Friday, November 30, 2018


“Grace and peace to you from Him who is, and who was, and who is to come, …and from Jesus Christ, who is the faithful witness, the firstborn from the dead, and the ruler of the kings of the earth. To Him who loves us and has freed us from our sins by His blood, and has made us to be a kingdom and priests to serve His God and Father -- to Him be glory and power for ever and ever! Amen.”  (Revelation 1:4-6)

It’s hard to relate to a “King” in the U.S.  This country has never had a king; this country exists because of our founders’ rejection of the whole idea of a king.

Some European democracies still have a figurehead crown -- beloved figures who symbolize everything that is good about their nation. People in Britain relate with such reverence to Queen Elizabeth II, and the common people seem to love the King of Norway and the King of Holland. The royals really love their people, too; at least that is how it is supposed to work.

That two-way love is relatable; love is how we should relate to Christ as our king. If it’s not love, then we’re not doing it right. 

-- Bob Slobig


Thursday, November 29, 2018


It’s tempting to describe spiritual formation in terms we can really master or regulate, like a check list or a huddle or listening to a series of recorded teachings. Such schemes can too readily become perfunctory, another sort of legalism, a way to avoid exploration and mystery, or little more than formulaic.

Being a Christian is not about us; it’s about Jesus! Spiritual formation is about the life of Jesus being made visible in our bodies; it’s about engaging the Spirit because we are hungry for God; it’s about becoming disciples so that Jesus can pour His life into us. It’s about learning to love God with our heart, mind, body, and soul. It’s about having the courage to actually follow Jesus -- to place one foot in front of the other, to dare to live a life of grace.

Paul summed it up well: “I am confident in this, that the One who began a good work among you will bring it to completion by the day of Jesus Christ” (Philippians 1:6). 

-- Derek Maul in “Get Real: A Spiritual Journey for Men”


Wednesday, November 28, 2018


“We know that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose.”  (Romans 8:28 NIV)

Our failures. That’s the hardest area, especially when they have affected the lives of our loved ones. As our two children step out into the adult world it is a joy to see many beautiful things in their lives. But it hurts to see areas of need and struggle that stem in part from ways we have failed them [as their parents].

A friend reminded me recently that even these areas are part of the “all things” which God will use to make a man and a woman who will accomplish His unique purposes.

So when thoughts of my [parenting] failures push their way into my consciousness, I let His total forgiveness dissolve my regrets, and go on to praise Him who accepts us just as we are and lovingly works to make us more than we are. 

-- Colleen Evans, quoting a friend, in “Start Loving”


Tuesday, November 27, 2018


How do you pray when you suffer or when people you love suffer? How do you pray when people you do not like (even hate?) get ahead? How do you pray when the world doesn’t make sense? How do you pray when you have some doubts or are angry at God?

I found my answer in the book of Psalms. The Psalms give us a complete picture of prayer. They take on the whole of life. They give us words for all occasions, from the height of joy to the depths of despair. The Psalms let us feel what we feel. The Psalms meet us where we are, even when our feelings are less than godly, and give us words to say to God. They are the language of the heart.

“Then I realized that my heart was bitter, and I was all torn up inside. I was so foolish and ignorant -- I must have seemed like a senseless animal to You. Yet I still belong to You; You hold my right hand. You guide me with Your counsel, leading me to a glorious destiny.”  (Psalm 73:21-24 NLT) 

--  Thomas C. Parker in an article entitled “Language of the Heart” in “Discipleship Journal” Issue 99


Monday, November 26, 2018


“For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” (Romans 3:23)  “For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our LORD.” (Romans 6:23)  “For God made Christ, who never sinned, to be the offering for our sin, so that we could be made right with God through Christ.” (2 Corinthians 5:21)

We have Americanized the gospel or spiritualized the American dream. Take your pick. But neither one comes close to the true gospel. When you try to add something to the gospel, you aren’t enhancing it. Any addition is really subtraction. The gospel, in its purest form, is as good as it gets.

We want God on our terms, but we don’t get God that way. That’s how we get false religion. It’s pick and choose. It’s cut and paste. The end result is a false god we’ve created in our image.

You only get a relationship with God on His terms. You can take it or leave it, but you cannot change the rules of engagement. 

-- Mark Batterson in “All In”


Wednesday, November 21, 2018


“Give thanks to the Lord, for He is good; His love endures forever.”  (Psalm 118:1 NIV)

Precisely because God is so gracious and generous toward us, in the face of all our waywardness, the Christian life is especially marked by gratitude and trust. Gratitude is the hallmark of the heart that knows its Redeemer personally and intimately. Grasping the true significance of God’s gift overwhelms the soul with thanksgiving. And a thankful life is naturally a generous life, desiring ways to give something back to God however small the gesture may seem. 

-- from “Embracing the Journey: The Way of Christ” Participant’s Book: Part 1 of the Companions in Christ Series


Tuesday, November 20, 2018


“So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live your lives in Him, rooted and built up in Him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness.”  (Colossians 2:6-7 NIV)

To give thanksgiving unto God we must recognize His hand in our lives. What blessings has He given to you? A great idea is to get out a piece of paper (or open a new document) and number your blessings one by one.

As you count your blessings, be specific. Name individual family members and friends. Think of your life, health, home, city, and country. Ask yourself what, exactly, about your home or country is a blessing? How about your skills, talents, education, and job? Think about those times that seemed like a coincidence; did you overlook God's hand in your life? Did you think of God's greatest gift, His Son, ​Jesus Christ?

You will be amazed at how many blessings you truly have. Now you can show thanksgiving to God for them.

-- Rachel Bruner in an article entitled “11 Ways to Show Thanksgiving to Heavenly Father”


Monday, November 19, 2018


“Follow God’s example, therefore, as dearly loved children and walk in the way of love, just as Christ loved us and gave Himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.”  (Ephesians 5:1-2 NIV)

Our God is a giving God. He is a God of abundance, and He loves to give. In Christ He sacrificed willingly on the cross and then invited us into fullness of life. As His children, we are called to imitate Him. Our generosity in giving is a demonstration of God’s character and a response to what He has done for us.

As we become more and more who God has called us to be – more like Him – through the process of sanctification, we reflect God more and more. We become more loving, more gracious, and, yes, more giving. Because God is generous, we are also called to be generous. Generosity not only points others to God, it is an appropriate response to what God has done for us. 

-- from an article entitled "Why is giving so emphasized in the Christian faith?" on the website


Friday, November 16, 2018


“We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure.”  (Hebrews 6:19a NIV)

Hope is called the anchor for the soul because it gives stability to the Christian life. But hope is not simply a ‘wish’ (I wish that such-and-such would take place); rather, it is that which latches on to the certainty of the promises of the future that God has made. 

-- R.C. Sproul


Thursday, November 15, 2018


“Jesus is the head of the body, the church; He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, so that He might come to have first place in everything. For in Him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, and through Him God was pleased to reconcile to Himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, by making peace through the blood of His cross.”  (Colossians 1:18-20 NRSV)

When Henry David Thoreau withdrew from the world for two years to live on Walden Pond, he did so to simplify life and reduce it to its lowest common denominator.  Ponder his words:

"I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived.  I did not wish to live what was not life, living it so dear, nor did I wish to practice resignation, unless it was quite necessary.  I wanted to live deep and suck out all the marrow of life, to live so sturdily and Spartan-like as to put to rout all that was not life, to cut a broad swath and shave close, to drive life into a corner, and reduce it to its lowest terms."

When a Christian reduces life to its [essence], it's Christ.  He is the kernel.  Everything else is husk.  He, and He alone, is our basis for contentment.

-- Charles R. Swindoll in “The Practical Life of Faith” 


Wednesday, November 14, 2018


“For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith -- and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God -- not by works, so that no one can boast.  For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.”  (Ephesians 2:8-10)

The Christian life begins as our hearts are drawn to God through God’s prevenient grace. It progresses as we hear the good news and choose to trust in Jesus Christ and receive His justifying grace and a new birth. However, this birth is not the end of our faith; it is when the real journey begins. As we experience the means of grace, we’re restored by the Spirit to become what God has made us to be: created in God’s image, loving God with all that is within us, and blessing our neighbor with a love not merely of words or affection but also of deeds expressing compassion, mercy, and justice. 

-- Adam Hamilton in “Revival: Faith as Wesley Lived It”


Tuesday, November 13, 2018


“Jesus said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for My power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me.”  (Paul in 2 Corinthians 12:9 ESV)

It takes a great deal of work for a group of strangers to achieve the safety of true community. Once they succeed, however, it is as if the floodgates were opened. As soon as it is safe to speak one’s heart, as soon as most people in the group know they will be listened to and accepted for themselves, years and years of pent-up frustration and hurt and guilt and grief come pouring out. And pouring out ever faster. Vulnerability in community snowballs. Once its members become vulnerable and find themselves being valued and appreciated, they become more and more vulnerable. The walls come tumbling down. And as they tumble, as the love and acceptance escalate, as the mutual intimacy multiplies, true healing and converting begins. Old wounds are healed, old resentments forgiven, old resistances overcome. Fear is replaced by hope. 

-- M. Scott Peck in “The Different Drum”


Monday, November 12, 2018


David said, “The LORD who delivered me from the paw of the lion and from the paw of the bear, He will deliver me from the hand of this Philistine [giant].” Saul said to David, "Go, and the LORD be with you." (1 Samuel 17:37)

Giants. We must face them. Yet we need not face them alone. Focus first, and most, on God. The times David did, giants fell. The days he didn't, David did…

Focus on giants -- you stumble. Focus on God -- your giants tumble.

Lift your eyes. Giant-slayer. The God who made a miracle out of David stands ready to make one out of you. 

-- Max Lucado in “Facing Your Giants”


Friday, November 9, 2018


“Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock.”  (Matthew 7:24 NIV)

I vividly remember some time back being caught in the undertow of too many commitments in too few days. It wasn't long before I was snapping at my wife and our children, choking down my food at mealtimes, and feeling irritated at those unexpected interruptions through the day. Before long, things around our home started reflecting the pattern of my hurry-up style. It was becoming unbearable.
I distinctly recall after supper one evening the words of our younger daughter, Colleen. She wanted to tell me about something important that had happened to her at school that day. She hurriedly began, "Daddy-I-wanna-tell-you-somethin'-and-I'll-tell-you-really-fast."

Suddenly realizing her frustration, I answered, "Honey, you can tell me ... and you don't have to tell me really fast. Say it slowly."

I'll never forget her answer: "Then listen slowly."

-- Charles Swindoll in “Stress Fractures”


Thursday, November 8, 2018


“For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that He was buried, that He was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, and that He appeared to Cephas, and then to the Twelve.”  (1 Corinthians 15:3-5)

Paul is a prime example of the radical new ways followers of Jesus would spread God’s truth. He had not been among Jesus’ earliest followers, and in fact he had persecuted the first believers. But after miraculously experiencing the presence and resurrection power of Christ, Paul devoted the rest of his life to proclaiming the dual call to love God and serve Him through a life of disciple making: “But we ought always to thank God for you, brothers and sisters loved by the LORD, because God chose you as firstfruits to be saved through the sanctifying work of the Spirit and through belief in the truth. He called you to this through our gospel, that you might share in the glory of our LORD Jesus Christ.”  (2 Thessalonians 2:13-14)

At great personal cost, Paul traveled throughout the world of his day inviting people to follow Jesus and then encouraging them to go out and invite others to do the same: “So do not be ashamed of the testimony about our LORD or of me his prisoner. Rather, join with me in suffering for the gospel, by the power of God. He has saved us and called us to a holy life -- not because of anything we have done but because of His own purpose and grace.”  (2 Timothy 1:8-9a) 

-- Steve & Lois Rabey, General Editors, in “Side by Side”


Wednesday, November 7, 2018


“Because of His great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions -- it is by grace you have been saved.”  (Ephesians 2:4,5 NIV)

The comics sometimes have a way of expressing great and deep thoughts through the use of humor. For example, I discovered an interesting insight into grace in one of the “Dennis the Menace” cartoons. As you are aware, Dennis is indeed a menace and pest to his neighbors, Mr. and Mrs. Wilson. Yet Mrs. Wilson continues to be kind and gracious to Dennis. In this particular cartoon, Dennis and his little friend Joey are leaving Mrs. Wilson’s house with their hands full of cookies, and Joey says, “I wonder what we did to deserve this?” Dennis answers with great insight, “Look, Joey, Mrs. Wilson gives us cookies not because we’re nice, but because she’s nice.”

God loves us and seeks us not because we are lovable but because God is love. That’s grace! 

-- James W. Moore and Bob J. Moore in “Lord, Give Me Patience!... And Give It to Me Right Now!”  


Tuesday, November 6, 2018


“Don’t just think about your own affairs, but be interested in others, too, and in what they are doing.”  (Philippians 2:4 TLB)

Most of us have opportunities every day to extend... relational generosity to someone and "make their day".  One student in nurses training learned this from her professor.  The last question on a pop quiz was "What is the first name of the woman who cleans the school?"  The student's initial response was, "This has to be some kind of joke!"  She had seen the tall, fiftyish woman at work but felt no obligation to know her name.

Following the exam a student asked if that question would count on the grade.  "Absolutely," the professor exclaimed.  "In your careers you will meet many people.  All are significant.  They deserve your attention and care, even if all you do is smile and say hello."

The individual who related this incident said, "I've never forgotten that lesson.  I also learned her name was Dorothy." 

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


Monday, November 5, 2018


“Show me Your ways, O Lord;
Teach me Your paths.
Lead me in Your truth and teach me,
For You are the God of my salvation;
On You I wait all the day.”  (Psalm 25:4-5 NKJV)

When I meditated on the word GUIDANCE, I kept seeing "dance" at the end of the word. I remember reading that doing God's will is a lot like dancing. When two people try to lead, nothing feels right. The movement doesn't flow with the music, and everything is quite uncomfortable and jerky. When one person realizes that, and lets the other lead, both bodies begin to flow with the music.

One gives gentle cues, perhaps with a nudge to the back or by pressing lightly in one direction or another. It's as if two become one body, moving beautifully. The dance takes surrender, willingness, and attentiveness from one person and gentle guidance and skill from the other.

My eyes drew back to the word GUIDANCE. When I saw "G," I thought of God, followed by "u" and "i." "God, "u" and "i" dance." God, you, and I dance. As I lowered my head, I became willing to trust that I would get guidance about my life. Once again, I became willing to let God lead.

Dance together with God, trusting God to lead and to guide you through each season of your life.

-- Source Unknown, from a SOUND BITES subscriber in Wisconsin


Friday, November 2, 2018


“Show me Your ways, O Lord;
Teach me Your paths.
Lead me in Your truth and teach me,
For You are the God of my salvation;
On You I wait all the day.”  (Psalm 25:4-5 NKJV)

It would seem that admission to the inner circle of deepening intimacy with God is the outcome of deep desire. Only those who count such intimacy a prize worth sacrificing anything else for are likely to attain it. If other intimacies are more desirable to us, we will not gain entry to the circle… The place on Jesus’ breast is still vacant, and open to anyone willing to pay the price of deepening intimacy. We are now, and will be in the future, only as intimate with God as we really choose to be.

-- J. Oswald Sanders in “Enjoying Intimacy with God”


Thursday, November 1, 2018


“Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight and the sin that clings so closely, and let us run with perseverance the race that is set before us,…”  (Hebrews 12:1 NRSV)

Saints are never once-upon-a-time characters, stuck in the annals of history. They live and breathe when we retell their stories. But more than that, we Christians have this keen sense that these saints, even those who have died, are truly alive. They are with God. They seem, mysteriously enough, more alive now than they were during the life demarcated by their births and deaths -- and they were very much alive then, pulsating with the very life of God. They know that this life is not all there is. For them, the window into the future has been flung open, and they want to testify to us, stretching our imaginations and bequeathing us their courage.

-- James C. Howell in “Servants, Misfits, and Martyrs”