Sunday, 30 January 2011


'Contexts change, angles change, words change, and approaches change, but somehow and in some way the earliest Christians always seem to get at these four issues: We are accountable to the God who created us. We have sinned against that God and will be judged. But God has acted in Jesus Christ to save us, and we take hold of that salvation by repetance from sin and faith in Jesus.
God. Man. Christ. Response.'
Greg Gilbert, What is the Gospel? p.32.


'An emaciated gospel leads to emaciated worship.'
Greg Gilbert, What is the Gospel? p.20.

Saturday, 29 January 2011


'The worse of being a parent is my fate, then: being an adult. Not owning the right language; not dreading the same dreads and contingencies and missed chances; the fate of knowing much yet having to stand like a lampost with its lamp lit, hoping my child will see the glow and venture closer for the illumination and warmth it mutely offers.'
Richard Ford, Independence Day, p.17.


'A sad fact, of course, about adult life is that you see the very things you'll never adapt to coming toward you on the horizon. You see them as the problems they are, you worry like hell about them, you make provisions, take precautions, fashions and adjustments; you tell yourself you'll have to change your way of doing things. Only you don't. You can't. Somehow it's already too late.'
Richard Ford, Independence Day, p. 5.


'As I look at my spiritual journey, my long and fatiguing trip home, I see how full it is of guilt about the past and worries about the future. I realize my failures and know that I have lost the dignity of sonship, but I am not yet able to fully believe that where my failings are great, "grace is always greater." Still clinging to my sense of worthlessness, I project for myself a place far below that which belongs to the son. Belief in total, absolute forgiveness does not come readily. My human experience tells me that forgiveness boils down to the willingness of the other to forgo revenge and to show some measure of charity.'
Henri JM Nouwen, The Return of the Prodigal Son, p.52.


'Real loneliness comes when we have lost all sense of having things in common.'
Henri JM Nouwen, The Return of the Prodigal Son, p.47.


'"Oh Aslan," said Lucy, "Will you tell us how to get into your country from our world?"
"I shall be telling you all the time," said Aslan. "But I will not tell you how long or short the way will be; only that it lies across a river. But do not fear that, for I am the great Bridge Builder.'"
CS Lewis, The Voyage of the Dawn Treader, p.370 (of The Complete Chronicles of Narnia)


'"In our world," said Eustace, "a star is huge ball of flaming gas."
"Even in your world, my son, that is not what a star is but only what it is made of."'
CS Lewis, The Voyage of the Dawn Treader, p.358 (in The Complete Chronicles of Narnia)

Thursday, 27 January 2011


'You are writing a gospel
a chapter each day
by the words that you say
and the works that you do.
Men read what you write
disturbing or true.
What is the gospel
According to you?'
Anonymous in Peter Brain, Going the Distance, p.100.


'...he who cannot forgive others breaks the bridge over which he himself must pass if he would ever reach heaven; for everyone has need to be forgiven.'
George Herbert in Peter Brain, Going the Distance, p.93.


'Since we are called to work out our discipleship in these close relationships, it should not surprise us in the least that anger-producing situations will be close at hand as we seek to minister together. Working with people takes time and energy, and the resulting tiredness can easily cause anger. Mutual ministry means that we want people to express their opinions and make their contribution. This too can lead to friction. Since we want to encourage mature participation and not just a group of people who are yes-men (or women), we need to be able to handle anger, not to avoid or discourage people from expressing their opinion.
If anger is totally out of place in a Christian community, it will be "bad form" to express any contrary view, lest it lead to differences of opinion, which may cause anger. "Arms-length fellowship" is the only possible outcome. In this kind of fellowship, relationships become formal and polite, and superficial fellowship replaces close personal interaction. The source of life and vitality has been removed.'
Peter Brain, Going the Distance, p.86.


'...learning of contentment and trust in God's sovereignty and faithfulness can help us face loss when it comes, whether through happy or unhappy, expected or unexpected, circumstances. None of this is meant for a moment to downplay the loss of people or things in our lives, but in so far as we are detached from them as reasons for living, and attached to our Lord, we will be better able to face their loss and move through the resultant grieving process.'
Peter Brain, Going the Distance p.73.


'...depression can be seen as having a very positive potential; indeed it is part of the way God has made us. It is, in reality, a part of our body's "early warning system," alerting us to the fact that something is wrong and needs to be dealt with. We may need to slow down, seek medical treatment, turn to God in repentance or allow the grieving process to take its course. Depression may be an agent used by God for our sanity (where depression is a response to loss), or our sanctification (if there is a sinful act or attitude involved). For every loss situation there is an appropriate amount of depression.'
Peter Brain, Going the Distance: How to stay fit for a lifetime of ministry, p.70.

Thursday, 20 January 2011


'...the gospel is the good news about what God is doing in Christ to rescue and redeem his rebellious image bearers.'
DA Carson 'What is the Gospel? Revisited' in Storms & Taylor, For the Fame of God's Name, p.169.

Wednesday, 19 January 2011


'My father kept a black-and-white photograph of him in a leather frame by his bed, and another next to the lamp on his desk; my mother had the same photograph under the glass top of her dressing-table: a boy standing on a hillside, not quite three years old, hair teased by wind, hands clasped in front of his chest, looking away into an unrevealed distance. He looked like both of my brothers and me, all at once. Sometimes I stood close to the photograph - I was always careful not to touch it - and concentrated on Thomas, looking for small changes in his expression, trying to imagine him in three dimensions, walking into the kitchen, or across the lawn. I wanted to hear his voice.
I knew what had happened, though no one had told me directly. I must have pieced it together from different sources, conversations I'd overheard, my mother or father describing the event to others: a horse, a road, a car passing. When people pointed to the photograph and asked me who it was I said it was my brother Thomas, and that I never knew him, he died two years before I was born. I didn't understand why they said they were sorry. I knew it was a loss but I couldn't feel it as one. He was a presence to me, not something taken away.'
William Fiennes, The Music Room, p.5.

Tuesday, 11 January 2011


'Sow a thought and you reap an act; sow an act and you reap a habit; sow a habit and you reap a character; sow a character and you reap a destiny.'
Samuel Smiles in Linda L Belleville, 2 Corinthians (The IVP New Testament Commentary Series), p.239.


'We can best know what is wrong by first knowing what is right. Experts on counterfeit currency know this as well. They train others first to know the traits of genuine currency because such knowledge will make apparent what is fraudulent. Christians need to dedicate themselves to learning and knowing truth so that what is evil and abnormal will appear obvious.'
Tim Challies, The Disciple of Spiritual Discernment, p.101.


'For this reason the gravest question before the Church is always God Himself, and the most portentous fact about any man is not what he at any given time may say or do, but what he in his deep heart conceives God to be like...Were we able to extract from any man a complete answer to the question, "What comes into your mind when you think about God?" we might predict with certainty the spiritual future of that man.'
AW Tozer in Tim Challies, The Discipline of Spiritual Discernment, p.96.


'Truth is both fixed and constant. It is not changing or something to be created. Good and evil are realities that are both extrinsic to us. The forces of good and evil are not determined by our choices and preferences. In opposition to the dominant mindset of our day, something is not evil simply because it is not in accord with what we feel or desire, and neither is something else good because we like it or enjoy it. Rather things are objectively good or evil regardless of how or what we may feel about them. This is why we must determine whether something is good or evil, right or wrong, based on the objective, unmoving standard of the Bible rather than our subjective, constantly shifting feelings and preferences.'
Tim Challies, The Discipline of Spiritual Discernment, p.95.


'These days grief seems like walking on a frozen river; most of the time he feels safe enough, but there is always the danger that he will plunge through. Now he hears the ice crack beneath him, and so intense and panicking is the sensation that he has to stand for a moment, press his hands to his face and catch his breath.'
David Nicholls, One Day, p.416.

Sunday, 9 January 2011


'Discernment is a skill. It is no an inherent ability like breathing or chewing but a skill like reading or public speaking that must be practiced and must be improved. There is not a person on earth who has been born with a full measure of discernment or who has all of the discernment he will ever need. There is not a person who has attained a level of expertise that allows him to move on and to leave discernment behind. Like the master musician who practices his skills more as his acclaim grows, a discerning person will see with ever-greater clarity his need to increase in discernment. He will want to sharpen and improve this skill throughout his life.'
Tim Challies, The Discipline of Spiritual Discernment, p.61.

Friday, 7 January 2011


'Wisdom is a prerequisite to discernment. Discernment is wisdom in action.'
Tim Challies, The Discipline of Spiritual Discernment, p.57.


'Wisdom is more than merely attaining or collecting facts. A person may have a great deal of knowledge and may be a master of trivia but still not have wisdom, for there is a moral and ethical dimension to wisdom. Wisdom is not an end in itself, but a means to moudling human behaviour in a way that pleases God...Wisdom allows us to pursue what is good in life, not as judged by our standards but as judged by the Creator. Wisdom allows us to see what is important to God, what values he gives us for our own benefits, and it allows him to teach us how we can pursue them. Wisdom allows us to rightly use knowledge, it allows us to be discerning. Said otherwise, wisdom is knowledge rightly understood.'
Tim Challies, The Discipline of Spiritual Discernment, p.56.


'...biblical discernment looks beyond the will of God to the truth of God. We can only know God's will when we first know God's truth, for what God desires and requires of us must always be consistent with his character. Wise decisions are those that are made on the firm basis of what is true about God and, thus, what is true about the world, about life, and about ourselves. Those who make decisions that honour God are those who have invested effort in studying what God says to be true.'
Tim Challies, The Discipline of Spiritual Discernment, p. 54.

Tuesday, 4 January 2011


'Christ himself takes on the dignity of dependence. He is born a baby, totally dependent on the care of his mother. He needs to be fed, he needs his bottom to be wiped, he needs to be propped up when he rolls over. And yet he never loses his divine dignity. And, at the end, on the cross, he again becomes totally dependent, limbs pierced and stretched, unable to move. So in the person of Christ we learn that depedence does not, cannot, deprive a person of their dignity, of their supreme worth. And if dependence was appropriate for the God of the universe, it is certainly appropriate for us.'
John Stott, The Radical Disciple, p.113.


'I sometimes hear old people, including Christian people who should know better, say "I don't want to be a burden to anyone else. I'm happy to carry on living so long as I can look after myself, but as soon as I become a burden I would rather die." But this is wrong. We are all designed to be a burden to others. You are designed to be a burden to me and I am designed to be a burden to you. And the life of the family, including the life of the local church family, should be one of "mutual burdensomeness". "Carry each other's burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ" (Galatians 6:2).'
John Stott, The Radical Disciple, p.112.


'A refusal to be dependent on others is not a mark of maturity but immaturity.'
John Stott, The Radical Disciple, p.109.

Monday, 3 January 2011


'We need not covet money, for we shall always have our God and God is better than gold, his favour is better than fortune.'
Charles Spurgeon in Brian Rosner, How to get really rich, p.141.


' an attack on God's exclusive rights to our trust and confidence.'
Brian Rosner, How to get really rich, p.69.


'The Christian far oftener disgraces his profession in prosperity than in adversity. It is a dangerous thing to be prosperous. The crucible of adversity is a less severe trial for the Christian than the firing-pot of prosperity.'
Charles Spurgeon in Randy Alcorn, Money, Possessions & Eternity, p.420.


'Only one life, 'twil soon be past. Only what's done for Christ will last.'
CT Studd in Randy Alcorn, Money, Possessions & Eternity, p.417.

Saturday, 1 January 2011


'He didn't know what to do, he didn't know how to live. Each new thing he encountered in life impelled him in a direction that fully convinced him of its rightness, but then the next new thing loomed up and impelled him in the opposite direction, which also felt right. There was no controlling narrative: he seemed to himself a purely reactive pinball in a game whose only object was to stay alive for staying alive's sake.'
Jonathan Franzen, Freedom, p.318.