Wednesday, October 31, 2012


Christians have infinite how-to manuals on marriage, money, sex, and everything else, but I don't see much of what I read in 1 Corinthians 7, which speaks of sitting lightly with what we have with a sense of detachment. Money, for example, is God's, not ours. We didn't bring our pink Cadillac into the world, and we can't take it with us to the new kingdom, even if we get buried with it. We are simply stewards of God's property, which should change the whole way we look at the concept of ownership and how it relates to the mission of the church or evangelism. 

-- Ben Witherington III in Christianity Today, October 15, 2012


Tuesday, October 30, 2012


John Wesley wrote extensively on the use of money, the danger of riches, and the importance of giving. For Wesley, all things belong to God. This changes how we perceive the manner by which we earn money and save money, causing us to do so in appropriate ways. And in changes how we spend money, making us more responsible, and shapes how we give money. Wesley valued industrious and productive work, but he believed that acquiring money does not provide a profound enough life purpose to sustain the human spirit. When he wrote, "Earn all you can, save all you can, and give all you can," he drew an unbreakable link between acquisition and generosity, inviting us to use our material wealth to deepen our relationship with God and to increase our positive impact for God's purposes. 

-- Robert Schnase in  Five Practices of Fruitful Living


Monday, October 29, 2012


Our beliefs are not just estimates of probabilities. They are also the instruments that guide our actions.

Let's say you manage the Los Angeles Dodgers. It's World Series time—you against the Oakland Athletics. It's the ninth inning, and you're one run behind with one man on base and two outs. The world's greatest relief pitcher is on the mound. You have two pinch hitters; both of them bat .250. One of them says, "I will probably make an out. There's a three out of four chance I will lose the battle. But at least I will not allow my emotions to cloud my thinking. I will acknowledge the probability of my failure calmly and clearly." The other guy says, "I believe I will get a hit. I have a deep conviction this is my day."

Who do you send to the plate? Would it be more rational to send up the logic chopper who thinks he will fail? Wouldn't it make more sense to call on Kirk Gibson with his five o'clock shadow and his gimpy knee and his swaggering conviction that he is destined for immortality? You would send the pinch hitter who has all the confidence he could muster. There are reasons for faith that go beyond mere evidence. (If you're not a baseball fan, note that Kirk Gibson was a badly injured power-hitting Los Angeles outfielder who in 1988 produced the greatest World Series moments of all time and forever convinced Dodger fans that God not only exists but is in fact a Dodger.)

-- John Ortberg in Faith & Doubt


Friday, October 26, 2012


NOTE: October is Clergy Appreciation Month. God speaks about appreciating our clergy in Hebrews 13:7, “Appreciate your pastoral leaders who gave you the Word of God. Take a good look at the way they live, and let their faithfulness instruct you, as well as their truthfulness.” (The Message).  Your pastor, priest, or ordained deacon is a special person.  He or she is a leader, a spiritual guide and a partner in ministry. Celebrate their ministry by giving them the gift of SOUND BITES. Many pastoral leaders already receive SOUND BITES and appreciate the insights from the daily quotes.

(proclaim, talk about, share, live out)

(not our egos, our particular denomination, our pet causes, our likes or dislikes)

(the only Son of God, the Way, the Truth, the Life, the Prince of Peace)

(Leader in our daily life, Provider of our eternal life, Master-Teacher)

(the purpose of our lives is to serve others
the way Christ served us and gave His life for us)

(for no other purpose or motive than to glorify God in Christ)

-- Rev. David T. Wilkinson, based on 2 Corinthians 4:5


Thursday, October 25, 2012


In 21ST Century Christian Magazine a mother told this story: Our 3- year-old daughter was in the habit of giving half of her 2 quarter allowance to God each week. One Sunday we were out of town, so the next Sunday, we gave her an extra quarter to teach her about “making up” our giving when we miss. She said, “Oh, good, I’ll give one for God and one for Jesus.” We thought that was cute and didn’t think more about it until the following Sunday. When it was back to the regular allowance and she had only one quarter for the contribution, she started crying. We asked her what was wrong and she said, “Where’s the quarter for Jesus?” Needless to say, she got an immediate raise in her allowance! We are waiting to see what happens when she finds out about the Holy Spirit.

That family was faithfully teaching their daughter a great truth: that giving was an act of worship. 

-- Jeff Strite in a sermon entitled "Giving as an Act of Worship"


Wednesday, October 24, 2012


Bible teacher E. Stanley Jones told the story of a missionary who got lost in an African jungle.  There was nothing around him but thick bush and a few cleared spaces.  He came upon a local village and asked one of the men if he could lead him out of the jungle.  When the native agreed, the missionary said, "Well, show me the way."  The African man responded, "Walk."  So they walked and hacked their way through unmarked jungle for more than an hour.  The missionary began to get worried.  "Are you sure this is the right way?  Where is the path?"  The man said, "Friend, in this place there is no path.  I am the path."

It is a jungle out there -- from pop culture to pop psychology, the path of life is overgrown with too many opinions and too little time.  It's hard to see the forest for the trees.  We need clear direction.  Jesus said, "I am the light of the world.  He who follows Me shall not walk in darkness, but have the light of life" (John 8:12).  Jesus walked in His Father's footsteps, illuminating a path for others who desire to find their way. 

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


Tuesday, October 23, 2012


You have been given responsibility for decision making. It is a large responsibility, and the issues are complex and seldom clearly one way or the other. Even when we have gathered all the facts and looked at and listened to all the evidence, the answer may still be unclear. We bring our best thoughts and all of our previous experiences to the decision making process, and still we find that prejudice, half truths, insufficient evidence, and lack of wisdom leave us uncertain about God's way in the matter.

At times like this we long for the assurance of God's presence with us. We yearn to ask Jesus, who always reflected God's will, what our decision should be, what really is God's will in this matter. We would seek to know how we can discern that our decisions are not our own, not where the popular opinion is, not what is easy or cheap, not even what will please the most persons or defeat someone we don't like. Rather, one might ask, “What is God's will? What does God desire around this concern I have? What decision would I make if I were to block out all other interests and seek to please only God?” 

-- Reuben P. Job in A Guide to Spiritual Discernment


Monday, October 22, 2012


We know that anything we do repeatedly shapes who we are.  In the spiritual life we call such intentional repetitive practices disciplines.  But what about the things around us that we see repeatedly?  Does our environment shape us?  Does the geography that we live in shape our spiritual lives?  Did the rolling hills of southern Indiana that I grew up in shape my soul differently than that of someone who grew up in the open spaces of eastern Montana or even of southern Illinois?  And what about urban spaces -- tall buildings and bus fumes, parks with statues and pleasant streets, dark alleyways and dingy houses, subways and spaghetti-like highway exchanges?

And what about these "special places" where God's presence was especially near?  In your life is there such a place (or places) -- maybe a campground, a church sanctuary, a mountain view, a cityscape, a beach, or a simple clearing in the woods?  One such holy place for me is the Boundary Waters Canoe Area of northern Minnesota.  An incredibly beautiful area of lakes, trees, boulders, sky views, and portages, it always invites me to praise and prayer and to a different level of closeness to God than does my everyday life.  Its features have embedded themselves into my soul.  Is there any place that works this way for you? 

-- Susan W. N. Ruach in Leading from the Center, Winter 2003


Friday, October 19, 2012


Genuine fellowship is based on the concept of giving to and receiving from other Christians. You can share with others whatever God has given you -- forgiveness, possessions, love, His Word, and many other things. God gives fellowship for the purpose of mutual encouragement and growth. He wants Christians to live in unity and harmony with one another. To help us understand how believers are related, God uses the analogy of the body. Jesus Christ is the Head of the body, which is comprised of all believers. All Christians throughout the world belong to Christ's body, but it is important for you to recognize how God wants you to relate to a smaller, specific group of believers. This smaller group is for the purpose of instruction, sharing, worship, and service. God has given spiritual leaders to help you mature in Christ and to become effective in the ministry. 

-- from Growing Strong in God's Family


Thursday, October 18, 2012


"You shall follow the Lord your God and fear Him; and you shall keep His commandments, listen to His voice, serve Him, and cling to Him." (Deuteronomy 13:4 NASB)

God is our true Friend, who always gives us the counsel and comfort we need.  Our danger lies in resisting Him; so it is essential that we acquire the habit of hearkening to His voice, or keeping silence within, and listening so as to lose nothing of what He says to us. 

-- Francois Fenelon


Wednesday, October 17, 2012


Many people are looking for an ear that will listen.  They do not find it among [some] Christians, because these Christians are talking where they should be listening.  But he who can no longer listen to his brother will soon be no longer listening to God, either; he will be doing nothing but prattle in the presence of God, too.  This is the beginning of the death of the spiritual life, and in the end there will be nothing left but spiritual chatter and clerical condescension arrayed in pious words... never really speaking to others. 

-- Dietrich Bonhoeffer in Life Together


Tuesday, October 16, 2012


Before beginning to read the Scriptures it is beneficial to request God to enlarge one's spiritual perception of them as one reads. This He will do by His Spirit. It is the surest way to understand both what is being read and how to apply it to our lives... When one is extremely serious about delving into the Scriptures it is remarkable how they do indeed come alive. They become very gripping and fascinating. Their truth proves to be inexhaustible and provides enormous pleasure and satisfaction to the spirit.

-- W. Phillip Keller in SERENITY: Finding God Again For The First Time


Monday, October 15, 2012


"For everything that was written in the past was written to teach us, so that through the endurance taught in the Scriptures and the encouragement they provide we might have hope. May the God who gives endurance and encouragement give you the same attitude of mind toward each other that Christ Jesus had, so that with one mind and one voice you may glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ." (Romans 15:4-6 NIV)

Whenever you're in conflict with someone, there is one factor that can make the difference between damaging your relationship and deepening it. The factor is attitude.

-- William James


Friday, October 12, 2012


"All Scripture is inspired by God and is useful to teach us what is true and to make us realize what is wrong in our lives. It corrects us when we are wrong and teaches us to do what is right."  (2 Timothy 3:16 NLT)

Billy Graham long ago made his peace with the Bible. When he was a young man casting about in the brambles of academe, he had a crisis of confidence brought on by conflicting biblical interpretation. "'Oh God! There are many things in this book I do not understand ... There are many seeming contradictions. There are some areas that do not seem to correlate with modern science,'" he recounts praying one evening in Just As I Am. But then, "At last the Holy Spirit freed me to say it. 'Father, I am going to accept this as Thy Word -- by faith! I'm going to allow faith to go beyond my intellectual questions and doubts, and I will believe this to be Your inspired Word.'" 

-- David Rubien


Thursday, October 11, 2012


Waiting on the Lord requires patient trust.  Will I trust that God has good reasons for saying "wait"?  Will I remember that things look different to God because he views things from an eternal perspective? . . .

The story goes that an economist once read these words and got very excited. "Lord -- is it true that a thousand years for us is just like a minute to you?"


"Then a million dollars to us must just be a penny to you."


"Lord, would you give me one of those pennies?"

"All right.  Wait here a minute."

Too often we want God's resources, but we do not want his timing.  We want the penny, but not the minute.  We forget that His work in us while we wait is as important as what it is we think we are waiting for.  Waiting means that we give God the benefit of the doubt that He knows what He is doing.

It may be patient trust -- trust that is willing to wait again and again day after day.  

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


Wednesday, October 10, 2012


"And David said, 'The Lord who delivered me from the paw of the lion and from the paw of the bear, He will deliver me from the hand of this Philistine [giant].'” (1 Samuel 17:37)

Giants. We must face them. Yet we need not face them alone. Focus first, and most, on God. The times David did, giants fell. The days he didn't, David did…

Focus on giants -- you stumble.

Focus on God -- your giants tumble.

Lift your eyes. Giant-slayer. The God who made a miracle out of David stands ready to make one out of you. 

-- Max Lucado in Facing Your Giants


Tuesday, October 9, 2012


"Behold, I stand at the door and knock..." (Revelation 3:20)

A minister called upon a poor woman, intending to give her help; for he knew that she was very poor. With his money in his hand, he knocked at the door; but she did not answer. He concluded she was not at home, and went his way. A little later he met her at the church, and told her that he had remembered her need: “I called at your house, and knocked several times, and I supposed you were not at home, for I had no answer.” “At what hour did you call, sir?” “It was about noon.” “Oh, dear,” she said, “I heard you, sir, and I am so sorry I did not answer; but I thought it was the man calling for the rent.” …

I am not calling for the rent;… but to tell you that salvation is all of grace, which means, free, gratis, for nothing…. We are not going to talk about law, and duty, and punishment, but about love, and goodness, and forgiveness, and mercy, and eternal life. Do not, therefore, act as if you were not at home: do not turn a deaf ear, or a careless heart. I am asking nothing of you in the name of God or man… I come in God's name, to bring you a free gift, which it shall be to your present and eternal joy to receive. Open the door, and let my pleadings enter. “Come now, and let us reason together.”

The Lord Himself invites you to a conference concerning your immediate and endless happiness, and He would not have done this if He did not mean well toward you. Do not refuse the Lord Jesus who knocks at your door; for He knocks with a hand which was nailed to the tree for such as you are. Since His only and sole object is your good, incline your ear and come to Him. Hearken diligently, and let the good word sink into your soul. It may be that the hour is come in which you shall enter upon that new life which is the beginning of heaven. Faith comes by hearing, and reading is a sort of hearing: faith may come to you while you are reading this… Why not? O blessed Spirit of all grace, make it so! 

-- Charles H. Spurgeon in All of Grace 


Monday, October 8, 2012


Pride asserts, humility testifies. The proud want to seem what they are not. The one who gives testimony does not want to appear what he is not but to love what, in the full sense, is. 

-- Augustine in Explaining the Psalms


Friday, October 5, 2012


The apostle Paul offers instructions for Christians to conduct themselves in all areas of life. These words are particularly pertinent when it comes to politics:

“Let no evil talk come out of your mouths, but only what is useful for building up, as there is need, so that your words may give grace to those who hear. And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God. … Put away from you all bitterness and wrath and anger and wrangling and slander, together with all malice, and be kind to one another." (Ephesians 4:29-32)

Paul notes that when we act in belligerent ways we “grieve the Holy Spirit of God.” The Greek word for grieve means to “inflict distress or intense sadness upon.” That is what Christians do to God when they speak words that tear others down, or that slander them. Christians are called to speak words that “give grace” -- that is, undeserved kindness -- to all. 

-- Adam Hamilton in When Christians Get It Wrong


Thursday, October 4, 2012


When Isaiah entered the temple, God gave him such an experience of His holiness that the prostrate prophet cried out:  "Woe is me! For I am undone; for I am a man of unclean lips." (Isa. 6:5)  "Scripture," says John Calvin, "represents saints always impressed and disturbed on every discovery of God."  And how can it be otherwise?

God is holy.  We are unholy.  God is light.  We are darkness.  He is righteous.  We are sinners.  When we who are what we are dare to approach Him Who is what He is, there is a revealing, a purging, and resultant confession.  God disturbs us simply by what He is.  No experience of God can be genuine, if it is not disturbing.  And if we know anything about Jesus, we can never again see a soft, kindly God who covers everything with His mantle of forgiveness, but only a holy God who demands a cross to deal with sin. 

-- H.S. Vigeveno in Jesus the Revolutionary


Wednesday, October 3, 2012


You can talk about Jesus all you want to, but if you aren’t living the life God has called you to live, nobody’s going to respect you and they aren’t going to respect the God you’re serving. 

-- Reggie White, Pro Football Hall of Famer, former Green Bay Packer


Tuesday, October 2, 2012


“The righteous will flourish like a palm tree… they all flourish in the courts of our God.” (Psalm 92:12-13)

As God helps you grow, you will change, but you will always be you.  An acorn can grow into an oak tree, but it cannot become a rose bush.  It can be a healthy oak or can be a stunted oak -- but it won’t be a shrub.  You will always be you -- a growing, healthy you or a languishing you -- but God did not create you to be anybody else.  He pre-wired your temperament.  He determined your natural gifts and talents.  He made you to feel certain passions and desires.  He planned your body and mind.  Your uniqueness is God-designed. 

-- John Ortberg in The Me I Want to Be


Monday, October 1, 2012


When we struggle, when we feel alone, when we are seeking to find meaning in our lives and to know right from wrong, when we need a community who will surround us with love, when we are facing death or pain, the one place for us to go to find the way, the truth, and the life is Jesus Christ.  The gospel of Jesus is good news, news that is relevant for our daily lives… being a Christian is where we find answers and peace and hope. 

-- Adam Hamilton in Confronting the Controversies