Sparks of Inspiration

Quotes, illustrations and stories that I treasure


Friday, June 22, 2018

"Jesus: the proof of God's love." - Philip Yancey

"Christ Jesus is the purest gold, light without darkness, bright glory unclouded. He is altogether lovely." - C.H. Spurgeon

"By perseverance the snail reached the ark." - C.H. Spurgeon

"Some people think God does not like to be troubled with our constant asking. But, the way to trouble God is not to come at all." - D.L. Moody

"Obedience is the outward expression of your love of God." - Henry Blackaby

"The surest evidence of our love to Christ is obedience to the laws of Christ. Love is the root, obedience is the fruit." - Matthew Henry

"When you lose your lose." - Marie T. Freeman

"A disciple is a follower of Christ. That means you take on His priorities as your own. His agenda becomes your agenda. His mission becomes your mission." - Charles Stanley

"When you extend hospitality to others, you're not trying to impress people, you're trying to reflect God to them." - Max Lucado

"It is a remarkable thing that some of the most optimistic and enthusiastic people you will meet are those who have been through intense suffering." - Warren Wiersbe (Note: key words, "have been". Those still going through it, may be very pessimistic and depleted. - Caleb Grimes)

"Instead of looking for someone to blame, look for something to fix, and then get busy fixing it." - Jim Gallery

"Make the things I say and do helpful to others, so that through me, they might see you." - Anonymous

“The job of a coach is to make men do what they don’t want to do, in order to be what they’ve always wanted to be!” - Coach Tom Landry of the Dallas Cowboys

“Every night before I get my one hour of sleep, I have the same thought: 'Well, that's a wrap on another day of acting like I know what I'm doing.' I wish I were exaggerating, but I'm not. Most of the time, I feel entirely unqualified to be a parent. I call these times being awake.” - Jim Gaffigan, on whether he's doing the dad thing right

"The Father could have spared Jesus the 40 days of temptation in the wilderness, the slander and persecution of the Pharisees and religious leaders, the misunderstandings of the crowds, but the Father didn't. Why? Sparing Jesus of difficulties, would have left him unprepared for the cross." - Caleb Grimes

“Those who are crazy enough to think they can change the world usually do.” - Steve Jobs

"I’ve never seen a monument erected to a pessimist." - Paul Harvey

“Be a duck, remain calm on the surface and paddle like hell underneath.” - Michael Caine



Tuesday, June 19, 2018

" we must throw off whatever may hinder faith even though it may be right for others. Joseph properly ruled in Egypt, but for Moses it was a hindering weight. Other weights might well be ambition, anxieties, hobbies, wealth or fame. Each runner must honestly judge what hinders faith for him and or her and resolutely lay it aside, even though others seem to be unhindered by the same thing. One cannot  run well in an overcoat!" - Ray C. Stedman, Hebrews commentary, pg 135

"The glory of the light is brightest, 
When the glory of self is dim,
And they have most compelled me,
Who most have pointed to Him;
They have held me, stirred me, swayed me
I have hung on their every word, 
'Til I fan would rise and follow,
Not them, not them, but their Lord."
(Christian poem) - Ray C. Stedman, Hebrews commentary, pg. 136

"But there is more than example in [Jesus] - there is also empowerment! Moment by moment, day by day, week by week, year by year, as we look to him, we shall find strength imparted to us. He is not 'out there' somewhere. As this epistle has made clear, he is within us, by faith. He has entered into the sanctuary, into the inner person, into the very place where we need strength and grace, and is available every moment to help us in time of need. Having himself lived by faith, he is able to impart that faith to others. ...So we cry with Paul, 'I can do everything through him who give me strength' (Phil 4:13)." - Ray C. Stedman, Hebrews commentary, pg. 137-138

"Vision trumps all the senses. Half of the brain's resources are dedicated to seeing and interpreting what we see. What our eyes physically perceive is only one part of the story. The images coming in to our brains are changed and interpreted. It's really our brains that are "seeing." - Susan M. Weinschenk, Ph.D. , 100 Things Every Designer Needs to Know About People, pg. 1

"Although these 'natural-born leaders' may have come into the world with a predisposition to inspire, the ability is not reserved for them exclusively. We can all learn this pattern." - Simon Sinek, Start With Why, pg. 1

"The goal of this book is not simply to try to fix the things that aren't working. Rather, I wrote this book as a guide to focus on and amplify the things that do work." - Simon Sinek, Start With Why, pg. 1

The following quote reminds me of Jesus' parable of the pharisee and the tax collector. "Eugene Peterson draws a contrast between Augustine and Pelagius, two fourth-century theological opponents. Pelagius was urbane, courteous, convincing, and like by everyone. Augustine squandered away his youth in immorality , had a strange relationship with his mother, and made many enemies. Yet Augustine started from God's grace and got it right, whereas Pelagius started from human effort and got it wrong. Augustine passionately pursued God; Pelagius methodically worked to please God. Augustine desperately needed God, and he knew it. Peterson goes on to say that Christians tend to be Augustinian in theory but Pelagian in practice. They rely on their own frenzied efforts: committee meetings, guilt-driven overtime, obsessive attempts to 'fix' other people's problems." - Philip Yancey, Church Why Bother? pg. 86

Author Frederick Buechner wrote in Telling Secrets: "Ministers in particular, people in the caring professions in general, are famous for neglecting their selves with the result that they are apt to become in their own way as helpless and crippled as the people they are trying to care for and thus no longer selves who can be of much use to anybody." - Philip Yancey, Church Why Bother? pg. 87

"The syndrome of unhealthy self-sacrifice for the sake of others, of bearing more of a person's pain than the person herself, is sometimes called a 'savior complex.' Ironically, the true Savior seemed remarkably free of such a complex. He caught a boat to escape crowds; he insisted on privacy and time alone; he accepted a 'wasteful' gift of perfume that , as Judas pointed out, could have been sold, with the proceeds used to alleviate human misery. Jesus healed everyone who asked him, but not everyone he met. He had the amazing, and rare, capacity to let people choose their own pain. He exposed Judas but did not try to prevent his evil deed; he denounced the Pharisees without trying to coerce them into his point of view; he answered a wealthy man's question with uncompromising words and let him walk away. Mark pointedly adds this comment about the wealthy man who rejected Jesus' advice, 'Jesus looked at him and love him' (Mark 10:21)." - Philip Yancey, Church Why Bother? pg. 88

We need to hand over to God the things out of our control like handing someone a cup off hot coffee. Do it quickly, before you get burned. -Caleb Grimes

"C.S. Lewis wrote that God 'seems to do nothing of Himself which He can possibly delegate to His creatures. He commands us to do slowly and blunderingly what He could do perfectly and in the twinkling of an eye.' There is no greater illustration of that principle than the church of Jesus Christ, to which God has delegated the task of embodying God's Presence in the world. All of our efforts are example of God's delegation. Every parent knows something of the risk of delegation, with all its joy and heartache. The child taking her very first steps holds on, then lets go, then falls, then struggles to her feet for another attempt. No one has discovered another way to learn to walk. Yes, the church fails in its mission and makes serious blunders precisely because the church comprises human beings who will always fall short of the glory of God. That is the risk God took. Anyone who enters the church expecting perfection does not understand the nature of that risk or the nature of humanity. Just as every romantic eventually learns that marriage is the beginning, not the end, of the struggle to make love work, every Christian must learn that church is also only a beginning. The composer Igor Stravinsky once wrote a new piece that contained a difficult violin passage. After several weeks of rehearsal the solo violinist came to Stravinsky and said that he could not play it. He had given it his best effort but found the passage too difficult, even unplayable. Stravinsky replied, 'I understand that. What I am after is the sound of someone trying to play it.' Perhaps something similar is what God had in mind with the church. I remember hearing a similar illustration form Earl Palmer, a pastor who was defending the church against critics who dismissed it fro its hypocrisy, its failures, its inability to measure up to the New Testament's high standards. Palmer, a Californian at the time, deliberately those a community known for its cultural unsophistication. 'When the Milpitas High School orchestra attempts Beethoven's Ninth Symphony, the result is appalling,' said Palmer. 'I wouldn't be surprised if the performance made old Ludwig roll over in his grace despite his deafness. You might ask, 'Why bother?' Why influence on those poor kids the terrible burden of trying to render what the immortal Beethoven had in mind? Not even the great Chicago Symphony Orchestra can attain that perfection. 'My answer is this: The Milpitas High School orchestra will give some people in that audience their only encounter with Beethoven's great Ninth Symphony. Far from perfection, it is nevertheless the only way they will hear Beethoven's message.' I remind my self of Earl Palmer's analogy whenever I start squirming in a church service. Although we may never achieve what the composer had in mind, there is no other way for those sounds to be heard on earth." - Philip Yancey, Church Why Bother? pg. 98-100

"In Discipleship Journal Paul Thigpen writes: I remember coming home one afternoon to discover that the kitchen I had worked so hard to clean only a few hours before was now a terrible wreck. My young daughter had obviously been buys 'cooking,' and the ingredients were scattered, along with dirty bowls and utensils, across the counters and floor. I was not happy with the situation. Then, as I looked a little more closely at the mess, I spied a tiny not on the table, clumsily written and smeared with chocolatey fingerprints. The message was sort - 'I'm makin sumthin 4 you, Dad' - and it was signed, 'Your Angel.' In the midst of that disarray, and despite my irritation, joy suddenly sprang up in my heart, sweet and pure. My attention had been redirected from the problem to the little girl I loved. As I encountered her in that brief note, I delighted in her. With her simple goodness in focus, I could take pleasure in seeing her hand at work in a situation that seemed otherwise disastrous. The same is true of my joy in the Lord. Many times life looks rather messy; I can't find much to be happy about in my circumstances. Nevertheless, if I look hard enough, I can usually see the Lord behind it all, or at least working through it all, 'making sumthin' for me." - 750 Engaging Illustrations for Preacher, Teachers and Writers, from Craig Brian Larson and Leadership Journal, pg. 273, #342

"In the New York Times Magazine Robert Bryce writes: Autumn is prime time for the use of eyeblack in sports: baseball players in daytime playoff games and football players put dark stuff under their eyes, supposedly to reduce glare bouncing off their cheeks. One popular smear, called No Glare, contains crushed charcoal, paraffin, beeswax and petrolatum. Does it do anything? Dr. Oliver Schein, an ophthalmologist at Johns Hopkins School of medicine, says, 'Probably not.' Even so, it's a tradition. The Pro Football Hall of Fame has a photo of the Washington Redskins fullback Andy Farkas using it way back in 1942. Bobby Valentine, when he managed the Texas Rangers, once wore eyeblack in the dugout. Blog Powell, the former Baltimore Orioles star, used it during his 17 years in the majors. 'I don't remember it ever doing any good,' he says. 'But you looked cool.' We do well on occasion to examine our traditions to see whether we really know their purpose - and whether they accomplish that purpose." - 750 Engaging Illustrations for Preacher, Teachers and Writers, from Craig Brian Larson and Leadership Journal, pg. 581-582, #729

"In the Christian Reader, Ramon Williams writes that on April 28, 1996, a gunman walked into a crowded cafe in Port Arthur, Australia, and started shooting. Tony Kistan, a Salvation Army soldier from Sydney, and his wife Sarah were in the restaurant when the bullets began to fly. Courageously Tony stepped infant of his wife to shield her from the gunfire, and he was one of the first to fall. Thirty-four victims eventually died in the incident, including Tony Kistan. As he lay dying in his wife's arms, he spoke his last words, 'I'm going to be with the Lord.' Those final words of faith were quoted by the Australian media and carried to the world. 'At the press conference,' writes Williams, 'Tony's son Nesan, 24 explained why his father held this assurance and described his father's dedication to the gospel. Hardened journalists and photographers were seen wiping tears from their eyes. In life, Only had been a man who witnessed for his Lord to strangers and friends alike, and now in death, he had witnessed to others through his simple last statement.' Being a witness for Christ in this evil world brings eternal purpose to even the most tragic and painful events." - 750 Engaging Illustrations for Preacher, Teachers and Writers, from Craig Brian Larson and Leadership Journal, pg. 609-610, #766

"A car is made to run on petrol [gasoline], and it would not run properly on anything else. Now God designed the human machine to run on himself. He himself is the fuel our spirits were designed to burn, or the food our spirits were designed to feed on. There is no other. That is why it is just no good asking God to make us happy in our own way without bothering about religion. God cannot give us a happiness and peace apart from himself, because it is not there. There is no such thing." - C.S. Lewis

Why is the mother giraffe pushing her baby to walk within one hour of giving birth? Is she cruel? No, she's compassionate and preparing her little one for life. Hyenas, lions, leopards and wild dogs like eating baby giraffes and would easily if the mother didn't push her baby to learn to walk and run quickly. Sometimes we can feel as though God is being cruel, but He's compassionately preparing us for life.