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

Saturday, December 31, 2011

December 31, 2011 (born in God's thought)

born in God's thought

“I would rather be what God
chose to make me
than the most glorious creature
that I could think of;
for to have been thought about,
born in God’s thought,
and then made by God,
is the dearest, grandest,
and most precious thing in all thinking.”
- George MacDonald

Friday, December 30, 2011

December 30, 2011 (with the joyful)

with the joyful

“I have loved you with an everlasting love;
I have drawn you with loving-kindness.
I will build you up again
and you will be rebuilt...
and go out to dance with the joyful.”
- Jeremiah 31:3,4 NIV

Thursday, December 29, 2011

December 29, 2011 (change)


With winter weather, it is
nice to sometimes remember
that Spring will arrive
before we know it.

And with the New Year
(along with its resolutions)
just around the corner,
it is a good time
to make some commitments
for the future.

“Courage is the strength or choice
to begin a change.
Determination is the persistence
to continue that change.”
- Author Unknown

“Why do people punish their bodies
to run a grueling marathon race?
Most runners name two reasons:
the sense of personal reward they get
and the physical benefits of the exercise.
The same two rewards apply
in the spiritual realm:
great prizes await those who persevere,
and the very process of living by faith
builds strong character.”
- Hank Hanegraaff

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

December 28, 2011 (sharing the gospel)

sharing the gospel
photo by Lee Keefer
(trip to Haiti)

“We are called to love others.
We share the gospel became we love people.
And we don’t share the gospel because we don’t love people.
Instead, we wrongly fear them.
We don’t want to cause awkwardness.
We want their respect, and after all, we figure,
if we try to share the gospel with them,
we’ll look foolish! And so we are quiet.
We protect our pride at the cost of their souls.
In the name of not wanting to look weird,
we are content to be complicit in their being lost.”
- Mark Dever

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

December 27, 2011 (traditions)


We have taken this particular shot every year
(of our “kids”)
on Christmas morning for the last 30 or more years.

Traditions (including church traditions) are fine
as long as they do not interfer with,
or take priority over, glorifying God.

“When the church takes its mind and heart
away from Christ and His words,
human authority and tradition fills the vacuum.”
- R.C. Lucas

Monday, December 26, 2011

December 26, 2011 (under a tree)

under a tree

“He who has not Christmas in his heart
will never find it under a tree.”
- Roy L. Smith

Sunday, December 25, 2011

December 25, 2011 (a Savior is born)

“What are we to of make of
Jesus Christ? . . .
The real question is not what
we are to make of Christ,
but what is He to make of us?”
- C.S.Lewis

“The Son of God became a man to
enable men to become the sons of God.”
- C.S.Lewis

Saturday, December 24, 2011

December 24, 2011 (might forever live)

might forever live
photo by Lee Keefer
(trip to Haiti)

“Christ was all anguish that I might be all joy,
cast off that I might be brought in,
trodden down as an enemy
that I might be welcomed as a friend,
surrendered to hell's worst
that I might attain heaven's best,
stripped that I might be clothed,
wounded that I might be healed,
athirst that I might drink,
tormented that I might be comforted,
made a shame that I might inherit glory,
entered darkness that I might have eternal light.
My Savior wept that all tears
might be wiped from my eyes,
groaned that I might have endless song,
endured all pain
that I might have unfading health,
bore a thorned crown
that I might have a glory-diadem,
bowed his head that I might uplift mine,
experienced reproach
that I might receive welcome,
closed his eyes in death
that I might gaze on unclouded brightness,
expired that I might for ever live.”
- Author Unknown

Friday, December 23, 2011

December 23, 2011 (spiritual health)

spiritual health

“Every Christian would agree
that a man’s spiritual health
is exactly proportional to his love for God.”
- C.S. Lewis

“Deep roots are not reached by frost.”
- J.R.R. Tolkien

Thursday, December 22, 2011

December 22, 2011 (self-esteem)


“The wisdom of this world deceptively teaches
that believing in the inherent goodness
of one’s 'self' is foundational to a fulfilled life.
However, this erroneous viewpoint
overlooks the devastating results
of Adam and Eve’s failure to obey God.
Scripture teaches that a fulfilled life
is not dependent of having a 'good self-image'
or a 'higher self-esteem.'
Instead, fulfillment in living
depends on your relationship to God
and a biblical response to the problem of 'self.'”
- Biblical Counseling Foundation

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

December 21, 2011 (white as snow)

white as snow

“As a result of grace,
we have been saved from sin’s penalty.
One day we will be saved from sin’s presence.
In the meantime
we are being saved from sin’s power.”
- Alistair Begg

“Come now,
and let us reason together, says the Lord.
Though your sins are like scarlet,
they shall be as white as snow;
though they are red like crimson,
they shall be like wool.”
- Isaiah 1:18 AMP

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

December 20, 2011 (His highest worth)

His highest worth
photo by Lee Keefer
(trip to Haiti)

“My worth is what I am worth to God;
and that is a marvelous great deal,
for Christ died for me.
Thus, incidentally,
what gives to each of us His highest worth
gives the same worth to everyone;
in all that matters most are we equal.”
- William Temple

“God doesn’t love us because of our worth,
we are of worth because God loves us.”
- Martin Luther

Monday, December 19, 2011

December 19, 2011 (a whole lot more)

a whole lot more

“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

Sunday, December 18, 2011

December 18, 2011 (perspective)


“Where there is perhaps a province
in which the photograph can tell us
nothing more than what we see
with our own eyes,
there is another in which it proves to us
how little our eyes permit us to see.”
- Dorthea Lange

Saturday, December 17, 2011

December 17, 2011 (Love is the key)

Love is the golden key
that fits all locks!

Photo by Lee Keefer
(trip to Haiti)

“Many dull, unsusceptible ears,
when other charmers have
failed to charm, have been arrested
and won by the music of kindness.
By it . . .
old-age renews its youth,
sick pillows are smoothed,
burdens are eased,
tears are turned into smiles,
dirges are turned into songs.”
- John MacDuff

Show kindness and practice goodness.

“Cold words freeze people,
and hot words scorch them,
and bitter words make them bitter,
and wrathful words make them wrathful.
Kind words also produce their image on men’s souls;
and a beautiful image it is.
They smooth, and quiet, and comfort the hearer.”
- Blaise Pascal

Friday, December 16, 2011

December 16, 2011 (rewards of the simple life)

rewards of the simple life

“To find the universal elements enough;
to find the air and the water exhilarating;
to be refreshed by a morning walk
or an evening saunter …
to be thrilled by the stars at night;
to be elated over a bird’s nest
or a wildflower in spring -
these are some of the
rewards of the simple life.”
- John Burroughs

Thursday, December 15, 2011

December 15, 2011 (power of the Spirit)

power of the Spirit

“Believers are separated from the world
by the effectual working of the Holy Spirit.
The Spirit calls them out from the world,
and separates them as effectually
as if a wall were built between them and it.
He puts in them . . .
new hearts,
new minds,
new tastes,
new desires,
new sorrows,
new joys,
new wishes,
new pleasures,
new longings.

He gives them . . .
new eyes,
new ears,
new affections,
new opinions.

He makes them new creatures.
They are born again -
and with a new birth they begin a new existence.
Mighty indeed is the transforming
power of the Spirit!”
- J. C. Ryle

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

December 14, 2011 (Is it possible?)

Is it possible?

"'The Lord delights in you!' - Isaiah 62:4

Is it possible,
that such poor, depraved, unworthy creatures -
can be the objects of Jehovah's delight?

The infinite love of God
has been fixed upon us from eternity!
Because He loved us,
He sent His only-begotten Son to die for us!
He sent His Holy Spirit
into our hearts to regenerate us!

'You have loved them -
AS You have loved Me!' - John 17:23.
Yes, the Father has loved us -
just as He has loved Jesus -
with an infinite love!

Every believer, though...
his faith is weak,
his fears are many,
his corruptions are strong,
his troubles are great, and
his temptations are sore —
is the object of Jehovah's delight!

Let us therefore endeavor
to pass through this day,
yes, and every day -
believing and realizing:
'I am Jehovah's delight!
I am the object of His highest love!
I am the subject of His sweetest thoughts!
I am His portion for evermore!'

O incomparable privilege!

Wondrous source of comfort, holiness, and love!

You have more cause for gratitude than an angel!
- James Smith
1802 – 1862

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

December 13, 2011 (expectant hush)

expectant hush

“Let's approach Christmas with an expectant hush,
rather than a last-minute rush.”
- Anonymous

Monday, December 12, 2011

December 12, 2011 (not for just one day)

not for just one day

"Christmas is forever, not for just one day,
for loving, sharing, giving, are not to put away
like bells and lights and tinsel, in some box upon a shelf.
The good you do for others is good you do yourself..."
- Norman Wesley Brooks
"Let Every Day Be Christmas" 1976

Sunday, December 11, 2011

December 11, 2011 (feel the love)

feel the love

“Love is what’s in the room with you at Christmas
if you stop opening presents and listen.”
- attributed to a very wise
7-year-old named Bobby

Saturday, December 10, 2011

December 10, 2011 (protection)


Friends gave us the santa, sleigh,
snowman and reindeer as an
early Christmas gift.
In order to safely display this wonderful gift
(we have three very curious cats)
it was necessary to protect it.

In order for us to safely display
our faith in Jesus Christ
(as we should)
it is necessary to protect ourselves spiritually
with the armour of God.

“Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power.
Put on the full armor of God,
so that you can take your stand
against the devil’s schemes.
For our struggle is not against flesh and blood,
but against the rulers, against the authorities,
against the powers of this dark world
and against the spiritual forces of evil
in the heavenly realms.
Therefore put on the full armor of God,
so that when the day of evil comes,
you may be able to stand your ground,
and after you have done everything,
to stand. Stand firm then,
with the belt of truth buckled around your waist,
with the breastplate of righteousness in place,
and with your feet fitted
with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace.
In addition to all this,
take up the shield of faith,
with which you can extinguish
all the flaming arrows of the evil one.
Take the helmet of salvation
and the sword of the Spirit,
which is the word of God.
And pray in the Spirit on all occasions
with all kinds of prayers and requests.
With this in mind, be alert and always
keep on praying for all the Lord’s people.”
- Ephesians 6:10-18

Friday, December 9, 2011

December 09, 2011 (great is His faithfulness)

Great is Thy Faithfulness

“Nature is man's teacher.
She unfolds her treasures to his search,
unseals his eye, illumes his mind,
and purifies his heart;
an influence breathes from
all the sights and sounds of her existence.”
- Alfred Billings Street

“Summer and winter, and spring-time and harvest,
Sun, moon and stars in their courses above,
Join with all nature in manifold witness
To Thy great faithfulness, mercy and love.
Great is Thy faithfulness! Great is Thy faithfulness!
Morning by morning new mercies I see;
All I have needed Thy hand hath provided
Great is Thy faithfulness, Lord, unto me!”
- Thomas Chisolm
(2nd stanza of
Great is Thy Faithfulness”)

Thursday, December 8, 2011

December 08, 2011 (remain steadfast)

be steadfast in the Lord

The venerable oak is often
used as a symbol of strength.

We must remain steadfast in the Lord.

“People do not drift toward holiness.
Apart from grace-driven effort,
people do not gravitate toward godliness, prayer,
obedience to Scripture, faith, and delight in the Lord.
We drift toward compromise and call it tolerance;
we drift toward disobedience and call it freedom;
we drift toward superstition and call it faith.
We cherish the indiscipline of lost self-control
and call it relaxation;
we slouch toward prayerlessness
and delude ourselves into thinking
we have escaped legalism;
we slide toward godlessness
and convince ourselves
we have been liberated.”
- D.A. Carson

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

December 07, 2011 (How deep are your roots?)

How deep are your roots?

Deep enough to keep you
from falling completely?

“Have the roots [of your being]
firmly and deeply planted
[in Him, fixed and founded in Him],
being continually built up in Him,
becoming increasingly more confirmed
and established in the faith,
just as you were taught,
and abounding and overflowing in it
with thanksgiving.”
- Colossians 2:7 AMP

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

December 06, 2011 (supreme excellence)

supreme excellence

“In character, in manner, in style,
in all the things,
the supreme excellence is simplicity.”
- Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

Monday, December 5, 2011

December 05, 2011 (round to his best)

round to his best

"LORD, what I once had done with youthful might,
Had I been from the first true to the truth,
Grant me, now old, to do... with better sight,
And humbler heart, if not the brain of youth;
So wilt thou, in thy gentleness and truth,
Lead back thy old soul, by the path of pain,
Round to his best... young eyes and heart and brain."
- George MacDonald

Sunday, December 4, 2011

December 04, 2011 (It's a struggle.)

It's a struggle.
Photo by Patrick Frey

I struggle with sin and I struggle with doubt.
Do you too?

Then there is hope for growth.

To climb a mountain or to win a race
requires struggle... but if we prepare,
if we train, if we really desire,
if we are committed...
if we seek God's help and guidance...
and if we believe, obey, and trust in Him...
our struggles will make us strong
and we will be victorious.

“But those who wait for the Lord
[who expect, look for, and hope in Him]
shall change and renew their strength and power;
they shall lift their wings and mount up
[close to God] as eagles [mount up to the sun];
they shall run and not be weary,
they shall walk and not faint or become tired.”
- Isaiah 40:31 AMP

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Devember 03, 2011 (Why not let Him guide you?)

Why not let Him guide you?

“Children of God... will you not bear witness,
that, through all your trials and troubles,
the faithfulness of your Savior's love
has been the 'very joy of your hearts?'
You have had many crosses and losses –
has He ever deserted you?
You have been in severe afflictions,
and have seen the flowers
of many a 'sweet hope' wither and decay –
did your Friend desert you then?
Others may have proved faithless –
all other help may have failed you –
friendship’s help, promised help, expected help –
all, all may have been but
as the foam upon the billow,
as the footsteps in the sand –
but, has Christ ever failed you?
Could you, in the darkest and
the saddest hour of your grief,
say to Him? 'Lord,
You have promised what You did not perform.'
Will you not bear witness concerning the past? –
'Not one good thing has failed,
of all that the Lord has promised –
all has come to pass.'”
- John MacDuff

Friday, December 2, 2011

December 02, 2011 (what is it?)

what is it?

Some will recognize right away what this is...
some will think they know what it is...
and some will have no idea what this is.
But most will have an opinion based on what they see.

What about the people you see?
Have you formed an opinion about any of them?
No matter how many “facts”
you think you know about someone...
it may be based on a single incident
or many... something you have “found out”
just recently... or something you “know”
about someones past.

Do you know their heart?

“Whenever we assign people to condemnation
without mercy
because they do not do something
the way we think it ought to be done
or because we believe their motives are wrong,
we pass judgment that only God is qualified to make.”
- John MacArthur

“[My] brethren, do not speak evil
about or accuse one another.
He that maligns a brother
or judges his brother
is maligning and criticizing the Law
and judging the Law.
But if you judge the Law,
you are not a practicer of the Law
but a censor and judge [of it].

One only is the Lawgiver and Judge
Who is able to save and to destroy
[the One Who has the absolute power of life and death].
[But you] who are you that [you presume to]
pass judgment on your neighbor?"
- James 4:11,12 AMP

Thursday, December 1, 2011

December 01, 2011 (refined by fire)

refined by fire

“These have come so that your faith...
of greater worth than gold,
which perishes even though refined by fire...
may be proved genuine and may result in praise,
glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed.”
- 1 Peter 1:7 NIV