Previous Quotes of the Day Page 2

We must never for a single moment lose sight of the stark realization that whenever we deal with money, we are dealing with dynamite. What is one day that which we control, the next day becomes the controller. Such dynamite must be defused, and the greatest defuser that we as Christians have at our disposal is the opportunity to take that, which seeks to dominate us and simply give it away. Think about it. There is no greater expression of money’s total lack of dominance over us or of its low priority in our lives than when we can with joy and peace, give it away for the Lord’s work. You cannot worship the God of mammon and be a free and cheerful giver. Likewise, you cannot serve the living God and be a hoarder of His resources. Giving, both how we give and how much we give, is the clearest outward expression of who our God really is. Our check stubs speak more honestly of our priorities than our church memberships. ~R. Scott Rodin

I love the recklessness of faith. First you leap, and then you grow wings. ~William Sloane Coffin

Obedience to the Great Commission has more consistently been poisoned by affluence than by anything else. ~Ralph Winter

Command those who are rich in this present world not to be arrogant nor to put their hope in wealth, which is so uncertain, but to put their hope in God, who richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment. Command them to do good, to be rich in good deeds, and to be generous and willing to share. In this way they will lay up treasure for themselves as a firm foundation for the coming age, so that they may take hold of the life that is truly life. ~1 Timothy 6:17-19

Endeavor to live so that when you die, even the undertaker will be sorry. ~Anonymous

I like your Christ; I do not like your Christians. Your Christians are so unlike your Christ. ~Mohandas Gandhi

Proclamation of Thanksgiving
Washington, D.C.
October 3, 1863
This is the proclamation which set the precedent for America's national day of Thanksgiving. During his administration, President Lincoln issued many orders similar to this. For example, on November 28, 1861, he ordered government departments closed for a local day of thanksgiving.
Sarah Josepha Hale, a 74-year-old magazine editor, wrote a letter to Lincoln on September 28, 1863, urging him to have the "day of our annual Thanksgiving made a National and fixed Union Festival." She explained, "You may have observed that, for some years past, there has been an increasing interest felt in our land to have the Thanksgiving held on the same day, in all the States; it now needs National recognition and authoritive fixation, only, to become permanently, an American custom and institution."
Prior to this, each state scheduled its own Thanksgiving holiday at different times, mainly in New England and other Northern states. President Lincoln responded to Mrs. Hale's request immediately, unlike several of his predecessors, who ignored her petitions altogether. In her letter to Lincoln she mentioned that she had been advocating a national thanksgiving date for 15 years as the editor of Godey's Lady's Book.
The document below sets apart the last Thursday of November "as a day of Thanksgiving and Praise." According to an April 1, 1864, letter from John Nicolay, one of President Lincoln's secretaries, this document was written by Secretary of State William Seward, and the original was in his handwriting. On October 3, 1863, fellow Cabinet member Gideon Welles recorded in his diary how he complimented Seward on his work. A year later the manuscript was sold to benefit Union troops.
By the President of the United States of America.
A Proclamation.
The year that is drawing towards its close, has been filled with the blessings of fruitful fields and healthful skies. To these bounties, which are so constantly enjoyed that we are prone to forget the source from which they come, others have been added, which are of so extraordinary a nature, that they cannot fail to penetrate and soften even the heart which is habitually insensible to the ever watchful providence of Almighty God. In the midst of a civil war of unequaled magnitude and severity, which has sometimes seemed to foreign States to invite and to provoke their aggression, peace has been preserved with all nations, order has been maintained, the laws have been respected and obeyed, and harmony has prevailed everywhere except in the theatre of military conflict; while that theatre has been greatly contracted by the advancing armies and navies of the Union. Needful diversions of wealth and of strength from the fields of peaceful industry to the national defence, have not arrested the plough, the shuttle or the ship; the axe has enlarged the borders of our settlements, and the mines, as well of iron and coal as of the precious metals, have yielded even more abundantly than heretofore. Population has steadily increased, notwithstanding the waste that has been made in the camp, the siege and the battle-field; and the country, rejoicing in the consiousness of augmented strength and vigor, is permitted to expect continuance of years with large increase of freedom. No human counsel hath devised nor hath any mortal hand worked out these great things. They are the gracious gifts of the Most High God, who, while dealing with us in anger for our sins, hath nevertheless remembered mercy. It has seemed to me fit and proper that they should be solemnly, reverently and gratefully acknowledged as with one heart and one voice by the whole American People. I do therefore invite my fellow citizens in every part of the United States, and also those who are at sea and those who are sojourning in foreign lands, to set apart and observe the last Thursday of November next, as a day of Thanksgiving and Praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the Heavens. And I recommend to them that while offering up the ascriptions justly due to Him for such singular deliverances and blessings, they do also, with humble penitence for our national perverseness and disobedience, commend to His tender care all those who have become widows, orphans, mourners or sufferers in the lamentable civil strife in which we are unavoidably engaged, and fervently implore the interposition of the Almighty Hand to heal the wounds of the nation and to restore it as soon as may be consistent with the Divine purposes to the full enjoyment of peace, harmony, tranquillity and Union.
In testimony whereof, I have hereunto set my hand and caused the Seal of the United States to be affixed.
Done at the City of Washington, this Third day of October, in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and sixty-three, and of the Independence of the Unites States the Eighty-eighth.
By the President: Abraham Lincoln
William H. Seward,
Secretary of State
Going to church doesn’t make you a Christian any more than standing in a garage makes you a car. ~Billy Sunday
As Americans, we tend to be impressed with bigness. God is not. I’ve always like the saying, “Its not the size of the dog in the fight that matters; it’s the size of the fight in the dog.” ~Richard Stearns
Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world, indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has. ~Margaret Mead
Vision without action is merely a dream. Action without vision just passes the time. Vision with action can change the world. ~Joel Barker
The probability that we may fail in the struggle ought not to deter us from the support of a cause we believe to be just. ~Abraham Lincoln
The difference between the pre- and postresurrection disciples was astonishing. Fear became courage; timidity became boldness; uncertainty became confidence as their lives were given over to the revolution that the gospel – the good news – envisioned. Everything changed because they had been changed, and they had been changed because Christ had risen. He is risen indeed. ~Richard Stearns

If you think you are too small to make a difference, try spending the night in a closed room with a mosquito. ~African Saying

There are no ordinary people. You have never talked to a mere mortal. ~C.S. Lewis

God has created each of us with a unique contribution to make to our world and our times. No other person has our same abilities, motivations, network of friends and relationships, perspectives, ideas, or experiences. When we, like misplaced puzzle pieces, fail to show up, the overall picture is diminished. ~Richard Stearns

In the New Testament, the story of the feeding of the five thousand is found in all four Gospels. Jesus used it to change the way we think about underwhelming resources in the face of over whelming challenges. ~Richard Stearns

God never asks us to give what we do not have … But He cannot use what we will not give. ~Richard Stearns

Be the change that you want to see in the world. ~Mohandas Gandhi

Use what talents you possess: the woods would be very silent if no birds sang there except those that sang best. ~Henry Van Dyke

What has God given you? Moses had a stick. David had a slingshot, and Paul had a pen. Mother Teresa possessed a love for the poor; Billy Graham, a gift for preaching; and Joni Eareckson Tada, a disability. What did they have in common? A willingness to let God use whatever they had, even when it didn’t seem very useful. If you will assess what you have to offer in terms of your time, your treasure, and your talents, you will have a better understanding of how you might uniquely serve. ~Richard Stearns

My faith demands – this is not optional – my faith demands that I do whatever I can, wherever I am, whenever I can, for as long as I can with whatever I have to try to make a difference. ~Jimmy Carter

That bread which you keep belongs to the hungry, that coat which you preserve in your wardrobe, to the naked, those shoes, which are rotting in your possession, to the shoeless; that gold which you have hidden in the ground, to the needy. Wherefore, as often as you are able to help others, and refuse, so often did you do them wrong. ~Augustine

Earl Palmer said, “God can’t steer a parked var.” If we sit in the parking lot with our engines turned off, just waiting for a voice from the sky, we’ll never get anywhere in our quest to solve the world’s problems. We need to at least “start our engines.” ~Richard Stearns

The one who says it can’t be done should get out of the way of the one who is doing it. ~Chinese Proverb

Make your life a mission – not an intermission. ~Arnold Glasgow

There are those who look at things the way they are, and ask why … I dream of things that never were, and ask why not? Robert Kennedy

Isn’t it better to light a candle than curse the darkness? ~Richard Stearns

The Kingdom of God is within you. ~Luke 17:21

We can do no great things, only small things with great love. ~Mother Teresa

Core values are of no value unless they reflect God’s values. ~Pat Williams

My basic principle is that you don’t make decisions because they are easy; you don’t make them because they are cheap; you don’t make them because they are popular. You make them because they are right. ~Theodore H. Hesburgh

If He knows you’ve done the right thing, and you know you’ve done the right thing, then it really doesn’t matter what anybody else thinks. ~Pat Williams

Truth is a hard master and costly to serve, but it simplifies all other problems. ~Ellis Peters

I think that honesty is still the best policy. I think morality still pays off. I believe in all those old-fashioned things because I honestly think they work. ~Ann Landers

The first step in greatness is to be honest. ~Samuel Johnson

Skilled ignorance is often more powerful than knowledge and honesty, but only temporarily, only for a short time. In the long-run knowledge and honesty will pay off. ~Vince Lombardi

Honesty has to be my number-one ingredient for success. Honesty means being sincere. It also means being fair in your deals and agreements. ~Dave Thomas

Remember, them, as long as you live, that nothing but strict truth can carry you through with either your conscience or your honor unwounded. It is not only your duty, but also your interest, as a proof of which you may always observe that the greatest fools are the greatest liars. ~Lord Chesterfield

The truth is incontrovertible. Malice may attack it, ignorance may deride it, but in the end, there it is. ~Winston Churchill

I think of Lew Wallace, who wrote Ben Hur. He began working on the book with the intention of discrediting the idea that Jesus Christ was the Son of God. However, as he researched for the life of Christ, his attitude began to change. His doubt slowly began to melt away, culminating in the day he got down on his knees and surrendered his life to Christ. His classic novel, made into a movie that won ten Academy Awards – including Best Picture – became a wonderful affirmation of the Gospel. ~Pat Williams

Let us so live that when we die even the undertaker will be sorry. ~Mark Twain

As you are in private, so you are in public. What is in a person’s private life will eventually surface in public, for good or evil. ~Joe Gibbs

You don’t have to be great to start, but you do have to start to be great. ~Joe Sabah

You may be dissappointed if you fail, but you are doomed if you don’t try. ~Beverly Sills

Joy doesn’t come from having more money than anyone elsew. It isn’t the feeling you get when you receive the promotion that your co-worker really wanted. It doesn’t spring out of an absence of troubles in your life, but rather from an understanding that God is using whatever troubles you experience to strengthen your character and make you a better human being.

Joy is an inner sense of peace, contentment, and happiness that stays with you even when things aren’t going your way. Joy is keeping a smile on your face when people look at you and ask, “What in the world have they got to be smiling about?”

For the most part, joy comes from God’s presence in your life. It’s impossible not to have joy if you’re walking with God on a daily basis. But joy also comes from maintaining an attitude of gradtitude, from doing what the old song says:

Count your many blessings,
Name them one by one.
And it will surprise you
What the Lord has done. ~Pat Williams

You have brains in your head.
You have feet in your shoes.
You can steer yourself
Any direction you choose. ~Dr. Seuss

Former New York Mayor Rudy Guliani has always kept a small sign on his desk. The sign bears two words: “I’m responsible.”

The good news is that the best season of your life can be ahead of you, no matter what your age or circumstances … if you choose to make it so … because 90 percent of your potential is not only untapped and unused but undiscovered. That’s not just good news … it’s incredible news! ~Tim Hansel

If you want your children to keep their feet on the ground, put some responsibility on their shoulders. ~Dear Abby

The worst thing you can do for those you love is the things they could and should do for themselves. ~Abraham Lincoln

As far back as he could remember, the young man had always wanted to be a writer. He spent almost every moment of his leisure time working on his craft, and the more he wrote, the more his passion for writing grew. Now, in his twenties, it was becoming apparent that he had chosen the wrong profession. He had received more than 120 rejections from various publishers. Their form letters said, “Thanks, but no thanks,” and decorated the walls of his apartment. Not one of his short stories or novels had been accepted, but the young man continued to write and look for new publishers who might be interested.

On the 123rd try, someone finally said yes. A publisher was willing to take a chance on This Side of Paradise. That’s when the writing career of F. Scott Fitzgerald finally got going. ~Pat Williams

To finish first, you must first finish. ~Rick Mears

If you’re too big to do the little things, you’re too little to do the big things. ~Terry Johnson

Humility is not denying the power you have but admitting that the power comes through you and not from you. ~Pat Williams

Someone asked Dr. Albert Schweitzer how children learn, he answered: “First by example. Second by example. And third by example.”

Francis of Assisi once invited a young monk to go with him into a neighboring village to preach. Francis had already gained a widespread reputation as a great man of God, so the monk accepted his invitation with enthusiasm. The two of them traveled into the town, where they spent the day tending to the needs of the poor and suffering. All day long the young monk waited for Francis to set up a place where they could preach; but before that ever happened, the sun started to set, and it was time for the two men to head back home.

On their way out of town, the monk told Francis that he was confused and disappointed. “I thought we were going to preach,” he said.

Francis responded gently, “My son, we did preach. We were preaching while we were walking. We were watched by many, and our behavior was closely observed. It is of no use to walk anywhere to preach unless we preach everywhere as we walk.” On another occasion St. Francis advised his followers, “Preach the Gospel at all times. Use words when necessary.”

We have to decide if we want to impress people or influence them. ~Tom Landry

The most essential quality for leadership is not perfection but credibility. People must be able to trust you. ~Rick Warren

People are changed not by coercion or intimidation but by example. ~John Maxwell

The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing. ~Edmund Burke

Do the thing you fear, and the death of fear is certain. ~Ralph Waddo Emerson

Fear God, and you need not be afraid of anyone else. ~Woodrow Wilson

Don’t wait for extraordinary opportunities. Seize common ones and make them great. ~Orison Swett Marden

Faith is to believe what you do not see; the reward for this faith is to see what you believe. ~Augustine

I believe in Christianity as I believe in the sunrise; not because I can see it, but because by it I can see everything else. ~C.S. Lewis

Faith is like a muscle; it grows with exercise, and the more we know of the trustworthiness and faithfulness of God ... His grace, love, power, and wisdom … the more we can trust Him. ~Bill Bright

How did we ever get the idea that faith in God is connected to hard-backed pews, boring sermons, and dirge-like music? It is incredible to me that anyone could come into the presence of the Creator of the Universe and be bored. God isn’t some white-bearded grandfather who likes to tell boring stories about the good old days. There is absolutely nothing about Him to bring on a yawn or cause your eyelids to start drooping. ~Pat Williams

The story of Jesus is the story of a celebration - a story of love … Jesus embodies the promise of a God who will go to any length to win us back. Not the least of Jesus’ accomplishments is that He made us, somehow, lovable to God. ~Philip Yancey

There’s nothing that goes on where God says, “Oops, I missed that one.” Every circumstance that happens in life, God has control of. ~Matt Ware

Chances are good that you’ve never heard of Matt Ware, the young man who is quoted above. Chances are also good that you would have not heard of him except for the terrible accident in 1998 that left him paralyzed. Matt was a standout high school basketball player with dreams of further success in the sport. Of course, those dreams died the day Matt was injured.

Matt doesn’t understand why this happened to him, but he isn’t bitter or angry about it because he knows for certain that his life is in God’s hands. He has faith that God always sees the big picture, and he trusts that God is in control of everything. Does that mean God caused Matt Ware to become paralyzed? No! What it does mean is that God knew that it had to happen, and that He allowed it for some greater good that we are not yet able to see from our vantage point. ~Pat Williams

God is too good to be unkind,
He is too wise to be confused.
If I cannot trace His hand,
I can always trust His heart. ~Charles Spurgeon

It is not what a man does that determines whether his work is sacred or secular … it is why he does it. Let a man sanctify the Lord God in his heart, and he can therefore do no common act. ~A.W. Tozer

You can buy a man’s time. You can buy a man’s physical presence in a given place. You can even buy a number of skilled muscular, motions ecah day. But you cannot buy enthusiasm and loyalty. You must earn these. ~Clarence Francis

Golden Rule principles are just as necessary for operating a business as trucks, typewriters, or twine. ~James Cash Penney

Personal values will always override organizational values. ~John Townsend

I have seen leaders who considered their organizational values in some sort of consultation or task setting and were diligent about it. And the result was a Word document, an email, a poster, a reminder of things that everyone signed off on. But at the end of the day, no one would really and truly change their behavior based on these stated values. Nor would they think about them when faced with an opportunity or a problem. These values weren’t part of the fabric of the leader’s heart. They were helpful and potentially valuable, butb they weren’t considered. ~ John Townsend

He (a well-known leader) talked about the delemma most of us face in an election: we don’t agree with everything any one candidate says, so how do we decide for whom to vote? His values aha statement that stuck with me was, “There are some issues I don’t have to agree with and will still vote for a candidate. But some issues are so important to me that if I voted for a person who disagreed with my position on them, I wouldn’t know who I am anymore.” That is what I mean by “when your values aren’t lived out, it bothers you.” Compromise and negotiation are valuable in leadership. But when it comes to values, you want to always know who you are. ~John Townsend

There is a myth that the creative process can only be unleashed when you get away from all order, discipline, and parameters. People who believe this say that creativity must be as free as possible to express itself. This sort of thinking is not true, and it discourages leaders from investing in the process. Leaders know the value of structure in organizations. They aren’t about to abolish all that in the hope that creativity might happen.

The reality is that creativity floourishes with structure. Creative freedom can exist within parameters. A brainstorming meeting with a flip chart occurs for a specified amount of time. People ask thought-provoking questions to get the creative progress going.

A great example of the creative process within parameters is music. Any musician has to submit to the structure that there are musical scales with finite number of notes. Chords

Think of your mind as having a certain amount of room in it, like the RAM of a computer. RAM is used for the “thinking” a computer has to perform. The more RAM, the better the machine operates. When too many applicatrions are open, however, there is less room, and the computer can become sluggish or inoperable. In a broad sense, the clearer your life and mind are, the more space creativity has to grow and bring new ideas. Creativity, especially for the leader, takes work and discipline. ~John Townsend

Just remember the problem solving nature of anger. Don’t avoid it. Don’t let it control you. Be sure to find its source, and take action. ~John Townsend

Leadership is about wanting to make a difference, having a vision, helping people you care about, changing lives, and meeting goals. ~John Townsend

Leaders resist helpless situations. I don’t mean that you are completely and totally helpless. Certainly you have options and choices, but there are times you must accept that you are helpless to change someone or something. Here are some examples of what you may say, “I can’t change this” about. You might be helpless in:
• making someone change their neagative opinion of you;
• resurrecting a deal thast has gone away;
• causing someone to stay who wants to leave;
• keeping a position that is no longer an option;
• going back into the past and doing things again differently. ~John Townsend

Happiness is a valuable experience, but it is a miserable goal. In its proper place, as a celebration of gratitude and an appreciation of the good, the emotion of happiness has real benefit. It is a fruit, a result of the good. But it never works out when we focus on happiness as something to accomplish. ~John Townsend

When you stop trying to find happiness, it will find you. I don't mean this in some mysterious way. There is reality to this idea. When you focus on what is really important, and live and lead in the right way, you will experience the side benefit of happiness. It will find you in those moments of enjoyment along the way. And it will find you also when you see that a life well lived is a good life indeed. ~John Townsend

I define passion simply as “focused desire.” ~John Townsend

Passion develops when we are doing what we are designed to do. ~John Townsend

Life and leadership require that you give up good things and good opportunities in order to carve the best path. ~John Townsend

One aspect of character growth and maturity is the ability to lose the good, in order to gain the better. ~John Townsend

You can’t create passion, not for yourself or for anyone else. Your job is to create the right environment for the chemistry to happen. You do this by personal research. You must spend the energy to know your people and learn which tasks intersect with their passions. ~John Townsend

People who feel a passion inside don’t mind challenge. In fact, they are internally driven to meet challenges. They don’t need you to motivate them. They need you to provide a structure for them to push themselves toward the goal. ~John Townsend

Performance Appraisals
• First, you need to be able to normalize the evaluative process itself.
• Next, talk to the person ahead of time about the process.
• During the review, it is important to add to the reached or unreached goals, the underlying causes. It is never about the numbers only.
• Finally, it is important that you hear the person’s responses to the appraisal. ~John Townsend

It is a benefit to a leader to become involved in the personal growth and improvement process at some formal and structured level. ~John Townsend

The point is, as a leader, you need a place you can go for yourself, not just your work. It is the difference between deciding to get up an hour earlier to be more time-effective and facing a problem of letting others control your time during the day so that you need to get up earlier. One is change, and one is transformation. ~John Townsend

I need to clarify that transformation is not simply about skill building. Competencies, vision casting, people management, and strengths building are all necessary parts of leadership training and development. They are the roles you need to develop the right culture, the right people, and the right results. But I am adding to that what you need to grow and develop as a person, in your own character. ~John Townsend

When approaching the arena of the personal – our character, growth issues, and our ability to relate – we do not have the option to manage weaknesses, we need to resolve them. ~John Townsend

A character weakness or issue is not part of our hard wiring in the same way that our gifts and talents are. We weren’t designed to be self-sufficient, or unable to comfort. Those weaknesses come from our significant experiences, our backgrounds, and our own choices. So when we talk about character, we do not have to manage or accept as a fatalistic reality that we will always be this way because we have always been this way. There is always hope for change and transformation. ~John Townsend

You simply can’t separate yourself as a leader from yourself as a person. ~John Townsend

You can’t lose in leadership by growing as a person. ~ John Townsend

Your spiritual nature points to the fact that we are all unfinished and incomplete without God. ~John Townsend

When the Church is absolutely different from the world, she invariably attracts it. It is then that the world is made to listen to her message, though it may hate it at first. ~D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones

Here is the great evangelical disaster – the failure of the evangelical world to stand for truth as truth. There is only one word for this – namely, accommodation: the evangelical church has accommodated to the world spirit of the age. ~Francis Schaeffer

Instead of life being interpreted honestly, it is now interpreted emotionally. Instead of real being real, virtual reality has taken charge. And since the reality is now distorted and viewed as distasteful, the younger generation prefers virtual reality. Reality bores them. We have changed our thinking based on objective instruction from the truth of Holy Scripture to the subjective, secular thinking based squarely on a horizontal, humanistic perception, where self is always predominant. ~Charles Swindoll

The world is waiting to hear an authentic voice, a voice from God – not an echo of what others are doing and saying, but an authentic voice. ~A.W. Tozer

Webster defines eroded in simple terms: “To diminish or destroy by degrees …. To eat into or away by slow destruction of substance …. To cause to deteriorate or disappear.” Over the years, I have discovered three simple truths about erosion, all of which parallel Webster’s description. Rather than occurring rapidly, erosion is always slow. Instead of drawing attention to itself, erosion is always silent. And in place of being obvious, erosion is always subtle. ~Charles Swindoll

We need places in our journey where we force ourselves to pause and evaluate whether or not a drift is taking place. Why? Because a church without milestones will drift. And like erosion, we will not see it occurring if we don’t look for it. ~ Charles Swindoll

They were continually devoting themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer (Acts 2:42).

In this one verse we have the lowest common denominator of a church. This is a ground zero. It would help greatly if God’s people reminded themselves of this single verse of Scripture every day. When the first body of believers gathered together, they devoted themselves to four essentials. Did you notice them? Here are the four essentials: teaching, fellowship, breaking of bread, and prayer. This verse is not only descriptive of what the early church did; it is also prescriptive of what all churches must do. ~Charles Swindoll

Clear, Biblical thinking must override secular planning and a corporate mentality [in the church]. And the imperative? Think spiritually! However well organized our churches become, we must give priority to Biblical, rather than secular, thinking. ~Charles Swindoll

Studied, accurate decisions must originate from God’s Word, not human opinions. A true, spiritual mind-set comes from meditation on the Scriptures. So the imperative would be: stay Biblical! The Word of God ought to be central to every worship service. Furthermore, every elders’ meeting and every staff meeting should have the Scriptures as the basis of the decisions that are made. God’s Word is to be the church’s guide; it shapes our current thinking and future planning by giving us principles we can understand, believe, and apply. ~Charles Swindoll

The world is waiting to hear an authentic voice, a voice from God – not an echo of what others are doing and saying, but an authentic voice. ~A. W. Tozer

Wise, essential changes must occur to counteract any sign of erosion. Please note I did not use the word easy. Change is not easy when erosion has occurred, but it is essential. The imperative? Be flexible! ~Charles Swindoll

What the church needs today is not more or better machinery, not new organizations or more novel methods. She needs men whom the Holy Spirit can use – men of prayer, men mighty in prayer. The Holy Spirit does not flow through methods, but through men …. He does not anoint plans, but men – men of prayer! ~E. M. Bounds

The church was never meant to be a “professional organization.” ~Charles Swindoll

We must not mind insulting men, if by respecting them we offend God. ~John Chrysostom

In his book, “The Courage to Be Protestant,” David Wells asks several penetrating questions: What is the binding authority on the church? What determines how it thinks, what it wants, and how it is going to go about its business? Will it be Scripture alone, Scripture understood as God’s binding address, or will it be culture? Will it be what is current, edgy, and with-it? Or will it be God’s Word, which is always contemporary because its truth endures for all eternity?

Banish professionalism from our midst, Oh God, and in its place put passionate prayer, poverty of spirit, hunger for God, rigorous study of holy things, white-hot devotion to Jesus Christ, utter indifference to all material gain, and unremitting labor to rescue the perishing, perfect the saints, and glorify our sovereign Lord. ~John Piper

The Lord will honor and bless any plan that upholds prayer and promotes His Word. ~ Charles Swindoll

We are continually striving to create new methods, plans, and organizations to advance the church. We are ever working to provide and stimulate growth and efficiency for the gospel. This trend of the day has a tendency to lose sight of man. Or else he is lost in the workings of the plan or organization. God’s plan is to make much of the man, far more of him than of anything else. Men are God’s method. The church is looking for better methods; God is looking for better men …. What the church needs today is not more or better machinery, not new organizations or more novel methods. She needs men whom the Holy Spirit can use – men of prayer, men mighty in prayer. The Holy Spirit does not flow through methods, but through men. He does not come on machinery, but on men. He does not anoint plans, but men – men of prayer! ~E. M. Bounds

Excellent exposition of the Scriptures alone isn’t enough to cause people to continue attending and to stick together as a church. It takes more.
I have lived to realize that, while a strong pulpit is essential, a contagious church also requires a context of other distinctives. There must be more than preaching. More than one gift at work. More than the conviction of one person. A contagious church has a number of individuals living out clear, Biblical principles with the result that people pause in the midst of their busy lives. They realize this is a place worth their coming and participating. ~Charles Swindoll

It’s essential that we not get distracted by all the we can do as a church … and stay focused on only what we must do as a church. Otherwise, we may be attracting a crowd for the wrong reasons. ~Charles Swindoll

Large numbers don’t necessarily reveal God’s blessing. They could, in fact, reveal error. They could reflect an ear-tickling ministry that panders to people and tells the crowds what they want to hear, instead of what they need to hear. A growing number of churches and denominations today have found the four essentials (teaching, fellowship, breaking of bread, and prayer – Acts 2:42) unnecessary – burdensome, you might say. Archaic traditions of a bygone era. So they have hired what I call “pulpit whores,” or put more mildly, “teachers in accordance to their own desires” – to affirm them in their selfish and carnal lifestyles. No wonder the crowds expand … it’s as if God has officially approved their sin! ~Charles Swindoll

I’ve learned through the years that perception overshadows reality. I hate that, but it’s true. From political candidates to polyester carpet, how people perceive things is, to them, more convincing than a truckload of evidence. Unfortunately, most people draw their opinions from the shallow stream of perception instead of the deep reservoir of truth. I find that strange and disappointing. ~Charles Swindoll

I am convinced that the church doesn’t need marketing devices, worldly strategies, live entertainment, or a corporate mentality to be contagious. Not if the glory of God is the goal. Not if the growth of God’s people is in view. Rather, the church needs Biblical truth taught correctly and clearly … and lived out in authenticity.

One of the worst things we can do in our churches is to take our eyes off the essentials – to take our cues of how to “do church” from our postmodern world instead of determining our distinctives and priorities from Scriptures. It’s a great temptation to try that these days, because there are so many churches doing it. They look like they know what they’re doing. The crowds swell. The ratings soar. The money pours in. They speak in such a convincing way that we are tempted to think, Well, maybe they’re right and we’re beginning to miss it. Please. Don’t go there. ~ Charles Swindoll

A marketing mentality and a consumer mind-set have no business in the church of Jesus Christ. By that I mean Jesus is not a brand … human thinking does not guide God’s work … and the church is not a corporation. The church of Jesus Christ is a spiritual entity, guided by the Lord through the precepts of His Word.

If we sacrifice the essentials of teaching, fellowship, breaking of bread, and prayer on the alter of strategy, creativity, entertainment, and “relevancy,” we have abandoned the main reasons the church exists. We should build on these essentials, not attempt to replace them. ~Charles Swindoll

From the verb be strong, we glean the first distinctive for a contagious church: it is always necessary in grace (2 Timothy 2:1). That sounds simple, but it will be one of the most difficult principles to apply in a consumerist culture. ~Charles Swindoll

Author Steve Brown says that some people think legalistic churches are as bad as grace-oriented churches. As he put it, they are no more alike than saying a taxidermist is like a veterinarian. Some would claim, “Well, either way you get your dog back!” True, but one of them collects dust and never moves. The other one is busy and barking and eating and jumping … he’s alive. He’s the real thing! The point? Let’s choose to be veterinarians. Let’s determine that our churches will be places of grace. A church of grace is alive, anticipating God’s work, willing to risk, free of judgmentalism … but make no mistake – they’re not free of holiness. There’s a vast difference. ~Charles Swindoll

The church needs to guard against compromising the Word of God so that it takes more palatable to newcomers. Christians suffer when we do that. I’ve said for years, “Sermonettes are for Christianettes.” If our churches give a little eight-minute sermon, we are not feeding the flock. Instead of teaching them, we’re tantalizing them. Instead of stretching and challenging them, we’re entertaining them. Our congregations need pastors who study hard, play hard, and prepare well-balanced meals, then open the Scriptures and teach people how to study the Word for themselves. That’s what gives them stability in hard times, discernment in the midst of deception, and the strength to stand alone. ~Charles Swindoll

Did you notice in Titus 2:11-15, “the grace of God has appeared … instructing us to deny ungodliness”? I repeat it only to underscore: grace doesn’t mean anything goes. Rather, grace motivates our behavior. Grace frees us to obey. Being strong in grace goes hand in hand with being committed to living the truth. There is no contradiction in those two commitments. After all, “grace and truth were realized through Jesus Christ” (John 1:17). Grace provides the context for God’s commands to be taught. Truth equips our minds and shapes up our lives. Truth therefore must be taught! ~Charles Swindoll

Christian service means invading a battleground, not a playground; and you and I are the weapons God uses to attack and defeat the enemy. When God used Moses’s rod, He needed Moses’s hand to lift it. When God used David’s sling, He needed David’s hand to swing it. When God builds a ministry, He needs somebody’s surrendered body to get the job done. ~Warren Wiersbe

Because of Jesus Christ, the church must endure every difficulty for the benefit of others. I find this principle in Paul’s writings to Timothy: “For this reason I endure all things for the sake of those who are chosen, so that they also may obtain the salvation which is in Christ Jesus and with it eternal glory” (2 Timothy 2:10). ~Charles Swindoll

Most middle-class Americans tend to worship their work, to work at their play, and to play at their worship. As a result, their meanings and values are distorted. Their relationships disintegrate faster then they can keep in repair, and their lifestyles resemble a cast of characters in search of a plot. ~Gordon Dahl

When we substitute the urgent for the important in the church of Jesus Christ, we emphasize work, activity, involvement, doing, producing, impressing, and accomplishing. But it leaves us feeling flat and empty. Exhaustion replaces satisfaction. Furthermore, it smacks of the secularized world in which we work. Who knows how many people have been turned away from Christianity, longing for the true, living God but encountering at their church a secularized substitute? ~Charles Swindoll

The underlying objective of a church committed to the important things – rather than the urgent – is the cultivation of a body of worshipers whose sole focus is on the Lord our God. ~ Charles Swindoll

Secularization theology has taught us to be “tolerant” of the world system – to be more accepting and understanding … and not bigoted. G. K. Chesterton says it well: “Tolerance is the virtue of the man without convictions.” It’s always easier to claim tolerance and straddle the fence than to choose sides. Tolerance will get you elected. Tolerance keeps you popular with a voting congregation. Tolerance doesn’t make waves at the office or across the backyard fence. But tolerance makes no impact for the kingdom of God. ~Charles Swindoll

Paul is describing (in 2 Tim. 3:4-5) the outward “form of religion” but were “denying the power of it.” They evidently attended the worship services of the church. They sang the hymns, they said the “amen” to the prayers and put their money in the offering-plate. They looked and sounded egregiously pious. But it was form without power, outward show without inward reality, religion without morals, faith without works. True religion combines form and power. It is not external form without power. … It fosters a worship which is essentially “spiritual,” arising from the heart, which expresses itself through public, corporate services, and which also issues in moral behavior. Otherwise, it is not only valueless; it is actually an abomination to the Lord. ~John R.W. Stott

Christians are in the minority, to be sure. God always prefers to do His work through a remnant who face insuperable odds. Babies conceived in aging wombs. Meals for thousands from a meager sack lunch. Every sin atoned for by one Man’s death. The world turned upside down by twelve ordinary men who were called apostles. God specializes in the impossible. In fact, He is greatly glorified in circumstances where human ingenuity, creativity, and ability fall short. ~Charles Swindoll

Understand, there’s nothing wrong with creatively communicating to our neighborhoods about our churches. But when promotion receives more emphasis than the essentials – the apostles’ teaching, fellowship, the breaking of bread, and prayer (see Acts 2:42) – then the tail is wagging the dog. The church starts drifting off course. Erosion sets in. On the other hand, when we commit ourselves to the essentials, our churches will be contagious for the right reasons. And in Ephesus, that is exactly what was occurring: “all who lived in Asia heard the word of the Lord, both Jews and Greeks” (19:10). Word of mouth has always been God’s preferred method of getting the message out. ~Charles Swindoll

Most of the Ephesian Christians were now [when the book of Revelation was written] second-generation believers, and though they had retained purity of doctrine and life and had maintained a high level of service, they were lacking in deep devotion to Christ. How the church today needs to heed this same warning [… that you have left your first love], that orthodoxy and service are not enough. Christ wants believers’ hearts as well as their hands and heads. ~John F. Walvoord

C.S. Lewis once made the statement “The true Christian’s nostril is to be continually attentive to the inner cesspool.” If I may write it far less eloquently, “We need to smell our own stink.” Why? Because we are all depraved … all given to selfishness … all drawn to embrace what the world tempts us to crave. ~Charles Swindoll

Trust me, churches that keep you always busy are predisposed to erosion. Join this program … enroll in this study … go on this trip … come to this concert … teach this class … serve here … meet there … be hardworking … stay productive … count those heads … keep busy! Sadly, many of those same churches fail to encourage personal reflection, growth, and analysis. Their focus? The bottom line. Busyness equates to success. Lewis Sperry Chafer summed it up this way: “Much of our spiritual activity is nothing more than a cheap anesthetic to deaden the pain of an empty life.” ~Charles Swindoll

Is it really possible for a Christian to become overexposed to spiritual things? Yes, if having blessings from God in such abundance makes us hardened to them. It can happen when we become the benefactors of a great number of God’s blessings. Our business goes well. Our health is good. Our children are fine. Our marriage is strong. Our church is good. The music is great. Our pastor is solid. Our home is lovely. Our ministry is bearing fruit. Our cars are new. Our neighborhood is clean. Our schools are safe. We’ve made good decisions in life. Blessing after blessing after blessing …

“But!” Jesus interrupts. “I have this against you, that you have left your first love.”

How does this kind of personal erosion occur? Nobody ever picks up a phone, calls a friend, and says, “Hey, today I feel like ruining my life.” We don’t do that. But we do, on occasion, entertain thoughts like, I don’t want the lordship of Christ to touch this area of my life. This is mine! After all, look at what’s happened as a result. It’s not that bad. I can handle it. And we allow a subtle but destructive drift – the dethroning of His authority and an enthroning of our own. It happens because we’ve gotten bored in the Christian hothouse.

A believer who wades through God’s favor and God’s blessing and God’s bounty day after day, week after week, year after year can begin to court the dangers of erosion. How? Things get to be predictable. They become routine. You grow cynical. And before you know it, you can be lusting while you’re singing a gospel song. You can be thanking God for His forgiveness of your sins while you harbor bitterness toward your brother or sister in Christ. What you’re doing is just another religious duty. A.W. Tozer writes,

Familiarity may breed contempt even at the very altar of God. How frightful a thing it is for the preacher when he becomes accustomed to his work, when his sense of wonder departs, when he gets used to the unusual, when he loses his solemn fear in the presence of the High and Holy One; when, to put it bluntly, he gets a little bored with God and heavenly things. ~Charles Swindoll

In a strange twist, the preaching of the cross is now foolishness, not only to the world but also to the contemporary church. ~Steven J. Lawson

Admittedly pastors can learn from growing churches and successful ministries. Yet God’s work must be done God’s way if it is to know God’s blessing. He provides the power and He alone receives the glory only as His divinely prescribed plan for ministry is followed. When man-created schemes are followed, often imitating the world’s schemes, the flesh provides the energy and man receives the glory. … In a strange twist, the preaching of the cross is now foolishness, not only to the world but also to the contemporary church (Steven J. Lawson). ~Charles Swindoll

Hearing the Word of God isn’t about being entertained, or feeling good, or leaving impressed with a speaker’s ability, or merely listening to someone talk. It’s about life change. The following verse lands like a gavel on a judge’s bench: “So when it comes to pass—[a]as surely it will—then they will know that a prophet has been in their midst” (Ezekiel 33:33) ~Charles Swindoll

For some, a major life crisis may cause them to attend church, but only as superficial hearers. Like Ezekiel’s audience, they may find the form of the message interesting and stimulating, but they never feel its power in their hearts as life-changing reality. Those of us who are preachers need to be careful that we do not foster such shallow attention. In our day, there is a focus on “seeker-sensitive” services that will present the gospel in a way that will be attractive to such people. The task of the church, however, is not to assemble seekers but to make disciples…. The seriousness of the message must never be obscured by the desire to make the medium more attractive. The preacher’s task is not to entertain or inform but to plead passionately with men and women to flee the wrath that is to come on account of sin. (Charles Swindoll quoting a man)

The church is scarred by wars, buffeted by storms and eroded by pollution, and God is at work restoring His own – repairing, cleaning, purifying. ~Ruth Bell Graham

The lesson that is continually reinforced in me is that to take advantage of unexpected opportunities, we must leave ourselves available. If we had set lofty long-range goals for our company’s [Chick-fil-A’s] growth, our capital might have been so tied up in construction that we would have been unable to respond to these opportunities [WinShape Centre Foundation, which supports foster homes, summer camps, and college scholarships]. ~S. Truett Cathy

Harvard Business School Press in 1996 published a book titled The Loyalty Effect, which showed the correlation between loyalty and corporate profits. The author, Frederick F. Reichheld, stated, “Businesses that concentrate on finding and keeping good customers, productive employees, and supportive investors continue to generate superior results. …[Loyalty] remains one of the great engines of business success.”

“Loyalty leaders,” Mr. Reichheld wrote, “see people as assets rather than expenses, and they expect those assets to pay returns over a period of many years. Loyalty leaders choose human assets carefully, then find ways to extend their productive lifetimes and increase their value.” ~S. Truett Cathy

My style has always been low-key with regard to my religious convictions. I hope that people see something attractive in the way I live that leads them to seek the One who leads me. In my own personal way I had committed the company to His purpose but had not done so publicly.

It became obvious that the [Executive] Committee was moving toward doing just that. By the end of the day we had developed two statements, which became Click-fil-A Corporate Purpose:

To glorify God by being faithful stewards of all that is entrusted to us.

To have a positive influence on all who come in contact with Chick-fil-A.
~S. Truett Cathy

Instruction is what we say.
Influence is what we do.
Image is what we are. ~S. Truett Cathy

But look at what it means to be average. You are the worst of the best and the best of the worst. You’re not achieving anything unusual, choosing instead to go with the flow. When we do less than our best, we become discontent and “burned out.” Occasionally, I will have an Operator offer to terminate the franchise agreement with the explanation, “I’m just burned out on the restaurant business.” ~S. Truett Cathy

It is when we stop doing our best work that our enthusiasm for the job wanes. We must motivate ourselves to do our very best, and by our example lead others to do their best as well. People like to follow those who are excited about their work, not workaholics. ~S. Truett Cathy

My attitude regarding the distant future is to do the best we can every day and take advantage of unexpected opportunities. That combination will lead us to success. I don’t want to set some arbitrary target out there that might lead us to make inappropriate decisions just to achieve it. ~S. Truett Cathy

Hey, America, wake up. These guys [the government officials] work for us. ~Lee Iacocca

I’ve figured out nine points and called them “Nine C’s of Leadership.”
A leader has to show CURIOSITY. – If a leader never steps outside his comfort zone to hear different ideas, he grows stale. If he doesn’t put his beliefs to the test, how does he know he’s right? The inability to listen is a form of arrogance. It means either you think you already know it all, or you just don’t care. ~Lee Iacocca

A leader has to be CREATIVE, go out on a limb, be willing to try something different. You know, think outside the box. ~Lee Iacocca

A leader has to COMMUNICATE. I’m talking about facing reality and telling the truth. ~Lee Iacocca

A leader has to be a person of CHARACTER. That means knowing the difference between right and wrong and having the guts to do the right thing. Abraham Lincoln once said, “If you want to test a man’s character give him power.” ~Lee Iacocca

A leader must have COURAGE. Swagger isn’t courage. Tough talk isn’t courage. Courage is a commitment to sit down at the negotiating table and talk. If you’re a politician, courage means taking a position even when you know it will cost you votes. ~Lee Iacocca

To be a leader you’ve got to have CONVICTION – a fire in your belly. You’ve got to have passion. ~Lee Iacocca

A leader should have CHARISMA. I’m not talking about being flashy. Charisma is the quality that makes people want to follow you. It’s the ability to inspire. People follow a leader because they trust him. ~Lee Iacocca

A leader has to be COMPETENT. That seems obvious, doesn’t it? You’ve got to know what you’re doing. More important than that, you’ve got to surround yourself with people who know what they’re doing. ~Lee Iacocca

You can’t be a leader if you don’t have COMMON SENSE. ~Lee Iacocca

The Biggest C is CRISIS.
Leaders are made, not born. Leadership is forged in times of crisis. ~Lee Iacocca

Who do you think Lee is describing?
“So here’s where we stand. We’re immersed in a bloody war with no plan for winning and no plan for leaving. We’re running the biggest deficit in the history of the country. We’re losing the manufacturing edge to Asia, while our once-great companies are getting slaughtered by health care costs. Gas prices are skyrocketing, and nobody in power has a coherent energy policy. Our schools are in trouble. Our borders are like sieves. The middle class is being squeezed every which way. These are times that cry out for leadership.” ~Lee Iacocca

Here’s what management is about: Pick good people and set the right priorities. ~Lee Iacocca

Teamwork is what makes the Green Bay Packers great. People who work together will win – period. And that applies to companies and governments. ~Vince Lombardi

One of the most important lessons I learned in business was that if all you’re getting from your team is a single point of view – usually your point of view – you’ve got to worry. You can get your own point of view for free. ~Lee Iacocca

Of all the talents bestowed upon men, none is so precious as the gift of oratory. Abandoned by his party, betrayed by his friends, stripped of his office, whoever can command this power is still formidable. ~Winston Churchill

Words can inspire. They can lift us to heights we never dreamed possible. Words can also provoke fear and rage. They can pound people into the ground. A true leader always strives to inspire. ~Lee Iacocca

Democracy thrives on two factors: free elections and open discourse. ~Lee Iacocca

The Constitution is a tool, and a blueprint, and a process that we have to use every day to preserve our great democracy. ~Lee Iacocca

Through the Constitution, we intrinsically understand who we are. We say, “This is what we stand for.” Its meaning should be imprinted on every heart. It should come to mind every time we vote. ~Lee Iacocca

A leader has to know who his true friends are, and it’s not always the ones who agree with everything or follow you blindly. With a true friend, there’s got to be equality. You share the good times and you share the bad times. There’s got to be respect. If your friend takes a principled position for the other side, you don’t have to like it, but you don’t call him names either. ~Lee Iacocca

Ronald Reagan once said, “Facts are suborn things.” He actually got that quote from John Adams. ~Lee Iacocca

When advertising slogans are better known than the Ten Commandments or the Bill of Rights, when shopping malls are our places of worship, when bad behavior is justified as long as it leads to profit, when debt is justified as long as it leads to a plasma TV, and when the measure of a person is the kind of car he drives, maybe it’s time to ask whether we’ve corrupted the very notion of capitalism. ~Lee Iacocca

Innovation can be much more important than size. Often, when companies get big they tend to grow sluggish. It takes a constant infusion of fresh ideas and leadership to prevent that. ~Lee Iacocca

We saved Chrysler for one reason. Everyone shared in the sacrifice – starting with me. You see, it wouldn’t have gone down too well if I’d asked the rank and file to tighten their belts while I was putting extra notches in mine. So I cut my salary to one dollar a year. That is an example of leadership, born in a crisis. ~Lee Iacocca

I don’t measure a man’s success by how high he climbs but how high he bounces when he hits bottom. ~General George Patton

So, if when you retire you think, "I'm tired. It's time to relax," think again. As the saying goes, you've got all eternity to catch up on your rest. ~Lee Iacocca

“You’ve The Captain of Your Ship”
If things go bad for you-
And make you a bit ashamed,
Often you will find out that
You have yourself to blame …
Swiftly we ran to mischief
And then the bad luck came.
Why do we fault others?
We have ourselves to blame …

Whatever happens to us,
Here are the words to say,
“Had it not been for so-and-so
Things wouldn’t have gone that way.”

And if you are short of friends,
I’ll tell you what to do-
Make an examination,
You’ll find the fault’s in you …

You’re the captain of your ship,
So agree with the same-
If you traveled downward,
You have yourself to blame. ~Mayme White Miller

Remember this as you go through life. The person who has the most to do with what happens to you is you! You make the choices; you decide whether you’re going to give up or ante up when the going gets tough. Ultimately, it’s you who decides whether you will be a success or not, by doing what is legally necessary to get you where you want to go, You are the captain of your own ship. If you don’t succeed, you only have yourself to blame. ~Sonya Carson

When she (Sonya Carson) believed in something she held on and wouldn’t quit. I didn’t always like hearing her say, “You weren’t born to be a failure, Bennie (Ben Carson-Sonya’s son). You can do it!” Or one of her favorites: “You just ask the Lord, and He’ll help you.” ~Ben Carson

What’s inside counts the most. Anybody can dress up on the outside and be dead inside. ~Sonya Carson

That job [the one Ben Carson had between high school and college at the Ford Motor Company; his high school counselor helped him get the job] taught me an important lesson about employment in the world beyond high school. Influence could get me inside the door, but my productivity and the quality of my work were the real tests. Just knowing a lot of information, while helpful, wasn’t enough either. The principle goes like this: It’s not what you know but the kind of job you do that makes the difference. ~Ben Carson

The kind of job doesn’t matter. The length of time on the job doesn’t matter, for it’s true even with a summer job. If you work hard and do your best, you’ll be recognized and move onward. ~Ben Carson

There isn’t anybody in the world who isn’t worth something. ~Ben Carson

As I think of Black youth, I also want to say I believe that many of our pressing racial problems will be taken care of when we who are among the minorities will stand on our own feet and refuse to look to anybody else to save us from our situations. The culture in which we live stresses looking out for number one. Without adopting such a self-centered value system, we can demand the best of ourselves while we are extending our hands to help others. ~Ben Carson

Learn to recognize and accept your God-given talents (and we all have them). Develop those talents and use them in the career you choose. Remembering T for talent puts you far ahead of the game if you take advantage of what God gives you. ~Ben Carson

T also = TIME
Learn the importance of time. When you are always on time, people can depend on you. You prove your trustworthiness. Learn not to waste time, because time is money and time is effort. Time usage is also a talent. God gives some people the ability to manage time. The rest of us have to learn how And we can. ~Ben Carson

Don’t go around with a long face, expecting something bad to happen. Anticipate good things; watch for them. ~Ben Carson

H also = HONESTY
When you do anything dishonest, you must do something else dishonest to cover up, and your life becomes hopelessly complex. The same with telling lies. If you’re honest, you don’t have to remember what you said the last time. Speaking the truth each time makes life amazingly simple. ~Ben Carson

Listen and learn from people who have already been where you want to go. Benefit from their mistakes instead of repeating them. Read good books like the Bible because they open up new worlds of understanding. ~Ben Carson

Be nice to people – all people. If you’re nice to people, they’ll be nice to you. It takes much less energy to be nice than it does to be mean. Being kind, friendly, and helpful takes less energy and relieves much of the pressure. ~Ben Carson

Knowledge is the key to independent living, the key to all your dreams, hopes, and aspirations. If you are knowledgeable, particularly more knowledgeable than anybody else in a field, you become invaluable and write your own ticket. ~Ben Carson

I emphasize that active learning from reading is better than passive learning such as listening to lectures or watching television. When you read, your mind must work by taking in letters and connecting them to form words. Words make themselves into thoughts and concepts. Developing good reading habits is something like being a champion weightlifter. The champion didn’t go into the gym one day and start lifting 500 pounds. He toned his muscles, beginning with lighter weights, always building up, and preparing for more. It’s the same thing with intellectual feats. We develop our minds by reading, by thinking, by figuring out things for ourselves. ~Ben Carson

Superficial learners cram for exams but know nothing two weeks later. In-depth learners find that the acquired knowledge becomes a part of them. They understand more about themselves and their world. They keep building on prior understanding by piling on new information. ~Ben Carson

Never get too big for God. Never drop God out of your life. ~Ben Carson

Mother Teresa’s profound words are surely true of me and true of you: “I am a little pencil in the hand of a writing God, who is sending a love letter to the world.” My prayer is that He will use you to write His next love letter. ~Richard Stearns

The meaning, purpose, and significance of our lives are found only by aligning our lives with God’s purposes, in lives committed to following Jesus Christ. ~Richard Stearns

God created you intentionally to play a very specific role in His unfolding story. ~Richard Stearns

If we are not personally engaged in God’s great mission in the world, then we have missed the very thing He created us to do. ~Richard Stearns

The Author created you to play a key role in His story. ~Richard Stearns

Well doesn’t it make sense that our story has an author too – One who created the world and the universe we were born into, One who cast the vision for the expansive plot and story narrative that has unfolded over eons of time, One who began the story and also will bring it to its conclusion? Doesn’t it also follow that this same Author/Creator gave life to each and every character in His story – to you and to me – and that He created each one of us with unique gifts, talents, and personalities; and that He placed us within His story in both space and time? ~Richard Stearns

What may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them. For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities – his eternal power and divine nature – have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse. ~Romans 1:19-20

The big story of God came to a climax in the life and death and resurrection of Jesus. He is the truth; He is the story. “I am the way and the truth and the life,” Jesus said. “No one comes to the Father except through me” (John 14:6).

The tragedy of modern man is not that he knows less and less about the meaning of his own life but that it bothers him less and less? ~Vaclav Havel

In short, I had always believed that the world involved magic: now I thought that perhaps it involved a magician … I had always felt life first as a story and if there is a story there is a story-teller. ~G. K. Chesterton

The story of Scripture is the story of a Father’s love for His children. It is the story of a Father faithfully reaching out to the children who rejected Him. It is the story of a loving God who never gives up. ~Richard Stearns

The birth of Jesus is the sunrise in the Bible. ~Henry Van Dyke

A penny will hide the biggest star in the universe if you hold it close enough to your eye. ~Samuel Grafton

Frei Betto said, “The head thinks where the feet stand.” If you are North American or European, think of how different your worldview might be if you had been born and raised in Afghanistan, China, Gaza or the West Bank, Russia, North Korea, or Ethiopia. ~Richard Stearns

Worldview: the overall perspective from which one sees and interprets the world. ~Richard Stearns

We see people and things not as they are, but as we are ~Anthony De Mello

Most Americans are still drawing some water from the Christian well. But a growing number are inventing their own versions of what Christianity means, abandoning the nuances of traditional theology in favor of religions that stroke their egos and indulge or even celebrate their worst impulses. ~Ross Douthat

Prosperity knits a man to the World. He feels that he is “finding his place in it,” while really it is finding its place in him. C.S. Lewis

Just as God created birds to fly and fish to swim, he created us to live as citizens in His emerging kingdom and to invite others to join us. ~Richard Stearns

Many of our churches are no longer the boot camps established to equip us for battle; they’re spiritual spas designed to enhance our well-being and give us a glow at the beginning of our week. We sing a few songs, shake a few hands, and listen to a pleasant homily. The call of Jesus to lay down our lives, take up our crosses, and share in His suffering seldom echoes from our pulpits. ~Richard Stearns

Christ did not call us to retreat from the world’s pain but to enter it. He called us to go. The twenty-first-century church has everything required to finish the job-the resources, the knowledge, and the mandate. But the great mission given to us by Christ lies unfinished. It is time to relaunch. ~Richard Stearns

God leaves us here because He has a mission for us to fulfill. We aren’t here by accident; neither are we here simply to enjoy the good things life has to offer. We are here because God put us here, and He has a sovereign purpose in keeping us here. It’s true for us as individuals, and it’s true for His body, the Church, in all of its fullness. As Jesus prayed just before His arrest and trial, “I am not praying that You take them out of the world … As You sent Me into the world, I also have sent them into the world” (John 17:15, 18). ~Billy Graham

Jesus’ call to repent was more than merely a call to feel remorse or regret for our sins; it was a call to change our minds, to exchange our agenda for His; it was a call to reorder our lives in the face of God’s dramatic news that His kingdom was now available to all. Eugene Peterson paraphrases Mark 1:15 this way: “Time’s up! God’s kingdom is here. Change your life and believe the Massage” (MSG). Jesus called us not just to believe but also to change our lives. ~Richard Stearns

Scot McKnight talks about the difference between a disciple and a decider: “Most of evangelism today focuses on getting someone to make a decision; the apostles, however, were obsessed with making disciples.” Jesus called us to be disciples and make disciples, not just be deciders.

Deciders just believe the right things; disciples seek to do the right things. Disciples are dedicated to learning their Master’s truths so they can imitate their Mater’s life. Disciples seek to embrace their Mater’s mission and serve their Master’s purposes. Disciples try to plan their entire lives around Jesus’ teaching and commands. Deciders have their own plans for their lives and invite Jesus to bless them. Jesus had some harsh things to say about deciders.

“Why do you call me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ and do not do what I say?” (Luke 6:46)

“Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only he who does the will of My Father who is in heaven. Many will say to Me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name and in your name drive out demons and in your name perform many miracles?’ Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from Me, you evildoers! (Matt. 7:21-23)

Regarding entrance into the kingdom of God, Jesus’ death on the cross to atone for our sins made it possible for us to get our “certificate of citizenship” in His kingdom. But His expectation is that we will not only move in but also renounce our former citizenship; that we will become fully engaged citizens, enjoying our new rights and privileges, abiding by the laws of His kingdom, contributing to its growth and prosperity, and even becoming its ambassadors to those who live outside of God’s kingdom. Jesus wants us to enter into a new way of living in the here and now, empowered by the Holy Spirit, living under God’s rule and authority, forsaking the influence of other kingdoms, and taking up the full responsibilities of our citizenship. Tragically, many Christians make the decision, get their certificates, but never really move in to become full citizens of God’s kingdom. ~Richard Stearns

It is not enough for us to simply enlist [in God’s army]; we are called to join the battle. ~Richard Stearns

I want to share with you where my mind has come to rest as I approach the end of my pilgrimage on earth. It is this: God wants His people to become like Christ, for Christlikeness is the will of God for the people of God. ~John Stott

These church communities, because they seek to live under God’s rule and according to God’s truth, should be shining examples of a radically different way for people to live. ~Richard Stearns

Our job is simply to populate the kingdom of heaven. ~Ted Engstrom

He chooses us for a mission, and He chooses a mission for us. ~Richard Stearns

We are saved by faith, and we are saved for works. And God Himself has prepared specific people for specific works. ~Richard Stearns

God’s expectations of us can be summed up simply – love God and love our fellow man. ~Richard Stearns

The teaching and example of Jesus and the bright thread of compassion for others that runs through all of Scripture underscores God’s desire that followers of Jesus will be recognized by their tangible expression of his love for all people. ~Richard Stearns

As John pointedly said, “Whoever claims to live in Him must live as Jesus did” (1 John 2:6).

The truth is not that God is finding us a place for our gifts but that God has created us and our gifts for a place of His choosing – and we will only be ourselves when we are finally there. ~Os Guinness

Your life goal should be to follow Christ, live as Jesus lived, love as Jesus loves, proclaim the good news of the kingdom of God as we are sent into the world as His ambassadors. But being an engineer, accountant, or teacher might just be a very good means to that end. Everything we have and everything we are can be used in service to the Lord and to further His kingdom goals. ~Richard Stearns

There is no difference for the follower of Christ between the sacred and the secular. All work is sacred if it does not violate God’s laws and if it is offered in the service of building His kingdom. ~Richard Stearns

So what is the practical benefit of all the theology of the Holy Spirit? It is nothing less than the single enabling power that now makes it possible for ordinary human beings to be transformed and live differently than was ever before possible. Jesus’ call to repent and change our lives, to replace our agendas with his agenda, to literally become a new creation, is only made possible when the Holy Spirit comes into our hearts with power. It is only possible when God dwells in us. When that happens, we have access to abilities and insights previously unavailable. Again, it would take an entire book to unpack this idea fully, but let me list just a few of the gifts made available to us by the Spirit:
• Wisdom: the ability to perceive things from God’s perspective
• Comfort: the ability to have confidence in God and put our minds and hearts at ease
• Discernment: the ability to discriminate between truth and falsehood, right and wrong
• Intercession: the ability to access to the Spirit praying with us and through us before God
• Direction: the ability to sense what God wants us to do and where God wants us to go
• Power: the ability to do things we could not do before, speak things we could not speak before
• Boldness: the ability to have the courage to take a stand and to face trails
• Endurance: the ability to continue under stress, in suffering, with patience
• Conviction: a keen sense of conscience about our sins and our behavior
• Strength: the ability to overcome our weaknesses
• Protection: the ability to remain safe from evil, from the principalities and powers in this world
• Unity: the ability to bind together with other followers of Jesus within the church
• Fruit: the ability to demonstrate in our lives the fruit of the Spirit – love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control ~Richard Stearns

First, as we learned earlier, we have to set the right destination, the one that involves replacing our agendas with God’s agenda – serving Him and building His kingdom. Second, just as my own GPS sometimes requires, we need to allow time to acquire the satellite; we need to invest the time to connect to God through His Spirit by spending time in prayer, reading Scripture, practicing spiritual disciplines, worshipping, and spending time with other believers. The stronger our satellite connection, the stronger the signal. Third, we need to listen and pay attention to the driving directions that are given. The thing about a GPS is that you can choose to ignore it, or you can just turn it off. We can choose to ignore the Holy Spirit in our lives as well. We can become so enamored with the sights along life’s roadways that we turn off the Spirit, turn off the road, and wander away from God’s plan for our lives. The Holy Spirit doesn’t coerce us. We need the Holy Spirit only if we want to obey God’s will and follow God’s path. If we want to follow our own way, we might as well turn it off. We aren’t forced to listen or obey just as we aren’t forced to heed a GPS. The choice is still ours. ~Richard Stearns

I am only one, but I am one,
I cannot do everything,
But I can do something.
What I can do I ought to do,
And what I ought to do
By GFleeod’s grace I will do. ~Edward Everett Hale

Prayer is as much about listening to God as it is about talking to Him.

There is an African proverb I love that goes like this: “If you want to run fast, run alone. If you want to run far, run together.” Good advice for all of us on the journey. ~Richard Stearns

We are to live with this question on our lips at all times: “how can I serve the Lord today, here in this place?” ~Richard Stearns

The key to discovering your specific calling in the end is patience and faithfulness. Make yourself available, serve where you stand, be faithful with what’s in front of you, and trust God for the outcome. ~Richard Stearns

There are no ordinary people. ~C.S. Lewis

Drudgery is the touchstone of character. The great hindrance in spiritual life is that we will look for big things to do. “Jesus took a towel … and began to wash the disciples’ feet” ~Oswald Chambers

God had chosen a different way (then the way men would have chosen), a new way, to change the world. He had chosen the weak over the powerful, the humble over the noble, the poor over the rich, the servant over the master, he had chosen a baby in a manger over a king in a place (1 Cor. 1:25-29). ~Richard Stearns

Whoever you are and wherever you are placed, know that you were placed there by the King to accomplish His good purpose! ~Richard Stearns

You are a child of the King, a unique one-of-a-kind miracle, and you were created to play a critical role in the big story of God. ~Richard Stearns

God does not call the equipped, but rather He equips those whom He calls. ~Anonymous

It should be of great comfort that God’s plan does not rely on our greatness but rather on His. ~Richard Stearns

No Goliath we face is mightier than the God we serve. ~Richard Stearns

We have brought into a church-growth consumer mentality that compels us to make our churches as appealing as possible to “consumers.” ~Richard Stearns

Better the church should shrink than risk losing its God-given purpose and identity. A community of true disciples, authentically living out the teachings of Scripture, is far more attractive than a latte bar or a Vegas-style musical performance. Jesus called the church to be salt and light in our world – salt to literally prevent decay (as in rotting meat) and light to counter the darkness of our culture. ~Richard Stearns

Let my heart be broken by the things that break the heart of God. ~Bob Pierce

We have gone from being fishers of men to becoming keepers of the aquarium. ~Paul Harvey

The evil one wants nothing more than for the church to lose sight of its critical mission to assault the very gates of hell and bring the good news of the kingdom to all of God’s children. Insulated social clubs with fabulous facilities and Broadway-caliber Sunday worship services bring delight to the devil – “no harm, no foul!” The church that causes the demons to shudder is the church hell-bent on finishing the job that Christ commanded the church to do. ~Richard Stearns

Jesus did not call us to build an institution; He called us to lead a revolution. ~Richard Stearns

We live in the not yet, but God sees the already. We see today and yesterday but not tomorrow. God sees all three at once. In Him, those crushed in Haiti are alive already. In Him, those orphaned in Haiti are reunited with family already. In Him, those broken in Haiti are healed already. In Him, those grieving in Haiti rejoice already. ~Richard Stearns

How then should we think? How then should we live? What then, must we do? Unlike God, we live in the time between the already and not yet and we must wait until then. Until then, we are commanded to love our neighbors as ourselves. Until then, we are called to comfort the afflicted, give food to the hungry and water to the thirsty. Until then, we are to shelter the homeless, clothe the naked, and grieve with the grieving. Until then, we are to care for the widow, the orphan, the alien, and the stranger. We are to “let [our] light so shine before men, that they may see [our] good works and glorify [our] Father in heaven” (Matt. 5:16 NKJV). Until then we are Christ’s heart and hands and feet – the ambassadors of His love in a hurting world. Until then we are called to show forth God’s deep love. ~Richard Stearns

Every act of kindness, each moment spent in prayer, and every expression of love in the name of Christ pierces the heart of the enemy and sends him into retreat. ~Richard Stearns

Though no one can go back and make a brand new start, anyone can start from now and make a brand new ending. ~Attributed to Carl Bard

You see, Ralph and Cheryl didn’t sell everything they had and go onto the mission field; instead, they saw the mission field in everything they had. God used their passions, gifts, and skills right where they were planted, but they first had to make those gifts and skills available to Him. ~Richard Stearns

Only one life, ‘twill soon be past, only what’s done for Christ will last. ~Attributed to C.T. Studd

It’s not the things we do in life that we regret on our deathbed, it is the things we do not. ~Randy Pausch

There are things that only you can do, and you are alive to do them. In the great orchestra we call life, you have an instrument and a song, and you owe it to God to play them both sublimely. ~Max Lucado

Joyful, Joyful, We Adore Thee
God of glory, Lord of love;
Hearts unfold like flow’rs befotre Thee,
Op’ning to the sun above.

Melt the clouds of sin and sadness;
Drive the dark of doubt away;
Giver of immortal gladness,
Fill us with the light of day! ~Beethoven

I came to see that God did not need someone with extraordinary gifts and achievements. He just needed someone who could love, share her life, and feel for others as He did. God was looking for compassion, not commendations. He was looking for faithfulness, not fame. God assured me that if I would be committed to loving and serving with a soft heart, then even if my life seemed small in the eyes of the world, before God it would be great. ~Heather Mercer

… those nations only are blessed whose God is the Lord. ~Abraham Lincoln

In a very real way, North America began in 1620 “in the name of God,” as the Mayflower Compact, our very first self-governing document clearly proclaims. ~David Gibbs, Jr.

In the early 1830’s, a Frenchman came to America to investigate how our nation dealt with prisoners. Instead, he expanded his study and wrote a two-part book about his general observations entitled Democracy in America. Amazingly, after some 170 years, Alexis de Tocqueville’s book is still in print. In the opening of his second volume, de Tocqueville reminds us: “It must never be forgotten that religion gave birth to Anglo-American society.”

G. K. Chesterton was a popular writer who lived in the early part of the 20th century in England. In an essay entitled, “What I Saw in America,” he made this observation: “America is the only nation in the world that is founded on a creed. That creed is set forth with dogmatic and even theological lucidity in the Declaration of Independence.”

The Bible “is the rock on which our Republic rests.” ~Andrew Jackson

Finally, let us not forget the religious character of our origin. Our fathers were brought hither by their high veneration for the Christian religion. They journeyed by its light, and labored in its hope. They sought to incorporate its principles with the elements of their society, and to diffuse its influence through all their institutions, civil, political, or literary. ~Daniel Webster

In 1681, William Penn provided a haven in Pennsylvania for Quakers and for all those professing Jesus as the Christ and Savior. He established a community based on both political and religious freedom that would be an example to the nations. Viewing his colony as a “Holy Experiment,” Penn wanted to establish a society that was both Godly and virtuous and to bring “the savage natives by gentle and just manners to the Love of Civil Societ[y] and Christian religion.”

One of the goals of the Georgia Trustees under James Oglethorpe in 1733 was to provide for the conversion of the Indians through the colony’s good discipline and example of just, moral, and religious behavior. Oglethorpe’s first official act as a Trustee in Savannah was to kneel with his company to offer thanksgiving and prayer to God. ~David Gibbs, Jr.

My hope in the One who created us all sustains me: He is an ever present help in trouble … ~Christopher Columbus

The Pledge of Allegiance was created to honor the 400th anniversary of Christopher Columbus’ discovery of America. The Pledge was written by a Baptist minister, Francis Bellamy (1856-1931) of Boston. ~David Gibbs, Jr.

Some people now find the Pledge offensive, particularly because of the phrase “under God” which was added by Congress in 1954. President Dwight D. Eisenhower said at the time he signed the law: “FROM THIS DAY FORWARD, the millions of our school children will daily proclaim in every city and town, every village and rural school house, the dedication of our nation and our people to the Almighty. To anyone who truly loves America, nothing could be more inspiring than to contemplate this rededication of our youth, on each school morning, to our country’s true meaning.”

In 1955, President Eisenhower said, “Without God, there could be no American form of Government, nor an American way of life. Recognition of the Supreme Being is the first – the most basic – expression of Americanism. Thus the founding fathers of America saw it, and thus with God’s help, it will continue to be.”

Columbus portrayed as a devout and sincere Christian who rejoiced in the souls that would be saved in this new land. He wrote: “Therefore let the king and queen, the princes and their most fortunate kingdoms, and all other countries of Christendom give thanks to our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, who has bestowed upon us so great a victory and gift. Let religious processions be solemnized; let sacred festivals be given; let the churches be covered with festive garlands. Let Christ rejoice on earth, as He rejoices in heaven, when He foresees coming to salvation so many souls of people hitherto lost.”

No one should be afraid to take on any enterprise in the name of our Savior, if it is right and if the purpose is purely for His holy service. ~Christopher Columbus

Columbus felt an urgency from the Lord, not merely to open a new trade route, but also to bring the Gospel to the ends of the earth. His purpose was twofold. First, of course, he wanted to reach Asia. Secondly, in the words of the World Book Encyclopedia, he wanted to use the proceeds from his expedition to “recapture Jerusalem from the Muslims. There, he said, he would rebuild the Jews’ holy Temple and bring on a new ‘Age of the Holy Spirit.’” He wanted to liberate Christ’s holy sepulcher from Muslim ownership back to Christian control. Because of all this, George Grant calls him “the last crusader.” ~David Gibbs, Jr.

I forbade that they [the Indians] should be given things so worthless as pieces of broken crockery and broken glass, and lace points. … I gave them a thousand good, pleasing things which I had bought, in order that they might be fond of us, and furthermore might become Christians and be inclined to the love and service of Their Highnesses and the whole Castilian nation [Spain], and try to help us to give us of the things which they have in abundance and which are necessary to us. ~Columbus in a letter to the King and Queen of Spain written on February 15, 1493

Columbus himself tells of the Christian motivation for his voyage in his Book of Prophecies, a volume he wrote in 1505, so named because he quotes many Biblical prophecies:

It was the Lord who put into my mind (I could feel His hand upon me) to sail to the Indies and wonderful things for the earth, and the signs are that the Lord is hastening the. All who heard of my project rejected it with laughter, ridiculing me. There is no question that the inspiration was from the Holy Spirit, because He comforted me with rays of marvelous illumination from the Holy Scriptures.

Columbus elaborates further:

For the execution of the journey to the Indies I did not make use of intelligence, mathematics, or maps. It is simply the fulfillment of what Isaiah prophesied … These are great end. The fact that [the] gospel must still be preached to so many lands in such a short time – this is what convinces me.

Columbus erected a cross on the landing site, symbolizing the claim of Christ on a land that had not previously been exposed to the Gospel. He named the first island on which they landed “San Salvador,” which translated means “Holy Savior.” Other lands he later named included “Trinidad” (meaning “Trinity”), “Vera Cruz” (meaning “True Cross”), and “Navidad” (similar to our word “Nativity,” meaning Christmas). These Christian names remain to this day. ~David Gibbs, Jr.

In the rotunda of the U.S. Capitol, our nation’s spiritual heritage id honored even today among eight large paintings depicting important moments in American history. About half of these paintings have a direct reference in one way or another to Christ, including the Christian baptism of Pocahontas. One of these paintings depicts Rev. Robinson’s prayer meeting with the Pilgrims on board ship before they departed for America. In the picture, Robinson is holding a large open Bible. The name of Jesus Christ can clearly be seen (upside down) on the open page of the Scriptures. Visitors to Washington, D.C., can visit this very large painting. The picture stands as a beacon of our nation’s true history. ~David Gibbs, Jr.

What was remarkable about this particular contract [the Mayflower Compact] was that it was not between a servant and a master, or a people and a king, but between a group of like-minded individuals and each other, with God as a witness and symbolic co-signatory. ~Paul Johnson

The Mayflower Compact begins by recognizing the hand of God who had been leading all along: “In the name of God, Amen. We, whose names are underwritten, the Loyal Subjects of our dread Sovereign Lord, King James. … Having undertaken for the Glory of God, and Advancement of the Christian Faith, and the Honor of our King and Country, a voyage to plant the first colony in the northern Parts of Virginia do by these Presents, solemnly and mutually in the Presence of God and one of another, covenant and combine ourselves together into a civil Body Politick, for our better Ordering and Preservation, and Furtherance of the Ends aforesaid. …”

Soon after the first Puritans arrived in Salem they called for a day of fasting and prayer in August 1629. Their goal, according to Cotton Mather’s early history of New England, was to settle “a Church State among them, and for making a Confession of their Faith, and entering into an holy Covenant, whereby that Church State was formed. “ ~David Gibbs, Jr.

In a sense, the clergy were the first elected officials of the new American society, a society which to that extent had a democratic element from the start … ~Paul Johnson

The Bible did not merely govern their [The Puritans] spiritual lives. It also formed the basis for their political views. ~David Gibbs, Jr.

God alone is Lord of the conscience … Chapter 21 of “The American Church Manual” written September 30, 1648

The ultimate source of political power, as the Puritans saw it, was God Himself. Human rulers must rule under His dominion. ~David Gibbs, Jr.

The Puritans did not view politics as a dirty business, as has sometimes been the case for modern Christians. For them, politics was a Biblical undertaking. ~David Gibbs, Jr.

Rhode Island was a sanctuary for religious dissidents. Roger Williams called his new settlement Providence to honor God for miraculously sparing his life during his winter flight to the colony and also to honor God’s sovereignty over the affairs of man. ~David Gibbs, Jr.

There is one great God and Power that hath made the world and all things therein, to whom you and I and all people owe their being and well-being, and to whom you and I must one day given an account, for all that we do in the world. William Penn, in a letter to Indians

The social experiment in a rankles community, where the right of self-determination of every individual was sacred, where God was the final source of authority, succeeded and prospered, and it did so on the simple formula: love-industry-integrity. Catherine Owens Peare, William Penn’s biographer, reflecting upon the success of the colony and its government based upon Biblical principles.

Liberty without obedience is confusion, and obedience without liberty is slavery. ~William Penn

This great God hath written His law in our hearts by which we are taught and commanded to love and help and do good to one another and not to do harm and mischief one unto another. ~William Penn

Religion and government are so intertwined in this document [William Penn’s “Frame of Government” for Pennsylvania] that it is impossible to separate them. To hold public office, one had to be a Christian, but there were no restrictions on denominational affiliation. Furthermore, like Roger William’s colony in Rhode Island, no one could be “molested or prejudiced for their religious persuasion, or practice, in matters of faith and worship, nor shall they be compelled, at any time, to frequent or maintain any religious worship, place or ministry whatsoever.” ~David Gibbs, Jr.

It is very clear that what Penn envisioned for his colony was not freedom from religion, but freedom of religion – not a separation of government from all religion, but a government that respected the religious consciences of all its citizens. He envisioned a place where every man was free, not to live an ungodly life, but to practice his religion in peace, to have the right to rule his own estate, and to participate in making laws and enforcing them. Individual freedom could only work if the people were self-governed and industrious. That statement is as true today as it was in 1680. ~David Gibbs, Jr.

Any government is only good as its people. ~David Gibbs, Jr.

William Penn turned down a great deal of money to betray the Indians and declared the following: “I will not abuse the love of God … nor act unworthy of His Providence, by defiling what came to me clean. No; let the Lord guide me by His wisdom to honor His name and serve His truth and people, that an example and a standard may be set up to the nations.”

The whole inspiration of our civilization springs from the teachings of Christ and the lessons of the prophets. To read the Bible for these fundamentals is a necessity of American life. ~Herbert Hoover

The Son is not to be excluded from anything. You cannot point to any natural realm or star or comet or even descend into the depth of the earth, but it is related to Christ, not in some unimportant tangential way, but directly. There is no force in nature, no laws that control those forces that do not have their origin in that eternal Word. For this reason, it is totally false to restrict Christ to spiritual affairs and to assert that there is no point of contact between Him and the natural sciences. ~Abraham Kuyper

During the Revolutionary War, the British Prime Minister, Horace Walpole, remarked to Parliament, “Cousin America has run off with a Presbyterian parson.” That Presbyterian “parson” was Rev. John Witherspoon, the president of Princeton, a signer of the Declaration of Independence as a delegate from New Jersey.

The little colonial student in early America marched off to his one-room schoolhouse and opened his new reading primer, but instead of reading about Jane and Spot, our little colonial friend was taught to read using magnificent truths based on the Word of God. Here is on example:
An Alphabet of Lessons for Youth
A wise son maketh a glad father, but a foolish son is the heaviness of his mother.
Better is a little with the fear of the Lord, than great treasure & trouble therewith.
Come unto Christ all ye that labor and are heavy laden and He will give you rest.

It being one chief project of that old deluder; Satan, to keep men from the knowledge of the Scriptures, as in former times by keeping them in an unknown tongue … It is therefore ordered that every township in this jurisdiction, after the Lord hath increased them to fifty households shall forthwith appoint one within their town to teach all such children … ~The Old Deluder Act, 1647

The “New England Primer,” the book used to teach colonial children to read, included the Lord’s Prayer, the Apostle’s Creed, and the text of many hymns and prayers by Isaac Watts. John Adams, Samuel Adams, John Hancock, Elbridge Gerry (from whom we get the word gerrymandering), and hundreds of thousands of other colonists learned their ABC’s from this powerful, tiny book. Here is one lesson from the “New England Primer” entitled “A Lesson for Children:”
Pray to God
Love God
Fear God
Serve God
Take not God’s Name in Vain
Do not Swear
Do not Steal
Cheat not in your play
Mind your Book
Call no ill names
Use no ill words
Tell no lies
Hate Lies
Speak the Truth
Spend your Time well
Love your School
Strive to learn

When colonial children learned the alphabet, they also learned key messages from the Bible. There was more Biblical truth imparted in the “New England Primer” for early American school children than is probably preached in the average American church pulpit today. Here is another example of how these children learned the alphabet:
In ADAM’S Fall we sinned all.
Heaven to find; the Bible Mind.
Christ crucify’d for sinners dy’d.

I am much afraid that schools will prove to be the great gates of hell unless they diligently labor in explaining the Holy Scriptures, engraving them in the hearts of youth. ~Martin Luther

One provision included in the Northwest Ordinance states, “Religion, morality, and knowledge being necessary to good government and the happiness of mankind, schools and the means of education shall forever be encouraged.”

A well-instructed people alone can be permanently a free people. ~James Madison

We can learn a lot about Harvard by looking at some of its earliest rules, such as the Laws and Statutes for Students of Harvard College, 1643, which begins by stating: “Let every student be plainly instructed and earnestly pressed to consider well the main end of his life and studies is to know God and Jesus Christ which is eternal life (John 17:3).”

Where there is no religion, there is no morality … With the loss of religion … the ultimate foundation of confidence is blown up; and the security of life, liberty and property are buried in ruins. Timothy Dwight, President of Yale, 1798

In the early years of Yale, the Word of God was preeminent. Consider, for example, the regulations for Yale College in its new charter in 1745. Here are two of the requirements listed: “All scholars shall live religious, godly, and blameless lives according to the rules of God’s Word, diligently reading the Holy Scriptures, the foundation of light and truth; and constantly attend all the duties of religion, both in public and secret.”

An early advertisement for King’s College (Columbia University) read: “The chief thing that is aimed at in this college is to teach and engage children to know God in Jesus Christ.”

Without religion, I believe that learning does real mischief to the morals and principles of mankind. ~Benjamin Rush, Signer of Declaration of Independence

Under God’s Power She Flourishers ~Princeton University’s official motto

One early Ivy League school was founded entirely to raise up ministers and missionaries to the Indians. That school was Dartmouth in Hanover, New Hampshire.

You do well to wish to learn our arts and ways of life, and above all, the religion of Jesus Christ. ~George Washington to the Delaware Indian chiefs

Jonathan Edwards was the third president of Princeton, which at the time was still known as the College of New Jersey.

Jonathan Edwards and his wife Sara (Sara Pierrepont, whom he married in 1727) had eleven children who were all raised to be Godly people. William J. Federer notes:

Their success as parents was revealed in a study done in 1990, showing that their descendants included 13 college presidents, 65 professors, 30 judges, 100 lawyers, a dean of a prestigious law school, 80 public office holders, nearly 100 missionaries, 3 mayors of large cities, 3 governors, 3 United States Senators, 1 comptroller of the United States Treasury, and 1 Vice-Presidents of the United States.

Paul Johnson points out that this Great Awakening “sounded the death-knell of British colonialism.

The Great Awakening helped to forge all sections of the country together.

As John Adams was to put it, long afterwards: “The Revolution was effected before the War commenced. The Revolution was in the mind and hearts of the people: and change in their religious sentiments of their duties and obligations.” … The Revolution could not have taken place without this religious background. The essential difference between the American Revolution and the French Revolution is that the American Revolution, in its origins, was a religious event, whereas the French Revolution was an anti-religious event.”

Both before and during the Revolutionary War, at least twice a year, and always around the time of local election days, the clergy would preach an election sermon on the state of political affairs.

Rev. Mayhew knew that the power of government was invested in the people. He also knew that the consent of the governed was more important than the petty whims of magistrates who lose their authority to rule over the people when they become tyrants. Such radical preaching played a major role in the drive for independence.

Robert Treat Pain, a signer of the Declaration of Independence and one-time attorney general of the United States, called Mayhew “The Father of Civil and Religious Liberty in Massachusetts and America.

And while I am speaking of loyalty to our earthly Prince, suffer me just to put you in mind to be loyal also to the supreme RULER of the universe, by whom kings reign, and princes decree justice. ~Rev. Jonathan Mayhew

Because the Word of God addresses all of life, including politics, Rev. Mayhew concluded that politics is an appropriate topic for the pulpit.

… it is no easy matter to deceive or conquer a people determined to be free. ~Rev. Phillips Payson, election sermon, Boston, 1778

Civil tyranny is usually small in its beginning, like “the drop of a bucket,” till at length a mighty torrent, or the raging waves of the set, it bears down all before it, and deluges whole countries and empires. ~Rev. Jonathan Mayhew

Unlimited submission and obedience is to none but God alone. … And to suppose that he has given to any particular set of men a power to require obedience to that which is unreasonable, cruel, and unjust, is robbing the Deity of his justice and goodness. ~Rev. Samuel West 1754 Harvard Grad

To be prepared for war is one of the most effective means of preserving peace. ~George Washington

Washington once responded to a group of Indians who were seeking to educate their children in the ways of the Englishmen. He told them the single most important thing they could learn from the Americans was the way of Jesus Christ. He said: “You do well to wish to learn our arts and ways of life, and above all, the religion of Jesus Christ. … Congress will do everything they can to assist you in this wise intention.”

The Divine Author of our Blessed Religion ~One way in which George Washington spoke of Jesus

Happily the treason had been timely discovered to prevent the fatal misfortune. The providential train of circumstances, which led to it, affords the most convincing proof that the Liberties of America are the object of divine Protection. ~ written by George Washington when he stumbled upon evidence about Benedict Arnold engagement in treason (Sept. 25, 1780)

President Washington chose to be sworn into office with his hand on the Bible, a tradition that continues to this day. At the conclusion of his inauguration as President, Washington bent down and kissed the sacred book. Then he led the Congressmen and everyone else in attendance across the street to St. Paul’s Cathedral for a two-hour service of Christian worship to commit the new nation to God. Washington swearing in occurred in New York City since the Capitol did not move to Washington, D.C. until several years later. The service at St. Paul’s had been commissioned by an April 1789 Resolution. The Congress that resolved to conduct a worship service at St. Paul’s following Washington’s inauguration was the very same Congress that enacted the First Amendment with the religion clause.

Neither the wisest constitution nor the wisest laws will secure the liberty and happiness of a people whose manners are universally corrupt. ~Sam Adams

[The state] has no right to absolute, arbitrary power over the lives and fortunes of the people; nor can mortals assume a prerogative not only too high for men, but for angels, and therefore reserved for the exercise of the Deity alone. ~Samuel Adams, “The Rights of Colonists as Subjects,” 1772

Besides, sir, we shall not fight our battle alone. There is a just God who presides over the destinies of nations, and who will raise up friends to fight our battle for us. The battle, sir, is not to the strong alone; it is to the vigilant, the active, the brave. … Is life so dear or peace so sweet as to be purchased at the price of chains and slavery? Forbid it, Almighty God! I know not what course others may take; but as for me, give me liberty or give me death. ~Patrick Henry, March 23, 1775, before the Virginia Provincial Convention meeting in the House of Burgesses

Bad men cannot make good citizens. It is impossible that a nation of infidels or idolaters should be a nation of freemen. ~Patrick Henry

Plead my cause, O Lord, with them that strive with me. ~Opening line of Psalm 35, read in Congress, September 7, 1774

Over two decades ago, in December 1982, on the eve of the International Year of the Bible (1983), Newsweek Magazine did a cover story discussing the Bible’s impact on America. Many Newsweek readers were probably shocked to read these remarkable words:

[F]or centuries [the Bible] has exerted an unrivaled influence on American culture, politics and social life . Now historians are discovering that the Bible, perhaps even more than the Constitution, is our founding document; the source of the powerful myth of the United States as a special, sacred nation, a people called by God to establish a model society, a beacon to the world. (December 27, 1982)

Resistance to tyranny becomes the Christian and social duty of each individual … Continue steadfast, and with a proper sense1`on God sense of your dependence on God, nobly defend those rights which heaven gave, and no man ought to take from us. ~Resolution by the Massachusetts Provincial Congress, 1774

Thomas Jefferson drew many of his ideas from John Locke and William Blackstone, both Biblical Christians. He also reflected the work of a group of twenty-seven Scotch-Irish Presbyterians in Mecklenburg, North Carolina, who drafted their own Declaration under the direction of Elder Ephraim Brevard, a graduate of Princeton.

Thomas Jefferson borrows so freely from the work of these [twenty-seven Scotch-Irish Presbyterians in Mecklenburg, North Carolina] Presbyterian elders that today he might be accused of plagiarism. However, in that time, to quote liberally from another source was considered to be a compliment.

The Bible is one of the greatest blessings bestowed by God on the children of man. ~John Locke

Whatever the state of his personal salvation, Christianity and the Bible shaped Montesquieu’s [Baron Charles Louis Joseph de Secondat Montesquieu, 1689-1755,- an Enlightenment thinker] political worldview. In writing The Spirit of the Laws, this philosopher starts with God as the source of all law. “God is related to the universe, as Creator and Preserver; the laws by which He created all things are those by which He preserves them. He acts according to these rules, because He knows them; He knows them, because He made them; and He made them because they are in relation to His Wisdom and power.”

He that shall collect all the moral rules of the philosophers and compare them with those contained in the New Testament will find them to come short of the morality delivered by our Savior and taught by His disciples: a college made up of ignorant but inspired fishermen … ~John Locke

John Locke was convinced that humanity’s first allegiance must be to God and His Son: “As Men we have God for our King, and are under the Law of Reason: as Christians, we have Jesus the Messiah for our King, and are under the Law revealed by Him in the Gospel.”

God in the Declaration
Our nation’s birth certificate, the Declaration of Independence mentions God four times.

• “The laws of Nature and of Nature’s God …”
- referring to God’s natural law and to the Holy Scriptures;
• “All Men are created equal, they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights …”
- referring to the Creator God of Genesis;
• “Appealing to the Supreme Judge of the World for the Rectitude of our Intentions …”
- referring to the God revealed in the Holy Scriptures, and
• “With a firm Reliance on the Protection of Divine Providence …”
- referring to the Biblical God who superintends the affairs of men.

It could be said that the Declaration of Independence is the “why” of American government, while the Constitution is the “how.”

If American democracy is to remain the greatest hope of humanity, it must continue abundantly in the faith of the Bible. ~Calvin Coolidge

Like Locke, William Blackstone does not equate the pursuit of happiness with license, as so many in America do today. Instead, he explains that a man’s true happiness can only be found in obedience to God’s law: “For He has so intimately connected, so inseparably interwoven the laws of eternal justice with the happiness of each individual, that the latter cannot be attained but by observing the former.” The “pursuit of happiness” is not a hedonistic concept.

John Adams proposed that when America’s future citizens celebrated the Declaration of Independence, they should have religious services to thank God for what He had brought about. President Adams said Independence Day should “be celebrated by succeeding generations as the great anniversary festival, commemorated as the day of deliverance, by solemn acts of devotion to God Almighty, from one end of the continent to the other, from this time forward and forevermore.”

Religion is the only solid basis of good morals; therefore education should teach the precepts of religion, and the duties of man toward God …” ~Gouverneur Morris, Constitution signer

The Founding Fathers all knew that because man was sinful, power could not be vested in any one person. ~David Gibbs, Jr.

To clarify what our founders meant when they established a republic and not a democracy, Madison, in Federalist #14, pointed out the difference: “It is that in a democracy the people meet and exercise the government in person; in a republic they assemble and administer it by their representatives and agents.

Most of the founders were quite leery of the whole concept of a pure democracy, where the people hold all power directly. Instead, the founders established this nation as a republic, in which the government functions through elected officials. ~David Gibbs, Jr.

We have no government armed with power capable of contending with human passions unbridled by morality and religion. Avarice, ambition, revenge, or gallantry, would break the strong cords of our Constitution as a whole goes through a net. Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other. ~John Adams

And the most fundamental assumption [of the Constitution] is that the American people are a virtuous people. ~Donald S. Lutz

And whereas it has pleased the Great Governor of the World to incline the hearts of the Legislatures we respectively represent in Congress, to approve of, and to authorize us to ratify the said Articles of Confederation and perpetual union. ~Articles of Confederation, 1778, forerunner to the Constitution

Mr. President: The small progress we have made after four or five weeks close attendance & continual reasonings with each other – our different sentiments on almost every question, several of the last producing as many noes as ayes, is methinks a melancholy proof of the imperfection of Human Understanding.

We indeed seem to feel our own want of political wisdom, since we have been running about in search of it. We have gone back to ancient history for models of government, and examined the different forms of those Republics which, having been formed with the seeds of their own dissolution, now no longer exist. And we have viewed Modern States all around Europe, but find none of theior Constitutions suitable to our circumstances.

In this situation of this Almighty, groping as it were in the dark to find political truth, and scarce able to distinguish it when presented to us, how has it happened, Sir, that we have not hitherto once thought of humbly applying to the Father of lights to illuminate our understanding?

In the beginning of the Contest with G. Britain, when we were sensible of danger, we had daily prayer in this room for Divine protection – Our prayers, Sir, were heard, & they were graciously answered. All of us who were engaged in the struggle musty have observed frequent instances of a superintending Providence in our favor.

To that kind Providence we owe this happy opportunity of consulting in peace on the means of establishing our future national felicity. And have we now forgotten that powerful Friend? Or do we imagine we no longer need His assistance?

I have lived, Sir, a long time, and the longer I live, the more convincing proofs I see of this truth – that God Governs in the affairs of men. And if a sparrow cannot fall to the ground without His notice, is it probable that an empire can rise without His aid?

We have been assured, Sir, in the Sacred Writings, that “except the Lord build the House, they labor in vain that build it” [Psalm 127:1a]. I firmly believe this; and I also believe that without His concurring aid we shall succeed in this political building no better than the Builders of Babel: We shall be divided by our partial local interests; our projects will be confounded, and we ourselves shall become a reproach and bye word down to future ages.

And what is worse, mankind may hereafter from this unfortunate instance, despair of establishing Governments by Human wisdom and leave it to chance, war and conquest.

I therefore beg leave to move – that henceforth prayers imploring the assistance of Heaven, and its blessing on our deliberations, be held in this Assembly every morning before we proceed to business, and that one or more of the clergy of this city be requested to officiate in that service. ~Dr. Ben Franklin, June 28, 1787, addressed to the Constitutional Convention

There is a consistent pattern in Scripture of what happens in a life that God wants to use and improve:
• There is always a call. God asks an ordinary person to engage in an act of extraordinary trust, that of getting out of the boat.
• There is always fear. God has an inextinguishable habit of asking people to do things that are scary to them. It may be a fear of inadequacy (“I am slow of speech and slow of tongue,” Moses said). It may be a fear of failure (“The land we explored devours those who live in it,” cried the spies sent out to the Promised Land). It may even be a fear of God (“For I knew you were a hard man, seeking to reap where you did not sow,” claimed the servant in Jesus’ parable). But one way or another, there will be fear.
• There is always reassurance. God promises His presence (“The Lord is with you, Mighty Warrior!” an angel assures Gideon who had certainly never been addressed by that title before). God also promises to give whatever gifts are needed to fulfill His assignment (I will help you to speak, and teach you what to say” He tells a stuttering Moses).
• There is always a decision. Sometimes, as with Moses and Gideon, people say yes to God’s call. Sometimes, as with the ten frightened spies or the rich young ruler who spoke with Jesus, they say no. But always people must decide.
• There is always a changed life. Those who say yes to God’s call don’t walk the walk perfectly – not by a long shot. But because they say yes to God, they learn and grow even from their failures. And they become part of His actions to redeem the world. ~John Ortberg

David Garland finds a clue in Mark’s version of this story (Peter walking on the water). Mark tells us that Jesus “intended to pass them by” on the water, but when they saw Him walking on the lake, they thought it was a ghost. Why did Jesus want to “pass them by”? Did He decide to race them? Did He want to impress them with a really neat trick?

Garland points out that the verb parerchomai (“to pass by”) is used in the Greek translation of the Old Testament as a technical term to refer to a theophany – those defining moments when God made “striking and temporary appearances in the earthly realm to a select individual or group for the purpose of communicating a message.”

God put Moses in a cleft in a rock so Moses could see “while my glory passes by.” … The Lord passed before him.

God told Elijah to stand on the mountain “for the LORD is about to pass by.”

There is a pattern to these stories. In each case God had to get people’s attention – through a burning bush, or wind and fire, or walking on the water. With each person God was going to call them to do something extraordinary. In each situation the person that God called felt afraid. But every time that people said, “yes” to their calling, they experienced the power of God in their lives. ~John Ortberg

So let me ask you a question: What’s your boat?

Your boat is whatever represents safety and security to you apart from God Himself. Your boat is whatever you are tempted to put your trust in, especially when life gets a little stormy. Your boat is whatever keeps you so comfortable that you don’t want to give it up even if it’s keeping you from joining Jesus on the waves. Your boat is whatever pulls you away from the high adventure of extreme discipleship.

Want to know what your boat is? Your fear will tell you. Just ask yourself this: What is it that most produces fear in me – especially when I think of leaving it behind and stepping out in faith? ~ John Ortberg

Only Peter knew the glory of walking on the water. He alone knew what it was to attempt to do what he was not capable of doing on his own, then feeling the euphoria of being empowered by God to actually do it. ~ John Ortberg

Failure does not shape you; the way you respond to failure shapes you. ~ John Ortberg

Apparently there is something about all living creatures, even amoebas, that demands challenge. We require change, adaptation, and challenge the way we require food and air. Comfort alone will kill us. ~ John Ortberg

The line between “Thou shalt not be afraid” and Thou shalt not be ridiculous” is often a fine one and not easily located. Knowing when to get out of the boat and take a risk does not only demand courage; it also demands the wisdom to ask the right questions, the discernment to recognize the voice of the Master, and the patience to wait for His command. ~ John Ortberg

Arthur Miller writes that this what lies at the heart of seven-days-a-week faith: “It is using one’s endowed giftedness to serve the world with excellence and, through that service, to love and honor God! The calling that fully engages what God has given you is a holy task!”

You have a purpose – a design that is central to God’s dream for the human race. We are, first of all, according to Scripture, called to know God, to receive His love and mercy, and to be His children. We are called to live in the reality of His kingdom and to have Christ formed in us.

As a crucial part of your calling, you were given certain gifts, talents, longings, and desires. To identify these with clarity, to develop them with skill, and to use them joyfully and humbly to serve God and His creation is central to why you were created. ~ John Ortberg

This is your day. If God’s kingdom is to manifest itself right now, it will have to be through you. God Himself will not come to take your place. You are on a mission from God. ~ John Ortberg

A calling is something you discover, not something you choose. The word vocation comes from the Latin word for voice. Discovering it involves very careful listening. ~ John Ortberg

“You cannot choose your calling,” Palmer [Parker Palmer, a Quaker educator and writer] says. “You must let your life speak.” By this phrase he means that an enormous part of following our calling is not so much choosing as it is listening. ~ John Ortberg

It is very important to distinguish what I love doing for its own sake from what I may want to do because of the rewards it may bring me. ~ John Ortberg on discerning your calling

Receiving a calling from God is not the same thing as falling into your dream career. A dream career generally promises wealth, power, status, security, and great benefits. A calling is often a different story.

God called Moses: Go o Pharaoh – the most powerful man on earth. Tell him to let his labor force leave without compensation to worship a god he doesn’t believe in. Then convince a timid, stiff-necked people to run away into the desert. That’s your calling.

And Moses said: Here am I. Send Aaron.

God called Jonah: God to Nineveh – the most corrupt and violent city in the world. Tell its inhabitants – who don’t know you and won’t acknowledge Me – to repent or die.

And Jonah said: When’s the next whale leaving in the opposite direction?

God called Jeremiah to preach to people who wouldn’t listen. It was so hard and Jeremiah cried so much that he became known as the Weeping Prophet. How would you like to have that job title? Who wants a business card that reads “the sobbing CEO” or “the depressed dermatologist”?

As a rule, the people whom we read about in Scripture who were called by God felt inadequate. When God called Abraham to leave home, or Gideon to lead an army, or Esther to defy the king, or Mary to give birth to the Messiah, their initial response was never: Yes, I’m up to that challenge. I think I can handle that.

The first response to a God-sized calling is generally fear. Henry Blackaby writes,

Some people say, “God will never ask me to do something I can’t do.” I have come to the place in my life that, if the assignment I sense God is giving me is something that I know I can handle, I know it is probably not from God. The kind of assignments God gives in the Bible are always God-sized. They are always beyond what people can do, because He wants to demonstrate His nature, His strength, His provision, and His kindness to His people and to a watching world. This is the only way the world will come to know Him.

That doesn’t mean that God calls us in a way that violates our “raw material.” Where God calls, God gifts.

It does mean, though, that natural talent alone is not enough to honor a calling from God. I will need ideas, strength, and creativity beyond my own resources to do what God asks of me. It will have to be God and me doing it together [I like to say God working through me as His instrument]. We are not called just to work for God. We are called to work with God [another way to say this is that we are called of God to work in us and through us as we yield to His Holy Spirit]. ~ John Ortberg

Sometimes, in the providence of God, the end of a career is the beginning of a calling. And you have a calling. You are not a spare part – you are on a mission from God. ~ John Ortberg

Never try to have more faith – just get to know God better. And because God if faithful, the better you know Him, the more you will trust Him. The way to get to know His trustworthiness is to risk obeying Him. ~ John Ortberg

What would you guess is the most common command in Scripture? Fear not. Lloyd Ogilivie notes there are 366 “fear not” verses in the Bible – one for every day of the year, including one for leap year! ~ John Ortberg

Peter was willing to risk failure for the adventure of trusting Christ more. ~ John Ortberg

All of us experience failure, and no one likes it. But for some people it becomes a kind of goad to push on to new learning, deeper persistence, more vigorous commitment, more courageous hearts. For others failure produces utter defeat – a sense of discouragement, a loss of hope, a desire to hide, a secret resolve to never again get out of the boat. . ~ John Ortberg

People’s perceptions of and responses to failure make an enormous difference in their lives – more than IQ, physical attractiveness, charm, and financial assets put together. Those who can learn from it, retaining a deep sense of their own value and marshaling the motivation to try again, become masters of failure management. ~ John Ortberg

Elijah went up the mountain to the cave and was told that the Lord was about to pass by. (This phrase indicates an epiphany – a manifestation of God.) After a great wind, an earthquake, and fire came “a sound of sheer silence.” And then came a still small voice, as God asked Elijah a wonderful question: “What are you doing here?” The best part of the question is that God did not say, “What are you doing there?” God was with Elijah in the cave. ~ John Ortberg

In the cave David discovered that, more than he wanted to be king, he wanted to belong to God. He would rather please God and live in a cave than displease God and sit on the throne. ~ John Ortberg

Hope got Peter out of the boat.
Trust held him up.
Fear sank him.
Everything hinged on whether he was focused on the Savior or on the storm. ~ John Ortberg

Hope is the fuel that the human heart runs on. A car crash or a diving accident can paralyze a body, but the death of hope paralyzes the spirit. ~ John Ortberg

But for one who believes in God, the hinge point is not simply what I’m capable of. The real question is what might God want to do through me. ~ John Ortberg

It (Phil. 4:13) means I have great confidence that I can face whatever life throws at me, that I never need to give up, that my efforts have potency – because of the One at work within me. ~ John Ortberg

When I hope, I believe that God is at work to redeem all things regardless of how things happen to be turning out for me today. Hope does not prevent me from expecting the worst – “the worst is what the hopeful are prepared for.” The Christ-follower is to be marked by what we might call vital hope. ~ John Ortberg

… what God does in us while we wait is as important as what it is we are waiting for. ~ John Ortberg

Waiting on the Lord is a confident, disciplined, expectant, active, and sometimes painful clinging to God. ~ John Ortberg

Waiting on the Lord is the continual, daily decision to say, “I will trust You, and I will obey You. Even though the circumstances of my life are not turning out the way I want them to, and may never turn out the way I would choose, I am betting everything on You. I have no Plan B. ~ John Ortberg

Waiting on the Lord requires patient trust. Will I trust that God has good reasons for saying “wait”? Will I remember that things look different to God because He views things from an eternal perspective? ~ John Ortberg

Even more incredible is that, when he (Bob Buford) realized that what the Lord had made him capable of doing well was very different from what he really wanted to do, he had the intellectual honesty and courage to say to himself, “It is my duty and mission to put to work what I am good at, rather than to do what I would love to do.” Peter F. Drucker

The irony here is that the church has become one of those masters under which first-halfers feel hopelessly indentured. The joy that ought to come from serving others in Christ’s name is missing because so much of what we do for the church is done out of a spirit of obligation. And that is because, as first-halfers, we have not yet discovered who we are, what we really enjoy doing, and how even the most undesirable task can be a feeing, exhilarating experience if it arises out of our core being. For most people, church work is not a hot fudge sundae, but like the broccoli and spinach your mother made you eat as a child. ~Bob Buford

Let’s just go ahead and be what we were made to be, without enviously or pridefully comparing ourselves with each other, or trying to be something we aren’t. ~The Message

In Christ’s church, individualism is amplified, encouraged, supported, and complemented. We are each grafted to a body that needs our strengths and compensates for our weaknesses by matching them with the gifts of other members of the body. The image of a weak, wimpy follower is not supported at all in Scripture. ~Bob Buford

When Jesus talks about dying to self, I believe He is talking about dying to this “me first” pathological self-worship, not the uniquely created self that He has given us. ~Bob Buford

Everything happens for a reason. Don’t forget that. Every person we meet. Every event in our life. Every flat tire happens for a reason. You can choose to ignore it or ask what the reason is and try to learn from it. Every problem has a gift for you in its hands as my man Richard Bach says. You can choose to see the curse or the gift. And this one choice will determine if your life is a success story or one big soap opera. ~Jon Gordon

Always remember that you are the driver of your bus. It’s the most important of the rules because if you don’t take responsibility for your life and control of your bus then you can’t take it where you want to do. If you’re not the driver, then you’ll always be at the whim of everyone else’s travel plans. ~Jon Gordon

The energy you fuel the ride of your life with is entirely up to you. And as the driver, you are the one who must also choose your vision of where you want to go. You have the best seat and the best view of your life so it’s up to you. You gotta have vision. ~Jon Gordon

… the closer you get to truth, the simpler and more powerful the lessons become. ~Jon Gordon

… you can’t go somewhere if you don’t have a vision of where you want to go. ~Jon Gordon

It takes a crisis for so many of us to change. ~Jon Gordon

Sometimes we have to see what we don’t want, to know what we do want. ~Jon Gordon

This is your crisis but it’s also your opportunity. Every crisis offers an opportunity to grow stronger and wiser. ~Jon Gordon

Desire, vision, and focus move your bus in the right direction. ~Jon Gordon

We can’t control the events in our life but we can control how we perceive them and our perception and response to the events determine our outcome. ~Jon Gordon

Fuel your ride with positive energy. ~Jon Gordon

Desire, vision, and focus help you turn the bus in the right direction but positive energy is necessary to take you where you want to go. Every day when we look at the gas pump of life we have a choice between positive energy and negative energy. Positive energy is high octane fuel for the ride of your life while negative energy causes sludge to accumulate in your energy pipeline. ~Jon Gordon

What do I do with the negativity I have? You let it go. You release it. You throw it out. You transform it. When the work is piled high on your desk, think about how thankful you are to even have a job while so many are unemployed. When work is driving you crazy, think about the fact that you are healthy enough to work. When you are sitting in traffic, be thankful you can drive a car while many have to walk miles just to get clean water. When the restaurant messes up your meal, think about how many unfed mouths there are in the world. And as I told my father a number of years ago when he lost the love of his life – my mother, “ You had the kind of love for so many years that many people spend a lifetime searching for and never find. Let’s be thankful for that.” Where there is a negative there is always a positive. Where there is a dark cloud, there is always a sun shining behind it. ~Jon Gordon

Being grateful floods the body and brain with positive endorphins and emotions and combined with walking is a powerful energy booster. ~Jon Gordon

Invite people on your bus and share your vision for the road ahead. ~Jon Gordon

As you drive you want to keep asking people to get on. The worst they can say is no. If you don’t ask they won’t know to get on. Plus, the more people you pick up along the way the more energy you create during your ride. The goal is to eventually have a standing room only bus and since this is an energy bus it is always expanding so you’ll always be able to add more people. ~Jon Gordon

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