Saturday, 27 February 2010


'"My body is like this bread. It will break," Jesus told them. "This cup of wine is like my blood. It will pour out."
"But this is how God will rescue the whole world. My life will break and God's broken world will mend. My heart will tear apart - and your hearts will heal. Just as the passover lamb died, so now I will die instead of you. My blood will wash away all of your sins. And you'll be clean on the inside - in your hearts."'
Sally Lloyd-Jones, The Jesus Storybook Bible, p.292.


'Now some people think the Bible is a book of rules, telling you what you should and shouldn't do. The Bible certainly does have some rules in it. They show you how life works best. But the Bible isn't mainly about you and what you should be doing. It is about God and what he has done.
Other people think the Bible is a book of heroes, showing you people you should copy. The Bible does have some heroes in it, but (as you'll sooon find out) most of the people in the Bibles aren't heroes at all. They all make some big mistakes (some on purpose). They get afraid and run away. At times they are downright mean.
No, the Bible isn't a book of rules, or a book of heroes. The Bible is most of all a Story. It's an adventure story about a young Hero who comes from a far country to win back his lost treasure. It's a love story about how a brave Prince who leaves his palace, his throne - everything - to rescue the one he loves. It's like the most wonderful of fairy tales that has come true in real life!
You see the best thing about this Story is - it's true.'
Sally Lloyd-Jones, The Jesus Storybook Bible, p.16.

Wednesday, 24 February 2010


'We should be ashamed of ourselves.
Not the sufferers of clinical depression, but the rest of us. Throughout the Western world we have for years just stood and watched as our best citizens keep getting this horrific illness, offering them only blame, contempt and condescension. We Brits have been the world's worst at this.
If we are to protect our best sons and daughters and through them escape our latter-day tendency to mediocrity, we must start realizing that people who develop depressive illnesses need to be respected and nurtured. They are our doers and shakers; if we fail to recognize this, we will all lose.'
Tim Cantopher, Depressive Illness: The curse of the strong, p.100.

Monday, 22 February 2010


'Another aphorism that should be chucked is "You must love yourself before you love others." A mountain of research shows that people who have good relationships with other people are happier and less depressed - and have higher self-esteem. The idea that self-esteem rises fully formed and perfect from inside the individual is a complete myth. We develop our sense of ourselves primarily from interacting with others. There is nothing wrong with this. Not only that, but narcissists - people who really love themsleves - are horrible relationships partners. Self-centred people are rarely fun to be around, and we all know this. So why do we keep telling people to love themselves first before others? Beats me. An aphorism that makes more a lot more sense, to modernize John Donne, is "No one is an island."'
Jean M Twenge, Generation Me, p.227.


'Much of the "self-esteem movement" actually encourages narcissim, or the belief that one is better and more important than anyone else. Narcissism is a very negative personality trait linked to aggression and poor relationships with others. Somehow we've developed the notion that it's not OK to have a few insecurities, but it is OK to think you're the greatest and everyone else should get out of your way.'
Jean M Twenge, Generation Me, p.224.

Sunday, 21 February 2010


'Friends of mine who are lawyers and accountants often find it difficult to spare the time for a movie, a phone call to a long-distance friends, or a casual chat with a neighbor. In The Cost of Living, Barry Schwartz desribes a former student who says his friendships "were not that close. Everyone was too busy. He thought twice about burdening friends with his life and problems because he knew how consumed they were with their own, and what a sacrifice it would entail for them to spend the time required to listen to him and help him out." I put a Post-it note on that page and wrote, "This is a very familiar story."'
Jean M Twenge, Generation Me, p.115.

Saturday, 20 February 2010


'We speak the language of the self as our native tongue. So much of the "common sense" advice that's given these days includes some variation on "self":
  • Worried about how to act in a social situation? "Just be yourself."
  • What's the good thing about your alcoholism/drug addiction/murder conviction? "I learned a lot about myself."
  • Concerned about your performance? "Believe in yourself."(Often followed by "anything is possible.")
  • Should you buy that new pair of shoes, or get the nose ring? "Yes, express yourself!"
  • Why should you leave the unfulfilling relationship/quit the boring job/tell off you mother-in-law? "You have to respect yourself."
  • Trying to get rid of the bad habit? "Be honest with yourself."
  • Confused about about the best time to date or get married? "You have to love yourself before you can love someone else."
  • Should you express your opinion? "Yes, stand up for yourself."'
Jean M Twenge, Generation Me: Why Today's Young Americans Are More Confident, Assertive, Entitled - and More Miserable Than Ever Before, p.50.

Monday, 15 February 2010


'...a confirmed atheist, I've become convinced of the enormous contribution that Christian evangelism makes in Africa: sharply distinct from the work of secular NGOs, government oprojects and international aid efforts. These alone will not do. Education and training alone will not do. In Africa Christianity changes people's hearts. It brings spiritual transformation. The rebirth is real. The change is good.
I used to avoid thsi truth by applauding - as you can - the practical work of mission churches in Africa. It's a pity, I would say, that salvation is part of the package, but Christians baklck and white, working in Africa, do heal the sick, do teach people to read and write; and only the severest kind of secularist could see a mission hospital or school and say that the world would be better without it. I would allow that if faith was needed to motivate missionaries to help, then, fine: but waht counted was the help, not the faith.
But this doesn't make sense. Faith does more that syupport the missionary; it is alos transferreed to his flock. This is the effect that matters so immensely, which I cannot help observing.
First, then, the observation. We had friends who were missionarioes, and as a child I stayed often with them; I also stayed, alone with my little brother, in a traditional African village. In the city we had working for us Africans who had converted and were stromng believers. The Christians were always different. Far from having cowed or confined its converts , their faith appeared to have liberated and relaxed them. There was a liveliness, a curiousity, an engagement with the world - a directness in their dealings with others - that seemed to be missing in traditional African life. They stood tall.'
Matthew Parris, The Times, 27 December 2008.

Sunday, 14 February 2010


'There have been times when I think we do not desire heaven; but more often I find myself wondering whether, in our heart of hearts, we have ever desired anything else...It is the secret signature of each soul, the incommunicable and unappeasable want.'
CS Lewis in Tim Chester, The Ordinary Hero, p.188.


'Although status, not selfishness, but self-abasement.'
Michael Gorman in Tim Chester, The Ordinary Hero, p.161.


'This sadly is the world of much contemporary evangelicalism. We exalt the platform speakers who perform at Christian conferences. We prize the eloquence that Paul rejected (I Corinthians 2:1-5). We value degrees whereas Jesus ignored his disciples' lack of education when choosing the twelve (Acts 4:13). We follow numerical success. We pursue career paths. Church leaders look like company directors. Conference speakers look like entertainers. We've taken the word "minister" and somehow turned it into a designation of status, even though it actually means "servant". We reject the title "Father" on the basis of Matthew 23:8-11, but adopt other status titles like "Reverend" and "Pastor". Evelyn Astley suggests that, while in the West we're not scandalized by the cross itself, we are scandalized by leadership modelled on the cross: "leadership that displays human weakness, human limitation, human suffering, and human fragility, but functions in God's power". "Somewhere along the line, we seem to have fallen into the same trap as the Corinthian church. We have come to value power, control and success."'
Tim Chester, The Ordinary Hero, p.153.


'Thou lovely source of true delight,
whom I unseen adore,
unveil thy beauties to my sight
that I might love thee more.

Thy glory o'er creation shines,
but in thy sacred Word
I read in fairer, brighter lines
my bleeding, dying Lord.

'Tis here, whene'er my comforts droop
and sin and sorrow rise,
thy love with cheering beams of hope
my fainting heart supplies.

But ah! Too soon the pleasing scene
is clouded o'er with pain.
My gloomy fears rise dark between
and I again complain.

Jesus, my Lord, my life, my light,
oh come with blissful ray.
Break radiant through the shades of night
and chase my fears away.

Then shall my soul with rapture trace
the wonders of thy love.
But the full glories of thy face
are only known above.'
Anne Steele in Tim Chester, The Ordinary Hero, p.128.


'We expect God to keep us healthy and safe. So when trouble comes - as Jesus promises it will (John 16:33) - we not only struggle to cope with the problem; we also can't make sense of what God is doing. "Why doesn't he answer my prayers?" "Is my faith too weak?" The result is that people struggling with turmoil in their circumstances are beset at the same time with turmoil in their hearts - a crisis that could have been avoided by a proper eschatology.'
Tim Chester, The Ordinary Hero, p.126.


'In the West we often take an incremental approach to discipleship. A person is converted and we begin to ratchet up their commitment to Christ. We start them off with prayer and Bible reading. We then encourage them to "come out" to friends and share the gosple. Later we might ask them to serve in church. If they prove very keen, we might encourage them to think about cross-cultural missionary service. We don't even ask people to live among the poor, though we're impressed when they do. Martyrdom is a distant prospect. Through a series of steps, we increase what it means to follow Jesus.
But in persecuted churches, martyrdom is written into the call to conversion. A decision to become a Christian might well mean persecution, ostracization or imprisonment. To decide for Christ is to decide for death. Now think about how Jesus issued his evangelistic invitation: "If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me" (Mark 8:34). It was an invitation to die.
When the decision for Christ means a decision for martyrdom, everything else is effectively decided. A thousand decisions about money, service, career, lifestyle, reputation are all already made in that one decision to follow Jesus to the end. The choice for martyrdom contains within it a whole life of cross-centred discipleship. And that is the point: not that we should look to be martyred, but that we should call people to cross-shaped lives of self-denial.'
Tim Chester, The Ordinary Hero, p.56.

Thursday, 11 February 2010


'Jesus Christ is the beam of his Father's love and through him the Father's love reaches down and touches us.
It is God's will that he should always be seen as gentle, kind, tender, loving and unchangeable. It is his will that we see him as the Father, and the great fountain and resevoir of all grace and love...Believers learn that it was God's will and purpose to love them everlasting to everlasting in Christ, and that all reason for God to be angry with us and treat us as his enemies has been taken away. The believer, being brought by Christ into the bosom of the Father, rests in the full assurance of God's love and of never being separated from that love.
Many saints have no greater burden in their lives than that their hearts do not constantly delight and rejoice in God. There is still in them a resistance to walking close with God...So do this: set your thoughts on the eternal love of the Father and see if your heart is not aroused to delight in him. Sit down for a while at this delightful spring of living water and you will soon find its streams sweet and delightful. You who used to run from God will not now be able, even for a second, to keep at any distance from him.'
John Owen in Tim Chester, The Ordinary Hero, p.45.


'...when the New Testament writers tell us how we should live, they don't often point back to the life of Jesus. Instead they take us again and again to the cross and resurrection. Whether they're talking about marriage or conflict or community or money or opposition or leadership or temptation or work or suffering, they look to the cross and resurrection. So if you want to know how to live as a Christian, you need to understand how the cross and resurrection shape our lives. The pattern of the cross and resurrection needs to become our reflex, our habit, our instinct. We need to live the cross and resurrection.'
Tim Chester, The Ordinary Hero: Living the cross and resurrection, p.11.

Tuesday, 2 February 2010


'In my view, the single biggest cause of stalled churches in the UK is the belief that material comfort can be normative for Christians. It is the opposite of radical commitment to Christ.'
Marcus Honeysett, Evangelicals Now, February 2010.


'...the gospel tells us not only how bad pride is; it says the same about despair...'
Lewis Smedes in Cornelius Platinga Jr., Beyond Doubt, p.95.


'Many of us look only at our own depravity and not at our renewal. We have been writing our continuing sinfulness in capital letters, and our newness in Christ in small letters. We believe in our depravity so strongly we think we have to practice it, while we hardly dare to believe in our newness.'
Anthony Hoekema in Cornelius Plantinga Jr., Beyond Doubt, p.95.


'People tend to make two mistakes when they think about the redeemed life. The first is to understimate the sin that remains in us; it's still there and it can still hurt us. The second is underestimate the strength of God's grace; God is determined to make us new.
As a result, all Christians need to say two things. We admit that we are redeemed sinners. But we also say boldly and joyously that we are redeemed sinners.'
Cornelius Plantinga Jr., Beyond Dioubt: Faith-Building Devotions on Questions Christians Ask, p.89.