Monday, April 30, 2012

We May Not Have...

We may not have a towering building in a booming part of town.
We may not have ushers with name tags at our doors.
We may not have fancy brochures in our foyer.
We may not have small groups for every age.
We may not have people who can sing all the parts.
We may not have a wonderful sound system and PowerPoint.
We may not have a well-organized youth program.
We may not have a wide variety of ministries.
We may not have a huge missions budget.
We may not have a talented music minister.
We may not have a preacher with a Ph. D.

But what we do have...

We have a faith that people can change for the better.
We have a belief that everyone needs a place to belong.
We have a hope that not even death can steal our joy.
We have a trust that Jesus paid it all and that's enough.
We have an honesty when we speak to one another.
We have a sincerity when we say we've been forgiven.
We have a outlook that our future will be better than our past.
We have a peace that only God can give.
We have an assurance that today is not the end of our story.
We have a desire to see God glorified and people changed.
We have a love that binds us together in good times and bad.

Never think that just because where you are is small that it is unimportant.
The gifts we bring to the family of God matter and are of eternal significance.  
Have a great week.

Sunday, April 29, 2012

It's a new week...

It's a new week.  
Make the most of it, one day at a time.  
Work hard.  
Relax.  
Get up.  
Wind down.  
Say "I love you." 
Do a small act of kindness not expecting anything in return.  
Pray.  
Try something new.  
Read.  
Focus.  
Enjoy the moment.  
Do your best.  
Forgive yourself.  
Wonder at life.  
Sleep easy.  
Comfort a friend.  
Look ahead, above and around, but not behind.  
Have a great week.

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Thanks

Taking this opportunity on the weekend to give a shout out to all those who read this blog.  Whether you are a daily reader with posts coming to your inbox or someone who just happened across the blog just once, I appreciate your presence here.  I hope what you have read is hopeful and thought-provoking.  The site's statistics show that beyond the United States there is a substantial readership in Russia, Germany, and the Ukraine in addition to dozens of smaller readerships.  Thanks for stopping by and I hope for many more days to share knowledge and experience with you.

Friday, April 27, 2012

“The only peace on earth is in the will of God.”
~William Barclay

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Grammar counts...

“Let me live, love and say it well in good sentences.”
~ Sylvia Plath

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

On being open...

“If you do not tell the truth about yourself you cannot tell it about other people.” 
~ Virginia Woolf 

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

In any area of life...

“The mediocre teacher tells. The good teacher explains. The superior teacher demonstrates. The great teacher inspires.”
-William Arthur Ward

Monday, April 23, 2012

“It is doubtful whether God can bless a man greatly until He has hurt him deeply.” 
~ A.W. Tozer

Sunday, April 22, 2012

“Anyone who thinks sitting in church can make you a Christian must also think that sitting in a garage can make you a car.”
~ Garrison Keillor 
(Attributed to G.K. Chesterton as well)

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Too true...

“If you want to know what a man's like, take a good look at how he treats his inferiors, not his equals.” 
~ J.K. Rowling in Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire

Friday, April 20, 2012

"I will not let the things I don't understand overwhelm the things that I can't deny."

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

“Try not to become a man of success. Rather become a man of value.”
~Albert Einstein

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

"Read the Bible in a commonsense way. Pray after you have read it as much as you like. When you are reading it, if you come to a knotty point, do not skip it. You all have some Christian friend who knows more than you do; go to him and try to get the thing explained. Above all, when you have read any passage, and do understand it, act it out, and ask the Spirit of God to burn the meaning into your conscience till it is written on the fleshy tables of your heart."
-Charles H. Spurgeon on Bible study

Monday, April 16, 2012

"Passion is passion...It's the excitement between the tedious spaces...the saddest people I've ever met in life are the ones who don't care deeply about anything at all.”
-Nicholas Sparks in Dear John

Sunday, April 15, 2012

“Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts.” 
-Sir Winston Churchill

Saturday, April 14, 2012

"When the world pushes you to your knees, you are then in the perfect position to pray."
~Rumi

Friday, April 13, 2012

Even today...

It may be today that you are required to do hard things and it may be that tomorrow you will face difficult challenges.
Never forget that you have been kept up till now and you will also be kept after.
Challenges come to all of us.
It is in responding to challenges that we grow, we mature and we build.
Without conflict, resolution would be a hollow and empty prospect.
Today is not only the end of something old...in fact, it could be that today is the beginning of everything new.

Have a great weekend!

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Sometimes...

Often times we can be guilty of having a smug sense of spiritual superiority.  This is common on all points along the theological spectrum.  The conservative often finds his superiority in observing all the rules and right procedures and readily condemning those who are less perfect than he.  Quite often the more liberal thinker takes great comfort in the fact that he is not so old-fashioned and uptight as his more conservative counterpart.  The liberal thanks the LORD that he is liberated and has gotten past being such a legalist and found the "real" message of the Gospel.  Many people in the theological middle are just thankful they are not caught up in the agendas of either extreme and pride themselves on "balance."

The problem in these situations is often not so much the doctrine as the attitude.  The focus has shifted off of Who God is and onto what I am doing or how I am feeling.  The most appropriate response, regardless of which source the pride comes from, is prayer.  Praying to guard against our own tendencies to glorify ourselves is essential.  Praying that God would work in our lives both through us and in spite of us will foster an attitude of humility.  When we look to exalt God and His will for our lives we cannot help but to realize how small and dependent we truly are.

May God help us to remember that in the upside-down Kingdom the last will be first and the first last.
May God help us to check our personalities and assume His priorities.
May God help His people to be both a reflection of His truth and His humility to the world.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

"When you cannot rejoice in feelings, circumstances or conditions, rejoice in the Lord."
~A.B. Simpson

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Never doubt influence...

“The one indispensable requirement for producing godly, mature Christians is godly, mature Christians.” 
~Kevin DeYoung

Monday, April 9, 2012

Sunday, April 8, 2012

From Andrew Peterson...

He came back.
And after that brutal Friday, and that long, quiet Saturday, he came back.
And that one intake of breath in the tomb changes everything. It changes the very reason I drew breath today and the way I move about in this world because I believe he’s coming back again. The world has gone on for more than two millenia since Jesus’ feet tread the earth he made. What would they have said back then if someone had told them two thousand years later we’d still be waiting? They would’ve thought back to that long Saturday and said, “Two thousand years will seem like a breath to you when you finally lay your crown at his feet. We don’t even remember what we were doing on that Saturday, but let me tell you about Sunday morning. Now that was something.”
These many years of waiting will only be a sentence in the story. This long day will come to an end, and I believe it will end in glory, when we will shine like suns and stride the green hills with those we love and the One who loves. We will look with our new eyes and speak with our new tongues and turn to each other and say, “Do you remember the waiting? The long years, the bitter pain, the gnawing doubt, the relentless ache?” And like Mary at the tomb, we will say: “I remember only the light, and the voice calling my name, and the overwhelming joy that the waiting was finally over.”
The stone will be rolled away for each of us.
May we wait with faithful hearts.

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Wait in Hope...

"Weeping may endure for the night, but joy comes in the morning."
-Psalm 30:5

May we take advantage of this day of rest to put to rest those things that hinder our communion with God.  Tomorrow we shall raise up new things in their place to lead us forward into a closer, more united walk with God.  May God bless us now and always as we attempt to conform our lives to the image of His Son.

Hope to see many of you tomorrow for Easter worship.

Friday, April 6, 2012

On Good Friday...

I am often reminded in the quiet of the house or driving to worship or in reading something beautiful that I have very little figured out.  What little I seem to know about my ministry is largely borrowed from other sources.  What I know about love I have gained from my family.  What I know about sports and entertainment I have gathered from television, reading and casual conversation.  There is not much I can claim as mine and I believe this is probably true of most people.  Two things I have learned from experience though.  Two things, like opposite sides of a coin, that are arranged in such a way that I do not believe I could have one without the other.

The first of these is suffering.  The pain of not understanding why things happen to us is a source of brutal confusion.  The actual effects of our pain are scarring.  The sense of shame one is left with when one's sickness is not visible to the eye but is rather present in the mind is overwhelming.  The absolute terror that you experience when you feel your mood change ever so slightly for fear that even the tiniest shift in the brain's chemicals can destroy everything you have worked for is maddening.  This is not even the worst of the illness but rather simply the recovery and on many days you feel like you are untrue to who you are, that you stifle your true personality and that the best word to describe your life is...fragile.

Having experienced the feelings just mentioned on a regular basis for a number of years, one could be left with somewhat of a hardened and cynical outlook on life.  Which leads me to the second thing experience has taught me: the grace of God is sufficient.  When I first became a Christian, I thought I understood grace.  I thought grace is what you received if you were a good enough person and followed all the rules. I now realize how small and limited that view of grace is.  I now can freely acknowledge that I realize that I will never be good enough.  I have also learned that I don't have to be.  Grace is free and based on nothing but the goodness of the Giver.  That doesn't make sense to our rational, human mind.  We believe we get what we earn and we are entitled to what we deserve, but thankfully, grace doesn't play by our rules. It isn't the end result of some formula or blueprint, it is simply an expanding presence to meet every need in the child of God.  Sometimes it is conferred by other people, sometimes by Providence and sometimes through undisclosed means.  It cannot be contained and it cannot be limited.  It needs only to be accepted and appreciated for what it is: the unmerited favor of God.

It is Good Friday.  A day marked with tremendous suffering, but also the day that makes grace both meaningful and possible.  A day of thorns.  Paul noted in Corinthians that he had prayed often for the LORD to take away his afflictions which he called "a thorn in the flesh."  He records as well that the LORD had gently refused, saying instead, "My grace is sufficient for you, for My power is made perfect in weakness."  God did not say that the grace for Paul's trial was overwhelming or even problem-solving.  It was simply sufficient.  It was just the precise grace that Paul needed at that time tailored to his situation. No more and no less.  I truly believe that only those of us who have experienced and acknowledged great weaknesses in our lives can receive the complete power of God on our lives.  Only those of us who have been forgiven much and realize this fact can truly love much in return.  
May God continue to use broken but beloved people to extend His grace to the for the world.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

As we approach Easter, remember...

"Christ has not only spoken to us by His life but has also spoken for us by His death."
~Soren Kierkegaard

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

"Our Lord has written the promise of the resurrection, not in books alone, but in every leaf in spring-time."
~Martin Luther

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

"Everyone knows someone who needs to hear the truth about the One."

Monday, April 2, 2012

As you start the week...

"Great opportunities to help others seldom come, but small ones surround us daily."
-Sally Koch

Sunday, April 1, 2012

“We are not responsible to God for the souls that are saved, but we are responsible for the Gospel that is preached, and for the way in which we preach it.”
~Charles H. Spurgeon