Saturday, 31 December 2011

TOP 10 BOOKS OF 2011

In no particular order...

Anne Lamott, Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life
Nancy Pearcey, Total Truth: Liberating Christianity from its Cultural Captivity
Mariano Magrassi, Praying the Bible: An Introduction to Lectio Divina
Tim Keller, The Meaning of Marriage: Facing the Complexities of Commitment with the Wisdom of God
Roger Steer, George Muller: Delighted in God
Jan Struther, Mrs Miniver
William Fiennes, The Music Room
William Wilberforce, A Practical View of Christianity 
John Cheever, Collected Stories
Russell D Moore, Tempted and Tried: Temptation and the Triumph of Christ

Thursday, 29 December 2011

MARRIAGE

'She remembered chiefly the deepening discovery that another person could be oneself. That being with him could be like being alone without the loneliness.'
Monica Dickens, Mariana, p.363.

Thursday, 22 December 2011

PARENTING

'It takes a whole church to raise a child.'
Ed Moll & Tim Chester, Gospel-centred Family, p.83.

PARENTING

'Often our true values are revealed in the expectations we have for our children. On Sunday in church we sing about how knowing Jesus is the greatest thing. But our priorities and hopes for our children suggest that what matters most in life is educational development, career development, social development, skills development.' 
Ed Moll & Tim Chester, Gospel-centred Family, p.18.

FEAR

'...the first command of the gospel. "Fear God and you will have nothing less to fear. Don't fear other people. Don't fear violence and power, even when it comes to you personally and can rob you of your life. Don't fear the high and mighty in the world. Don't fear yourself. Don't fear your sins. All these feras will die. From all these fears you will be set free. For they are no longer there. But fear God and him alone. For he has the power over all the powers of this world. The whole world is in fear of God. He has the power to give us life or to destroy us. All other powers are a mere game. God alone is real, seriously real. Fear God seriously and "give him the glory."'
Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Christmas Sermons, p.111.

OTHER RELIGIONS

'...though there be thousands of religions and viewpoints and opinions and philosophies in the world, and though they construct the most attractive of ideologies, and though the hearts of the people are moved and won over by them, they are all shattered by death. They must be broken because they are not true. Only the gospel remains.'
Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Christmas Sermons, p.110.

Wednesday, 21 December 2011

CHURCH

'The man who lives in a small community lives in a much larger world. He knows much more of the fierce varieties and uncompromising divergences of men. The reason is obvious. In a large community we can choose our companions. In a small community our companions are chosen for us.
GK Chesterton in Matthew Lee Anderson, Earthen Vessels, p.221.

PREACHING

'Today, with the ease of access and prevalence of content, we border on the edge of cultivtaing a generation of Christians addicted to what we might call "pastoral porn." While listening to gospel preaching is a good thing, it establishes unrealistic expectations for preaching that have already made it diificult for pastors who are younger or from small towns. To pick a figure at random, I suspect Tim Keller became Tim Keller the way anyone gets good at anything - through practicing for hundreds of hours in front of a patient and loving audience. Who knows whether the next generation will have a similar tolerance level, especially if down the road they're showing Tim Keller archived sermons every Sunday.'
Matthew Lee Anderson, Earthen Vessels, p.217.

BIBLE STUDY

'The habits of our body enable - or hurt - our ability to consume Scripture. After spending large quantities of time on the Internet for the last five years, I find my eyes skimming over Scripture the way I would a blog post. They dart up and down the page, refusing to settle in and move slowly over the words. While I am able to get the broad movements of the text quickly, I find it harder to attend to the nuances of the words. While I think my heart is in the right place, the habits of my eyes are working against me.'
Matthew Lee Anderson, Earthen Vessels, p.193.

DEATH

'Christianity declares that the tragic intrusion of death on the goodness of creation is not the end of the story. The silence of death is but a pause in the symphony of our lives. We must "play the rests," as my piano teacher repeatedly reminded me. Within the dynamic power of the resurrection, death is not the end of the melody, but is swept up in a glorious concluding theme that begins with a trumpet call.'
Matthew Lee Anderson, Earthen Vessels, p.172. 

THE RESURRECTION

'When we experience the power of the resurrection through the indwelling of the Holy Spirit, we will age as though not aging, be in pain as though not in pain, and die as though not dying.'
Matthew Lee Anderson, Earthen Vessels, p.165.

JESUS

'There are only two places where the powerful and great in this world lose their courage, tremble in the depths of their souls, and become truly afraid. These are the manger and the cross of Jesus Christ.'

CHRISTMAS

'When God chose Mary for his instrument, when God himself in the manger at Bethlehem decided to come into this world, that was no romantic family portrait, but the beginning of a total turning point, a new ordering of all things on this earth. If we want to partcipate in this Advent and Christmas happening, we cannot simply be like spectators at a theater performance, enjoying all the familiar scenes, but we must ourselves become part of this activity, which is taking place in this "changing of all things." We must have our part in this drama. The spectator becomes an actor in the play. We cannot withdraw ourselves from it.'  
Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Christmas Sermons, p.100.

GRACE

'...God's gracious will is to love the humble and lowly, the insignificant. He chose to make them great. Mary, living in the faith of the Old Testament and hoping for her redeemer, this humble working man's wife becomes the mother of God. Christ the son of the of a poor working man's wife from the East End of London! Christ in the manger...God is not ashamed to be with those of humble state. He goes into the midst of it all, chooses one person to be his instrument, and does his miracle there, where one least expects it. He loves the lost, forgotten, the insignificant, the outcasts, the weak, and the broken. Where men say "lost," he says "found;" where men say "condemned," he says "redeemed;" where men say, "no," he says "yes." Where men look with indifferencve or superiority, he looks with burning love, such as nowhere else is to be found. Where men say, "contemptible!," God cries "blessed." When we reach such a point in our lives at which we are not only ashamed of ourselves, but believe God is ashamed of us too, when we feel so far from God, more that we have ever felt in our lives, then and precisely then, God is nearer to us than he ever has been. It is then he breaks into our lives. It is then that he lets us know that that feeling of despair is taken away from us, so that we may grasp the wonder of his love, his nearness to us, and his grace.'
Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Christmas Sermons, p.99. 

Tuesday, 20 December 2011

SUFFERING

'After conversion we need bruising so that reeds may know themselves to be reeds, and not oaks. Even reeds need bruising, by reason of the remainder of pride in our nature, and to let us see that we live by mercy. Such bruising may help weaker Christians not to be too much discouraged, when they see stronger ones shaken and bruised.'
Richard Sibbes, The Bruised Reed, p.5.

TEMPTATION

'In time of temptation, apprehensive consciences look so much to the present trouble they are in that they need to be roused up to behold him in whom they may find rest for the distressed souls.'
Richard Sibbes, The Bruised Reed, p.2.

SINGLENESS

'Christian celibacy...is a life uniquely orientated toward our eschatalogical transformation, a life that bears witness to the kingdom of heaven in a unique way.'
Matthew Lee Anderson, Earthen Vessels, p.159. 

MASTURBATION

'Human sexuality is inherently social, and masturbation is not. In that sense, it represents a failure to fulfill the nature of Christian sexuality as God designed it.'
Matthew Lee Anderson, Earthen Vessels, p.135.

THE CHURCH & SINGLENESS

'A church without singles has lost one of its main ways of warning against a sexual idolatry that has driven the whole world mad.'
Matthew Lee Anderson, Earthen Vessels, p.133.

SEX

'The teaching that our wholeness depends upon sexual fulfillment lies behind many of the problems in evangelical teaching about sex. We implicity convey to young people that sex is a need by marginalizing those who are single or cordoning them off in singles groups so that they hopefully will get married. Then we expect them to live some of the most sexually charged years of their lives without yielding to temptation. No wonder young people struggle to stay sexually pure: either sex is essential to flourishing as humans or it isn't. And if everyone who is married thinks it is, then young people will too - regardless of whatever else we tell them.'
Matthew Lee Anderson, Earthen Vessels, p.132.

SEXUALITY

'Most young evangelicals were raised within youth groups where discussions of the goodness of sexuality were inevitably drowned out by the understandable attempts to remind everyone to keep their clothes on. Of course, some of that might be the fault of the youth. When all you can think about is reaching inside the cookie jar, Mom's lectures about the goodness of cookies will be far less memorable than her restriction to wait until after dinner. Young people with raging hormones need little persuasion that sex within marriage is good. Further, presenting healthy sexuality that is enticing enough to make young people want to wait for sex until marriage while at the same time not exacerbating their temption to engage in sexual fatasies is something of a high art. And evangelicals certainly have not mastered it.'
Matthew Lee Anderson, Earthen Vessels, p.122.

BUILDINGS

'We shape our buildings, and afterwards our buildings shape us.'
Winston Churchill in Matthew Lee Anderson, Earthen Vessels, p.84.

Saturday, 17 December 2011

THE RESURRECTION

'Now the green blade riseth from the buried grain,
Wheat that in dark earth many days has lain;
Love lives again, that with the dead has been:
Love is come again, like wheat that springeth green.

In the grave they laid him, love whom men had slain,
Thinking that never he would wake again.
Laid in the earth like grain that sleeps unseen:
Love is come again, like wheat that springeth green,

Forth he came at Easter, like the risen grain,
He that for three days in the grave had lain.
Quick from the dead my risen Lord is seen:
Love is come again, like wheat that springeth green.

When our hearts are wintry, grieving, or in pain,
Thy touch can call us back to life again;
Fields of our hearts that dead and bare have been:
Love is come again, like wheat that springeth green.'

John Crum

Thursday, 15 December 2011

SINGLENESS

'The Christian perspective on singleness is almost unique. Unlike traditional societies, Christianity sees singleness as good beacuse the kingdom of God provides the most lasting possible legacy and heirs. Unlike sex-and-romance-saturated Western society, Christians see singleness as good because our union with Christ can fulfill our deepest longings.'
Timothy Keller, The Meaning of Marriage, p.201.

Wednesday, 14 December 2011

LOVE

'...if we are looking for a definition of love, we should look not in the dictionary, but at Calvary.'
John Stott, The Cross of Christ, p.247.

Tuesday, 13 December 2011

SINGLENESS

'...single people cannot live their lives as singles without a balanced, informed view of marriage. If they do not have that, they will either over-desire or under-desire marriage, and either of those ways of thinking will distort their lives.'
Timothy Keller, The Meaning of Marriage, p.192.

Sunday, 11 December 2011

GRACE

'Without an experience of God's grace, people who feel they have succeeded in life feel confident but are not humble before others who are wrongdoers. People who feel they have largely failed in life are humble but not confident and joyful.'
Timothy Keller, The Meaning of Marriage, p.166.

MARRIAGE

'Marriage does not so much bring you into confrontation with your spouse as confront you with yourself. Marriage shows you a realistic, unflattering picture of who you are and then takes you by the scruff of the neck and forces you to pay attention to it.'
Timothy Keller, The Meaning of Marriage, p.140.

Saturday, 10 December 2011

FRIENDSHIP

'Friendship is a deep oneness that develops as two people, speaking the truth in love to each other, journey together to the same horizon. Spiritual friendship is the greatest journey of all, because the horizon is so high and far, yet sure - it is nothing less than "the day of Jesus Christ" and what we will be like when we finally see him face-to-face.'
Timothy Keller, The Meaning of Marriage, p.116.

FRIENDSHIP

'...the inexpressible comfort of feeling safe with a person - having neither to weigh thoughts nor measure words, but pouring them all right out, just as they are, chaff and grain together; certain that a faithful hand will take and sift them, keep what is worth keeping, and then with the breadth of kindness blow the rest away.'
Dinah Craik in Timothy Keller, The Meaning of Marriage, p.112.

FRIENDSHIP

'There are two features of real friendship - constancy and transparency. Real friends always let you in, and they never let you down.'
Timothy Keller, The Meaning of Marriage, p.112.

Friday, 9 December 2011

LOVE

'Do not waste time bothering whether you "love" your neighbour, act as if you did. As soon as you do this we find one of the great secrets. When you are behaving as if you loved someone, you will presently come to love him.'
CS Lewis in Timothy Keller, The Meaning of Marriage, p.100.

LOVE

'When over the years someone has seen you at your worst, and knows you with all your strengths and flaws, yet commits him- or herself to you wholly, it is a consummate experience. To be loved but not known is comforting but superficial. To be known and not loved is our greatest fear. But to be fully known and truly loved is, well, a lot like being loved by God. It is what we need more than anything. It liberates us from pretense, humbles us out of our self-righteousness, and fortifies us for any difficulty life can throw at us.'
Timothy Keller, The Meaning of Marriage, p.95.

MARRIAGE

'Like everything which is not the involuntary result of fleeting emotion but the creation of time and will, any marriage, happy or unhappy, is more infinitely interesting than any romance, however passionate.'
WH Auden in Timothy Keller, The Meaning of Marriage, p.90.

Thursday, 8 December 2011

BIBLE STUDY

'When something the Bible says is capable of two equally valid interpretations, the Bible writers, knowing far more Hebrew and Greek than we do, would have been well aware of the nuances of their own languages. If, for their part, they were willing to allow two possible meanings to stand, we can do the same.'
Alec Motyer, Treasures of the King: Psalms from the Life of David, p.126.

Wednesday, 7 December 2011

JESUS

'Learn to know Christ and him crucified. Learn to sing to him and say "Lord Jesus, you are my righteousness, I am your sin. You took on you what was mine; yet set on me what was yours. You became what you were not, that I might become what I was not.'
Martin Luther in John Stott, The Cross of Christ, p.233.

FAITH & WORKS

'The tree must be first, and then the fruit. For the apples make not the tree, but the tree makes the apples. So faith first makes the person, who afterwards brings forth works.'
Martin Luther in John Stott, The Cross of Christ, p.220.

THE CROSS

'...God himself is at the heart of our answer to all three questions about the divine propitiation. It is God himself who in holy wrath needs to be propitiated, God himself in holy love undertook to do the propitiating, and God himself who in the peson of his Son died for the propitiation of our sins. Thus God took his own loving iniative to appease his righteous anger by bearing it his own self in his own Son when he took our place and died for us. There is no crudity here to evoke our ridicule, only the profundity of holy love to evoke our worship.'
John Sott, The Cross of Christ, p.204.

Tuesday, 6 December 2011

THE HOLY SPIRIT

'The Holy Spirit's ministry is to take truths about Jesus and make them clear to our minds and real to our hearts - so real that they console and empower and change us at our very center.'
Timothy Keller, The Meaning of Marriage, p.51.

Monday, 5 December 2011

MARRIAGE

'Destructive to marriage is the self-fulfillment ethic that assumes marriage and the family are primarily institutions of personal fulfillment, necessary for us to become "whole" and happy. The assumption is that there is someone just right for us to marry and that it we look closely enough we will find the right person. This moral assumption overlooks a crucial aspect to marriage. It fails to appreciate the fact that we always marry the wrong person.
We never know whom we marry; we just think we do. Or even if we first marry the right person, just give it a while and he or she will change. For marriage, being [the enormous thing it is] means we are not the same person after we have entered it. The primary problem is...learning how to love and care for the stranger to whom you find yourself married.' 
Stanley Haurwas in Timothy Keller, The Meaning of Marriage, p.37.

LOVE

'Love anything, and your heart will certainly be wrung and possibly broken. If you want to make sure of keeping it intact, you must give your heart to no one, not even to an animal. Wrap it carefully round with hobbies and little luxuries; avoid all entanglements; lock it up safe in the casket or coffin of your selfishness. But in that casket - safe, dark, motionless, airless - it will change. It will not be broken; it will become unbreakable, impenetrable, irredeemable. The alternative to tragedy, or at least to the risk of tragedy, is damnation.'
CS Lewis in Timothy Keller, The Meaning of Marriage, p.36.

MARRIAGE

'Both men and women today want a marriage in which they can receive emotional and sexual satisfaction from someone who will simply let them "be themselves." They want a spouse who is fun, intellectually stimulating, sexually atrractive, with many common interests, and who, on top of it all, is supportive of their personal goals and of the way they are living now.
And if your desire is for a spouse who will not demand a lot of change from you, then you are also looking for a spouse who is almost completely pulled together, some very "low maintenance" without much in the way of personal problems. You are looking for someone who will not require or demand significant change. You are searching, therefore, for an ideal person - happy, healthy, interesting, content with life. Never before in history has there been a society filled with people so idealistic in what they are seeking in a spouse.'
Timothy Keller, The Meaning of Marriage: Facing the Complexities of Commitment with the Wisdom of God, p.32.

Friday, 2 December 2011

THE BODY

'...the paradox of the body: The body is a temple, but the temple is in ruins. The incarnation of Jesus affirms the body's original goodness. The death of Jesus reminds us of its need for redemption. And the resurrection of Jesus gives us hope for its restoration.'
Matthew Lee Anderson, Earthen Vessels, p.31.  

GRACE

'Grace is not a technique.
It is not a magical quality that God dispenses like a candy machine, or the power for self-actualiszation or personal peace and affluence. It is not the lubricant to get the parts inside working properly. And it is not a three-step program for self-improvement. When we treat grace that way, we surrnder to the spirit of our age by fashioning ourselves and our bodies through our own efforts. We don't use grace to shape ourselves - it shapes us into the image of the one who gives it.'
Matthew Lee Anderson, Earthen Vessels, p.27.

THE INCARNATION

'...the impossible union of spheres...'
TS Eliot in Matthew Lee Anderson, Earthen Vessels, p.21.

AN EVANGELICAL

'Anyone who perpetually defines what an evangelical is.'
Matthew Milliner in Matthew Lee Anderson, Earthen Vessels; Why our bodies matter to our faith, p.16.

Wednesday, 30 November 2011

THE CROSS

'The the root of every caricature of the cross there lies a distorted Christology. The person and work of Christ belong together. If he was not who the apostles say he was, then he could not have done what they say he did. The incarnation is indispensable to the atonement.'
John Stott, The Cross of Christ, p.189.

SIN & SALVATION

'The concept of substitution may be said, then, to lie at the heart of both sin and salvation. For the essence of sin is man sustituting himself for God, while the essence of salvation is God substituting himself for man. Man asserts himself against God and puts himself where only God deserves to be; God sacrifices himself for man and puts himself where only man deserves to be. Man claims prerogatives which belong to God alone; God accepts penalties which belong to God alone.' 
John Stott, The Cross of Christ, p.188.

THE CROSS

'...in order to save us in such a way as to satisfy himself, God through Christ substituted himself for us. Divine love triumphed over divine wrath by divine self-sacrifice. The cross was an act simultaneously of punishment and amnesty, severity and grace, justice and mercy.
Seen thus, the objections to a substitutionary atonement evaporate. There is nothing even remotely immoral here, since the substitute for the lawbreakers is none other than the divine Lawmaker himself. There is no mechanical transaction either, since the self-sacrifice of love is the most personal of all actions. And what is achieved through the cross is no merely external change of legal status, since those who see God's love there, and are united to Christ by his Spirit, become radically transformed in outlook and charcter.'
John Stott, The Cross of Christ, p.187.  

Tuesday, 29 November 2011

THE BIBLE

'Since one who loves more risks more, I must reprimand my most illustrious son Theodore. He has received from the most holy Trinity the gifts of intelligence, well-being, mercy and charity. But they are forever being stifled by profane questions, by constant comings and goings. Thus he neglects to read the words of his Redeemer each day. What is Scripture if not a letter from Almighty God to his creature? If Your Excellency lived somewhere else and received mail from an earthly monarch, he would have no peace, he would not rest, he would not shut his eyes until he had read the contents of that letter. The king of heaven, the Lord of men and angels, has written you a letter that you might live, and yet, illustrious son, you neglect to read it wirh ardent love. Strive therefore, I beg you, to meditate each day on the words of your Creator. Learn to know the heart of God in the words of God. Thus you will long for the things of heaven with greater desire and you soul will be more eager for the joys that are invisible...May the Spirit fill your soul with his presence, and in filling it make it more free.'
Gregory the Great in Mariano Magrassi, Praying the Bible, p.125.

PRAYER

'In order to pray, we do not need to rack our brains, artificially evoking interior acts, thoughts or excessively refined affections. All we need to do is react in the presence of the text with free and spontaneous prayer. And when this spontaneous outpouring stops, we return to the text for fresh nourishment.
Too often prayer dies on our lips or takes refuge in mechanically repeated formulas. Or if we insist on pressing our inner faculties into service, it vacillates between dry reasoning and sentimental daydreaming. Lacking nourishment, in runs on empty. There is only one remedy for this: to nourish prayer with the rich deposit left for us by the Word, either read silently of heard live in the liturgical proclamation. There we find irresistable words that go directly to the heart of God. From there we can change the accents to express to God the various movements of our heart. And when spiritual dryness prevents us from doing anything else, it is enough to address to him the same words God has spoken to us, making certain that our mind and hearts are in harmony with them. This will not be simple repitition because that word, having touched my life, is rich with new meaning.'
Mariano Magrassi, Praying the Bible, p.114.

BIBLE STUDY

'We moderns, when we read, are usually in a hurry. Our haste stems from curiosity and a thirst for novelty. We can see this in the avalanche of written words in which we are drowned, thanks to modern publishing. But this is deadly when it comes to dealing with a Word that holds the mystery of God. It prevents us from understanding, and above all, from assimilating.'
Mariano Magrassi, Praying the Bible, p.105.

BIBLICAL MEDITATION

'Reading, as it were, puts food whole into the mouth, meditation chews it and breaks it up, prayer extracts its flavour, contemplation is the sweetness itself which gladdens and refreshes.'
Guigo in Mariano Magrassi, Praying the Bible, p.104.

Monday, 28 November 2011

THE BIBLE

'It is understood only by those who live it. True exegesis explains the word precisley by fulfilling it.'
Mariano Magrassi, Praying the Bible, p.86.

Sunday, 27 November 2011

IDENTITY

'Your soul has a curious shape because it is a hollow made to fit a particular swelling in the infinite contours of the Divine substance, or a key to unlock one of the doors in the house with many mansions.'
CS Lewis, The Problem of Pain, p.122.

HELL

'In the long run the answer to all those who object to the doctrine of hell, is itself a question: "What are you asking God to do?" To wipe out their past sins and, at all costs, to give them a fresh start, smoothing every difficulty and offering every miraculous help? But He has done so, on Calvary. To forgive them? They will not be forgiven. To leave them alone? Alas, I am afraid that is what He does.'
CS Lewis, The Problem of Pain, p.105.

SUFFERING & HAPPINESS

'The Christian doctrine of suffering explains I believe, a very curious fact about the world we live in. The settled happiness and security which we all desire, God witholds from us by the very nature of the world: but joy, pleasure, and merriment, He has scattered broadcast. We are never safe, but we plenty of fun, and some ecstasy. It is not hard to see why. The security we crave would teach us to rest our hearts in this world and oppose an obstable to our return to God: a few moments of happy love, a landscape, a symphony, a merry meeting with our friends, a bathe or a football match, have no such tendency. Our Father refreshes us on the journey with some pleasant inns, but will not encourage us to mistake them for home.'
CS Lewis, The Problem of Pain, p.94.

SUFFERING

'...suffering is not good in itself. What is good in any painful experience is, for the sufferer, his submission to the will of God, and, for the spectators, the compassion aroused and the acts of mercy to which it leads. In the fallen and partially redeemed universe we may distinguis (1) the simple good descending from God, (2) the simple evil produced by rebellious creatures, and (3) the expolitation of that evil by God for His redemptive purpose, which produces (4) the complex good to which accepted suffering and repented sin contribute.'
CS Lewis, The Problem of Pain, p.89.

SUFFERING

'My own experience is something like this. I am progressing along the path of life in my ordinary contentedly fallen and godless condition, absorbed in a merry meeting with my friends for the morrow or a bit of work that tickles my vanity today, a holiday or a new book, when suddenly a stab of abdominal pain that threatens serious disease, or a headline that threatens us all with destruction, sends this whole pack of cards tumbling down. At first I am overwhelmed, and all my little happinesses look like broken toys. Then, slowly and reluctantly, bit by bit, I try to bring myself into the frame of mind that I should be at all times. I remind myself that all these toys were never intended to possess my heart, that my true good is in another world, and my only real treasure is Christ. And perhaps, by God's grace, I succeed, and for a day or two become a creature consciously depedent on God and drawing its strength from the right sources. But the moment the threat is withdrawn, my whole nature leaps back to the toys: I am even anxious, God forgive me, to banish from my mind the only thing that supported me under the threat because it is now associated with the misery of those few days. Thus the terrible necessity of tribulation is only too clear. God has had me for forty-eight hours and then only be dint of taking everything else away from me. Let Him  but sheathe the sword for a moment and I behave like a puppy when the hated bath is over - I shake myself as dry as I can and race off to reacquire my comfortable dirtiness, if not in the nearest manure heap, at least in the neaerest flower bed. And that is why tribulations cannot cease until God either sees us remade or sees that our remaking is now hopeless.'
CS Lewis, The Problem of Pain, p.86.

THE CROSS

'...God saw the crucifixion in the act of creating the first nebula...'
CS Lewis, The Problem of Pain, p.65.

Saturday, 26 November 2011

GOD'S ANGER

'When we merely say that we are bad, the "wrath" of God seems a barbarous doctrine; as soon as we pereceive our badness, it appears inevitable, a mere corollary from God's goodness.'
CS Lewis, The Problem of Pain, p.43.

SIN

'A recovery of the old sense of sin is essential to Christianity. Christ takes it for granted that men are bad. Until we really feel this assumption of His to be true, though we are part of the world He came to save, we are not part of the audience to whom His words are addressed. We lack the first condition for understanding what He is talking about. And when men attempt to be Christians without this preliminary consciousness of sin, the result is almost bound to be a certain resentment against God as to one always inexplicablt angry. Most of us have at times felt a secret sympathy with the dying farmer who replied to the Vicar's dissertation on repentance by asking "What harm have I ever done Him?" There is the real rub. The worst we have done to God is to leave Him alone - why can't he return the compliment? Why not live and let live? What call has He, of all beings, to be "angry"? It's easy for Him to be good?'
CS Lewis, The Problem of Pain, p.42.

HAPPINESS

'When we want to be something other than the thing God wants us to be, we must be wanting what, in fact, will not make us happy. Those Divine demands which sound to our natural ears most like those of a despot and least like those of a lover, in fact marshal us where we should want to go if we knew what we wanted.'
CS Lewis, The Problem of Pain, p.37.

GOD'S LOVE

'...God's love, far from being caused by goodness in the object, causes all goodness which the object has, loving it first into existence and then into real, though derivative, lovability. God is Goodness. He can give good, but cannot need or get it. In that sense all His love is, as it were, bottomlessly selfless by very definition; it has everything to give and nothing to receive.'
CS Lewis, The Problem of Pain , p.35.

CHRISTIANS

'We are, not metaphorically but in very truth, a Divine work of art, something that God is making, and therefore something with which He will not be satisfied until it has a certain character. Here again we come up against what I have called the "intolerable compliment." Over a sketch made idly to amuse a child, an artist may not take much trouble: he may be content to let it go even though it is not exactly as he meant it to be. But over the great picture of his life - the work he loves, though in a different fashion as intensely as a man loves a woman or a mother a child - he will take endless trouble - and would, doubtless, thereby give endless trouble to the picture if it were sentinent. One can imagine a sentinent picture, after being rubbed and scraped and recommenced for the tenth time, wishing that it were only a thumbnail sketch whose making were over in a minute. In the same way, it is natural for us to wish that God had designed for uis a less glorious and less arduous destiny; but then we are wising not for more love but for less.'
CS Lewis, The Problem of Pain, p.28.

GOD'S LOVE

'What would really satisfy us would be a God who said of anything we happened to like doing, "What does it matter so long as they are contented?" We want, in fact, not so much a Father in Heaven as a grandfather in heaven - a senile benevolence who, as they say, "liked to see the young people enjoying themselves" and whose plan for the universe was simply that it might be truly said at the end of each day, "a good time was had by all." Not many people, I admit, would formulate a theology in precisely those terms: but a conception not very different lurks at the back of many minds. I do not claim to be an exception: I should very much like to live in a universe which was governed on such lines. But since it is abundantly clear that I don't, and since I have reason to believe, nevertheless, that God is Love, I conclude that my conception of love needs correction.'
CS Lewis, The Problem of Pain, p.25.

CHRISTIANITY

'If any message from the core of reality ever were to reach us, we should expect to find in it just the unexpectedness, that wilful, dramatic anfractuosity which we find in the Christian faith. It has the master touch - the rough, male taste of reality, not made by us, or, indeed, for us, but hitting us in the face.'
CS Lewis, The Problem of Pain, p.12.

Thursday, 24 November 2011

PRAYER

'...Christian prayer that does not begin with the Bible is inconceivable. The same holds true for Bible reading that does not ultimately lead to prayer.'
Mariano Magrassi, Praying the Bible, p.82.

GOD

'Too often, God is seen only as an object of faith. All I have then is a set of truths to memorize, rather like dry grammar. I cannot enter into communion with the living God. No, he is first of all the subject of the relationship. God comes to meet me and addresses me through the free and sovereign initiative of God's love. Then for me, as for Abraham, God has a face and a voice. God call me by name and speaks God's Word to me. And I fall on my knees before God like Thomas, with a cry of faith, "My Lord and my God."'
Mariano Magrassi, Praying the Bible, p.80.

Tuesday, 22 November 2011

WISDOM

'...contemplative knowledge...'
Mariano Magrassi, Praying the Bible, p.74.

BIBLE STUDY

'We want to insist on a conviction that is deeply rooted in all Christian tradition: knowledge that does not lead to love is vain. The truth must be a principle of life. No one disagrees in theory, but we often deny it in practice. We all know the real risk of Bible study that becomes nothing but philogy at the scientific level, and a pedantic exercise in the cold accumulation of facts at a textbook level. The very soul of Scripture perishes in such research. Surely that is not why God has spoken.'
Mariano Magrassi, Praying the Bible, p.72.

Monday, 21 November 2011

THE BIBLE

'We cannot venture into the Bible as tourists; we must become inhabitants of the land. We need to retrace our steps, stop and reflect at each site in order to explore it in depth. To become part of this world we must enter it, immmerse ourselves in it in order to be absorbed by it. Then it will reveal to us the charm of its secret places. The same thing happens with certain pieces of classical music. Only after repeated listening do we detect the secret harmonies, discover the language, catch the dominant themes.'
Mariano Magrassi, Praying the Bible, p.68.

BIBLICAL MEDITATION

'Seek, then, to meditate every day on the words of your Creator. Learn to know the heart of God in the words of God, so that you may desire eternal goods more ardently and your soul may be enkindled with greater longing for the goods of heaven.'
Gregory the Great in Marian Magrassi, Praying the Bible, p.68.

Sunday, 20 November 2011

THE BIBLE

'The meaning of Scripture is not an impersonal truth but the fascinating figure of Christ...The whole science of exegesis is the ability to recognize Christ.'
Mariano Magrassi, Praying the Bible, p.52.

THE BIBLE

'This is the constant of Christian exegesis through the ages. Climates change and exegetical methods are refined, but the believer who reads the Bible with faith always finds only Christ there.'
Mariano Magrassi, Praying the Bible, p.50.

Friday, 18 November 2011

THE BIBLE

'The divine words grow with the one who reads from them. Where the mind of the reader is directed, there, too, the sacred text ascends; for...it grows with us, it rises with us.'
Gregory the Great in Mariano Magrassi, Praying the Bible, p.40.

THE BIBLE

'Scripture is an unfathomable world. Its dimensions are as long and wide, as high and deep as the mystery it contains. We may venture there, but we can never say we have reached the bottom.'
Mariano Magrassi, Praying the Bible, p.35.

Thursday, 17 November 2011

THE BIBLE

'Since it is a living word, Scripture implies the presence of the lifegiving Spirit and the Word of God expressed therein. The Spirit's instruments from Moses to John, are of course dead; their task is finished. But the task of the Word of God and his Spirit is not finished. He is present on every page, still speaking to us and revealing his power from beginning to end, touching the depths of our soul like the edges of the universe.'
Mariano Magrassi, Praying the Bible, p.28.

THE BIBLE

'Sacred Scripture is the table of Christ...where we are fed, where we understand what we must love and what we must desire, and to whom we must lift up our eyes.'
Alcuin in Mariano Magrassi, Praying the Bible, p.22.

THE BIBLE

'Scripture is God present who speaks to me.'
Gregory the Great is Mariano Magrassi, Praying the Bible, p.21.

Wednesday, 16 November 2011

THE CROSS

'The essential background to the cross...is a balanced understanding of the gravity of sin and the majesty of God. If we diminish either, we thereby diminish the cross. If we interpret sin as a lapse instead of a rebellion, and God as indulgent instead of indignant, then naturally the cross appears superfluous. But to dethrone God and enthrone ourselves not only dispenses with the cross; it also degrades both God and man. A biblical view of God and ourselves, however, that is, of our sin and God's wrath, honours both. It honours human beings by affirming them as responsible for their own actions. It honours God by affirming him as having moral character.'
John Stott, The Cross of Christ, p.129.

SIN

'...is is partly because sin does not provoke our own wrath, that we do not believe that sin provokes the wrath of God.'
RW Dale in John Stott, The Cross of Christ, p.129.

HUMANKIND

'It is part of the glory of being human that we are held responsible for our actions.'
John Stott, The Cross of Christ, p.120.

SIN

'The emphasis of Scripture...is on the godless self-centredness of sin. Every sin is a breach of what Jesus called "the first and greatest commandment", not just by failing to love God with all our being, but by actively refusing to acknowledge and obey him as our Creator and Lord. We have rejected the position of dependence which our createdness inevitably involves, and made a bid for independence. Worse still, we have dared to proclaim our self-dependence, our autonomy, which is to claim the position occupied by God alone. Sin is not a regrettable lapse from conventional standards; its essence is hostility to God (Romans 8:7), issuing in active rebellion against him.'  
John Sott, The Cross of Christ, p.106.

Tuesday, 15 November 2011

JESUS

'At the birth of the Son of God there was brightness at midnight; at the death of the Son of God there was darkness at noon.'
Douglas Webster in John Stott, The Cross of Christ, p.93.

Monday, 14 November 2011

PREACHING

'For I know that in the presence of my brothers and sisters I have very often understood many things in the sacred text that I could not have understood alone...Thus it happens, by the grace of God, that as perception grows pride diminishes, since on your behalf I learn what I am teaching in your midst for - I must confess - I often hear with you what I am saying.'
Gregory the Great in Mariano Magrassi, Praying the Bible, p.10.

THE CHURCH

'The Church and the individual are not two different realities - not just because the individual is part of the Church but because the entire mystery of the Church is in some way contained in every soul. Thus it is not an accomodation to hear the Lord's words to his Bride addressed to oneself.'
Mariano Magrassi, Praying the Bible, p.9.

BIBLICAL MEDITATION

'It is not enough to eat; we must assimilate, or as the ancients would say "ruminate." Thus lectio sacra is the natural complement of ecclesial proclamation. There the soul digs deeper and deeper into the riches of an inexhaustable text. There it is surprised by those inner and often unexpected flashes that shed new light on the message. At last we pereceive the true meaning of a text we have heard a thousand times before - a meaning that can nourish and direct an entire life.'
Mariano Magrassi, Praying the Bible: An Introduction to Lectio Divina, p.7.

Saturday, 12 November 2011

MEN

'"...men are much of a mediocrity...vaunters about what they can't do, humble about what they can; liars in safety, truthful in danger; cowardly in smoke-rooms and brave in shell-holes; lewd with strange women and tender with their wives; hating the misery they can't see and succouring that which they can; stupid with books and clever with spanners; all with bellies and all alone with the stars and the sky not caring; all so very pitful when you see them asleep; and all stamped in God's image, all fearfully and wonderfully made, all with eyelashes and fingernails and ears."'
Bruce Marshall, The World, the Flesh and Father Smith, p.138.

SOCIAL ACTION

'"One of the reasons that the world is not convinced is, I think, that men believe that the Church, which they confuse with churchmen, teaches a short-range rather than a long-range morality. They hear the adulterer, the thief, and the murderer condemned from our pulpits, but not the the employer of sweated labour, not the shareholder in the armaments factory, not the men who make their money out of films about gangsters, not the politicians who compromise with the perpetrators of cruelty in faraway lands. They argue that, in the eyes of the Church, a man who owns shares in a company which makes its profits through underpaying Chinese coolies is a good Christian so long as he doesn't murder the friend who beats him at golf or cohabit with his parlour maid. We, who are priests, know this is not the teaching of the Church, but can we honestly say that we have taken the trouble to let men of good faith know that is not the teaching of the Church? For, as is evident, many men of good faith remain outside the Church. Is it not for us to ask ourselves if we have not, by condeming only those sins which it takes little courage to chasten, prevented them from finding their way into the Fold which is Christ's?"'
Bruce Marshall, The World, the Flesh and Father Smith, p.134.

THE CHURCH

'"...both the stupid and the intelligent have always crowded out the Church of God; it is the half-educated who have always been too proud to come in."'
Bruce Marshall, The World, the Flesh and Father Smith, p.61.

PREACHING

'...perhaps it was just that it was the hardest thing in the world for one human being to shine into another human being the glow that burned within himself, even when the glow was from God.'
Bruce Marshall, The World, the Flesh and Father Smith, p.11.

SUFFERING

'"That's the great thing about persecution: it keeps you up to the mark. It's habit, not hatred, that is the real enemy of the church of God."'
Bruce Marshall, The World, the Flesh and Father Smith, p.6.

FAILURE

'...if a servant of God falls, then the first question I should ask is, Have I shared his burden? Specifically, have I treated him as a piece of wood or a religious symbol, or have I prayed for him as a person.'
Francis Schaeffer, 'The Weakness of God's Servants' in No little people, p.61.

PERFECTIONISM

'...we must understand that the expectation of personal perfection is a romanticism not rooted in Scripture. If I demand perfection from myself, then I will destroy myself. Many Christians vacillate between being permissive in regard to sin toward themselves on the one hand, and demanding perfection from themslves on the other. They end up battered and crushed because they do not live up to their own image of perfectionism.'
Francis Schaeffer, 'The Weakness of God's Servants' in No little people, p.51.

RELATIONSHIPS

'If we demand, in any of our relationships, either perfection or nothing, we will get nothing.'
Francis Schaeffer, 'The Weaknness of God's Servants' in No little people, p.51.

THE BIBLE

'If someone asks us, "What is the Bible?" we probably would not begin our answer by saying, "The Bible is a realistic book." Yet in the twentieth century this might be the best place to start - to stress the realism of the Bible in contrast to the romanticism which characterizes the twentieth-century concept of religion. To most modern people, truth is to be sought through some sort of leap from which we exract our own personal religious experience.
Many feel that that the Bible should portray a romantic view of life, but the Bible is actually the most realistic book in the world. It does not glibly say, "God's in heaven - all's right with the world!" It faces the world's dilemmas squarely. Yet unlike realism which ends in despair, it has answers for the dillemmas. And, unlike modern romanticism, its answers are not optimism without a sufficient base, not hope hung in a vacuum.'
Francis Schaeffer, 'The Weakness of God's Servants' in No little people, p.47.

LEADERSHIP

'...if we deliberately and egotistically lay hold on leadership, wanting the drums to beat and the trumpets to blow, then we are not qualified for Christian leadership. Why? Because we have forgotten that we are brothers and sisters in Christ with other Christians. I have said on occasion that there is only one good kind of fighter for Jesus Christ - the man who does not like to fight. The belligerent man is never the one to be belligerent for Jesus. And it is exactly the same with leadership. The Christian leader should bea quiet man of God who is extruded by God's grace into some place of leadership.'
Francis Schaeffer, 'No Little People, No Little Places' in No little people, p.31.

BELIEF & BEHAVIOUR

'Throughout Jesus' teaching...two words know and do occur constantly and always in that order. We cannot do until we know. but we can know without doing.'
Francis Schaeffer, 'No little people, no little places' in, No little people, p.28.

HOME

'...the beauty of Home...'
EB Sledge, China Marine: An infrantryman's life after World War II, p.126.

FRIENDSHIP

'Almost all of my close friends are walking personality disorders...'
Anne Lamott, Bird by Bird, p.205.

HOSPITALITY

'It is one of the greatest feelings known to humans, the feeling of being the host, of hosting people, of being the person to whom they come for food and drink and company.'
Anne Lamott, Bird by Bird, p.204.

PASTORAL CARE

'...I have come to think of almost everyone with whom I come into contact with as a patient in the emergency room. I see a lot of gaping wounds and dazed expressions.'
Anne Lamott, Bird by Bird, p.204.

TRUTH

'...you don't always have to chop with the sword of truth. You can point with it too.'
Anne Lamott, Bird by Bird, p.156.

WRITING

'Writing is about hynotising yourself into believing in yourself, getting some work done, then unhypnotizing yourself and going over the material coldly.'
Anne Lamott, Bird by Bird, p.114.

TRUTH

'...truth doesn't come out in bumper stickers. There may be a flickering moment of insight in a one-liner, in a sound bite, but everyday meat-and-potato truth is beyond our ability to capture in a few words.'
Anne Lamott, Bird by Bird, p.103.

WRITING

'Writing is about learning to pay attention and to communicate what is going on.'
Anne Lamott, Bird by Bird, p.97.

ROOMS

'Just as every person is a walking advertisemnet for who he or she is, so very room is a little showcase of its occupants' values and personalities. Every room is about memory. Every room gives us layers of information about our past and present and who we are, our shrines and quirks and hopes and sorrows, our attempts to prove that we exist and are more or less Okay. You can see in our rooms, how much light we need - how many light bulbs, candles, skylights we have - and in how we keep things lit you see how we try and comfort ourselves. The mix in our rooms is so touching: the clutter and the cracks in the wall belie a bleakness or brokeness in our lives, while photos and a few rare objects show our pride, our rare shining moments.'
Anne Lamott, Bird by Bird, p.74.

SUFFERING

'She explained that when we have a wound in our body, the nearby muscles cramp around it to protect it from any more violation and infection, and that I would need to use those muscles if I wanted them to relax again...
I think that something similar happens with our psychic muslces. They cramp around our wounds - the pain from our childhood, the losses and disappointmnets of adulthood, the humiliations suffered in both - to keep us from getting hurt in the same place again, to keep foreign substances out. So these wounds never have a chance to heal.'
Anne Lamott, Bird by Bird, p.29.

PERFECTIONISM

'I think perfectionism is based on the obsessive belief that if you run carefully enough, hitting each stepping stone just right, you won't have to die. The truth is that you will die anyway and that a lot of people who aren't even looking at their feet are going to do a whole lot better than you, and have a lot more fun while they're doing it.'
Anne Lamott, Bird by Bird, p.28.

PREACHING

'...the first draft is the down draft - you just get it down. The second draft is the up draft - you fix it up. And the third draft is the dental draft, where you check every tooth, to see if it's loose or cramped or decayed, or even, God help us, healthy.'
Anne Lamott, Bird by Bird, p.25.

GOD

'...you can safely assume you've created God in your image when it turns out that God hates all the same people you do...'
Anne Lamott, Bird by Bird, p.22.

BOOKS

'...books are as important as almost anything else on earth. What a miracle it is that out of these small, flat, rigid, squares of paper unfolds world after world, worlds that sing to you, comfort or quiet or excite you. Books help us understand who we are and how to behave. They show us what community and friendship mean; they show us how to live and die. They are full of all the things you don't get in real life - wonderful, lyrical language, for instance, right off the bat. And quality of attention: we may notice amazing details during the course of the day but we rarely let ourselves stop and really pay attention, and this is a great gift. My gratitude for good writing is unbounded; I'm grateful for it the way I'm grateful for the ocean. Aren't you?'
Anne Lamott, Bird by Bird, p.15.

HOPE

'...hope is a revolutionary patience...'
Anonymous in Anne Lamott, Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life, p.xxiii.

Wednesday, 2 November 2011

THE CROSS

'Before we can begin to see the cross as something done for us (leading us to faith and worship), we have to see it as something done by us (leading us to repentance).'
John Stott, The Cross of Christ, p.72.

ENVY

'Envy is the reverse side of a coin called vanity. Nobody is ever envious of others who is not first proud of himself.'
John Stott, The Cross of Christ, p.65.

Monday, 31 October 2011

GRACE

'Christ was given to us by God's generosity, to be grasped and possesed by faith. By partaking of him, we principally receive a double grace: namely, that being reconciled to God through Christ's blamelessness, we may have in heaven instead of a Judge a gracious Father; and secondly, that sanctified by Christ's Spirit we may cultivate blamelessness and purity of life.'
John Calvin in John Webster, Holiness, p.85.

SANCTIFICATION

'...a perpetual and inherent lack of self-sufficiency...'
GC Berkouwer in John Webster, Holiness, p.83.

THE HOLY SPIRIT

'...the secret energy...by which we come to enjoy Christ and all his benefits.'
John Calvin in John Webster, Holiness, p.83.

Friday, 28 October 2011

THE CHURCH

'There is no greater sinner than the Christian Church.'
Martin Luther in John Webster, Holiness, p.73.

THE CHURCH

'...the existence of such a gathering is wholly astonishing. It is grounded in no human possibility; indeed, from the side of human history it is nothing other than a sheer impossibility, for the commonwealth of human time lies under the sway of sin and alienation, striving with all its might to oppose God and to refuse his call to reconciliation...That such a holy people exists and is preserved through time, that it does not collapse back into alienantion and hatred, that here sin is held in check and not permitted to eat away at human fellowship - all this lies in the hands of the holy God alone.'
John Webster. Holiness, p.57.

Thursday, 27 October 2011

GOD

'Theological talk of the divine attributes is thus not primarily a matter of categorization but of confession...'
John Webster, Holiness, p.37.

Tuesday, 25 October 2011

THE BIBLE

'...the authority of Scripture is a matter for the Church's acknowledgement not its ascription.'
John Webster, Holiness, p.19.

GOD & REASON

'God is not summoned into the presence of reason; reason is summoned before the presence of God.'
John Webster, Holiness, p.17.

THEOLOGY

'One of the great myths of modernity has been that the operations of reason are a sphere from which God's presence can be banished, where the mind is, as it were, safe from divine intrusion. To that myth, Christian theology is a standing rebuke. As holy reason at work, Christian theology can never escape from the sober realization that we talk in the terrifying presence of the God from whom we cannot flee (Ps.139.7). In Christian theology, the matter of our discourse is not someone absent, somone who we have managed to exclude from our own intellectual self-presence and about whom we can talk about safely and undisturbed. We speak in God's presence. Whe we begin to talk theologically about the holiness of God, we soon enough discover that the tables have been reversed; it is no longer we who summon God before our minds to make him a matter for clever discourse, but the opposite; the holy God shows himself and summons us before him to give account of our thinking.'  
John Webster, Holiness, p.15.

THEOLOGY

'Theology is an aspect of the sanctification of reason, that is, of the process in which reason is put to death and made alive by the terrifying and merciful presence of the holy God.'
John Webster, Holiness, p.8.

THEOLOGY

'Theology is an office of the Church of Jesus Christ. It is properly undertaken in the sphere of the Church, that is, in the region of human fellowship which is brought into being and sustained by the saving activity and presence of God.'
John Webster, Holiness, p.1.

IDENTITY

'Our culture tends to compartmentalize sex from every other area of life, personal and public. But these expressions of our core character and identity surely cannot be seperated so neatly. Who we are behind closed doors is not irrelevant: in fact, it is arguably the best indication of who we really are, because it is out of sight of others that we act with least influence from external expectations and pressures. People often claim that what they do in private has nothing to do with the rest of their lives, and is nobody else's business but their own. Nothing could be further from the truth.'
Guy Brandon, Just Sex, p.195.

RELATIONSHIPS

'...the primary cause of our culture's sexual liberty is the lack of mature intimacy fostered by rootlessness and individualism.'
Guy Brandon, Just Sex, p.166.

Friday, 21 October 2011

INTIMACY

'At its most basic intimacy is knowing that I am not alone in the universe. But that knowing is not simply a cerebral process. It is something I experience, and live within; something which shapes my understanding and acceptance of reality. Sometimes intimacy is there almost unconsciously as we live in comfortable taken-for-grantedness with those for whom we care deeply; sometimes it hits us in wide awake amazement as we are suddenly overwhelmed by the wonder of love; our whole being expands with joy and light. Intimacy is the sharing of closeness, of bonding, of reciprocation. It is the engulfing of warmth and care. It is the experiencing of Another.'
Elaine Storkey, The Search for Intimacy, p.4.  

MARRIAGE

'...couples today overload their marriage with such expectations; marriage is given too much responsibility for providing people with a sense of identity and significance. Often the idea is present that, once you are married, problems will disappear, self-esteem will improve and life will get a whole lot better. People expect of marriage what they expect from the sum total of all other relationships - an intense demand that can produce serious tensions.'
Guy Brandon, Just Sex, p.80.

Thursday, 20 October 2011

RELATIONSHIPS

'Interdependence is not only a crucial skill for personal relationships; it is also an essential way of understanding and relating to both the social sphere and the ecosphere. The illusion of independence damages the the idividual and those who come into contact with him or her. It also damages society as a whole, and the whole planetary biosphere, when people believe that they can take without giving, and that taking does not make them dependent on the sources from which they take.'
Nick Totton in Guy Brandon, Just Sex, p.41. 

Wednesday, 19 October 2011

THE CHURCH

'One implication of this unity is that it guarantees that the life of a Christian will be filled with a greater joy - but also greater sorrow. It will be filled with great joy because Christ has risen, we have been given a community, and, as the Spirit unites us, we rejoice with other brothers and sisters who rejoice. But the life of the Christian is filled with greater sorrow because we suffer when other parts of the body suffer. In the same way that we are affected when one of our family members is suffering, so we are to suffer when those in our extended family are suffering. Also, when we are hurt by people in the body, it will hurt more because they are our family.'
Edward T Welch, When People Are Big and God Is Small, p.207.

THE CHRISTIAN LIFE

'Love for enemies is the pinnacle of Christian obedience to God.'
Edward T Welch, When People Are Big and God Is Small, p.190.

HEAVEN

'Here is the body pent,
Absent from Him I roam,
Yet nightly pitch my moving tent
A day's march nearer home.'
James Montgomery, 'At Home in Heaven' in Alec Guiness, A Commonplace Book, p.106.

Tuesday, 18 October 2011

SEX

'There is nothing safe about sex. There never will be.'
Norman Mailer in Guy Brandon, Just Sex, p.34.

RELATIONSHIPS

'The relational order of a society can be articulated as a measure of the health of its relationships. One broken marriage or a few single parents - or a failed friendship or a fall-out between business partners, for that matter - doesn't destroy the relational framework upon which our society rests, any more than cutting down a single tree threatens the entire natural order, including every woodland and forest. But there are general norms for relationships, ideal patterns that God has built into creation, and when we stray too far from these the result for society is akin to that of deforestation for the environment. The balance is disturbed, with unwelcome and sometimes unpredictable consequences. There is, broadly speaking, a right way to approach relationships, as there is a right way to interact with the environment.'
Guy Brandon, Just Sex, p.28.

INTIMACY

'...in recent decades intimacy has been seriously damaged in families, friendships and other relationships...sexual relationship is now used as a kind of catch-all pseudo-intimacy to fill that gap.' 
Guy Brandon, Just Sex: Is it ever just sex? p.20. 

Monday, 17 October 2011

EVANGELISM

'We don't fail in our evangelism if we faithfully tell the gospel to someone who is not converted; we fail only if we don't faithfully tell the gospel at all. Evangelism itself isn't converting people, it's telling them that they need to be converted and telling them that can be.'
Mark Dever, The Gospel and Personal Evangelism, p.82.

Thursday, 13 October 2011

EVANGELISM & THE CHURCH

'Evangelism is pre-eminently dependent upon the quality of the Christian life which is known and enjoyed in the church.'
Martyn Lloyd-Jones in Mark Dever, The Gospel and Personal Evangelism, p.51.

EVANGELISM & THE CHURCH

'The life of the church makes the audible gospel visible.'
Mark Dever, The Gospel and Personal Evangelism, p.50.

EVANGELISM & THE CHURCH

'The invisibility of God is a great problem. It was already a problem in Old Testament days. Their pagan neighbours would taunt them, saying, "Where is now your God?" Their gods were visible and tangible, but Israel's God was neither. Today in our scientific culture young people are taught not to believe in anything which is not open to empirical investigation. How then has God solved the problem of his own invisibililty? The first answer is of course "in Christ." Jesus Christ is the image of the invisible God. John 1:18: "No one has ever seen God, but God the only son has made him known." "That's wonderful," people say, "but it was 2,000 years ago. Is there no way by which the invisible God makes himself visible today?" There is. We return to 1 John 4:12: "No one has ever seen God," It is precisely the same introductory statement. But instead of continuing with reference to the Son of God, it continues: "If we love one another, God dwells in us." In other words the invisble God, who once made himself visible in Christ, now makes himself visible in Christians, if we love one another. It is a breathtaking claim. The local church cannot evangelize, proclaiming the gospel of love, if it is not itself a community of love.'  
John Stott in Mark Dever, The Gospela and Personal Evangelism, p.50.

CHRISTIANITY

'...Christianity is not finally about anesthetizing us to life's pain, or even about waking us up to it and teaching us to live with it. It is is about teaching us to live with a transforming longing, with a growing faith, with a sure and certain hope of what's to come.'  
Mark Dever, The Gospel and Personal Evangelism, p.35.

Tuesday, 11 October 2011

HEAVEN

'Just think - there must be tens of thousands of God's people who in past ages have been through the same burning torment that we go through, constantly fighting against our kind of temptation and trying like the saints in Hebrews 11 to "quench raging fire", and longing for deliverance from the weakness of this mortal body. And they have been delivered. They stand now before the throne of God in heaven; and in the Lord's good time we shall be there too, and the pains of this life will be like a dream that vanishes with the waking day. Doesn't that help a little bit, Peter? Doesn't that encourage you to hold on a little longer, when in the depth of despair you feel like giving up for good?'
Alex Davidson, The Returns of Love, p.49.

ACCOUNTABILTY & FRIENDSHIP

'...I'm not asking for a society that has as its Rule No. 1 the public washing of dirty linen; all I want is a brotherhood open-hearted enough to encourage one to open one's heart within it...
So I fall under my own condemnation, and have to ask whether I myself ever bother to cultivate the leisurely, unshockable friendships in which other tormented souls can have the chance to unwind. You make me ashamed of myself as I remember burdened people whom I must at times have fobbed off with a cheerful "Take it to the Lord, brother," because I didn't want the responsibility of carrying the burden myself.'  
Alex Davidson, The Returns of Love, p.23.

SINGLENESS

'Of course you can be preoccupied for a good deal of the time with your work, and find it really does take your mind off yourself. Even so you can hardly help but have some leisure; and what is to fill that? Well, a whole heap of interests, to keep your time and your hands and your thoughts busy, yes, and your emotions too. But what then? You come home to yourself again: the embers are cold in the grate, and the house is empty.
Friends then: friends are the answer. There must be folk who whom you know and love, and who know and love you? Yes they are the next possibility on the list, certainly. But what Archbishop Lang once wrote has stuck in my mind ever since I first read it: something to the effect that in the loneliness of his bachelor life his great need was not for friends, of whom he had plenty, any more than it was for work, of which he had too much; it was for "that old simple human thing - someone in daily nearness to love." And that is precisely it. Just as at some point you left both work and hobbies behind, so you leave your friends, too, at the garden gate; and you're still going to be on your own in the house tonight. And brother, it's so lonely...'
Alex Davidson, The Returns of Love, p.16.  

SUFFERING

'...all suffering when invested wisely brings returns.'
Alex Davidson, The Returns of Love, p.12.

GOD'S WORD

'The part of the jungle where I am lost may be miles away from where you are lost, but the same map and compass can help us both. That map and compass I take to be the Word of God, both Christ the living Word and Scripture the written Word. Why do people who are otherwise thoughtful and sincere find it so easy to break the third commandment? They take the name of the Lord, and call themselves "Christians"; yet they take it in vain, by emptying it of what is necessarily contained within it. The only Christ I can accept is not the tenth-hand Christ of the popular imagination, but the first-hand Christ of the New Testament, and once I admit Him I find I have to admit a whole range of teaching which is inseperable from Him - not only His own as reported in the Gospels, but that of the prophets whom He upheld and ratified, and that of the apostles whom He taught and commissioned: in other words the Bible as a whole. It is on the principles the Bible lays down that I try to base my belief and behaviour in general, and therefoore my attitude to the matter discussed in this book in particular.'
Alex Davidson, The Returns of Love: Letters of a Christian Homosexual, p.11.

Monday, 10 October 2011

TIME

'...let this encourage your heart: The God who calls us to live in time lives outside of time. We feel the burdens of deadlines but he never does. We grow impatient, while he knows nothing of that weakness.'
Randy Newman. Bringing the Gospel Home, p.155.

Friday, 7 October 2011

TOAST

'It is impossible not to love someone who makes toast for you. People's failings, even major ones such as when they make you wear short trousers to school, fall into insignificance as your teeth break through the rough, toasted crust and sink into the doughy cushion of white bread underneath. Once the warm, salty butter has hit your tongue, you are smitten. Putty in their hands.'
Nigel Slater, Toast, p.1.

HUMILITY

'Do not imagine that if you meet a really humble man he will be what most people call "humble" nowadays: he will not be the sort of greasy, smarmy person, who is always telling you that, of course, he is nobody. Probably all you will think about him is that he seemed a cheerful, intelligent chap who took a real interest in what you said him.  If you do dislike him it will be because you felt a little envious of anyone who seems to enjoy life to easily. He will not be thinking about humilty: he will not be thinking about himself at all.'
CS Lewis in Randy Newman, Bringing the Gospel Home, p.147.

Thursday, 6 October 2011

EVANGELISM

'...we sometimes present our gospel-masterpiece in a context that belies our message. We speak of measureless love, unmerited grace, and infinite goodness but our tone of voice, demeanour, and lifestyles convey the exact opposite. We want people to quiet their hearts so that they can hear the music of the gospel, but we're performing in a context of judgementalism. We want them to feel loved by God, but they feel unloved by us. We want them to be amazed by grace, but they can't get past the smell of condemnation.'
Randy Newman, Bringing the Gospel, p.129.   

Tuesday, 4 October 2011

EVANGELISM

'Many people are rejecting our gospel today not because they perceive it to be false, but because they perceive it to be trivial. People are looking for an integrated worldview, which makes sense of their experience. We learn from Paul that we cannot preach the gospel of Jesus without the doctrine of God, or the cross without the creation, or salvation without judgement. Today's world needs a bigger gospel, the full gospel of Scripture, what Paul later in Ephesus was to call "the whole purpose of God."'
John Stott in Randy Newman, Bringing the Gospel Home, p.83.

GOD

'An "impersonal God" - well and good. A subjective God of beauty, truth and goodness, inside our own heads - better still. A formless life-force surging through us, a vast power which we can tap - best of all. But God Himself, alive, pulling at the other end of a cord, perhaps approaching at an infinite speed, the hunter, the king, husband - that's quite another matter.'
CS Lewis in Randy Newman, Bringing the Gospel Home, p.82.

HOME

'Home may be "where the heart is," but it's also where we let the darkness of those hearts display themselves for all to see.'
Randy Newman, Bringing the Gospel Home, p.60.

GRACE

'Grace is a scandal, an outrage. When grace no longer confounds, it no longer transforms.'
Randy Newman, Bringing the Gospel Home, p.60.

Friday, 30 September 2011

PRIORITIES

'You can't get second things by putting them first; you can get second things only by putting first things first. From which it would follow that the question, What things are first? is of concern not only to philosophy but to everyone else.'
CS Lewis in Randy Newman, Bringing the Gospel Home, p.38.  

EVANGELISM

'Once we realize that evangelism occurs in the realm of the miraculous, we start praying more faithfully, trusting more wholeheartedly, and proclaiming more gently. When we relinquish trust in our ability to persuade and latch onto God's power to save, we find hope beyond explanation.'
Randy Newman, Bringing the Gospel Home: Sharing your faith with family and friends, p.14.

Thursday, 29 September 2011

DOUBT

'In our own days, when it is but too clear that infidelity increases, it is not in consequence of the reasonings of the infidel writers having been much studied, but from the progress of luxury, and the deacy of morals: and, so far as this increase may be traced at all to the works of sceptiocal writers, it has been produced, not by argument and discussion, but by sarcasms and points of wit, which have operated on weak minds, or on nominal Christians, by bringing gradually into contempt, opinions which, in their case, had only rested on the basis of blind respect and the prejudices of education. It may therefore be laid down as an axiom, that infidelity is in general a disease of the heart more than of the understanding. If Revelation were assailed only by reason and argument, it would have little to fear.'
William Wilberforce, A Practical View of Religion, p.267.  

DOUBT

'...doubts enter into the mind almost imperceptibly: they exist only as vague indistinct surmises, and by no means take the precise shape or substance of a formed opinion. At first, probably, they even offend and startle by the intrusion; but by degrees the unpleasant sensations they once excited wear off: the mind grows more familiar with them. A confused sense (for such it is, rather than a formed idea) of its being desirable that their doubts should prove well founded, and of the comfort and enlargement which would be afforded by that proof, lends them much secret aid. The impression becomes deeper, not in consequence of being reinforced by fresh arguments, but merely by dint of having long rested in the mind; and as they diffuse themselves over the whole of religion, and possess the mind in undisturbed occupancy.'
William Wilberforce, A Practical View of Christianity, p.265.

HUMILITY

'...in proportion as the Christian grows in grace, he also grows in humility. Humility is indeed the vital principle of Christianity; that principle by which from first to last she lives and thrives, and in proportion to the growth or decline of which she must decay or flourish.'
William Wilberforce, A Practical View of Christianity, p.252.

LOVE

'...true charity is wakeful, fervent, full of solicitude, full of good offices, not so easily satisfied, not so ready to believe that everything is going well, as a matter of course; but jealous of mischief, apt to suspect danger, and prompt to extend relief. These are symptons by which genuine regard will manifest itself in a wife or mother, in the case of the bodily health of the object of her affections. And where there is any real concern for the spiritual intercessions of others, it is characterized by the same infallible marks. That wretched quality, by which the sacred name of charity is now so generally and so falsely usurped, is no other than indifference, which, against the plainest evidence, or at least where there is strong ground or apprehension is easily contented to believe that all goes well, because it has no anxieties to allay, no fears to repress. It undergoes no alternation of passions; it is not at one time flushed with hope, nor at another chilled with disappointment.'
William Wilberforce, A Practical View of Christianity, p.246.  

Wednesday, 28 September 2011

JESUS & OUR NEEDS

'...we should be careful about saying, "Jesus meets all our needs." At first, this has a plausible biblical ring to it. Christ is a friend; God is a loving Father; Christians do experience a sense of meaningfulness and confidence in knowing God's love. It makes Christ the answer to our problems. Yet if our use of the term "needs" is ambiguous, and its range of meaning extends all the way to selfish desires, then there will be some situations where we should say that Jesus does not intend to meet our needs, but that he intends to change our needs.'
Edward T Welch, When Peopel Are Big and God Is Small, p.89.

FEELINGS

'When feelings become more important than faith, people will become more important, and God will become less important.'
Edward T Welch, When People Are Big and God Is Small, p.84.

Tuesday, 27 September 2011

THE SECOND COMING

'What would you like to be doing when Jesus comes again?
What would you like to be saying when Jesus comes again?
What would you like to be thinking when Jesus comes again?'
DA Carson, Basics for Believers, p.112.

DISCERNMENT

'One of the things that can be applied to determine whether a movement is of God - though certainly it is not the only one - is to observe to what degree those affected are making it their aim to be known for gentleness. In this, they are becoming more like their Master.'
DA Carson, Basics for Believers, p.110.

Saturday, 24 September 2011

SOCIAL ACTION

'Which brings one back to the old argument between the Lady Bountiful and the Impatient Revolutionary, as to whether it's worth while patching up a dilapidated house - or social system, or world order, or whatever you like - when what is really needed is a new one. The L.B. sends a nice bowl of soup to the poor, and then sits back and thinks she's done the whole of her duty. The I.R. with a sneer of "Pallatives!", rushes off to reorganize the world, and thinks he's doing the whole of his. Personally, I believe they're both wrong. It certainly isn't enough to send soup and then think no more about it: but equally it isn't enough to reform the world (which can't be done in a flash) and leave people, in the meanwhile, soupless.
The truth is, some of us are more suited by nature to be Palliators, or Patchers, and others to be Rebuilders; very few have either the time or the temperament to do both jobs. There ought to be an arrangement by which all the people who are trying to clear up the present mess could label themselves either "P" or "R," and guarantee not to interfere with each other's jobs while continuing to get on with their own. That would enable half of them to go on providing the necessary soup until the other half had finished creating the much better world in which charity soup wouldn't be needed. To make out that these two methods can't be used concurrently seems to me dangerous nonsense.'
Jan Struther, Mrs Miniver, p.144.

A CHILD'S BIRTHDAY

'...a dining-room with a child's birthday party going on; a ring of lighted candles round a cake and a ring of lighted faces round the table; one face brighter than all the others, like a jewel on the ring.'
Jan Struther, Mrs Miniver, p.136.

Friday, 23 September 2011

CHRISTIANITY

'...the main distinction between real Christianity, and the system of the bulk of nominal Christians, chiefly consists in the different place which is assigned in the two schemes to the peculiar doctrines of the Gospel. These, in the scheme of nominal Chrisians, if admitted at all, appear but like the stars of the firmament to the ordinary eye. Those splendid luminaries draw forth perhaps occasionally a transient experession of admiration, when we behold their beauty, or hear their distances, magnitudes, or properties: now and then too we are led, perhaps, to muse upon their possible uses; but however curious as subjects of speculation, after all, it must be confessed, they twinkle to the common observer with a vain and "idle" lustre; and except in the dreams of the astrologer, have no influence on human happiness, or any concern with the course and order of the world. But to the real Christian, on the contrary, THESE peculiar doctrines constitute the centre to which he gravitates! the very sun of his system! the soul of the world! the origin of all that is excellent and lovely! the source of light, and life, and motion, and genial warmth and plastic energy!'
William Wilberforce, A Practical View of Christianity, p.188.

Thursday, 22 September 2011

CHRISTIANITY

'In the language of Scripture, Christinaity is not a geographical but a moral term. It is not being the native of a Christian country: it is a condition, a state; the posssession of a peculiar nature, with the qualities and properties which belong to it.
Further than this; it is a state into which we are not born, but into which we must be translated; a nature which we do not inherit, but into which we are to be created anew.'
William Wilberforce, A Practcial View of Christianity, p.164.

Wednesday, 21 September 2011

MARRIAGE

'It seemed to her sometimes that the most important thing about marriage was not a home or children or a remedy against sin, but simply there being always an eye to catch.'
Jan Struther, Mrs Miniver, p.13.

HOME

'The key turned sweetly in the lock. That was the kind of thing one remembered about a house: not the size of the rooms or the colour of the walls, but the feel of door-handles and light-switches, the shape and texture of the banister-rail under one's palm; minute tactual intimacies, whose resumption was the essence of coming home.'
Jan Struther, Mrs Miniver, p.2.

THE FEAR OF MAN

'Fear of man is such a part of our human fabric that we should check for a pulse if someone denies it.'
Edward T Welch, When People Are Big and God Is Small, p.17.

Tuesday, 20 September 2011

GODLINESS

'Among men of the world, a youth of softness and sweetness will often...harden into insensibility, and sharpen into moroseness. But it is the office of the Christian to reverse this order. It is pleasing to witness this blessed renovation: to see, as life advances, asperities gradually smoothing down, and roughnesses mellowing away...'
William Wilberforce, A Practical View of Christinaity, p.150.