Friday, May 29, 2020


“Only God's Spirit gives new life. The Spirit is like the wind that blows wherever it wants to. You can hear the wind, but you don't know where it comes from or where it is going.”  (John 3:8 CEV)

We feel the breath of the wind upon our cheeks, we see the dust and the leaves blowing before the wind, we see the vessels at sea driven swiftly towards their ports; but the wind itself remains invisible. Just so with the Spirit; we feel His breath upon our souls, we see the mighty things He does, but Himself we do not see. He is invisible, but He is real and perceptible. 

-- R. A. Torrey in “The Person and Work of The Holy Spirit”


Thursday, May 28, 2020


Down through the centuries there have been followers of Christ who were ordinary, run-of-the-mill, average. Nothing spectacular ever happened to them or through them. Then, like Peter and the disciples of old, something happened. They were no longer ordinary, run-of-the-mill or average. They became men and women of God, instruments of power; defeat turned to victory; doubts and fear turned to assurance and joy and faith. They were the ones who “turned the world upside down” (Acts 17:6). Cowardly Peter, who denied Jesus three times (you and I have denied Him many more) became bold Peter of Pentecost who preached and three thousand and five thousand believed in Christ and were added unto the church. The early disciples possessed a strange new quality of life, a life of power which transformed the heart of a wicked Roman empire during the first century...

Yes, you guessed it. It began at Pentecost and their lives were changed.. and millions of others through the centuries have been changed into vital, dynamic Christians by the power of the Holy Spirit.

Jesus promised in His apostolic commission that the Holy Spirit would give us power to be His witnesses. “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be My witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth." (Acts 1:8) 

-- William R. Bright, from “Ten Basic Steps Toward Christian Maturity”


Wednesday, May 27, 2020


"Cast all your anxiety on Him because He cares for you." (1 Peter 5:7)

That's not only a fragment of Scripture, it's a foundation of Scripture. God's acts of compassion and mercy never go unnoticed by the authors of the Bible.  Time and again, God demonstrates His love through this intimate, very personal care of His children…

He cares for you. It's a beautiful promise that reminds you of God's intimate concern whether you're ill for weeks, [in quarantine] for months, or struggling within your marriage for years. Grab hold of that truth and hang on.  No matter what.

-- Joni Eareckson Tada in “Glorious Intruder” 


Tuesday, May 26, 2020


“That you, being rooted and grounded in love, may have strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth,  and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge…”  (Ephesians 3:17b-19a ESV)

The dimensions and depths of God’s grace are incalculable. The capacity and proportions of His promises are innumerable. The extent and magnitude of His wisdom is immeasurable. His yearnings and tender love towards us is unceasing. His love is without bars, barricades or blockages, and His love is all-embracing and all-encompassing.

His love is without race or class or creed or national barriers… for He loved the Syrophonecian woman and the Roman centurion without prejudice. His love is without age or popularity… or financial or cultural barriers. He loves both old and young, both rich and poor, both sinner and saint.

His love is even without a pride barrier, for He knelt to wash the feet of His prideful disciples, and He loved the prideful, self-satisfied, rich young ruler. He loves all without discrimination or bigotry, intolerance or favoritism… and the love of Christ continues to stretch to the breadth of understanding. 

-- From an article entitled “The Breadth of God’s Superlative Love” at


Friday, May 22, 2020


“Incline your ear, and hear the words of the wise, and apply your heart to My knowledge, for it will be pleasant if you keep them within you, if all of them are ready on your lips. That your trust may be in the LORD, I have made them known to you today, even to you.”  (Proverbs 22:17-19 ESV)

Attentiveness to God's Word and will is the ground from which all fruitful service in God's name grows. The resoundingly clear priority of the spiritual life is to listen first; then to obey what we hear.

-- Rev. Marjorie Thompson in “Leading from the Center Newsletter” 


Thursday, May 21, 2020


“Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.”  (Psalm 46:10 NIV)

This solitude of heart goes beyond the domain of the withdrawn monk, hermit, or recluse. It acknowledges the importance of carving out time and space in our busy life to be alone and silent, to wait with a receptive attitude upon God. 

-- Judith C. Lechman


Wednesday, May 20, 2020


Too many of us have lost a sense of expectancy that God will show up and transform our lives. Because of that disposition, we do not cry out with urgency or find ourselves willing to pay a price for revival to happen within us. In Ephesians 3:19, Paul prays that we would “know this love that surpasses knowledge -- that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.” To be filled with the fullness of God, we have to go beyond intellectual knowledge of the Lord and find intimacy in the presence of God. We need to hunger for more of God and seek Him with all our hearts. This is where the true transformation begins. Did Jesus die on the cross so we could feel and be just a little bit better on occasion? Was it for small victory or life-changing victory? Have we settled for less than God’s fullness in our lives and [churches]?

If God speaks into your heart and He lovingly humbles you, don’t run. Go to the Scriptures and pray, “Lord, through Your Holy Spirit, reveal Your truth to me, even if it’s painful. I am yours.” 

-- Madeline Carrasco Henners, from the book “Firm Foundation”


Tuesday, May 19, 2020


“This is the day that the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it.”  (Psalm 118:24 NRSV)

Who is ready?  We have our plans, things we're looking forward to -- life going on at its sometimes unpleasant but nonetheless predictable pace.

Then something happens -- like an accident, or a death, or an illness -- that changes everything, forces us to reappraise our priorities and, often, reset our lives.

People who have come close to disaster and been able to wheel free have shown a renewed appreciation for the simple pleasures of life, for the gift of each day, and a resolve not to put off pleasures or acts of kindness until "another day," because "another day" may not come.

We who have lost loved ones have also learned the value of simple gifts, of not putting off kind words or actions, because we never know when events will change our world, the expected developments of our lives, and the intended recipients of our kind words and actions may be gone.

The preciousness of this day is its own gift. 

-- Martha Whitmore Hickman in “Healing After Loss” 


Monday, May 18, 2020


"In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus: Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to His own advantage; rather, He made Himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to death -- even death on a cross! " (Philippians 2:5-8 NIV)

If New Testament Christianity is to reappear today with its power and joy and courage, [we] must recapture the basic conviction that this is a Visited planet.  It is not enough to express formal belief in the "Incarnation" or in the "Divinity of Christ"; the staggering truth must be accepted afresh -- that in this vast, mysterious universe, of which we are an almost infinitesimal part, the great Mystery, Whom we call God, has visited our planet in Person.  It is from this conviction that there springs unconquerable certainty and unquenchable faith and hope.  It is not enough to believe theoretically that Jesus was both God and Man; not enough to admire, respect, and even worship Him; it is not even enough to try to follow Him.  The reason for the insufficiency of these things is that the modern intelligent mind, which has had its horizons widened in dozens of different ways, has got to be shocked afresh by the audacious central Fact -- that, as a sober matter of history, God became one of us. 

-- J. B. Phillips in “New Testament Christianity”


Friday, May 15, 2020


"Be careful that this freedom of yours [in Christ] does not in any way turn into an obstacle to trip those who are vulnerable." (The Apostle Paul in 1 Corinthians 8:9 NJB)

Victor Frankel was a famous psychologist who survived the concentration camps of World War Two. He went on to become a leading psychologist of his time. One might think that someone who'd endured such horror might go overboard in pursuit of freedom. But Victor Frankel once said something very profound about America.  He noticed that, in New York, we have this marvelous statue to freedom: the Statue of Liberty. It shines like a beacon at the doorway of our nation. But, he suggested that perhaps we need a little balance. He suggested that perhaps, somewhere on the West Coast, we ought to erect another statue. And that would be a Statue of Responsibility.

Freedom of any kind -- to speak, to live, to work, to love -- always comes with the responsibility to seek balance as well. Paul knew this 2,000 years ago. And he tells us something we need to learn again today: The freedom we have in Christ gives us a great responsibility to care for others and treat others as well as ourselves.  And sometimes, just because we can do something, doesn't mean we should. 

-- Eric Folkerth, Copyright 2000. All Rights Reserved. (Used with Permission) 


Thursday, May 14, 2020


“Praise Him with the sounding of the trumpet,
praise Him with the harp and lyre,
praise Him with timbrel and dancing,
praise Him with the strings and pipe,
praise Him with the clash of cymbals,
praise Him with resounding cymbals.
Let everything that has breath praise the Lord.”  (Psalm 150:3-6 NIV)

One Sunday morning in September 1993 I attended a lively Latino pentecostal church housed in a former synagogue in what had once been the German-Jewish section of Chicago. While the mostly Puerto Rican worshippers were singing “Dios Esta Aqui” (“God Is Here”), I spotted a small sticker. It was attached to the gleaming red and white mother-of-pearl trap drums a young devotee was beating with an astonishing series of slams, rolls, and paradiddles. From my location, about a third of the way back, I could see the first word on the placard was “Music” and the last word was “Jesus.” But the intervening words were in smaller print, and no matter how hard I squinted I could not quite make them out. My curiosity had been piqued, so after the service I slipped up to the band area to take a closer look. Now I could see the whole message. It said, “Music Brought Me to Jesus.” 

-- Harvey Cox, as quoted in “When in Doubt, Sing: Prayer in Daily Life” by Jane Redmont


Wednesday, May 13, 2020


“Let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith.”  (Hebrews 12:1b-2a NIV)

A father wanted to read a magazine but was being bothered by his little daughter, Vanessa.  Finally, he tore a sheet out of his magazine on which was printed the map of the world.  Tearing it into small pieces, he gave it to Vanessa, and said, "Go into the other room and see if you can put this together."

After a few minutes, Vanessa returned and handed him the map correctly fitted together.  The father was surprised and asked how she had finished so quickly.

"Oh," she said, "on the other side of the paper is a picture of Jesus. When I got all of Jesus back where He belonged, then the world came together." 

-- Unknown


Tuesday, May 12, 2020


“Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I will fear no evil, for You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me.”  (Psalm 23:4 NIV)

One of the ways in which Jesus is dear to Christians who pray is in His presence to them in times of trouble. For some, Jesus is a brother and companion, the one who accompanies them, who walks along the way with us, who has been where humans have been. He is the Jesus whom the Gospel of John presents as weeping for the death of His friend Lazarus, whom He loved; who sweats blood during the agony in the garden and wrestles with the will of God and the evil of the world, when all His friends have fallen asleep; who later that day cries out on the cross. For others, Jesus is the one who lifts burdens, who takes it from us so we do not have to bear it on our own. For many, He is both. Either way, Jesus is presence… Jesus is God made visible, God made human -- God close to our trials and our everyday life, not distant or uninvolved. This is not the fix-all God or the magician God. The God to whom or with whom we pray in our sufferings is not God as explanation, but God as companion -- a God who suffers and knows suffering…

God as companion in our suffering is both the One who suffers with us and the One on whom we lean. Psalm 46 says, “God is our refuge and strength, a vey present help in trouble.” 

-- Jane Redmont in “When in Doubt, Sing: Prayer in Daily Life”


Monday, May 11, 2020


Give thanks to the Lord, for He is good!
His faithful love endures forever.
Let all Israel repeat:
“His faithful love endures forever.”
Let Aaron’s descendants, the priests, repeat:
“His faithful love endures forever.”
Let all who fear the Lord repeat:
“His faithful love endures forever.”  (Psalm 118:1-4 NLT)

It would benefit Christians not to dwell on the uncertainty that seems to plague the current world landscape but turn our eyes instead toward Jesus, the Author and Finisher of our faith.

When there is uncertainty, uneasiness and fear often follow. We all long for certainty, but what do we mean by that?

There must be something beyond ourselves that we can lean upon that has the certainty that we crave. All that rests upon us, all that weight that desires to crush us, is far too much for us to handle. We must look outside of ourselves and every vice that we hold onto or use to cope, and recognize that they are merely the illusion of certainty. We must look to the One who holds all things in His hand and never lets go. The One who is the only constant in a universe marked by change.  The One whose “faithful love endures forever.”

-- Adapted from Ray Peters in an article entitled “Certainty in the Midst of Uncertainty”


Friday, May 8, 2020


“These are the sayings that King Lemuel of Massa was taught by his mother. My son Lemuel, you were born in answer to my prayers, so listen carefully… Charm can be deceiving, and beauty fades away, but a woman who honors the LORD deserves to be praised. Show her respect -- praise her in public for what she has done."  (Proverbs 31:1-2, 29-30 CEV)

The Bible is filled with the accomplishments and witness of mothers who honored the Lord by devoting themselves to God, as they sacrificed, took risks, experienced heartache and loss, as well as the joy that comes from putting trust and hope in the Lord God.

Sarah and Elizabeth became mothers at an advanced age; Hagar served as a surrogate mother; Naomi became a grandmother following a time of hardship and family distress; Hannah promised that she would dedicate her child to the Lord; the events surrounding the birth and ministry of Jesus show His mother, Mary, at His side; unnamed mothers made bold requests on behalf of their children...

Two women who are great examples of passing on the gift of faith are Lois and Eunice, the grandmother and mother of Timothy, who then spread the faith throughout his life as a companion of Paul. It was these two women who instilled in Timothy the power of God by who they were and how they lived. Timothy's upbringing was grounded in the Holy Scriptures.

Therefore, on this Mother's Day, let us praise remarkable women of faith -- those from Scripture and those we have known face-to-face. It is because of them that we have been brought to a knowledge of life well-lived in the Lord.

-- The American Bible Society


Thursday, May 7, 2020


Editor’s Note: The following prayer is an adaptation of the Lord’s Prayer for difficult times. My wife first introduced this to me over 25 years ago. On this National Day of Prayer during the Covid-19 Pandemic I thought it particularly appropriate for today’s SOUND BITES.


Our Father, in spite of the present difficulty, You are still in heaven and the world is still ordered. May my response hallow Your Name. The coming of Your Kingdom is more important than my own difficulty -- so, may I not hinder its coming by my worry. Cause this event to be an opening up to Your will on earth, which I can see as clearly as if I were in heaven. I must recognize that You still provide the necessities of life; I have bread enough. May this event help me to recognize how important it is to secure Your forgiveness and to forgive those who have sinned against me. And may this not be an occasion for temptation to lose faith or respond as an unbeliever. Deliver me from any evil response or action in this difficulty. The overriding and all-important fact of life is that to You belongs the kingdom and the power and the glory forever, and even this event is caught up in that fact. Amen.

--  John Killinger


Wednesday, May 6, 2020


Jesus said, “I am the light of the world. If you follow Me, you won’t have to walk in darkness, because you will have the light that leads to life.”  (John 8:12 NLT)

Some time ago I read the story (Bob Woods in Pulpit Digest) of a couple who took their son, 11, and daughter, 7, to Carlsbad Caverns. As always, when the tour reached the deepest point in the cavern, the guide turned off all the lights to dramatize how completely dark and silent it is below the earth’s surface.

The little girl, suddenly enveloped in utter darkness, was frightened and began to cry. Immediately was heard the voice of the brother, “Don’t cry. Somebody here knows how to turn on the lights.”

In a real sense, that is the Gospel message: Light is available, even when darkness seems overwhelming.

There are many people these days who are feeling overwhelmed, who are struggling in the “dark”. They want to know how to turn on the light. As believers and followers of Jesus Christ we know the light source. And He says of us, “You are the light of the world... Let your light so shine before others, that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.” (Matthew 5:14a, 16)

Give someone a call today who might be struggling with the darkness of the Covid-19 isolation. When you shine your light into their darkness they will not just see you, they will see that Christ is with them. “Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I will fear no evil, for you are with me.” (Psalm 23:4a NIV)

-- David T. Wilkinson, SOUND BITES Ministry


Tuesday, May 5, 2020


"Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go."  (Joshua 1:9 NIV)

Resist discouragement. Don’t let it control you. Nobody can take away from you your capacity to make a decision regarding discouragement. You have the power to determine not to let discouraging circumstances engulf you. As Christians who can call on the power of God, we have every reason not to feel discouraged.

-- Max Lucado


Monday, May 4, 2020


"Christ will make His home in your hearts as you trust in Him. Your roots will grow down into God’s love and keep you strong. And may you have the power to understand, as all God’s people should, how wide, how long, how high, and how deep His love is. May you experience the love of Christ, though it is too great to understand fully. Then you will be made complete with all the fullness of life and power that comes from God." (Ephesians 3:17-20 NLT)

God's love is total, says Paul. It reaches every corner of our experience. It is wide -- it covers the breadth of our own experience, and it reaches out to the whole world. It is long -- it continues the length of our lives. It is high -- it rises to the heights of our celebration and elation. It is deep -- it reaches to the depths of discouragement, despair, and even death. When you feel shut out or isolated, remember that you can never be lost to God's love.

-- from the Life Application Study Bible


Friday, May 1, 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)

How often have you been told in the midst of trouble and difficulty to “hold on to God”? There is enough truth in that advice to make it worth consideration. But, it misses the point if we have that idea as our understanding of what faith is about. Faith is not holding on to God; it’s trusting God to hold on to you, even when you think you don’t have a hold on God.

-- Maxie Dunnam in “Living the Psalms”