Wednesday, November 27, 2013


"Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful. Let the message of Christ dwell among you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom through psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit, singing to God with gratitude in your hearts." (Colossians 3:15-16)

God is not honored when we tell him what we think he wants to hear -- even though we don’t believe it. He knows better. He is honored (and we are healthiest) when our hearts and minds flow naturally with His. In this season, we do well to recognize that included in the flow is a heart-condition called thankfulness.

-- Ray Hollenbach


Tuesday, November 26, 2013


Gratitude as a discipline involves a conscious choice. I can choose to be grateful even when my emotions and feelings are still steeped in hurt and resentment. It is amazing how many occasions present themselves in which I can choose gratitude instead of a complaint. I can choose to be grateful when I am criticized, even when my heart still responds in bitterness. I can choose to speak about goodness and beauty, even when my inner eye still looks for someone to accuse or something to call ugly.

-- Henri Nouwen


Monday, November 25, 2013


Several years ago I offered the invocation for commencement exercises at a large state university.  I remember one unprogrammed event above everything else.  At a strategic point, the president of the university invited the graduating students to applaud their parents and spouses, in appreciation for helping them reach this wonderful day.  It was a moving moment.

The president might also have invited the students to applaud their professors and librarians, the authors of their textbooks and of journal articles, the people who preceded them in research, and the citizens whose taxes had paid most of the cost of their education.  It would be a long list -- and a gloomy one for any egotist who might have thought he or she was self-made.  Above all, the president could have invited the students to bow in gratitude to God, the Source of life, breath, health, and talent -- including the vast mines of talent that most of us never begin adequately to explore.

-- J. Ellsworth Kalas in If Experience Is Such a Good Teacher Why Do I Keep Repeating the Course?


Friday, November 22, 2013


NOTE: On this date 50 years ago, November 22, 1963, the following three influential men died -- English writer and humanist Aldous Huxley, U.S. President John F. Kennedy, and English author and Christian apologist C.S. Lewis. Today's SOUND BITES contains a quote from each.

Experience is not what happens to you; it's what you do with what happens to you. -- Aldous Huxley

As we express our gratitude, we must never forget that the highest appreciation is not to utter words, but to live by them.  -- John F. Kennedy

The present is the only time in which any duty may be done or any grace received. -- C. S. Lewis


Thursday, November 21, 2013


During a children's sermon one Sunday morning, I held up an ugly-looking summer shirt that I wore occasionally around the house. I explained to the children that someone said the shirt was ugly and should be thrown away. "This really hurt me," I explained. "I'm having trouble forgiving the person who said those mean things. Do you think I should forgive that person?" I asked the children.

Immediately, my six-year-old daughter, Alicia, raised her hand. "Yes, you should," she said without hesitation.

"But why? The person hurt my feelings," I responded.

To which Alicia wisely answered, "Because you're married to her."

-- Glenn S. in Connection


Wednesday, November 20, 2013


Prayer is the plumb line that finds its rest in the place where our hearts beat in rhythm with the heart of God. Scripture is the weight that propels the plumb line's fall.

-- Wendy M. Wright in Weavings Magazine, published by The Upper Room, Nashville, TN.   Used with permission.


Tuesday, November 19, 2013


It makes a great difference in our feelings towards others if their needs and their joys are on our lips in prayer; as also it makes a vast difference in their feelings towards us if they know that we are in the habit of praying for them.  There is no chasm in society that cannot be firmly and permanently bridged by intercession; there is no feud or dislike that cannot be healed by the same exercise of love.

-- Charles H. Brent (1862-1929)


Monday, November 18, 2013


Have patience with all things, but chiefly have patience with yourself.  Do not lose courage in considering your own imperfections but instantly set about remedying them -- every day begin the task anew.

-- Francois de Sales (1567-1622)


Friday, November 15, 2013


What is it about your life or mine that would make someone else want to be a follower of Jesus Christ, a person of faith, a part of a congregation?

The purpose of inviting other people to follow Jesus is to help them rediscover love -- God's love -- and to provide a community that gives sustained focus, energy, and resources to developing the spiritual life.  No other community besides the church has as its purpose the deepening of such elements of the human soul as hope, forgiveness, generosity, service, joy, peace, justice, gentleness.  Love is the key to unlocking the door to ultimate reality, and in the community of Christ we intentionally practice receiving God's love, loving God in return, and loving others.  We invite people into a life of love, surround them with the everlasting arms of God, and encourage them to do the same for others.  We love because God first loved us.

To bear witness to Christ involves more than inviting people with words.  It means living with such grace and integrity that our lives themselves become appealing to others.  The second chapter of Acts reports that people were drawn into the way of life of the followers of Christ.  They found Christian practice utterly compelling and irresistibly appealing.

Is this true for us?

-- Robert Schnase in Five Practices of Fruitful Living


Thursday, November 14, 2013


The One, of course, is God. And His demand of you is your absolute best, your utmost integrity. He calls you to apply His commands in all your decisions and interactions.

In a perfect world, this kind of excellence would always be recognized and amply compensated. It would earn you the highest respect from your colleagues and coworkers. It would anchor your job security and even promise you steady promotion through the ranks. But even when it doesn't -- even when it seems like no one is noticing -- there is no satisfaction like knowing that God can say of you, "Well done, good and faithful servant" (Matthew 25:21).

The next time you start to feel unappreciated, undervalued, and overlooked, take your feelings of inferiority to the Lord in prayer. Let Him be the One with the last word on how valuable you are. When you're pleasing Him, you're doing your job.

-- Joe Gibbs, from his blog


Wednesday, November 13, 2013


Jesus said, "In My Father's house are many dwelling places; if it were not so, I would have told you; for I go to prepare a place for you. If I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself, that where I am, there you may be also."  (John 14:2-3)

Safety is not ultimately found in a secure place or a safe situation, but safety is only found in God... The truth is all of us… will die.  It may be when we're young; it may be when we're old.  But we will die.  There will be a day when some pastor or official stands in front of our friends and family and tries to comfort them.  At the moment of your death, the only thing that matters is your relationship with Jesus Christ.  He is still the last and the best hope for all of us; He is the only one who truly can keep us safe.
-- Nick Lillo

Tuesday, November 12, 2013


Better than anyone in history, in any field or discipline, Jesus capitalized on the possibility in people -- the hidden potential inherent in all of us.  Talented entrepreneurs in our society see hidden potential in a product or service before anybody else does -- and as a result of pursuing their vision, cutting-edge companies emerge.  Expert athletic coaches often spot hidden potential in a high school football player or tennis player, and because of applied foresight, college sports dynasties are built.

But Jesus had a corner of the "potential" market.  He had an uncanny ability to look past the obvious flaws in people's lives and envision who they could become if the power of God were released in their lives.  Intrinsically, He just wondered about people.  Wondered what they could become.  Wondered how they might look in a transformed state.  Wondered what impact they could have if their lives were invested in things of eternal value.

He somehow saw the godly worshiper clothed as a worn, wearied prostitute.  The faithful disciple hiding inside a fisherman named Simon.  The hidden philanthropist in the life of a crooked tax collector named Zacchaeus.  The risk-taker in a cowardly Jewish ruler named Nicodemus.  What a fantastic gift He had for seeing what nobody else could see!

"All things are possible" was Jesus' mantra.  All things.  And countless lives were transformed because He chose to look past surface stuff to see what was ultimately possible.

-- Bill Hybels in Just Walk Across the Room


Monday, November 11, 2013


Dear Lord, today we honor our veterans, worthy men and women who gave their best when they were called upon to serve and protect their country. We pray that you will bless them, Lord, for their unselfish service in the continual struggle to preserve our freedoms, our safety, and our country’s heritage, for all of us. Bless them abundantly for the hardships they faced, for the sacrifices they made for their many different contributions to America’s victories over tyranny and oppression. We respect them, we thank them, we honor them, we are proud of them, and we pray that you will watch over these special people and bless them with peace and happiness. In Jesus’ name we pray; Amen.

-- Joanna Fuchs


Friday, November 1, 2013


By the quality of our inner lives I do not mean something characterized by ferocious intensity and strain.  I mean rather such a humble and genial devotedness as we find in the most loving of the saints.  I mean the quality which makes contagious Christians, makes people catch the love of God from you.

--  Evelyn Underhill