Wednesday, 30 September 2009


'In a secular world, which is what most of us in Europe and North America live in, history takes on the role of showing us good and evil, virtues and vices. Religion no longer plays as important a part as it once did in setting moral standards and transmitting values. Congregations at the old mainstream churches have declined sharply. It is true that there are huge evangelical churches out there, but they are as much about entertaining and socializing as religion. The millions who describe themselves as born-again Christians often have, according to surveys, the sketchiest of ideas about what it is they are adhering to. And even those who continue to have faith in a divine being may wonder how he or she can allow such evils as the twentieth century witnessed. History with a capital H is being called in to fill the void. It restores a sense not necessarily of a divine being but of something above and beyond human beings. It is our authority: it can vindicate us and judge us, and damn those who oppose us.'
Margaret MacMillan, The Uses and Abuses of History, p.20.

Tuesday, 29 September 2009


'Anxiety. Instead of connecting with God, our spirits fly around like severed power lines, destroying everything they touch. Anxiety wants to be God but lacks God's wisdom, power or knowledge. A godlike stance without godlike character and ability is pure tension. Because anxiety is self on its own, it tries to get control. It is unable to relax in the fact of chaos. Once one problem is solved, the next in line steps up. The new one looms so large, we forget the last deliverance.'
Paul E Miller, A Praying Life, p.70.


'The gospel, God's free gift of grace in Jesus, only works when we realize we don't have it together. The same is true for prayer. The very thing we are allergic to - our helplessness - is what makes prayer work. It works because we are helpless. We can't do life on our own.'
Paul E Miller, A Praying Life, p. 55.


'If you are not praying, then you are quietly confident that time, money, and talent are all you need in life. You'll always be a little too tired, a little too busy. But if, like Jesus, you realize you can't do life on your own, then no matter how busy, no matter how tired you are, you will always find the time to pray.
Time in prayer makes you even more dependent on God because you don't have as much time to get things done. Every minute spent in prayer is one less minute where you can be doing something "productive." So the act of praying means you have to rely more on God.'
Paul E Miller, A Praying Life, p.49.


'Jesus does not say, "Come to me, all you who have learned how to concentrate in prayer, whose minds no longer wander, and I will give you rest." No Jesus opens his arms to his needy children and says, "Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest" (Matthew 11:28, NASB). The criteria for coming to Jesus is weariness. Come overwhelmed with life. Come with your wandering mind. Come messy.'
Paul E Miller, A Praying Life, p.33.

Thursday, 24 September 2009


'I have been reading poems, romances, vision-literature, legends, myths all my life. I know what they are like. I know that none of them is like this. Of this text there are only two possible views. Either this is reportage - though it may no doubt contain errors - pretty close up to the facts; nearly as close as Boswell. Or else, some unknown writer in the second century, without known predecessors or successors, suddenly anticipated the whole technique of modern, novelistic narrative. If it is untrue, it must be narrative of that kind. The reader who doesn't see this has simply not learned to read.'
CS Lewis, 'Fern Seed and Elephants' in Faith, Christianity and the Church, p.244.


'We are not being told of a superman but of someone supremely human.'
JB Phillips, Ring of Truth: A Translator's Testimony, p.65.


'I have read in Latin and Greek, scores of myths but I did not find the slightest flavour of myth here. There is no hysteria, no careful working for effect and no attempt at collusion. These are not embroided tales: the material is cut to the bone. One sensed again and again that understatement which we have been taught to think is more "British" than Oriental. There is an almost childlike candour and simplicity, and the total effect is tremendous. No man could ever have invented such a character as Jesus. No man could have set down such artless and vulnerable accounts as these unless some real Event lay behind them.'
JB Phillips, Ring of Truth: A Translator's Tale, p.58.


'Anyone who has any experience at all of the living God knows that he is nothing at all like this somebody who tut-tuts politely at our failings and lays a soothing hand upon our anxious little heads. The God who lives in us if we allow him, is not necessarily gentle: he can be wind and fire and a whole lot of other things. He can give us strength, but he can also show us our weakness! He will "increase our faith", but frequently not in the way we want or expect. He will show us, as we can bear it, more and more truth, but he will shatter our illusions without scruple, perhaps especially illusions about ourselves. He will give us moments of wonderful perception, but will also allow us to endure terrifying darkness. His dealings with us are not some optional religious game; he is deadly earnest and he is intent on "bringing many sons to glory". He is indeed all goodness and light but he will show no more compunction towards the evil things that we have allowed to grow in our hearts than a human surgeon would to a malignant growth. The men of old were hardly exaggerating when they said, "Our God is a consuming fire."'
JB Phillips, Ring of Truth: A Translator's Testimony, p.31.


'Christ lives in the personality of the man who believes in him, and brings with him the hope of "glory" to come. No other religion dares to say such a thing about the person whom men worship as God. God has always been external, the power to be obeyed. Now at last the wonder which we would never had the impertinence to claim, is seen to have come true in Christ. Not only has God become man and lived life on human terms; not only has God reconciled himself by a personal act; not only has God proved that death is conquered by an unforgettable demonstration of power, but God lives in the man whose personality is open to him. Life is a matter not of conforming to external rules but of being transformed from within.'
JB Phillips, Ring of Truth: A Translator's Testimony, p.30.


'The New Testament, given a fair hearing, does not need me or anyone else to defend it. It has a proper ring for anyone who has not lost his ear for truth.'
JB Phillips, Ring of Truth: A Translator's Testimony, p.14.

Monday, 14 September 2009


'Is there a place right now where you live is not consistent with what you believe? Isn't it wonderful that you do not have to panic, hide, or be depressed? Stop and confess your inconsistency to the One who was consistent so that you could be accepted and forgiven even in your moments of greatest inconsistency.'
Paul David Tripp, Whiter than snow: meditations on sin and mercy, p.44.


'The Psalms of David, in sublimity, beauty, pathos, and originality, or in one word poetry, are superior to all the odes, hymns, and songs in any language.'
John Adams in David McCullough, John Adams, p.629.

Sunday, 13 September 2009


· Because a little sin leads to more sin.
· Because my sin invites the discipline of God.
· Because the time spent in sin is forever wasted.
· Because my sin never pleases but always grieves God who loves me.
· Because my sin places a greater burden on my spiritual leaders.
· Because in time my sin always brings heaviness to my heart.
· Because I am doing what I do not have to do.
· Because my sin always makes me less than what I could be.
· Because others, including my family, suffer consequences due to my sin.
· Because my sin saddens the godly.
· Because my sin makes the enemies of God rejoice.
· Because sin deceives me into believing I have gained when in reality I have lost.
· Because sin may keep me from qualifying for spiritual leadership.
· Because the supposed benefits of my sin will never outweigh the consequences of disobedience.
· Because repenting of my sin is such a painful process, yet I must repent.
· Because sin is a very brief pleasure for an eternal loss.
· Because my sin may influence others to sin.
· Because my sin may keep others from knowing Christ.
· Because sin makes light of the cross, upon which Christ died for the very purpose of taking away my sin.
· Because it is impossible to sin and follow the Spirit at the same time.
· Because God chooses not to respect the prayers of those who cherish their sin.
· Because sin steals my reputation and robs me of my testimony.
· Because others once more earnest than I have been destroyed by just such sins.
· Because the inhabitants of heaven and hell would all testify to the foolishness of this sin.
· Because sin and guilt may harm both mind and body.
· Because sins mixed with service make the things of God tasteless.
· Because suffering for sin has no joy or reward, though suffering for righteousness has both.
· Because my sin is adultery with the world.
· Because, though forgiven, I will review this very sin at the Judgment Seat where loss and gain of eternal rewards are applied.
· Because I can never really know ahead of time just how severe the discipline for my sin might be.
· Because my sin may be an indication of a lost condition.
· Because to sin is not to love Christ.
· Because my unwillingness to reject this sin now grants it an authority over me greater than I wish to believe.
· Because sin glorifies God only in His judgment of it and His turning of it to good use, never because it is worth anything on it’s own.
· Because I promised God he would be Lord of my life.
Copyright © 1992 Jim Elliff
Christian Communicators Worldwide, Inc.201 Main, Parkville, MO 64152 USA
Permission granted for not-for-sale reproduction in exact form including copyright
Other uses require written permission. Write for additional materials.


'The essence of ideological statements is that, unless our political senses are developed, we will fail to spot them. Ideology is released into society like a colourless, odourless gas. It is embedded in newspapers, advertisements, television programmes and textbooks - where it makes light of its partial, perhaps illogical or unjust take on the world; where it meekly implies that it is simply stating age-old truths with which only a fool or maniac would disagree.'
Alain de Botton, Status Anxiety, p.214.


'The quickest way to stop noticing something may be to buy it - just as the quickest way to stop appreciating a person may be to marry them. We are tempted to believe that certain achievements and possessions will guarantee us an enduring satisfaction. We are led to imagine ourselves scaling the steep sides of the cliff face of happiness to reach a wide, high plateau on which to continue our lives; we are not reminded that soon after reaching the summit we will be called down again into the fresh lowlands of anxiety and desire.'
Alain de Botton, Status Anxiety, p.207.

Friday, 11 September 2009


'The quest of the Innner Ring will break your hearts unless you break it. But if you break it, a surprising result will follow. If in your working hours you make the work your end, you will presently find yourself all unawares inside the only circle in your profession that really matters. You will be one of the sound craftsmen, and the other sound craftsmen will know it. This group of craftsmen will by no means coincide with the Inner Ring or the Important People or the People in the Know. It will not shape that professional policy or work up that professional influence which fights for the profession as a whole against the public: nor will it lead to those periodic scandals and crises that the Inner Ring produces. But it will do the things which that profession exists to do and will in the long run be responsible for all the respect which that profession in fact enjoys and which speeches and advertisements cannot maintain. And if in your spare time you consort simply with the people you like, you will again find that you have come unawares to a real inside: that you are indeed snug and safe at the centre of something which, seen from without, would look exactly like an Innner Ring. But the difference is that its secrecy is accidental, and its exclusiveness a by-product, and no-one was led thither by the lure of the esoteric: for it is only four or five people who like one another meeting to do things they like. This is friendship. Aristotle placed in among the virtues. It causes perhaps half of all the happiness in the world, and no Inner Ring can ever have it.'
CS Lewis, 'The Inner Ring' in Literature, Philosophy and Short Stories, p.320.


'I believe that in all men's lives at certain periods, and in many men's lives at all periods between infancy and extreme old age, one of the most dominant elements is the desire to be inside the local Ring and the terror of being left outside.'
CS Lewis, 'The Inner Ring' in Literature, Philosophy and Short Stories, p.315.

Wednesday, 9 September 2009


'I find the Sunday Times test helpful. Currently the newspaper has over a dozen different sections. Look at all the headings of those different sections and determine if any of these have become your idol. Are any of them the call you always take over and above God?
Possibly not 'News Review.'
But 'Style'? 'Travel'? 'Home'? 'Sport'? 'Business'? 'Appointments'? 'Money'?'
Jago Wynne, Working without Wilting: Starting well to finish strong, p.37.


'Sin lives in a costume; that's why it's so hard to recognise. The fact that sin looks good is one of the things that make it so bad. In order for it to do its evil work, it must present itself as something that is anything but evil. Life is a fallen world is like attending the ultimate masquerade party. Impatient yelling wears the costume of a zeal for truth. Lust can masquerade as a love for beauty. Gossip does its evil work by living in the costume of concern and prayer. Craving for power and control wears the mask of biblical leadership. Fear of man gets dressed up as a servant heart. The pride of always being right masquerades as a love for biblical wisdom. Evil simple doesn't present itself as evil, which is part of its draw.'
Paul David Tripp, Whiter than snow: meditations on sin and mercy, p.32.

Sunday, 6 September 2009


'The plain, sad fact is that we do not always feel bad after we do something wrong. To acknowledge that premarital sex - or any other sinful act - might feel good is not to say that premarital sex is good. It is rather to say that our feelings are not always trustworthy. Our emotions and our hearts were distorted in the fall, which is one reason we need the community of the church and an articulated Christain ethics in the first place. If our feelings could be trusted - if we felt good every time we did something good, and felt bad every time we did something bad - we would need neither biblical guidelines of right behavior nor a community to help hold us accountable to those biblical standards. In other words, if we felt lousy every time we sinned, there would be a lot less sinning in the world. And if we felt great every time we did something good and worthy and true, there would be a lot more prayer and giving of charity.'
Lauren F Winner, Real Sex: the naked truth about chastity, p.89.

Saturday, 5 September 2009


'Human beings are simply not self-sustaining, and we were never designed to live as if we are. The doctrine of creation confronts us with the reality that we are neither physically or spiritually self-sustaining. We were created to be dependent. Dependency is not therefore a sign of weakness. Rather it is a universal indicator of our humanity. Humans are dependent beings.'
Paul David Tripp, Whiter than snow: meditations on sin and mercy, p.23.

Friday, 4 September 2009


'Cynics are only idealists with awkwardly high standards.'
Alain de Botton, Status Anxiety, p.128.


'...the Bible tells us to intrude - or rather, the Bible tells us that talking to one another about what is really going on in our lives is in fact not an intrusion at all, because what's going on in my life is already your concern; by dint of the baptism that made me your sister, my joys are your joys and my crises are your crises. We are called to speak to one another lovingly, to be sure, and with edifying, rather than gossipy, or hurtful, goals. But we are called nonetheless to transform seemingly private matters into communal matters. Of course, premarital sexual behaviour is just one of many examples of this larger point. Christians also need to speak courageously and transparently, for example, about the seemingly private matters of Christian marriage - there would be, I suspect, a lot fewer divorces in the church if married Christians exposed their domestic lives, their fights and tensions and squabbles, to loving wisdom, advice, and sometimes rebuke from their community. Christians might claim less credit-card debt if small group members shared their bank account statements with one another. I suspect that if my best friend had persmission to scrutinize my Day-timer, I would inhabit time better. Speaking to one another about your sexual selves is just one (admittedly risky) instance of a larger piece of Christian discipleship: being community with each other.'
Lauren F Winner, Real Sex: the naked truth about chastity, p.53.


' outside God's created intent destroys us. By contrast, life lived inside the contours of God's law humanizes us and makes us beautiful. It makes us creatures living well in the created order. It gives us the opportunity to become who we are meant to be.'
Lauren F Winner, Real Sex: the naked truth about chastity, p.42.


'When it comes to sex, one cannot leave out marriage. The no to sex outside marriage seems arbitary and cruel apart from the Creator's yes to sex within marriage. Indeed, one can say that in Christianity's vocabulary the only real sex is the sex that happens within marriage; the faux sex that goes on outside marriage is not really sex at all. The physical coming together that happens between two people who are not married is a distorted imitation of sex, as Walt Disney's Wilderness Lodge Resort is only a simulation of real wilderness. The danger is that when we spend too much time in the simulations, we lose the capacity to distinguish between the ersatz and the real.'
Lauren F Winner, Real Sex: the naked truth about chastity, p.38.


'...when I come to the Lord after I've blown it, I've only one argument to make. It's not the argument of the difficulty of the environment that I am in. It's not the argument of the difficult people that I'm near. It's not the argument of the good intentions that were thwarted in some way. No. I have only one argument. It's right there is the first verses of Psalm 51, as David confesses his sin with Bathsheba. I come to the Lord with only one appeal, his mercy. I've no other defense. I've no other standing. I've no other hope.'
Paul David Tripp, Whiter than snow; meditations on sin and mercy, p.22.

Wednesday, 2 September 2009


'Bodies are central to the Christian story. Creation inaugurates bodies that are good, but the consequences of the fall are written on our bodies - our bodies will sweat as we labor in the fields, our bodies will hurt as we bear children, and, most centrally, our bodies will die. If the fall is written on the body, salvation happens in the body too. The kingdom of God is transmitted through Jesus' body and is sustained in Christ's body, the church. Through the bodily suffering of Christ on the cross and the bodily resurrection of Christ from the dead, we are saved. Bodies are not just mirrors in which we see the consequences of the fall; they are also, in one theologian's phrase, "where God has chosen to find us in our falleness." Bodies are who we are and where we live; they are not just things God created us with, but means of knowing Him and abiding with Him.'
Lauren F Winner, Real Sex: the naked truth about chastity, p.37.


'God created people with bodies, and God declared that they were good. It is sometimes hard for us modern day Christians to grasp that central fact. Bodies are not simply pieces of furniture to decorate or display; they are not trappings about which we have conflicted feelings ("body images" that we need to revamp or retool); they are not objects to be dieted away, made to conform to popular standards, or made to perform unthinkable athletic feats with the help of drugs; they are neither tools for scoring points nor burdens to be overcome. They are simply good.'
Lauren F Winner, Real Sex: the bnaked truth about chastity, p.33.


'...if we take seriously the pastoral task of helping unmarried Christians live chastely, the church needs not merely to recite decontextualized Bible verses, but to ground our ethic in the faithful living of the fullness of the gospel.'
Lauren F Winner, Real Sex: the naked truth about chastity, p.30.


'...chastity is God's very best for us. God created sex for marriage and that is where it belongs. Still many Christians who know about chastity have a hard time being chaste. Chastity may be instantly rewarding, but it doesn't always feel instantly rewarding, and, let's face it, we live in a therapeutic culture in which people often make decisions based on what seems right at the time. Too often the church, rather than giving unmarried Christians useful tools and thick theologies to live chastely, instead tosses off a few bromides - "True love waits" is not that compelling when you're twenty-nine and have been waitiung, and wonder what, really, you're waiting for.'
Lauren F Winner, Real Sex: the naked truth about chastity, p.15.

Tuesday, 1 September 2009


'Gospels scholarship must free itself from the grip of the skeptical paradigm that presumes the Gospels to be unreliable unless, in every particular case or saying, the historian succeeds in providing independent verification. For such a suspicious approach the Gospels are not believable until and unless the historian can verify each claim that they make to recount history. But this approach is seriously faulty precisely as an historical method. It can only result in a misleadingly minimal collection of uninteresting facts about a historical figure stripped of any real significance. Neither in this nor in countless other cases of historical testimony can the historian verify everything. Testimony asks to be trusted. '
Richard Bauckham, Jesus and the Eyewitnesses: The Gospels as Eyewitness Testimony, p.506.