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

Friday, December 31, 2010

December 31, 2010 (successful service)

successful service
(Kuppy’s Diner)

No matter what you do…
do as for the Lord.

“Work! Walk through every open door;
be ready in season and out of season
as if everything depended on your labor.
This is one of the great secrets
in connection with successful service for the Lord –
work as if everything depended on your diligence,
and trust in the blessing of the Lord to bring success.”
- George Muller

“Whatever may be your task,
work at it heartily (from the soul),
as [something done] for the Lord
and not for men.”
- Colossians 3:23 AMP

Thursday, December 30, 2010

December 30, 2010 (A treasured gift)

A treasured gift
from the heart of a friend!

“If instead of a gem, or even a flower,
we should cast the gift of a loving thought
into the heart of a friend,
that would be giving as the angels give.”
- George MacDonald

“It is when you give of yourself
that you truly give.”
- Kahlil Gibran

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

December 29, 2010 (resurrection)

photo by Lee Keefer

“The truth of the resurrection gives life
to every other area of gospel truth.
The resurrection is the pivot
on which all of Christianity turns
and without which none
of the other truths would much matter.
Without the resurrection,
Christianity would be so much wishful thinking,
taking its place alongside all other
human philosophy and religious speculation.”
- John MacArthur

“Christianity begins
where all the religions of the world end,
at death,
and it starts with resurrection.”
- Author Unknown

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

December 28, 2010 (spring of water)

spring of water
photo by Jenn Doyle

“But whoever takes a drink
of the water that I will give him
shall never, no never, be thirsty any more.
But the water that I will give him
shall become a spring of water welling up
(flowing, bubbling) [continually]
within him unto (into, for) eternal life.”
- John 4:14 AMP

Monday, December 27, 2010

december 27, 2010 (supply me with wisdom)

supply me with wisdom

“Things are not always what they seem;
the first appearance deceives many;
the intelligence of a few
perceives what has been carefully hidden...”
- Author Unknown

Where do we get that wisdom and understanding?

“I need not despair
because the living God is my partner.
I do not have sufficient wisdom
to meet these difficulties,
but He is able to direct me.
I can pour out my heart to God
and ask Him to guide and direct me
and to supply me with wisdom.
Then I have to believe that He will do so.
I can go with good courage to my business
and expect help from Him
in the next difficulty
that may come before me.”
- George Muller

Sunday, December 26, 2010

December 26, 2010 (continue to worship)

continue to worship

“Then the shepherds returned to their flock,
glorifying and praising God
for everything they had heard and seen,
just as it had been told to them.”
- Luke 2:20 ISV

The shepherds returned to their normal routine…
but they continued glorifying and praising God.

Christmas day is over and we soon shall
return to our normal routine.
Even so, let us continue to
glorify and praise God.

“I therefore urge you, brothers,
in view of God's mercies,
to offer your bodies as living sacrifices
that are holy and pleasing to God,
for this is the reasonable way
for you to worship.”
- Roman 12:1 ISV

Saturday, December 25, 2010

December 25, 2010 (Joy to the World)

Joy to the World
cross-stitch by Faye

Joy to the World , the Lord is come!
Let earth receive her King;
Let every heart prepare Him room,
And Heaven and nature sing,
And Heaven and nature sing,
And Heaven, and Heaven, and nature sing.

Joy to the World, the Savior reigns!
Let men their songs employ;
While fields and floods, rocks, hills and plains
Repeat the sounding joy,
Repeat the sounding joy,
Repeat, repeat, the sounding joy.

No more let sins and sorrows grow,
Nor thorns infest the ground;
He comes to make His blessings flow
Far as the curse is found,
Far as the curse is found,
Far as, far as, the curse is found.

He rules the world with truth and grace,
And makes the nations prove
The glories of His righteousness,
And wonders of His love,
And wonders of His love,
And wonders, wonders, of His love.

Friday, December 24, 2010

December 24, 2010 (my boo-boo...)

The last post (Artificial Submission) was to posted in my other blog... but in my hurry (it is Christmas Eve day afterall) I posted it here in SonRays. I'll keep this one here too because I already sent it out to some with the wrong address... however... it is also, now, posted in the correct blog as well. WOW... I am getting old...

December 24, 2010 (Artificial Submission)

It has been quite a while since I last posted here.

No excuses… I am sure you have heard them all before.

Artificial Submission

Years ago I never thought I would have anything artificial…
I wanted the real thing. A wood burning fireplace with a cord
or two of neatly stacked firewood outside along the shed;
real candles that required a match (or two)
to ignite and with wicks to trim;
a real Christmas tree that we cut down ourselves
and required some work to stand up
in a stone crock surrounded by stones
and rocks strategically placed to keep
the thing upright and straight…
and a tree which required periodic watering.
Ah, the smells alone were enchanting.
This is being alive
and living life to the fullest.

Now I am older and perhaps a bit more… well older.
You get the picture… now, or you will eventually.

The artificial “electric” fireplace looks pretty good.
The artificial candles even flicker.
And the artificial tree has finally, after 5 years,
paid for itself.

No more smoke in the room because of poor draft and
a lot less dirt and soot on the curtains, etc. No more lugging in
firewood (or paying to have it delivered),
constantly stoking the fire, and cleaning out the ashes.

No more candles that burn unevenly
or won’t stay lit, and less danger from
three very active cats.

And no more struggles with the “perfect” looking
Christmas tree year after year. I don’t even have
to string the lights anymore. How about
the allergies from a real tree, the poison ivy,
and the hatching spiders that migrate to the
tree top and decorate the angel or star.

Yes the cats still like to play with the tree branches,
the ornaments, and they even try to eat
the artificial needles (with accompanying throw-up)…
hmmm… how about artificial cats?

Life is simpler now… ???

Oh but how I miss those smells… artificial
smells in a can or perfumed scented whatever
just isn’t the same… yet! Nor is the
fireplace sounds on a CD and you can’t even
roast “artificial” marshmallows or have the fun
of putting out the candles between your two fingers.

Still… I have adjusted. I don’t even have to squint
my eyes shut a bit to make it appear more magically
less plastic looking… age is doing that for me.

My point to all of this is to draw the line somewhere.

Lets consider what is really important.

Have we let
ourselves become comfortable with an artificial faith…
less genuine, less passionate, less active?

Do we have a “pose able” faith?
One we put on for show… a faith without works?
That is not even an artificial faith…
that is a dead faith… non-existent.

“Faith and works are bound up in the same bundle.
He that obeys God trusts God;
and he that trusts God obeys God.
He that is without faith is without works;
and he that is without works is without faith.”
- C.H. Spurgeon

Keep the “real” flame alive…
the one that counts.

December 24, 2010 (A very big Christmas tree)

A very big Christmas tree
Photo by Erin Doyle

“Never worry about the size of your Christmas tree.
In the eyes of children, they are all 30 feet tall.”
- Larry Wilde

“Until one feels the spirit of Christmas,
there is no Christmas.
All else is outward display -
so much tinsel and decorations.
For it isn't the holly, it isn't the snow.
It isn't the tree nor the firelight's glow.
It's the warmth that comes to the hearts of men
when the Christmas spirit returns again.”
- Author Unknown

Don’t ever let the Christmas spirit fade…
keep it throughout the year.

“The Christmas spirit that goes out
with the dried-up Christmas tree
is just as worthless.”
- Author Unknown

Who do you think best exemplifies
the Christmas spirit?

Hint – It is not Santa Claus.

“- they will call him Immanuel -
which means, ‘God with us.’”
- Matthew 1:23 NIV

Thursday, December 23, 2010

December 23, 2010 (warmth of our hearts)

warmth of our hearts

“God can be honored in gift-giving and generosity
as well as in singing carols and telling the story.
They’re both important if done in the right spirit.
We don't have to make something spiritual
out of giving gifts.
You may make a birthday cake
to Jesus if you wish,
but you don't have to.
We do need to be Christian,
however, about everything we do.
Emphasizing the giving part of the day
can heal lots of wounds, open calcified hearts,
stir up gratefulness, and just be plain fun.
God's not against fun is He?
There may be better things to be different about.
In other words, we might show
our radical difference better
in the way we treat other shoppers,
the kindness we show to retail clerks,
the warmth of our hearts,
the largeness of our generosity,
the thankfulness we express and really feel.”
- Jim Elliff

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

December 22, 2010 (being transformed)

being transformed
photo by Jenn Doyle

”To do for yourself
the best that you have it in you to do -
to grit your teeth and clench your fists
in order to survive the world
at its harshest and worst -
is, by that very act,
to be unable to let something
be done for you and in you
that is more wonderful still.
The trouble with steeling yourself
against the harshness of reality
is that the same steel that secures
your life against being destroyed
secures your life also against
being opened up and transformed.”
- Frederick Buechner

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

December 21, 2010 (experience the joy)

Bringing joy to others can involve
hard work under harsh conditions,
but bringing joy to others
always returns joy to the giver.

“To get joy, we must give it,
and to keep joy, we must scatter it.”
- John Templeton

"Joy is not in things, it is in us."
- Richard Wagner

“God's complete joy in Himself as a Trinity
led Him to want to double that joy
by extending it beyond Himself
to the human beings He created.
Likewise, we will want to double our joy
by seeing how adequate God is
to meet our need-love
as we use our resources
to perform the greatest service to others -
helping them to experience the joy
in believing in God's wonderful promises,
guaranteed by the finished work of Christ.”
- Daniel Fuller

Monday, December 20, 2010

December 20, 2010 (in pensive mood)

in pensive mood

“For oft, when on my couch I lie
In vacant or in pensive mood,
They flash upon that inward eye
Which is the bliss of solitude;
And then my heart with pleasure fills,
And dances with the daffodils.”
- William Wordsworth

Find the time to be with your own thoughts
and reflect on the condition of your soul.
During that time be ever mindful of the Lord
and His goodness and grace,
knowing that he loves you unconditionally.

Where is the love?
It is from above.

Rest in Him.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

December 19, 2010 (a collaboration)

a collaboration

“You are to think of yourself
as only existing in this world to do God’s will.
To think that you are your own
is as absurd as to think you are self-created.
It is an obvious first principle
that you belong completely to God.”
- William Law

“If it were possible for me
to alter any part of his plan,
I could only spoil it.”
- John Newton

“Art is a collaboration between God and the artist,
and the less the artist does the better.”
- André Gide

Saturday, December 18, 2010

December 18, 2010 (a living, flaming thing)

a living, flaming thing
photo by Patrick Frey

“The heir of heaven
serves his Lord simply out of gratitude;
he has no salvation to gain, no heaven to lose; …
now, out of love to the God who chose him,
and who gave so great a price for his redemption,
he desires to lay out himself entirely to his Master’s service.
O you who are seeking salvation by the works of the law,
what a miserable life yours must be!…
you have that if you diligently persevere in obedience,
you may perhaps obtain eternal life, though, alas!
none of you dare to pretend that you have attained it.
You toil and toil and toil,
but you never get that which you toil after,
and you never will, for,
“by the works of the law
there shall no flesh living be justified”…
The child of God works not for life;
he does not work to be saved,
he works because he is saved.”
- C.H. Spurgeon

“Faith, as Paul saw it,
was a living, flaming thing
leading to surrender and obedience
to the commandments of Christ.”
- A.W. Tozer

Friday, December 17, 2010

December 17, 2010 (What is Christmas all about?)

What is Christmas all about?

Is it snow, is it gifts, is it music,
is it food, is it decorations,
is it Santa Claus, is it friends and family?

“And the Grinch,
with his Grinch-feet ice cold in the snow,
stood puzzling and puzzling,
how could it be so?
It came without ribbons.
It came without tags.
It came without packages,
boxes or bags.
And he puzzled and puzzled
'till his puzzler was sore.
Then the Grinch thought
of something he hadn't before.
What if Christmas, he thought,
doesn't come from a store.
What if Christmas, perhaps,
means a little bit more.”
- Dr Seuss

“For to you is born this day
in the town of David a Savior,
Who is Christ (the Messiah) the Lord!”
- Luke 2:11 AMP

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

December 16, 2010 (passionate splendor)

“I love you, O God, my love,
my Warmth, my Solace, my Fulfillment.
All that I am, all that I do finds
meaning and purpose in you.
Fill me with the full force of your Love
and its passionate splendor,
so that I might hold and heal
all those who are crying out for love.
Love through me all the unreconciled
whose homes and hearts are broken,
and let them know I am able to love
because you have first loved me.”
- Miriam Therese Winter

December 15, 2010 (over and over)

over and over
photo by Jenn Doyle

“As a single footstep
will not make a path on the earth,
so a single thought
will not make a pathway in the mind.
To make a deep physical path,
we walk again and again.
To make a deep mental path,
we must think over and over
the kind of thoughts we wish
to dominate our lives.”
- Henry David Thoreau

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

December 14, 2010 (daggers of ice)

daggers of ice
photo by Jenn Doyle

“[When suffering] you need to seek help.
This help comes first and finally from the living God.
He hears, helps, strengthens,
and vindicates those who rely on Him.
If you look anywhere else first,
you will set yourself up for a fall.
You will get snared in bitterness and revenge
(spurning God for your pride).
You will flee in avoidance and addiction
(spurning God for your false refuges and comforts).
You will develop a perverted dependency on others
(spurning God for your trust in man).
Sadly, our culture has awakened countless people
to think about what evil-doers (“abusers”)
have done to them,
but it has cast them
upon their own resources as ‘abuse victims.’
Yet victims can properly understand
their own sins and sufferings,
and God’s grace.”
- David Powlison

Monday, December 13, 2010

December 13, 2010 (snow angel)

snow angel
made by and photographed by
Jenn Doyle

“Jesus believed in and experienced the ministry of angels:
1. His conception was announced by an angel (Gabriel).
2. His birth was announced by angels.
3. He was tempted by a fallen angel.
4. He was ministered to by angels subsequent to the temptation.
5. His teaching is filled with references to angelic beings.
6. He experienced the ministry of angels in Gethsemane.
7. He could have appealed to twelve legions of angels (Mt. 26:53).
8. [Angels] were present at His tomb following the resurrection.
9. [Angels] were present at His ascension.
The point is that angels
were an integral part of Christ’s birth, life,
ministry, teaching, death, resurrection, ascension,
and will accompany Him at his second advent.
To deny the reality of the angelic world
is to undermine the integrity
of Jesus himself.”
– Sam Storms

“Angels – like all other intelligent creatures –
were designed to render worship to God,
not to receive worship themselves.
In fact, in every case in Scripture,
whenever angels are offered any form of worship,
they always rebuke the worshiper
and redirect all worship to God alone
(cf. Rev. 19:10; 22:8-9).
- John MacArthur

On the other hand…

“I have no doubt that some who claim
to commune with angels
really have been able to establish a link
with angelic beings –
though not in the way they seek.
Scripture warns us plainly that Satan
and his messengers often appear
as angels of light (2 Cor. 11:13-15).
In other words, demonic beings
take advantage of the gullibility of people
who are actively seeking to communicate
with the spirit world.
“Angelmania” turns out to be sheer occultism,
with all its horrible effects.
Many people have been drawn into
serious demonic bondage by these practices,
and Christians should be
strongly warned against them.”
- John MacArthur

“Nowhere does Scripture
encourage us to have an angel-fetish,
or to look for evidence
of angels in everyday life…
[Furthermore] biblical appearances of angels –
unlike those of popular lore –
often cause trauma and great fear
(Matt. 28:4; Luke 1:29; 2:9).”
- John MacArthur

“In Scripture the visitation of an angel
is always alarming;
it has to begin by saying “Fear not.”
The Victorian angel
looks as if it were going to say,
‘There, there.’”
- C.S. Lewis

Sunday, December 12, 2010

December 12, 2010 (keep pecking away)

keep pecking away

“One day George Mueller
began praying for five of his friends.
After many months,
one of them came to the Lord.
Ten years later, two others were converted.
It took 25 years before the fourth man was saved.
Mueller persevered in prayer
until his death for the fifth friend,
and throughout those 52 years
he never gave up hoping
that he would accept Christ!
His faith was rewarded,
for soon after Mueller’s funeral
the last one was saved.”
- Our Daily Bread
(January 13)

“Even the woodpecker owes his success to the fact
that he uses his head and keeps pecking away
until he finishes the job he starts.”
- Coleman Cox

Saturday, December 11, 2010

December 11, 2010 (prayer complete)

The first snowfall of the season.

“Every true prayer
has its background and its foreground.
The foreground of prayer is the intense,
immediate desire for a certain blessing
which seems to be absolutely
necessary for the soul to have;
the background of prayer is the quiet,
earnest desire that the will of God,
whatever it may be, should be done.
What a picture is the perfect prayer
of Jesus in Gethsemane!
In front burns the strong desire
to escape death and to live;
but behind there stands, calm and strong,
the craving of the whole life
for the doing of the will of God...
Leave out the foreground,
let there be no expression
of the will of him who prays,
and there is left a pure submission
which is almost fatalism.
Leave out the background,
let there be no acceptance of the will of God,
and the prayer is only an expression of self-will,
a petulant claiming of the uncorrected choice
of him who prays.
Only when the two are there together,
the special desire
resting on the universal submission,
the universal submission opening
into the special desire
is the picture perfect
and the prayer complete.”
- Phillips Brooks

Friday, December 10, 2010

December 10, 2010 (an appreciation of patterns)

photo by Patrick Frey

“The most beautiful thing
we can experience is the mysterious.
It is the source of all true art and science.
He to whom the emotion is a stranger,
who can no longer pause
and stand wrapped in awe,
is as good as dead;
his eyes are closed.”
- Albert Einstein

Thursday, December 9, 2010

December 9, 2010 (the right direction)

the right direction
photo by Rhonda Renwick

“If one advances confidently
in the direction of one's dreams,
and endeavors to live the life
which one has imagined,
one will meet with a success
unexpected in common hours.”
- Henry David Thoreau

“Forget about the consequences of failure.
Failure is only a temporary change in direction
to set you straight for your next success.”
- Denis Waitley

“…in all your ways acknowledge him,
and he will make your paths straight.”
- Proverbs 3:6 NIV

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

December 8, 2010 (not reached by the frost)

not reached by the frost

“I pray that out of his glorious riches
he may strengthen you with power
through his Spirit in your inner being,
so that Christ may dwell
in your hearts through faith.
And I pray that you,
being rooted and established in love,
may have power, together with all the saints,
to grasp how wide and long
and high and deep is the love of Christ,
and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—
that you may be filled
to the measure of all the fullness of God.”
- Ephesians 3:16-19 NIV

"All that is gold does not glitter,
Not all those who wander are lost;
The old that is strong does not wither,
Deep roots are not reached by the frost.”
- J.R.R. Tolkien
(The Fellowship of the Ring)

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

December 7, 2010 (sacred awe)

sacred awe

“Fearing God has two aspects.
The first is reverence.
It is a sacred awe of God’s utter holiness.
It involves the kind of respect and veneration
that results in fear in the presence
of such absolute majesty.
The second aspect is fear of God’s displeasure.
Genuine faith acknowledges God’s right to chasten,
His right to punish, and His right to judge.”
- John MacArthur

Monday, December 6, 2010

December 6, 2010 (it tolls for thee)

it tolls for thee

“All mankind is of one author, and is one volume;
when one man dies,
one chapter is not torn out of the book,
but translated into a better language;
and every chapter must be so translated...
As therefore the bell that rings to a sermon,
calls not upon the preacher only,
but upon the congregation to come:
so this bell calls us all:
but how much more me,
who am brought so near the door by this sickness....
No man is an island, entire of itself...
any man's death diminishes me,
because I am involved in mankind;
and therefore never send to know
for whom the bell tolls; it tolls for thee.”
- John Donne

Sunday, December 5, 2010

December 5, 2010 (truly free?)

truly free?
photo by Jenn Doyle

“This is a paradox, of course,
as Augustine, Luther, Edwards, Pascal
and others have pointed out.
When individuals rebel against God,
they don't achieve freedom.
They fall into bondage,
because rebellion is sin,
and sin is a tyrant.
On the other hand,
when men and women submit to God,
becoming his slaves,
they become truly free.
They achieve the ability
fully to become the special,
unique beings that
God created them to be.”
- James Montgomery Boice

Saturday, December 4, 2010

December 4, 2010 (a hill of ice)

a hill of ice
photo by Jenn Doyle

“The Christian life
is very much like climbing a hill of ice.
You cannot slide up.
You have to cut every step with an ice axe.
Only with incessant labor in cutting
and chipping can you make any progress.
If you want to know how to backslide,
leave off going forward.
Cease going upward
and you will go downward of necessity.
You can never stand still.”
- C.H. Spurgeon

“Following the path of least resistance
is what makes rivers and men crooked.”
- Author Unknown

Friday, December 3, 2010

December 3, 2010 (open the door to your heart)

tear down the fence and
open the door to your heart

"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."

"[The Enemy's] plan from the beginning
was to assault the heart...
Make them so busy, they ignore the heart.
Wound them so deeply, they don't want a heart.
Twist their theology, so they despise the heart.
Take away their courage. Destroy their creativity.
Make intimacy with God impossible for them."
- John Eldredge
("Waking the Dead", p 49, 51)

Thursday, December 2, 2010

December 2, 2010 (creativity)

photo by Patrick Frey

“God’s Holy Spirit creates His people by His Word.
We can create a people by other means,
and this is the great temptation of churches.
We can create a people around a certain ethnicity.
We can create a people around
a fully-graded choir program.
We can find people who will get excited
about a building project or a denominational identity.
We can create a people around
a series of care groups,
where each feels loved and cared for.
We can create a people around
a community service project.
We can create a people around
social opportunities for young mothers
or Caribbean cruises for singles.
We can create a people around men’s groups.
We can even create a people around
the personality of a preacher.
And God can surely use all of these things.
But in the final analysis the people of God,
the church of God, can only
be created around the Word of God.”
- Mark Dever

“The Word of God is creative.
It is a hammer that crushes
the hardness of our insubordination.
It is medicine that heals the broken-hearted.
And it is light that gives us
guidance and hope on our way.”
- John Piper

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

December 1, 2010 (persevering faith)

persevering faith
photo by Patrick Frey

“Our Lord does not promise to change life for us;
He does not promise to remove difficulties
and trials and problems and tribulations;
He does not say that He is going
to cut out all the thorns
and leave the roses with their wonderful perfume.
No; He faces life realistically,
and tells us that these are things
to which the flesh is heir,
and which are bound to come.
But He assures us that
we can so know Him that,
whatever happens,
we need never be frightened,
we need never be alarmed.”
- D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones

“Amid trials hard,
temptations strong,
and troubles constant,
true faith is persevering faith.”
- Author Unknown