Thursday, 30 December 2010

TOP 10 BOOKS OF 2010

In no particular order....

Thomas Brookes, Precious Remedies Against Satan's Devices
Deborah Devonshire, Wait for Me! Memoirs of the Youngest Mitford Sister
Paul David Tripp, Broken-Down House: Living Productively in a World Gone Bad
Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Life Together
Susan Hill, Howards End is on the Landing: A year reading from home
Wesley Hill, Washed & Waiting: Reflections on Christian Faithfulness and Homosexuality
William M Struthers, Wired for Intimacy: How pornography hijacks the male brain
Annie Dillard, Pilgrim at Tinker Creek
Eric Metaxas, Bonhoeffer: Pastor, Martyr, Prophet, Spy
Richard Baxter, The Reformed Pastor

Monday, 27 December 2010


'He said he wanted God back in his life. I said, well what's wrong with the God you grew up with, your Anglican God? He's too soft, he said, too reasonable and understanding, doesn't really want to interfere - more like the ideal next-door neighbour than a deity. I need to feel God's terrible wrath, his retribution waiting for me, he said. My Anglican God will just look sad and give me a ticking off.'
William Boyd, Any Human Heart, p.224.

Sunday, 26 December 2010


'It is often said that mankind needs a faith if the world is to be improved. In fact, unless the faith is vigilantly and regularly checked by a sense of man's fallibility, it is likely to make the world worse. From Torquemada to Robespierre and Hitler the men who have made mankind suffer the most have been inspired to do so by strong faith; so strong that it led them to think their crimes were acts of virtue necessary to help them achieve their aim, which was to build some kind of an ideal kingdom on earth.
But as we have been told on very good authority, the Kingdom of Heaven is not of this world. Those who think they can establish it here are more likely to create a hell on earth.'
Lord David Cecil in Susan Hill, Howards End is on the Landing, p.156.


'...[the literary critic's] aim should be to interpret the work they are writing about and to help readers appreciate it, by defining and analysing those qualities that make it precious and by indicating the angle of vision from which its beauties are visible.
But many critics do not realise their function. They aim not to appreciate but to judge; they seek first to draw up laws about literature and then to bully readers into accepting these laws...[but] you cannot force a taste on someone else, you cannot argue people into enjoyment.'
Lord David Cecil in Susan Hill, Howards End is on the Landing, p.156.


'Books help form us. If you cut me open, will you find volume after volume, page after page, the contents of every one I have ever read, somehow transmuted and transformed into me? Alice in Wonderland. The Magic Faraway Tree. The Hound of the Baskervilles. The Book of Job. Bleak House. Wuthering heights. The Complete Poems of W.H.Auden. The Tale of Mr Toad, Howards End. What a strange person I must be. But if the books I have read have helped to form me, then probably nobody else who ever lived has read exactly the same books, all the same books and only the same books, as me. So just as my genes and the soul within me make me uniquely me, so I am the unique sum of the books I have read. I am my literary DNA.'
Susan Hill, Howards End is on the Landing, p.202.


'A couple of years ago a friend of extremely left-wing and politically correct bent was looking at the shelf of children's books and remarked that they were all "escapist". She felt that my children had not been encouraged to engage in the gritty problems and troubles of real life through their reading. No, they had not. I always steered clear of "issue literature" when choosing picture books for them - but then, there were few of that kind available for the under-fives in the early 1970s and early 1980s, though occasionly there were titles aimed at helping overcome a fear of dogs, for example, or the dentist. But she did not mean that sort of simple, helpful story. She was looking through the fiction they read between the ages of around eight to thirteen or so, before they moved on to adult novels. Escapist? I would call it imaginative. But if the lives of children in Elizabethan England, or a magical countytry called Narnia, and the stories about creatures called Moomins are a means of escape from the often dull and tiresome everyday world, as well as being good books, what is the argument against that? Computer games are escapist, going to football matches or the cinema, or watching soaps or costume drama on television, are all forms of escapism. We need some.'
Susan Hill, Howards End is on the Landing, p.196.


'Everything I am reading during this year has so much to yield but only if I give it my full attention and respect it by reading it slowly. Fast reading of a great novel will give us the plot. It will get us names, a shadowy idea of characters, a sketch of settings. It will not get us subtleties, small differentiations, depth of emotion and observation, multilayered human experience, the appreciation of simile and metaphor, any sense of context, any comparison with other novels, other writers. Fast reading will not get us cadence and complexities of style and language. It will not get us anything that enters just the conscious mind but the unconscious. It will not allow the book to burrow down into our memory and become part of ourselves, the accumulation of knowledge and wisdom and vicarious experience which helps form us as complete human beings. It will not develop our awareness or add to the sum of our knowledge and intelligence. Read parts of a newspaper quickly or an encyclopaedia entry, or a fast-food thriller, but do not insult yourself or a book which has been created with its author's painstaking acquired skill and effort, by seeing how fast you can dispose of it.'
Susan Hill, Howards End is on the Landing, p.171.


'Writers are formed by their childhoods, by places which have given up their inner meaning, by people glimpsed, and above all by emotions both felt and observed.'
Susan Hill, Howards End is on the Landing, p.142.


'I think the greatest satisfaction of reading published diaries is that of being admitted into other people's worlds, of living in their houses, knowing their friends, accompanying them on their travels - and at the same time being party to their views of it all. It is like plunging into the imaginary world of a novel and yet satisfying in a rather different way...'
Susan Hill, Howards End is on the Landing, p.87.


'It is such a have someone who wishes to sit with you on a sofa and listen to a watch tick.'
Penelope Fitzgerald in Susan Hill, Howards End is on the Landing, p.75.


'The point about every single book that I re-read in order to laugh is that every one is so much more funny because the authors write so well. Wodehouse uses the English language to perfection, Durrell evokes scenes so wonderfully, Nancy Mitford's prose is so elegant, so arch. One could learn to write from any of them and I wish more people would. No matter what the genre, good writing always tells. Crime novels? Look at Raymond Chandler, master of style. Spy novels? How many do you know who write as well as le Carre? Style wins every, every time.'
Susan Hill, Howards End is on the Landing, p.57.


'...can have an insidious, corrosive effect. Too much internet usage fragments the brain and disipates concentration so that after a while, one's ability to spend long, focused hours immersed in a single subject becomes blunted. Information comes pre-digested in small pieces, one grazes on endless ready-meals and snacks of the mind, and the result is mental malnutrition...
Rationing it strictly gave me back more than time. Within a few days, my attention span increased again, my butterfly-brain settled down and I was able to spend longer periods concentrating on single topics, difficult long books, subjects requiring my full focus. It was like diving into a deep, cool ocean after flitting about in the shallows. Slow reading as against Gobbling-up.'
Susan Hill, Howards End is on the Landing: A year reading from home, p.3.


'War is brutish, inglorious, and a terrible waste. Combat leaves an indelible mark on those who are forced to endure it. The only redeeming factors were my comrades' incredible bravery and their devotion to each other. Marine Corps training taught us to kill efficiently and to try to survive. But it also taught us loyalty to each other - and love. That esprit de corps sustained us.
Until the millenium arrives and countries cease trying to enslave others, it will be necessary to accept one's responsibilities and to be willing to make sacrifices for one's country - as my comrades did. As the troops used to say, "If the country is good enough to live in, it's good enough to fight for." With privilege goes responsibility.'
EB Sledge, With the Old Breed: At Peleliu and Okinawa, p.344.

Thursday, 23 December 2010


'What stops us from living on less? It's not just our love for things, it's our fear of loneliness or abnormality. If simple living were the norm in our churches, it would be much easier to live simply ourselves. But we don't want to be left out or seem weird. We need examples to follow, models of simpler lifestyles that we can observe firsthand to convince us it's really possible - and desirable. We need to see people we respect, people like us who choose to live differently. A mandate to "live simply" won't do it. It's easier to follow footprints than to follow orders. If most people in the church have new cars, beautiful homes, hot tubs, and cutting-edge entertainment centers, it's hard to remember these aren't what the church is here for.
One Christian told me, "When I look at the Bible, I get really convicted to chnage my lifestyle. But then I look around at all the other Christians who live like I do and I end up saying, "It must be okay - everybody else lives this way too."'
Randy Alcorn, Money, Possessions & Eternity, p.298.

Wednesday, 22 December 2010


'...the single greatest deterrent to giving - and to living more simply - is the illusion that this world is our home.'
Randy Alcorn, Money, Possessions & Eternity, p.294.


'Giving is the safety valve that releases the excess pressure of wealth.'
Randy Alcorn, Money, Possessions & Eternity, p.293.


'Regarding our attitude toward wealth, Jesus gave commands. Regarding our possessions and lifestyle, he gave us principles. Jesus did not hand us a checklist of what we can and cannot own, and how we can or cannot spend money. Jesus didn't just say one thing about money and possessions. He said many things. They aren't randomly clashing noises, but a carefully composed melody and harmony to which we must carefully listen as we develop our lifestyles. If Jesus gave us a checklist, we would not have to depend prayerfully and thoughtfully on him to guide us into the kind of lifestlye that pleases him.'
Randy Alcorn, Money, Possessions & Eternity, p.290.

Tuesday, 21 December 2010


'Let me tell you a most wonderful experience I had early on Monday morning, March 19, 2007, a little after six o'clock. God actually spoke to me. There is no doubt that it was God. I heard the very word in my head just as clearly as when a memory of a conversation passes across your consciouness. The words were in English, but they had about them an absolutely self-autheticating ring of truth. I know beyond the shadow of a doubt that God still speaks today.
It was through the Bible that I heard these divine words, and through the Bible I have experiences like this almost every day...If you would like to hear the very same words I heard on the couch in northern Minnesota, read Psalm 66:5-7. That is where I heard them. O how precious is the Bible...This is the very voice of God.
Something is incredibly wrong when the words we hear outside Scripture are more powerful and more affecting to us that the inspired word of God.'
John Piper in CJ Mahaney, 'The Pastor and the Trinity' in For the Fame of God's Name, p.400.


'...are those you serve certain of the Father's love for them? Are you laboring to convince them of it? How do you leave your church at the end of a sermon? Where do you leave them at the end of a counseling appointment? What is the effect of even a casual conversation with you? Does a member of your church leave your presence more aware of his sin, or more aware of the love of God the Father? Is your church more secure in the Father's personal and passionate love as the result of your ministry?
Let me ask a more personal question: Are you convinced of the Father's love for you? He crushed his Son for you so that he might adopt you, so that he might convince you of his holy love for you. Pastor, are you more aware of your sin, the weakness in your pastoral ministry, the deficiencies in your church, or of the Father's love? You cannot convince your church of the Father's love if you are not convinced of it it yourself.'
CJ Mahaney, 'The Pastor and the Trinity' in For the Fame of God's Name, p.398.


'I will crush my Son under the full fury of my righteous wrath for you. In the Garden of Gethsemane, my Son will cry out for this bitter cup to pass from him. And I will remain silent. Why? Because I love you that much.
And when my Son utters that shriek on the cross, unlike any other protest in all of history "My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?" I will again remain silent. Why? To convince you that I love you.
Behold the supreme demonstration of my love - the cross - the death of my Son, What more can I say? What else do you require to be convinced of my love for you?'
CJ Mahaney, 'The Pastor and the Trinity' in For the Fame of God's Name, p.397.


'Some facet of gospel truth is the ultimate answer for every pastoral situation you confront - every one.'
CJ Mahaney, 'The Pastor and the Trinity' in Sam Storms & Justin Taylor (Eds.), For the Fame of God's Name: Essays in Honour of John Piper, p.393.


'As we have a high old time this Christmas, may we who know Christ, hear the cry of the damned as they hurtle headlong into the Christless night without ever a chance. May we be moved with compassion as our Lord was. May we shed tears of repentance for those we have failed to bring out of darkness. Beyond the smiling scenes of Bethlehem may we see the crushing agony of Golgatha. May God give us a new vision of His will concerning the lost and our responsibility.'
Nate Saint in Randy Alcorn, Money, Possessions & Eternity, p.238.


'Put yourself in the place of every poor man and deal with him as you would God deal with you.'
John Wesley in Randy Alcorn, Money, Possessions & Eternity, p.227.


'It is our care of the helpless, our practice of loving kindness that brands us in the eyes of many of our opponents. "Only look," they say, "look how they love one another."'
Tertullian in Randy Alcorn, Money, Possessions & Eternity, p.226.


'One of the great tests for Christian leaders is whether we can trust God to provide financially without courting or favoring big donors. And perhaps the greatest test for givers is whether we are able to give of ourselves and our resources without getting the credit, concerned only that God gets the glory.'
Randy Alcorn, Money, Posessions & Eternity, p.212.


'We don't like risky faith. We like to have our safety net below us, a backup plan in case God fails. Our instinct for self-preservation leads us to hedge our bets. If we give at all, we will give as much as we can without really feeling it and no more. We take away the high stakes, and we also lose the high returns. We miss the adventure of seeing God provide...'
Randy Alcorn, Money, Possessions & Eternity, p.203.


'Money never stays with me. It would burn me if it did. I throw it out of my hands as soon as possible, lest it should find its way into my heart.'
John Wesley in Randy Alcorn, Money, Possessions & Eternity, p.195.


'Tithing gives perspective. It reminds us that all we are and all we have is from God. Tithing is not a tip thrown mindlessly down on a table after a meal, but a meaningful expression of dependence on God and gratitude to him. Tithing requires calculation. When we deal specifically with the amounts God has provided, we assess God's goodness to us. We literally count our blessings, thank him for his generosity. Tithing was, and can still be, a built in reminder at every juncture of the life of our unlimited debt to God.'
Randy Alcorn, Money, Possessions & Eternity, p.179.

Thursday, 16 December 2010


'There are many principles contrary to love, that make this world like a tempestuous sea. Selfishness, and envy, and revenge, and jealousy, and kindred passions keep life on earth in a constant tumult, and make it a scene of confusion and uproar, where no quiet rest is to be enjoyed except in renouncing this world and looking to another. But oh! what rest is there in that world which the God of peace and love fills with his own gracious presence, and in which the Lamb of God lives and reigns, filling it with the brightest and sweetest beams of his love; where there is nothing to disturb or offend, and no being or object to be seen that is not surrounded with perfect amiableness and sweetness; where the saints shall find and enjoy all that they love, so and be perfectly satisfied; where there is no enemy and no emnity; but perfect love in every heart and to every being; where there is perfect harmony among all the inhabitants, no envying one another, but everyone rejoicing in the happiness of every other; where all their love is humble and holy and perfectly Christian, without the least carnality and impurity; where love is always mutual and reciprocated to the full; where there is no hypocrisy or dissembling, but perfect simplicity and sincerity; where there is no treachery, or unfaithfulness, or inconstancy, or jealousy in any form; where there is no clog or hindrance to the exercises or expressions of love, no imprudence or indecency in expressing it, and no influence or folly or indiscretion in any word or deed; where there is no separation wall, and no, misunderstanding or strangeness, but full acquaintance and perfect intimacy in all; where there is no division through different opinions or interests, but where all in that glorious and loving society shall be most nearly and divinely related, and each shall belong to every other, and all shall enjoy each other in perfect prosperity and riches, and honor, without sickness, or grief, or persecution, or sorrow, or enemy to molest them, or any busybody to create jealousy or misunderstanding, or mar the perfect, and holy, and blessed peace that reigns in heaven! And all this in the garden of God - in the paradise of love, where everything is filled with love, and everything conspires to promote and kindle it, and keep up its flame, and nothing ever interrupts it, but everything has been fitted by an all-wise God for its full enjoyment under the greatest advantages forever! And all, too, where the beauty of the beloved objects shall never fade, and love shall grow never weary nor decay, but the soul shall more and more rejoice in love forever!'
Jonathan Edwards, Heaven - a World of Love, p.11. Available at:

Wednesday, 15 December 2010


'...all our life is but a going out to the place of execution, to death.'
John Donne, 'An Easter Sermon - 28th March 1619' in John Donne on death, p.3.


'Our Father refreshes us on the journey with some pleasant inns, but will not encourage us to mistake them for home.'
CS Lewis in Randy Alcorn, Money, Possessions & Eternity, p.170.


'In the truest sense, Christian pilgrims have the best of both worlds. We have joy whenever this world reminds us of the next. And we have comfort whenever it does not. We have the promise of a new heaven and a new earth, where the worst elements of this world - sorrow, pain, death, and the tears they produce - will be gone forever (Revelation 21:4). Yet we also know that the best elements of this world - love, joy, wonder, worship, and beauty - will not be gone but intensified and perfected in the remade world.'
Randy Alcorn, Money, Possessions & Eternity, p.167.


'Because we love something else more than this world, we love even this world better than those who know no other.'
CS Lewis in Randy Alcorn, Money, Possessions & Eternity, p.167.


'Life's great disillusionments come as we try to force our round, made-for-eternity hearts into the rectangular hole of this earth. They just don't fit. We do not fit.'
Randy Alcorn, Money, Possessions & Eternity, p.161.


'It has been cited as a flaw in Christianity that it is more concerned with the world to come than with the world that now is, and some timid souls have been fluttering about trying to defend the faith of Christ against this accusation as a mother hen defends her chicks from the hawk.
Both the attack and the defense are wasted. No one who knows what the New Testament is about will worry over the charge that Christianity is other-worldly. Of course it is, and that is precisely where it power lies...
Let no one apologize for the powerful emphasis Christianity lays upon the doctrine of the world to come. Right there lies its immense superiority to everything else within the whole sphere of human thought and experience. When Christ arose from the dead and ascended into heaven He established forever three important facts: namely that this world has been condemned to ultimate dissolution, that the human spirit persists beyond the grave and that there is indeed a world to come...
The church is constantly being tempted to accept this world as her home, and sometimes she has listened to the blandishments of those who would woo her away and use her for their own ends. But if she is wise she will consider that she stands in the valley between the mountain peaks of eternity past and eternity to come. The past is gone forever and the present is passing as swift as the shadow on the sun dial of Ahaz. Even if the earth should continue a million years, not one of us could stay to enjoy it. We do well to think of the long tomorrow.'
AW Tozer in Randy Alcorn, Money, Possessions & Eternity, p.160.


'If you read history you will find that the Christians who did most for the present world were just those who thought most of the next. The Apostles themeselves, who set on foot the conversion of the Roman Empire, the great men who built up the Middle Ages, the English Evangelicals who abolished the slave trade, all left their mark on Earth, precisely because their minds were occupied with Heaven. It is since Christians largely ceased to think of the other world that they have become so ineffective in this.'
CS Lewis in Randy Alcorn, Money, Possessions & Eternity, p.160.

Tuesday, 14 December 2010


'Women sometimes have the problem of trying to judge by artificial light how a dress will look by daylight. That is very like the problem of all of us: to dress our souls not for the electric lights of the present world but for the daylight of the next. The good dress is the one that will face that light. For that light will last longer.'
CS Lewis in Randy Alcorn, Money, Possessions & Eternity, p.150.

Monday, 13 December 2010


'If there be so certain and glorious a rest for the saints, why is there no more industrious seeking after it? One would think, if a man did once hear of such unspeakable glory to be obtained, and believed what he heard to be true, he should be transported with the vehemency of his desire after it, and should almost forget to eat and drink, and should care for nothing else, and speak of and enquire after nothing else, but how to get this treasure. And yet people who hear of it daily, and profess to believe it as a fundamental article of their faith, do as little mind it, or labour for it, as if they had never heard of any such thing, or did not believe one word they hear.'
Richard Baxter in Randy Alcorn, Money, Possessions & Eternity, p.137.


'Christianity propses not to extinguish our natural desires. It promises to bring the desires under just control and direct them to their true object.'
William Wiberforce, Money, Possessions & Eternity, p.135.


'They are such as should make us leap to think on, and that we should remember with exceeding joy, and never think this contrary to the Christian faith, to rejoice and be glad for.'
John Bunyan in Randy Alcorn, Money, Possessions & Eternity, p.135.


'Every time I obey God, I'm doing what's ultimately best for all. Every time I disobey him, I'm doing what's ultimately worst for all.'
Randy Alcorn, Money, Possessions & Eternity, p.132.


'Two men owned farms side by side. One was a bitter atheist, the other a devout Christian. Constantly annoyed at the Christian for his trust in God, the atheist said to him one winter, "Let's plant our crops as usual this spring, each the same number of acres. You pray to your God, and I'll curse him. Then come October, let's see who has the bigger crop."
When October came the atheist was delighted because his crop was larger. "See, you fool," he taunted, "what you you have to say for your God now?"
"My God," repiled the other farmer, "doesn't settle all his accounts in October."'
Randy Alcorn, Money, Possessions & Eternity, p.123.

Tuesday, 7 December 2010


'On February 6, 1870, George Muller's wife, Mary, died of rheumatic fever. They had been married thrity-nine years and four months. He was sixty-four years old. Shortly after the funeral he was strong enough to preach a "funeral sermon" as he called it. What text would he choose when God had taken his best beloved? He chose Psalm 119:68, "You are good, and do good." His three points were:
  1. The Lord was good, and did good, in giving her to me.
  2. The Lord was good, and did good, in so long leaving her to me.
  3. The Lord was good, and did good, in taking her from me.'
John Piper, The Pleasures of God, p.183.

Monday, 6 December 2010


'We miss something in missionary martyr Jim Elliot's famous words, "He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain what he cannot lose." We focus on his willingness to sacrifice and serve, but we neglect his passion for personal gain. Reread his words and you'll see that Jim Elliot was a priofit seeker! What separated him from the common Christian wasn't that he didn't want treasure, but that he wanted true and lasting treasure. He wasn't satisfied with treasure that would be lost, only treasure that would last.'
Randy Alcorn, Money, Possessions & Eternity, p.95.


'What do we value most? What would we most hate to lose? What do our thoughts turn to most frequently when we are are free to think of what we will? And finally, what affords us the greatest pleasure?'
AW Tozer in Randy Alcorn, Money, Possessions & Eternity, p.94.


'I have held many things in my hands and I have lost them all. But whatever I have placed in God's hands, that I still possess.'
Martin Luther in Randy Alcorn, Money, Posssessions & Eternity, p.93.

Saturday, 4 December 2010


'At issue here is the question: "To whom do I belong? To God or to the world?" Many of my daily preoccupations suggest that I belong more to the world than to God. A little criticism makes me angry, and a little rejection makes me depressed. A little praise raises my spirits, and a little success excites me. It takes very little to raise me up and thrust me down. Often I am like a small boat on the ocean completely at the mercy of the waves. All the time and energy I spend in keeping some kind of balance and preventing myself from being tipped over and drowning shows that my life is mostly a struggle for survival: not a holy struggle but an anxious struggle resulting from the the mistaken idea that it is the world that defines me.
As long as I keep running around asking: "Do you love me? Do you really love me?" I give all the power to the voices of the world and put myself in bondage because the world is filled with "ifs." The world says: "Yes, I love you if you are good-looking, intelligent, and wealthy. I love you if you have a good education, a good job, and good connections. I love you if you produce much, sell much, and buy much." There are endless "ifs" hidden in the world's love. These "ifs" enslave me, since it is impossible to respond adequately to all of them. The world's love is and always will be conditional. As long as I keep looking for my true self in the world of conditional love, I will remain "hooked" to the world - trying, failing, and trying again. It is a world that fosters addictions because what it offers cannot satisfy the deepest craving of my heart.
"Addiction" might be the best word to explain the lostness that so deeply permeates contemporary society. Our addictions make us cling to what the world proclaims as the keys to self-fulfillment; accumulation of wealth and power; attainment of status and admiration; lavish consumption of food and drink, and sexual gratification without distinguishing between lust and love. These addictions create expectations that cannot but fail to satisfy our deepest needs. As long as we live within the world's delusions, our addictions condemn us to futile quests in "the distant country," leaving us to face an endless series of disillusionments while our sense of self remains unfulfilled. In these days of increased addictions, we have wandered far way from our Father's home. The addicted life can aptly be designated a life lived in "a distant country." It is from there that our cry for deliverance rises up.
I am the prodigal son every time I search for unconditional love where it cannot be found. Why do I keep ignoring the place of true love and persist in looking for it elsewhere? Why do I keep leaving home where I am called a child of God, the Beloved of my Father?'
Henri JM Nouwen, The Return of the Prodigal Son, p.42.


'Home is the center of my being where I can hear the voice that says: "You are my Beloved, on you my favour rests" - the same voice that gave life to the first Adam and spoke to Jesus, the second Adam; the same voice that speaks to all the children of God and sets them free to live in the midst of a dark world while remaining in the light. I have heard that voice. It has spoken to me in the past and continues to speak to me now. It is the never-interrupted voice of love speaking from eternity and giving life and love whenever it is heard. When I hear that voice, I know that I am home with God and have nothing to fear. As the Beloved of my heavenly Father, "I can walk in the valley of darkness: no evil would I fear."...Having "received without charge." I can give without charge." As the Beloved, I can confront, console, admonish, and encourage with fear of rejection or need of affirmation. As the Beloved, I can suffer persecution without desire for revenge and receive praise without using it as a proof of my goodness. As the Beloved, I can be tortured, and killed without ever having to doubt that the love that is given to me is stronger than death. As the Beloved, I am free to live and give life, free also to die while giving life.
Jesus has made it clear to me that the same voice that he heard at the River Jordan and on Mount Tabor can also be heard by me. He has made it clear to me that just as he has his home with the Father, so do I.'
Henri JM Nouwen, The Return of the Prodigal Son: A Story of Homecoming, p.37.

Friday, 3 December 2010


'Do you not know that God entrusted you with that money (all above what buys necessities for your family) to feed the hungry, to clothe the naked, to help the stranger, the widow, the fatherless, and, indeed, as far as it will go, to relieve the wants of all mankind? How can you, how dare you, defraud your Lord, by applying it to any other purposes?'
John Wesley in Randy Alcorn, Money, Possessioons & Eternity, p.86.


'If you've prayed for healing, and not received it, take heart - you're in good company! Not only was Paul himself not healed, but he also had to leave Trophimus in Miletus because of sickness (2 Timothy 4:20). His beloved friend Epaphroditus was gravely ill (Philippians 2:24-30). His son in the faith, Timothy, had frequent stomach disorders, for which Paul didn't tell him "claim healing" but to drink a little wine for medicinal purposes (1 Timothy 5:23). Those who claim "anyone with enough faith can be healed" apparentely have greater faith than Paul and his ministry associates.'
Randy Alcorn, Money, Possessions & Eternity, p.81.

Thursday, 2 December 2010


...we have a knotty generation to deal with...'
Richard Baxter, The Reformed Pastor, p.231.

Wednesday, 1 December 2010


'The only thing worth counterfeiting is what's valuable. People make counterfeit currency and jewels, not couterfeit bottle caps or garabage. Because the truth of the gosple is priceless, we should expect it to be continously counterfeited. Bank employees are taught to idfentify counterfeit bills by handling the real thing - not be studying all the possible counterfeits. If you're not acquainted with the original, you can easily be deceived by an imitation. But once you're familiar with the genuine article, you will be able to spot a counterfeit.'
Randy Alcorn, Money, Possessions & Eternity, p.72.


'Theological a man-centered, earth-centered system that denies eternal realities. The "good news" is that somehow a God without holiness helps a man without sin by a Christ without a cross. God is not taken seriously but is simply used to promote a human agenda. The fact that this agenda may include some benevolent causes doesn't eliminate its exclusive focus on the present life...Denying the heart and soul of the gospel, liberalism's attempts to help the world without addressing its ultimate spiritual problems have the same effect as rearranging the furniture on the Titanic.'
Randy Alcorn, Money, Possessions & Eternity, p.62.

Tuesday, 30 November 2010


'In my experience, 95 percent of the believers who face the test of persecution pass it, while 95 percent who face the test of prosperity fail it.'
Anonymous in Randy Alcorn, Money, Possessions & Eternity, p.46.


'Wherever true Christianity spreads, it must cause diligence and frugality which, in the natural course of things, must beget riches! And riches naturally beget pride, love of the world, and every temper that is destructive of Christianity. Now, if there be no way to prevent this, Christianity is inconsistent with itself and, of consequence, cannot stand, cannot continue long among any people; since, wherever it generally prevails, it saps its own foundations.'
John Wesley in Randy Alcorn, Money, Possessions & Eternity, p.38.


'God created us to love people and use things, but materialists love things and use people.'
Randy Alcorn, Money, Possessions & Eternity, p.33.

Monday, 29 November 2010


'To regard money as evil, and therefore useless for purposes of righteousness, is foolish. To regard it as good and therefore overlook its potential for spiritual disaster is equally foolish.'
Randy Alcorn, Money, Possessions & Eternity, p.19.


'If silver and gold are things evil in themselves, then those who keep away from them deserve to be punished. But if they are good creatures of God, which we can use for the needs of neighbor and for the glory of God, is not a person silly, yes, even unthankful to God, if he refrains from them as if they were evil?'
Martin Luther in Randy Alcorn, Money, Possessions & Eternity, p.15.


'Are we considered worthy to enter the kingdom because of faith in Christ's death or because of our persevering good works? Are we saved by faith in Christ plus good works? An analogy might help explain.
You must pay money in order to obtain entry to a professional football game. In order to enter the stadium, however, you must present a ticket at the gate. Is it the money that provides access to the game or the ticket? Both! But are the money and the ticket equal "causes" that get you in? Ultimately, the money paid is what really gets you in, but you must have the ticket as evidence that you really paid the price for the game. Likewise, true Christians are those on behalf of whom Christ has paid the penalty of sin, but they must have the badge of good works as evidence that Christ paid their purchase price in order to be considered worthy of passing through the final judgment and entering the kingdom. Therefore, both faith in Christ and human good works are absolutely necessary for being considered worthy of salvation, but the former is the ultimate cause of the latter. At the last judgment people will not be able to say that they have benefitted from Christ's redemptive work only because they have believed; they will have to show evidence of their belief through their good works (Mt 7:21).'
GK Beale, 1-2 Thessalonians (The IVP New Testament Commentary Series), p.184.

Friday, 26 November 2010


'...our handling of money is a litmus test of our true character. It's an index of our spiritual life. Our stewardship of our money and possessions becomes the story of our lives.'
Randy Alcorn, Money, Possessions & Eternity, p.8.


'Each of our lives is positioned like a bow, drawn across the strings of a cosmic violin, producing vibrations that resound for all eternity. The slightest action of the bow produces a sound, a sound that is never lost. What I do today has tremedous bearings on eternity.'
Randy Alcorn, Money, Possessions & Eternity, p.xv.


'The man of pseudo faith will fight for his verbal creed but refuse flatly to allow himself to get into a predicament where his future must depend on that creed being true. He always provides himself with secondary ways of escape so he will have a way out if the roof caves in. What we need very badly these days is a company of Christians who are prepared to trust God as completely now as they know they must do on the last day.'
AW Tozer in Randy Alcorn, Money, Possessions & Eternity, p.xv.


'To preach the Word of God well, one must already have cultivated, at a minimum, three sensibilities: the sensibility of the close reading of texts, the sensibility of composed communication, and the sensibility of the significant.'
T David Gordon, Why Johnny Can't Preach, p.106.


'I believe that as people's confidence in Christ grows, they do, ordinarily and inevitably, bear fruit that accords with faith. Thus, there is no need for some trade-off here, or some alleged dichotomy suggesting that we need to preach morality if we are to have morality. No; preach Christ, and you will have morality. Fill the sails of your hearers' souls with the wind of confidence in the Redeemer, and they will trust in him as their Sanctifier, and long to see his fruit in their lives. Fill their minds and imaginations with a vision of the loveliness and perfection of Christ in his person, and the flock will long to be like him. Impress upon their weak and wavering hearts the utter competence of the mediation of the One who ever lives to make intercession for them, and they will long to serve and comfort others, even as Christ has served and comforted them.'
T David Gordon, Why Johnny Can't Preach, p.78.

Wednesday, 24 November 2010


'When the poet stares at that which the rest of us merely glance at, he invites us to take a longer look along with him. It is precisely this longer look that is necessary to cultivate a sensibility for the significant.'
T David Gordon, Why Johnny Can't Preach, p.53.


'Exposition is...virtually a lost art. We don't really read texts to enter the world of the author and perceive reality through his vantage point; we read texts to see how they confirm what we already believe about reality. Texts are mirrors that reflect ourselves; they are not pictures that are appreciated in themselves. This explains, in part, the phenomenon that many Christians will read their Bibles daily for fifty years, and not have one opinion that changes in the entire fifty-year span. Texts do not change or alter or skew their perspective; texts do not move them or shape them; they merely use them as mnemonic devices to recall what they already know. They have no capacity to expound a text, or describe what another has said and how he has said it; and they retain only the capacity to notice when something in the language of another appears to concur with their own opinions. To employ C.S.Lewis's way of stating the matter, they "use" texts but do not "receive" them.'
T David Gordon, Why Johnny Can't Preach, p.50.

Tuesday, 23 November 2010


'If the patients of a given hospital's surgeons continue to die, we could, I suppose, abandon the scalpel. We might also consider employing it more skillfully. My challenge to the contemporaneists and emergents is this: Show me a church where the preaching is good, and yet the church is moribund. I've never seen such a church. The moribund churches I've seen have been mispreached to death. But the fact that large segments of the church are abandoning anything like traditional preaching altogether establishes my point: that Johnny can't preach. He preaches so poorly that even believers have come to disbelieve that God has chosen through the folly of preaching to save those who believe (I Cor. I:21).'
T David Gordon, Why Johnny Can't Preach, p.33.


'...sermon-length is not measured in minutes; it is measured in minutes-beyond-interest, in the amount of time the minister continues to preach after he has lost the interest of his hearers (assuming he ever kindled it in the first place.'
T David Gordon, Johnny Can't Preach, p.31.


'I've really desired something fairly simple for my family: to be able to talk intelligently about the sermon on Sunday afternoon or throughout the week. And to do this, all I really desire is the ability to answer three questions: What was the point or thrust of the sermon? Was this point adequately established in the text that was read? Were the applications legitimate appilcations of the point, from which we can have further fruitful conversation about other possible applications?'
T David Gordon, Why Johnny Can't Preach, p.19.


'...ministers as a group are more resistant to annual review and constructive criticism than any other profession of my acquaintance...'
T David Gordon, Why Johnny Can't Preach: The Media Have Shaped the Messangers, p.15.

Friday, 19 November 2010


'The impetus, energy, and direction for world-making and world-changing are greatest where various forms of cultural, social, economic, and often political resources overlap. In short, when networks of elites in overlapping fields of culture and overlapping spheres of social life come together with their varied resources and act in common purpose, cultures do change and change profoundly. Persistence over time is essential; little of significance happens in three to five years. But when cultural and symbolic capital overlap with social capital and, in time, political capital, and these various resources are directed toward shared ends, the world, indeed, changes.'
James Davison Hunter, To Change the World, p.43.


'...Vilfredo Pareto...argued that change occurs through a "circulation of elites." His theory was pretty complex, though in its simple and sanitized form, he argued that elites were either foxes or lions. Foxes, as he puts it, were those who innovated, experimented, and took risks. Lions, by contrast, were those who defended the status quo in the name of social stability. Foxes and lions were in tension over power. When lions were ascendant, foxes challenged their authority and would seek to infiltrate their ranks in order to replace them. Yet because it is difficult for foxes to maintain a stable social order, the lions would eventually replace them or - more interestingly - the foxes became lions.'
James Davison Hunter, To Change the World: The Irony, Tragedy, & Possibility of Christianity in the Late Modern World, p.43.

Thursday, 18 November 2010


'Duties are to be taken together: the greatest is to be preferred, but none are to be neglected, that can be performed; no one is to be pleaded against another, but each is to know its proper place. But if there were such a case of necessity, that we could not carry on further studies, and instruct the ignorant too, I would throw aside all the libraries in the world, rather than be guilty of the perdition of one soul; or at least, I know that would be my duty.'
Richard Baxter, The Reformed Pastor, p.215.


'He will be ablest physician, lawyer, and divine too, that addeth practice and experience to his studies: while that man shall prove a useless drone, that refuseth God's service all his life, under pretence of preparing for it, and lets men's souls pass on to perdition while he pretendeth to be studying how to recover them, or to get more ability to help and save them.'
Richard Baxter, The Reformed Pastor, p.214.


'The harvest is great, the labourers are few; the loiterers and hinderers are many, the souls of men are precious, the misery of sinners is great, and the everlasting misery to which they are near is greater, the joys of heaven are inconceivable, the comfort of a faithful minister is not small, the joy of extensive success will be a full reward. To be fellow-workers with God and his Spirit is no little honour; to subserve the blood-shedding of Christ for men's salvation is not a light thing. To lead on the armies of Christ through the thickest of the enemy; to guide them safely through a dnagerous wilderness; to steer the vessels through such storms and rocks and sands and shelves, and bring it safe to the harbour of rest, requireth no small skill and diligence. The fields now seem even white to harvest; the preparations that have been made for us are very great; the season of working is more calm than most ages before us have ever seen. We have carelessly loitered too long already; the present time is posting away; while we are trifling, men are dying; oh how fast are they passing into another world! And is there nothing in all of this to awaken us to our duty, nothing to resolve us to speedy and unwearied diligence? Can we think than a man can be too careful and painful under all these motives and engagements?'
Richard Baxter, The Reformed Pastor, p.202.


'If God seems too good to be true, you are beginning to know him.'
Edward T Welch, Running Scared, p.248.

Tuesday, 16 November 2010


'Confession to another person is not a way to artificially unload guilt. The one who hears your confession is not a priest who will grant absolution. The reason you confess something private is to test your own heart. It is also a way to close the door to one of Satan's condemnatory devices. Satan delights in keeping things in the dark, where they can accumulate more condemnation, but we can do battle by keeping our lives in the light.'
Edward T Welch, Running Scared, p.227.

Saturday, 13 November 2010


'It is a serious thing to live in a society of possible gods and goddesses, to remember that the dullest and most uninteresting person you can talk to may one day be a creature which, if you saw it now, you would be strongly tempted to worship, or else a horror or corruption such as you now meet, if at all, only in a nightmare. All day long we are, in some degree, helping each other to one or other of these two destionations. It is in the light of these overwhelming possibilities, it is with awe and the circumspection proper to them, that we should conduct all our dealings with one another, all friendships, all loves, all play, all politics. There are no ordinary people. You have never talked to a mere mortal. Nations, cultures, arts, civilisations - these are mortal, and their life is to ours as the life of a gnat. But it is immortals whom we joke with, work with, marry, snub, and exploit - immortal horrors or everlasting splendours.'
CS Lewis, 'The Weight of Glory' in The CS Lewis Essay Collection: Faith, Christianity and the Church, p.105.


'...our lifelong nostalgia, our longing to be reunited with something in the universe from which we now feel cut off, to be on the inside of some door which we have always seen from the outside, is no mere neurotic fancy, but the truest index of our real situation...
...At present we are on the outside of the world, the wrong side of the door. We discern the freshness and purity of the morning, but they do not make us fresh and pure. We cannot mingle with the splendours we see. But all the leaves of the New Testament are rustling with the rumour that it will not always be so. Some day, God willing, we shall get in.'
CS Lewis, 'The Weight of Glory' in The CS Lewis Essay Collection: Faith, Christianity and the Church, p.104.


'The promise of glory is the promise, almost incredible and only possible by the work of Christ, that some of us, that any of us who really chooses, shall actually survive the examination, shall find approval, shall please God. To please be a real ingredient in the divine be loved by God, not merely pitied, but delighted in as an artist delights in his work or a father in his son - it seems impossible, a weight or burden of glory, which our thoughts can hardly sustain. But so it is.'
CS Lewis, 'The Weight of Glory' in The CS Lewis Collection: Faith, Christianity and the Church, p.102.


'In the end that Face which is the delight or the terror of the universe must be turned upon each of us either with one expression or with the other, either conferring glory inexpressible or inflicting shame that can never be cured or disguised.'
CS Lewis, 'The Weight of Glory' in The CS Lewis Essay Collection: Faith, Christianity and the Church, p.102.


'When I began to look into this matter I was shocked to find such different Christians as Milton, Johnson and Thomas Aquinas taking heavenly glory quite frankly in the sense of fame or good report. But not fame conferred by our fellow creatures - fame with God, approval or (I might say) "appreciation" by God. And then, when I had thought it over, I saw that this view was scriptural; nothing can eliminate from the parable the divine accolade, "Well done, thou good and faithful servant." With that, a good deal of what I thinking all my life fell down like a house of cards. I suddenly remembered that no one can enter heaven except as a child; and nothing is so obvious in a child - not in a conceited child, but in a good child - as its great and undisguised pleasure in being praised. Not only in a child either, but even in a dog or a horse. Apparentely what I had mistaken for humility had, all these years, prevented me from understanding what is in fact the humblest, the most childlike, the most creaturely of pleasures - nay, the specific pleasure of the inferior: the pleasure of a beast before men, a child before its father, a pupil before his teacher, a creature before its Creator.'
CS Lewis, 'The Weight of Glory' in CS Lewis Essay Collection: Faith, Christianity and the Church, p. 101.


'The promises of Scripture may very roughly be reduced to five heads. It is promised, firstly, that we shall be with Christ; secondly, that we shall be like Him; thirdly, with an enormous wealth of imagery, that we shall have "glory"; fourthly, that we shall, in some sense, be fed or feasted or entertained; and, finally, that we shall have some sort of official position in teh universe - ruling cities, judging angels, being pillars of God's temple.'
CS Lewis, 'The Weight of Glory' in CS Lewis Essay Collection: Faith, Christianity and the Church, p.100.


'If there lurks in most modern minds the notion that to desire our own good and earnestly to hope for the enjoyment of it is a bad thing, I submit that this notion has crept in from Kant and the Stoics and is not part of the Christian faith. Indeed, if we consider the unblushing promises of reward and the staggering nature rewards promised in the Gospels, it would seem that Our Lord finds our desires, not too strong, but too weak. We are half-hearted creatures, fooling about with drink and sex and ambition when infinite joy is offered us, like an ignorant child who wants to go on making mud pies in a slum because he cannot imagine what is meant by the offer of a holiday at the sea. We are far too easily pleased.'
CS Lewis, 'The Weight of Glory' in CS Lewis Essay Collection: Faith Christianity and the Church, p.96.

Friday, 12 November 2010


'Always strive to have an imbalance in your heart where the desire to love outdistances the desire to be loved...'
Edward T Welch, Running Scared, p.185.


'We stand in the shadow of Jesus, who revealed what true human life was intended to be: He loved others even when he wasn't loved. Jesus shows us that to be truly human means that our desire to love others outdistances our desire to be loved ourselves. True humanness is found more in a sacrificial love for our enemies than in being the object of another person's affections.'
Edward T Welch, Running Scared, p.179.

Thursday, 11 November 2010


'Many times in my experience with homosexuality I have wished my life was different, that I had some other burden to bear - anything but this one. But I have also felt that if Someone is watching - taking note; caring about each footfall, each bend in the trail; marking my progress - then the burden may be bearable.
When the road is long and the loneliness and sheer longing threaten to extinguish hope, it helps me to remember that, like Frodo and Sam, I, too, am in a grand tale, with an all-seeing, all-caring Reader or Listener who also happens to be in some mysterious way the story and the depths of my struggle may never be observed or known by any human watcher. But I can still endure - I can keep on fighting to live faithfully as a believer bearing my broken sexuality - so long as I have the assurance that my life matters to God, that, wonder of all wonders, my faith pleases him, that somehow it makes him smile.'
Wesley Hill, Washed and Waiting, p.147.


'The Bible calls the Christian struggle against sin faith (Hebrews12:3-4; 10:37-39). So I am trying to appropriate these biblical descriptions for myself. I am learning to look at my daily wrestling with disordered desires and call it truth. I am learning to look at my battle to keep from giving in to my temptations and call it sanctification. I am learning to see that my flawed, imperfect, yet-never-giving-up faithfulness is precisely the spiritual fruit that God will praise me for on the last day, to the ultimate honor of Jesus Christ.
My continuing struggle for holiness as a gay Christian can be a fragrant aroma to the Father. I am coming to believe that it will be, in C.S.Lewis's words, "an ingredient in the divine happiness."'
Wesley Hill, Washed and Waiting, p.146.


'More and more, I have the sense that what many of us need is a new conception of our own perseverance in faith. We need to reimagine ourselves and our stuggles. The temptation for me is to look at my bent and broken sexuality and conclude that, with it, I will never be able to please God, to walk in a manner worthy of his calling, to hear his praise. But what if I had a conception of God-glorifying faith, holiness, and righteousness that included within it a profound element of struggle and stumbling? What if I were to view my homosexual orientation, temptations, and occasional failures not as damning disqualifications for living a Christian life but rather as part and parcel of what it means to live by faith in a world that is fallen and scarred by sin and death?'
Wesley Hill, Wased and Waiting, p.144.


'...the struggles facing homosexual Christians...the struggle to be faithful to the gospel's "terrible decree" that we must hold in check our strongest urges and not engage in homosexual activity; the struggle to belong, to find the end of loneliness; and the struggle with shame, with nagging feelings of being constantly displeasing to God.'
Wesley Hill, Washed and Waiting, p.127.


'The remedy for loneliness - if there is such a thing this side of God's future - is to learn, over and over again, to do this: to feel God's keeping presence embodied in the human members of the community of faith, the church.'
Wesley Hill, Washed and Waiting, p.113.


'...the New Testament views the church - rather than marriage - as the primary place where human love is best experienced and expressed.'
Wesley Hill, Washed and Waiting, p.111.

Wednesday, 10 November 2010


'A silly idea is current that good people do not know what temptation means. This is an obvious lie. Only those who try to resist temptation know how strong it is... A man who gives into temptation after five minutes simply does not know what it would have been like an hour later. That is why bad people, in one sense know very little about badness. They have lived a sheltered life by always giving in... Christ, because he was the only man who never yielded to temptation, is also the only man who knows to the full what temptation means - the only complete realist.'
CS Lewis in Wesley Hill, Washed and Waiting, p.75.


'When we homosexual Christians bring our sexuality before God, we begin or continue a long, costly process of having it transformed. From God's perspective, our homoerotic inclinations are like "the craving for salt of a person who is dying of thirst" (to borrow Frederick Buechner's fine phrase). Yet when God begins to change the craving and give us the living water that will ultimately quench our thirst, we scream in pain, protesting that we were made for salt. The change hurts...
...our pain - the pain of having our deeply ingrained inclinations and desires blocked and confronted by God's demand for purity in the gospel - far from being a sign of our failure to live the life God wants, may actually be the mark of our faithfulness. We groan in frustration because of our fidelity to the gospel's call. And though we may miss out in the short run on the lives of personal fulfillment and sexual satisfaction, in the long the cruelest thing God could do would be to leave us alone with our desires, to spare us the affliction of his refining care.'
Wesley Hill, Washed and Waiting, p.67.


'In the end, what keeps me on the path I've chosen is not so much individual proof texts from Scripture or the sheer weight of the church's traditional teaching against homosexual practice. Instead, it is, I think, those texts and traditions and teachings as I see them from within the true story of what God has done in Jesus Christ - and the whole perspective on life and the world that flows from that story, as expressed definitively in Scripture. Like a piece from a jigsaw puzzle finally locked into its rightful place, the Bible and the church's no to homosexual behavior make sense - it has the ring of truth, as J.B.Philips once said of the New Testament - when I look at it as one piece within the larger Christian narrative. I abstain from homosexual behavior because of the power of the Scriptural story.'
Wesley Hill, Washed and Waiting, p.61.


'Biblical commands are not arbitary decrees but correspond to the way the world is and will be.'
Richard Bauckham in Wesley Hill, Washed and Waiting: Reflections on Christian Faithfulness and Homosexuality, p.58.

Monday, 8 November 2010


'...worry reveals our allegiances. Fear and worry are not mere emotions; they are expressions of what we hold dear. They reveal the loyalties of our hearts. If we know Christ and have affirmed our allegiance to him, worry is a sign that we are trying to have it both ways. We certainly don't want to renounce our allegiance to Jesus, but we want to protect what we feel is our own. We are not so sure that the Lord can be trusted with some of these things, so we look for help elsewhere. And if there is no obvious alternate source of help we worry.'
Edward T Welch, Running Scared, p.161.

Saturday, 6 November 2010


'...that unbridgeable gulf between two people which is the product of their early years. Childhood - which sets the scene, the determining scene, which establishes the norm, which has you observing other people's arrangements with surprise. Childhood - which you do not remember except in cinematic fragments, which was simply accepted and is forever the foundation on which you stand.'
Penelope Lively, Family Album, p.123.

Friday, 5 November 2010


'You and your sin must quarrel, if you and God are to be friends.'
JC Ryle in David Powlison, Speaking the Truth in Love, p.36.


'It were an easy thing to be a Christian,
if religion stood only in a few outward works and duties,
But to take the soul to task, and to deal roundly with our own hearts,
and to let conscience have its full work,
and to bring the soul into spiritual subjection unto God,
This is not so easy a matter,
because the soul out of self-love is loath to enter into itself,
lest it should have other thoughts of itself than it would have.'
Richard Sibbes in David Powlison, Speaking the Truth in Love, p.33.

Thursday, 4 November 2010


'We have a base man-pleasing disposition, which will make us let men perish lest we lose their love, and let them go quietly to hell, lest we make them angry with us for seeking their salvation: and we are ready to venture on the displeasure of God, and risk the everlasting misery of our people, rather than draw on ourselves their ill-will. This distemper must be dilligently resisted.'
Richard Baxter, The Reformed Pastor, p.192.


'I am convinced, by sad experience, that it is none of the least impediments to their salvation, and to a true reformation of the Church, that the people understand not what the work of a minister is, and what is their own duty to him. They commonly think, that a minister hath no more to do with them, but to preach to them, and administer the sacraments to them, and visit them in sickness; and that, if they hear him, and receive the sacraments from him, they owe him no further obedience, nor can he require any more from their hands. Little do they know that the minister is in the church, as the schoolmaster in his school, to teach, and take account of every one in particular; and that all Christians, ordinarily, must be disciples or scholars in such a school.'
Richard Baxter, The Reformed Pastor, p.181.


'By means of it you will come to be familiar with your people, and may thereby win their affections. The want of this, with those who have very numerous congregations, is a great impediment to the success of our labours. By distance and unacquaintedness, abudance of mistakes between ministers and people are formented; while on the other hand, familiarity will tend to beget those affections which may open their ears to future instruction. Besides, when we are familiar with them, they will be encouraged to open their doubts to us and deal freely with us. But when a minister knows not his people, or is as strange to them as if he did not know them, it must be a great hinderance to his doing any good among them.'
Richard Baxter, The Reformed Pastor, p.177.

Wednesday, 3 November 2010


'It is a great and common sin throughout the Christian world, to take up religion in a way of faction; and instead of a love and tender care of the universal Church, to confine that love and respect to a party. No but that we must prefer, in our estimation and communion, the purer parts before the impure, and refuse to participate with any in their sins; yet the most infirm and diseased part should be compassioned and assisted to the utmost of our power; and communion must be held as far as is lawful, and nowhere avioided, but upon the urgency of necessity...'
Richard Baxter, The Reformed Pastor, p.157.


'When we are telling the drunkard that he cannot be saved unless he become temperate, and the fornicator that he cannot be saved unless he become chaste, have we not as great reason, if we are proud, to say to ourselves, that we cannot be saved unless we become humble? Pride, in fact, is a greater sin than drunkenness or whoredom; and humility is as necessary as sobriety and chastity.'
Richard Baxter, The Reformed Pastor, p.145.


'Is it not a pity...that our hearts are not so orthodox as our heads?'
Richard Baxter, The Reformed Pastor, p.134.

Tuesday, 2 November 2010


'...God says to us, "Let me remind you of how I listen and see if you think I could listen even to you." Then he recounts stories of adulterers like King David, murderers like the apostle Paul, and grumblers like the newly delivered Israel. If he hears and loves them, he will hear and love us. The lesson is clear: He doesn't hear because of us and the qualities of our prayers. He hears because he is the God Who Hears.'
Edward T Welch, Running Scared, p.73.


'God uses chronic pain and weakness, along with other afflictions, as his chisel for sculpting our lives. Felt weakness deepens dependence on Christ for strength each day. The weaker we feel, the harder we lean. And the harder we lean, the stronger we grow spiritually, even while our bodies waste away. To live with your "thorn" uncomplainingly, sweet, patient, and free in heart to love and help others, even though every day you feel weak, is true sanctification. It is true healing for the spirit. It is supreme victory of grace. The healing of your sinful person this goes forward even though the healing of your mortal body does not. And the healing of persons is the name of the game as far as God is concerned.'
JI Packer in Nancy Guthrie (Ed.), Be Still My Soul, p.139.

Monday, 1 November 2010


'Please understand that when God speaks in ways that are completely contrary to our expectations, then we have encountered something quite genuine. No one could invent a god who, in response to rebellion, is so generous that he gives his entire kingdom. Since this is too good to be true, it must be true. This, indeed, must be the Holy One.'
Edward T Welch, Running Scared, p.68.


'Fear calls out for a person bigger than ourselves.'
Edward T Welch, Runnning Scared, p.63.


'There is a limit to pain, but no limit to fear.'
Francis Bacon in Edward T Welch, Running Scared, p.59.

Sunday, 31 October 2010


'Fear and anger can be the same words spoken with a different attitude.'
Edward T Welch, Running Scared, p.34.


'Worries come to us covered in sticky paper; they aren't shaken off easily.'
Edward T Welch, Running Scared, p.23.


'Look at children, see all humanity. Whereas adults cover up and hide, children are unadorned and open. They lack sophisticated facades and cultural trappings that quietly add layer upon layer to our adult experience. With children you get the real thing.'
Edward T Welch, Running Scared, p.15.


'...the reading, writing and arithmetic of the Christian life - Bible reading, prayer and fellowship...'
Edward T Welch, Running Scared: fear, worry, and the God of rest, p.10.

Thursday, 28 October 2010


'Is not some of the pain and sorrow in this world used in God's providential hand to make us homesick for heaven, to detach us from this world, to prepare us for heaven, to draw our attention to himself, and away from the world of merely physical things?'
DA Carson in Nancy Guthrie (Ed.), Be Still My Soul, p.116.


'Whatever the church does, it should prepare its members to face death and meet God. You cannot live faithfully in this life unless you are ready for the next. You can't preserve morality or spirituality or doctrinal purity or faithfulness unless you are living in the light of eternity.'
DA Carson in Nancy Guthrie (Ed.), Be Still My Soul, p.115.


'For many years in my own pilgrimage of seeking to come to a place of trusting God at all times - I am still far from the end of that journey - I was a prisoner to my feelings. I mistakenly thought I could not trust God unless I felt like trusting him (which I almost never did during times of adversity). Now I am learning that trusting God is first of all a matter of the will, and it is not dependent on my feelings. I choose to trust God and my feelings eventually follow.'
Jerry Bridges in Nancy Guthrie (Ed.), Be Still My Soul, p.110.


'It seems to me that doubt is worse than trial. I had sooner suffer any affliction than be left to question the gospel or my own interest in it.'
Charles Spurgeon in Nancy Guthrie (Ed.), Be Still My Soul, p.104.


'Wherefore, though good and bad men suffer alike, we must not suppose that there is no difference between the men themselves, because there is no difference in what they both suffer. For even in the likeness of the sufferings, there remains an unlikeness in the sufferers; and though exposed to the same anguish, virtue and vice are not the same thing. For as the same fire causes gold to glow brightly, and chaff to smoke; and under the same flail the straw is beaten small, while the grain is cleansed; and as the lees are not mixed with the oil, though squeezed out of the vat by the same pressure, so the violence of affliction proves, purges, clarifies the good, but damns, ruins, exterminates the wicked. And thus it is that in the same affliction the wicked deterst God and blaspheme, while the good pray and praise. So material a difference does it make, not what ills are suffered, but what kind of man suffers them. For, stirred up with the same movement, mud exhales a horrible stench, and ointment emits a fragrant odor.'
Augustine of Hippo in Nancy Guthrie (Ed.), Be Still My Soul, p.100.

Friday, 22 October 2010


'In Proverbs we see God identifying with the poor symbolically. But in the incarnation and death of Jesus we see God identifying with the poor and marginal literally. Jesus was born in a feed trough. When his parents had him circumcised the offering they made - two pigeons - was that prescribed for the poorest class of people in society. He lived among the poor and the marginalized, who were drawn to him even as the respectable were repulsed by him. We see the kind of life he led when he said. "Foxes have holes, birds have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay his head" (Luke 9:58). At the end of his life he rode into Jerusalem on a borrowed donkey, spent his last evening in a borrowed room, and when he died he was laid in a borrowed tomb. They cast lots for his only possession, his robe, for there on the cross he was stripped of everything. He died naked and penniless. He had little the world valued and the little he had was taken. He was discarded - thown away. But only because of Him do we have any hope.'
Timothy Keller, Generous Justice, p.185.


'In general, to "do justice" means to live in a way that generates a strong community where human beings can flourish. Specifically, however, to "do justice" means to go to places where the fabric of shalom has broken down, where the weaker members of society are falling through the fabric, and repair it. This happens when we concentrate on and meet the needs of people.
How can we do that? the only way to reweave and strengthen the fabric is by weaving yourself into it. Human beings are like those threads thrown together onto a table. If we keep our money, time, and power to ourselves, for ourselves, instead of sending them out into our neighbors' lives, then we may be literally on top of one another, but we are not interwoven socially, relationally, financially, and emotionally. Reweaving shalom means to sacrificially thread, lace, and press your time, goods, power, and resources into the lives and needs of others.'
Timothy Keller, Generous Justice, p.177.


'Many believe that the job of the church is not to do justice at all, but to preach the Word, to evangelize and build up believers. But if it is true that justice and mercy to the poor are the inevitable signs of justifying faith, it is hard to believe that the church is not to reflect this duty corporately in some way. As soon as you get involved in the lives of people - in evangelism as well as spiritual nuture - you will come upon people with practical needs. You can't love people in word only (cf.1 John 3:16-17) and therefore you can't love people as you are doing evangelism and discipleship without meeting practical and material needs through deeds.'
Timothy Keller, Generous Justice, p.135.


'You or your church should begin by discovering the needs of your locale. Are there disadvantaged children (abused and neglected, physically or mentally disabled, failing in school) who could use help? Are there elderly, disabled, single parents, chronically ill, or new immigrants who need aid? Are there poor families around that are invisible to you? To learn about these needs, Christians and churches need to do much more sustained listening to their community's leaders than they are used to doing...
Another thing that your church can do is to make a connection to churches and ministries that are resident and effective in poorer neighbourhoods and poorer countries. Ask them what they need from you, and likely the answer will be volunteers, pro bono work from professionals, funding, and perhaps even some of your church's best leaders coming and living and working with them in the communities of need. But let them tell you.'
Timothy Keller, Generous Justice, p.134.


'We tend to try to develop a social conscience in Christians the same way the world does - through guilt. We tell them that they have so much and don't they see that they need to share with those who have so little. This doesn't work, because we have built-in defense mechanisms against such appeals. Almost no-one feels all that wealthy. Even the well-off don't feel rich compared to the others with whom they live and work.
I believe, however, when justice for the poor is connected not to guilt but to grace and the gospel, this "pushes the button" down deep in believers' souls, and they begin to wake up.'
Timothy Keller, Generous Justice, p.107.


'My experience as a pastor has been that those who are middle-class is spirit tend to be indifferent to the poor, but people who come to grasp the gospel of grace and become spiritually poor find their hearts gravitating toward the materially poor. To the degree that the gospel shapes your self-image, you will identify with those in need.'
Timothy Keller, Generous Justice, p.102.


'...justification by faith. Many religions teach that if you live as you ought, then God will accept and bless you. But Paul taught that if you receive God's acceptance and blessing as a free gift through Jesus Christ, then you can and will live as you ought.'
Timothy Keller, Generous Justice, p.97.


'...the righteous...are willing to disadvantage themsleves to advantage the community; the wicked are willing to disadvantage the community to advantage themselves.'
Bruce Waltke in Timothy Keller, Generous Justice, p.90.


'The whole concept of the imago dei, as it is expressed in Latin, the "image of God," is the idea that all men have something within them that God injected. Not that they have substantial unity with God, but that every man has the capacity to have fellowship with God. And this gives him a uniqueness, it gives him worth, it gives him dignity. And we must never forget this as a nation: there are no gradations in the image of God. Every man from a treble white to a bass black is significant on God's keyboard, precisely because every man is made in the image of God. One day we will learn that. We will know one day that God made us to live together as brothers and to respect the dignity and worth of every men. That is why we must fight segregation with all of our nonviolent might.'
Martin Luther King Jr. in Timothy Keller, Generous Justice, p.86.


'...all human beings have an irreducible glory and significance to them, because God loves them, indeed he "loves all that he has made" (Psalms 145:9,17). He loves even those who turn away from him (Ezekiel 33:11; John 3:16). This bestows a worth on them. Nicholas Wolterstorff gives us an example of how this works. He imagines some foreigner, knowing nothing about U.S. history, becoming perplexed to find that the Mount Vernon estate in Virginia is preserved as a national monument and treated as an object of such great worth. After all, she might observe, there are quite a number of old Virginia plantation houses of much greater architectural merit and beauty than Mount Vernon. We would respond that this was the house of George Washington, the founder of our country, and that exaplins it. The internal merits and quality of the house are irrelevant. Because we treasure the owner, we honor his house. Because it was precious to him, and we revere him, it is precious to us. So we must treasure each and every human being as a way of showing due respect for the majesty of their owner and Creator.'
Timothy Keller, Generous Justice, p.84.


'There are no ordinary people. You have never talked to a mere mortal. Nations, cultures, arts, civilizations - these are mortal, and their life is to ours as the life of a gnat. It is immortals whom we joke with, marry, snub, and exploit...'
CS Lewis in Timothy Keller, Generous Justice, p.83.


'We, in many cases, may, by the rule of the gospel, be obliged to give to others when we can't without suffering ourselves...If our neighbor's difficulties and necessities are much greater than ours and we see that they are not like to be relieved, we should be willing to suffer with them and to take part of their burden upon ourselves. Or else how is that rule fulfilled of bearing one another's burdens? If we are never obliged to relieve others' burdens but only when we can do it without burdening ourselves, then how do we bear our neighbour's burdens, when we bear no burden at all?'
Jonathan Edwards in Timothy Keller, Generous Justice, p.70.


'The disposition of one's possessions signifies the disposition of one's heart.'
Joel Green in Timothy Keller, Generous Justice, p.51.


'...there is a direct relationship between a person's grasp and experience of God's grace, and his or her heart for justice and the poor.'
Timothy Keller, Generous Justice: How God's Grace Makes us Just, p.xix.


' be brilliant is not enough. There are plenty of brilliant people screwing up the world. Sound judgment and integrity are also required...'
Chris Mullin, Decline & Fall: Diaries 2005-2010, p.33.


'...mark my words, wherever there is trouble in the world there is a clergyman behind it.'
10th Duke of Devonshire in Deborah Devonshire, Wait for Me! Memoirs of the Youngest Mitford Sister, p.143.

Monday, 18 October 2010


'Strange as it may sound, it is yet true that much of the suffering we are called upon to endure on the highway of holiness is an inward suffering for which scarcely an external cause can be found. For our journey is an inward journey, and our real foes are invisible to the eyes of men. Attacks of darkness, of despondency, of acute self-depreciation, may be endured without any change in our outward circumstances. Only the enemy and God and the hard-pressed Christian know what has taken place. The inward suffering has been great and a mighty work of purification has been accomplished, but the heart knoweth its own sorrow and no-one else can share it. God has cleansed his child in the only way he can...'
AW Tozer in Nancy Guthrie (Ed.), Be Still My Soul, p.89.


'We tend to think of Christianity as a painless sytem by which we can escape the penalty of past sins and attain to heaven at last. The flaming desire to be rid of every unholy thing and to put on the likeness of Christ is not often found among us. We expect to enter the everlasting kingdom of our Father and sit down around the table with sages, sainst and martyrs...But for most of us it could prove at first an embarrassing experience. Ours might be the silence of the untried soldier in the presence of the battle-hardened heroes who have fought the fight and won the victory and who have the scars to prove that they were present when the battle was joined.'
AW Tozer in Nancy Guthrie (Ed.), Be Still My Soul, p.88.

Friday, 15 October 2010


'...accountability is not about being a private detective, trying to do the work of the Holy Spirit, being someone's else's conscience, forcing someone to obey, chasing someone who is running, or looking for someone who is hiding. Accountability provides loving structure, guidance, encouragment, and warning to someone who is fully committed to the change God is working in his life. The person who makes accountability work is always the person being held accountable.'
Paul David Tripp, Instruments in the Redeemer's Hands, p.269.


'When for the first time in our life the cross with its full weight is laid upon our shoulders, the first effect is that it makes us numb and dazed and causes all knowledge of God to be lost.'
Abraham Kuyper in Nancy Guthrie (Ed.), Be Still My Soul, p.76.

Thursday, 14 October 2010


'It is, at best, a sign that a man hath not well digested the matter himself, if he is not able to deliver it plainly to others.'
Richard Baxter, The Reformed Pastor, p.116.


'The Holy Ghost makes men bishops and overseers of the Church in three several respects: By qualifying them for the office; by directing the ordainers to discern their qualifications, and know the fittest men; and by directing them, the people and themselves, for the affixing them to a particular charge.'
Richard Baxter, The Reformed Pastor, p.129.


'Others are glad of the leisure of the Lord's day, and now and then of an hour besides, when they can lay hold upon it. But we may keep a continual Sabbath. We may do almost nothing else, but study and talk of God and glory, and engage in acts of prayer and praise, and drink in his sacred, saving truths. Our employment is high and spiritual. Whether we be alone, or in company, our business is for another world. O that our hearts were but more tuned to this work! What a blessed, joyful life should we then live! How sweet would our study be to us! How pleasant the pulpit! And what delight would our conference about spiritual and eternal things afford us! To live among such excellent helps as our libraries afford, to have so many silent wise companions whenever we please - all these, and many other similar privileges of the ministry, bespeak our unwearied dilligence in the work.'
Richard Baxter, The Reformed Pastor, p.128.


'Our whole work must be carried on under a deep sense of our own insufficiency, and of our entire dependence on Christ. We must go for light, and life, and strength to him who sends us on the work. And when we feel our own faith weak, and our hearts dull, and unsuitable to such a great work as we have to do, we must have recourse to him, and say, "Lord, wilt thou send me with such an unbelieving heart to persuade others to believe? Must I daily plead with sinners about everlasting life and everlasting death, and have no more belief and feeling of these weighty things myself? O, send me not naked and unprovided for to the work; but, as thou commandest me to do it, furnish me with a spirit suitable thereto." Prayer must carry on our work as well as preaching: he preacheth not heartily to his people, that prayeth not earnestly for them.'
Richard Baxter, The Reformed Pastor, p.123.


'Most men judge of the counsel, as they judge of the affection of him that gives it: at least, so far as to give it a fair hearing. Oh, therefore, see that you feel a tender love to your people in your breasts, and let them perceive it in your speeches, and see it in your conduct. Let them see that you spend, and are spent, for their sakes; and that all you do is for them, and not for any private ends of your own.'
Richard Baxter, The Reformed Pastor, p.118.


'All our teaching must be as plain and simple as possible. This doth best suit a teacher's ends. He that would be understood must speak to the capacity of his hearers. Truth loves the light, and is most beautiful when most naked.'
Richard Baxter, The Reformed Pastor, p.115.


'I confess I think NECESSITY should be the great disposer of a minister's course of study and labour. If we were sufficient for everything, we might attempt everything, and take in order the whole Encyclopaedia: but life is short, and we are dull, and eternal things are necessary, and the souls that depend on our teaching are precious. I confess, necessity hath been the conductor of my studies and life. It chooseth what book I shall read, and tells me when, and how long. It chooseth my text, and makes my sermon, both for matter and manner, so far as I can keep out my own corruption.'
Richard Baxter, The Reformed Pastor, p.113.