Wednesday, December 31, 2008


Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; he who seeks finds; and to him who knocks, the door will be opened.

--Matthew 7:7-8 (NIV)

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

The Forever Gift

The Christmas lights are coming down, and the world is getting ready to usher in the new year. Our gifts from a few days ago have all been played with, consumed, or shelved for later use. Seasonal items are beginning to see radical discounts in the stores. Yes, Christmas is over for another year.

But does the spirit of Christmas have to end? After all, hasn't the season been a reminder for us of what is truly important, of what a wonderful, "Forever Gift" we have been given in Christ? If somehow our remembrance of the reason for Christmas has gotten shoved into a mental closet in wait for next December, let's get it out, dust it off, and then display it, and Him, in a place of prominence in our lives all the year through.

Jesus Christ is Himself the sum and substance of the covenant, and as one of its gifts. He is the property of every believer. Believer, canst thou estimate what thou hast gotten in Christ? "In Him dwelleth all the fulness of the Godhead bodily." Consider that word "God" and its infinity, and then meditate upon "perfect man" and all His beauty; for all that Christ, as God and man, ever had, or can have, is thine--out of pure free favor, passed over to thee to be thine entailed property forever.

--from Morning and Evening by Charles Haddon Spurgeon

Monday, December 29, 2008


The newspaper is filled with stories of massive layoffs and foreclosures. Industries that have been bastions of strength for decades are now crumbling. Feature stories on how to beat the recession are rapidly becoming media staples as an increasingly fearful populace searches for hope.

Christians are not recession-proof. We struggle through a faltering economy just like everyone else. Yet we do have an assurance greater than any financial shelter ever devised by man. Read what Jesus has to say on the subject in Luke's Gospel and be encouraged today.

Consider how the lilies grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you, not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today, and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, how much more will he clothe you, O you of little faith! And do not set your heart on what you will eat or drink; do not worry about it. For the pagan world runs after all such things, and your Father knows that you need them. But seek his kingdom, and these things will be given to you as well.

--Luke 12:27-31 (NIV)

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Every Tribe and Nation

--Michael W. Smith - A New Hallelujah

Saturday, December 27, 2008

His Love Sets Us Free

When life seems hopeless, and you feel like a modern-day Job, take a step back and reflect on the faithfulness of the One you belong to. Let today's video give you a fresh perspective on things.

--Addison Road - Hope Now

Friday, December 26, 2008

What Better Gift?

You want me to tell you why God is to be loved and how much. I answer, the reason for loving God is God Himself; and the measure of love due to Him is immeasurable love...Could any title be greater than this, that He gave Himself for us unworthy wretches? And being God, what better gift could He offer than Himself? Hence, if one seeks for God's claim upon our love here is the chiefest: Because He first loved us (I John 4.19).

--from On Loving God by Bernard of Clairvaux

Thursday, December 25, 2008

A Bit of "Fun" This Christmas

'Tis the season to be STRESSED! Can you relate to that statement? Take a moment to laugh (or perhaps cry) a moment with the video below and then read on for a good reminder of what really matters today.

How easy it is to get wrapped up in the trappings of Christmas and forget to take time to reflect on the life-changing truth of what we are celebrating.

For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.

Isaiah 9:6 (NIV)

In all the madness of cooking, entertaining, present exchanging, caroling, overeating, etc., let's not forget the ultimate gift and giver. May Christ be honored in all of our households today.


Wednesday, December 24, 2008

The Most Reviewed Book

No other book has been "reviewed" as much as the Bible. Its detractors have cursed it, burned it, spat upon it, or done their best to either declare it full of fairy tales or outright lies. When all else has failed they have simply ignored it, in the hope it would somehow go away. Those who love it have embraced it, cherished it, and taken its truths to heart. Lives have been transformed for eternity by the Spirit that indwells this book, which is something that your latest New York Times bestseller will never be able to do.

Read some of what the great evangelist Dwight L. Moody had to say about God's Word in today's selection below:

-- There are over two hundred passages in the Old Testament which prophesied about Christ, and every one of them has come true.

-- God didn't give the world two different Bibles; they are one, and must be believed from back to back, from Genesis to Revelations, or not at all.

-- I haven't found the first man who ever read the Bible from back to back carefully who remained an infidel. My friends, the Bible of our mothers and fathers is true.

-- The Word of God may be darkened to the natural man, but the way of Salvation is written so plain, that the little child six years old can understand it if she will.

-- Set more and more store by the Bible. Then troubles in your Christian life will pass away like a morning cloud. You will feed and live on the Word of God, and it will become the joy of your soul.

-- There are dark and mysterious things in the Bible now, but when you begin to trust Christ your eyes will be opened and the Bible will be a new book to you. It will become the Book of books to you.

-- I notice if a man goes to cut up the Bible and comes to you with one truth and says, "I don't believe this, and I don't believe that,"--I notice when he begins to doubt portions of the Word Of God he soon doubts it all.

-- If you will show me a Bible Christian living on the Word of God, I will show you a joyful man. He is mounting up all the time. He has got new truths that lift him up over every obstacle, and he mounts over difficulties higher and higher, like a man I once heard of who had a bag of gas fastened on either side, and if he just touched the ground with his foot, over a wall or a hedge he would go; and so these truths make us so light that we bound over every obstacle.

--from Moody's Anecdotes and Illustrations by Dwight L. Moody

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

A Treasure Worth Having

The man who has God for his treasure has all things in One. Many ordinary treasures may be denied him, or if he is allowed to have them, the enjoyment of them will be so tempered that they will never be necessary to his happiness. Or if he must see them go, one after one, he will scarcely feel a sense of loss, for having the Source of all things he has in One all satisfaction, all pleasure, all delight. Whatever he may lose he has actually lost nothing, for he now has it all in One, and he has it purely, legitimately and forever.

--from The Pursuit of God by A. W. Tozer

Monday, December 22, 2008

Washed Away

Therefore, brothers, since we have confidence to enter the Most Holy Place by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way opened for us through the curtain, that is, his body, and since we have a great priest over the house of God, let us draw near to God with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled to cleanse us from a guilty conscience and having our bodies washed with pure water.

--Hebrews 10: 19-22 (NIV)

Sunday, December 21, 2008

His Eyes

How easy it is to cruise through life in our insulated bubble of self-absorption whenever things are going smoothly for us. Yet it is probably in those times, more than at any other, that we should be the most observant of the pain of people around us. After all, we will probably be better able to minister to someone else when we can devote our full attention to their needs without being so focused on our own. Ah, but if we only had Christ's eyes to see others' pain...

Brandon Heath - Give Me Your Eyes

Saturday, December 20, 2008


Would you agree that life is tough? Sometimes you feel like a pinball being batted from one point to another, always on the move and never at peace. As a Christian you know God is in control, but do you ever wonder just what he's up to and why you are in such turmoil? Listen closely to the music for this Saturday below.

Sanctus Real - Whatever You're Doing

Friday, December 19, 2008

Time Well Spent

How's your prayer life? Now don't get all defensive on me. Mine is not always that great either. The demands of the day crowd in, and somehow time with God gets squeezed out. Not that we plan it that way, or that it should be that way. The reality is that we rarely set time with God in prayer as a priority in our lives. He becomes a fill-in, at best, unless needed for a quick fix to a problem. Wouldn't you feel a bit used if someone who supposedly loved you treated you that way?

Today's thought from Charles Spurgeon deals with our lackadaisical attitude toward what should be one of our greatest joys.

It is interesting to remark how large a portion of Sacred Writ is occupied with the subject of prayer, either in furnishing examples, enforcing precepts, or pronouncing promises. We scarcely open the Bible before we read, "Then began men to call upon the name of the Lord;" and just as we are about to close the volume, the "Amen" of an earnest supplication meets our ear.

Instances are plentiful. Here we find a wrestling Jacob--there a Daniel who prayed three times a day--and a David who with all his heart called upon his God. On the mountain we see Elias; in the dungeon Paul and Silas. We have multitudes of commands, and myriads of promises. What does this teach us, but the sacred importance and necessity of prayer?

We may be certain that whatever God has made prominent in His Word, He intended to be conspicuous in our lives. If He has said much about prayer, it is because He knows we have much need of it. So deep are our necessities, that until we are in heaven we must not cease to pray.

Dost thou want nothing? Then, I fear thou dost not know thy poverty. Hast thou no mercy to ask of God? Then, may the Lord's mercy show thee thy misery! A prayerless soul is a Christless soul.

Prayer is the lisping of the believing infant, the shout of the fighting believer, the requiem of the dying saint falling asleep in Jesus. It is the breath, the watchword, the comfort, the strength, the honor of a Christian. If thou be a child of God, thou wilt seek thy Father's face, and live in thy Father's love.

Pray that this year thou mayst be holy, humble, zealous, and patient; have closer communion with Christ, and enter oftener into the banqueting-house of His love. Pray that thou mayst be an example and a blessing unto others, and that thou mayst live more to the glory of thy Master. The motto for this year must be, "Continue in prayer."

--from Morning and Evening by Charles Haddon Spurgeon

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Hot Shots

We often are so wise in our own eyes. Self-deluded hot shots, we see society's problems and secretly wonder if we could do better at solving them than God. Oh we might try to convince ourselves and others that this is not the case, but so many times our hearts betray us and dare to judge the Creator for what we see as an uncaring attitude toward the world's pain.

Job was a righteous man, but as he faced tragedy after tragedy he also questioned his Maker. Note part of God's response:

31 "Can you bind the beautiful Pleiades? Can you loose the cords of Orion?

32 Can you bring forth the constellations in their seasons or lead out the Bear with its cubs?

33 Do you know the laws of the heavens? Can you set up God's dominion over the earth?

34 "Can you raise your voice to the clouds and cover yourself with a flood of water?

35 Do you send the lightning bolts on their way? Do they report to you, 'Here we are'?

--Job 38:31-35 (NIV)

We see such a small section of the infinitely larger tapestry of God's plan and creation. It's hard not to question when we experience personal tragedy and see so much evil in the rest of the world, but the only sure way to peace is to trust that the Lord knows what He is doing.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Information Overload

Some of us are knowledge addicts. We want to know all there is to know about everyone and everything. We subscribe to countless RSS feeds on news, technology, cooking, etc. We read voraciously and yet are never satisfied. Endlessly curious, we sometimes even poke into areas that invade someone else's privacy. And, sadly, we often base our self-worth on how "smart" we have become in the world's eyes instead of who we are in Christ's eyes.

Don't get me wrong; the desire to grow in knowledge is a good thing. But even good things can become obsessions and can distract us from our true purpose in bringing honor and glory to God. Read what one of our Great Thinkers have to say on the subject:

Rest from inordinate desire of knowledge, for therein is found much distraction and deceit. Those who have knowledge desire to appear learned, and to be called wise. Many things there are to know which profiteth little or nothing to the soul. And foolish out of measure is he who attendeth upon other things rather than those which serve to his soul's health. Many words satisfy not the soul, but a good life refresheth the mind, and a pure conscience giveth great confidence towards God.

--from The Imitation of Christ by Thomas a Kempis

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Gift Ideas

Christianity wants nothing so much in the world as sunny people, and the old are hungrier for love than for bread, and the Oil of Joy is very cheap, and if you can help the poor on with a Garment of Praise it will be better for them than blankets.

--from Beautiful Thoughts by Henry Drummond

Monday, December 15, 2008

Big Shoes

Ever watch a little child trying to imitate a parent? The young girl puts on her mother's gown and maybe even sneaks on some lipstick. The three-year-old son watches with fascination as his daddy shaves and then is thrilled when his father allows him to put shaving cream on his own face. And what child hasn't tromped through the living room with his feet barely able to move a pair of his parent's best dress shoes?

Growth is a natural part of our lives. Perhaps that is why a lack of growth in one's spiritual life is so sad. Imagine being trapped in babyhood forever. You would miss out on so much that life has to offer. The famous South African minister Andrew Murray has this to say about believers who never grow up:

We notice from what we find in Corinthians, four marks of the carnal state. First: It is simply a condition of protracted infancy. You know what that means. Suppose a beautiful babe, six months old. It cannot speak, it cannot walk, but we do not trouble ourselves about that; it is natural, and ought to be so. But suppose a year later we find the child not grown at all, and three years later still no growth; we would at once say: "There must be some terrible disease;" and the baby that at six months old was the cause of joy to every one who saw him, has become to the mother and to all a source of anxiety and sorrow. There is something wrong; the child can not grow. It was quite right at six months old that it should eat nothing but milk; but years have passed by, and it remains in the same weakly state. Now this is just the condition of many believers. They are converted; they know what it is to have assurance and faith; they believe in pardon for sin; they begin to work for God; and yet, somehow, there is very little growth in spirituality, in the real heavenly life. We come into contact with them, and we feel at once there is something wanting; there is none of the beauty of holiness or of the power of God's Spirit in them. This is the condition of the carnal Corinthians, expressed in what was said to the Hebrews: "You have had the Gospel so long that by this time you ought to be teachers, and yet you need that men should teach you the very rudiments of the oracles of God." Is it not a sad thing to see a believer who has been converted five, ten, twenty years, and yet no growth, and no strength, and no joy of holiness?

--from The Master's Indwelling by Andrew Murray

So let's not settle for being spiritual babies for the rest of our lives. After all, if we are to be conformed to the image of Christ we have some pretty big shoes to fill.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Bring The Rain

MercyMe - Bring The Rain

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Looking Outward

Casting Crowns - Does Anybody Hear Her?

Friday, December 12, 2008

Lifting Them Up

"Surely then you will find delight in the Almighty
and will lift up your face to God."
--Job 22:26 (NIV)

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Lest We Forget...

Do you remember the first song you ever learned? Was it "Jingle Bells" or "Mary Had a Little Lamb"? How about "Baa, Baa, Black Sheep" or "This Old Man"? For those of us who grew up going to Sunday School, it possibly could have been "Jesus Loves the Little Children." Remember how that goes?

Jesus loves the little children
All the children of the world.
Red or yellow, black and white
They are precious in His sight.
Jesus loves the little children
Of the world.

Jesus died for all the children
All the children of the world.
Red or yellow, black and white
They are precious in His sight.
Jesus died for all the children
Of the world.

Jesus rose for all the children
All the children of the world.
Red or yellow, black and white
They are precious in His sight.
Jesus rose for all the children
Of the world.

In the crazy times we live in, it can be easy to forget the simple truths of a childhood rhyme. Let's not, okay?

Wednesday, December 10, 2008


Often there is a desire to grow in God, but the vines of the enemy wrap around us, keeping us earthbound. Entangled in our own selfishness and fleshly concerns, we finally come to the point where we realize that nothing we can do in our own strength can free us. We are enslaved, and the only way to "escape" is to ask another master to take control. While it seems counter-intuitive, this invitation for God's spiritual invasion is the only way to freedom.

The English Metaphysical poet John Donne (1572-1631) describes this better than anyone in his Holy Sonnet XIV.

Batter my heart, three-person'd God, for you
As yet but knock, breathe, shine, and seek to mend;
That I may rise and stand, o'erthrow me, and bend
Your force to break, blow, burn, and make me new.
I, like an usurp'd town to'another due,
Labor to'admit you, but oh, to no end;
Reason, your viceroy in me, me should defend,
But is captiv'd, and proves weak or untrue.
Yet dearly'I love you, and would be lov'd fain,
But am betroth'd unto your enemy;
Divorce me,'untie or break that knot again,
Take me to you, imprison me, for I,
Except you'enthrall me, never shall be free,
Nor ever chaste, except you ravish me.

(photo by Mark Maclean under Creative Commons)

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Road Choice

Suppose a man is going to Cincinnati, and he gets on the cars, but he feels uneasy lest, the train will take him to St. Louis instead of his destination. He will not rest till he knows he is on the right road, and the idea that we are on the road to eternity as fast as time can take us, and do not know our destination, is contrary to Scripture. If we want peace we must know it, and we can know it; it is the Word of God. Look What Peter says: "We know we have an incorruptible dwelling." Then in Paul's epistle to the Colossians, i., 12, "Giving thanks unto the Father which hath made us meet"--hath made us, not going to--"to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light. Who hath delivered us"--not going to deliver us, but He hath delivered us: this is an assurance--"from the power of darkness, and hath translated us into the kingdom of His dear Son."

from Moody's Anecdotes and Illustrations by Dwight L. Moody

Monday, December 8, 2008

True Sense of the Word

Why is it so easy to say we love and so hard to show it? Perhaps it is because we are at our core terribly self-absorbed. We are so concerned with having our own needs and wants met throughout the day that any love we have is left as a feeling and not an action. Yet showing love is what we, as Christians, should be all about.

"Where Love is, God is. He that dwelleth in Love dwelleth in God. God is Love. Therefore love. Without distinction, without calculation, without procrastination, love. Lavish it upon the poor, where it is very easy;
especially upon the rich, who often need it most; most of all upon our equals, where it is very difficult, and for whom perhaps we each do least of all. There is a difference between trying to please and giving pleasure. Give pleasure. Lose no chance of giving pleasure; for that is the ceaseless and anonymous triumph of a truly loving spirit."

--from The Greatest Thing in the World by Henry Drummond

Sunday, December 7, 2008


Here's a little something to get you in the spirit for Sunday morning.

Big Daddy Weave - Every Time I Breathe

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Power in Prayer

No matter how "righteous" we think we are, only the Righteous One has the power to soothe our souls and smooth out our paths. And talk about convenient, He is only a prayer away and available to us 24/7 and 365 days a year (holidays included). This Saturday's special is a great reminder for us of where our true power as Christians comes from.

Jaci Velasquez - On My Knees

Friday, December 5, 2008

True Understanding

Need a cup of conviction? Take a sip of today's reading from George Muller:

Why should we limit either the goodness or the power of God by our own knowledge of what we call the laws of nature? Why should we not admit that "there are more things in heaven and earth than are dreamed of in our philosophy"? In a universe governed by moral law, why should not moral laws take precedence of all others? Why should we deny that there is a power in prayer to which we have not commonly attained? We are straitened in ourselves, and suppose that we are straitened in God. We interpret the gracious promises of our most loving Father in heaven by the rule of our own imperfect and unbelieving piety. We ask for light from without, while the light can only come from a more elevated piety within. We ask for examples of the effects of faith at the present day, corresponding to those spoken of in the sacred Scriptures. Thoughtful men acknowledge that there must be a meaning in these promises, which they have not yet understood, and they see plainly that the kingdom of God can never come with power until this prevalence in prayer shall have become a matter of universal attainment; and yet they dare hardly believe that God is as good as he has revealed himself to be.
--from The Life of Trust by George Muller

Thursday, December 4, 2008

All Yoked Up

Feeling overburdened? Whether it be the free-falling economy, family pressures, school, a career change, financial debt, health issues, or any combination of the above, life is full of situations that are seemingly designed to crush us. Since the human body and spirit can only withstand so much stress, we desperately seek relief from a variety of sources. Sometimes these can be positive such as friendships, hobbies, and sports. Others, such as drugs, pornography, and the occult can be extremely damaging to ourselves and others. Most are quick fixes at best, though, and all, even the positive ones, can lead to obsession, dependence, and, ultimately, more stress if we are not careful.

There is one burden-lifter, however, that is completely beneficial but not exactly risk-free. Listen to Jesus' words:

"Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light."

--Matthew 11:28-30 (NIV)

Maybe you are simply too jaded and world-weary to take these words at face value, but my experience and the experiences of countless other Christians throughout history testify to the truth of these words. Letting go is the hardest part, since we are such control-freaks by nature. Yet, once we learn to "let go and let God" handle things, what would normally be too much for us to bear is suddenly endurable through His strength. No, our problems don't magically vanish, but we do gain the power of God to withstand them.

And the risk? Well, you just might find that being out-of-control and letting God be in control is better than trying to cope with everything yourself. The truth can be tough, but I'm betting you can handle it.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008


Do you remember what it was like to be a little kid? Life seemed so simple. Everything you did was whole-hearted. You played, cried, loved, and hated with pure passion. There were no hidden agendas, and when you opened your arms to someone it was with the full expectation of being accepted just as you were, sticky little fingers and all.

Somehow we lose that child-like spirit as we get older. The complexities of life become normal to us, and feelings that used to be instinctive are now second-guessed, over-analyzed. We are educated to be cynics; and as our default attitude towards others becomes one of a vague mistrust, is it any wonder that faith in a loving Father and an intimacy with him is so difficult?

Read what Tozer has to say on the subject:

Every age has its own characteristics. Right now we are in an age of religious complexity. The simplicity which is in Christ is rarely found among us. In its stead are programs, methods, organizations and a world of nervous activities which occupy time and attention but can never satisfy the longing of the heart. The shallowness of our inner experience, the hollowness of our worship, and that servile imitation of the world which marks our promotional methods all testify that we, in this day, know God only imperfectly, and the peace of God scarcely at all.

If we would find God amid all the religious externals we must first determine to find Him, and then proceed in the way of simplicity. Now as always God discovers Himself to "babes" and hides Himself in thick darkness from the wise and the prudent. We must simplify our approach to Him. We must strip down to essentials (and they will be found to be blessedly few). We must put away all effort to impress, and come with the guileless candor of childhood. If we do this, without doubt God will quickly respond.

--from The Pursuit of God by A.W. Tozer

May you rediscover the child you used to be as you approach the Father today.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Sand Sum

"How precious to me are your thoughts, O God! How vast is the sum of them! Were I to count them, they would outnumber the grains of sand. When I awake, I am still with you."

--Psalm 139: 17-18 (NIV)

Monday, December 1, 2008

The Place of Safety

"My friends, there is one spot on earth where the fear or Death, of Sin, and of Judgment, need never trouble us, the only safe spot on earth where the sinner can stand--Calvary. Out in our western country, in the autumn, when men go hunting, and there has not been rain for many months, sometimes the prairie grass catches fire. Sometimes, when the wind is strong, the flames maybe seen rolling along, twenty feet high, destroying man and beast in their onward rush. When the frontiersmen see what is coming, what do they do to escape? They know they cannot run as fast as that fire can run. Not the fleetest horse can escape it. They just take a match and light the grass around them. The flames sweep onwards; they take their stand in the burnt district and are safe. They hear the flames roar as they come along; they see death bearing down upon them with resistless fury, but they do not fear. They do not even tremble as the ocean of flame surges around them, for over the place where they stand the fire has already past and there is no danger. There is nothing for fire to burn. And there is one spot all earth that God has swept over. Eighteen hundred years ago the storm burst on Calvary; the Son of God took it into his own bosom, and now, if we take our stand by the Cross, we are safe for time and eternity."

---from Moody's Anecdotes and Illustrations by Dwight L. Moody

Sunday, November 30, 2008


"That is the highest and most profitable lesson, when a man truly knoweth and judgeth lowly of himself. To account nothing of one's self, and to think always kindly and highly of others, this is great and perfect wisdom. Even shouldest thou see thy neighbor sin openly or grievously, yet thou oughtest not to reckon thyself better than he, for thou knowest not how long thou shalt keep thine integrity. All of us are weak and frail; hold thou no man more frail than thyself."

--from The Imitation of Christ by Thomas a Kempis

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Flying High

Let yourself go and fly high in the joy of your Heavenly Father today!

Friday, November 28, 2008

Slave or Servant

Black Friday is here, and the shopping frenzy has begun. The media claims that shoppers are a bit cautious this year, but that probably won't stop most people from overspending and getting deeper and deeper into debt.

Credit card companies and banks don't even bother to ask any more if you have outstanding debts as they try to get you to sign up for yet another card. They just assume you do and can't wait to transfer all of your balances from some other company's plastic to theirs (at a better rate of interest, of course). It truly blows their minds when you can tell them you are debt-free.

Yet really none of us are debt-free, even if we don't owe the bank a cent. All of us owe somebody. We are indebted to our teachers, our friends, our families, and countless others for so many of the things we take for granted such as our knowledge of how things work, our security in relationships, and most of our core values. We owe our very lives to our parents, and underpinning all of these life blessings is the grace of God which makes all good things possible for us.

Much as we would like to believe that we are lords of our own destinies, the reality is that we were not only born indebted but also into servitude. The good news is that we have a choice of who or what we will serve, and whether that can be defined as servanthood or slavery.

The words servant and slave have often been used interchangeably, but there is a key difference between the two. A servant is devoted to who or what he serves while a slave is dominated by them. Masters such as our addictions, financial debts, or even our own overriding passions dominate us, requiring us to meet their needs whether we choose to or not once we have submitted to them. In contrast, God asks for our devotion and love as we serve him and his kingdom, both of which are our choice.

Ultimately, the question is not whether you will serve or not, but whether your life will be that of a servant or a slave. You choose.

"No one can serve two masters. Either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and Money."

--Matthew 6:24 (NIV)

Thursday, November 27, 2008

The Sacrifice

The fall has to be the most nervous season of the year for turkeys, at least in the United States and Canada. According to figures from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, over 45 million of the birds are eaten in the States alone over Thanksgiving. Chickens are also heavily consumed, especially in expatriate communities around the world where turkeys aren't as readily available. In other words, it's pretty foul to be a fowl this time of year.

Of course, if you have ever spent a lot of time around turkeys you know that they aren't the brightest of creatures, so I doubt they spend many nights worrying about ending up on someone's dinner table. But imagine what it would be like to know that you were being raised to die, that your reason for living was to meet the needs of others. Imagine that your entire purpose in life was to be a sacrifice.

Jesus knew his destiny, knew that he was born to die for others. He went willingly to the cross to sacrifice himself for the world, providing the necessary bridge between God and sinful man. I sometimes wonder if we remember that Thanksgiving is just that, a time of giving thanks for all that God has done for us, from the cross to our families and, finally, to the feast before us. How easy it is to mumble a prayer and then dive in to the bounty on the table without taking the time to remember what we are celebrating, and Who provides it. As we reach this year for an extra helping of Thanksgiving goodies, may we take the time to reflect on where it truly comes from.

"Be imitators of God, therefore, as dearly loved children and live a life 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)

Wednesday, November 26, 2008


Getting married is relatively easy. Staying married is a lot tougher. Last night my wife and I saw Fireproof at the theater for the first time. Even though our marriage is in good shape, the reminders of how to nurture a relationship were well worth the price of admission. And for couples who are in crisis, or those who are looking at marriage in the near future, this movie is an absolute God-send. Check out the trailer below and then seriously plan a time when you and your life partner can commit to seeing this Christ-honoring, life-changing film. For our overseas readers, the DVD is scheduled to be released January 27, 2009.

"May your fountain be blessed, and may you rejoice in the wife of your youth."
--Proverbs 5:18 (NIV)

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Loving the Unlovely

Morning is the great equalizer. No matter how primped and polished you are during the day, unless you sleep in some form of plastic wrap you probably wake up looking like everyone else--a mess. Hair plastered down on one side and sticking up in all directions on the other, little chunks of "sleep" crusted to your tear ducts, and maybe even a bit of dried drool at the corner of your mouth. Yep, you look PRETTY! Thirty minutes later, though, you've got your new look on, the one designed possibly to impress or at the very least blend in with the rest of groomed humanity.

Do you ever get tired of the act? Look your best, speak the right words, fit into the expected niche that society has for you? You're not a sociopath; you don't want to deliberately offend anyone. But sometimes you wish the world could just accept you as you are: unshowered, unshaved, uncombed, and slightly smelly. Other than the possible exception of your spouse (who still prefers you wear some deodorant) the only one who wants you as you truly are is God. He actually prefers you without the pretense. Now how cool is that?

A great artist some short time ago had painted a part of the corporation of the city in which he lived, and he wanted, for historic purposes, to include in his picture certain characters well known in the town. A crossing-sweeper, unkempt, ragged, filthy, was known to everybody, and there was a suitable place for him in the picture. The artist said to this ragged and rugged individual, "I will pay you well if you will come down to my studio and let me take your likeness." He came round in the morning, but he was soon sent about his business; for he had washed his face, and combed his hair, and donned a respectable suit of clothes. He was needed as a beggar, and was not invited in any other capacity. Even so, the gospel will receive you into its halls if you come as a sinner, not otherwise. Wait not for reformation, but come at once for salvation. God justifieth the ungodly, and that takes you up where you now are: it meets you in your worst estate.

--from All of Grace by Charles Haddon Spurgeon

Monday, November 24, 2008

True Love

Here is a reminder today of what true love looks like. It's not a love of convenience or one based on momentary infatuation. True love is deep rooted, full of a passion that ages well over time, and is not dependent on physical perfection. It's romance combined with devotion, a love not afraid to get its hands dirty in life's hardships. It's a love like Christ has for us.

True Love

One day when I was in Brooklyn, I saw a young man going along the street without any arms. A friend who was with me, pointed him out, and told me his story. When the war broke out he felt it to be his duty to enlist and go to the front. He was engaged to be married, and while in the army letters passed frequently between him and his intended wife. After the battle of the Wilderness the young lady looked anxiously for the accustomed letter. Fora little while no letter was received. At last one came in a strange hand. She opened it with trembling fingers, and read these words: "We have fought a terrible battle. I have been wounded so awfully that I shall never be able to support you. A friend writes this for me. I love you more tenderly than ever, but I release you from your promise. I will not ask you to join your life with the maimed life of mine:" That letter was never answered. The next train that left, the young lady was on it. She went to the hospital. She found out the number of his cot, and she went down the aisle, between the long rows of the wounded men. At last she saw the number, and, hurrying to his side, she threw her arms around his neck and said: "I'll not desert you. I'll take care of you." He did not resist her love. They were married, and there is no happier couple than this one. We are dependent on one another.
Christ says, "I'll take care of you. I'll take you to this bosom of mine." That young man could have spurned her love; he could, but he didn't. Surely you can be saved if you will accept the Saviour's love. If God loves us, my friends, He loves us unto the end. "For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life."

--from Moody's Anecdotes and Illustrations by Dwight L. Moody

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Digging for Diamonds

One of the main goals of this blog is to expose readers to some of the spiritual giants of the past through their writings. Many Christians have heard the names of Spurgeon or Moody or Murray bandied about, but how many have actually read them? Quite frankly, there are many gems waiting to be unearthed from some of the foundational books of the past. Here is one for today from A. W. Tozer that summarizes what we are trying to do here.

Come near to the holy men and women of the past and you will soon feel the heat of their desire after God. They mourned for Him, they prayed and wrestled and sought for Him day and night, in season and out, and when they had found Him the finding was all the sweeter for the long seeking.

from The Pursuit of God by A.W. Tozer

In your journey today in the Lord may you also mourn and pray and wrestle and seek, because as difficult as the process may be the reward of a closer walk with Him is more than worth it.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Saturday Special

Welcome to the weekend! This Saturday's special is a selection from one of my favorite books, The Imitation of Christ. For those of you unfamiliar with this classic work, you are in for a treat. Few writers in my experience can pack as much spiritual punch in so few sentences as this 14th century monk. Enjoy!

"What doth it profit thee to enter into deep discussion concerning the
Holy Trinity, if thou lack humility, and be thus displeasing to the Trinity? For verily it is not deep words that make a man holy and upright; it is a good life which maketh a man dear to God. I had rather feel contrition than be skilful in the definition thereof. If thou knewest the whole Bible, and the sayings of all the philosophers, what should all this profit thee without the love and grace of God? Vanity of vanities, all is vanity, save to love God, and Him only to serve. That is the highest wisdom, to cast the world behind us, and to reach forward to the heavenly kingdom."

-- Thomas a Kempis from The Imitation of Christ

Friday, November 21, 2008

Wispy Wanderers

I saw my breath this morning, not an uncommon occurrence here in late November. The vapor from my mouth, though, reminds me of a couple of things. First, what we say has substance and form, and whether we can see it or not our speech has the power to impact others as surely as a physical object. True, mundane phrases like "Where's the newspaper?" may not have a profound effect on our listeners, but an "I love you, kid" to your six-year-old just might have a shelf-life longer than you have.

The second thing the vapor brings to mind is how short our lives are here on earth. From an eternal perspective we have a few seconds, at most, to swirl in the air and hopefully provide a bit of warmth to those around us before we fade out of this world. Our brief existence would seem pretty pointless if we didn't know from scripture that we have a loving Father who cares for and values us anyway, and has a heavenly home for us "wispy wanderers." One of the finest praise songs that I've encountered that touches on this is by Robin Mark. Enjoy the music video of his song below.

Robin Mark - Be Unto Your Name

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Age Gauge

How old are you on the inside? Rarely do our calendar years correspond to the age we feel in our mind's view. That's why the 70-year-old grandma can't figure out who that old person is in the mirror. After all, she can see past the wrinkles and gray hair to the 21-year-old college girl within her. Why can't other people see her in the same way?

The truth is that our physical age is irrelevant. We are eternal creatures, designed to live forever with our Creator. These bodies grow, age, and eventually wear out, but the inner child of God lives on, hopefully growing daily in the knowledge and wisdom of his Lord, slowly but surely conforming to Christ's image. Take time to recapture that child-like spirit as you reflect on Him today.

"The Image of Christ that is forming within us--that is life's
one charge. Let every project stand aside for that. "Till Christ be formed," no man's work is finished, no religion crowned, no life has fulfilled its end. Is the infinite task begun? When, how, are we to be different? Time cannot change men. Death cannot change men. Christ can. Wherefore PUT ON CHRIST." -- Henry Drummond

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Heavenly Minded

So often we stumble along through our days, caught up in the cares of the moment, never stopping to realize that there is a bigger picture beyond our circumstances. How often do we take the time to stop, look up, and consider the wonder that is God's love for us? Our minds are mired in thoughts of ourselves and the tyranny of the urgent. How much better and more peaceful an existence we can have when we take on the mind of Christ.

"But there are many who, though they frequently hear the Gospel, yet feel but little longing after it, because they have not the mind of Christ. He, therefore, that will fully and with true wisdom understand the words of Christ, let him strive to conform his whole life to that mind of Christ." -- Thomas a Kempis

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Limb Logic

Ever feel you've crawled out on a limb, and the ground seems so far below? Perhaps you're stuck, not sure whether to go forward or backward, and "home" is a long ways away. If this describes you today, just remember this:

His eyes are always on you. There is nowhere in Heaven or earth you can go to hide from his loving gaze. He waits patiently for you to cry out for help in your indecision and fear so that he can reach out his hand to steady you on your journey and to guide you back "home" to him. Trust him, little wanderer, to make your path sure and your steps straight.

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