Monday, October 31, 2016


“There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.”  (Galatians 3:28 NIV)

Has it ever occurred to you that one hundred pianos all tuned to the same fork are automatically tuned to each other?  They are of one accord by being tuned, not to each other, but to another standard to which each one must individually bow.

So one hundred worshippers meeting together, each one looking away to Christ, are in heart nearer to each other than they could possibly be were they to become 'unity' conscious and turn their eyes away from God to strive for closer fellowship.

Social religion is perfected when private religion is purified. The body becomes stronger as its members become healthier.  The whole church of God gains when the members that compose it begin to seek a better and a higher life [in Christ].

-- A. W. Tozer (1895-1963)


Friday, October 28, 2016


“So I'm telling you that her sins, as many as they are, have been forgiven, and that's why she has shown such great love.”  (Luke 7:47a ISV)

God has forgiven me so much, how can I not forgive? It’s that simple. It’s that difficult.

The true test of our faith is not our actions. It’s our reactions. It’s relatively easy to act like Jesus. It’s much harder to react like Him. And forgiveness is the litmus test.

-- Mark Batterson in The Grave Robber


Thursday, October 27, 2016


The young Christian mother noticed she had been getting too upset with her three-year-old son lately, especially when he broke something or made a big mess. She was flying off the handle too often, and realized this wasn't a good example to set for him.

She decided it would help if she held her temper, and tried a different approach. The next time her son's antics frustrated her, she called him to her and said, "Let's pray about this," and they had a quiet time talking about his naughty behavior. This worked for a few days, and she was pleased with the results.

Then one day the little guy broke one of her best pictures. Just after she heard the crash, he came running in saying, "Let's pray, Mommy."

-- Unknown


Wednesday, October 26, 2016


Jesus said, “I am the way…”  (John 14:6a)

Faith is a process, not a possession. It gives us something to chew on for the rest of our lives. Faith is certitude in the midst of doubt rather than certainty with no doubts. Faith is a journey with a compass which points us in the right direction, not a detailed map which tells us every step to take. Faith is not being sure of where you are going but going anyway because you like the traveling companions and you know Who leads the way.

-- William Willimon


Tuesday, October 25, 2016


Vengeance is a passion to get even. It is a hot desire to give back as much pain as someone gave you... The problem with revenge is that it never gets what it wants; it never evens the score. Fairness never comes. The chain reaction set off by every act of vengeance always takes its unhindered course. It ties both the injured and the injurer to an escalator of pain. Both are stuck on the escalator as long as parity is demanded, and the escalator never stops, never lets anyone off.

--  Lewis B. Smedes in Forgive and Forget


Monday, October 24, 2016


Houses are visible, but homes are not.  Churches can be seen, but the fellowship of believers that makes the church is an invisible spirit.  Citizenship papers are seeable, touchable, and weighable, but patriotism is not.  A marriage license is purchasable, but love is not.  Birthday and anniversary gifts can be measured in terms of dollars and cents, but thoughtfulness and appreciation cannot.

-- Harold E. Kohn


Friday, October 21, 2016


If you struggle with an addiction -- be it substance abuse, or pornography, or gambling, or whatever -- you certainly know by now that making a turnaround is not something that happens overnight. It takes a true change of heart and usually a good long time. Nothing easy about it.

But one of the changes that needs to occur is your ability to see these temptations for what they really are. The rush that draws you to want a drug or a drink or a wide-eyed drive on the Internet is not coming from a friendly camp. Yes, these alluring appeals show up with claims of sweet relief. They feel like something you want and need. But actually, they are more like an "arrow that flies by day," like a "pestilence that stalks in the darkness," like a "plague that destroys at midday" (Psalms 91:5-6). Whenever they show up -- morning, noon, and night, or all of the above -- they are hired killers. They are sent to destroy.

Read all sixteen verses of Psalms 91 with this kind of focus and mind-set. See if you don't spot some new names, accounts, and descriptions of what your battle is like every day. And see if you don't find hope in the powerful protection of your Lord and Savior, who can enable you to "tread upon the lion and the cobra . . . to trample the great lion and the serpent" (Psalms 91:13).

Know your enemy. Trust your God. Live your victory.

Prayer: Lord God, expose the teeth and sharp edges of every temptation that comes my way. Help me see them for what they are, and realize that I can only stay safe by stepping out of their path. Amen. 

-- Joe Gibbs, from “Two-Minute Drills with Coach Joe Gibbs"


Thursday, October 20, 2016


"Iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another."  (Proverbs 27:17)

People seldom improve when they have no other model but themselves to copy after.

-- Goldsmith


Wednesday, October 19, 2016


“Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord,…”  (Colossians 3:23 NIV)

Do not forget that the value and interest of life is not so much to do conspicuous things… as to do ordinary things with the perception of their enormous value.

-- Pierre Teilhard de Chardin


Friday, October 14, 2016


We are surrounded by everyday epiphanies. To get in the habit of encountering them, look each day for two things:
            1.         Something that surprises you
            2.         Something that inspires you

Many of us blunder through our lives as though we were asleep. Just being deliberately focused on seeing makes you more alert, more excited, more optimistic. You look, listen, and expect a life-giving surprise. Daily lives are transformed into expectation of meaningful sights. You may see things you have never noticed before.

-- Judy Gattis Smith in Fear Not


Thursday, October 13, 2016


“For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though He was rich, yet for your sake He became poor, so that you through His poverty might become rich.”  (2 Corinthians 8:9 NIV)

Another characteristic of the family is its willingness to share. The early church went so far as to have its members selling their property, each refusing  to claim as his exclusive property what had belonged to him before. They had all things in common. When the one part suffered the whole suffered with it and when one part prospered then the whole prospered with it. There was a mutuality in the relationship in which all gave and all received. Some gave more conspicuously in spiritual things while others gave in material gifts. Hence the collection for the saints was a deeply spiritual exercise. In a happy family you don’t receive in proportion to your input. You receive in relation to your needs, the ones who make the least material contribution often being the ones who are most cared for -- young and aged.

How I pray that in our church we can learn to emulate a true family, emulate the divine generosity of our Lord Jesus Christ, who, although rich, for our sakes became poor that we through His poverty might become rich.

How I pray for the day when the… church would be marked by a membership that knows that all things come from God and all belongs to Him, that we have the privilege of being His stewards and that the very least we should give in thanksgiving for God’s abundant and limitless generosity is the tithe.

-- Desmond Tutu in The Rainbow People of God


Wednesday, October 12, 2016


For He is our peace, who hath made both one, and hath broken down the middle wall of partition between us;… (Ephesians 2:14 KJV)

The wonderful thing about family is that you are not expected to agree about everything under the sun. Show me a man and wife who have never disagreed and I will show you some accomplished fibbers. But those disagreements, pray God, do not usually destroy the unity of the family. And so it should be with God’s family, the church. We are not expected at all times to be unanimous or to have a consensus on every conceivable subject.  As long as we are as one on the fundamentals and refuse to let go of one another.…

Healthy differences of opinion can help the body to be more lively. After all, it is unity we are talking about, not uniformity. What is needed is to respect one another’s points of view and not to impute unworthy motives to one another  or to seek to impugn the integrity of the other.

Our maturity will be judged by how well we are able to agree to disagree and yet continue to love one another, to care for one another and to cherish one another and seek the greater good for the other.

As the church, we are set as a sign in the world, the first fruits of the Kingdom, to demonstrate what God intends human society to be, united in a rich diversity, to demonstrate that Christ has indeed broken down the middle wall of partition…

-- Desmond Tutu in The Rainbow People of God


Tuesday, October 11, 2016


“… for all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. If you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise.”  (Galatians 3:27-29 NIV)

Our Lord came into a deeply divided and polarized society. There was a divide between hated foreign oppressors and the citizens of the vassal state. With Judaism there were different religious groupings -- the Pharisees, the Sadducees, the Zealots. There was a divide between the Jew, the Gentile, the Samaritan. And then men were segregated from women. There were free persons and there were slaves. There were rich, there were poor. There were collaborators and those who worked within the hateful system.

The world saw a veritable miracle unfolding before its very eyes as all sorts and  conditions of women and men, rich and poor, slave and free, Jew and Gentile – all these came to belong in one fellowship, one koinonia, one communion. They did not regard one another just as equals. That in itself would have been a huge miracle, for slave to be accepted as an equal by his former master. An equal you can acknowledge once and then forever thereafter ignore. No, they regarded one another not just as equals but as sisters and brothers, members of one family, God’s family.

– Desmond Tutu in The Rainbow People of God


Monday, October 10, 2016


One reason we place high value on grace in our relationships is because grace plows the soil of the hearts and makes it receptive to receive the seeds that we may want to drop into the soil.  Grace cultivates the soil so that when truth is spoken, the person is open and receptive.  When the spirit of grace is my lifestyle towards others, I speak to them, and they are more apt to accept and profit from what I say.  Seeds of truth need to fall in grace-saturated soil.

-- Dr. Norm Wakefield & Jody Brolsma in Men Are from Israel, Women Are from Moab


Friday, October 7, 2016


Consider the impact of congregations on your own life. Suppose someone could extract from your life all the influences that God has had on you through faith communities.  Imagine if you could pull out of your mind and heart all the thousands of sermons you have heard, the tens of thousands of hymns you have sung, the pastoral prayers and personal devotions that have formed you.  Remove all the people from your life and memory whom you have come to know and from whom you have learned and with whom you have worked -- the pastors, friends, colleagues, laypersons, youth leaders, Sunday school teachers.  Extract from your soul all the work projects, the meetings, the conversations, the service initiatives, the soup kitchens, the mission trips, hospital visits and support from others you have experienced.  Extract all the weddings, funerals, volunteer hours, stewardship campaigns, prayer vigils, children’s programs, mission fairs, camp experiences, and youth ministries.

If you could remove from your life all the influences congregations have ever had on you, who would you be? You’d be someone substantially different from who you are now.  The congregations to which you have belonged -- their people and pastors, their ministries and teachings and programs, their worship and service, their music and rituals, their communities and caring -- these have been the means God has used to form who you are.  They have shaped you.

Congregations are a primary means by which God reaches down into our lives to work on our behalf.  God uses congregations to create us anew, to claim us as God’s own, and to call us to God’s service.  It is through congregations that God’s spirit shapes how we understand ourselves, how we relate to our families, how we view community, and how we participate in  the world.

-- U.M. Bishop Robert Schnase from his blog at


Thursday, October 6, 2016


Several years ago a young woman in our congregation died of medical problems brought on by undiagnosed Lyme disease. As I was preparing for her funeral, her mother told me that her daughter had written on her mirror in lipstick the words from Psalm 118:14 (NIV): “The LORD is my strength and my song.” This was the living hope of a dying girl. Her hope in God sustained her, and the hope of the resurrection sustained her mother and her father.

The mother later told me that she and her husband had bought a hope chest for their daughter, and they placed within it certain of the special things that belonged to her and then placed it at the end of their bed. This was a different kind of hope chest; it was a reminder that one day they would see their daughter again.

I have come to appreciate how Frederick Buechner captures this when he said, “Resurrection means the worst thing is never the last thing.”

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


Wednesday, October 5, 2016


Leo Durocher, a major league manager from several decades ago, had a saying. His motto for leadership was "Nice guys finish last." But, Jesus says: "The last shall be first, and the first shall be last." Our CEO's and executives spend fortunes on power ties, power lunches, and power broking. After all, power and control are what it's all about, right? But, Jesus says: "My power is not of this world... it comes from above." We believe leaders should have special parking places, the best seats at a banquet, the finest service at a restaurant. And haven't they earned those huge severance packages? But, Jesus says: "The Son of Man came to serve, not to be served... and to give His life as a ransom for many."

-- Copyright Eric Folkerth 1999. All Rights Reserved. (Used with permissions.)


Tuesday, October 4, 2016


“Give us this day our daily bread…”  (Matthew 6:11)

When God miraculously provided just enough manna for the Israelites, Scripture says that He provided just enough. The language describing God’s provision is extremely precise. Those who gathered a lot “did not have too much” and those who gathered a little “did not have too little.” God provided just enough. Then He gave them a curious command: not to keep any of it overnight.

Why does God provide just enough? Why would God forbid leftovers? What’s wrong with taking a little initiative and gathering enough manna for two days or two weeks? Here’s my take: the manna was a daily reminder of their daily dependence upon God.

Not much has changed. We still need a daily reminder of our dependence upon God. So while we may want a one-year supply of mercy, His mercies are new every morning. If God provided too much too soon, we’d lose our raw dependence upon God, our raw hunger for God. So God usually provides just enough, just in time.

I have scribbled the initials JEJIT in the margins of my Bible at various places where God provides just enough, just in time. He does it with the widow who is down to her last jar of olive oil. He does it when the Israelites are trapped between the Egyptian army and Red Sea. He does it when the boat is about to capsize on the Sea of Galilee during the perfect storm. And He does it again with the two fish and twenty thousand hungry people.

-- Mark Batterson in The Grave Robber


Monday, October 3, 2016


Busyness rapes relationships.

It substitutes shallow frenzy for deep friendship.

It promises satisfying dreams, but delivers hollow nightmares.

It feeds the ego, but starves the inner [self].

It fills the calendar but fractures the family.

It cultivates a program, but plows under priorities.

-- Charles Swindoll in Killing Giants, Pulling Thorns