Friday, October 31, 2014


Sometimes the power of prayer is the power to carry on.  It doesn’t always change your circumstances, but it gives you the strength to walk through them.  When you pray through, the burden is taken off of your shoulders and put on the shoulders of Him who carried the cross to Calvary.

-- Mark Batterson in The Circle Maker


Thursday, October 30, 2014


"I consider everything a loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them rubbish that I may gain Christ and be found in Him, not having a righteousness of my own."  (Philippians 3:8-9)

The No. 1 thing that God has taught me through this career is that baseball is a game, and it is a job. It's not life. It's a nice way to make a living, but it is not supposed to be all-encompassing or all-consuming as I used to think it was. God has shown me what life is all about. It's about knowing Him and having a relationship with Him through His Son Jesus Christ. Life is about family. It's about caring for, understanding, and respecting others. I have learned there is always something you can do to make somebody feel better, even if it is just a comment. The Lord has taught me the beauty of making someone feel better. He is also teaching me how to let go of things I would not let go of before.

-- Ned Yost, Kansas City Royals Manager, in Sports Spectrum


Wednesday, October 29, 2014


"From now on, therefore, we regard no one from a human point of view; even though we once regarded Christ from a human point of view, we regard Him thus no longer."  (2 Corinthians 5:16)

Part of the joy and challenge of being a Christian is looking past the temporal and seeing the eternal; trying to see things from heaven's perspective.

-- Danny Wuerffel, retired NFL quarterback, in Sports Spectrum


Tuesday, October 28, 2014


Jesus is on His way out of Jericho when two blind men hail Him like a taxi:  "Lord, son of David, have mercy on us!"  The disciples see it as a human interruption.  Jesus sees it as a divine appointment.  So He stops and responds with a pointed question:  "What do you want me to do for you?"

Seriously?  Is that question even necessary?  Isn't it obvious what they want?  They're blind.  Yet Jesus forced them to define exactly what they wanted from Him.  Jesus made them verbalize their desire.  He made them spell it out, but it wasn't because Jesus didn't know what they wanted.  He wanted to make sure they knew what they wanted.  And that is where drawing prayer circles begins: knowing what to circle.

What if Jesus were to ask you this very same question:  What do you want me to do for you?  Would you be able to spell out the promises, miracles, and dreams God has put in your heart?  I'm afraid many of us would be dumbfounded.  We have no idea what we want God to do for us.  And the great irony, of course, is that if we can't answer this question, then we're as blind spiritually as these blind men were physically.

So while God is for us, most of us have no idea what we want God to do for us.  And that's why our prayers aren't just boring to us; they are uninspiring to God.  If faith is being sure of what we hope for, then being unsure of what we hope for is the antithesis of faith, isn't it?  Well-developed faith results in well-defined prayers, and well-defined prayers result in a well-lived life.

-- Mark Batterson in The Circle Maker


Monday, October 27, 2014


"But seek first the kingdom of God, and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you."  (Matthew 6:33 NKJV)

For the first two or three years after my conversion, I used to ask for specific things.  Now I ask for God.  Supposing there is a tree full of fruits -- you will have to go and buy or beg the fruits from the owner of the tree.  Every day you would have to go for one or two fruits.  But if you can make the tree your own property, then all the fruits will be your own.  In the same way, if God is your own, then all things in Heaven and on earth will be your own, because He is your Father and is everything to you; otherwise you will have to go and ask like a beggar for certain things.  When they are used up, you will have to ask again.  So ask not for gifts but for the Giver of Gifts: not for life but for the Giver of Life -- then life and the things needed for life will be added unto you.

-- Sadhu Sundar Singh (1889-1929)


Friday, October 24, 2014


Think about it. What kind of power is required to speak a universe into existence? What kind of strength must someone possess to scatter stars into infinite space? How explosive do you have to be to ignite the sun or to sustain it's fire? What kind of brute force is required to stack up mountains twenty thousand feet into the air?

Only one force is able to accomplish such a feat: God's power.  Throughout history, when God's people found themselves facing impossible odds, they reminded themselves of God's limitless power. Even Job took comfort by remembering "He stirs up the sea with His power… The thunder of His power who can understand?

Like… Job, we occasionally need a little reminder of what God can do, especially if things aren't going our way. In Psalm 115:3, the psalmist points out that God can do whatever He pleases. That is the essence of what omnipotence is all about. Omnipotent simply means "all-powerful." God never has to ask permission. His unrestrained, indescribable, infinite power and abilities have no parameters.

-- Bill Hybels in The God You're Looking For


Thursday, October 23, 2014


You have to trust the author.  You have to believe that God has a good reason for keeping His presence subtle.  It allows creatures as small and frail as human beings the capacity for choice that we would never have in the obvious presence of infinite power.  People driving behind a police car don't speed -- not always because their hearts are right, but because they don't want to get pulled over.

God wants to be known, but not in a way that overwhelms us, that takes away the possibility of love freely chosen. "God is like a person who clears his throat while hiding and so gives himself away," said Meister Eckhart.

You never know where He'll turn up, or whom He'll speak through, or what unlikely scenario He'll use for His purpose.  After the resurrection, Mary Magdalene was looking right at Jesus but thought He was the landscaping service.

God is often present, the Bible says, but apparently He often shows up in unexpected ways.  He travels incognito.  He is the master of disguise.

-- John Ortberg in God Is Closer Than You Think



A great deal of the joy of life consists in doing perfectly, or at least to the best of one's ability, everything which [one] attempts to do. There is a sense of satisfaction, a pride in surveying such a work -- a work which is rounded, full, exact, complete in all its parts -- which the superficial [person], who leaves work in a… half-finished condition, can never know. It is this conscientious completeness which turns work into art. The smallest thing, well done, becomes artistic.

-- William Mathews


Tuesday, October 21, 2014


For years my “bucket list” included enrolling in the Master Gardener program supported by Purdue University in my home state of Indiana. Not until I paid my registration fee, bought the necessary tools, and attended my first meeting did I learn the depth of the curriculum.

This serious business involved much more than trading tips on where to plant perennials or how to eradicate beetles. To earn my “badge” as a Master Gardener, I would have to study the contents of a thick 3-ring binder, agree to apply my new knowledge not just to my own backyard but also to a public green space, and abide by the group’s mission statement. The wording of the latter surprised me. The statement didn’t ask me to help others grow plants; instead, it asked me to “help others grow.” …

As followers of Christ we study God’s Word and apply it in our everyday lives. But our responsibility doesn’t stop there. When we receive the Holy Spirit, we assume an obligation to pass our faith on to others. We accept as our mission the charge “to help others grow.”

-- Holly G. Miller in The Upper Room Disciplines 2013: A Book of Daily Devotions. Copyright © 2012 by Upper Room Books. All rights reserved. Used by permission.


Monday, October 20, 2014


The critical issue of ownership undergirds our theology of giving and stewardship. To whom do the material goods and wealth we enjoy ultimately belong? I'm not talking about the legal right of ownership, but rather the faith-perspective -- stewardship -- that's rooted in thousands of years of Judeo-Christian theology and practice.

Fundamentally, we either consider the material things in our life -- our money, house, property -- as owned by God and belonging to God, and we manage them for God's purposes, or we view them as owned by us. If they are owned by God, then our tithes and offerings represent our returning to God what belongs to God already. What we keep also belongs to God, and we feel obligated to spend it wisely and not frivolously, and to invest it in ways that do not dishonor God's purposes. We try not to waste money or to live more lavishly than we should. We spend responsibly, allowing our relationship with God to form our minds. We manage God's resources as faithfully as we can.

-- Robert Schnase in Five Practices of Fruitful Living


Friday, October 17, 2014


Stewardship is what we do with all we have, all we are, and all we can become. It is a spiritual journey in life, responding to what God has done for us in Jesus Christ.

-- Douglas M. Lawson


Thursday, October 16, 2014


Most of our conflicts and difficulties come from trying to deal with the spiritual and practical aspects of our life separately instead of realizing them as parts of one whole.  If our practical life is centered on our own interests, cluttered up by possessions, distracted by ambitions, passions, wants and worries, beset by a sense of our own rights and importance, or anxieties for our own future, or longings for our own success, we need not expect that our spiritual life will be a contrast to all this.  The soul's house is not built on such a convenient plan; there are few soundproof partitions in it.  Only when the conviction -- not merely the idea -- that the demand of the Spirit, however inconvenient, rules the whole of it, will those objectionable noises die down which have a way of penetrating into the nicely furnished little oratory and drowning all the quieter voices by their din.

-- Evelyn Underhill in The Spiritual Life


Wednesday, October 15, 2014


"Don’t let the world around you squeeze you into its own mold, but let God re-mold your minds from within, so that you may prove in practice that the plan of God for you is good, meets all His demands and moves towards the goal of true maturity." (Romans 12:2 Phillips)

If we consider the lives of Christians in their churches, we so often find that they make good sons, daughters, fathers, mothers, husbands, wives, employers, and employees -- they have many individual virtues; but they have no way of life other than that which has been imposed upon them by their environment.  It is their sociological conditions, their social class, their neighborhood, their national characteristics, rather than their Christian faith, which determine their outlook and values: they are an overwhelming demonstration that it is the economic conditions and background of one's life which determine what one is and what one will think.  This is an intolerable condition, and so long as it persists we shall not be able to make any impact on the world, because it will be abundantly clear that it is the world which is making its impact upon us.

-- Douglas Rhymes in The Place of the Laity in the Parish


Tuesday, October 14, 2014


"More than that, we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not disappoint us, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit which has been given to us." (Romans 5:3-5 RSV)

One of the ambiguous gifts of our suffering (and they are ambiguous: they are gifts, and we would never have chosen them) is that it enlarges our perspective.  Petty complaints we had seem unimportant. People with whom we thought we had nothing in common become special friends.  Vocational prowess drops down on the list of our life's priorities; relationships are what matter.

At the same time that we feel more profoundly and gratefully connected to friends and family, we have a sense that all of us dwell in mystery, that we are connected to earth and sky, to the rhythms of the universe, to the whole range of living things in ways we do not understand.

Maybe I can relinquish my "white knuckle" grip on life, and trust that all will be well.

-- Martha Whitmore Hickman in Healing After Loss


Monday, October 13, 2014


"The earth is the LORD's, and everything in it, the world, and all who live in it." (Psalm 24:1)

The word, stewardship, simply means to manage someone else's property. For the Christian, as Scripture proclaims everything belongs to God, we manage the property of our Lord. Since everything belongs to Christ, we need to have the attitude and view that our things are His things, our stuff is His stuff, that all we could have now, all we have lost, all we will have, is His, including our very bodies and spiritual gifts. We are mere lessees of the property, money, relationships, talents, time, and even our lives. That means all that we are and all that we have are not really ours to begin with. They belong to God. So, the duty of the Christian is to learn how to become responsible stewards of our Lord's resources entrusted into our care. It means to manage everything to the best of our abilities for His glory.

-- from the Francis Schaeffer Institute of Church Leadership


Friday, October 10, 2014


I heard a question thrown at a man I greatly respect.  R.C. Sproul, a philosopher and theologian, was asked, "What, in your opinion, is the greatest spiritual need in the world today?"

Dr. Sproul paused, then replied, "The greatest need in people's lives today is to discover the true identity of God."  He pointed out that most nonreligious people do not really understand the God they're rejecting.  If they did, they would probably call a truce -- at least a temporary truce -- to make sure the battle was worth continuing.

Someone then asked the theologian a follow-up question: "What, in your opinion, is the greatest spiritual need in the lives of church people?"

To my delight Sproul shot back the very same answer: "To discover the true identity of God.  If believers really understood the character and the personality and the nature of God, it would revolutionize their lives."

-- Bill Hybels in The God You're Looking For


Thursday, October 9, 2014


An old man showed up at the back door of the house we were renting.  Opening the door a few cautious inches, we saw his eyes were glassy and his furrowed face glistened with silver stubble.  He clutched a wicker basket holding a few unappealing vegetables.  He bid us good morning, and offered his produce for sale.  We were uneasy enough that we made a quick purchase to alleviate both our pity and our fear.

To our chagrin, he returned the next week, introducing himself as Mr. Roth, the man who lived in the shack down the road.  As our fears subsided, we got close enough to realize it wasn't alcohol but cataracts that marbleized his eyes.  On subsequent visits, he would shuffle in, wearing two mismatched right shoes, and pull out a harmonica.  With glazed eyes set on a future glory, he'd puff out old gospel tunes between conversations about vegetables and religion.

On one visit, he exclaimed, "The Lord is so good!  I came out of my shack this morning and found a bag full of shoes and clothing on my porch."

"That's wonderful, Mr. Roth!" we said.  "We're happy for you."

"You know what's even more wonderful?" he asked.  "Just yesterday I met some people that could use them."

-- Mark Tidd


Wednesday, October 8, 2014


Lift up your heart to Him, sometimes even at your meals, and when you are in company; the least little remembrance will always be acceptable to Him.  You need not cry very loud; He is nearer to us than we are aware of.

-- Brother Lawrence (c.1605-1691) in The Practice of the Presence of God


Tuesday, October 7, 2014


[The Apostle] Paul was well aware of life's vulnerabilities.  He spoke about a "thorn in the flesh," which he had "urged the Lord three times to take it away from me." (2 Cor. 12:8, author's translation)… Paul did not get the answer he wanted, but he received one that supplied the axle around which his theology would turn: "My grace is sufficient for you, for My power is perfected in weakness" (2 Cor. 12:9)…

God's power, love power, works in any human vulnerability.  That perspective is one that many in our age and culture have difficulty understanding.  We know a lot about power.  Some say that our culture is obsessed with power.  We want more power to run bigger electric generators so that we can have more comforts and conveniences or more power to put up bigger payloads into space to terrify our enemies so they will not dare to threaten us.  But our power logic, Paul would point out, is not God's power logic.  Our power logic runs, "The weak are weak.  The strong are strong.  In weakness is weakness.  In strength is strength."

God's power logic runs, "In your human weakness you may find My power."

-- E. Glenn Hinson in Spiritual Preparation for Christian Leadership


Monday, October 6, 2014


Giving characterizes God’s creation. From the first page of Scripture, He is presented as a philanthropic creator. He produces in pluralities: stars, plants, birds, and animals. Every gift arrives in bulk, multiples, and medleys. God begets Adam and Eve in a “liturgy of abundance” and tells them to follow suit: “be fruitful and multiply” (Genesis 1:28).

Scrooge didn’t create the world; God did.

Psalm 104 celebrates this lavish creation with twenty-three verses of itemized blessings: the heavens and the earth, the waters and streams and trees and birds and goats and wine and oil and bread and people and lions. God is the source of “innumerable teeming things, living things both small and great… These all wait for You, that You may give them their food in due season” (vv. 25,27).

And He does. God is the great giver. The great provider. The fount of every blessing. Absolutely generous and utterly dependable. The resounding and recurring message of Scripture is clear: God owns it all. God shares it all. Trust Him!

-- Max Lucado in Fearless: Imagine Your Life Without Fear


Friday, October 3, 2014


Many Christians can name one or two people who were critical to their entry into the faith community.  Perhaps a pastor, a relative, a neighbor, or a coworker offered the first invitation, provided encouragement, or welcomed them.  Even in larger congregations, an unusually high proportion of newcomers have been influenced by a small handful of people.  These "doorway people" have a natural way of gently helping people along on the critical first steps toward faith.  Who are the "doorway people" for your own faith journey?  For whom are you a doorway person?

-- Robert Schnase in Five Practices of Fruitful Living


Thursday, October 2, 2014


Words are important.  Without them our actions lose meaning.  And without meaning we cannot live.   Words can offer perspective, insight, understanding, and vision.  Words can bring consolation, comfort, encouragement and hope.  Words can take away fear, isolation, shame, and guilt.  Words can reconcile, unite, forgive, and heal.  Words can bring peace and joy, inner freedom and deep gratitude.  Words, in short, can carry love on their wings.  A word of love can be the greatest act of love.  That is because when our words become flesh in our own lives and the lives of others, we can change the world.

Jesus is the word made flesh. (John 1:14)  In Him speaking and acting were one.

-- Henri Nouwen


Wednesday, October 1, 2014


Did it ever strike you what a wonderful thing it is for the Lord to give a new heart and a right spirit to [you]? You have seen a lobster, perhaps, which has fought with another lobster, and lost one of its claws, and a new claw has grown. That is a remarkable thing; but it is a much more astounding fact that a man should have a new heart given to him. This, indeed, is a miracle beyond the powers of nature. There is a tree. If you cut off one of its limbs, another one may grow in its place; but can you change the tree; can you sweeten sour sap; can you make the thorn bear figs? You can graft something better into it and that is the analogy which nature gives us of the work of grace; but absolutely to change the vital sap of the tree would be a miracle indeed. Such a prodigy and mystery of power God works in all who believe in Jesus.

-- Charles H. Spurgeon in All of Grace