Growing together in the Spirit of Jesus Christ...

"Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another - and all the more as you see the Day approaching." - Hebrews 10:25 NIV

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

November 30, 2010 (What is really important?)

What is really important?

One of the teachers of the law came
and heard them debating.
Noticing that Jesus had given them
a good answer, he asked him,
“Of all the commandments,
which is the most important?”
“The most important one,” answered Jesus, “is this:
‘Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is one.
Love the Lord your God with all your heart
and with all your soul
and with all your mind
and with all your strength.’
The second is this:
‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’
There is no commandment greater than these.”
- Mark 12:28-31 NIV

Monday, November 29, 2010

November 29, 2010 (inner recreation and restoration)

inner recreation and restoration

“There's a problem...
when the inflow of spiritual renewal
doesn't replenish the outflow of spiritual ministry.
For the spiritual life should also be
the source of inner recreation and restoration
since it is the way we most directly experience
the Lord Himself in daily life.
Through our spiritual disciplines
(rightly motivated and practiced)
come many of the most refreshing
blessings of knowing Christ.”
- Don Whitney

Sunday, November 28, 2010

November 28, 2010 (without doubt)

without doubt

“I don’t so much pray that my death
will be without pain,
but that it will be without doubt.”
- John Piper

“When we die
we leave behind us all we have,
and take with us all we are.”
- Author Unknown

Saturday, November 27, 2010

November 27, 2010 (tolerance)

photo by Patrick Frey

“‘Tolerance’ gives me room to say,
‘I think you're wrong,
but I'll defend your right to be wrong.’
‘Pluralism’ suggests, much more strongly
than most folks admit,
that there isn't such thing as right and wrong -
and no such thing as truth and error.
As it is practiced more and more in America,
pluralism tends to require that you
not only leave room for your neighbor
to believe what he believes,
but that you also refrain from disagreeing with it.
There's a world of difference
between the two perspectives.
Tolerance promotes civility
combined with clear thinking.
Pluralism promotes civility
combined with mushy-headedness.”
- Joel Belz

Friday, November 26, 2010

November 26, 2010 (with what you have)

with what you have

“Christians can be and ought to be content
with the simple necessities of life…
First, when you have God
near you and for you,
you don’t need extra money or extra things
to give you peace and security…
God is always better than gold…
Second, we can be content
with the simplicity because the deepest,
most satisfying delights God gives us
through creation are free gifts from nature
and from loving relationships with people.
After your basic needs are met,
accumulated money begins to diminish
your capacity for these pleasures
rather than increase them.
Buying things contributes absolutely nothing
to the heart’s capacity for joy…
Third, we should be content
with the simple necessities of life
because we could invest the extra we make
for what really counts (God’s kingdom).”
- John Piper

“You say, 'If I had a little more,
I should be very satisfied.'
You make a mistake.
If you are not content with what you have,
you would not be satisfied if it were doubled.”
- C.H. Spurgeon

Thursday, November 25, 2010

November 25, 2010 (Happy Thanksgiving)

Happy Thanksgiving

“Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life.
It turns what we have
into enough, and more.
It turns denial into acceptance,
chaos to order, confusion to clarity.
It can turn a meal into a feast,
a house into a home,
a stranger into a friend.
Gratitude makes sense of our past,
brings peace for today,
and creates a vision for tomorrow.”
- Melody Beattie

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

November 24, 2010 (seeing beyond)

seeing beyond
photo by Patrick Frey

“My son, say thou thus in everything:
'Lord, if this be pleasing unto Thee,
let it be so.
Lord, if it be to Thy honor,
in Thy name let this be done.
Lord, if Thou seest it good,
and allowest it to be profitable for me,
then grant unto me
that I may use this to Thine honor.
But if Thou knowest it will be harmful unto me,
and no profit to the health of my soul,
take away any such desire from me.'”
- Thomas a Kempis

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

November 23, 2010 (Let His will be done!)

Let His will be done!
photo by Patrick Frey

“The key to praying with power
is to become the kind of persons
who do not use God for our ends
but are utterly devoted to
being used for His ends.”
- John Piper

Monday, November 22, 2010

November 22, 2010 (If you do not ascend...)

If you do not ascend…
photo by Patrick Frey

“Such as do not grow in grace, decay in grace.
There is no standing at a stay in religion,
either we go forward or backward;
if faith does not grow, unbelief will;
if heavenly mindedness doth not grow,
covetousness will.
A man that doth not increase his stock diminisheth it;
if you do not improve your stock of grace,
your stock will decay.
The angels on Jacob's ladder
were either ascending or descending;
if you do not ascend in religion, you descend.”
- Thomas Watson

Sunday, November 21, 2010

November 21, 2010 (understand ourselves)

understand ourselves
a self-portrait

“The greatest explorer on this earth
never takes voyages as long as those
of the man who descends
to the depth of his heart.”
- Julien Green

“Not until we are lost
do we begin to understand ourselves.
- Henry David Thoreau

Saturday, November 20, 2010

November 20, 2010 (our spiritual mission)

our spiritual mission
photo by Patrick Frey

“We must repudiate our confused loyalties
and concerns for the passing world
and put aside our misguided efforts
to change culture externally.
To allow our thoughts, plans,
time, money, and energy
to be spent trying to make
a superficially Christian America,
or to put a veneer of morality over the world,
is to distort the gospel,
misconstrue our divine calling,
and squander our God-given resources.
We must not weaken our spiritual mission,
obscure our priority of proclaiming
the gospel of salvation,
or become confused about our spiritual citizenship,
loyalties and obligations.
We are to change society,
but by faithfully proclaiming the gospel,
which changes lives on the inside.”
- John MacArthur

Friday, November 19, 2010

November 19, 2010 (fear death?)

fear death?

“If you will not have death unto sin,
you shall have sin unto death.
There is no alternative.
If you do not die to sin,
you shall die for sin.
If you do not slay sin,
sin will slay you.”
- C.H. Spurgeon

Let them fear death who do not fear sin.
- Thomas Watson

Thursday, November 18, 2010

November 18, 2010 (the handle of faith)

the handle of faith

Every year, in the first or second week of November,
I place our “Harvest/Halloween” pumpkins
out in the backyard up against the one silver maple tree.
Eventually they begin to crumble apart as they rot.
Some wildlife will come and hasten the process
by feeding on them.
As they “open” up I will sprinkle
bird seed on them and the birds
will begin to feed there too.

After a few frosts and snowfalls
the pumpkins rapidly disappear as
winter takes its toll.

“It is only when we want
to take our lives out of the Father’s hands
and have them under our own control
that we find ourselves gripped with anxiety.
The secret of freedom from anxiety
is freedom from ourselves
and abandonment of our own plans.
But that spirit emerges in our lives
only when our minds are filled
with the knowledge that our Father
can be trusted implicitly
to supply everything we need.”
- Sinclair Ferguson

“Every tomorrow has two handles.
We can take hold of it
with the handle of anxiety
or the handle of faith.”
- Henry Ward Beecher

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

November 17, 2010 (remnants of sin)

remnants of sin
photo by Patrick Frey

“The Christian life is a war,
and the fiercest battles are those that rage
within the heart of every believer.
The new birth radically and permanently
changes a person’s sinful nature,
but it does not immediately liberate that nature
for all of the remnants of sin.
Birth is followed by growth,
and that growth involves warfare.”
- Tom Ascol

“To fight against sin
is to fight against the devil,
the world and oneself.
The fight against oneself
is the worst fight of all.”
- Martin Luther

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

November 16, 2010 (His Eye Is on the Sparrow)

His Eye Is on the Sparrow
art by Laura Reinhold

“Why should I feel discouraged,
why should the shadows come,
Why should my heart be lonely,
and long for heav’n and home,
When Jesus is my portion?
My constant Friend is He:
His eye is on the sparrow,
and I know He watches me;
His eye is on the sparrow,
and I know He watches me.

I sing because I’m happy,
I sing because I’m free,
For His eye is on the sparrow,
and I know He watches me.

‘Let not your heart be troubled,’
His tender word I hear,
And resting on His goodness,
I lose my doubts and fears;
Though by the path He leadeth,
but one step I may see;
His eye is on the sparrow,
and I know He watches me;
His eye is on the sparrow,
and I know He watches me.

Whenever I am tempted,
whenever clouds arise,
When songs give place to sighing,
when hope within me dies,
I draw the closer to Him,
from care He sets me free;
His eye is on the sparrow,
and I know He watches me;
His eye is on the sparrow,
and I know He watches me.”
- Civilla D. Martin

Monday, November 15, 2010

November 15, 2010 (unchangeable eternity)

unchangeable eternity
photo by Patrick Frey

“I have thought I am
a creature of a day,
passing through life
as an arrow through the air.
I am a spirit come from God,
and returning to God,
just hovering over the great gulf,
till a few moments hence,
I am no more seen;
I drop into an unchangeable eternity!
I want to know one thing –
the way to heaven,
how to land safely on that happy shore.
God Himself has condescended to teach the way;
for this very end He came from heaven.
He has written it down in a book.
O give me that Book at any price,
give me the Book of God!”
- John Wesley

Sunday, November 14, 2010

November 14, 2010 (love each other)

If you obey my commands…

“‘If you obey my commands,
you will remain in my love,
just as I have obeyed my Father’s commands
and remain in his love.’”
- John 15:10 NIV

“‘You are my friends if you do what I command.’”
- John 15:14 NIV

“‘My command is this:
Love each other as I have loved you.’”
- John 15:12 NIV

Saturday, November 13, 2010

November 13, 2010 (mosaic of them all)

“Winter is an etching, spring a watercolor, summer an oil painting
and autumn a mosaic of them all.”
- Stanley Horowitz

“A heathen philosopher once asked, ‘Where is God?’
The Christian answered:
‘Let me first ask you, where is He not?’”
- John Arrowsmith

“God dwells in His creation
and is everywhere indivisibly present in all His works.
He is transcendent above all His works
even while He is immanent within them.”
- A.W. Tozer

Friday, November 12, 2010

November 12, 2010 (the inner fire)

"To find God,
you must look with all your heart.
To remain present to God,
you must remain present to your heart.
To hear his voice,
you must listen with all your heart.
To love him,
you must love with all your heart.
You cannot be the person God meant you to be,
and you cannot live the life he meant you to live,
unless you live from the heart."
- John Eldredge
(Waking the Dead)

“That is why I would remind you to stir up
(rekindle the embers of,
fan the flame of, and keep burning)
the [gracious] gift of God,
[the inner fire] that is in you…”
- 2 Timothy 1:6 AMP

Thursday, November 11, 2010

November 11, 2010 (paths straight)

paths straight
photo by Patrick Frey

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart
and lean not on your own understanding;
in all your ways acknowledge him,
and he will make your paths straight.”
- Proverbs 3:5,6 NIV

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

November 10, 2010 (help and deliverance)

photo by Patrick Frey

“We should not shrink from opportunities
where our faith may be tried.
The more I am in a position to be tried in faith,
the more I will have the opportunity
of seeing God’s help and deliverance.
Every fresh instance in which He helps
and delivers me will increase my faith.
The believer should not shrink from situations,
positions, or circumstances
in which his faith may be tried,
but he should cheerfully embrace them
as opportunities to see the hand of God
stretched out in help and deliverance.
Thus his faith will be strengthened.”
- George Muller

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

November 9, 2010 (a place to play and pray)

a place to play and pray
photo by Jenn Doyle

“Wherever they go,
and whatever happens to them on the way,
in that enchanted place on the top of the forest,
a little boy and his Bear will always be playing.”
- Winnie The Pooh quotes

“Everybody needs beauty as well as bread,
places to play in and pray in,
where nature may heal
and give strength to body and soul.”
- John Muir

Monday, November 8, 2010

November 8, 2010 (will grow cold)

This is a sure sign
that winter is on the way…
hoarfrost on dead, fallen leaves.

Don’t let your heart grow cold.

"Because of the increase of wickedness,
the love of most will grow cold,
but he who stands firm to the end will be saved."
- Matthew 24:12,13 NIV

Sunday, November 7, 2010

November 7, 2010 (but as for me)

“Lord, I am willing to
receive what You give,
to lack what You withhold,
to relinquish what You take,
to suffer what You inflict,
to be what You require.”
- Author Unknown

“For until men recognize
that they owe everything to God,
that they are nourished by His fatherly care,
that He is the Author of their every good,
that they should seek nothing beyond Him -
they will never yield Him willing service.
Nay, unless they establish
their complete happiness in Him,
they will never give themselves
truly and sincerely to Him.”
- John Calvin

Saturday, November 6, 2010

November 6, 2010 (joy of faith)

“Some of you seek for faith
much in the same way
as you would dig for a well.
You turn the eye inward upon yourself
and search amidst the depths
of your polluted heart
to find if faith is there;
you search amid all your feelings
at sermons and sacraments
to see if faith is there;
and still you find nothing
but sin and disappointment…
Look full in the face of Jesus…
Drink in His Word…
Faith comes by hearing the voice of Jesus.”
- Robert Murray McCheyne

“Faith is sustained by looking at Christ,
crucified and risen,
not by turning from Christ
to analyze your faith…
if we would experience the joy of faith,
we must not focus much on it.
We must focus on the greatness of our Savior.”
- John Piper

Friday, November 5, 2010

November 5, 2010 (my wish for you)

“This is my wish for you:
Comfort on difficult days,
smiles when sadness intrudes,
rainbows to follow the clouds,
laughter to kiss your lips,
sunsets to warm your heart,
hugs when spirits sag,
beauty for your eyes to see,
friendships to brighten your being,
faith so that you can believe,
confidence for when you doubt,
courage to know yourself,
patience to accept the truth,
Love to complete your life.”
- Winnie The Pooh

Thursday, November 4, 2010

November 4, 2010 (in the pink)

“Praise the Lord, O my soul;
all my inmost being, praise his holy name.
Praise the Lord, O my soul,
and forget not all his benefits—
who forgives all your sins
and heals all your diseases,
who redeems your life from the pit
and crowns you with love and compassion,
who satisfies your desires with good things
so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s.”
- Psalm 103:1-5 NIV

“Dear friend, I pray that you
may enjoy good health
and that all may go well with you,
even as your soul is getting along well.”
- 3 John 1:2 NIV

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

November 3, 2010 (becoming original)

"Even in literature and art,
no man who bothers about originality
will ever be original:
whereas if you simply try to tell the truth
(without caring twopence how often it has been told before)
you will, nine times out of ten,
become original without ever having noticed it."
- C.S. Lewis
(Mere Christianity)

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

November 2, 2010 (precious privilege)

precious privilege
photo by Lee Keefer

“When you arise in the morning,
think of what a precious privilege it is
to be alive - to breathe,
to think, to enjoy, to love.”
- Marcus Aurelius

“Next time a sunrise steals your breath
or a meadow of flowers leave you speechless,
remain that way.
Say nothing, and listen as heaven whispers,
"Do you like it? I did it just for you."
- Max Lucado

Monday, November 1, 2010

November 1, 2010 (Praise, I will praise you, Lord)

Praise, I will praise you, Lord
photo by Lee Keefer

Praise, I will praise you, Lord, with all my heart.
O God, I will tell the wonders of your ways,
and glorify your name.
Praise, I will praise you, Lord, with all my heart.
In you I will find the source of all my joy. Alleluia!

Love, I will love you, Lord, with all my heart.
O God, I will tell the wonders of your ways,
and glorify your name.
Love, I will love you, Lord, with all my heart.
In you I will find the source of all my joy. Alleluia!

Serve, I will serve you, Lord, with all my heart.
O God, I will tell the wonders of your ways,
and glorify your name.
Serve, I will serve you, Lord, with all my heart.
In you I will find the source of all my joy. Alleluia!
- Words: Claude Fraysse, 1976;
tr. Kenneth I. Morse, 1988