Tuesday, January 31, 2012


Prosperity depends more on wanting what you have than having what you want.

-- Geoffrey F. Abert


Monday, January 30, 2012


Are you looking for something to fill that void that only Christ can fill? Are you looking for something besides success and pleasure to give you the happiness that has always seemed elusive? Are you wanting to know you are loved just for who you are and not because of any accomplishments or accolades? Trust Jesus as Savior.

-- Mike Sweeney, retired Major League Baseball player, in Sports Spectrum magazine


Friday, January 27, 2012


Faith is rest, not toil. It is the giving up all the former weary efforts to do or feel something good, in order to induce God to love and pardon; and the calm reception of the truth so long rejected, that God is not waiting for any such inducements, but loves and pardons of His own goodwill, and is showing that goodwill to any sinner who will come to Him on such a footing, casting away his own poor performances or goodnesses, and relying implicitly upon the free love of Him who so loved the world that He gave His only-begotten Son.

-- Horatius Bonar (1808-1889) in The Everlasting Righteousness


Thursday, January 26, 2012


"The eye cannot say to the hand, 'I have no need of you'." (1 Corinthians 12:21)

We cannot say, "I have no need of you." The megachurch needs the smaller church. The liberal needs the conservative. The pastor needs the missionary. Cooperation is more than a good idea; it is a command. "Make every effort to keep unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace." (Ephesians 4:3) Unity matters to God. There is "one flock and one shepherd." (John 10:16)

-- Max Lucado in Outlive Your Life


Wednesday, January 25, 2012


"And after the earthquake a fire; but the LORD was not in the fire: and after the fire a still small voice." (1 Kings 19:12)

Retire from the world each day to some private spot… Stay in the secret place till the surrounding noises begin to fade out of your heart and a sense of God's presence envelops you. Deliberately tune out the unpleasant sounds and come out of your closet determined not to hear them. Listen for the inward voice till you learn to recognize it.

-- A. W. Tozer


Tuesday, January 24, 2012


"You have not, because you ask not." (James 4:2b AKJV)

As I look over my shoulder, I'm grateful for the miracles God has done, and I'm keenly aware of the fact that every miracle has a genealogy. If you trace those miracles all the way back to their origin, you'll find a prayer circle. Miracles are the by-product of prayers that were prayed by you or for you. And that should be all the motivation you need to pray.

God has determined that certain expressions of His power will only be expressed in response to prayer. Simply put, God won't do it unless you pray it. We have not because we ask not, or maybe I should say, we have not because we circle not. The greatest tragedy in life is the prayers that go unanswered because they go unasked.

-- Mark Batterson in The Circle Maker


Monday, January 23, 2012


The thread of life is fragile. A few cells within a healthy body grow erratically and we receive the diagnosis of cancer; a second's misjudgment at an intersection, and a life is lost; a heart that keeps its cadence for decades skips a few beats and we find ourselves in intensive care; a friend loses her baby during pregnancy; an aging parent shows signs of Alzheimer's; violence strikes someone we know. None of us is immune to such devastating experiences for ourselves, our families, or among our friends. Inexpressible suffering barges in at unexpected moments. And everyone balances the more common (yet anguishing) anxieties, setbacks, and losses that challenge our ability to cope – conflict at home, financial loss, trouble with teenagers, struggles with alcohol, feelings of loneliness. No one lives without facing a threatening darkness.

We overestimate our capacity to handle these things all by ourselves, and we underestimate the power of community to help. Belonging to a caring community, we discover a sustenance that does not answer all our questions or end all our challenges, but which keeps us connected, rooted, grounded. When the worst happens, God doesn't promise us an answer; God provides us a relationship. Through sustaining relationships, we discover that God is not aloof from life and disinterested in us. Instead, God gets in the trenches and suffers with us. We are not alone. God is with us. God's presence reaches us through the people who love us. The thread of life is fragile, but the fabric of life is eternal.

-- Robert Schnase in Five Practices of Fruitful Living


Friday, January 20, 2012


Henry Ward Beecher once said, "Sink the Bible to the bottom of the sea, and man's obligation to God would be unchanged. He would have the same path to tread, only his lamp and his guide would be gone; he would have the same voyage to make, only his compass and chart would be overboard."

I was reminded of that recently in regards to the cruise ship running aground in Italy and the disaster that followed. A deviation from the ship's charted course caused it to hit the rocks. And a deviation from the Bible's charted course for our lives can have similarly dire consequences. The Bible is the lamp and guide for our path and the compass and chart for our voyage. We dare not head off on life's journey without it.

-- Rev. David T. Wilkinson


Thursday, January 19, 2012


The fruit of Intentional Faith Development is not merely to know more about God but to know God, to see through the idea of God to God Himself. Spiritual knowledge arises in us in mysterious ways. A memorable insight is mulled over and replayed dozens of times during the week that follows a Bible study. We think of it as we wait at the stoplight on the way to the grocery store, it comes to mind as we ride the subway to work, it surfaces during a staff meeting at the office or during dinner with family. Spiritual knowledge is not information we apply to a problem that provides the solution; it's not like a number we plug into a formula that solves everything. Rather, a new awareness takes root; a new perception is formed; a new confidence is discovered; a new connection made; or a new hope recovered that changes how we think, feel, and act. The impact is real, and with the continued practice of spiritual exploration, we experience an increasing benefit, a greater openness to grace, a more refined shaping of ourselves by God. We begin to know God more intimately.

-- Robert Schnase in Five Practices of Fruitful Living


Wednesday, January 18, 2012


Pain insists upon being attended to. God whispers to us in our pleasures, speaks in our conscience, and shouts in our pains. It is His megaphone to rouse a deaf world.

-- C. S. Lewis


Tuesday, January 17, 2012


Your sorrow itself shall be turned into joy. Not the sorrow to be taken away, and joy to be put in its place, but the very sorrow which now grieves you shall be turned into joy. God not only takes away the bitterness and gives sweetness in its place, but turns the bitterness into sweetness itself.

-- Charles Spurgeon


Monday, January 16, 2012


For my husband, Martin Luther King, Jr. prayer was a daily source of courage and strength that gave him the ability to carry on in even the darkest hours of our struggle.

I remember one very difficult day when he came home bone-weary from the stress that came with his leadership of the Montgomery Bus Boycott. In the middle of that night, he was awakened by a threatening and abusive phone call, one of many we received throughout the movement. On this particular occasion, however, Martin had had enough.

After the call, he got up from bed and made himself some coffee. He began to worry about his family, and all of the burdens that came with our movement weighed heavily on his soul. With his head in his hands, Martin bowed over the kitchen table and prayed aloud to God: "Lord, I am taking a stand for what I believe is right. The people are looking to me for leadership, and if I stand before them without strength and courage, they will falter. I am at the end of my powers. I have nothing left. I have nothing left. I have come to the point where I can't face it alone.

Later he told me, "At that moment, I experienced the presence of the Divine as I had never experienced Him before. It seemed as though I could hear a voice saying: 'Stand up for righteousness; stand up for truth; and God will be at our side forever.'" When Martin stood up from the table, he was imbued with a new sense of confidence, and he was ready to face anything.

-- Coretta Scott King in Standing in the Need of Prayer


Friday, January 13, 2012


Praise the Lord! Happy are those who fear the Lord, who greatly delight in His commandments. -- Psalm 112:1 (NRSV)

Do you remember a time when you obeyed some directive from your parents but your heart was not a willing participant? That is, you obeyed out of fear rather than from love. When this happens in following the precepts of our Lord our relationship greatly suffers. We become bitter and a gulf begins to develop in our walk with Jesus. We must not only learn to say "yes" to Jesus but to do so with a full willingness in our soul.

-- Rev. Gary Stone


Thursday, January 12, 2012


Seven ways to know you're not reading your Bible enough:

1. You think Abraham, Isaac and Jacob may have had a few hits during the 60's.

2. You open the Gospel of Luke and a WWII Savings Bond falls out.

3. Your favorite Old Testament patriarch is Hercules.

4. You become frustrated because Charlton Heston isn't listed in either the Bible concordance or the table of contents.

5. Catching the kids reading the Song of Solomon, you demand, "Who gave you this stuff?"

6. You keep falling for it every time the pastor tells you to turn to First Condominiums.

7. The kids continue to ask too many questions about your usual bedtime story, "Jonah the Shepherd Boy and His Ark of Many Colors."

-- Ginghamsburg (Ohio) UMC Newsletter


Wednesday, January 11, 2012


God is in the depth, and we lose touch with God when we focus only on surface things. God is in the silence which we neglect and fear, and we close ourselves to the whisperings of the Spirit when we constantly surround ourselves with artificial sounds. God is in the questions that arise when we break free of the distractions, and we cut God off when we avoid contemplations of purpose, value and priority. God is in the mystery, and we turn God away when we live as if the only things that matter are those we can see, touch, explain, or possess. God is in the love of others, and we drive God out when we neglect the deepening of relationships. God is in the feeling of being still, and we overlook attempts by God to reach us when we run constantly from one activity to another. God is in the discovery and exploration of the interior life, and we say No to God when we deny there is a spiritual side to our own lives. There are elements to existence that we only discover when we open ourselves to God.
-- Robert Schnase in Five Practices of Fruitful Living


Tuesday, January 10, 2012


Go off by yourself and, like Jacob on the mountain (Genesis 32:24-28), struggle with God until you are spiritually exhausted. Then, in that time of resignation that follows giving up (because there is nothing left in you with which to carry on the struggle), the Spirit will come. The Spirit will come by grace. When you surrender, it is then that there may come a rushing in of the One who is Totally Other. Then, filled with the Spirit, you will be ready to relate to others in love. You will be able to reach into others and know others in ways that are truly miraculous. You will have, in truth, arrived back at the heart of old-time religion in the midst of our postmodern world.
-- Tony Campolo in Following Jesus Without Embarrassing God


Monday, January 9, 2012


Worship is when you're aware that what you've been given is far greater than what you can give. Worship is the awareness that were it not for His touch, you'd still be hobbling and hurting, bitter and broken. Worship is the half-glazed expression on the parched face of a desert pilgrim as he discovers that the oasis is not a mirage.

Worship is the "Thank You" that refuses to be silenced.

We have tried to make a science out of worship. We can't do that. We can't do that any more than we can "sell love" or "negotiate peace."

Worship is a voluntary act of gratitude offered by the saved to the Savior, by the healed to the Healer, and by the delivered to the Deliverer. And if you and I can go days without feeling an urge to say "Thank You" to the One who saved, healed, and delivered us, then we'd do well to remember what He did.

-- Max Lucado in In the Eye of the Storm


Friday, January 6, 2012


Bold prayers honor God, and God honors bold prayers. God isn't offended by your biggest dreams and boldest prayers. He is offended by anything less. If your prayers aren't impossible to you, they are insulting to God. Why? Because they don't require divine intervention. But ask God to part the Red Sea or make the sun stand still or float an iron axhead, and God is moved to omnipotent action.

There is nothing God loves more than keeping promises, answering prayers, performing miracles, and fulfilling dreams. That is who He is. That is what He does. The bigger the circle we draw, the better, because God gets more glory. The greatest moments in life are the miraculous moments when human impotence and divine omnipotence intersect -- and they intersect when we draw a circle around the impossible situations in our lives and invite God to intervene.

-- Mark Batterson in The Circle Maker

Note: As you may know, most of the quotes I share through SOUND BITES come from my own reading. Today's quote comes from an author (note the Author's Blog to the right) I have shared before, but from a brand new book called The Circle Maker. Using the true legend of Honi the circle maker, who prayer-walked his way around devastating drought in the first-century BC Israel until the rains came, Batterson encourages us to identify the dreams and future miracles we need to draw circles around to find our answers from God.


Thursday, January 5, 2012


When our memories of the past are more exciting than our vision for the future, we have begun to die. This applies both personally and organizationally. It is easy to understand the sense of security felt by those who have retreated into their sanctuaries of tradition, where the comforting patina of familiarity obscures change. Nevertheless, missional leaders recognize the comfort of living in nostalgic niches comes with a price. People who live in the past exchange it for irrelevance in the present and extinction in the future. This does not seem like a good exchange. Leaders must refuse to worship the trappings of the past. Instead, they must choose to worship Jesus Christ, who is the same yesterday, today, and forever. He is always encouraging His people in the mission of God and empowering them to engage present and emerging generations….
-- Dr. Don Detrick in the Enrichment Journal


Wednesday, January 4, 2012


The Bible is one book, one history, one story, His story. Behind the 10,000 events stands God, the builder of history, the maker of the ages. Eternity bounds the one side, eternity bounds the other side, and time is in between: Genesis -- origins, Revelation -- endings, and all the way between, God is working things out. You can go into the minutest detail everywhere and see that there is one great purpose moving through the ages: the eternal design of the Almighty God to redeem a wrecked and ruined world.

-- Henrietta Mears in What the Bible Is All About


Tuesday, January 3, 2012


"Now when Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of Herod the king, behold, there came wise men from the east to Jerusalem, saying, where is He that is born King of the Jews? For we have seen His star in the east, and are come to worship Him." (Matthew 2:1-2)

The star of Bethlehem was a star of hope that led the wise men to the fulfillment of their expectations, the success of their expedition. Nothing in this world is more fundamental for success in life than hope, and this star pointed to our only source for true hope: Jesus Christ.

-- D. James Kennedy in Christmas Stories for the Heart