Tuesday, March 31, 2020


"Christ encourages you, and His love comforts you. God’s Spirit unites you, and you are concerned for others. Now make me completely happy! Live in harmony by showing love for each other. Be united in what you think, as if you were only one person. Don’t be jealous or proud, but be humble and consider others more important than yourselves. Care about them as much as you care about yourselves.”  (Philippians 2:1-4 CEV)

John Wesley would open up all small group meetings with the question “How is it with your soul?” That’s a far deeper question than, “How are you?” How is your soul doing? How is your spirit faring? Really, how are you?

It’s a jarring question because we often ask, “How are you?” out of habit and usually get impatient when someone has the nerve to actually tell us how they are doing. Perhaps it’s a question we like to avoid because answering it forces us to really take stock on the health of our souls — which often leads to admitting that we may not be doing as well as we want others to think.

So it’s imperative that we reflect often on Wesley’s question: How is it with your soul? What are the things that I’m engaging in that bring my soul closer God? What are the things that I’m doing that are putting a wedge between God and myself? What are the things that I’m doing in my life that really make my soul shine brightly and flourish? What are things I’m engaged in that are draining the life out of my soul?

-- Adapted from Joseph Yoo in “Ministry Matters” Blog


Monday, March 30, 2020


Myth: “Some doors are so closed, not even God can do anything about them.”

Actually, locked doors are kind of God’s specialty… If God can open the heavy door of a sealed tomb, no circumstantial door is too closed to Him. Consider what happened after the Resurrection:

“When it was evening… and the doors of the house where the disciples had met were locked… Jesus came and stood among them and said, ‘Peace be with you.’… A week later His disciples were again in the house, and Thomas was with them. Although the doors were shut, Jesus came and stood among them and said, ‘Peace be with you.’” (John 20:19,26 NRSV)

The doors of our lives are not closed to God. He has the power to enter into our circumstance and grace us with His presence.

-- John Ortberg in “All the Places to Go… How Will You Know?”


Friday, March 27, 2020


SPECIAL NOTE: This Sunday, March 29, marks the 21st anniversary of this SOUND BITES Ministry in memory of our son, Dustin, who had died the previous year. His death taught us about the power of compassion and that we need not walk this journey alone. Today, In the midst of Covid-19, “our times cry out for a mass movement of compassion.” While we are called to “shelter in place” or to be “safer at home,” we can still reach out to those in our sphere with virtual hugs, with phone calls to check in, with cards or e-mails expressing love and concern, and with prayers and support for those who are on the front lines of this war. From our homes we can become “everyday pilgrims whom God can use to bring healing to our broken world.” -- DW


“Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience.”  (Colossians 3:13 NIV)

Our times cry out for a mass movement of compassion. This urgent need coincides with the goal of the Christ-following life, for unless our faith makes us compassionate, it can hardly be called Christian.

Following Jesus means moving out of our privatized, isolated, and self-enclosed worlds into a compassionate engagement with our suffering neighbor. As we open ourselves to the pilgrimage experience,…  we journey from self-centeredness to compassion. May you and I become everyday pilgrims whom God can use to bring healing to our broken world.

-- Trevor Hudson in “A Mile in My Shoes: Cultivating Compassion”


Thursday, March 26, 2020


You have been given a perfect personal gift. One just for you. “There has been born for you a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.” (Luke 2:11 NASB)… Jesus is the gift.

He Himself is the treasure. Grace is precious because He is. Grace changes lives because He does. Grace secures us because He will. The gift is the Giver. To discover grace is to discover God’s utter devotion to you, His stubborn resolve to give you a cleansing, healing, purging love that lifts the wounded back to their feet. Does He stand on a hill and bid you climb out of the valley?  No. He bungees down and carries you out. Does He build a bridge and demand you to cross it? No. He crosses the bridge and shoulders you over. “You did not save yourselves; it was a gift from God.” (Ephesians 2:8 NCV)

This is the gift that God gives. A grace that grants us first the power to receive love and then the power to give it. A grace that changes us, shapes us, and leads us to a life that is eternally altered. Do you know this grace? Do you trust this grace? If not, you can. All God wants from us is faith. Put your faith in God.

-- Max Lucado in “Grace: More Than We Deserve, Greater Than We Imagine”


Wednesday, March 25, 2020


“Jesus knew that the Father had given Him authority over everything and that He had come from God and would return to God. So He got up from the table, took off His robe, wrapped a towel around His waist, and poured water into a basin. Then He began to wash the disciples’ feet, drying them with the towel He had around Him.”  (John 13:3-5 NLT)

Jesus knew that one of His disciples had already decided to betray Him. Another would deny Him by the next morning. Even this night, they would all desert Him. In the next hours they would repeatedly display ignorance, laziness, and lack of trust. It was indeed a sorry lot that gathered in the upper room. Even with good reasons to reject the entire group, Jesus deliberately showed to them the full extent of His love. The actions, words, and feelings that He shared with His disciples conveyed the highest form of love because His disciples did not deserve nor immediately appreciate this love.

Jesus knows us as fully as He knew those disciples. He knows intimately of every time and every way that we have denied or deserted Him. Yet knowing us, He willingly died for us. Jesus continually displays His love toward us and reaches out to us. He continues to serve us in the Lord’s Supper, and He guides and encourages us by His Spirit. He serves us as we serve one another. Are we prepared to love one another with the same kind of love Jesus demonstrated for us?

-- From the “Life Application Commentary -- John”


Tuesday, March 24, 2020


“Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.”  (Ephesians 2:3-4 NIV)

What does it mean to care?… The word care finds its roots in the Gothic "Kara," which means "lament."  The basic meaning of care is to grieve, to experience sorrow, to cry out with.  I am very much struck by this background of the word care because we tend to look at caring as an attitude of the strong toward the weak, of the powerful toward the powerless, of the haves toward the have-nots.  And, in fact, we feel quite uncomfortable with an invitation to enter into someone's pain before doing something about it.

Still, when we honestly ask ourselves which persons in our lives mean the most to us, we often find that it is those who, instead of giving much advice, solutions, or cures, have chosen rather to share our pain and touch our wounds with a gentle and tender hand. The friend who can be silent with us in a moment of despair or confusion, who can stay with us in an hour of grief and bereavement, who can tolerate not-knowing, not-curing, not-healing and face with us the reality of our powerlessness, that is the friend who cares.

-- Henri Nouwen in “Out of Solitude”


Monday, March 23, 2020


“This is the message we have heard from Him and declare to you: God is light; in Him there is no darkness at all.”  (1 John 1:5 NIV)

“In Him there is no darkness at all. The night and the day are both alike.” (Kathleen Thomerson, from the hymn “I want to Walk as a Child of the Light”)

This phrase reminds me that God permeates everything -- the night that I fear and the morning that I welcome. God, and God’s grace, surrounds us throughout all of life -- the easy, loving parts and the hard, difficult, scary times. God lives in both the night and the day -- they are just alike to God. When we face times of darkness in our personal lives, in our families, in our community or world, God moves close to us, loving us and holding our hands even if we are not aware of it, even if we think God is absent…

When we are facing a dark night of the soul, when we are sick or grieving, when we have hurt others or have been hurt by them, we are not alone. The God of darkness and light stays beside us. And the God of darkness and light sends messengers -- messengers like you and me -- to remind us that we are not alone… We are called to be children of the light, doers, messengers to others of God’s love and grace, God’s comfort and forgiveness.

-- Beth A. Richardson in “Child of the Light”


Friday, March 20, 2020


Editor’s Note: I shared this quote last fall, but thought that during this time of pandemic crisis it is a good reminder to share again. And if you are finding SOUND BITES to be particularly helpful and hopeful now, please share with your friends and family. -- DW


“We know that in everything God works for good with those who love Him, who are called according to His purpose.”  (Romans 8:28 RSV)

Hope is a necessity for real living, but especially in [times of crisis]. As Christians, we can have the hope and expectation that life will be good again. It may not be the same, but it can be good again. Hope is belief in possibility. It is not unrealistic optimism that everything will work out and things will be like they were before. It is confidence and faith that however things turnout, God will be with us, will see us through, and will bring healing.

Hope comes out of resurrection faith, the faith that no matter how bad things get, God is in the midst working with us for good. That’s what Paul was saying in Romans: “In everything God works for good…”

Hold on to your hope!

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


Thursday, March 19, 2020


“Jesus, knowing that the Father had given all things into His hands, and that He had come from God and was going to God, rose from supper and laid aside His garments, took a towel and girded Himself. After that, He poured water into a basin and began to wash the disciples’ feet, and to wipe them with the towel with which He was girded.”  (John 13:3-5 NKJV)

We must learn to worship as an everyday lifestyle. Even if we took part in wonderful, powerful worship once a week… it wouldn’t be enough. The Spirit of God accompanies us everywhere we go, and we can worship Him in the very midst of daily life…

It’s a question of whether you have eternal perspective. Wherever you go, whatever you do, the Lord Jesus longs to be your constant companion. You have the opportunity to praise and worship Him all through the day. He once washed the dirty feet of His disciples, so the details of your [dirt] make no difference.

If you will only practice His presence, you will find an eternal perspective taking root in your soul. You will begin to see this world through heavenly eyes. The trials will seem [less burdensome], and the blessings will be more obvious to you. You’ll see every person as Christ sees him or her, and don’t be surprised if you find yourself washing a foot or two, in time.

Wherever you go will be a fine place to be. And whatever you do will be filled with an irrepressible joy, because you’re in the company of the King.

-- David Jeremiah, as quoted in “His Passion: Christ’s Journey to the Resurrection”


Wednesday, March 18, 2020


"For I am the LORD, your God, who takes hold of your right hand and says to you, ‘Do not fear; I will help you.’"  (Isaiah 41:13 NIV)

The old Beatles song goes, “I want to hold your hand.” And yet in this day of COVID-19, we are told to refrain from hand-shakes and hugs, to observe social distancing, and to shelter in place. Fear of contracting the disease and/or spreading it to others, particularly the most vulnerable, is very real and should be taken seriously. But there is One who wants to touch you, to be close to you. God wants to hold your hand.

What is stopping you from letting go of fear and taking hold of God's hand? Please do not miss the offer to know Him on a personal level. God is reaching out with open arms and it is up to us to embrace Him and accept the invitation. Don't spend another moment in isolation, alone or full of fear. Let it go and let God hold your hand.

The Beatles concluded their song with “And when I touch you I feel happy inside. It's such a feeling that my love I can't hide, I can't hide, I can't hide.” That’s the way it is when we are touched with God’s love, especially in the midst of fear. Take hold of God’s hand.

-- David T. Wilkinson


Tuesday, March 17, 2020


“Great is our Lord and mighty in power; His understanding has no limit.”  (Isaiah 147:5 NIV)

Who or what seems greater than God?... Just as a potter is greater than the clay or an artist is greater than his painting, God is greater than His creation.

There’s nothing in my life or in yours -- no circumstance or crisis, no habit or heartache, no sickness or grief, nothing visible or invisible -- nothing that’s greater than God!... No king or ruler, no preacher or teacher -- no one is greater than God.

What are you facing that’s greater than you are? A habit? A person? A problem? Something beyond your ability to handle? God is greater!

Put your focus and your faith in the One who has authority over everything!

-- Anne Graham Lotz in “Fixing My Eyes on Jesus”


Monday, March 16, 2020


“Jesus went up on the mountain by Himself to pray. Now when evening came, He was alone there. But the boat was now in the middle of the sea, tossed by the waves, for the wind was contrary. Now in the fourth watch of the night Jesus went to them, walking on the sea. And when the disciples saw Him walking on the sea, they were troubled, saying, ‘It is a ghost!’ And they cried out for fear. But immediately Jesus spoke to them, saying, ‘Be of good cheer! It is I; do not be afraid.’ And Peter answered Him and said, ‘Lord, if it is You, command me to come to You on the water.’ So He said, ‘Come.’ And when Peter had come down out of the boat, he walked on the water to go to Jesus. But when he saw that the wind was boisterous, he was afraid; and beginning to sink he cried out, saying, ‘Lord, save me!’ And immediately Jesus stretched out His hand and caught him, and said to him, ‘O you of little faith, why did you doubt?’ And when they got into the boat, the wind ceased. Then those who were in the boat came and worshiped Him, saying, ‘Truly You are the Son of God.’” (Matthew 14:23b-33 NKJV)

Prayer is a desperate dive out of the sinking boat of human effort and a prayer that God will be there to pull us out of the water.

-- Unknown


Friday, March 13, 2020


“So stay awake and be prepared, because you do not know the day or hour of My return.”  (Matthew 25:13 NLT)

Every generation of Christians has expected Christ to return in their lifetime. And they have had one thing in common: They have all be wrong…

Supposing Jesus had said, “I’ll give you three millennia to evangelize the world, and them, on January 1, A.D. 3001, I will return at precisely 9:00 GMT.” What would the promise of His return have meant to generations of believers who lived in the preceding centuries? In the midst of their suffering, exiles, and martyrdom, what comfort would they have derived from His promise, knowing that He would not come soon? And what would have been the effect on the church if they had known that they still had a little time to do what they wanted to do before getting around to doing what He had told them to do? Where would have been the sense of urgency, the challenge of holiness, and the keen sense of tiptoe anticipation?

Jesus’ point was that all His disciples should be living in a sense of anticipation, actively on the job, working hard to bring about the consummation of His purposes and living consistent lives so they would not be ashamed at His coming.

-- Stuart Briscoe


Thursday, March 12, 2020


“Fear not, for I am with you;
Be not dismayed, for I am your God.
I will strengthen you,
Yes, I will help you,
I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.”  (Isaiah 41:10 NKJV)

When fear begins to overwhelm us, we can think of the living Christ, whose heart and voice are God’s heart and voice, speaking to us inwardly: “I am here. I will not leave you. Hold onto Me. You are safe with Me. Breathe slowly. Breathe deeply. My healing breath of life is flowing into you. Take My peace into your body. Take My peace into your heart.”

“Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,
I will fear no evil;
For You are with me;
Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me.”  (Psalm 23:4 NKJV)

-- Flora Slosson Wuellner in “Miracle: When Christ Touches Our Deepest Need” 


Wednesday, March 11, 2020


Most people embrace the assumption that God saves good people. So be good! Be moral. Be honest. Be decent. Pray the rosary. Keep the Sabbath. Keep your promises. Pray five times a day facing east. Stay sober. Pay taxes. Earn merit badges.

Yet for all the talk about being good, still no one can answer the fundamental question: What level of good is good enough? Bizarre. At stake is our eternal destination, yet we are more confident about lasagna recipes than the entrance requirements for heaven.

God has a better idea: “For by grace you have been saved through faith, and this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God -- not the result of works, so that no one may boast.” (Ephesians 2:8-9 NRSV)

We contribute nothing. Zilch. As opposed to the merit badge of the Scout, salvation of the soul is unearned. A gift. Our merits merit nothing. God’s work merits everything.

-- Max Lucado in “Grace: More Than We Deserve, Greater Than We Imagine”


Tuesday, March 10, 2020


“Because you are children, God has sent the Spirit of His Son into our hearts, crying, ‘Abba! Father!’”  (Galatians 4:6 NRSV)

Calling God “Abba” is rooted in Jesus’ agony in the Garden of Gethsemane: “And He said, ‘Abba, Father, all things are possible for You. Take this cup away from Me. Nevertheless, not what I want, but what You will.’”  (Mark 14:36 NKJV)

Abba was an ordinary family word of Jesus’ day. It conveyed intimacy, tenderness, dependence, and complete lack of fear and anxiety. Modern English equivalents would be Daddy or Papa.

No Jew would have dreamed of using this very intimate term to address God. However, Jesus always used this word in His prayers (Aramaic abba or its Greek equivalent pater), with the exception of His cry from the cross.

And Jesus instructed His disciples to use this word in their prayers as well. We are empowered to speak to God just as a small child speaks to his father.

-- David Jeremiah, quoted in “His Passion: Christ’s Journey to the Resurrection”


Monday, March 9, 2020


“Jesus replied [to Nicodemus], ‘Very truly I tell you, no one can see the kingdom of God unless they are born again.’”  (John 3:3 NIV)

We believe in conversion.  But what is it?  It is the most basic transformation in life.  It is a revolution at the heart of one's being.  It is the new birth.  It is not a natural growth but a supernatural rebirth.

For selfish persons, conversion means a basic change in the center of their commitment.  Self is dethroned; Christ is enthroned.  For those who measure success and failure in dollars and cents, the new birth means the reign of Christ and of His standards.  For those who put their highest trust in political organizations and in the might of arms, conversion means seeing in Christ the only hope of the world.  To those who are crippled by failure and despair, conversion means absolute trust in the healing ministry of the conquering Savior.  In short, we are born of the Spirit when Christ becomes the master impulse of our life.  And we enter into this new life at the moment when we take all that we know about ourselves and lay it trustfully before all that we know about Christ.

Conversion or the new birth, then, is a basic change of mind and heart.

-- Bishop Mack Stokes in “Major United Methodist Beliefs,”  published by Abingdon  Press, Nashville, TN.   Used with permission.


Friday, March 6, 2020


“[The LORD] said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for My power is made perfect in weakness’.” (2 Corinthians 12:9a NIV)

Plunge a sponge into Lake Erie. Did it absorb every drop? Take a deep breath. Did it suck the oxygen out of the atmosphere? Pluck a pine needle from a tree in Yosemite. Did you deplete the forest foliage? Watch an ocean wave crash against the beach. Will there never be another one?

Of course there will. No sooner will one wave crash into the sand than another appears. Then another, then another. This is a picture of God’s sufficient grace. Grace is simply another word for God’s tumbling, rumbling reservoir of strength and protection. It comes at us not occasionally or miserly but constantly and aggressively, wave upon wave. We’ve barely regained our balance from one breaker, and then, bam, here comes another.

“For from His fullness we have all received, grace upon grace.” (John 1:16 ESB)

-- Max Lucado in “Grace: More Than We Deserve, Greater Than We Imagine”


Thursday, March 5, 2020


You have God’s sufficient grace to sustain you.

Paul’s life underscored this truth. He wrote “There was given me a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me. Three times I pleaded with the LORD to take it away from me. But He said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for My power is made perfect in weakness’.” (2 Corinthians 12:7b-9a)

A thorn in the flesh. Such vivid imagery. The sharp end of a thorn pierces the soft skin in life and lodges beneath the surface. Every step is a reminder of the thorn in the flesh.

The cancer in the body. The sorrow in the heart. The child in the rehab center. The red ink on the ledger. The felony on the record. The craving for whiskey in the middle of the day. The tears in the middle of the night. The thorn in the flesh.

“Take it away,” you’ve pleaded. Not once, twice, or even three times. You’ve outprayed Paul. He prayed a sprint; you’ve prayed the Boston Marathon. And you’re about to hit a wall at mile nineteen. The wound radiates pain, and you see no sign of tweezers coming from heaven. But what you hear is this: “My grace is sufficient for you.”

-- Max Lucado in “Grace: More Than We Deserve, Greater Than We Imagine” 


Wednesday, March 4, 2020


"You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled underfoot.”  (Matthew 5:13 NIV)

Salt can be used in food as a preservative, but it can also make people thirsty and food tasty. Jesus said those who believe in Him are the salt of the earth; our function is to make others hungry and thirsty for Him.

Are you losing your saltines? Today it’s easy to become saturated in selfishness and materialism, so engrossed by entertainment and politics, so anesthetized by religion and tradition, that we’re in danger of losing the uniqueness of who we are in Christ. As a result our “salt” no longer makes people “thirsty” for Jesus or the things of God “tasty.”

When that happens, we desperately need to recharge our saltiness by renewing our personal knowledge of God, our passionate love for Christ, our practical devotion to the Holy Spirit, our purposeful commitment to the gospel so that once again, we are salty believers.

Be the salty saint that you are!

-- Anne Graham Lotz in “Fixing My Eyes on Jesus”


Tuesday, March 3, 2020


“LORD, be gracious to us; we long for You. Be our strength every morning, our salvation in time of distress.”  (Isaiah 33:2 NIV)

Life is a hard fight, a struggle, a wrestling with the principle of evil, hand to hand, foot to foot. Every inch of the way is disputed. The night is given us to take breath, to pray, to drink deep at the fountain of power. The day, to use the strength which has been given us, to go forth to work with it till the evening.

-- Florence Nightingale


Monday, March 2, 2020


“Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, left the Jordan and was led by the Spirit into the wilderness, where for forty days He was tempted by the devil.”  (Luke 4:1-2a NIV)

When sorrow comes, let us accept it simply, as a part of life. Let the heart be open to pain; let it be stretched by it. All the evidence that we have says that this is the better way. An open heart never grows bitter. Or if it does, it cannot remain so. In the desolate hour, there is an outcry; a clenching of the hands upon emptiness; a burning pain of bereavement; a weary ache of loss. But anguish, like ecstasy, is not forever. There comes a gentleness, a returning quietness, a restoring stillness. This, too, is a door to life. Here, also, is a deepening of meaning -- and it can lead to dedication; a going forward to the triumph of the soul, the conquering of the wilderness. And in the process will come a deepening inward knowledge that in the final reckoning, all is well.

-- A. Powell Davies in “Life Prayers”