God.

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