Monday, June 30, 2014


"Holy, holy, holy!  Lord God Almighty!
All Thy works shall praise Thy name, in earth and sky and sea.
Holy, holy, holy!  Merciful and mighty,
God in three Persons, blessed Trinity."  (Reginald Heber)

God the Father is the giver of Holy Scripture; God the Son is the theme of Holy Scripture; and God the Spirit is the author, authenticator, and interpreter of Holy Scripture.

-- J. I. Packer


Friday, June 27, 2014


From the depths of my soul, I desire for people to love and to be loved, to experience a sense of purpose from serving others, and to believe that their life matters.  I want people to feel connected, immersed in community, surrounded and sustained through all the setbacks and celebrations of living.  I genuinely desire for them to discover the inner life, and to learn to ease the suffering of greed and the pain of empty strivings.  I want them to discover that love is the better way, that patterns of violence and manipulation can be interrupted, that loneliness can be overcome and suffering relieved, and that there is a depth to life that is sacred and holy and worthy of exploration.

The spiritual life changes us and moves us from agitated to stillness, from anger to peace, from distressed about our own situations to compassionate about the circumstances of others.  I want people to discover life with God.

I want people to flourish, and for people to feel that life is worth living and people are worth loving and God is worth trusting.  I don't try to force anyone into a mold.  I don't want others to make all the choices I've made.  But I want them not to be alone, and to know that God loves them and that the things that matter most -- love, hope, peace, purpose -- are attainable when we open our hearts to God and follow the way we see in Jesus.  In Christ, a well-known road takes us to unknown places of enchantment, mystery, and meaning.

In my own way, always and everywhere for a long as I live, I want to say, "Come and see.  Come and explore grace, kindness, peace, humility, and hope.  See what it's like to make a difference and to let Christ interweave our lives into the fabric of community.  Come and see."

-- Robert Schnase in Five Practices of Fruitful Living


Thursday, June 26, 2014


Life begins at the watering hole
all life gathers at their time
to drink
for water is life

many days you may be out in the blinding desert sands
unsure if your path is right
on a long exodus or journey day and night
but finally you reach the watering hole

you may be timid and unsure if this is safe and right for you
many dangers fill your past and lurk in your future
but here at the watering hole is life
you cannot afford to pass it by without drinking

many more days pass by
they fill your heart with joy
days where you are glad and life is finely tuned the way you wish
but even then you must return to the watering hole to live

God's Word is like the watering hole
it is Life
you cannot afford to pass it by
you need His Word to live 

-- Lynn Jung


Wednesday, June 25, 2014


Jesus said that we "not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God."  As our bodies are fed by food, so our spirits are fed by words with ideas and images.  We are flooded by words that can mislead us, so we need to feed our minds each day from the Word of God.

I often feed my mind by taking a thought from Scripture:
            -- Nothing can separate us from the love of God. (Romans 8:39)
            -- I can do all things through Christ, who strengthens me. (Philippians 4:13)
            -- God is light, and in Him is no darkness at all. (1 John 1:5)
Try to let your mind feast on the Word of God throughout the day.
-- John Ortberg in God Is Closer Than You Think

Thursday, June 19, 2014


The story of incarnation is the story of love.

Father Damien was a priest who became famous for his willingness to serve lepers.  He moved to Kalawao, a village on the island of Molokai in Hawaii that had been quarantined to serve as a leper colony.  For sixteen years he lived in their midst.  He learned to speak their language.  He bandaged their wounds, embraced bodies no one else would touch, preached to hearts that would otherwise have been left alone.  He organized schools, bands, and choirs.  He built homes so that the lepers could have shelter.  He built two thousand coffins by hand so that when they died, they could be buried with dignity.  Slowly, it was said, Kalawao became a place to live rather than a place to die, for Father Damien offered hope.

Father Damien was not careful about keeping his distance.  He did nothing to separate himself from his people.  He dipped his fingers in the poi bowl along with the patients.  He shared his pipe.  He did not always wash his hands after bandaging open sores.  He got close.  For this the people loved him.

Then one day he stood up and began his sermon with two words: "We lepers…" Now he wasn't just helping them.  Now he was one of them.  From this day forward he wasn't just on their island; he was in their skin.  First he had chosen to live as they lived; now he would die as they died.  Now they were in it together.

One day God came to earth and began His message: "We lepers…"  Now He wasn't just helping us.  Now He was one of us.  Now He was in our skin.  Now we were in it together.

The story of incarnation is the story of love.  Many people didn't recognize Him as God, of course.  They were looking for someone a little flashier.  They expected more in the way of special effects, not someone who would take on all our limitations.  He came as Waldo.  Many people saw Him, but only a few recognized Him.  Those who missed Him did not generally do so out of a lack of knowledge.  What blinded them was pride. 
-- John Ortberg in God Is Closer Than You Think

Wednesday, June 18, 2014


Consider the seven deadly sins, a moral checklist that emerged from centuries of reflection.  We live in a modern world so disordered from the original design that the entire notion of what is good for us has turned upside down.

In the modern United States, at least, the seven deadly sins might be renamed the seven seductive virtues:

Pride:  In music, sports, and business, we reserve our applause for winners, and those who flaunt it with an attitude tend to garner the most publicity.  We strut our medals at the Olympic Games, lavish rewards on winners, and read management books patterned after Machiavelli and Attila the Hun.

Envy: Our entire advertising industry is built on inciting envy of colleagues and neighbors, so that whatever new electronic marvel or body shape my neighbor has, I want too.

Anger:  We must get in touch with and express our anger, counselors tell us.  Encounter groups, television trash-talk shows, town meetings, and political debates offer sample opportunity to do so.

Greed:  The economic engine of our nation, and indeed the world, depends on a constant sense of discontent that motivates each consumer to desire ever more.

Sloth:  Find an island with a beach, retire early, relax, slow down, feel good -- it’s all part of the American dream.

Gluttony:  Every year the “big gulp” drinks and supersize french fries get bigger, as do the waistlines.  Currently 64 percent of Americans are overweight, with half of that percentage qualifying as obese.

Lust:  From Lycra-clad professional cheerleaders to dancing babes on MTV videos, lust is ubiquitous in modern America, the single most profitable industry on the Internet.

In the modern world, sin approaches in camouflage.  Too late do we realize that it blocks the path to shalom, to wholeness and health.  We miss the hidden dangers that prompted the ancients to regard these sins as deadly.  I have learned that these sins diminish me and bring disorder to my life.  Pride is a kind of addiction, a yearning for ego strokes that will never be satisfied.  Greed tempts me to move my focus from people to things.  Lust keeps me from connecting in the most meaningful way, diverting that desire in a direction that ultimately does not satisfy.  God wants to set me free; evil attempts to enslave. 

-- Philip Yancy in Rumors of Another World


Tuesday, June 17, 2014


"For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life through Christ Jesus our Lord." (Romans 6:23 NLT)

Pardon comes not to the soul alone; or rather, Christ comes not to the soul with pardon only!  It is that which He opens the door and enters by, but He comes with a Spirit of life and power.

-- John Owen (1616-1683)


Monday, June 16, 2014


Gratitude causes us to share the gospel of Christ boldly.  We want others to experience this great thing that Christ has done in us.  This truth is beautifully illustrated in a story my teacher, Dr. J. T. Seamands, who loved to tell about a clubfooted boy in England.  He lived in a small town with his widowed mother.  Because of his deformity he could not walk properly.  A businessman, who was a friend of the family, visited them one day and told them of a doctor in London who was having great success in operating on young people with club feet.  "If you will give me permission," said the friend, "I will take your son to London and see what this doctor can do for him.  I will take care of all the expenses."  The mother gratefully accepted the offer.

The boy was taken to London.  The operation was a success.  The businessman kept the mother informed of her son's progress.  Finally she got a telegram saying that the businessman and her son would be returning by train.

The mother could hardly believe her eyes as she saw the son walking up to her.  He leaped into her arms and started to say, "Mother, I will ... " but that is as far as he got.  The mother stopped him and said, "Son, don't say a word.  Just run up and down the platform and let Mother see how you can do it."

He ran up and down once or twice and then went to his mother and began to say something.  But again she cut him short and had him run up and down the platform.  Finally, the mother was satisfied and the son was able to say what he wanted to say.  "Mother, I will never be satisfied until you meet the doctor in London.  He's the most wonderful man in the world."

Evangelism is just like that. It is a grateful person sharing with another what Christ has done in his life and can do in this other person's life too.  As D. T. Niles used to say, "Evangelism is one beggar telling another beggar where to find bread."

-- Ajith Fernando in The Christian's Attitude Toward World Religions


Friday, June 13, 2014


"Fathers, don’t exasperate your children by coming down hard on them. Take them by the hand and lead them in the way of the Master." -- Ephesians 6:4 (The Message)

"It is not flesh and blood but the heart, which makes us fathers and sons."  -- Johann Schiller

"There's something like a line of gold thread running through a man's words when he talks to his daughter, and gradually over the years it gets to be long enough for you to pick up in your hands and weave into a cloth that feels like love itself."  -- John Gregory Brown


Thursday, June 12, 2014


"Do you not know that you are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit dwells in you?"  (1 Corinthians 3:16 NRSV)

How true it is… that within the cell of your soul you will find the whole of God.

He bestows such sweetness, refreshment, and consolation that no matter what may happen we cannot be shaken, because we have been made big enough to hold God's own will.  How?  By getting rid of all selfish love, by getting rid of everything that is not God's will.

-- Catherine of Siena in A Life of Total Prayer


Wednesday, June 11, 2014


Jesus answered and said to Nicodemus, "Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born again, he cannot see the Kingdom of God." (John 3:3 NKJV)

Christianity means much more than [simply being born again]. That is only the beginning. It is wonderful and blessed, but a beginning. Then we have the slow and sometime painful process of metamorphous taking place inside our heart. We learn to lean upon God for direction instead of the world for direction. We begin to develop an intimate relationship with our Lord that continues to grow all the days of our new life.

-- Pastor Gary Stone


Tuesday, June 10, 2014


"I appeal to you therefore, brothers and sisters, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship.  Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your minds, so that you may discern what is the will of God -- what is good and acceptable and perfect." (Romans 12:1-2 NRSV)

Jesus Christ is able to untangle all the snarls in your soul, to banish all your complexes, and to transform even your fixed habit patterns, no matter how deeply they are etched in your subconscious.

--  Corrie ten Boom


Monday, June 9, 2014


Mere weeks after the greatest failure of his life, a transformed Simon Peter assumes the stage in the middle of a bewildered Jerusalem crowd. Moments before, a man crippled from birth had leapt to his feet at a mere word from Peter: “In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, walk” (Acts 3:6, NIV). A few simple words, and a beggar turns dancer. No wonder the crowd responds with amazement bordering on reverence toward Peter.

Peter wastes no time in setting the record straight He knows the healing had nothing to do with human words or abilities and everything to do with a crucified and resurrected Savior. Peter too had been crippled -- with fear, pride, and ignorance, three flaws that led to three denials when Jesus needed him most.

But God is a God of miracles, for beggars crippled from birth and for prideful disciples. Peter’s Savior, raised from the grave, offered Peter forgiveness, restoration, and a second chance either to deny or proclaim the good news. In that moment, Peter’s prior failure becomes a platform for triumph as he testifies boldly to the truth of the one true healer -- Jesus Christ.

-- Michele Cushatt, from The Upper Room Disciplines 2012: A Book of Daily Devotions. Copyright © 2011 by Upper Room Books. All rights reserved. Used by permission.


Friday, June 6, 2014


"After they prayed, the place where they were meeting was shaken. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and spoke the word of God boldly." (Acts 4:31)

When the Holy Spirit came at Pentecost, it wasn't dynamite, it was a dynamo! Dynamite makes a loud noise, kicks up a lot of dust, and it's over. A dynamo is a continual source of power. It builds and builds and builds, and the power never stops flowing.

-- Ken Hutcherson


Thursday, June 5, 2014


"For all who are led by the Spirit of God are children of God. For you did not receive a spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received a spirit of adoption. When we cry, “Abba! Father!” it is that very Spirit bearing witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs, heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ -- if, in fact, we suffer with Him so that we may also be glorified with Him…   Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we ought, but that very Spirit intercedes with sighs too deep for words.  And God, who searches the heart, knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God." (Romans 8:14-17, 26-27 NRSV)

For the Spirit we have received is the Spirit of the Son of God, and we possessing it are God's [children] too, and "that of God in us" leaps out towards the God who is the source of it.  The Spirit of Jesus within us moves us to prayer: indeed, prayer is just the moving of God's Son in us towards the Father.  Though we are burdened with the greatness of our need, so that our prayers are not even articulate, yet in such "inarticulate sighs" the Spirit "intercedes for us."

-- C. Harold Dodd in The Meaning of Paul for Today


Wednesday, June 4, 2014


"Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God?" (1 Corinthians 6:19 NRSV)

Flannery O’Connor’s short story "A Temple of the Holy Ghost" tells of a precocious twelve-year-old girl and two country boys who have come to court her visiting cousins.  The girl overhears her teenage cousins mock a nun, Sister Perpetua, who has suggested a formula to use in fending off fresh young men in the back seats of cars. "Stop sir!  I am a Temple of the Holy Ghost!" the nun taught the girls to say.  The cousins think such advice is hilarious.  The twelve-year-old girl, however, is moved.  The news that she is the dwelling place of God makes her feel as if somebody has given her a present.  She takes it seriously.

The nun’s formula comes from a passage, 1 Corinthians 6, that is among Paul's strongest and most strange.  In trying to shock the Corinthians out of their wild behavior, Paul uses this astonishing argument: "Do you not know that your bodies are members of Christ Himself?  Shall I then take the members of Christ and unite them with a prostitute?  Never!  Do you not know that he who unites himself with a prostitute is one with her in body? For it is said, 'The two will become one flesh.'"

-- Philip Yancey in Rumors of Another World


Tuesday, June 3, 2014


First of all, I came to the humble conclusion that our prayers are often misguided simply because we're not omniscient.  I'll be the first to admit that I've drawn some prayer circles around the wrong things for the wrong reasons, and God didn't answer those prayers the way I wanted Him to!  If we were absolutely honest, we would have to admit that most of our prayers have as their main objective personal comfort rather than God's glory.  If God answered those selfish prayers, they would actually short-circuit the purposes of God in our lives.  We would fail to learn the lessons God is trying to teach us or cultivate the character God is trying to shape in us.

A second lesson learned is that no doesn't always mean no; sometimes no means not yet.  We're too quick to give up on God when He doesn't answer our prayers when we want or how we want.  Maybe your deadline doesn't fit God's timeline.  Maybe no simply means not yet.  Maybe it's a divine delay.

Finally, I learned that we shouldn't seek answers as much as we should seek God.  We get overanxious.  We try to microwave our own answers instead of trusting God's timing.  But here's an important reminder:  If you seek answers you won't find them, but if you seek God, the answers will find you.  There comes a point after you have prayed through that you need to let go and let God.  How?  By resisting the temptation to manufacture your own answer to your own prayer.

-- Mark Batterson in The Circle Maker


Monday, June 2, 2014


"Even if I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will not be afraid of anything, because You are with me. You have a walking stick with which to guide and one with which to help. These comfort me."  (Psalm 23:4 The Message)

We may ignore, but we cannot evade, the presence of God.  The world is crowded with Him.  He walks everywhere incognito.  And the incognito is not always easy to penetrate.  The real labor is to remember to attend.

-- Armand Nicholi in The Question of God