Tuesday, 29 June 2010


'True friendship calls you out of the darkness of personal privacy into the loving candor of mutual concern. It moves you from being a sealed envelope to being an open letter. The best relationships are built on a foundation of mutual trust-giving and truth-speaking.'
Paul David Tripp, Instruments in the Redeemer's Hands, p.164.


'Think about it. Most of the conversations you had today were mundane and rather self-protective. We spend most of our time talking about things that are of little personal consequence - the weather, politics, sports and entertainment. There is nothing wrong with this except that it allows us to hide who we really are. A person may be terribly distraught about her marriage, yet when people ask how she is, she will quickly answer, "Fine, how are you?" The person asking doesn't really want to know and ther person asking doesn't really want to tell. They are co-conspirators in a casual relationship. Whether it is over the back of a pew, in passing at a school function, or over the phone, we are all skilled as newsy but personally protective conversations.'
Paul David Tripp, Instruments in the Redeemer's Hands: People in Need of Change Helping People in Need of Change, p.164.


'Oh how doth Satan labour with might and main to work men to make false definitions of faith! Some he works to define faith too high, as that it is a full assurance of the love of God to a man's soul in particular, or a full persuasion of the pardon and remission of a man's own sin in particular. Saith Satan, What dost thou talk of faith? Faith is an assurance of the love of God, and of the pardon of sin; and this thou hast not; thou knowest thou art far off from this; therefore thou hast no faith. And by drawing men to make such a false definition of faith, he keeps them in a sad, doubting, and questioning condition, and makes them spend their days in sorrow and sighing, so that tears are their drink, and sorrow is their meat, and sighing is their work all the day long.'
Thomas Brooks, Precious Remedies Against Satan's Devices, p.148.

Monday, 28 June 2010


'...there are ancient sources available to Grotius in the early seventeenth century which made clear the Babylonians and Assyrians had flood narratives that paralleled the Deluge in Genesis in some detail. Again, that this is proof of the truth of Moses' account, as Grotius argues it is, that it can in fact be cited in defense of Moses' account, is clearly open to question. But the notion very common in bliblical scholarship since the nineteeth century, reiterated by James Kugel, that the existence of these ancient Mesopotamina narratives was a startling modern discovery which must inevitably raise doubts about the meaningfulness of the scriptural Deluge and about the integrity of Scripture in general is clearly false. The decline of classical learning and the mischarcterization of the nature of traditional belief are both factors in context like this one. Another factor that seems to me to be equally important is the great myth and rationale of "the modern," that it places dynamite at the foot of old error and levels its shrines and monuments. Comtempt for the past surely accounts for a consistent failure to consult it.
The kind of flawed learnedness required to draw attention to the biblical adaptation of the flood narrative in the Epic of Gilgamesh is a classic instance of what William James called the power of the intellect to shallow. Again I mention Kugel because I have his book at hand. This kind of scholarship, tending always to the same conclusions, has dominated Old Testament studies from the the middle of the ninettenth century. Kugel's very flat statement that somone who takes a different view is "either being dishonest or has simply failed to recognize a fundamental fact" is the kind of claim to the intellectual high ground that is perhaps the most consistent feature of the kind of thought that calls itself modern.
The degree to which debunking is pursued as if it were an urgent crusade, at whatever cost to the wealth of insight into human nature that might come from attending to the record humankind hjs left, and without regard for the probative standards scholarship as well as science should answer to, may well be the most remarkable feature of the modern period in intellectual history.'
Marilynne Robinson, Absence of Mind, p.28.


'...the evil is not in the system, but in the man.'
John le Carre, The Secret Pilgrim, p.374.


'....believers must repent for their being discouraged by their sins. Their being discouraged by their sins will cost them many a prayer, many a tear, and many a groan; and that because their discouragements under sin flow from ignorance and unbelief. It springs from their ignorance of the richness, freeness, fullness, and everlastingness of God's love; and from their ignorance of the power, glory, sufficiency, and efficacy of the death and sufferings of the Lord Jesus Christ; and from their ignorance of the worth, glory, fullness, largeness, and completeness of the righteousness of Jesus Christ; and from their ignorance of that real, close, spiritual, glorious and inseperable union that it between Christ and their precious souls. Ah! did precious souls know and believe the truth of these things as they should, they would not sit down dejected and overwhelmed under the sense and operation of sin.'
Thomas Brooks, Precious Remedies Against Satan's Devices, p.147.


'Ah! you lamenting souls, that spend you days in sighing and groaning under the sense and burden of your sins, why do you deal so unkindly with God, and so injuriously with your own souls, as not to cast an eye upon those precious promises of remission of sin which may bear up and refresh your spirits in the darkest night, and under the heaviest burden of sin?'
Thomas Brooks, Precious Remedies Against Satan's Devices, p.145.


'Though he can never rob a believer of his crown, yet such is his malice and envy, that he will leave no stone unturned, no means unattempted, to rob them of their comfort and peace, to make their life a burden and a hell unto them, to cause them to spend their days in sorrow and mourning, in sighing and complaining, in doubting and questioning. Surely we have no interest in Christ; our graces are not true, our hopes are the hopes of hycocrites; our confidence in our presumption, our enjoyments are delusions.'
Thomas Brooks, Precious Remedies Against Satan's Devices, p.142.

Saturday, 26 June 2010


'"We shall meet soon again."
"Please Aslan," said Lucy, "what do you call soon?"
"I call all times soon," said Aslan...'
CS Lewis in The Voyage of the Dawn Treader, p.343 (of The Complete Chronicles of Narnia).

Monday, 21 June 2010


'As the Reformers used to say, the sacraments are visible words. They supplement the word of God by divinely authorized dramatic images. So, the fullness of divine teaching is by Word and sacrament.'
John Frame, Salvation Belongs to the Lord, p.275.

Thursday, 17 June 2010


'God will so order the afflictions that befall you in the way of righteousness, that your souls shall say, We would not for all the world but that we had met with such and such troubles and afflictions: for surely, had not these befallen us, it would have been worse and worse with us. Oh the carnal security, pride, formality, dead-heartedness, lukewarmness, censoriousness, and earthliness that God hath cured us of, by the trouble and dangers that we have met with in the ways and services of the Lord!'
Thomas Brooks, Precious Remedies Against Satan's Devices, p.115.


'The treasures of a saint are the presence of God, the pardon of sin, the joy of the Spirit, the peace of conscience, which are jewels that none can give but Christ, nor none can take away but Christ. Now why should a gracious soul keep off from a way of holiness because of afflictions, when no afflictions can strip a men of his heavenly jewels, which are his his ornaments and his safety here, and will be his happiness and glory hereafter? Why, a believer's treasure is always safe in the hands of Christ; his life is safe, his soul is safe, his grace is safe, his comfort is safe, and his crown is safe in the hand of Christ.'
Thomas Brooks, Precious Remedies Against Satan's Devices, p.113.


'...happpiness lies not on those things that cannot comfort a man upon a dying bed.'
Thomas Brooks, Precious Remedies Against Satan's Devices, p.110.

Tuesday, 15 June 2010


'...take heed of spiritual pride! Pride fills our fancies, and weakens our graces, and makes room in our hearts for error. There are no men on earth so soon entangled, and so easily conquered by error, as proud souls. Oh, it is dangerous to love to be wise above what is written, to be curious and unsober in your desire of knowledge, and to trust to your own capacities and abilities to undertake to pry into all secrets, and to be puffed up with a carnal mind. Souls that are thus a-soaring up above the bounds and limits of humility usually fall into the very worst of errors, as experience doth daily evidence.'
Thomas Brooks, Precious Remedies Against Satan's Devices, p.98.


'It is not he that receives most of the truth into his head, but he that receives most of the truth affectionately into his heart, that shall enjoy the happiness of having his judgment sound and clear...'
Thomas Brooks, Precious Remedies Agaisnt Satan's Devices, p.93.

Monday, 14 June 2010


'I am aware that certain writers have made the argument, or at least the assertion, that conflict arises out of religion and more especially out of religious difference. They would do well to consult Herodotus, or to read up on the career of Napoleon. Extrapolations from contemporary events proceed from far too narrow a base to support a global statement of this kind. And this thesis about the origins of conflict is novel in the long history of the debate over human origins, which has typically argued that conflict is natural to us, as it is to animals, and is, if not good in any ordinary sense, at least necessary to our biological enhancement. However, if attributing conflict to religion, thereby removing hostility and violence from a Darwinist or even a Freudian frame of interpretation, is a departure from tradition, it is at least familiar as a strategy that preserves a favored conclusion by recruiting whatever rationalization that might seem to support it. Religion has always been the foil for this tradition, sometimes deplored as the sponsor of dysgenic compassion, sometimes as formenter of oppression and violence.'
Marilynne Robinson, Absence of Mind, p.xi.


'...nothing about our shared ancestry with the ape can be thought of as altering the fact that human beings are the creators of history and culture. If 'mind' and 'soul' are not entities in their own right, they are at least terms that have been found useful for describing aspects of the expression and self-experience of our very complex nervous system. The givens of our nature, that we are brilliantly creative and brilliantly destructive, for example, would persist as facts to be dealt with, even if the word 'primate' were taken to describe us exhaustively.'
Marilynne Robinson, Absence of Mind: The Dispelling of Inwardness from the Modern Myth of the Self, p.xi.


'Afflictions, they are but as a dark entry into your Father's house; they are but as a dirty lane to a royal palace.'
Thomas Brooks, Precious Remedies Against Satan's Devices, p.86.


'Afflictions are a crystal glass, wherein the soul hath the clearest sight of the ugly face of sin.'
Thomas Brooks, Precious Remedies Against Satan's Devices, p.80.


'Many are miserable by loving hurtful things, but they are more miserable by having them.'
Augustine in Thomas Brooks, Precious Remedies Against Satan's Remedies, p.75.

Saturday, 12 June 2010


'Religion, I could now see, without a single college course helping me out, was designed for those enduring the death of their sweet children. And when children grew stronger and died less, and were in fact less sweet, religion faded away. When children began to sweeten and die again it returned.'
Lorrie Moore, A Gate at the Stairs, p.296.


'I would never take a man's name. I knew that, in the deepest part of me, even though I suspected that the women who did take their husbands' names understood something about marriage that I didn't.'
Lorrie Moore, A Gate at the Stairs, p.244.


'Women now were told not to settle for second best, told they deserved better, but at a time, it seemed, when there was so much less to go around. They were like the poor that way, perhaps. What sense did anything they were being told possibly make given the scarcity of their world?'
Lorrie Moore, The Gate at the Stairs, p.81.


'"Awesome," I said, in a peculiar way, I knew, our generation had of finding that everything either 'sucked' or was 'awesome.' We used awesome the way that the British used brilliant: for anything at all. Perhaps, as with the British, it was a kind of antidepressant: inflated rhetoric to keep the sorry truth at bay.'
Lorrie Moore, A Gate at the Stairs, p.76.


'...too often when we compared stories from our childhood, they didn't match. I would speak of a trip or a meal or a visit from a cousin and of something that had happened during it, and Robert would look at me as if I were speaking of the adventures of some Albanian rock band. So I stayed quiet with him. It is something that people who have been children together can effortlessly do. It is sometimes preferable to the talk, which is also effortless.'
Lorrie Moore, A Gate at the Stairs, p.61.


'That is why it is so important to be realistic and to be biblical about death. In dying, I want to say to those I have loved and to those who have loved me: "Don't magnify me - remember the reality: I was someone who sometimes got you cross, and irritated you, and let you down, and disappointed you and hurt you. So please don't remember an imaginary relationship with me. It was good but it could have been better. I loved you, but I could have loved you better - just as you loved me, but you could have loved me better. So don't let's trust in our love for one another. Let's trust in God's love for us so that the change in our relationship, which my death will bring, can strengthen each of our relationships with Jesus."'
Mark Ashton, On my way to heaven, p.23.


'Here is one area where Christians have a wonderful opportunity to stand out as different from our contemporary culture. Our contemporaries are obsessed with healing and the extension of physical life at all costs. What a pity that we Christians imitate them in that! When we talk about the hope of healing and the relief of physical pain, our contemporaries love it and they flock to our "healing services" with high hopes. But when we talk about glory lying beyond the grave and our sure hope of eternal life they are brought up short and are forced to face their own eternal destinies.'
Mark Ashton, On my way to heaven: Facing death with Christ, p.11.

Thursday, 10 June 2010


'Prosperity hath been a stumbling-block, at which millions have stumbled and fallen, and broke the neck of their souls forever.'
Thomas Brooks, Precious Remedies Against Satan's Devices, p.73.


'It is impossible for that man to get the conquest of sin, that plays and sports with the occasions of sin. God will not remove the temptation, except you turn from the occasion. It is a just and righteous thing with God, that he should fall into the pit that will adventure to dance upon the brink of the pit, and that he should be a slave to sin, that he will not flee from the occasions of sin. As long as there is fuel in our hearts for a temptation, we cannot be secure. He that hath gunpowder about him had need keep far enough off from sparkles.'
Thomas Brooks, Precious Remedies Against Satan's Devices, p.67.


'I think we delight to praise what we enjoy because the praise not merely expresses but completes the enjoyment: it is its appointed comsummation. It is not out of compliment that lovers keep on telling one another how beautiful they are; the delight is incomplete till it is expressed.'
CS Lewis in Derek Tidball, Signposts, Psalm 92.


'It is good ethically, for it is the Lord's right; it is good emotionally, for it is pleasant to the heart; it is good practically, for it leads others to render the same homage.'
Charles Spurgeon in Derek Tidball, Signposts, Psalm 92.

Monday, 7 June 2010


'Repentance is a continued act of turning, a repentance never to be repented of, a turning never to turn again to folly.'
Thomas Brooks, Precious Remedies Against Satan's Devices, p.61.

Thursday, 3 June 2010


'It is the greatest unkindness that can be showed to a friend, to adventure the complaining, bleeding, and grieving of his soul upon a light and a slight occasion. So it is the greatest unkindness that can be showed to God, Christ, and the Spirit, for a soul to put God upon complaining, Christ upon bleeding, and the Spirit upon grieving, by yielding to little sins. Therefore when Satan says it is but a little one, do thou answer, that oftentimes there is the greatest unkindness showed to God's glorious majesty, in the acting of the least folly, and therefore thou wilt not displease thy best and greatest friend, by yielding to his greatest enemy.'
Thomas Brooks, Precious Remedies Against Satan's Devices, p.41.


'That Christ should come from the eternal bosom of his Father to a region of sorrow and death; that God should be manifested in the flesh, the Creator made creature; that he that was clothed with glory should be wrapped with rags of flesh; he that filled heaven and earth with his glory should be cradled in a manger; that the power of God should fly from weak man, the God of Israel into Egypt; that the God of the law should be subject to the law, the God of circumcision circumcised, the God that made the heavens working at Joseph's homely trade; that he that binds the devils in chains should be tempted; that he, whose is the world, and the fullness thereof, should hunger and thirst; that the God of strength should be weary, the Judge of all flesh condemned, the God of life put to death...'
Thomas Brooks, Precious Remedies Against Satan's Devices, p.36.


'Sin gives Satan a power over us, and an advantage to accuse us and to lay claim to us, as those that wear his badge; it is of a very bewitching nature; it bewitches the soul, where it is upon the throne, that the soul cannot leave it, though it perish eternally by it. Sin so bewitches the soul, that it makes the soul call evil good, and good evil; bitter sweet and sweet bitter, light darkness and darkness light...'
Thomas Brooks, Precious Remedies Against Satan's Devices, p. 33.

Tuesday, 1 June 2010


'Ultimately marriage is a flesh-and-blood drama of how Christ (dramatized by the husband) loves his church, and how the church (dramatized by the wife) is devoted to Christ. And this flesh-and-blood drama creates the setting - the physical, emotional, moral, spiritual nest - for the other purpose of marriage, namely, brining children into the world and bringing them to Jesus.'
John Piper, This Momentary Marriage, p.147.


'It is from God that parents receive their children, and it is to God that they should lead them.'
Dietrich Bonhoeffer in John Piper, This Momentary Marriage, p.146.


'The chief task of parenting is to know God for who he is in his many attributes - especially as he has revealed himself in the person of Jesus and his cross - and then to live in such a way with our children that we help them see and know this multi-faceted God.'
John Piper, This Momentary Marriage, p.144.


'...couples who cannot conceive because of infertility can still aim to make children followers of Jesus. God's purpose in making marriage the place to have children was never merely to fill the earth with people, but to fill the earth with worshippers of the true God. One way for a marriage to fill the earth with worshippers of the true God is to procreate and bring the children up in the Lord. But that's not the only way. When the focus of marriage becomes "Make disciples of Jesus," the meaning of marriage in relation to children is not mainly "Make them," but "Make them disciples." And the latter can happen even when the former doesn't.'
John Piper, This Momentary Marriage, p.138.