Friday, July 29, 2016


"But someone will say, 'You have faith and I have works.' Show me your faith apart from your works, and I will show you my faith by my works."  (James 2:18 ESV)

In my intellect, I may divide [faith and works], just as in the candle I know there is both light and heat; yet put out the candle, and both are gone.

-- John Selden (1584-1654)


Thursday, July 28, 2016


The Bible says that each one of us will face death.  It's inevitable.  But as Christ-followers know, death is just the stepping-over into eternal union with God, if we so choose.  John 3:16 has become rote for many people, but its message continues to shake life's foundation: God so loved the world that He gave His only Son, so that anyone who chooses to believe in Him would not perish but would have eternal life.  You can have it, you can know it, you can be assured of it, and you can be completely confident in it.

I wonder if you know anyone who needs that level of assurance today.  If so, then find a way to give it to them!

-- Bill Hybels in Just Walk Across the Room


Wednesday, July 27, 2016


A businessman known for his ruthlessness, arrogance, and religiosity once told Mark Twain he intended to visit the Holy Land before he died, in order to climb Mount Sinai and read the Ten Commandments aloud.  “I have a better idea,” Twain said. “You could stay here in Boston and keep them.”

We would rather cogitate on what we do not know than actually do the things we know we ought to do.

Organizations often suffer from inertia.  A company may know they need to improve quality control, so they discuss it, listen to presentations about it, read books, look at state-of-the-art systems -- but never actually get around to doing it. Their problem is one of knowing too much, but doing too little.

Be doers of the word, and not merely hearers.” (James 1:22 NRSV)

-- John Ortberg in The Me I Want To Be


Tuesday, July 26, 2016


"God’s light came into the world, but people loved the darkness more than the light, for their actions were evil." (John 3:19b NLT)

Grace is a gift offered to each individual by God. Imagine Christ moving toward us, stretching out His arms to embrace us. Then Christ stops and waits for us to move into the embrace. The invitation is clear. Christ has made the first steps toward us. Yet, no one is forced into the embrace. Only when we step forward and accept the offered relationship does it happen.

God loves us enough to allow us to reject His love. Part of the mystery of humanity is why people choose darkness over light, hatred over love, sin over holiness, and separation from God over salvation. But they do.

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


Monday, July 25, 2016


I want to suggest that the cutting edge of mission in our time, especially for churches in North America, is to reclaim John Wesley's vision that “the world is our parish.” Wesley came by it naturally, because Christianity is a world-embracing religion.

+ It is a faith founded on the presuppositions that God created the whole world and pronounced it good.

+ It is a movement whose call is understood in terms of the call of Abraham and Sarah to be a blessing to all the nations.

+ It is a community of moral discourse centered in the prophets who reminded the Israelites and who remind us that justice and righteousness are at the heart of what God calls us to be about.

+ It is a faith centered in John's announcement that God so loved the world that He sent His only Son (John 3:16).

+ It is a witnessing fellowship centered in Jesus Christ who gave us the Great Commission to go into all the world and to make disciples of all nations (Matt 28:16-20).

+ It is a church, born at Pentecost, only when people are gathered together from every language and tongue and nation.

+ It is a faith community that sent the disciples out to turn the world upside down for the Gospel (Acts 17:6).

-- Clifton Kirkpatrick in Perspectives, February 2005


Friday, July 22, 2016


Forgiving is going to a person either in your fantasies or in reality and saying, "I don't understand. I'll never understand and it wasn't OK and it isn't OK, but I forgive you." Forgiving doesn't make a person a doormat. It isn't the same as tolerance. Forgivers don't have to be fools. Forgiving is healing yourself of something that happened to you that you cannot tolerate but you forgive it as the only way to heal the wound that it left with you.

-- Lewis Smedes in Wrestling with Angels video


Thursday, July 21, 2016


Blessed are not just the winners that society says are blessed. Blessed are not just the super models. Blessed are not just the rich and powerful who can attract trophy partners. Blessed are the wrinkled. Blessed are the misshapen. Blessed are those who never got asked to the prom, who never got asked to dance. Blessed are the single; blessed are the married. Blessed are the prostitutes, the addicted, the shamed, and the regretful.

Blessed, blessed, blessed. Blessed are you, not because you can have every desire fulfilled, but because you are not your desires. Blessed are you because you are more than a stomach, a mouth, and a pair of eyes. Blessed are you because what you really ache for is to be loved by and connected to God, and now Jesus says that love, that life, that connection is yours if you want it through Him.

Do you want it?

-- John Ortberg in The Me I Want to Be


Wednesday, July 20, 2016


“The LORD is my strength and my shield; my heart trusts in Him, and He helps me. My heart leaps for joy, and with my song I praise Him.” (Psalm 28:7 NIV)

A story is told about a boy who valiantly, but unsuccessfully, attempted to move a heavy log to clear a pathway to his favorite hideout. His dad stood quietly nearby, watching his son straining against the load. Finally he said, "Son, why aren't you using all of your strength?"

Confused and a little angry, the boy responded, "Dad, I'm using every last little bit of strength I have!"

"No, son, you're not," his dad quietly responded. "You haven't asked me to help."

God is standing by at the ready, watching us trying to do it all on our own. He is asking us, “My child, why aren't you using all of your strength?" He is waiting for us to simply ask for His help and His strength. And when we do, joy bursts from our heart and praise from our lips.

-- David T. Wilkinson


Tuesday, July 19, 2016


“Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life..” (John 3:36a NIV)

The cemetery is a sad place. We don’t like to say goodbye to those whom we love. It’s right for us to weep, but there is no need to despair. They are, at this very moment, at peace in the presence of God.

One of our church members asked me to speak at the funeral of his mother. Her name was Ida, but her friends called her Polly. Her son told me his mother had been unresponsive the last few hours of her life. She never spoke a word. But moments before her death, she opened her eyes and in a clear voice said, “My name is Ida, but my friends call me Polly.”

Meaningless words of hallucination? Perhaps. Or maybe she was in the presence of God -- maybe she was getting acquainted!

-- Mac Lucado in When Christ Comes


Monday, July 18, 2016


There are two ways of looking when it comes to a window.  I can look at a window.  I can notice the glass, see if there are any streaks or dust particles or bubbles in it.  Or I can look through a window.  I can view the world beyond it by using it as an opening to the world.

Sometimes I look at the Scriptures.  I study its story.  I ask questions.  Thoughts of God’s goodness, love, and peace lodge in my mind.  The idea is that I begin also to look at my world through the Scriptures -- through the perspective of God’s constant care and presence.

-- John Ortberg in The Me I Want To Be


Friday, July 15, 2016


The Bible proclaims hope in the face of the darkness of circumstances... It does not promise that we won’t go through difficulties or that we won’t experience pain. But these will not be the final word. So the psalmist writes, “Weeping may linger for the night, but joy comes with the morning.” (Psalm 30:5a) The writer of Lamentations, seeing the destruction of the city of Jerusalem in 586 BC, confesses his overwhelming grief and sorrow but goes on to say, “But this I call to mind, and therefore I have hope: The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases, His mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning. “ (Lamentations 3:21-23)

-- Adam Hamilton in Why? - Making Sense of God’s Will


Thursday, July 14, 2016


The first service one owes to others in the fellowship consists in listening to them.  Just as love of God begins in listening to His Word, so the beginning of love for [our brothers and sisters] is learning to listen to them.  It is God's love for us that He not only gives us His Word but lends us His ear.  So it is His work that we do for [others] when we learn to listen to [them].

-- Dietrich Bonhoeffer (1906-1945) in Life Together


Wednesday, July 13, 2016


In his first letter to the church at Corinth, the Apostle Paul says (in Eugene Peterson's translation The Message): "I have a serious concern to bring up with you, my friends, using the authority of Jesus, our Master. I'll put it as urgently as I can: You must get along with each other. You must learn to be considerate of one another, cultivating a life in common." (I Corinthians 1:10)…

We live in a time when there are too many conflicts, too little cooperation, and too few people who are willing to get along. Simple courtesy, the ability to compromise, and the willingness to think of the larger good -- those things seem to be in short supply. We are reaching the point where the very social fabric is coming unraveled…

I suggest the following steps for each of us and all of us to take:

1. Start by saying "I could be wrong" when expressing your opinions. That simple caveat allows room for the other person to have a different opinion. And it is also the truth – we may well be wrong, even when we have a strong opinion.

2. Practice stating opposing opinions without labeling or cynicism. The ability to explain positions with which we disagree means that we have truly listened and learned. It also makes it more likely that we will convince others to consider our opinion.

3. Agree to disagree without becoming disagreeable. There is nothing which says we must always agree, but our disagreeing can be civil and polite.

4. Don't go thermo-nuclear on every issue. Most issues are not ultimate, so don't ramp up the rhetoric on every little thing.

5. Allow God to speak for Himself and don't presume God agrees with you on every one of your opinions.

Will these five steps eliminate all of the divisions and violence in our society and all the divisions in our churches? Of course not. But we must start somewhere. As the Apostle Paul says, "We must get along with each other." We must.

-- U.M. Bishop Mike Coyner, from the Indiana Conference website


Tuesday, July 12, 2016


Jesus said, “Now I say to you that you are Peter (which means ‘rock’), and upon this rock I will build My church, and all the powers of hell will not conquer it.”  (Matthew 16:18 NLT)

The church is the joyful company of all those who have been redeemed and brought into right relationship with God. Jesus declared that He was going to build a new community known as the church. Jesus did not use the more common expression of a “congregation” or a “synagogue” to describe His new community, but the word “church.” The word in the Greek is the word for being called to a public assembly. It simultaneously reminds us that we have been called out of a life of sin into a new community, and also that this community is a public assembly designed for men, women, and children alike who have been baptized and brought into this new redeemed life. It is not, like the earlier word, limited to Jews, but is now open to the whole human race, Jew and Gentile. It is a community of prayer, of teaching, of training, of discipline, and it is the place where we dwell in the presence of God and commune with Him at the Lord’s Supper or Eucharist. We are not merely saved as individuals but we are saved as a people.

-- Timothy C. Tennent


Monday, July 11, 2016


“God showed how much He loved us by sending His one and only Son into the world so that we might have eternal life through Him. This is real love -- not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son as a sacrifice to take away our sins.  Dear friends, since God loved us that much, we surely ought to love each other.  (1 John 4:9-11 NLT)

We must love God, before we can be holy at all; this being the root of all holiness. Now we cannot love God, till we know He loves us.

-- John Wesley


Friday, July 8, 2016


“Looking at the man, Jesus felt genuine love for him. “There is still one thing you haven’t done,” Jesus told him. “Go and sell all your possessions and give the money to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow Me.” At this the man’s face fell, and he went away sad, for he had many possessions.”  (Mark 10:21-22 NIV)

I love Jesus, but want to hold on to my own friends even when they do not lead me closer to Jesus. I love Jesus, but want to hold on to my own independence even when it brings me no real freedom. I love Jesus, but do not want to lose the respect of my professional colleagues even though their respect does not make me grow spiritually. I love Jesus, but do not want to give up my writing, travel, and speaking plans even when they are often more to my glory than God's.

-- Henri J.M. Nouwen, from his diary; in New Oxford Review (April 1987). Christianity Today, Vol. 32, no. 15.


Thursday, July 7, 2016


There is a lovely saying of Martin Luther's about the reason for Bible reading: "As we come to the cradle in order to find the baby, so we come to the Scriptures in order to find the Christ."

Sometimes we will find it almost a talking book as some bit comes alive and strikes us forcibly.  Sometimes we will find it more of a picture gallery as we see what God did in other lives and learn from that.  Sometimes it will be a torch to help us along a particularly dark part of the route.  Sometimes it will be a fire to warm us, sometimes a hammer to break down our proud independence.  Sometimes it will be a meal to feed us spiritually.  Neglect this book and you will remain small.  Feed on it and you will grow.

-- Michael Green in Follow in His Footprints


Wednesday, July 6, 2016


While not a word we might immediately associate with spiritual maturation, play is a powerful metaphor for a fully integrated life.  Few things frighten me more than persons who have become deadly serious about their religion.  Living in a flat world with limited dimensions, they have lost perspective.  They set no place at the table for the clown, the child, the muse.  They have lost the art of play.

Play is free-form spontaneous creativity.  It is the essence of improvisation, a state of intuitive receptivity to the God-given powers of the soul.  Play delights in the wonder of the moment, often finding joy and humor where they are least evident.  Like Jesus, the great saints of our tradition have been graced with joy and playful humor even in the midst of suffering.  If you doubt Jesus had a sense of humor, follow Elton Trueblood's suggestion: Imagine the Pharisee straining a gnat from his cup and instead swallowing a camel  -- yes, the whole huge mass of humps and hooves slides surreptitiously down his throat without his ever noticing!

Play involves befriending our "wild" side.  Some theologians have observed that God is "wild", undomesticated, free to play in sovereign creativity through time and eternity.  As beings made in the image and likeness of God, we reflect this creative potential.  The wild side of us is kin to the child side of us.  Children live in a world of improbable imagination.  Could this be one reason why Jesus said we must become "as little children" in order to enter the kingdom of God?  The picture Jesus paints of the kingdom is wildly improbable.  Things are truly upside-down from an "adult" point of view: the last are first, the great are small, the despised are blessed.

-- Marjorie Thomspson in Leading From the Center, Spring 2000


Tuesday, July 5, 2016


In sure and steadfast hope to rise,
And claim her mansion in the skies,
A Christian here her flesh laid down,
The cross exchanging for a crown.
True daughter of affliction, she,
Inured to pain and misery,
Mourn'd a long night of griefs and fears,
A legal night of seventy years.
The Father then revealed His Son;
Him in the broken bread made known;
She knew and felt her sins forgiven,
And found the earnest of her heaven.
Meet for the fellowship above,
She heard the call, "Arise, my love!"
"I come!" her dying looks replied,
And, lamb-like as her Lord, she died.

-- Charles Wesley


Friday, July 1, 2016


“So Jesus said to the Jews who had believed Him, ‘If you abide in My word, you are truly My disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.’”  (John 8:31-32 ESV)

Saul of Tarsus thought he was in God's will when in fact, he was in bondage to his strict religious observance of the law.  When God interrupted his life, Paul was transported from religion to relationship.  He became a new creation in Christ.  Paul learned to breathe the air of freedom by living in God's will.  Jesus said, "If the Son sets you free, you will indeed be free" (John 8:36, NLV).

Henrietta Mears, a beloved Bible teacher, taught the secret to true freedom.  She explained, "A bird is free in the air.  Place a bird in the water and he has lost his liberty.  A fish is free in the water, but leave him on the sand and he perishes.  He is out of his realm.  So, the Christian is free when he does the will of God and is obedient to God's command.  This is as natural a realm for God's child as the water is for the fish, or the air for the bird."

-- Lenya Heitzig and Penny Pierce Rose in Pathway to God's Treasure: Ephesians