Friday, November 30, 2012


It is one of the most beautiful compensations of life, that no one can sincerely try to help another without helping oneself. 

-- Ralph Waldo Emerson


Thursday, November 29, 2012


One of the things that many great artists will tell you is that they often believe their art comes from some place other than themself. Painters will talk of how the painting somehow seems to paint itself. Sculptors talk of freeing the sculpture from within the rock where it's been imprisoned. Writers talk of being surprised at how a story turns out, at where the characters end up going. And many, many artists are certain that it is God's Spirit that guides their hands as they work. Great art, like great spirituality, involves trusting what God can do, not just what we can.

-- Eric Folkerth, Copyright 2000. All Rights Reserved. (Used with Permission)


Wednesday, November 28, 2012


Faith is the willingness to look foolish. Noah looked foolish building a boat in the middle of the desert. The Israelite army looked foolish marching around Jericho blowing trumpets. A shepherd boy named David looked foolish charging a giant with a slingshot. The Magi looked foolish tracking a star to Timbuktu. Peter looked foolish getting out of a boat in the middle of the Sea of Galilee. And Jesus looked foolish wearing a crown of thorns. But the results speak for themselves. Noah was saved from the flood; the walls came tumbling down; David defeated Goliath; the Magi discovered the Messiah; Peter walked on water; and Jesus was crowned King of kings. 

-- Mark Batterson in The Circle Maker


Tuesday, November 27, 2012


As long as you are tangled in wrong and revenge, blow and counterblow, aggression and defense, you will be constantly drawn into fresh wrong... Only forgiveness frees us from the injustice of others.

-- Theologian Romano Guardini in The Lord


Monday, November 26, 2012


SURRENDER… This isn’t a word that instantly evokes joy, yet it’s the very thing that produces it. Of course, we’re not talking about just any sort of surrender, we are talking about abandoning self and taking our worldly ambitions, our need for fame, and even the things we are good at and laying them at the foot of the cross of Jesus Christ. Because Jesus Christ alone is on the throne! He is already on the throne… whether we surrender or not. But when we surrender and He is exalted in our lives, then joy abounds. 

-- Conference Promotional

Wednesday, November 21, 2012


Gratitude goes beyond the "mine" and the "thine" and claims the truth that all of life is a pure gift. In the past I always thought of gratitude as a spontaneous response to the awareness of gifts received, but now I realize that gratitude can also be lived as a discipline. The discipline of gratitude is the explicit effort to acknowledge that all I am and have is given to me as a gift of love, a gift celebrated with joy. 

-- Henri J. Nouwen


Tuesday, November 20, 2012


Each of us can look back upon someone who made a great difference in our lives, someone whose wisdom or simple acts of caring made an impression upon us. In all likelihood, it was someone who sought no recognition for their deed, other than the joy of knowing that, by their hand, another’s life had been made better. 

– Stephen M. Wolf, quoted in Gratitude, compiled by Dan Zadra

This Thanksgiving take the opportunity to thank them.


Monday, November 19, 2012


"[One] winter I sat in Army fatigues somewhere near Anniston, Alabama, eating my supper out of a mess kit. The infantry training battalion that I had been assigned to was on bivouac. There was a cold drizzle, and everything was mud. The sun had gone down.

I was still hungry when I finished and noticed that a man nearby had something left over that he was not going to eat. It was a turnip, and when I asked him if I could have it, he tossed it over to me. I missed the catch, the turnip fell to the ground, but I wanted it so badly that I picked it up and started eating it anyway, mud and all.

And then, as I ate it, time deepened and slowed down again. With a lurch of the heart that is real to me still, I saw suddenly, almost as if from beyond time altogether, that not only was the turnip good, but the mud was good too, even the drizzle and cold were good, even the Army that I had dreaded for months.

Sitting there in the Alabama winter with my mouth full of cold turnip and mud, I could see at least for a moment how if you ever took truly to heart the ultimate goodness and joy of things, even at their bleakest, the need to praise someone or something for it would be so great that you might even have to go out and speak of it to the birds of the air.

-- Frederick Buechner in The Sacred Journey


Friday, November 16, 2012


Biblical scholar Frederick Dale Bruner says, "The Christian faith is bi-polar. Disciples live their life between worship and doubt, trusting and questioning, hoping and worrying."

Then Jesus gives the disciples what is called the Great Commission, sends them out to be His agents in the world. Jesus looks at these worshiping doubters and says: "You go! You doubters, go. You risk your lives for Me. You change your world for Me. And you will find as you go that it is your own doubts that are healed. You doubters are included, too."

Disciples are not people who never doubt. They doubt and worship. They doubt and serve. They doubt and help each other with their doubts. They doubt and practice faithfulness. They doubt and wait for their doubt one day to be turned to knowing.

-- John Ortberg in Faith & Doubt


Thursday, November 15, 2012


When Peter asked Jesus if he should forgive others as many as seven times, Jesus answered, "not seven times, but, I tell you, seventy-seven times" (Matthew 18:22). Obviously Jesus was not saying mark off each forgiveness up to seventy-seven and then stop forgiving. He was wiping out all calculated response both to ourselves and to others. He threw a legalism of checks and balances out the window. He invited us to a wider place, a freer air, where compassion and mercy are no longer a matter of arithmetic.

But until we let God release us, we cannot release ourselves or others. We remain in that condition of self-judgment, a judgment of others, that spiritual prison, anxiously counting up those pennies!

God longs to enter these prisons of ours, throw open the doors, bring us into… "grace" -- the realm of free gifting -- not to earn love but because we are already loved.  

-- Flora Slosson Wuellner in Forgiveness, the Passionate Journey  (Nashville, Tenn.: Upper Room Books, 2001)


Wednesday, November 14, 2012


"I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, and I have remained faithful."  (2 Timothy 4:7 NLT)

Do not confuse motion and progress. A rocking horse keeps moving but does not make any progress. 

-- Alfred A. Montapert


Tuesday, November 13, 2012


"[Jesus] was not seen by all the people, but by witnesses whom God had already chosen -- by us who ate and drank with Him after He rose from the dead. He commanded us to preach to the people and to testify that He is the one whom God appointed as judge of the living and the dead. All the prophets testify about Him that everyone who believes in Him receives forgiveness of sins through His name." (Acts 10:41-43 NIV)

Of all I wish to say, this is the sum; my brethren, preach Christ, always and evermore. He is the whole gospel. His person, offices, and work must be our one great, all-comprehending theme. The world needs still to be told of its Saviour, and of the way to reach Him.  

--  Charles Spurgeon in Lectures to My Students


Monday, November 12, 2012


It s in our nature to seek shelter from a storm, whether atmospheric or economic. We read many instances in the Old Testament in which famine drove people to turn back to God. And… in the midst of… economic crisis, we read reports of increasing attendance at many congregations.

Times of trouble also cause people to shift their spending. Extravagant luxuries give way to more practical, generic items -- the simple basics. That shift in spending reminds us of Jesus' words, "Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth… but store up for yourselves treasures in heaven… For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also." (Matthew 6:19-21)

Economic crisis can lead people to reassess their values, changing their focus to family, friends, and a more meaningful purpose in life. As people come back to the basics of the soul… stand ready to provide the aid and comfort… for all those seeking refuge along the Christian journey. "For you have been a refuge to the poor, a refuge to the needy in their distress, a shelter from the rainstorm, and a shade from the heat." (Isaiah 25:4)

-- from Cokesbury: Resources for the Christian Journey, 2009-2010 Catalogue


Friday, November 9, 2012


No nation, and few individuals, are really brought into [God's] camp by the historical study of the biography of Jesus, simply as biography.  Indeed, materials for a full biography have been withheld from [us].  The earliest converts were converted by a single historical fact (the Resurrection) and a single theological doctrine (the Redemption) operating on a sense of win which they already had...  The "Gospels" came later and were written not to make Christians but to edify Christians already made.

-- C. S. Lewis (1898-1963) in The Screwtape Letters


Monday, November 5, 2012


I met those of our society who had votes in the ensuing election, and advised them, 1. To vote, without fee or reward, for the person they judged most worthy: 2. To speak no evil of the person they voted against: And 3. To take care their spirits were not sharpened against those that voted on the other side. 

-- John Wesley, October 6, 1774.


Friday, November 2, 2012


One of the hallmarks of our tendency to sin is that we feel the need to criticize, we take pleasure in gossiping, and we feel qualified to make judgments, often with very little information.

We slander others for a host of reasons. Perhaps we’re jealous of another’s success. Maybe we’re just insecure. But we also find a tendency to speak ill of others when they disagree with our way of seeing the world. Rather than trying to fully understand why they believe what they believe,  and being open to the possibility that we are wrong, we feel threatened by their convictions. Because talking with those who disagree with us face-to-face about why we think they are wrong might be a bit too threatening, and would require that we listen to their views and arguments, we find it easier to criticize them where it is safe, among friends or like-minded people, on our blogs, or via e-mail.

We say things to our friends about these persons we would never say to them face-to-face. We judge their motives and their deeds. Most of us have committed this sin. We have all wounded others by our words. We have misrepresented them, spoken out of turn, and judged them without really taking the time to understand them. 

-- Adam Hamilton in Seeing Gray in a World of Black and White


Thursday, November 1, 2012


Great men and women have always an appeal; some are admirable and some not -- and few are imitable. It is the mark of a saint that he [or she] fulfills the highest ideal given to [humankind], and is at the same time a friend and an inspiration. They tell us what is possible for us, whether we have one talent or ten, whether we live in sorrow or joy, in days of menace or in a time of hope. They combine the almost impossible, weakness with strength, darkness with joy, self-denial with profound humanity and affection. Unlike so many other distinguished [people], in science, literature and statesmanship, they remain ever contemporary in that they reveal the everlasting source of happiness, the secret of how to turn the common into what is perfect and unique. Each... manages to find the true Cross, the emblem of life and hope.

-- Philip Caraman in Saints and Ourselves