Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Do you fast? Give me proof of it by your works...

Do you fast? Give me proof of it by your works.
If you see a poor man, take pity on him.
If you see a friend being honored, do not envy him.
Do not let only your mouth fast,
but also the eye and the ear and the feet
and the hands and all the members of our bodies.
Let the hands fast, by being free of avarice.
Let the feet fast, by ceasing to run after sin.
Let the eyes fast, by disciplining them
not to glare at that which is sinful.
Let the ear fast, by not listening to evil talk and gossip.
Let the mouth fast from foul words and unjust criticism.
For what good is it if we abstain from birds and fishes,
but bite and devour our brothers?

May He who came to the world to save sinners

strengthen us to complete the fast with humility,
 have mercy on us and save us.
St. John Chrysostom

He enters by the door who enters by Christ...

He enters by the door who enters by Christ, who imitates the suffering of Christ, who is acquainted with the humility of Christ so as to feel and know that, if God became man for us, men should not think themselves God, but men. He who, being man, wishes to appear God, does not imitate Him who, being God, became man. Thou art not bid to think less of thyself than thou art, but to know what thou art. ...Augustine photo

If human love does not carry a man beyond himself...

"She hath wrought a good work on Me." Mark 14:6

If human love does not carry a man beyond himself, it is not love. If love is always discreet, always wise, always sensible and calculating, never carried beyond itself, it is not love at all. It may be affection, it may be warmth of feeling, but it has not the true nature of love in it.

Have I ever been carried away to do something for God not because it was my duty, nor because it was useful, nor because there was anything in it at all beyond the fact that I love Him? Have I ever realized that I can bring to God things which are of value to Him, or am I mooning round the magnitude of His Redemption whilst there are any number of things I might be doing? Not Divine, colossal things which could be recorded as marvellous, but ordinary, simple human things which will give evidence to God that I am abandoned to Him? Have I ever produced in the heart of the Lord Jesus what Mary of Bethany produced?

There are times when it seems as if God watches to see if we will give Him the abandoned tokens of how genuinely we do love Him. Abandon to God is of more value than personal holiness. Personal holiness focuses the eye on our own whiteness; we are greatly concerned about the way we walk and talk and look, fearful lest we offend Him. Perfect love casts out all that when once we are abandoned to God. We have to get rid of this notion - "Am I of any use?" and make up our minds that we are not, and we may be near the truth. It is never a question of being of use, but of being of value to God Himself. When we are abandoned to God, He works through us all the time. ...Oswald Chambers
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The foundation of the Christian's peace is everlasting...

The foundation of the Christian's peace is everlasting; it is what no time, no change can destroy. It will remain when the body dies; it will remain when the mountains depart and the hills shall be removed, and when the heavens shall be rolled together as a scroll. The fountain of His comfort shall never be diminished, and the stream shall never be dried. His comfort and joy is a living spring in the soul, a well of water springing up to everlasting life. ...Jonathan Edwards
  image by Jeff Attaway

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Nothing tends more to cement the hearts of Christians...

Nothing tends more to cement the hearts of Christians than praying together. Never do they love one another so well as when they witness the outpouring of each other's hearts in prayer. ...Charles G. Finney image by Piotr Drabnik

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Christ is the wisdom of God...

Christ is the wisdom of God; and in the knowledge of this Christ there is wisdom for you. Not wisdom only, but life, forgiveness, peace, glory, and an endless kingdom! Study Him! Acquaint yourself with Him! Whatever you are ignorant of, be not ignorant of Him. Whatever you overlook, overlook not Him. What ever you lose, lose not Him. To gain Him is to gain eternal life, to gain a kingdom, to gain everlasting blessedness. To lose Him is to lose your soul, to lose God, to lose God's favour, to lose God's heaven, to lose the eternal crown! ...Horatius Bonar image

Finding Lent resources at Lent & Beyond

The links below to the blog Lent and Beyond are great place to go to help make a Holy Lent! -PD


Ash Wednesday resources

Lent Devotionals

Lent Prayers

Lent Quotes

Lent Resources (including family and children’s activities)

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

"Take up thy Cross," the Savior said...

"Take up thy Cross," the Savior said,
"If thou wouldst my disciple be;
Deny thyself, the world forsake,
And humbly follow after me."

Take up thy cross, let not its weight
Fill thy weak spirit with alarm;
His strength shall bear thy spirit up,
And brace thy heart and nerve thine arm.

Take up thy cross, nor heed the shame,
Nor let thy foolish pride rebel;
Thy Lord for thee the cross endured,
To save thy soul from death and hell.

Take up thy cross and follow Christ,
Nor think till death to lay it down;
For only those who bear the cross
May hope to wear the glorious crown.
...Charles W. Everest image by Elise Wormuth

When we look out towards this love...

When we look out towards this love that moves the stars and stirs in the child's heart and claims our total allegiance, and remember that this alone is Reality and we are only real so far as we conform to its demands, we see our human situation from a fresh angle; and we perceive that it is both more humble and dependent, and more splendid, than we had dreamed. We are surrounded and penetrated by great spiritual forces of which we hardly know anything. Yet the outward events of our life cannot be understood, except in their relation to that unseen and intensely living world, the Infinite Charity which penetrates and supports us, the God whom we resist and yet for whom we thirst; who is ever at work, transforming the self-centred desire of the natural creature into the wide spreading, outpouring love of the citizen of Heaven. ... Evelyn Underhill photo

There is a season of establishing...

There is a season of establishing, settling and testing, during which we must "stay put" until the new relationship gets so fixed as to become a permanent habit. It is just the same as when the surgeon sets the broken arm. He puts it in splints to keep it from vibration. So God has His spiritual splints that He wants to put upon His children and keep them quiet and unmoved until they pass the first stage of faith. It is not always easy work for us, "but the God of all grace, who hath called us unto his eternal glory by Christ, after that ye have suffered awhile, stablish, strengthen, settle you.
...AB Simpson photo

Faith never knows where it is being led...

He went out, not knowing whither he went." Hebrews 11:8

In the Old Testament, personal relationship with God showed itself in separation, and this is symbolized in the life of Abraham by his separation from his country and from his kith and kin. Today the separation is more of a mental and moral separation from the way that those who are dearest to us look at things, that is, if they have not a personal relationship with God. Jesus Christ emphasized this (see Luke 14:26).

Faith never knows where it is being led, but it loves and knows the One Who is leading. It is a life of Faith, not of intellect and reason, but a life of knowing Who makes us "go." The root of faith is the knowledge of a Person, and one of the biggest snares is the idea that God is sure to lead us to success.

The final stage in the life of faith is attainment of character. There are many passing transfigurations of character; when we pray we feel the blessing of God enwrapping us and for the time being we are changed, then we get back to the ordinary days and ways and the glory vanishes. The life of faith is not a life of mounting up with wings, but a life of walking and not fainting. It is not a question of sanctification; but of something infinitely further on than sanctification, of faith that has been tried and proved and has stood the test. Abraham is not a type of sanctification, but a type of the life of faith, a tried faith built on a real God. "Abraham believed God." ...Oswald Chambers

Who is it that is your Shepherd? The Lord!

Who is it that is your Shepherd? The Lord! Oh, my friends, what a wonderful announcement! The Lord God of heaven and earth, and Almighty Creator of all things, He who holds the universe in His hand as though it were a very little thing. He is your Shepherd, and has charged Himself with the care and keeping of His sheep. If your hearts could really take in this thought you would never have a fear or a care again; for with such a Shepherd how could it be possible for you to ever to want any good thing? ...Hannah Whitall Smith art

When circumstances seem impossible...

When circumstances seem impossible, when all signs of grace in you seem at their lowest ebb, when temptation is fiercest, when love and joy and hope seem well-nigh extinguished in your heart, then rest, without feeling and without emotion, in the Father's faithfulness. ...D. Tryon photo

To wait open-endedly...

To wait open-endedly is an enormously radical attitude toward life. So is to trust that something will happen to us that is far beyond our imaginings. So, too, is giving up control over our future and letting God define our life, trusting that God moulds us according to God's love and not according to our fear. The spiritual life is a life in which we wait, actively present to the moment, trusting that new things will happen to us, new things that are far beyond our own imagination, fantasy, or prediction. That, indeed, is a very radical stance toward life in a world preoccupied with control.
...Henri J. M. Nouwen photo

I lay my head upon Thy infinite heart...

I lay my head upon Thy infinite heart,
I hide beneath the shelter of Thy wing;
Pursued and tempted, helpless, I must cling
To Thee, my Father; bid me not depart,
For sin and death pursue,
And Life is where Thou art!
Anonymous photo

From time immemorial men have quenched their thirst...

From time immemorial men have quenched their thirst with water without knowing anything about its chemical constituents. In like manner we do not need to be instructed in all the mysteries of doctrine, but we do need to receive the Living Water which Jesus Christ will give us and which alone can satisfy our souls. ...Sadhu Sundar Singh photo

God is always present...

God is always present and always working towards the life of the soul and its deliverance from captivity under flesh and blood. But this inward work of God, though never ceasing or altering, is yet always and only hindered by the activity of our own nature and faculties, by bad men through their obedience to earthly passions and by good men through their striving to be good in their own way, by their natural strength and a multiplicity of holy labours and contrivances. Both these sorts of people obstruct the work of God upon their souls. For we can cooperate with God no other way than by submitting to the work of God, and seeking, and leaving ourselves to it. ...William Law photo

Try to give your agenda to God...

Try to give your agenda to God. Keep saying, 'Your will be done, not mine.' Give every part of your heart and your time to God and let God tell you what to do, where to go, when and how to respond. God does not want you to destroy yourself. Exhaustion, burnout, and depression are not signs that you are doing God's will. God is gentle and loving. God desires to give you a deep sense of safety in God's love. Once you have allowed yourself to experience that love fully, you will be better able to discern who you are being sent to in God's name. ...Henri J. M. Nouwen photo

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Rev. Robert G. Eaton: Sermon for Transfiguration Sunday

Feb. 19, 2012

Recall the last verse from our reading today in the ninth chapter of the Gospel of Mark: “As they were coming down the mountain, Jesus gave them orders not to tell anyone what they had seen until the Son of Man had risen from the dead.”

The mission of the church is both foreign and domestic. In the most obvious understanding of the phrase “foreign and domestic,” it means there are individuals within our own nation, even our own neighborhoods, who have yet to hear the Good News of Jesus Christ; and there are individuals who live in places outside of those domestic boundaries to whom the mission of the church is extended. Thus the mission of the church is to the whole wide world.

It can also be seen in today’s gospel reading, the telling of the events on the mountain that we know as “the Transfiguration of Christ,” that from a different perspective, the foreign and domestic mission exists not only wherever the gospel has not yet been accepted, but within ourselves, we who are the church. We often are in need of preaching to ourselves.

But from either perspective, the calling, the display of brilliance, the overshadowing cloud, the voice of God, and even the command to wait to tell, all has to do with the power of God released for the sake of the mission to be successful. The power of God.

The beginning and the end of the mission of the church is meant to be conducted in the power of God.

That conclusion is found in today’s gospel reading, and pointed to in another verse from the ninth chapter of Mark that is not included in today’s reading. The first verse of Chapter 9: “Truly I tell you, some who are standing here will not taste death before they see that the kingdom of God has come with power.”

Indeed the Kingdom of God has come with power. From the work of God in creation, through the prophets as we heard in the story of Elijah and Elisha, to the conception of Jesus by the power of the Holy Spirit, through the miracles of Jesus retold in this season after the Epiphany, and now to this moment on the mountain.

This power of God is intended to be revealed to the world, both foreign and domestic, through Jesus in the preaching and proclamation of the church, the Body of Christ.

You see, as both Matthew and Mark record, it is not simply that Jesus “was transfigured,” but that “he was transfigured before them,” the three disciples. It is not simply a display of power; it is for the benefit of the witnesses, to remind them, and us, of the eternal name Emmanuel, “God-with-us.” If God is with us, then so is His power; and that is exactly as He intends.

Sometimes, though, is it not difficult to see the power in the church? We all have stories about how the church has faltered in its mission to the world, rather than portrayed the life-changing, transfiguring, transforming power of God. Blunders are not limited to Peter.

Take for example, the bloopers in church bulletins, which are often very funny, although sometimes they hit a little too close to home. A bulletin from a Methodist congregation read: “Don’t let worry kill you. Let the church help.”

Another church bulletin, prompting the Prayers of the People, read: “Remember in prayer the many who are sick of our church and community.”

Certainly, there will always be failures within the church, but if the beginning and end of the mission of the church, the Body of Christ, is meant to be conducted in the security of the power of God, then where in the gospel do we find our guidance for doing it properly?

In regard to that Mission, one major failure of the church has always been paying so much attention to ourselves that we neglect the mission of proclamation. It might be because we have decided we have to be polished as Christians before presenting ourselves to the world. But who will ever achieve perfection to prove their worth? Certainly not Peter, James, and John. Yet God worked through them mightily despite their imperfections.

On the other hand, we may be paying more attention to ourselves because – just like the rest of the world around us – we continue to be in great need of the healing Love of God. Placing ourselves into the gospel story, we desperately want to be the recipients of God’s call as His “sons and daughters” whom he loves. And yet there is only One about whom God is speaking at that moment. And through that Son, Jesus, is the love of God revealed to all of us. We can’t set aside Jesus.

We need to know what Mission is. Our guidance here in the Gospel of Mark will be found in Jesus’ instruction to the disciples. As they come down the mountain Jesus tells them they are not ready to tell about “what they had seen.” Looking for direction for mission, in that phrase, our eyes are turned back to what happened.

What did they see? They saw the power of God revealed in and through Jesus Christ.

And what did they hear? They heard the voice of God saying about the Son of God, “Listen to him.”

Here, then, is the most basic definition of the mission of the church: pointing to Jesus and telling others that the Almighty God has proclaimed who he is, and to do what he says.

This is what a missionary is called to do, just as the three in our readings today were called to be apostles and called to be witnesses on the mountaintop. We pray for missionaries and for their sometimes perilous work in foreign or domestic lands, who also have also seen Jesus and have heard from God the Father. We pray that we all may understand our baptismal duty to point to Jesus and proclaim him as the only begotten Son of God, the Lord and Savior.

So now we come to the question again: If the beginning and end of the mission of the church is meant to be conducted through the power of God, then where in the gospel do we find our guidance?
Do you hear release for mission in the gospel reading? In fact, as we look again at verse 9, we hear restriction, not release: “Jesus gave them orders not to tell anyone what they had seen until the Son of Man had risen from the dead.”

The key word is “until.”

So we turn our search to those few chapters where we hear of the discussions, and learn of the appearances of the risen Jesus. And in our search we find in the first chapter of Acts that Jesus tells the disciples, once again, to wait. Wait for the promised Holy Spirit.

Jesus is very precise, too, in that first chapter of Acts, in the purpose of waiting, and the purpose of the coming Holy Spirit: “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses … to the ends of the earth.”

Right mission depends on power, and that power comes from the Holy Spirit.

At the Transfiguration they saw it. And they lived with it, in Jesus. And that power would be proclaimed, and lived. The mission of the church, from beginning to end, when done the way God wants it done, is accomplished through the power of God.

Lord God, empower our missionaries in the Holy Spirit as they go, and as they point to and proclaim Jesus. May each of us be open to the invitation to go ourselves. We pray that all of us may be empowered and living in the Holy Spirit that we will all live the mission no matter where we are, to the Glory of God and the building up of Your Kingdom. Amen. Found here image
RCL – 2 Kings 2:1-12; Psalm 50:1-6; 2 Corinthians 4:3-6; Mark 9:2-9)

— The Rev. Robert G. Eaton has been the rector of The Episcopal Church of St. John, Tulare, California, in the Diocese of San Joaquin, since 1989. 

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

The biblical story abounds...

File:Moses Pluchart.jpg
The biblical story abounds with instances of people being torn loose from their moorings, from a settled existence, and discovering that God is present in the situation...It is interesting to note the witness of these pilgrims is that these crises are times of judgement. In fact, the word crisis in the Greek means precisely that. In other words, transition times are times in which God calls our old ways of living and looking at things into question, calls us to move beyond them. These pilgrim foremothers and fathers of ours also tell us that these very same times can be times of blessing. Those who do press on, who are willing to leave the old behind, experience God's healing, redeeming, resurrecting power. ...John and Adrienne Carr image

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

By This All Will Know

L.T. Jeyachandran
February 14, 2008

Jesus said in John 13:34, “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another.” The only way people will know that you are my disciples, declared Jesus, is to demonstrate it by your relationships. Thus I believe there can be no real Christian apologetic without first a community of love and relationships. After we have given all the arguments, the defenses and the evidences, loving one another is the final apologetic.

Of course, our relationships to one another in a fallen world waiting for the coming of Christ are not going to be idealistic, which is perhaps why Jesus chose an intimate occasion with his disciples to offer this command--during what we now call the Last Supper. The doctor Luke also records this occasion in his Gospel (see Luke 22), and here we gain some interesting insight about relationships that John doesn’t mention as John’s focus is on Jesus washing his disciples’ feet. Luke writes, “Also a dispute arose among them as to which of them was considered to be greatest” (22:24). Luke does not say anything about the washing of the feet. But putting the two texts together, you begin to see that Jesus is actually telling the disciples that by washing the feet of one another, they were going to demonstrate that they (and we) are living in an imperfect world where we could, to some degree, reflect the perfection of relationship that is part of the triune God.

We have two children. Our first one is a daughter. Those of you who have daughters, you know that daughters are famous for lecturing their fathers! Now if our daughter were able to lecture within the few seconds of her birth, she would have given us a lecture that would have probably run along these lines: “You should be happy that I am born because before I was born, you had no object to love. But now that I am born, you can love me and therefore you are beginning to learn to love. And therefore (albeit in a peculiarly ironic way), I am your teacher and you are my students.” In hindsight, my wife and I would have to say, “Amen.”

However, if this scenario reflects one’s perception of God this would be problematic because He would be a God without an object to love. What do I mean? God is three-in-one: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit in relationship. He is not unipersonal but rather triune and thus relational. John, above all the other writers of the Bible, tells us that within the oneness of this God, there is a relationship. Take, for instance, John 14:8–11. When the disciple Philip asks Jesus to show the Father to them, Jesus chides Philip and his fellow disciples for not recognizing who he was in spite of being with him for so long. Jesus then goes on to explicitly tell them that those who have seen him have seen God! This claim is amazing, to say the least. Jesus describes his relationship to God in a way that no human being in his right mind has ever come close to saying. He and the Father are in a relationship that is so intimate--one is in the other and vice versa--that to see Jesus is to see God. Indeed, earlier in John’s Gospel, Jesus declares, “I and the Father are one” (10:30).

Notice too what Jesus says after “A new command I give you: Love one another”: “By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another” (John 13:35). Jesus did not give us religious criteria by which we would be known as his disciples. He doesn’t say, “You will be known as my disciples because you worship on Sundays, because you’ll carry your Bibles--the bigger the better.” No. “You will be known as my disciples because of how you relate to one another.” It is a relational criterion rather than religious criteria.

So when we consider who we are as Christians we must first consider who God is. Thus, we must begin to think about relationality, which is at the heart of reality: three persons, who in some amazing, mysterious way constitute one God. Here in John and Luke Jesus tells us that the relationship with the Godhead will be the standard by which our love for one another would be measured. Not at the mega level, but at the micro level. Not when ten thousand people come and worship together, but when five people meet in our home for a Bible study--a neighborhood Bible study--and our neighbors begin to see that we truly love one another. Because when I wash your feet and you wash my feet, the watching world sees two imperfect people, yes, but who belong to Jesus Christ and reflect his love in relationship. By this all will know that we are his disciples.

L.T. Jeyachandran is executive director of Ravi Zacharias International Ministries in Singapore.

"May I be in Thy presence, Lord?"

There come times when I have nothing more to tell God. If I were to continue to pray in words, I would have to repeat what I have already said. At such times it is wonderful to say to God, "May I be in Thy presence, Lord? I have nothing more to say to Thee, but I do love to be in Thy presence." ...O. Hallesby photo

This is Love

This is Love 
 Christ is the breathing forth of the heart, life and spirit of God into all the dead race of Adam. He is the seeker, the finder, the restorer of all that, from Cain to the end of time, was lost and dead to the life of God. He is the love that prays for all its murderers; the love that willingly suffers and dies among thieves, that thieves may have a life with him in Paradise; the love that visits publicans, harlots and sinners, and wants and seeks to forgive where most is to be forgiven. William Law art

Lord, high and holy, meek and lowly...

Lord, high and holy, meek and lowly,
Thou hast brought me to the valley of vision,
where I live in the depths but see thee in the heights;
hemmed in by mountains of sin I behold thy glory.

Let me learn by paradox
that the way down is the way up,
that to be low is to be high,
that the broken heart is the healed heart,
that the contrite spirit is the rejoicing spirit,
that the repenting soul is the victorious soul,
that to have nothing is to possess all,
that to bear the cross is to wear the crown,
that to give is to receive
that the valley is the place of vision.

LORD, in the daytime stars can be seen

from the deepest wells,
and the deeper the wells

 the brighter thy stars shine;
Let me find thy light in my darkness,
thy life in my death,
thy joy in my sorrow,
thy grace in my sin,
thy riches in my poverty,
thy glory in my valley.
...Valley of Vision

When you find that weariness depresses or amusement distracts you...

When you find that weariness depresses or amusement distracts you, you will calmly turn with an untroubled spirit to your Heavenly Father, who is always holding out His arms to you. You will look to Him for gladness and refreshment when depressed, for moderation and recollection when in good spirits, and you will find that He will never leave you to want. A trustful glance, a silent movement of the heart towards Him will renew your strength; and though you may often feel as if your soul were downcast and numb, whatever God calls you to do, He will give you power and courage to perform. Our Heavenly Father, so far from ever overlooking us, is only waiting to find our hearts open, to pour into them the torrents of His grace. ...Francois Fenelon image by Richard Smith

Things great have small beginnings...

Things great have small beginnings. Every downpour is just a raindrop; every fire is just a spark; every harvest is just a seed; every journey is just a step because without that step there will be no journey; without that raindrop there can be no shower; without that seed there can be no harvest.
...William Wilberforce image by IH(40)

But Christ's love sees us with terrible clarity...

Romantic love is blind to everything except what is lovable and lovely, but Christ's love sees us with terrible clarity and sees us whole. Christ's love so wishes our joy that it is ruthless against everything in us that diminishes our joy. The worst sentence Love can pass is that we behold the suffering which Love has endured for our sake, and that is also our acquittal. The justice and mercy of the judge are ultimately one.
...Frederick Buechner image by Resclassic2

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Many times we are content with sitting on the sidelines...

Many times we are content with sitting on the sidelines, always hearing about other's lives being changed in huge ways and God being so important in their life. We go to church and hear people talk about what God has been doing in their life. We go to events and conferences that we hope will microwave our Christian maturity to well done. We read books on how other's lives were changed. And that is good enough for us, but deep down inside, we wish we could have that happen in our own life. So we make promises to try harder. We recommit our lives to Jesus. We might begin having devotions more often. But, after a while, the desire dies off and the excitement has turned into duty and we give up. Obedience makes the difference in a life that is sold out for God. It is seeing what God does with our attitude of following what He has in the Bible that brings about change in our hearts and a Christian walk that is on fire. ...Zach Conrad image

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

One of the greatest blessings the Lord ever gave us was a cross...

I believe the hard heartest, most cross grained and most unloving Christians in all the world are those who have not had much trouble in their life. And those that are the most sympathizing, loving and Christlike are generally those who have the most affliction. The worse thing that can happen to any of us is to have a path made too smooth. One of the greatest blessings the Lord ever gave us was a cross.
...Charles Spurgeon image

Is there not comfort in knowing...

Can anything appear in us that was not anticipated by One who before taking us for His own possession sat down and counted the cost? Is there not comfort in knowing that your keel is caught by a current which emanated from the purpose of Him who worketh all things after the counsel of His own will, and is bearing you towards His heart? Oh, the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and the knowledge of God! How unsearchable are His judgements, and His ways past finding out! ...FB Meyer image

Thoughtfulness is the beginning of great sanctity...

Thoughtfulness is the beginning of great sanctity. If you learn this art of being thoughtful, you will become more and more Christ-like, for his heart was meek and he always thought of others. Our vocation, to be beautiful, must be full of thought for others. ...Mother Teresa of Calcutta image

True patience...

True patience is to suffer the wrongs done to us by others in an unruffled spirit and without feeling resentment. Patience bears with others because it loves them; to bear with them and yet to hate them is not the virtue of patience but a smokescreen for anger. ...Gregory the Great image

The degree of blessing...

The degree of blessing enjoyed by any man will correspond exactly with the completeness of God's victory over him.
...AW Tozer image

The Church is to develop a Christian counter-culture...

Instead of always being one of the chief bastions of the social status quo, the Church is to develop a Christian counter-culture with its own distinctive goals, values, standards, and lifestyle, a realistic alternative to the contemporary technocracy which is marked by bondage, materialism, self-centredness, and greed. Christ’s call to obedience is a call to be different, not conformist.

Such a Church—joyful, obedient, loving, and free—will do more than please God: it will attract the world. It is when the Church evidently is the Church, and is living a supernatural life of love by the power of the Holy Spirit, that the world will believe. ...John R. W. Stott image by Steve Coutts

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

The stars are God's fingerprints...

The stars are God's fingerprints. The sun is a mere smidgen of his radiance. The moon is to remind us that he doesn't sleep at night. The vastness of space proclaims the infinity of his wisdom, while the sand pebble indicates his thoroughness with the puniest details. The lion hints at his fearlessness, the bear at his power, the hawk at his keen insight. And yet, those possess only a tidbit of God's omnipotence and omnipresence. Every tree points toward heaven; every bird has a song to sing; even every moment of wind goes in some direction. There is nothing chaotic about our beautiful designed world. All creation has a message to tell. It says, "Listen, there is a God. There is a God!"
...Brent D. Earles image

Lord, I have shut the door...

Lord, I have shut the door, speak now the word
Which in the din and throng could not be heard;
Hushed now my inner heart, whisper Thy will,
While I have come apart, while all is still.

In this blest quietness clamorings cease;
Here in Thy presence dwells infinite peace;
Yonder, the strife and cry, yonder, the sin:
Lord, I have shut the door, Thou art within!

Lord, I have shut the door, strengthen my heart;
Yonder awaits the task—I share a part.
Only through grace bestowed may I be true;
Here, while alone with Thee, my strength renew.
... William M. Runyan
  image by Chris Burke

Monday, February 6, 2012

No man may turn his back in the day of battle...

The Angel, Standing in the Sun by Joseph Mallord William Turner
To him that overcometh will I give to eat of the tree of life, which is in the midst of the paradise of God. (Revelation 2:7)

No man may turn his back in the day of battle or refuse to go to the holy war. We must fight if we would reign, and we must carry on the warfare till we overcome every enemy, or else this promise is not for us, since it is only for "him that overcometh." We are to overcome the false prophets who have come into the world and all the evils which accompany their teaching. We are to overcome our own faintness of heart and tendency to decline from our first love. Read the whole of the Spirit's word to the church at Ephesus.

If by grace we win the day, as we shall if we truly follow our conquering Leader, then we shall be admitted to the very center of the paradise of God and shall be permitted to pass by the cherub and his flaming sword and come to that guarded tree, whereof if a man eat, he shall live forever. We shall thus escape that endless death which is the doom of sin and gain that everlasting life which is the seal of innocence, the outgrowth of immortal principles of Godlike holiness. Come, my heart, pluck up courage! To flee the conflict will be to lose the joys of the new and better Eden; to fight unto victory is to walk with God in paradise. ...CH Spurgeon image

Learn much of the Lord Jesus...

Learn much of the Lord Jesus. For every look at yourself, take ten looks at Christ. He is altogether lovely. Such infinite majesty, and yet such meekness and grace, and all for sinners, even the chief. Live much in the smiles of God. Bask in his beams. Feel his all-seeing eye settled on you in love, and repose in his almighty arms. Cry after divine knowledge, and lift up your voice for understanding. Seek her as silver, and search for her as for hid treasure.
...Robert Murray M’Cheyne image

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Lift up your heads, O gates!

Lift up your heads, O gates!
And be lifted up, O ancient doors,
that the King of glory may come in.
Who is this King of glory?

The LORD, strong and mighty,
the LORD, mighty in battle!
Lift up your heads, O gates!

And lift them up, O ancient doors,
that the King of glory may come in.
Who is this King of glory?

The LORD of hosts,
he is the King of glory!
Psalm 24:7-10 image

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

If your reputation is perfectly intact on every front...

If your reputation is perfectly intact on every front, if you never irritate anyone, if you never make a stir, you might be doing something wrong-or more likely, you're not doing something right. "Woe to you when all men speak well of you, for in the same way their fathers used to treat the false prophets"(Luke 6:26). The Bible has a crystal clear promise: All who live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution"
(2 Tim.3:12). If we never experience persecution, if we never make a single soul angry (as Christ often did), something is probably wrong. ...R. Terry image

Only those who try to live near God...

Only those who try to live near God and have formed the habit of faithfulness to Him in the small things of our daily life, can hope in times of need for that special light which shows us our path. To do as well as we can the job immediately before us, is the way to learn what we ought to do next. ...Evelyn Underhill image

Walk then in the spirit...

Walk then in the spirit, like Abraham, without knowing whither you go; be content with your daily bread, and remember that in the desert the manna of to-day could not be preserved until to-morrow without corrupting. The children of God must be shut up to the grace of the present moment, without desiring to foresee the designs of Providence concerning them. ...Francois Fenelon
image by Mike McCune