Wednesday, September 30, 2015


"Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction so that we will be able to comfort those who are in any affliction with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God."  (2 Corinthians 1:3-4)

Sometimes the comfort of a loved one isn't enough. Sometimes the hurt is so deep that no human words can help relieve the pain... That's when we need to look beyond human comfort to something much more effective -- the comfort of God. This isn't some mystical, faraway concept. God really does provide comfort to those who call upon Him in times of need. The trouble is that many people are so busy blaming God for their troubles that they don't even realize how close He is and how much He wants to comfort them. Unlike human comfort, which feels good for a moment, God's comfort supplies strength for a lifetime.... At the root of God's comfort is the idea of nearness. Indeed, when He comforts us, God calls us near.

-- Bruce Bickel and Stan Jantz in God Is in the Small Stuff


Tuesday, September 29, 2015


On a Cruise Ship people expect to be served.
      On a Rescue Ship people expect to serve.

On a Cruise Ship the staff takes care of the passengers.
      On a Rescue Ship those on board take care of one another.

On a Cruise Ship gratification comes from the comfort and the beautiful scenery.
      On a Rescue Ship gratification comes from participating in the mission.

On a Cruise Ship relationships are superficial.
      On a Rescue Ship relationships are close-knit and meaningful.

On a Cruise Ship not much is expected of the passengers.
      On a Rescue Ship every person has an assignment and participates in the mission.

On a Cruise Ship the thrill comes from the food, service and entertainment.
      On a Rescue Ship the thrill comes from accomplishing the mission.

On a Cruise Ship you hear, "I like this" or "I don't like that."
      On a Rescue Ship you hear, "How can I help?"

On a Cruise Ship the energy is put into those who are "on board."
      On a Rescue Ship the energy is put into those who are "out there."

On a Cruise Ship the captain responds to the people's requests.
     On a Rescue Ship the people respond to the captain's orders.

On a Cruise Ship everyone rejoices when they get to sit at the captain's table.
      On a Rescue Ship heaven rejoices when even one who is lost is saved.

What kind of ship is your church?

-- Rev. Dave Wilkinson, adapted from Paul Kaak in New Directions for Small Group Ministry


Monday, September 28, 2015


Instead of always being one of the chief bastions of the social status quo, the Church is to develop a Christian counter-culture with its own distinctive goals, values, standards, and lifestyle -- a realistic alternative to the contemporary technocracy which is marked by bondage, materialism, self-centeredness, and greed. Christ's call to obedience is a call to be different, not conformist.  Such a Church -- joyful, obedient, loving, and free -- will do more than please God: it will attract the world. It is when the Church evidently is the Church, and is living a supernatural life of love by the power of the Holy Spirit, that the world will believe.

-- John R. W. Stott in Obeying Christ in a Changing World


Tuesday, September 22, 2015


Eternal life is not an unending continuance of this life -- that would, perhaps, be Hell -- but eternal life is quite a different life, divine, not mundane; perfect, not earthly; true life, not corrupt half-life.  We cannot form a conception of eternal life.  What we imagine is ever simply of the earth, temporal, worldly.  Nor could we know anything about our eternal life if it had not appeared in Jesus Christ.  In Him we realize that we were created for the eternal life… "It is life with God, in God, from God; life in perfect fellowship."

-- Emil Brunner in Our Faith


Tuesday, September 15, 2015


As we shared together our feelings about the study groups, we realized that we were not meeting together each week for an intellectual exercise: something very real and significant was taking place. We were coming to know that the Christian faith is not primarily an ethic; it is not the struggle to do good or be good, but an encounter with Christ, of which morality and ethical living are by-products.

-- Harold R. Fray, Jr. in The Spirit Making New


Monday, September 14, 2015


"All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness,…"  (2 Timothy 3:16 NIV)

God's Word tells us the truth about Him, about ourselves, and about the way He does things... God's Word is a living message to His people, literally "God-breathed." Those who read Scripture often recount the times when a particular message jumped off the page and spoke to their hearts.

Of course, [God] doesn't intend for us to use His Word like a collection of disconnected slogans that promise us everything we want. But when we sincerely seek to know God, the Scriptures provide clear guidance, warm comfort, and supernatural solutions.

-- Stephen Arterburn in The Power Book


Friday, September 11, 2015


J. R. R. Tolkien, the author of "The Hobbit" and the "Lord of the Rings" trilogy, made clear in his private writings he intended to proclaim a Christian message through his fictional writings.

Tolkien lived through the two world wars, yet he never lost his faith that those catastrophes the devil intends for evil, God turns to good. He embedded that faith in the very creation of his famous imaginative world…

As a man who himself had faced the monstrous evil that lay behind war, Tolkien didn't sugarcoat his message. He knew the horrific events God uses for good are no less horrific for those who experience them…

It is hard to speak of the positive results of catastrophic events when people we have loved are dead and landmarks we have known are destroyed. For example, we can never see 9/11 as anything but evil. Yet, as our minds reawaken to the horror of war, the same horror that helped impart realism and strength to the writings of J. R. R. Tolkien, we may rediscover the bedrock source of that strength -- the knowledge of the God who, through and only through an awful death at the hands of sinful men, rose and redeemed humankind.

-- Chris Armstrong in "9/11, History, and the True Story," Christian History newsletter, 9/13/02


Thursday, September 10, 2015


I believe God wants you to be saved from sin and delivered to a happy and whole life as one of Christ's disciples. That journey is so much easier if you open yourself to the Bible's teaching, if you listen to the wisdom of Christians who have traveled before you, and if you do it in community -- with a group of seekers or disciples who will support you, encourage you, and challenge you along the way. Ideally that community of sisters and brothers and friends will hold you accountable for becoming your best self. Our efforts to become the people we want to be are often done in groups, whether Alcoholics Anonymous, Weight Watchers, Walk to Emmaus, a women's Bible study, a men's group, or [an adult] Sunday school class. We need each other.

-- U. M. Bishop Scott J. Jones in The Wesleyan Way: A Faith That Matters


Wednesday, September 9, 2015


"God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble." (Psalm 46:2 NKJV)

God wants us to realize that He is our everything. He is our sufficiency. We need to come to Him and trust Him in every situation.

-- David Robinson, in Sports Spectrum


Tuesday, September 8, 2015


Jesus said, “If you love Me, you will keep My commandments."  (John 14:15)

As the great Jewish theologian Abraham Heschel put it in The Prophets, "To the prophet, God does not reveal Himself in an abstract absoluteness, but in a personal and intimate relation to the world.  He does not simply command and expect obedience; He is also moved and affected by what happens in the world, and reacts accordingly.  Events and human actions arouse in Him joy or sorrow, pleasure or wrath… Man's deeds may move Him, affect Him, grieve Him or, on the other hand, gladden and please Him. …the God of Israel is a God Who loves, a God Who is known to, and concerned with, man.  He not only rules the world in the majesty of His might and wisdom, but reacts intimately to the events of history."

More than any other word pictures, God chooses "children" and "lovers" to describe our relationship with Him as being intimate and personal.

-- Philip Yancey in The Bible Jesus Read


Friday, September 4, 2015


On February 19, 1519, the Spanish explorer Hernan Cortes set sail for Mexico with an entourage of 11 ships, 13 horses, 110 sailors, and 553 soldiers. The indigenous population upon his arrival was approximately five million. From a purely mathematical standpoint, the odds were stacked against him by a ratio of 7,541 to 1. Two previous expeditions had failed to even establish a settlement in the New World, yet Cortes conquered much of the South American continent.

What Cortes is reported to have done after landing is an epic tale of mythic proportions. He issued an order that turned the mission into an all-or-nothing proposition: "Burn the ships!" As his crew watched their fleet of ships burn and sink, they came to terms with the fact that retreat was not an option. And if you can compartmentalize the moral conundrum of colonization, there is a lesson to be learned. Nine times out of ten, failure is resorting to Plan B when Plan A gets too risky, too costly, too difficult. That's why most people are living their Plan B. They didn't burn the ships. Plan A people don't have a Plan B. It's Plan A or bust. They would rather crash and burn going after their God-ordained dreams than succeed at something else.

There are moments in life when we need to burn the ships to our past. We do so by making a defining decision that will eliminate the possibility of sailing back to the old world we left behind. You burn the ships name "Past Failure" and "Past Success." You burn the ship named "Bad Habit." You burn the ship named "Regret." You burn the ship named "Guilt." You burn the ship named "My Old Way of Life."

-- Mark Batterson in All In


Thursday, September 3, 2015


"For since, in the wisdom of God, the world through wisdom did not know God, it pleased God through the foolishness of the message preached to save those who believe. "  (I Corinthians 1:21)

There is a great difference between understanding something about someone and truly knowing that person. Understanding comes through gathering information about the individual. Knowing comes from developing a relationship with the person. Through Jesus Christ we can do more than understand some things about God, we can know God through an ongoing, personal relationship with Him.

Jesus lifted up His eyes to heaven, and said,… "This is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent." (John 17:1a,3)

-- Rev. David T. Wilkinson


Wednesday, September 2, 2015


"All shall be well and all shall be well and all manner of thing shall be well." (Julian of Norwich)

At a time when I thought my world had all but ended, when the realization was hammering at my heart that my daughter's death was not some nightmare from which I would recover but was for all time, a friend came into the room, put her arms around my neck, and said, "Everything's going to be all right."

I thought she was crazy.  And yet.... and yet.... was it possible that she was right?

I had occasion, some years later, to be the consoler of a young woman whose son had lapsed into a coma from which he would not recover, and my words to her were the same.  "Everything's going to be all right." And I felt my friend from that earlier time standing beside me, nodding - See, that's what I told you.

Improbably though it seems when grief first assaults us, we do come to learn, though the surface of our life will often be in turmoil, that on a deep and unshakable level there is indeed a confidence that all is well.

Until that happens, we cling to the testimony of others and take hope:  if for them, why not for us, too?

-- Martha Whitmore Hickman in Healing After Loss


Tuesday, September 1, 2015


"So if anyone is in Christ, there is a new creation: everything old has passed away; see, everything has become new!"  (2 Corinthians 5:17 NRSV)

The moment we make up our minds that we are going on with this determination to exalt God overall, we step out of the world's parade...  We acquire a new viewpoint; a new and different psychology will be formed within us; a new power will begin to surprise us by its upsurgings and its outgoings.

-- A. W. Tozer (1897-1963) in The Pursuit of God