Paul Madson


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Quotes to Note – Spring 2019

Photo by Johannes Plenio

“How can you boast in your blue eyes, in your intelligence, in your height, in your race or ethnicity, in your birth place, in your birth order, in your attractiveness, or in the shape of your nose? What do you have that wasn’t a gift? Way too many of us were born on third base and we think we hit a triple.” (D. Wilson, Partakers of Grace)

“Most of the noise in our souls is generated by our attempts to control the uncontrollable.” (David Powlison)

“Prayer is not the flare gun of the desperate or room service for the indulgent. It is the confidence of the adopted.” (Sam Allberry)

“Worry is a conversation you have with yourself about things you cannot change. Prayer is a conversation you have with God about things that He can change.”

“Do not be afraid to tell God exactly how you feel (He’s already read your thoughts anyway). Don’t tell the whole world. God can take it – when others can’t. Then listen for His answer.” (Elisabeth Elliot)

“Not until history has run its course will we understand how ‘all things work together for good.’ Faith means believing in advance what will only make sense in reverse.” (Philip Yancey)

“Wherever you are, be all there. Live to the hilt every situation you believe to be the will of God.” (Jim Elliot)

“Abraham waited 25 years. Moses waited 40 years. Jesus waited 30 years. If God makes you wait, you are in good company.”  (Nicky Gumbel)

“Always leave things better than you found them. Especially people.” (Dr. Henry Cloud)

“We are your beloved children – with a forgiven past, a graced present, and a guaranteed future. You’re not an absentee landlord, but an engaged Father – not a hiding Lord, but a ruling King. We don’t have to like your timing, understand your ways, or pretend about anything. But because of what you’ve done for us in Jesus, we can totally trust you.” (Scotty Smith)

“There is more mercy in Christ than sin in us.” (Richard Sibbs)

“When we say, ‘I can’t believe in a God who would ________,’ we’re saying we don’t really want a God beyond our comprehension.” (Tim Keller)

“The moral test of government is how it treats those who are in the dawn of life, the children; those who are in the twilight of life, the aged; and those in the shadows of life, the sick, the needy and the handicapped.” (Hubert H. Humphrey)

Escaping Moralism

As I worked on refreshing my teaching notes for a homiletics course (how to preach and teach God’s Word) in Ethiopia next month, I re-read Tim Keller’s excellent book on preaching.

In chapter 2, Keller addresses the dangers of moralism. In it, he writes about:

1) how the whole Bible points ultimately to Jesus (Luke 24:27), and
2) why we must make Christ and the Good News of the Gospel central to all we teach and preach.

Here are a few excellent quotes from this chapter…

“Any sermon that tells listeners only how they should live without putting that standard into the context of the gospel gives them the impression that they might be complete enough to pull themselves together if they really try hard.

“Ed Clowney points out that if we ever tell a particular Bible story without putting it into the Bible story (about Christ), we actually change its meaning for us.

“It becomes a moralistic exhortation to ‘try harder’ rather than a call to live by faith in the work of Christ.

“There are, in the end, only two ways to read the Bible: Is it basically about me or basically about Jesus? In other words, is it basically about what I must do or basically about what he has done?” 

(Page 60, Preaching by Timothy Keller)


“The moralistic way of living feels like being on the end of a yo-yo. If I feel I am reaching my goals and meeting my standards, I become self-righteous, entitled, less patient and gracious with others.

“If I am failing in any way, I fall into self-loathing, because my very identity is based on my image of myself as a better person than others.”

(Page 61, Preaching by Timothy Keller)


“Only if we hammer home the gospel, that we are loved sinners in Christ – so loved that we don’t have to despair when we do wrong, so sinful that we have no right to be puffed up when we do right – can we help our listeners escape the spiritually bipolar world of moralism.” 

(Page 62, Preaching by Timothy Keller)

Sorrow and Joy

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“… as sorrowful, yet always rejoicing.” (2 Cor. 6:10)

“Rejoice in the Lord always, again I will say, rejoice!” (Phil. 4:4)

Recently I was re-reading the book Hot Tub Religion: Thoughts on Christian Living in the Material World by J.I. Packer. I read it back in the late 80’s (when it first came out) and it had several excellent chapters on various aspects of Christian living.

Chapter six, in particular, stood out. In it, Packer deals with the subject of “Joy: A Neglected Discipline.”

Here are a few great quotes from this chapter:

“Christians are not victims and prisoners of either the past or the present. The powers of forgiveness and new creation are at work in their lives. Before them lies a sure and certain hope of deliverance, transformation, and glory. Joy will someday be theirs in fullest measure, and they should not give way to the black feeling that life will never be better for them than it is now.

Christians have, so to speak, larger souls than other people; for grief and joy, like desolation and hope, or pain and peace, can coexist in their lives in a way that non-Christians know nothing about. Grief, desolation, and pain are feelings triggered by present situations, but faith produces joy, hope, and peace at all times.

This does not mean that grief, desolation, and pain cease to be felt (that idea is inhuman); it means that something else is experienced along with the hurt. It becomes possible for Christians today, like Paul long ago, to be ‘sorrowful, yet always rejoicing’ (2 Cor. 6:10).”


“Joy is not an accident of temperament or an unpredictable providence; joy is a matter of choice. Paul is directing his readers to choose to rejoice (Phil. 4:4), because it is in and through the activity of rejoicing that joy becomes a personal reality.”


“Paul can choose to rejoice in one aspect of a situation of which other aspects are calculated to depress: he rejoices that Christ is being preached and refuses to brood on the bad motives of the preachers or to indulge in self-pity because he is not able to do what they are doing (Phil. 1:15-18).

This, more than anything else, makes it clear that joy is a choice; one chooses to focus one’s mind on facts that call forth joy. Such is the secret of ‘rejoicing in the Lord always,’ namely, to choose what you think about. It is as simple – and as difficult! – as that.

Controlling and directing one’s thoughts is a habit, and the more one practices it the better one becomes at it.”


“The secret of joy for believers lies in the fine art of Christian thinking… Joy – that is, rejoicing in the Lord – is thus a basic discipline of the Christian life, essential to spiritual health and vitality.”

February Quotes to Note

Rina Kroes,

“There is tremendous relief in knowing that His love to me is based at every point on prior knowledge of the worst about me.” (J.I. Packer)

“The cross declares for all time and eternity that we are bankrupt and have no currency to buy the favor of heaven.” (John Stott)

“If you were a hundred times worse than you are, your sins would be no match for his mercy.” (Tim Keller)

“The more spiritually alive and mature we are, the more we recognize how far short we fallof the glory of God. The closer we get to a mirror, the more clearly we perceive our imperfections. The mirror for Christians is Christ. Therefore, it should not surprise us that those who have known Him best have been most aware of their imperfections and most appreciative of His love and grace.”  (from Extreme Righteousness: Seeing Ourselves in the Pharisees– by Tom Hovestol)

“Even doubting thoughts and feelings that border on sin are better laid out before the gracious eyes of the Lord than nursed in our hearts. God will not be shocked! He knows our inmost thoughts anyway!” (Iain Duguid)

Sleep is a daily reminder from God that we are not God. ‘He who keeps Israel will neither slumber nor sleep’ (Psalm 121:4). But we will. For we are not God. Once a day, God sends us to bed like patients with a sickness. The sickness is a chronic tendency to think we are in control and that our work is indispensable.
To cure us of this disease, God turns us into helpless sacks of sand once a day. How humiliating to the self-made corporate executive that he has to give up all control and become as limp as a suckling infant every day.
Sleep is a parable that God is God and we are mere men. God handles the world quite nicely while a hemisphere sleeps. Sleep is like a broken record that comes around with the same message every day: ‘Man is not sovereign… Man is not sovereign… Man is not sovereign.’
Don’t let the lesson be lost on you. God wants to be trusted as the Great Worker who never tires and never sleeps. He is not nearly so impressed with our late nights and early mornings as he is with the peaceful trust that casts all anxieties on him and sleeps.” (John Piper)

“Next to the Word of God, the noble art of music is the greatest treasure in the world.” (Martin Luther)

Three Quotes from Dawson Trotman

Dawson Trotman, Founder of the Navigators

(1906 – 1956)

A few weeks ago, I was thumbing through a biography (“The Navigator”)that I had read back in the early 1980’s.

It was about Dawson Trotman, founder of the Navigators Ministry.

God used that book (and Dawson’s life) to inspire and challenge me as a young 20-something in profound ways.

Here are three quotes (of the dozens I had highlighted) almost 40 years ago.

“Do you know why I often ask Christians, ‘What’s the biggest thing you’ve asked God for this week?’ I remind them that they are going to God, the Father, the Maker of the Universe. The One who holds the world in His hands. What did you ask for? Did you ask for peanuts, toys, trinkets, or did you ask for continents?

“I want to tell you, young people, it’s tragic! The little itsy-bitsy things we ask of our Almighty God. Sure, nothing is too small – but also nothing is too big. Let’s learn to ask for our big God some of those big things He talks about in Jeremiah 33:3: ‘Call unto Me and I will answer you and show you great and mighty things that you do not know.”  

(Dawson Trotman– page 26 from The Navigator)

“I don’t think time has much to do with whether God hears me or not. But I do believe that time has everything to do with whether my faith is built up as I pray and as I stretch out in asking. I don’t believe that God will ever give those great and mighty things of Jeremiah 33:3 to those who just have their little conscience-easers or some quick prayers before jumping into bed for the night.

“I don’t think God has anything big for you if you can’t take 1/48th of your day to be alone with your Almighty God and Father. I rather doubt whether He is going to do very much for you.”

(Dawson Trotman– while speaking at Mount Herman Christian Conference Center in Santa Cruz, CA – page 30 from The Navigator)

“We [the early Navigators Ministry]started out on the battleships of the United States Navy, getting men to spend time in the Bible. By the time the war was over, we had fellows on a thousand ships and on scores of bases throughout the world, faithfully serving and witnessing for the Lord.

“I suppose there was no greater secret than that these men were in the Book and the Book was in them. The Word of God is the mighty force within, that enable men to do whatever it says. I am absolutely convinced that the Bible completely changes the lives of men and women… It has completely changed my life. I’ll never be the same again since I was introduced to God’s Holy Word, the Bible.”

(Dawson Trotman– page 78 from The Navigator)

Five Ways to be a More Effective Leader in 2019

I’ve always learned a great deal over the years from Ed Stetzer. Ed holds the Billy Graham Distinguished Chair of Church, Mission, and Evangelism at Wheaton College. He also serves as Dean of the School of Mission, Ministry, and Leadership at Wheaton and is executive director of the Billy Graham Center.

As we move into this new year, here are five ways that Stetzer suggests can help all of us be more effective leaders (whether you are a leader in your church, your business or at home… these principles apply to all of these spheres).

Five Ways to Be a More Effective Leader in 2019

Some food for thought as you reflect on where God has you and who he has under your care.
By Ed Stetzer

As another year begins, we all have resolutions of things we’d like to change or start. We make many promises to ourselves and sometimes others. One of the things I want to commit to is being a better leader in 2019.

As I’ve considered what this means, I want to share with you five ways I think all of us can be more effective and Christ-honoring as we begin our leadership service this year. I hope these will provide you some food for thought as you reflect on where God has you and who he has under your care.

First, make that hard decision.

For most of us, there are things that we’ve been knowing we should do and we haven’t done them, or maybe we’ve been putting off making the decision. One of the things I’ve learned is that good leaders tend to lean into pain in a way that makes them a better leader.

For a lot of people, their inability or avoidance of a painful decision causes a cascading effect. Maybe you don’t make the right decision so something else isn’t getting done well. Maybe there’s an opportunity cost. Maybe we will lose integrity as those around us watch and say, “Well, you’re just not making the hard calls.”

So not only can your inability to make hard decisions impact other people’s ability to see you as a leader, but not making hard decisions can also drag YOU down. There’s a freedom in being on the other side of a hard decision.

Second, stop doing some things.

Almost every person I know (including me) is spending too much time doing things that don’t have the maximum impact. This ‘maximum impact’ looks different to different people—only you will know what that looks like for you as a leader. Sometimes this actually means less ‘bigness’ and more one-on-one time with people.

I’ve actually been thinking about that in a few areas of my own life. My dad is getting older and I am asking myself how I can spend more time with him.

But I have to stop doing something so I can have the freedom to do something else.

We all want to say “yes” to everything that comes our way. We want to meet with everyone who asks and respond quickly and kindly to all who email or call. But it’s simply not possible. My carte blanche yes is ineffective and harmful to what God has called me to do. I think that’s true for all of us.

I understand saying no is hard, particularly in Christian ministry. But your no could be the best decision you make in 2019.

Third, invest in younger leaders.

If you make the hard decision you didn’t make and stop doing some things, you can then have the time to invest in some younger leaders.

As I consider my own 2018, I’ve been frustrated.

I haven’t had time to invest in many leaders, young or old. I’ve decided to make some hard decisions and stop doing some things so I can have more time to invest in them. I’ve got good leaders and I need to invest in them and develop them so that they can be the leaders that God has called them to be. This requires me to say no and to have a plan for how to strategically step into mentoring and investing in the many leaders under my care.

Fourth, decide to last.

This is legacy. It’s having the long view in mind. I had a friend who challenged me on this, asking, “How are you deciding to last as a leader? How is Ed Stetzer going to be here in 10 or 20 years?”

The new year is a good time to commit to (1) taking care of yourself so that you can be a more effective leader and (2) do the things that will live on for years to come.

For me, part of my ‘lasting’ has to do with some physical things. I’ve got to take better care of myself physically and spiritually so that I can still be ministering and leading in 10 or 20 years.

Finally, be a better learner.

Keep learning—and re-learning.

Commit to reading books and watching videos that will help you be a more effective leader, friend, and servant in this world. All of us must acknowledge that what we know is only a drop in the bucket of all the knowledge in the world. No matter if you are 25 or 85, there is still much to know.

As we all live into these five tips, I believe God will do much in and through us in 2019.

Ed Stetzer holds the Billy Graham Distinguished Chair of Church, Mission, and Evangelism at Wheaton College, serves as Dean of the School of Mission, Ministry, and Leadership at Wheaton College, is executive director of the Billy Graham Center, and publishes church leadership resources through Mission Group.

Five Bible Reading Plans for 2019

“Lead me to the rock that is higher than I.”

(Psalm 61:2b ESV)

As we launch into 2019, I want to encourage you to put a Bible reading plan together for the new year (if you don’t have one already).

Here are 4 Principles and 5 Plans to Read the Bible this Year from Pastor Philip Nation (everything in italics below):


Many believers look for a systematic Bible reading plan as they enter a new year. As you consider how you’ll deepen your devotional life and understanding of the Bible, let me make a few suggestions.

  1. Remember the goal. The main reason for reading the Bible is to encounter God. The Scriptures are His self-revelation to us. Use “finishing the plan” as a goal but not thegoal. Make your aim to become more intimate with God through engaging His Word.
  2. Plans are made for you and you are not made for the plans. Over the course of the year, you will likely have a smattering of days where the Bible reading plan goes unattended. It will be because of a blip of spiritual apathy and sinfulness. You’ll have an emergency that interrupts the whole of life. Events will occur where you need to abandon the plan for reading and studying some other portion of the Bible. Remember that the reading plan is a tool for you to use, not a master that decides your spiritual fate. Be faithful to God and His Word; not to a plan that someone wrote and posted online.
  3. Seek the whole counsel of God. Too many people hop, skip, and jump through topical readings about their favorite subjects. Finding a solid plan and sticking with it will allow you to get the full overview of God’s revelation and a deeper understanding of how it all works together.
  4. Pick a plan that will benefit you. There are no shortages of plans to use. In a previous post, I listed 14 different plans. Besides the ones listed there, here are a few others to consider using.

Here are five plans that you could consider using in the year ahead.

90 Day Reading. On occasion, I have plowed through the Bible with a 90-day plan. It requires reading somewhere around 13 chapters per day. However, I’ve developed my own version that fluctuates between nine chapters (in some places of the New Testament) and 25 (in the Psalms). It is an intense process.

Day-by-Day Chronological Bible edited by George Guthrie. I’m utilizing this edition in my devotional life this year.

Foundation 260 Plan from Robby Gallaty. Replicate Ministries has wonderful resources for discipleship and Bible engagement. I love the F260 Plan. The Foundations books and The Disciples Bibles are great resources that help you move through it as well.

The Discipleship Journal Bible Reading Plan. The Navigators developed this plan and it is a great one to mix the OT and NT each day in your reading.

Robert Murray M’Cheyne Bible Reading Plan. The original by M’Cheyne with a few various ways to print are available. A solid system for anyone who wants a one-year plan.

You Version app. There are no shortages of Bible reading plans on the most popular Bible app.

Ultimately, we should discipline ourselves to read the Bible because it is the great Sword of the Spirit (Ephesians 6:17) that God uses to reveal Himself and conform us to the image of Christ. Reading it is the spiritual endeavor to know Him, seek His ways, and understand ourselves better. It is a primary habit for our holiness.

This Christmas… take time to read a good book

Karen Swallow Prior (Author and professor of English at Liberty University) has written an excellent book entitled On Reading Well: Finding the Good Life through Great Books (Brazos Press – 2018).

Here are a few quotes I pulled out as I read her book this Fall. May they motivate and encourage you to slow down and pick up a good book this Christmas… and savor it.

“Literature helps to humanize us. It expands our range of experiences. It fosters awareness of ourselves and the world. It enlarges our compassion for people. It awakens our imaginations. It expresses our feelings and insights about God, nature, and life. It enlivens our sense of beauty.” (Leland Ryken)

“Reading virtuously means, first, reading closely, being faithful to both text and context, interpreting accurately and insightfully.”

“Indeed, there is something in the very form of reading – the shape of the action itself – that tends toward virtue. The attentiveness necessary for deep reading (the kind of reading we practice in reading literary works as opposed to skimming news stories or reading instructions) requires patience.”

Nicholas Carr explains in The Shallows: What the Internet is Doing to Our Brains that ‘the linear mind is being pushed aside by a new kind of mind that wants and needs to take in and dole out information in short, disjointed, often overlapping bursts – the faster, the better.’”

“Whether you feel you have lost your ability to read well, or you never acquired that ability at all, be encouraged. The skills required to read well are no great mystery. Reading well is, well, simple (if not easy). It just takes time and attention.”

“Therefore, even as you seek books that you will enjoy reading, demand ones that make demands on you: books with sentences so exquisitely crafted that they must be reread, familiar words used in fresh ways, new words so evocative that you are compelled to look them up, and images and ideas so arresting that they return to you unbidden for days to come.”

“Also, read slowly. Just as a fine meal should be savored, so, too, good books are to be luxuriated in, not rushed through. Certainly, some reading material merits a quick read, but habitual skimming is for the mind what a steady diet of fast food is for the body.
         Speed-reading is not only inferior to deep reading but may bring more harm than benefits: one critic cautions that reading fast is simply a ‘way of fooling yourself into thinking you’re learning something.’
         When you read quickly, you aren’t thinking critically or making connections. Worse yet, ‘speed-reading gives you two things that should never mix: superficial knowledge and overconfidence.’”

“Don’t be discouraged if you read slowly. Thoughtfully engaging with a text takes time. The slowest readers are often the best readers, the ones who get the most meaning out of a work and are affected most deeply by literature.”

“Read with a pen, pencil, or highlighter in hand, marking in the book or taking notes on paper. The idea that books should not be written in is an unfortunate holdover from grade school, a canard rooted in a misunderstanding of what makes a book valuable.
         The true worth of books is in their words and ideas, not their pristine pages. One friend wisely observed that ‘readers are not made for books – books are made for readers.’”

“Reading well adds to our life – not in the way a tool from the hardware store adds to our life, for a tool does us no good once lost or broken, but in the way a friendship adds to our life, altering us forever.”

“Some books are to be tasted, others to be swallowed and some few to be chewed and digested; that is, some books are to be read only in parts; others to be read, but not curiously; and some few to be read wholly, and with diligence and attention.” (Francis Bacon)

“Seventeenth-century Puritan pastor Richard Baxter writes, ‘It is not the reading of many books which is necessary to make a man wise or good; but the well reading of a few, could he be sure to have the best… Good books are a very great mercy to the world.’”

The greatest benefit will always come from reading and engaging Scripture… in the midst of reading other good books, make time for the Good Book.

“Who is wise and understanding among you?
Let them show it by their good life,
by deeds done in the humility that comes from wisdom.”

(James 3:13)

Fall 2018 Quotes to Note

“In everything give thanks.”

(1 Thessalonians 5:18 – NASB)

God calls us to be thankful, grateful people. When we follow His command to “give thanks in all things,” we benefit. Bitterness and cynicism are unrooted from our hearts. It’s easy for us to think that the unhappiness in people leads them to have a complaining spirit. But I would suggest that it is truer to say: consistent complaining leads to unhappiness.

In other words, becoming a grateful person will result in us being much happier. Joy is the long-term by-product of daily, consistent expressions of thanksgiving and gratitude.

Here are a few quotes on gratitude, thanksgiving – and the link they have to happiness.

“As you therefore have received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in Him, having been firmly rooted and now being built up in Him and established in your faith, just as you were instructed, and overflowing with gratitude.” (Colossians 2:6-7 – NASB)

“No amount of regret changes the past.
No amount of anxiety changes the future.
Any amount of grateful joy changes the present.”
(Ann Voskamp)

“When someone continually talks about how happy they are, I tend to doubt them; but when they talk about how grateful they are, I know they have found happiness.” (Rob Hawkins)

“It’s one thing to be grateful. It’s another to give thanks. Gratitude is what you feel. Thanksgiving is what you do.” (Tim Keller)

“Undeniable guilt,
plus undeserved grace,
should equal unbridled gratitude.”
(Nancy Leigh DeMoss)

“Seek… to cultivate a buoyant, joyous sense of the crowded kindnesses of God in your daily life.” (Alexander Maclaren – 1826-1910)

“Keep your own happiness journal. Record God’s evident goodness around you every day. You’ll find that in time, you’ll see more and more gifts from him – not because there are more, but because you’re finally seeing what has been there all along.” (Randy Alcorn)

“Ultimately, in his essence, Satan is an ingrate. And he sinks his venom into the heart of Eden. Satan’s sin becomes the first sin of all humanity: the sin of ingratitude… Our fall was, has always been, and always will be, that we aren’t satisfied in God and what He gives.” (Ann Voskamp)

“If only we could see our situation clearly. We deserve expulsion; he [God] gives us a diploma. We deserve the electric chair; he gives us a parade. Anything less than overwhelming gratitude would be unthinkable. He owes us nothing. We own him everything. ‘Who has ever given to God, that God should repay them?’ (Romans 11:35 – NIV), The answer is: nobody.”(Randy Alcorn)

“The person who has chosen to make gratitude his or her mind-set and lifestyle can view anything – anything! – through the eyes of thankfulness. The whole world looks different when we do.” (Nancy Leigh DeMoss)

“Once we experience thanksgiving as our default condition, we’ll find it’s inseparable from our happiness, and we’ll never want to go back to the barren wasteland of ingratitude.” (Randy Alcorn)

“No matter what our circumstances, we can find a reason to be thankful.” (David Jeremiah)

“It is only with gratitude that life becomes rich!”
(Dietrich Bonhoeffer)

“He is richest who is content with the least, for contentment is the wealth of nature.” (Socrates)

“Gratitude is an offering precious in the sight of God, and it is one that the poorest of us can make and be not poorer but richer for having made it.” (A.W. Tozer)

“One of the clearest descriptive phrases of sinful mankind (according to Romans 1), is they are “ungrateful” or “do not give thanks.” This is another reason why it is so important that we as parents raise our children to always be thankful and grateful (as opposed to complaining or griping) – as if life owes them something – as they journey through this world.
You will always find gratitude at the heart of happy, mature, godly people. The average westerner lives better than 99.4 percent of all the human beings who have ever lived. Knowing that we are better off than nearly every other human who has ever lived should inspire… a daily prayer of thanksgiving, not a sense of dread. And it should prompt us to generosity, rather than a desire for more.” (Chuck Colson)

“Instruct those who are rich in this present world not to be conceited or to fix their hope on the uncertainty of riches, but on God, who richly supplies us with all things to enjoy. Instruct them to do good, to be rich in good works, to be generous and ready to share, storing up for themselves the treasure of a good foundation for the future, so that they may take hold of that which is life indeed.” (1 Timothy 6:17‐19 – NASB)

“O Lord my God, I will give thanks to you forever!”
(Psalm 30:12 – ESV)

God’s Faithfulness

Dr. Charles “Chip” Kingery
April 6, 1954 – September 10, 2018

A few weeks ago, I had the privilege of speaking at the Memorial Service for one of our Global Training Network staff members, Dr. Chip Kingery.

Chip was one of the most optimistic, warm-hearted people I’ve ever met. It was truly a privilege to work with Chip and Jean over the past 10 years as they served with GTN in Bangalore, India.

Before I got up to speak, Joni Eareckson Tada shared. Before coming on staff with GTN, Chip had served as International Director for Joni and Friends and Jean as Joni’s Director of Response.

After sharing a clear presentation of the gospel, Joni led everyone in singing the timeless hymn, Great is Thy Faithfulness. As we sang together the words to this beautiful song, I was reminded again of God’s gracious faithfulness throughout our lives as His children.

I’ve sung and listened to that hymn hundreds of times in my life, but this time there was a greater “weightiness” to it. Joni’s incredible testimony of God’s goodness in the face of suffering is powerful. She’s lived as a quadriplegic for the last 51 years (after a diving accident at the age of 17). To hear her sing the final verse of this hymn brought tears to my eyes.

Pardon for sin 
And a peace that endureth 
Thine own dear presence to cheer 
And to guide 
Strength for today 
and bright hope for tomorrow 
Blessings all mine, 
with ten thousand beside

The line,“Strength for today and bright hope for tomorrow, blessings all mine, with ten thousand beside,” was particularly meaningful. To hear Joni sing with such enthusiasm out of a lifetime of experiencing God’s grace in affliction was incredibly moving, to say the least.

Be encouraged, brother and sister in Christ. God is faithful.

His mercies are new every morning (Lamentations 3:21-23).

He is with you and promises He will never leave you or forsake you (Matthew 28:20; Hebrews 13:5).

He has “loved you with an everlasting love” (Jer. 31:3).

A few months ago, my wife Lisa was able to attend The Gospel Coalition National Women’s Conference in Indianapolis (along with almost 10,000 other women).

One of the final songs they sang at the conference was Great is Thy Faithfulness. I had a chance to view it online before Lisa flew home and it moved me once again. When she arrived home, I asked her:

“When you were singing Great is Thy Faithfulness toward the end of the conference, were you a bundle of tears?” 

Her reply? “How did you know?” After 38 years of marriage, you learn a thing or two about your partner (today we celebrate our 38th wedding anniversary).

You see, for all of our married life, that song has been an anchor for our souls. We have rejoiced in singing it when we have been on the brightest, highest mountain tops… and have clung to the truths while in the deepest, darkest valleys. And we have found over and over again that… God is faithful (1 Corinthians 1:9; 2 Thessalonians 3:3; Hebrews 10:23).

If you would like to listen to Great is Thy Faithfulness from the TGC 2018 Women’s Conference, you can do so here (led by the Austin Stone Worship Band). It’s both beautiful and powerful… reminding us of God’s gracious favor, kindness and mercy.

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