Friday, August 31, 2018


"Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts… Let the Word of Christ dwell in you richly…" (Colossians 3:15,16)

The Christian in the midst of a crisis doesn't allow everyone's opinion or everyone's feelings to cause him to drift away from what is most important. He sets his anchor deep in the Word and firm in his faith. 

-- Max Lucado


Thursday, August 30, 2018


“God made the two great lights, the greater light to govern the day, and the lesser light to govern the night; He made the stars also.”  (Genesis 1:16)

“…I look at the night sky and see the work of Your fingers -- the moon and the stars You set in place…”  (Psalm 8:3)

The most universally awesome experience that mankind knows is to stand alone on a clear night and look at the stars.  It was God who first set the stars in space; He is their Maker and Master …  such are His power and His majesty. 

--  J. I. Packer


Wednesday, August 29, 2018


“And I will do whatever you ask in My name, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son.”  (John 14:13)

When Jesus told us that, if we prayed in His name, He would give us what we asked for (John 14:13), He certainly was talking about something far deeper than the reciting of a religious formula.  That kind of thing would reduce prayer to cheap magic.  Instead, our Lord was telling us that, if our prayers are to be effective, we must grow into people who are so like Jesus that our prayers will be an expression of His concerns about love.

In the ancient world, a person's name had a deep significance that has been lost in our modern world.  To those who lived in the ancient world in which Jesus lived, a person's name was meant to embody everything that the person was about.  A name expressed a person's essential character and tapped into the spiritual core of the person's identity.  So when Jesus told His disciples to pray in His name, He was telling them that if they would yield to His transforming power in their lives and let His mind be in them (Philippians 2:5), then their prayers would be like His.  Such prayers are answered. 

-- Tony Campolo in “Following Jesus Without Embarrassing God” 


Tuesday, August 28, 2018


The inability to do nothing! Isn’t that the standard Jesus set?

He single-handedly turned the temple upside down and inside out by turning over tables and tossing out money changers. He confronted the Pharisees’ hypocrisy. He exorcised an evil spirit from a man possessed by demons. And He stopped a funeral procession in its tracks by raising a boy from the dead.

Jesus was anything but passive. He was the epitome of passion… So regardless of personality type, His followers ought to be the most passionate people on the planet. Going all in means defying religious protocol for the sake of God-ordained passions -- like the most famous party crasher of all time did, the prostitute who broke open her bottle of perfume to anoint  Jesus’ feet.

When will we realize that indecision is a decision? When will we come to terms with the fact that inaction is an action?

The church was never meant to be a noun. And when it turns into a noun it becomes a turn-off. The church was meant to be a verb, an action verb.

Two thousand years ago, Jesus gave the command to charge! And He’s never sounded the retreat. 

-- Mark Batterson in “All In”


Monday, August 27, 2018


“You must worship no other gods, for the LORD, whose very name is Jealous, is a God who is jealous about His relationship with you.”  (Exodus 34:14 NLT)

Did you catch the double emphasis?

This verse reminds me of one of my all-time favorite T-shirt taglines: The Department of Redundancy Department.  The first time I saw it, I did a double take. I don’t even know why I find that funny, but it’s probably the same reason I find this verse fascinating. God isn’t just jealous. He is doubly jealous. And when God says something more than once, you need to think twice about what it means.

You don’t belong to God once. You belong to God twice.

Once by virtue of creation. Twice by virtue of redemption.

He gave us life via creation. And when we were dead in our sin, He gave us eternal life via redemption. We don’t owe Him one life. We owe Him two lives! And that is why God is doubly jealous. 

-- Mark Batterson in “All In”


Friday, August 24, 2018


“Some people have given up the habit of meeting for worship, but we must not do that. We should keep on encouraging each other, especially since you know that the day of the Lord's coming is getting closer.”  (Hebrews 10:25 CEV)

A member of a certain church, who had been attending services regularly, stopped going. After a few weeks, the pastor decided to visit him. It was a chilly evening. The pastor found the man at home alone, sitting before a blazing fire. Guessing the reason for his pastor’s visit, the man welcomed him, led him to a comfortable chair near the fireplace and waited.

The pastor made himself at home but said nothing. In the grave silence he contemplated the dance of the flames around the burning logs. After some minutes, the pastor took the fire tongs, carefully picked up a brightly burning ember and placed it on one side of the hearth alone. Then he sat back in his chair, still silent.

The host watched all this in quiet contemplation. As the one lone ember’s flame flickered and diminished, there was a momentary glow and then its fire was no more. Soon it was cold and dead. Not a word had been spoken. The pastor glanced at his watch and realized it was time to leave. He slowly stood up, picked up the cold, dead ember and placed it back in the middle of the fire.

Immediately it began to glow once more with the light and warmth of the burning coals around it. As the pastor reached the door to leave, his host said with a tear running down his cheek, “Thank you so much for your visit and especially for the fiery sermon. I shall be back in church next Sunday.” 

-- Reprinted from the Parish Nursing News


Thursday, August 23, 2018


“Repent therefore and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, so that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord.”  (Acts 3: 19 NKJV)

Worship is the strategy by which we interrupt our preoccupation with ourselves and attend to the presence of God.  Worship is the time and place that we assign for deliberate attentiveness to God -- not because He's confined to time and place but because our self-importance is so insidiously relentless that if we don't deliberately interrupt ourselves regularly, we have no chance of attending to Him at all at other times and in other places.

-- Eugene Peterson in “Leap Over a Wall”


Wednesday, August 22, 2018


“Wisdom and good judgment live together, for wisdom knows where to discover knowledge and understanding.”  (Proverbs 8:12 TLB)

Have you ever heard the expression, “He [or she] doesn’t have the sense God gave a goose?” It’s talking about someone who doesn’t use any common sense. God expects us to call on Him in times of need, but He also expects us to use wisdom to avoid trouble. If your boat is about to run into the rocks, call on God, but row away from the rocks. It’s the wise thing to do. 

-- Adapted from “God’s Little Book of Proverbs: Timeless Wisdom for Daily Living”


Tuesday, August 21, 2018


“Blessed is the one who does not walk in step with the wicked or stand in the way that sinners take or sit in the company of mockers, but whose delight is in the law of the Lord, and who meditates on His law day and night. That person is like a tree planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither -- whatever they do prospers.”  (Psalm 1:1-3 NIV)

If we spend 16 hours a day dealing with tangible things and only five minutes a day dealing with God, is it any wonder that tangible things are 200 times more real to us than God?

-- William R. Inge


Monday, August 20, 2018


“Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we boast in the hope of the glory of God. Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.”  (Romans 5:1-5 NIV)

If you’re running a 26-mile marathon, remember that every mile is run one step at a time. If you are writing a book, do it one page at a time. If you’re trying to master a new language, try it one word at a time. There are 365 days in the average year. Divide any project by 365 and you’ll find that no job is all that intimidating.

-- Charles Swindoll


Friday, August 17, 2018


Jesus said, “Take My yoke upon you, and learn from Me.” (Matthew 11:29)

Following Jesus means that we have to keep walking on the ground, to keep struggling. The work of living does not necessarily become easier because we are disciples.  In fact, discipleship can make life difficult. At the same time, life becomes radically different. Our struggles and pains become different struggles and pains. The reason for this is that we are no longer living our struggles and pains alone. Following Jesus indeed means that we live it in companionship with the One who understands us fully -- our guide, fellow traveler, the One in whom we can trust our whole life.

-- Henri J. M. Nouwen in “A Spirituality of Homecoming”


Thursday, August 16, 2018


“I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me.” (Galatians 2:20 NIV)

It is amazing how few Christians today have claimed the power of the indwelling Lord. They believe in Him as Savior but side-step His lordship over their inner hearts.

In his book “Can I Know God?” W. E. Sangster put it pointedly. “It is not enough to have Christ near to us. Oh, it is wonderful, of course, in contrast with not even believing in His existence at all or knowing Him only as a name, but, for the highest spiritual life, it is not enough. You see, we do most of our living inside us. Our thinking, feeling, and willing are all within. External events press upon us, but they have meaning only by our internal interpretation. We discover that when we are dealing with the troubles of life. The important thing is not what happens to us but what happens in us. The same thing can happen to two different people and a precisely different thing happens in them… If, therefore, we are to be helped in our battle against temptation and in our war with fear and worry, selfishness and greed, we must have help within. Not there, but here! Not outside, but inside.”

-- Lloyd J. Ogilvie in “If God Cares, Why Do I Still Have Problems?”


Wednesday, August 15, 2018


Thomas said to Him, "LORD, we don't know where You are going, so how can we know the way?" Jesus answered, "I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.”  (John 14:6 NIV)

The story is told of a man on an African safari deep in the jungle. The guide in front of him had a machete and was whacking away the tall weeds and thick underbrush. The traveler, wearied and hot, asked in frustration, “Where are we? Where are you taking me? Where is the path?!” The seasoned guide stopped and looked back at the man and replied, “I am the path.”

We ask the same questions, don’t we? We ask God, “Where are You taking me? Where is the path?” And He, like the guide, doesn’t tell us. Oh, He may give us a hint or two, but that’s all. If He did, would we understand? Would we comprehend our location? No, like the traveler, we are unacquainted with this journey. So rather than give us an answer, God gives us a far greater gift. He gives us His Son to be our guide.

-- Adapted from Max Lucado in “Traveling Light”


Tuesday, August 14, 2018


"Decide" was apparently the word that God wanted me to hear.  Making a decision was a process that I understood and could do when necessary.  I decided on that day to accept Jesus for what He claimed to be, and to ask Him to be a part of my life.  A conscious part of this decision was to suspend those skeptical attitudes that had always prevented any spiritual event from occurring in my life.  I decided to take this small step and to see what would happen.

Although this was the most significant event of my life, I did not experience a sudden revelation or a blinding light.  I did experience the beginning of a new direction in my life as I took the first steps in a slow process of spiritual awakening.  I became intensely interested in scripture and found that it was more and more relevant to me.  I began to seek more knowledge about God as I pursued a relationship with Him through prayer, study, and an effort to lead a Christian life.  This has led to a slow and steady process of spiritual growth.

Through this process, a new sense of God has emerged.  Instead of an abstraction, He has become a personal reality.  I have found it natural to pray and listen.  I have learned to work at discerning His answers to my prayers and at sensing His presence in my life.

-- Larkin Spivey in “God in the Trenches”


Monday, August 13, 2018


My conversion to Christianity came at age 53 as the culmination of a long process.  I apparently had to reach that age to finally realize that I was not in control of everything in my life.  Grown and growing children clearly brought this fact to light.

It also slowly dawned on me that I would probably never be able to fully live up to the duties and obligations that I had set for myself.  I had always thought that I was basically a "good person," but over the years became aware that I often disappointed myself, as well as others, by the things I did or didn't do.  Even though I had maintained an active interest in God and religion for most of my life, God remained an abstraction.

I finally reached a point where I had to admit that my life had a spiritual void.  I also had to concede my own inability to fill this void through my own intellectual effort.  I owe these insights to my experiences within the Episcopal Church and to one of its spiritual renewal programs called Cursillo.

At this point, I was blessed with the opportunity to meet and to hear General Charles Duke tell about the spiritual changes in his life.  As a former astronaut and military man, his words spoke to me in a particularly meaningful way.  He said that he finally came to realize that it is impossible to view Jesus Christ as simply a great teacher or historical figure if we look carefully at what He said.  In fact, He is either who He claimed to be -- the Son of God -- or is the biggest fraud in history.  We are faced with that question.  We can read, study, think, and weigh the pros and cons.  However, we can't weigh the pros and cons forever.  At some point, we have to decide our own answer.

-- Larkin Spivey in “God in the Trenches”


Friday, August 10, 2018


“The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of His hands.”  (Psalm 19:1 NIV)

What is the glory of God? It is who God is. It is His nature, His character, and His power.

Where is the glory of God? Just look around. Everything created by God reflects His glory in some way. We see it everywhere, from the most microscopic form of life to the vast Mikey Way, from sunsets and stars to storms and seasons. Creation reveals our Creator’s glory. You can learn a lot about God’s character just by looking around. Through nature we learn that God is powerful, that He enjoys variety, loves beauty, is organized, and is wise and creative.

…Throughout history, God has revealed His glory to people in different settings. But God’s clearest picture of what He is like is seen in His Son, Jesus Christ. The Bible says, “In the past God spoke through the prophets many times and in many different ways. But now… has spoken to us through His Son… The Son reflects the glory of God and shows exactly what God is like.”  (Hebrews 1:1-3 NCV)

-- Rick Warren in “What on Earth Am I Here for?”


Thursday, August 9, 2018


“For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.”  (1 Corinthians 1:18 NIV)

Author Max Lucado has written, "Being religious without knowing the cross is like owning a Mercedes with no motor." As I thought about that for a minute I got the image that the Mercedes I am sitting in is stopped on the tracks at a railroad crossing. I will be fine and comfortable for a period of time. I can listen to great music as I relax on my plush leather seats. Pretty package, but where is the power to escape the Judgment Train that is coming? It may not be in sight yet, but I've heard the whistle. "For the wages of sin is death," writes Paul, "but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord." (Romans 6:23 NRSV) The cross is the engine that gives me the power to escape certain tragedy. Thanks be to God for this powerful gift in Jesus Christ!

-- Rev. David T. Wilkinson


Wednesday, August 8, 2018


“There is no one righteous, not even one;… for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.”  (Romans 3:10, 23 NIV)

John Wesley, the founder of Methodism, made the premise that as good as some of us might be, we are all sinners and we must recognize that fact. He concludes his point by saying, "Such is the state of every natural [human being] whether he be a gross, scandalous transgressor, or a more reputable and decent sinner, having the form, though not the power of godliness."

-- Quote from John Wesley's Sermon "The Spirit of Bondage and Adoption"


Tuesday, August 7, 2018


“The Lord is my strength and my shield;
in Him my heart trusts, and I am helped;
my heart exults,
and with my song I give thanks to Him.”  (Psalm 28:7 ESV)

When anger toward someone who wronged you makes your sleep fitful and broken, try turning your mind and heart to prayers of gratitude. Begin by giving thanks for each good thing from that day; then move to the larger blessings of your life. When you refuse to pursue revenge and create less vengeful “movies of the mind,” you still may experience pain at the injustice of life. Life’s unfairness will continue to grate. You will know the price of refraining from retaliation. But you have begun to balance life’s harsh realities with its goodness and blessing.

-- Kathleen Fischer in “Anger: Minding Your Passion


Monday, August 6, 2018


In Mark 13, Jesus repeats a simple imperative three times in quick succession: "Keep awake!" For Jesus to repeat this so emphatically three times in a row implies that one of the great hazards of the faith journey is spiritual acquiescence, a kind of grogginess that dulls us to what is true, and truly important. Sleepiness of spirit means we miss out on what God is doing, and perhaps overlook the presence of Christ right in our midst. By simply falling asleep, spiritually speaking, we miss God, and miss out on what God is calling us to be and do.

The peril of spiritual stupor is real, and we see this theme repeated in scripture many times. The disciples who hiked to the mountaintop with Jesus almost missed the transfiguration because they were sleepy!  One story tells about someone whom others assumed was dead, but Jesus says, "He's not dead; he's sleeping." In the Garden of Gethsemane, on the night which the disciples knew would be Jesus' last among them, they fell asleep. Even after Jesus implored them to stay awake with Him, they nodded off. Scripture also records one poor follower who dozed during a sermon and fell out the window. (Let that be a warning to the people in the pews!).  If it hadn't been for Mary and company on Easter morning, the disciples would have slept through the resurrection of Christ…

A dulling of spiritual insight causes us to see people as things, and to overlook how each is a child of God made in the image of God…  If we're not careful, we become so distracted by things that do not matter, so driven by things that are of little account, or so tired and burned out and spiritually exhausted, that they stop being human to us. We lose sight of people, of purpose, of what matters most. "Keep awake," Jesus says. "Be alert."  "Stay attentive!" Following Christ, staying awake with Him, requires a constant spiritual acuity, an attentiveness to see the coming of Christ, a preparedness of soul and character, a kind of spiritual attention. Stay awake.

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


Friday, August 3, 2018


“O God, You are my God; I shall seek You earnestly; My soul thirsts for You, my flesh yearns for You.”  (Psalm 63:1a)

The more I become aware of God's presence in my life, the more I thirst to know this Sacred One at an ever deeper and deeper level.  Like a cup that seemingly has more and more room to be filled, so I feel that my capacity to be united with God keeps expanding.  The more I know how loved I am by God (the more my cup is filled) the more I am always thirsting for more of God (seeing how much room the cup still has in it to receive).

When I think about the spiritual life, I think of a life with God that is healthy and vibrant.  The root and foundation of this life is relationship.  This relationship may have many struggles, crooked paths, and hidden corners but at the core there is a bond that is deep and strong.  This relationship feeds and nourishes my inner self and gives a vitality and vibrancy to all of my life.

-- Joyce Rupp in “The Cup of Our Life


Thursday, August 2, 2018


In one of the most powerful pictures in the Old Testament, the prophet Isaiah speaks to the Jewish people who have been living in exile in Babylon, or who have just returned from exile, finding their homeland in ruins. Listen to his words as he promises what God will do for all who mourn and grieve in Zion. He will… “bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of gladness instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair. They will be called oaks of righteousness, a planting of the Lord for the display of His splendor.” (Isiah 61:3 NIV)

This is what God does. God takes the pain and the grief and the wounds of our past, and transforms them into objects of beauty. As a result of what God does with our suffering we become “oaks of righteousness.”

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


Wednesday, August 1, 2018


“Do not set foot on the path of the wicked or walk in the way of evil men. Avoid it, do not travel on it; turn from it and go on your way.”  (Proverbs 4:14-15)

“It’s hard to stop a freight train once it’s left the station,” an old saying goes. In other words, once you yield to temptation, it’s hard to stop and retrace your steps. The best way to avoid the pitfalls of life is through knowledge and understanding. If you know what quicksand looks like, you’re not likely to step in it. Fill your mind with good thoughts, and stay on the path of victory.

“Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable--if anything is excellent or praiseworthy--think about such things.”  (Philippians 4:8)

-- from “God’s Little Book of Proverbs: Timeless Wisdom for Daily Living”