Friday, September 29, 2017


It is hard to explain what God’s Spirit does for me and to me as I experience what otherwise might be mundane experiences and encounters. Somehow He creates within me a sensitivity to the wonders lurking within the ordinary people and things around me that some phenomenologists would call “mindfulness.” He makes me hyperaware of the radiant blessings (I can’t think of another word) that are everywhere around us, literally waiting to be acknowledged and enjoyed. Because of His indwelling presence I am truly able to “seize the day.”

-- Tony Campolo in “Why I Left, Why I Stayed”


Thursday, September 28, 2017


To be effective, [the Lord’s] prayer must flow out of a truly committed heart: it must be the definition of our spirit, our attitude to God.

An unknown author put it this way: “I cannot say ‘our’ if I live only for myself. I cannot say ‘Father’ if I do not try to act like His child. I cannot say ‘who art in heaven’ if I am laying up no treasure there. I cannot say ‘hallowed be Thy name’ if I am not striving for holiness. I cannot say ‘Thy kingdom come’ if I am not doing all my power to hasten it. I cannot say ‘give us this day our daily bread’ if I am dishonest, or seeking something for nothing. I cannot say ‘forgive us our trespasses’ if I bear a grudge against another. I cannot say ‘lead us not into temptation’ if I deliberately place myself in its path. I cannot say ‘deliver us from evil’ if I do not put on the armor of God. I cannot say ‘Thine is the kingdom and the power and the glory’ if I do not give the King the loyalty due to Him from a faithful subject. And I cannot say ‘forever’ if the horizon of my life is bounded completely by time.”

The whole thrust of the Lord’s prayer is that when we give God His rightful place, He gives us our rightful place. But not before.

-- Selwyn Hughes in “Every Day Light: Treasure for the Heart”


Wednesday, September 27, 2017


“Start children off on the way they should go, and even when they are old they will not turn from it.”  (Proverbs 22:6 NIV)

It is not how many things you provide for your children. It is what you give them of yourself and the principles of Scripture that can never be taken away.

-- Charles Stanley


Tuesday, September 26, 2017


“Let us then approach God's throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.”  (Hebrews 4:16 NIV)

Many years ago there was an old man who had come to Washington D.C. on a vital mission. A young boy found him sitting on a wall which surrounded the White House. He saw that tears were rolling down the old man’s cheeks, so he went over and asked him what was the matter.

“Oh, young man, my son is in the Army. He’s been arrested for desertion and condemned to death. I’ve tried to get in to see President Lincoln, but the guards will not allow me in.”

“I can take you to the President,” said the boy.

“You can?” The old man looked in astonishment.

“Yes sir, he’s my father. He lets me come in anytime.”

Abraham Lincoln received the distraught father and listened to his plea. His son was granted a pardon and the old man went away rejoicing.

When we come to God, in faith, asking for a pardon for our sins, He grants our petition because of His Son, Jesus Christ. We always have access to Him wherever we are.

-- Joan Winmill Brown in “The Shelter of His Wings”


Monday, September 25, 2017


Novelist Reynolds Price said there is one sentence all humankind craves to hear:  "The Maker of all things loves and wants me."  That is the sentence Jesus proclaimed, loud as sweet thunder.  The Maker of all things is the Maker of all human beings, an odd species that He, unfathomably, deemed worthy of individual attention and love.  He demonstrated that love in person, on the gnarly hills of Palestine, and ultimately on the cross.

What the prophets spoke about, Jesus lived. "I have engraved you on the palms of My hands," God said in Isaiah's day.  When He visited earth in the form of a Servant, He showed that the hand of God is not too big for the smallest person in the world.  It is a hand engraved with our individual names and engraved also with wounds, the cost to God of loving us so much.

-- Philip Yancey in “The Bible Jesus Read”


Friday, September 22, 2017


Let us consider a hymn of daily life, written by Charles Wesley and published in 1749...
Forth in Thy Name, O Lord, I go,
My daily labor to pursue;
Thee, only Thee, resolved to know
In all I think or speak or do.

What is your daily labor? You and I share at least one task in common: prayer. Jesus Christ calls us to pray. Our prayers cast out fear and open us to hospitality and friendship. Our prayers give us wisdom and courage to initiate relationships, to extend grace to strangers, and to entertain angels unaware. Our daily labor in prayer encourages us to fast from apathy, to serve others, feed the hungry, challenge injustice, and be the body of Christ in the world.

-- George Hovaness Donigian in “A World Worth Saving”, used by permission of Upper Room Books.


Thursday, September 21, 2017


“Then Jesus told them, ‘Go into all the world and preach the Good News to everyone.’”  (Mark 16:15 NLT)

“Do you love Me enough to tell them?” Christianity is rare among the world religions in containing an explicit command to tell unbelievers the Good News and to urge them to convert. It is an uncomfortable calling… This obligation to evangelize is perhaps the aspect most resented by those outside the faith, and most neglected by those inside. It is an awkward calling. But it is commanded of Jesus, as blunt as the calls to love our enemies and to care for the poor… 

-- Frederica Mathewes-Green


Wednesday, September 20, 2017


It is a paradox, yet a principle of effective… leadership you can count on: The best leaders are, first of all, followers. “Simon, son of John, do you love Me more than these?” asked Jesus of the soon-to-be leader of the post-Resurrection church. That question brought forth the second of Peter’s confessions. The first was at Caesarea Philippi: “You are the Messiah,” said Peter, “the Son of the living God.” (Matthew 16:13-20 NRSV) Now, on the shores of the Galilee, Peter declares his love and full surrender three times, “Yes, Lord; You know that I love You.” (John 21:15 NRSV)

Jesus chose Peter, I think, not because he was the brightest and the bravest, but because he was the most fully surrendered. His two confessions testify to his faith. Faith is surrender. To follow Jesus is to trust Him as you trust no other; it is to live the surrendered life. Paul would later write, “I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who life, but it is Christ who lives in me.” (Galatians 2:20 NRSV)

There is a story told about General William Booth of the Salvation Army who, on one occasion, was asked the secret of the Army’s success. The former Methodist preacher answered: “I will tell you the secret. God has had all there was of me to have -- all the adoration of my heart, all the power of my will, all the influence of my life.”

-- Roger K. Swanson in the “Offering Christ Today” newsletter, Spring 1996


Tuesday, September 19, 2017


A word to Christians who are [public] school teachers and administrators: Most of the teachers my children have had in school were Christians, and for this I am grateful.  Though you cannot overtly seek to bring your students to faith in Christ, you can minister to them.  You can encourage children and believe in them.  You play such an important role, and God is honored by what you do with your lives.  You chose a career that may never pay six figures but that allows you to invest in the lives of our children.  Teachers are heroes, and we are grateful to them.  And you as Christian teachers, while you may not intentionally use your position to lead children to the Christian religion, you may certainly let Christ's love shine through you.

You teachers may pray for your children by name in the evenings at home.  You may live the gospel in how you love them at school.  You may ask the Holy Spirit to work through you as you work with the most challenging of these kids.  You may listen for the Lord to guide you in what you do.

-- Adam Hamilton in “Confronting the Controversies”


Monday, September 18, 2017


God is great and God is powerful, but we must invite Him to be powerful in our lives.  His strength is always there, but it's up to us to provide a channel through which that power can flow.

Some of you feel beat up and drained.  Some of you feel like a victim who has been picked on so thoroughly that your bones are clean.  Some of you face daunting tasks and stiff challenges, and you're worried that you don't have what it takes to carry on.  I challenge you to act as though you are empowered, and see -- just test it -- if God does not send His strength your way.  Determine this very moment to walk in the direction God is asking you to go and just trust that He will grant you power along the way.

Paul urges us, "Your faith should not be in the wisdom of men but in the power of God."  (1 Corinthians 2:5)

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


Friday, September 15, 2017


Worship describes those times we gather deliberately seeking to encounter God in Christ. God uses worship to transform lives, heal wounded souls, renew hope, shape decisions, provoke changes, inspire compassion, and bind people to one another.

The word passionate expresses an intense desire, an ardent spirit, strong feelings, and the sense of heightened importance. It describes an emotional connection that goes beyond intellectual consent bringing eagerness, anticipation, expectancy, deep commitment, and belief.

Passionate Worship, whether traditional or contemporary, means an extraordinary eagerness to offer the best in worship, honoring God with excellence and with an unusual clarity about the purpose of connecting people to God. It is worship that is not dry, routine, or boring, keeping the form while lacking the spirit. It is not performance. It is devotion and celebration expressing our love of God.

-- Robert Schnase in “Cultivating Fruitfulness”


Thursday, September 14, 2017


“The name of the city from that time on will be: THE LORD IS THERE.”  (Ezekiel 48:35b)

The Book of Ezekiel begins by describing the holiness of God that Israel had despised and ignored. As a result, God’s presence departed from the temple, the city, and the people. The book ends with a detailed vision of the new temple, the new city, and the new people -- all demonstrating God’s holiness. The pressures of everyday life may persuade us to focus on the here and now and thus forget God. That is why worship is so important; it takes our eyes off our current worries, gives us a glimpse of God’s holiness, and allows us to look toward His future Kingdom. God’s presence makes everything glorious, and worship brings us into His presence.

-- from “The Life Application Study Bible”


Wednesday, September 13, 2017


“When they said, ‘Let’s go to the house of God,’ my heart leaped for joy.”  (Psalm 22:1 MSG)

Sometimes people bring energy to a gathering; sometimes they just show up.  My wife used to head up a ministry to twenty-something folks who were mostly single.  I knew, even with my eyes closed, if I was in their presence, just by the smell.  They smelled great.  In regular church services, with mostly old married people, no one cares how they smell.  But when people are hopeful of meeting someone, there is electricity in the air.  And a scent in the air.  They are alive.

It is the same with God.  If I really believe that I may meet with God, I don’t just show up.  My mind is awake.  I am hoping and looking for something beyond myself.

-- John Ortberg in “The Me I Want To Be”


Tuesday, September 12, 2017


“Those who hope in the LORD will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.”  (Isaiah 40:31 NIV)

An eagle's wings are long and wide, helping it to soar skillfully through the sky.  The primaries, on the tip of the wings, are tapered so that the eagle can fully expand its wings and separate them widely.  Such a design reduces turbulence as the air passes smoothly over its wings.

The eagle does not flap its wings; it soars!  Unlike a duck, which will frantically flap its wings at the first sign of trouble, making it vulnerable to predators, the eagle conserves its energy, trusting in its God-given strength.

We can be like eagles as we soar on the wings of God.

-- Sheryl Lynn Hill in “Soar As the Eagle


Monday, September 11, 2017


Again the Lord said to me, “Prophesy to these bones, and say to them, ‘O dry bones, hear the word of the Lord!  Thus says the Lord God to these bones: “Surely I will cause breath to enter into you, and you shall live.”’”  (Ezekiel  37:4-5 NKJV)

God’s Spirit once took the prophet Ezekiel to a vast valley filled with brittle, parched-dry bones -- a potent picture of widespread spiritual dryness. But by the Word of God proclaimed through Ezekiel’s mouth, those piles of bones took on sinew and flesh and skin, then were infused with life-giving, wind-driven breath from the Spirit of God. A sweeping vista of skeletons was turned instead into a force of fired-up warriors ready to do battle for the Lord. A transformation just as dramatic is what God wants to generate in our individual lives today and in the life of His church.

-- from the Publisher’s Description of “Dry Bones Dancing” by Tony Evans


Friday, September 8, 2017


When our loved ones leave us, one of the ways we keep their presence alive is by retelling the stories.  How was it when they were younger?  What were their favorite stories about themselves?  About us?

Now that they are gone, our imaginations are somehow freed to claim them in a more expanded way -- fanciful and yet true.  Our nostalgia is genuine.  It is also benevolent and tender.  We see them in their fragility, as figures in a drama suspended in time, taking their places along with the legendary figures they used to tell us about.  Perhaps we know them in greater clarity -- and charity -- than we could when we were engaged in the dynamics of daily exchange.

My life will continue to be blessed as the stories of my loved one develop and settle in my mind.

-- Martha Whitmore Hickman in “Healing After Loss”


Thursday, September 7, 2017


Many of our “tame hopes” are fulfilled on a daily basis: the hope that the sun will shine, or the pay check will arrive as planned, or that we will get sufficient nourishment for the day. Though one is disappointed once in a while, our anticipation of these “small” things, though not insignificant, is frequently realized.

By contrast, some of these same issues for people in other cultures are “wild hopes.” Many of our sisters and brothers do not receive a salary, nor do they get three meals a day, nor does the sun of freedom shine in their lives. Born to poverty or oppressed by social systems, these people find little joy and peace. If they are fortunate in avoiding violence they still must struggle with resentment and bitterness in their awareness of the consumption and materialism of the wealthy.

We must pray like Jesus that hope might be restored and that the earth might be recast. Only the gift of the Holy Spirit can empower us to trust in the future and to assume our rightful responsibility for the common good. Renewing the face of the earth is the work of the Holy Spirit through those people who say yes to being the Spirit’s agents of knowledge, love and kindness. Our hope, wild or tame, is grounded in God’s promise of presence. Herein is our joy and peace.

-- Bishop Robert F. Morneau in “Resurrection to Pentecost”


Wednesday, September 6, 2017


“And I am certain that God, who began the good work within you, will continue His work until it is finally finished on the day when Christ Jesus returns.”  (Philippians 1:6 NIV)

It has been said that Charles Wesley’s hymns always begin on earth and end in heaven. So it is with John Wesley’s theology. He was firmly convinced of the coming day of Christ, which is not yet, but toward which humankind, with the whole of creation, is moving. For Wesley, it was necessary to stress God’s ultimate victory; but it was also important to affirm the penultimate reality of God’s presence, now experienced as life that is drawn to God in increasingly focused love. John Wesley had a doctrine of final things, an eschatology, in which God’s Kingdom is being presently realized even as it points toward a consummating future. The Christian lives with the lively hope that God, who has begun a good thing, will fulfill it in the day of Jesus Christ.

-- Thomas Langford in “Practical Divinity”


Tuesday, September 5, 2017


"Do not let this Book of the Law depart from your mouth; mediate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it.  Then you will be prosperous and successful."  (Joshua 1:8)

Read the Bible, whether you understand it or not, and the Holy Spirit will bring back some word of Jesus to you in a particular set of circumstances and make it living.

-- Oswald Chambers


Friday, September 1, 2017


“And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors.”  (Matthew 6:12 NIV)

Forgiveness can be the great cleansing action that allows one to begin again. Retribution or restitution is not enough. They serve as payback but they do not allow for the deep scouring that is necessary to truly start anew. The ancient Israelites knew the principle well for they instituted the practice of the Sabbath year. Each seventh year was set aside so that all could begin over again: fields lay fallow and all debts were forgiven. This crucial period of rest was seen as necessary for the harmonious functioning of society and the fertility of the land. The earth can be depleted, our societies become imbalanced and unjust. Similarly, as individuals and as families we require a time of absolution so that we might truly begin again and become fertile fields that yield a rich harvest.

The prayer most identified with Christianity, the one taught to us by Jesus Himself, incorporates the crucial insight that forgiveness is a key ingredient as we live into the promised Kingdom.

-- Wendy M. Wright in “The Time Between”