Friday, February 29, 2008

To Live Forward, Understand Backward

The one who calls you is faithful and He will do it. - 1 Thessalonians 5:24

This from Os Hillman's TGIF - Today God Is First:

When I was in my 20's, I participated in a wilderness training course in a desert and mountain area. For our "final exam," we were blindfolded, placed in the back of a pickup truck, and taken to a remote area. We were dropped off and told to meet back at the camp in three days. We did not know where we were. We had to determine our location with our compasses. It was a frightening experience for four young people who had learned to navigate through the use of a compass only a few days earlier. With our food and water on our backs, we began our trek. It had just snowed that morning, so the way was difficult. We walked through valleys, canyons, snow-covered hills, and forests. In all, we walked more than 60 miles in three days. There were times when we did not think we could go another foot. Exhaustion and frostbitten feet were taking their toll. However, we finally made it to our base camp successfully, and to our surprise, we were the first ones among the other patrols to make it back.

At the conclusion of our journey, we were able to stand on top of a ridge, look behind us and see the beautiful terrain that we had just scaled. The pain of what we had just endured seemed to subside. We could not believe we had actually walked through those valleys and snowcapped hills. There was a sense of accomplishment.

Life is very much like this. It is often lived forward, but understood backward. It is not until we are down the road a bit that we can appreciate the terrain God has allowed us to scale and the spiritual deposits He has made in our life as a result. When you begin to realize some of this, you sit back and breathe a sigh of relief because you know that God was in control all along. It didn't seem like it at the time, but He was.

Are you in the midst of a difficult journey that seems almost impossible to continue? Be assured that God is providing grace even now to equip you for that journey. There will be a time when you can say, "Wow, look at what God has done because of what I gained through that valley." Trust Him with the outcome of where you find yourself today.

In TGIF: Today God Is First, Os Hillman provides a scripture and commentary for each day of the year. The 365 meditations on the principles of Christ in the workplace wonderfully focus the readers attention on how God's way is to employ ordinary men and women leading ordinary lives to achieve extraordinary things and personally experience how even adverse situations can be doors to spiritual opportunity. Highly recommended reading, Hillman's commentaries are not just simple homilies, they are enduring messages of principles and testimony of how God has worked experientially in his own life -- and can work in yours. - Midwest Book Review

Thursday, February 28, 2008

What if Baghdad was a city of peace?

Unless the Lord watches over the city, the watchmen stand guard in vain. -Psalm 127:1

U.S. soldiers pray in a circle before leaving Camp Victory for their patrol mission on the streets of Baghdad. REUTERS/Nikola Solic (IRAQ)

This from Baghdad Prayer Patrol:

What if Baghdad were a city of peace? What if the impossible happened and it became a beacon of hope for the region? What if we prayed, and God answered, what could happen?

Did you know that Baghdad was once called Madinat Al- Salam, city of peace? Maybe that’s its God given destiny, maybe if we agree with God, we can change history.

Baghdad Prayer Patrol
What if Baghdad was a city of peace?

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Wisdom from the Psalms: Trust

Be not far from me; for trouble is near; for there is none to help. - Psalm 22:11

This from Dan R. Dick's Wisdom from the Psalms:

Sam stuck close to his older brother Ed. Some bullies had been bothering him, and so he felt wisdom the better part of valor; he dogged Ed's every step. Ed didn't mind. He kind of liked it. He liked knowing that his little brother trusted him and looked up to him. If it was protection Sam wanted, then protection he would have.
The Lord is never far from us. Once we put our trust in Him, He is true to protect and defend us. He loves us to put our faith and respect in Him. Though life may get stormy and rough, the Lord is there to calm the waters and get us through safely.

Dear Lord, be with me as I face the challenges of each new day. Protect me from those things that can harm me. Stay close to me, for I know of no great strength than Yours. Amen.

Testimonial: My mother recommended this book to me. Before I got this book I had good days and bad days but since I started reading this book every morning before the start of my day and it has made my days go great. Wisdom from the Psalms has helped me put things into perspective and inspires me to appreciate my life as it is. If you feel lost, lack inspiration, and need to feel better about your life this book is a must. It not only strengthens your spirit but it reaffirms even the shakiest bond with God. I have shared this book with a friend who is dealing with the passing of one of her children and it has made a world of a difference for her. You owe it to yourself to check this book out. - James C

Get Wisdom from the Psalms: Daily Thoughts and Meditations now!

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Murder in the Family - The Surviving Boy

Seems like not a day goes by these days when we don't hear about this kind of news. What a fallen world we live in. Please join me and others in prayer for all those affected by this horror, occuring just a few days ago...especially the surviving 14-year-old boy, Ian Mercado.

Community meeting attenders listen to stories of the children who were shot in Yorba Linda over the weekend at the Placentia-Yorba Linda Unified School District offices in Yorba Linda. (ROD VEAL/ORANGE COUNTY REGISTER)

This from the OC Register:

YORBA LINDA – A 14-year-old boy who survived one of the deadliest shootings in recent Orange County history steered detectives on Monday back to the home where five members of his family died over the weekend.

Police would not say what Ian Mercado told them during a "thorough" interview from his hospital bed. But the information prompted them to seek another search warrant and to renew their search for evidence at the family's condominium.

Police believe Ian’s father, Orland Cho, killed his wife, his two daughters and his younger son Saturday night before turning the gun on himself. "Everything points that way," Brea Lt. Jack Conklin said.


'Day by Day': Live Like Sheep

The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want. He makes me to lie down in green pastures; He leads me beside the still waters. - Psalms 23:1-2

This from Henry Blackaby's Day by Day:

Living like a sheep can bring you incredible peace of mind! The biblical shepherd knew everything about his sheep. He understood what foods were best for them and what would harm them. He knew when they should eat and when they needed their thirst quenched. The shepherd was an expert of the terrain and was aware of the best places for food and water. As long as the sheep trusted and followed their shepherd, they would always have their needs met at the right time. Their shepherd would give them the best that he had.

Do you have absolute trust in your Good Shepherd? Do you value the nourishment that comes from Him more than any you might obtain from the world? Do you ever worry that God might be withholding from you something that you need? The Psalmist was convinced that he would “want” for nothing. By His very nature, the Good Shepherd cares for His sheep and would lay down His life for them (John 10:11).

Have you allowed your focus to shift from the Shepherd to what the Shepherd gives you? If you find yourself “wanting,” it is not that your Shepherd is unable or unwilling to perfectly meet your needs. It may be that you lack the faith to receive all that He has to give. Could it be that you have become dissatisfied with what your Shepherd has been providing? Are you missing the joy that comes from having a Shepherd who cares for you? Return to Him and trust Him to meet the needs in your life that only He can.

Gold Medallion Award winner "Experiencing God Day-By-Day" is based on Henry Blackaby’s multi-million selling Experiencing God book and Bible study. Find insight and grace in this 365-day devotional focused on the divine presence in each life. This book will help you see what God has instore for you while sustaining the essential habit of turning to God on a daily basis.

Take a look at This Week's Top Devotionals

Monday, February 25, 2008

Top Devotionals

This week's picks for top devotionals include books by Henry Blackaby, Max Lucado, and Greg Laurie. These are some of the best Christian authors of our time. I highly recommend these books and think you will enjoy the different styles they offer - Blackaby for his visibly clear divine inspiration, Lucado for his perfection in simplicity, and Laurie for his casual but convicting messages.

You can't go wrong with picking up a copy of any of these books of daily guidance.

Gold Medallion Award winner "Experiencing God Day-By-Day" is based on Henry Blackaby’s multi-million selling Experiencing God book and Bible study. Find insight and grace in this 365-day devotional focused on the divine presence in each life. This book will help you see what God has instore for you while sustaining the essential habit of turning to God on a daily basis.


Though maintaining a consistent devotional life is not always easy, Max Lucado's best-selling Grace for the Moment, Volume 1 proved to 2,500,000 readers that they could have a daily quiet time! Now comes Grace for the Moment, Volume 2. This yearlong book features captivating daily devotionals that offer enough inspiration, power, and hope to carry you through the busiest of days. America's leading inspirational author again fills each day's reading with touching word pictures that offer guidelines for grace-filled living. Plus, striking full-color photos add to the beauty of this latest collection.

Grace for the Moment, Volume 2 is yet another great way to encourage anyone to celebrate daily time with God. All it takes is a moment. -


The Experience God Has for You Is Beyond Anything You Could Imagine...

In his down-to-earth style, Greg Laurie helps you reinforce your commitment to God and develop the habit of responding to His voice every day. Beyond: A Devotional guides you into Scripture reflection, prayer, and application with daily devotions that take only ten minutes a day. Discover a greater intensity and intimacy with God as your desire to trust and obey Him keeps growing. Are you ready to move beyond your present spiritual limitations?

Don’t let anything stop you from strengthening the most important relationship of your life. Drawing closer to God starts right here–with warm, clear, Bible-based devotionals on the core issues of your faith.

You have won!

This is the victory that conquers the world — our faith. - I John 5:4

This from Max Lucado's Grace for the Moment, Vol. 2:

What is unique about the kingdom of God is that you are assured of victory. You have won! You are assured that you will someday stand before the face of God and see the King of kings. You are assured that someday you will enter a world where there will be no more pain, no more tears, no more sorrow.

If you have no faith in the future, then you have no power in the present. If you have no faith in life beyond this life, then your present life is going to be powerless. But if you believe in the future and are assured of victory, then there should be a dance in your step and a smile on your face.


Max Lucado has touched millions with his signature storytelling writing style. Awards and accolades follow Max with each book he writes. Max is the first author to win the Gold Medallion Christian Book of the Year three times—1999 for "Just Like Jesus," 1997 for "In the Grip of Grace" and 1995 for "When God Whispers Your Name."

Max Lucado is a fixture on the national bestseller lists – a Max Lucado title has appeared on the CBA hardcover bestseller list every month for the past dozen years. He has appeared on the Publishers Weekly, USA Today and New York Times bestseller lists. He has won eight ECPA Gold Medallion awards. -

Go to Max Lucado's Book Selection at Amazon to order now!

Saturday, February 23, 2008

The Right Direction

It is this Good News that saves you... that Christ died for our sins just as the scriptures said He would, and that He was buried, and three days afterwards He arose from the grave. - 1 Corinthians 15:2-4 (LB)

After church shopping for a few months, trying to find a place I could hang out at for awhile, I landed at Saddleback Church in Lake Forest, California. I liked the contemporary Christian music and the overall buzz of the place.

After a few weeks of attending, I was standing in the church's plaza area in between the worship center and the information tables, and saw a banner I could not ignore: "Celebrate Recovery". I figured, "Hey, I've been in Alcoholics Anonymous for a couple years, maybe I should hang out by that sign draped over the table."

There was no one else by that Celebrate Recovery information table except for a man named John, who was behind it. After what must have been less than a half a minute, John asked me this question, "Do you know Jesus?" I had been asked the same question a few times before, but for the first time in my life I answered honestly. "I don't know," I said. Then he asked me if I would like to say a prayer with him and I accepted the invitation. We went behind the table, he asked me a few questions and we prayed. I have never been the same since and I know in my heart that if I continue to follow Jesus, I am headed in the right direction.

What were the questions?

Do you believe Jesus died on the cross for you and showed He was God by coming back to life? 1 Corinthians 15:2-4 (LB) (above)

Do you accept God's free forgiveness for your sins? Romans 3:22 (LB) Now God says He will accept and acquit us -- declare us "not guilty" -- if we trust Christ to take away our sins. And we all can be saved in this same way, by coming to Christ, no matter who we are or what we have been like.

Do you want to switch to God's plan for your life? Mark 1:15 (LB) Turn from you sins and act on this glorious news! Romans 12:2 (Ph) Don't let the world squeeze you into its own mold, but let God remake you so that your whole attitude of mind is changed.

Do you want to express your desire for Christ to be the director of your life? Romans 10:19 (NIV) If you confess with your lips, "Jesus is Lord", and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved.

What was the prayer?

Dear God, I believe you sent your son, Jesus, to die for my sins so that I can be forgiven. I'm sorry for my sins and I want to live the rest of my life the way you want me to. Please put your Spirit in my life to direct me. Amen.


If you said the above prayer right now, I recommend finding a good Bible-teaching church to help you in your walk. Also, get a Bible! It's God's love letter to you! You can order the New Believer's Bible right now by clicking on the image or link. If not, be sure to get your hands on one any way you can!

Love in Christ,

Friday, February 22, 2008

The Greatest Test

I know, my God, that You test the heart and are pleased with integrity. - 1 Chronicles 29:17

This from Os Hillman's Today God Is First:

God tests His children to know what is in their hearts. God's desire for each of His children is to walk in relationship with Him, to uphold His righteousness and integrity. It is a high calling that we will fail to achieve without complete dependence on Him.

The greatest tests come not in great adversities, but in great prosperity. For it is in prosperity that we begin to lose the sensitivity to sin in our lives. Adversity motivates us to righteousness out of a desire to see our adversity changed. Prosperity fails to provide this motivation for obedience. We fall into a satisfaction and confidence in life that is based on our prosperity rather than on God.

Hezekiah was a great godly king. He was a faithful, God-honoring king most of his life, but toward the end he became proud. God wanted to find out if he would still honor Him and recognize His blessings in his life. He failed the test when God sent an envoy to his palace to inquire about a miracle that God performed on behalf of Hezekiah. The test was designed to find out if Hezekiah would publicly acknowledge the miracle performed on his behalf.

But when envoys were sent by the rulers of Babylon to ask him about the miraculous sign that had occurred in the land, God left him to test him and to know everything that was in his heart (2 Chronicle 32:31).

Hezekiah's failure resulted in his children failing to carry on as rulers of Israel, and the nation would eventually be taken over by Babylon.

The lesson of Hezekiah is clear. If we are to remain faithful to our Lord, we must remain steadfast in our obedience to Him. Prosperity can be our greatest test. Ask the Lord to give you the grace to be a faithful follower during times of prosperity.

In TGIF: Today God Is First, Os Hillman provides a scripture and commentary for each day of the year. The 365 meditations on the principles of Christ in the workplace wonderfully focus the readers attention on how God's way is to employ ordinary men and women leading ordinary lives to achieve extraordinary things and personally experience how even adverse situations can be doors to spiritual opportunity. Highly recommended reading, Hillman's commentaries are not just simple homilies, they are enduring messages of principles and testimony of how God has worked experientially in his own life -- and can work in yours. - Midwest Book Review

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Will We Live Forever?

These perishable bodies of ours are not able to live forever. But let me tell you a wonderful secret God has revealed to us. Not all of us will die, but we will all be transformed. — 1 Corinthians 15:50,51

This from Today's Devotion With Greg Laurie:

Historian Will Durant, when he reached the age of 70, said, "To live forever would be the greatest curse imaginable."

Will we live forever? The answer is "yes" and "no." Will our bodies live forever? No. Will our bodies cease to exist at one point? Absolutely. But the soul is immortal. Each one of us has a soul. It is the soul that gives each of us uniqueness and personality. That part of us will live forever.

Today, many people are searching for immortality, that elusive fountain of youth. Sometimes, it is hard for us to accept the fact that life is passing and death is approaching. One day, you will wake up and realize you have more life behind you than you have in front of you. But the question we should be asking is not, "Can I find immortality?" Rather, it should be, "Where will I spend my immortality?"

If you have put your faith in Jesus Christ and have asked Him to forgive you of your sin, the Bible teaches that you will go immediately into the presence of God in heaven when you die. That is God's promise to you.

But God not only promises life beyond the grave. He also promises life during life, not just an existence, but a life that is worth living. Jesus said, "My purpose is to give life in all its fullness" (John 10:10).

That is the hope and promise for all Christians. That is why the believer does not have to be afraid to die. Or afraid to live.

Featured Book By Greg Laurie

Beyond: A Devotional

The Experience God Has for You Is Beyond Anything You Could Imagine...

Don’t let anything stop you from strengthening the most important relationship of your life. Drawing closer to God starts right here–with warm, clear, Bible-based devotionals on the core issues of your faith.

In his down-to-earth style, Greg Laurie helps you reinforce your commitment to God and develop the habit of responding to His voice every day. Beyond: A Devotional guides you into Scripture reflection, prayer, and application with daily devotions that take only ten minutes a day. Discover a greater intensity and intimacy with God as your desire to trust and obey Him keeps growing. Are you ready to move beyond your present spiritual limitations?

Open this book to stretch your spiritual muscles…and go deeper, further, and higher in your relationship with God. (

“Greg Laurie is not only a personal friend, but is one of the great communicators of the gospel of Jesus Christ in our generation. I highly recommend him.”
–Billy Graham

Monday, February 18, 2008

The Power of Family

God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them. - Genesis 1:27

This from Dennis and Barbara Rainey's Moments With You:

I believe there is nothing more powerful on Earth than family. It is the single most influential force for good (or for evil) in all human existence.

From birth, it marks you. Your family crafts your conscience and shapes your soul. At home you learn life’s lessons and begin the art of practicing them. At home you learn to love and to do what’s right. More than merely giving you a street address, your home and family imprint you with a spiritual and sexual identity shaped by the two people who gave you life. Truly, nothing
compares to the strength of being tightly wrapped in the protective fiber of family. It’s who you are. It’s where you belong.

And if all goes well—as it should—it is your family that surrounds you when you start life’s journey, when you face life’s hardest trials, when you go through the valleys and when you die. More than anyone else, the members of your family are the ones who are there for you, caring for you and mourning the loss of you when you’re gone.

This should come as no surprise, because God created the family. At the very dawn of time, “God created man in His own image, . . . male and female He created them.” Of all the ways He could have chosen to inaugurate His creation, He chose to start with family. In fact, the Bible begins with a marriage in Genesis and ends with a marriage in Revelation. Marriage and family have always been central to what God is doing on planet Earth.

I believe family is still of utmost importance to our heavenly Father. It holds the key to our health, our success as a society, and our future. And I believe it is worth whatever effort is required to nurture, encourage and support it.

Why not celebrate the family God has given you today?

Book Description (
What is the true secret to spiritual growth for couples? Dennis and Barbara Rainey know from experience that the secret is more moments together. When you are lifting up your relationship and the rest of your life together to God, you won t be able to keep the spiritual growth from happening. In the pages of Moments With You: 365-Day Devotional, the Raineys offer just what couples need to get started or to continue growing in their quiet times together. These short but poignant biblical devotions are enjoyable and easy to use, providing a daily discussion point, prayer and Scripture reference. Married couples desiring a deeper spiritual connection with God and their spouse will come to treasure their time spent over Moments With You. For married couples of all ages and at all stages of life.

About the Author
Dennis Rainey is the executive director and cofounder of FamilyLife, a division of Campus Crusade for Christ. Dennis and his wife, Barbara, have spoken at FamilyLife conferences across the United States and around the world. Dennis serves as the daily host of the radio program FamilyLife Today, where Barbara is a frequent guest. Dennis and Barbara have written several books. Both agree that their proudest achievement is their six children (with three more woven in through marriage) and two grandchildren.

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Love Letter by the Sea

He brought me to the banqueting house, and His banner over me was love. - Song of Solomon 2:4

Before coming to know the Lord, I often sought comfort in my favorite piece of the Pacific Ocean. In Laguna Beach, California, there are benches on a winding boardwalk facing the sea and nestled in between the hills and the sand. World travelers often call it the most beautiful spot they've ever visited.

Although I wasn't consciously seeking God, I would sometimes sit on a bench, stare out at the ocean and surroundings, and seek answers about my life. One late afternoon, I sat there alone when a young man sitting on a bench a few feet away greeted me and asked how I was doing.

"I don't know why I'm talking to you, but I feel led to," he said. I cautiously exchanged a few words and listened. "Do you know Jesus?" he asked. "Yes, I do," I answered. However, I only said that in an attempt to keep him quiet. By now, I was afraid he was going to "invade my space," as once was popular to say.

He didn't stay quiet. Instead, he said, "Did you know that the Bible is God's love letter to you?" I was ready to get up and walk away. He must have known that I didn't really "know Jesus." I answered by saying, "Oh, really?" as I began to leave. The conversation was over.

The Bible is God's love letter to me? I thought about the man's statement for a little bit and then filed it away in my brain. It wasn't until years later that I knew exactly what he meant. A seed had been planted.

Alexander is a writer in the online spiritual battlefield. You can also find him at The Scrooge Report.

Friday, February 15, 2008

Add DeKalb

Why is it that when tragedy strikes close to home we often look to God so much quicker and more intently than ever before? Thank you ThirstyJon for giving us this snapshot of your life, DeKalb, Illinois, and a call for prayer after yet another campus shooting -- this time at Northern Illinois University. Northern Illinois University makeshift memorial

Trouble in DeKalb

This from The Thirst for Freedom blog:

I was born in DeKalb, Illinois and grew up in Sycamore - the neighboring town. We ate lots of corn in the summer where I lived. I worked for the DeKalb Ag in the Corn Fields “de-tassling” corn when I was in Junior High...

...My wife and I were driving along an Australian Freeway between Mt Gambier and Adelaide with a group of fun young people when we got a call from a friend back in Illinois. A mad-man has shot up the campus at NIU. Just hours ago. The police were there in less than a minute (I am not surprised by their quick response!). People have died. The university whose political science program had helped produce liberal blogger Markos Moulitsas ZĂșniga, and helped produce missions author Ruth A. Tucker, and even had a small part in indirectly influencing the relatively unknown Founder and Chief (only) blogger of (ThirstyJon!) has been attacked! The city where I (and Cindy Crawford) was born has been added to the growing list of towns that have faced this kind of disastrous violence...

...Then for a brief moment I wept. The world is a crazy place...

...We need to produce a generation that sees the world through God’s eyes as best they can.

Banning guns won’t work. A generation of heroes will.

Join me in prayer for the families of the victims at Northern Illinois University and the grieving town of DeKalb, Illinois.

Then join me Seeking the Kingdom of God on Earth, as Jesus commanded us to do when he taught us how to pray:

“Your Kingdom Come, Your Will Be Done, On Earth As It Is In Heaven.”

Read full post at Trouble in DeKalb

A Few Good Men

All those who were in distress or in debt or discontented gathered around him, and he became their leader. About four hundred men were with him. - 1 Samuel 22:2

This from Os Hillman's Today God Is First:

Have you ever felt that you could accomplish a whole lot more if you had more talented people around you? Perhaps you are in an office and think that some of your fellow workers don't quite measure up. Imagine what David must have thought in the years following his anointing by the prophet Samuel as the next king of Israel. He spent the next many years running from King Saul. Now God was beginning to bring men to support David. But what kind of men? The down-and-out. God gave David not the elite or the sophisticated; He gave him those who were in debt and discontented with life. David turned those men into the best fighting men of their day. In fact, David never lost a battle during his entire reign as king of Israel-quite a feat for a bunch of no-name, lowlifes! Some of those men became an elite group known as David's Mighty Men. These were the elite of the elite, the Navy Seals, the Few Good Men, the Green Berets. Whatever you call them, they were exceptional warriors.

Jesus took a few men who weren't exactly the cream of the crop either. He built His life into these men, which resulted in 12 men who turned the world upside down. Are you one of God's mighty men or women? Are you investing your life to build other mighty men or women? David and Jesus set the example of what can be done when we invest in others. God does extraordinary things through men who have an extraordinary God. Ask God to use your life to be a mighty man or woman for a cause greater than yourself. He delights in such prayers.

In TGIF: Today God Is First, Os Hillman provides a scripture and commentary for each day of the year. The 365 meditations on the principles of Christ in the workplace wonderfully focus the readers attention on how God's way is to employ ordinary men and women leading ordinary lives to achieve extraordinary things and personally experience how even adverse situations can be doors to spiritual opportunity. Highly recommended reading, Hillman's commentaries are not just simple homilies, they are enduring messages of principles and testimony of how God has worked experientially in his own life -- and can work in yours. - Midwest Book Review

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Unconditional Love

Bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. - 1 Corinthians 13:7

This from Henry Blackaby's Day by Day:

Love has no limits. Love never says, “You’ve gone too far. I can’t love you now.” “All things” means everything is included. Christlike love leaves no doubt in the mind of another that you will continue to love steadfastly. Do those close to you know that they can fail and do foolish things, yet you will not falter in your love for them? Are others assured that, even when they hurt you, you still love them, holding nothing against them?

Love assumes the best about others. If someone inadvertently offends you, you choose to believe the offense was unintentional. If someone seeks to harm you, you “bear all things,” forgiving unconditionally. If a positive light can be shed on a difficult encounter, you grasp it. If someone continually provokes you, you “endure all things.” You never lose hope in the ones you love. You practice the same unconditional love toward others that Christ gives to you.

Paul said that he was nothing if he had the faith to move mountains, the tongue of an angel, and the gift of prophecy to understand all mysteries, yet did not have God’s love. It is unacceptable to say, “Well, I just can’t love people that way!” When God loves people through you, this is the only kind of love He has! Read 1 Corinthians 13 with gratitude that God has already expressed this complete and selfless love to you. Pray and ask Him to express it through you now, to others.

Much of the ministry of Dr. Henry T. Blackaby flourished with the publication of his book Experiencing God: Knowing and Doing the Will of God. Seeking God in the matter which Blackaby spells out in his book has helped propel life-changing events for a countless number of people.


Find Books About Love - Click Here!

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

The Reason for God...and a Pastor in NY City

Before the release of Keller's first book this week, Newsweek publishes a story on the New York pastor and his flock fitting right at home inside Manhattan

Always fun to check in on how the secular media is reporting on Christianity. Sometimes all wrong, sometimes all right, but always keeping us guessing as to whether a bias or two, or three will show up or not. Pastor Tim Keller

I like this story on a New York pastor with a growing number of followers. There's something about the concrete canyons of NY city juxtaposed with the Holy Spirit moving through men and women. What a great God we have!

This from Newsweek:

The Smart Shepherd
A New York pastor who says he thinks too much wants to bring his Christian message to the world.


Place: New York City. Time: 9 o'clock on a Sunday morning. It's fair to say that many, if not most, of the inhabitants of Manhattan —mostly single, professional, well educated and young—are sleeping it off somewhere. Half of America has roused itself by now and is heading off to church, but in the city that never sleeps, the Sabbath is a time for slumber.

There's an exception. On a sun-splashed corner near Central Park a churchlike building is filled to the rafters with Christian worshipers. By 9:15, the room is at capacity. By 9:20, even the balcony is full. There's nothing sexy here. There's no rock band, no drop-down theater-size video screen, no 100-member gospel choir—just a few chamber musicians and a couple of prayer leaders to help the congregation along in its hymns. The crowd at Redeemer Presbyterian is overwhelmingly young, single, professional and—for lack of a better word—sober.

Don't let your mind drift, or you will miss the main attraction. At 9:40, the voice you hear reading from the Scriptures changes suddenly; it becomes deeper, more authoritative and coarser, with traces of Pennsylvania and Georgia in the vowels. Look up. The callow junior minister has disappeared. Standing at the microphone is a man more than six feet tall with a shiny bald head and wire-rim spectacles, looking more like a college professor than a megachurch pastor. This is the Rev. Tim Keller, a Manhattan institution, one of those open urban secrets, like your favorite dim sum place, with a following so ardent and so fast-growing that he has never thought to advertise. He rarely speaks to the press.

His reticence, though, is about to belong to the past. With the publication this week of his first book, "The Reason for God," Keller, who is 57, is in the midst of a dramatic change in direction...

Full Story

Photo: Rev. Tim Keller (Newsweek)


Book Description (

The End of Faith. The God Delusion. God Is Not Great. Letter to a Christian Nation. Bestseller lists are filled with doubters. But what happens when you actually doubt your doubts?

Although a vocal minority continues to attack the Christian faith, for most Americans, faith is a large part of their lives: 86 percent of Americans refer to themselves as religious, and 75 percent of all Americans consider themselves Christians. So how should they respond to these passionate, learned, and persuasive books that promote science and secularism over religion and faith? For years, Tim Keller has compiled a list of the most frequently voiced “doubts” skeptics bring to his Manhattan church. And in The Reason for God: Belief in an Age of Skepticism, he single-handedly dismantles each of them.

Written with atheists, agnostics, and skeptics in mind, Keller also provides an intelligent platform on which true believers can stand their ground when bombarded by the backlash. The The Reason for God challenges such ideology at its core and points to the true path and purpose of Christianity.

About the Author

As the founding pastor of Redeemer Presbyterian Church in New York City, Tim Keller started his congregation with a few dozen people. It now draws over five thousand weekly attendees who meet in three Manhattan locations. Redeemer has since spawned a movement of churches across America and throughout major world cities. Many pastors model their churches on Redeemer and Tim’s thoughtful style of preaching.

When the Fun is Over

Having lost all sensitivity, they have given themselves over to sensuality so as to indulge in every kind of impurity, with a continual lust for more. - Ephesians 4:19

For most of my life I had not thought about God. My Russian-born parents had taken me to Russian Orthodox Sunday school in Los Angeles when I was a child. For a few elementary school grades I went to a Catholic school. However, as near as I can tell, sitting in those classrooms, the church, and the pews, never brought me closer to God. At least I was not aware of Him.

You see, I was on a mission to have fun in life and that was my number one priority. I put God not just in the backseat of my life or even the trunk, but probably somewhere out on the curb.

I look back on those years through childhood, teenage, young adult, and thirty-something and cringe. How could I have been so lost?

I did have fun, but I paid the price. Emotional instability, insecurity, lack of responsibility, and other manifestations held me back in many areas of my life. While I lived in the real world -- somewhat functioning while pursuing more and more pleasure -- I had grown older without facing reality for much too long.

Was God real? I don't even recall asking the question. It wasn't until the fun was running out and my fear, anxiety, and real life problems kicked in that I began looking... and God began appearing.

By the grace of God, I became aware that I could have a relationship with Him... and it was and is the most comforting.

Yes, everything else is worthless when compared with the priceless gain of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. I have discarded everything else, counting it all as garbage, so that I may have Christ. - Philippians 3:8

Alexander is a writer in the online spiritual battlefield. You can also find him at The Scrooge Report.

Monday, February 11, 2008

The Case for Christ: the Film

Let me ask you this. What if the story of Jesus Christ was picked apart by one of the best crime reporters in the nation? What if that investigative reporter was an atheist who set out to prove Jesus was a myth? And what if that reporter wrote a story about Jesus that was the truth?

You don't have to ponder the questions any longer. It all happened...and the information first became a book, The Case for Christ, and now is a movie available on DVD.

I met Strobel when he was an associate pastor at Saddleback Church in Lake Forest, Calif. He was a great encourager and a big part of my own spiritual journey. I share this post because it was exciting news for me eight years ago and it is still exciting today!

From Lee Strobel's website bio:

Lee Strobel is an atheist-turned-Christian—once an awardwinning legal editor of The Chicago Tribune, now a New York Times bestselling author of nearly 20 books.

Education and Conversion
Lee was educated at the University of Missouri (Bachelor of Journalism, 1974) and Yale Law School (Master of Studies in Law, 1979). In his 14 years’ writing for The Chicago Tribune and other newspapers, he won Illinois' top honors for investigative reporting (which he shared with a team he led) and public service journalism from United Press International.

After nearly two years of investigating evidence of Jesus’ claims, in 1981, Lee became a Christian. He joined the staff of Willow Creek Community Church in South Barrington IL in 1987 and later became a teaching pastor there. In 2000, he joined Saddleback Valley Community Church in Lake Forest CA as a teaching pastor. In mid 2002, he left Saddleback to focus on writing, and he is also a contributing editor and columnist for Outreach magazine.

Works and Appearances
Lee's other books include God's Outrageous Claims, The Case for Christmas, The Case for Easter, What Jesus Would Say, Exploring the Da Vinci Code (co-authored with Garry Poole) and Surviving a Spiritual Mismatch in Marriage, which he wrote with his wife, Leslie. For two seasons, Lee was executive producer and host of the weekly national network television program Faith Under Fire.

Lee is also co-author of the Becoming a Contagious Christian training curriculum, used around the world; his articles have been published in magazines such as Discipleship Journal, Marriage Partnership, The Christian Research Journal, Guideposts, and Decision. He has appeared on national radio programs such as The Bible Answer Man and Focus on the Family; he also has taught First Amendment law at Roosevelt University.
The Case for Christ DVD Press Release:


The Case for Christ, a riveting quest for the truth about history’s most compelling figure, features New York Times bestselling author Lee Strobel. The Case for Christ inaugurates a new film series based on Strobel’s bestselling, Gold Medallion-winning book of the same name.

With the drama of an investigative journalist on a tense lead, and drawing on his experience as a reporter for the Chicago Tribune, Strobel interviews experts from science, philosophy, and history. Then, retracing his own spiritual journey, Strobel cross examines the experts: How reliable is the New Testament? Does evidence exist for Jesus outside the Bible? Is there any reason to believe the resurrection was an actual historical event?

The Case for Christ: The Film includes more than an hour of bonus materials: multiple featurettes, musical excerpts, and a collection of study resources complementing the film’s material. Provocative and smart, this unusual DVD stands to transform your views on the past, and the future.


• “The Uniqueness of Jesus” – scholars discuss why the life, claims, and teachings of Jesus of Nazareth are the most unique and important in history.
• “Faith Stories” – scholars and theologians featured in The Case for Christ: The Film iscuss their personal faith and ministries.
• “Prophecies of the Passion” – examines the Gospel accounts of Jesus’ death throughout the words of the Old Testament prophets describing details of Christ’s trial, crucifixion, and burial centuries before they occurred.
• Music from The Case for Christ: The Film – excerpts from the digitally mastered soundtrack of the original music score by Mark Edward Lewis
• Reference Library – for interested viewers, a collection of study resources (books and web sites) augmenting material covered in the documentary.
• The Case for the Real Jesus – an introduction to Lee Strobel’s new book
• Lee Strobel Resources – a collection from the works of Lee Strobel.

To purchase the DVD go to Lee Strobel's The Case for Christ DVD at

Real Love

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. - 1 Corinthians 13:4-5

This from Phil Ware's Heartlight devotionals:

Love does not focus on me, but on others. Each of these qualities of love is based upon an affectionate, compassionate, and forgiving attitude that regards others of value and not just self. No wonder the old saying goes "The middle of sIn is a big I!"

My prayer:

Dear Lord, please teach us how to love like you do. We often feel so weak and inadequate. We hurt when we think others might not be showing love to us, but what really matters is our love for them and others.

Please help us develop a love relationship with you, Lord, so that we may show that love to others. We thank you for the love you've shown us in so many ways, but mainly in the way of giving us your son to die on the cross for us. It is a love we can not understand, but must accept to receive an eternal life with you. Thank you for your sacrificial love. In Jesus name...Amen.

Phil Ware is the senior minister at Southern Hills Church of Christ in Abilene, Texas. He also teaches bible courses at Abilene Christian University. What Jesus Did is a one-year devotional guide to the Gospel of John, using one short passage each day and following the Gospel in consecutive order. Each passage is followed by a reflection and a prayer. The reflection opens up the day's Scripture and shows how it challenges us to live for Jesus.

Friday, February 8, 2008

Before Anxiety Meds

Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus. - Philippians 4:6-7

This from Henry Blackaby's Day by Day:

Don’t be anxious! Paul said there is nothing that should cause a child of God to worry. He was well aware of things that cause anxiety. His nation was occupied by a foreign army and ruled by corrupt leaders. He was writing from prison, where he was being held as a result of false accusations. He was separated from those he loved; his motives had been questioned, and he had been misrepresented. Some were trying to undermine all that he had accomplished in starting churches. He suffered physically and faced imminent execution (2 Cor. 11:23–29). Yet Paul said there would never be a crisis so troubling that God could not bring peace in the midst of it!

God will not necessarily take your problems away, but He will carry the load for you. He wants you to experience His peace, which is beyond human comprehension. You will never fully understand how God could give you peace in some of the situations you face, but you do not have to understand it in order to experience it. This peace is not just for those who “handle stress well”; it is for everyone! You may know that God wants you to experience peace but wonder how this is possible, given what you are presently facing. Yet, Scripture says to be anxious for nothing. God’s word clearly indicates that there is nothing you can face that is too difficult, too troubling, or too fearful for God. No matter what your circumstances are, turn your anxiety over to God and let His perfect peace guard your heart.!

Much of the ministry of Dr. Henry T. Blackaby flourished with the publication of his book Experiencing God: Knowing and Doing the Will of God. Seeking God in the matter which Blackaby spells out in his book has helped propel life-changing events for a countless number of people.

Thursday, February 7, 2008

Not Ashamed of the Gospel, Not Ashamed of the One I Love

For I am not ashamed of this Good News about Christ. It is the power of God at work, saving everyone who believes—Jews first and also Gentiles. - Romans 1:16

This from Greg Laurie's Harvest Daily Devotion:

In his book, The Devaluing of America, former Secretary of Education William Bennett made this statement. "During my tenure as U. S. Secretary of Education, nothing I said seemed more unforgivable than my good words about religion. I was attacked as an Ayatollah when I supported voluntary school prayer and the posting of the Ten Commandments in school."

His experience is so typical of our culture today. You can say anything. You can believe anything. But if you stand up and say there are absolutes, if you say there is right and wrong and the Bible says so, then you are accused of hurting our society. You are the worst possible thing that could happen to our culture. Ironically, the very problems that are the result of society's rejection of God are then placed at the feet of the Christian, as though the Christian has brought these troubles on our culture.

But this is not the first time in history that Christians have become scapegoats for the ills of a culture. Christians were blamed for the burning of Rome when it was Caesar Nero who was largely responsible for its destruction.

We live in a time when people are standing up for all sorts of causes. We have people standing up for the rights of animals. We have people standing up for the environment. We have people standing up for perverse sexual lifestyles. We have people standing up for everything imaginable, even willing to die for their cause.

Isn't it time that we, as Christians, stand up for what we believe? It's time to stand up and be counted.

The Gospel of John can be challenging reading, but in the hands of pastor Greg Laurie, it's the perfect material for daily devotional reflections. In the same accessible style that has made him a popular pastor, speaker, and television and radio host, Laurie shares stories and images of Jesus from the Gospel of John woven with additional Scriptures and anecdotes. The result is a ninety-day devotional that offers biblical substance and theological depth presented in clear, engaging language. Readers looking for devotional reading centered on Jesus will enjoy Laurie's blend of important spiritual substance and accessible narrative style. -
I'm Not Ashamed
by Delirious? from Cutting Edge album

There was a time as a little boy
When I said I'd follow you
But the years have caused the flame
To burn much stronger now
And I'm not burning down any of my bridges
But I'm burning up inside
To flee from my religion and love my
neighbour more

I'm not ashamed of the gospel
I'm not ashamed of the one I love
I'm not ashamed of the gospel
I'm not ashamed of the one I love

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Sin Entangles Our Lives

Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us. Hebrews 12:1

This from Henry Blackby's Day by Day:

Sin is our most persistent, determined, and pernicious enemy. Sin seeks to rob us of every good thing God has designed for us. Paul tells us that sin brings death (Rom. 7:11). Yet it is very subtle. Sin creeps into our lives when and where we least expect it. It packages itself so attractively that we are lulled into thinking that it cannot really harm us (2 Cor. 11:14–15).

Sin stealthily and relentlessly entangles our lives. We will never be able to run the race marked out for us as long as we are entrapped in sin. We free ourselves from sin only if we recognize it for what it is. If we call sin a “mistake,” a “bad habit,” or a “weakness,” we will never escape its grasp. We must not blame our sins on others. We must not allow pride to convince us it is too humiliating to admit the sin in our lives. Sin can blind us to its presence. It does not always command our attention but rather, it subtly and pervasively robs us of the spiritual power and victory that could be ours. The good news is that there is no extent to which sin can entangle us that God’s grace does not abound still more to free us (Rom. 5:20).

Has sin robbed your joy? Has it prevented you from being the best husband, wife, son, daughter, or friend you could be? Is it keeping you from spiritual maturity? If you have become entangled with sin, God can release you immediately, no matter how desperately entangled you may have become!

Much of the ministry of Dr. Henry T. Blackaby flourished with the publication of his book Experiencing God: Knowing and Doing the Will of God. Seeking God in the matter which Blackaby spells out in his book has helped propel life-changing events for a countless number of people.

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Your Words Can Give Life

The tongue has the power of life and death, and those who love it will eat its fruit. - Proverbs 18:21 NIV

Often, we take words so casually, tossing them around with such disregard. However, as Jon Walker, author of "The Purpose Driven Life Daily Devotionals" writes:

We can speak death with our words, or we can speak life.

Walker's devotional continues about the "killing" capabilities of words:

Perhaps you’ve been on the other side of the killing kind of messages: “You’re not smart enough. You’re not thin enough. You’re not fast enough. You’re not good enough. A real Christian wouldn’t think such a thing.”

In a world where people are beat up and put down, God gives you superhero power to punch through the negativity. You speak life to others when you say: “You matter to me. I like you just the way you are. You’re human, anyone could think that. Your life counts. You were created for a purpose. God loves you, and you’re incredibly valuable to him.”

Your words may be the only encouraging thing some people hear in a day, or a week, or a month. You – yes, you – can become the voice of God’s grace in the lives of others, supporting, loving, helping, and encouraging with the words that flow from your mouth. (Romans 14:19b)

In the New Testament, the word ‘encouragement’ often means “to come alongside.” We’re to come alongside one another, “building each other up,” just as the Holy Encourager comes alongside us to teach us and remind us of the way of Jesus. (John 14:26)

We become encouragers when we stop looking down and start looking up (Colossians 3:2) – the need and opportunity for encouragement is everywhere. “Each one of us needs to look after the good of the people around us,” (Romans 15:2a MSG) and this “will build them up.” (Romans 15:2b NLT)

So, how about it? Will you become today a consistent source of encouragement to those around you? It’s a choice on your part. You can lift a person’s spirit, change the atmosphere of your office, or lighten the burden of someone in your small group. The Bible says we should “look for the best in each other, and always do your best to bring it out.” (1 Thessalonians 5:15b MSG)

My suggestion? Get personal. Start with a smile...that's a way of speaking, too. Smile encouragingly to someone working hard...even if it's someone you don't know. Or as Walker writes:

Commit to encouragement – Make a choice to build up the people around you. Fill your conversations with phrases like: “I believe in you,” “I’m grateful for you,” “I see God using you,” “I appreciate you,” and “I’m glad you’re in my life.” The Bible says we should “encourage one another and build each other up.” (1 Thessalonians 5:11 NIV)

Value others – An encourager works hard at bringing the best out in others. Value people by understanding they are valuable to God. He encourages you in spite of the failings in your past; he believes in you in spite of those annoying, little things you excuse in yourself but criticize in others. J (Quite honestly, this thought compels me to give grace to others.)

Be encouraged – Encourage yourself, for “there is good news of great joy for all people, and his name is Christ the Lord.” (Luke 2:8-10)

Jon Walker has worked with Pastor Rick Warren, through Saddleback Church, Purpose Driven Ministries, and Warren's book, "The Purpose Driven Life" is one of the top-selling books of all time. The book has been used as study material for Bible and book studies around the world.

Monday, February 4, 2008

As Grace Sinks In

Christ...raised us up together...that...He might show the exceeding riches of His grace. - Ephesians 2:5-6 NKJV

This from Max Lucado's Grace for the Moment, Volume 2:

Grace defines you. As grace sinks in, earthly labels fade. Society labels you like a can on an assembly line. Stupid. Unproductive. Slow learner. Fast talker. Quitter. Cheapskate. But as grace infiltrates, criticism disintegrates. You know you aren’t who they say you are. Spiritually alive. Heavenly positioned. Connected to the Father. A billboard of mercy. An honored child.

Of course, not all labels are negative. Some people regard you as handsome, clever, successful, or efficient. But even a White House office doesn’t compare with being “seated with him in the heavenly realms” (Eph. 2:6 NLT). Grace creates the Christian’s resume.

CBS' Nantz held mic when Dungy credited God

Reporter lets coach tell the full story during interview

This from Baptist Press:

By Art Stricklin

PHOENIX - CBS lead announcer Jim Nantz held the microphone when Indianapolis Colts Tony Dungy spoke of his faith in Jesus Christ before a national audience after winning last year's Super Bowl.

Nantz took some heat.

"When I interviewed Tony Dungy last year at the Super Bowl, I got some flak about allowing him to talk about his personal faith," Nantz told Baptist Press before the annual "Legends for Charity" dinner Jan. 31 in which he received the "Pat Summerall Award" for character, integrity and leadership.

"But I don't think we should be so jaded or cynical that we don't focus on the goodness of people and their faith," Nantz said.

"I think Tony Dungy, like John Wooden, has a true saintly quality .... They have showed how a person can live your life the right way, to be a man's man and to live a life to honor others."

Nantz credited his parents and an unnamed pastor for learning how to tell a story that can inspire an audience. "There is faith in my delivery and transparency in my heart," Nantz said of his broadcast style. "I have one voice to tell a story to help uplift others."

The sold-out dinner, held in conjunction with each year's Super Bowl, benefits St. Jude Children's Research Hospital in Memphis, Tenn.

Nantz, CBS' signature voice for major sports events, said he was "honored and humbled to receive this award for what is so important in my life, telling a positive story for integrity and honesty to millions of viewers out there."

Summerall, who received the initial award named in his honor five years ago, credited Nantz for the positive and upbeat spirit he shows in what can be a tough network TV world. "To have the honor to present him an award that bears my name is a very special moment for me," Summerall told the audience. Summerall is a member of the Dallas-area Prestonwood Baptist Church.

Nantz voiced thanks to Summerall, who formerly was CBS' top sports announcer, saying, "It's such an honor to receive this award from my good friend Pat Summerall with so many of my friends, family and colleagues here."

Among those on hand for the evening were Andy Rooney of "60 Minutes" fame and former Super Bowl-winning coach Mike Ditka.

Previous winners of the award include broadcasters James Brown and Greg Gumble.

Nantz's first book, "Always By My Side," slated for release this spring, will focus his relationship with his father, Jim Sr., who is at an extended care facility for Alzheimer's patients in Houston.

Pre-order "Always by My Side" by Jim Nantz at now! Save 5% on pre-orders!

Sunday, February 3, 2008

Looking for a Fix

But even there, if you seek God, your God, you'll be able to find him if you're serious, looking for him with your whole heart and soul. - Deuteronomy 4:29 MSG

I was now 38 years old and having to look for some way to fix a life that wasn't really working. A short-term marriage, a bankruptcy, and a life of anxiety were enough negative marks to qualify for outside help I reasoned.

Upon trying to lean into my court-ordered 20 Alcoholic Anonymous meetings I had no idea what to expect. I thought maybe the meetings were going to be too spiritual, too bright, too cheery, and maybe something I just could not hold on to. After all, these people were probably really different from me. How could I relate to people living in such a different world?

At my first AA meeting I found myself open minded. So open minded that my outlook took me by surprise. I was ready to make my life better and I had no idea what was prodding me on. As I looked around the room and heard people share about their everday struggles, share about their anxieties, and share how their lives had previously been with alcohol, something great happened. I could relate!

At some point during the meeting I exclaimed in my own thoughts, "These were my people!" I reflected on the meeting after it was done and told myself I could probably hang out at these meetings for a while. After all, these people didn't appear to be too spiritual, or too bright, or too cheery.

I had come to a place where we all shared common ground. We were all seekers of something better.

Alexander is a writer in the online spiritual battlefield. You can also find him at The Scrooge Report.

Friday, February 1, 2008

It All Starts With God

For everything, absolutely everything, above and below, visible and invisible, ...everything got started in Him and finds its purpose in Him. - Colossians 1:16 MSG

This from Rick Warren's The Purpose-Driven Life Journal:

Point to Ponder: It's not about me.

Question to Consider: How can I remind myself today that life is really about living for God, not myself?

The purpose of your life is far greater than your own personal fulfillment, your peace of mind, or even your happiness. It's far greater than your family, your career, or even your wildest dreams and ambitions.

There is an alternative to speculation about the meaning and purpose of life. It's revelation. We can turn to what God has revealed about life in his Word. The easiest way to discover the purpose of an invention is to ask the creator of it. The same is true for discovering your life's purpose: ask God.

God's wisdom...goes deep into the interior of his purposes. It's not the latest message, but more like the oldest--what God determined as the way to bring out his best in us. - 1 Corinthians 2:7 MSG

The journal is the perfect companion to The Purpose Driven® Life! Features include scriptures and quotes by Rick Warren, taken from the bestselling book, plus space to record reflections, prayers, and goals while seeking Gods plans for your life.