Friday, 29 April 2011


'...a liberal is a conservative who has been arrested.'
Tom Wolfe, The Bonfire of the Vanities, p.617.


'And in that moment Sherman made the terrible discovery that men make about their fathers sooner or later. For the first time he realized that the man before him was not an aging father but a boy, a boy much like himself, a boy who grew up and had a child of his own and, as best he could, out of a sense of duty and, perhaps love, adopted a role called Being a Father so that his child would have something mythical and infinitely important: a Protector, who would keep a lid on all the chaotic and catastrophic possibilities of life. And now that boy, that good actor, had grown old and fragile and tired, wearier than ever at the thought of trying to hoist the Protector's armour back onto his shoulders, now, so far down the line.'
Tom Wolfe, The Bonfire of the Vanities, p.481.

Wednesday, 27 April 2011


'1. Never use a metaphor, simile, or other figure of speech which you are used to seeing in print.
2. Never use a long word where a short one will do.
3. If it is possible to cut a word out, always cut it out.
4. Never use the passive where you can use the active.
5. Never use a foreign phrase, a scientific word, or a jargon word if you can think of an everyday English equivalent.
6. Break any of these rules sooner than saying anything outright barbarous.'
George Orwell, 'Politics and the Englsih Langauage'. Available at:


' effect can become a cause, reinforcing the original cause and producing the same effect in an intensified form and so on indefinitely. A man may take to drink because he feels himself to be a failure, and then fail all the more completely because he drinks. It is rather the same thing that is happening to the English language. It becomes ugly and inaccurate because our thoughts are foolish, but the slovenliness of our language makes it easier for us to have foolish thoughts.'
George Orwell, 'Politics and the English Language'. Available at:


'A clergyman generally dislikes to be met in argument by any scriptural quotation; he feels as affronted as a doctor does, when recommended by an old woman to take some favourite dose, or as a lawyer when an unprofessional man attempts to put him down by a quibble.'
Anthony Trollope, The Warden, p.173.


'Suffering hurries the heart homeward.'
Joni Eareckson Tada, 'Suffering Hurries the Heart toward Heaven' in Nancy Guthrie (Ed.), O Love That Will Not Let Me Go, p.124.


'If God had told me some time ago that He was about to make me as happy as I could be in this world, and then had told me that He should begin by crippling me in the arm or limb, and removing me from all my usual sources of enjoyment, I should have thought it a very strange mode of accomplishing His purpose. And yet, how is his wisdom made manifest even in this! For if you should see a man shut up in a closed room, idolising a set of lamps and rejoicing in their light, and you wished to make him truly happy, you would begin by blowing out all his lamps, and then open the shutters to let in the light of heaven.'
Samuel Rutherford in Joni Eareckson Tada, 'Suffering Hurries the Heart toward Heaven' in Nancy Guthrie (Ed.), O Love That Will Not Let Me Go, p.121.

Tuesday, 26 April 2011


'We have become slow-train sexual revolutionaries, embracing sexual anarchy a generation after the broader culture has done so.'
Russell D Moore, Tempted and Tried, p.89.

Sunday, 24 April 2011


'The Lord's Table...isn't just a visual aid to remind us, as though it were a memory-jogging tool. As we gather together around the Table, we are being trained to eat at the "big table" in Jerusalem. And we're announcing to ourselves, and to the satanic powers in the air around us, what's really true. "Eat, drink and be merry, for tomorrow we die" is a sham. The alternative is not a refusal to eat, drink or be merry. That would be ingratitude. Instead, with the resurrected Jesus we sing out, "Let us eat, drink and be merry, for yesterday we were dead."'
Russell D Moore, Tempted and Tried, p.75.


'Don't let your urges scare you. Let them instead drive you to pray for the wisdom to see what you were created to be and to do. Watch the triggers in your life that lead you to hunger for what you want, and be warned. But in the meantime seek to direct your appetites toward the ways in which the Word of God and the order of the universe tell us they can be fulfilled. And then seek to learn to long more for their ultimate resolution in the new creation.'
Russell D Moore, Tempted and Tried, p.74.


'The girl with same-sex desires might conclude she is doomed to be a lesbian because she isn't drawn to boys and still fights her attraction to girls. Family members who have to cut up their credit cards to keep from spending every paycheck on what they see advertised may conclude they're just not "spiritual" enough to follow Christ because they still war against their wants. Nonsense. You are not what you want. You are who you are. And that's defined by the Word of God. It might be that God frees your appetite from whatever it's drawn toward, but usually he instead enables you to fight it. This might go on for forty days, for forty years, for an entire lifetime. That's all right. There must be room then in our churches for a genuine bearing of each other's burdens when it comes to the appetites. Pretending the appetites are instatntly nullified by conversion is a rejection of what God has told us - that we are still in a war zone.'
Russell D Moore, Tempted and Tried, p.72.


'As this temptation wages war on us right now, the first step we need to take to break its power is to recognize what the appetites were there for in the first place. And that means recovering a sense of who you are apart from what you want. The world around you defines you in terms of what you want. The advertising world sees you as a consumer, defined by your buying power and product preferences. Beyond that, other forces would seek to define you by your appetities themselves. If you want to drink, you're a drunk. If you want to have sex, that's your "need" and you must "be true to yourself." And so it goes. But you don't live by bread alone. You are not what you want.'
Russell D Moore, Tempted and Tried, p.72.


'The very love of holiness and holy persons, and your desire to know God and perfectly love him, do show that heavenly nature or spirit within you, which is your surest evidence for eternal life. For that spirit was sent from heaven to draw up your hearts and fit you for it; and God does not give you such natures, and desires, and preparations in vain. God would not have given us a heavenly nature or desire, if he had not intended us for heaven.'
Richard Baxter, 'Directions for a Peaceful Departure' in Nancy Guthrie (Ed.), O Love That Will Not Let Me Go, p.101.

Saturday, 23 April 2011


'The first step to making better decisions is to see ourselves as we really are, to look inside the black box of the human brain. We need to honestly assess our flaws and talents, our strengths and shortcomings.'
Jonah Lehrer, The Decisive Moment, p.247.


'...once you've developed expertise in a particular area - once you've made the requisite mistakes - it's important to trust your emotions when making decisions in that domain. It is feelings, after all, and not the prefrontal cortex, that capture the wisdom of experience.'
Jonah Lehrer, The Decisive Moment, p.237.


'The same lesson can be applied to the brain: when making decisions, actively resist the urge to supress the argument. Instead, take the time to listen to what all the different brain areas have to say. Godd decisions rarely emerge from a false consensus. Alfred P. Sloan, the chairman of General Motors during its heyday, once adjourned a board meeting soon after it began. "Gentlemen," Sloan said, "I take it we are all in complete agreement on the decision here...Then I propose we postpone further discussion of this matter until our next meeting to give ourselves time to develop disagreement and perhaps gain some understanding of what the decision is all about."'
Jonah Lehrer, The Decisive Moment, p.209.


'So convenient a thing is it to be a reasonable creature, since it enables one to find or make a reason for everything one has a mind to do.'
Benjamin Franklin in Jonah Lehrer, The Decisive Moment, p.167.

Friday, 22 April 2011


'Temptation - for the entire human race, for the people of Israel, and for each of us personally - starts with a question of identity, moves to a confusion of the desires, and ultimately heads to a contest of futures. In short, there's a reason you want what you don't want to want. Temptation is embryonic, personality specific and purpose directed.'  
Russell D Moore, Tempted and Tried, p.28.


'The Bible doesn't say, "Don't fear death because it's natural." The Bible says, "Don't fear death because it's been defeated."'
Timothy Keller, 'Rubbing Hope into the Reality of Death' in Nancy Guthrie (Ed.), O Love That Will Not Let Me Go, p.92.


'Our future is not that we will live in an ethereal, immaterial world. You're not going to float around in the kingdom of God. You're going to eat; you're going to love. You're going to sing because you'll have vocal chords! In realms and degrees of joy, satisfaction, and power that you cannot now imagine, you're going to eat and drink with Son of Man. On that day we are going to see each other and say, "I always knew you could be like this. I saw glimpses of it, flashes of it, and now, look at you!" You're going to to get the life you always wanted.'
Timothy Keller, 'Rubbing Hope into the Reality of Death' in Nancy Guthrie (Ed.), O Love That Will Not Let Me Go, p.91.


'Nobody who knows you completely can love you completely. There are people who think you're great because they don't really know you. There is nobody on the face of earth who could know you to the bottom and love you to the skies. But we want that.
When someone likes you but doesn't know you, it's not that satisfying. And when someone knows you and doesn't like you, that certainly isn't satisfying. What we want is to be utterly known and utterly loved.
And on that day, at the coming of the Lord, we'll finally get what we've longed for - from him and one another. We'll be utterly known and utterly loved. Yes, the future is a world of love, the kind of love you want, a personal love.' 
Timothy Keller, 'Rubbing Hope into the Reality of Death' in Nancy Guthrie (Ed.), O Love That Will Not Let Me Go, p.89.

Thursday, 21 April 2011


'We will "suffer with him in order that we may also be glorified with him" (Rom.8:17). This "suffering" the Bible speaks of isn't only political persecution or social marginalization or difficult circumstances, as we often tend to think. It is also the suffering of temptation, as God walks us through the place of the powers.'
Russell D Moore, Tempted and Tried, p.24.


'Temptation is so strong in our lives precisely because it's not about us. Temptation is an assault by the demonic powers on the rival empire of the Messiah. That's why conversion to Christ doesn't diminish the power of temptation - as we often assume - but actually, counterintuitively, ratchets it up. If you bear the Spirit of the One the powers rage against, they will seek to tear down the icon of the Crucified they see embedded in you (1 Pet.4:14; Rev.12:17). Ultimately, the agony of temptation is not about you and me. We're targeted because we resemble Jesus, our firstborn brother.'
Russell D Moore, Tempted and Tried, p.21.


'The sheer animal force of temptation ought to remind us of something: the universe is demon haunted. It also ought to remind us there's only one among us who has ever wrestled the demons and prevailed.'
Russell D Moore, Tempted and Tried, p.20.


'Tempted and tried, we're oft made to wonder
Why it should be thus all the day long,
While there should be others living about us,
Never molested, though in the wrong.

Farther along we'll know all about it,
Father along we'll understand why;
Cheer up, my brother, live in the sunshine,
We'll understand it all by and by.'

Southern Folk Hymn in Russell D Moore, Tempted and Tired: Temptation and the Triumph of Christ, p.13.  


'Ministers are ambassadors for God, and speak in Christ's stead. If they preach what is founded on the Scriptures, their word, as far as it is agreeable to the mind of God, is to be considered as God's. This is asserted by our Lord and His apostles. We ought therefore to receive the preacher's word as the word of God Himself. With what humility then ought we to attend to it! What judgments may we not expect, if we slight it.'
Charles Simeon, 'Directions How to Hear a Sermon' in Arthur Pollard (Ed.), Let Wisdom Judge: University Addresses & Sermon Outlines by Charles Simeon, p.189.


'When we do topical preaching we (as it were) hold the microphone in front of God and ask him the questions of our choice. We hold the microphone there just long enough to hear his answers, and then we take it away. We do not want to take the risk of letting him have the microphone; after all, he may want to tell us all sorts of things we may not want to hear. To do consecutive expository preaching gives God the mircophone. We hand it over to him and we listen while God tells us what he wants ust to hear. He sets the agenda for our teaching and our learning. Let us give God the microphone.'
Christopher Ash, The Priority of Preaching, p.111.

Wednesday, 20 April 2011


'Our challenge is not simply to understand the word we hear preached but to do it. Our business is not Biblical interpreation but Biblical performance. We need to be a community who interpret the word; but the kind of interpretation we are to aim at is much more than agreeing what it means. We are to interpret the word in the sense of becoming a living visible interpretation of the word, a community in which the word of Christ is lived out and made concrete. We will only do this if we understand that our gatherings as whole local churches under the preached word are the defining context for church.'
Christopher Ash, The Priority of Preaching, p.101.


'The essence of the church is not to practice theology but to believe and obey the word of God.'
Dietrich Bonhoeffer in Christopher Ash, The Priority of Preaching, p.101.


'...the weekly gatherings of the local church to hear the preached word should be understood as the primary dynamic and driving force of church life, alongside the gatherings for corporate prayer. All the other contexts in which Bibles are opened, read or discussed, have supportive rather than a normative role in church life. Or, to put it bluntly, a church will be a church as long as it gathers to hear the word, even if non of its members meets in small groups or even reads the Bible on their own! And conversely, if they willfully neglect the gathering of the church under the preached word they are not properly a church, even if they do all these other things. The writer to the Hebrws does not tell them, "Don't neglect your Quiet Time"; he says, "Let us not give up meeting together" (Heb.10:25), because that's where they sit together under the preached word of God.'
Christopher Ash, The Priority of Preaching, p.99.


'...only a church where grace is preached repeatedly and forcefully wil be preserved from degenerating into a club. Just as a variegated shrub can revert into one with a single colour of leaf, so a church can so easily revert to being mono-cultural. We must be realistic about this. We must not beat ourselves up because our churches are not wonderfully and ideally multi-cultural. We live in a broken world, and therefore Jesus starts church-building using broken materials. Our churches are bound to refleect in some way the divisions within our society, if only at the lowest level the social differences in different localities. The wonder is not that our churches are not perfect. The wonder is that they are beginning to bring together unlikely people, that they are pulling against the culture that keeps one race together or one class together or one type of person together.
This movement from homogeneity to heterogeneity cannot be engineered by positive discrimination (the token different person) or by hectoring or lecturing ("You rotten old middle-class Christians ought to be more multicultural"). It will only be created supernaturally by the preached word of grace in Jesus Christ.
The word of sovereign grace, preached and preached and preached again, is the necessary condition for a shaping of a people of garce, who alone can reassemble a broken world. All churches tend to revert from grace to being a homogeneous club. Grace is fragile, because grace humbles human pride. A church without the public preaching of garce at its heart will always slip away from grace. A church with grace as its theme tune in preaching will be held to grace.' 
Christopher Ash, The Priority of Preaching, p.98.  


'...the scriptures are God's voice, the church is his echo...'
John Donne in Christopher Ash, The Priority of Preaching, p.96.


'When you or I stand to preach in a local church, we see before us the seeds of reassembly for a broken world. And we have in our mouths the DNA of those seeds. As we preach to them week by week, those seeds grow and are shaped by grace. And we and they together form the societies that alone can build a broken world by grace. As Peter puts it (1 Pet.1:22-25), new birth comes by an imperisable seed and that seed is the preached word...'
Christopher Ash, The Priority of Preaching, p.78.

Tuesday, 19 April 2011


'If teaching is like the signpost which explains clearly to us where we ought to go and how to go there, preaching is like the friendly but firm shove from behind to get us started on actually going there and to keep us moving. We must teach: exhortation without teaching is like someone giving me a shove without explaining why. It is an act verbal aggression, an invasion of my personal space, a ranting and a raving without explaining to me why I need to do what the soap box warrior shouts that I must do. We must teach. If we do not teach with patience and clarity, there is no point preaching. But we must not stop with teaching. It is a fine thing patiently explaining to me so that I will understand. But if you love me you will press home to me with all the force you can my need to act on what I now understand, and to act on it today.'
Christopher Ash, The Priority of Preaching, p.65.


'Cursed are all preachers that in the church aim at height and hard things, and, neglecting the saving health of the poor unlearned people, seek their own honour and praise, and therewith to please one or two ambitious persons. When I preach, I sink myself deep down. I regard neither Doctors nor Magistrates, of whom are here in this church above forty; but I have an eye to the multitude of young people, children, and servants, of whom are more than two thousand. I preach to those, directing myself to them that have need thereof. Will not the rest hear me? The door stands open unto them; they may begone.'
Martin Luther in Christopher Ash, The Priority of Preaching, p.63.  


'We need repeated preaching, because by nature we wil never repent and believe. We will "move on" from the simple gospel of daily repentence, daily taking up the cross, daily faith, to a supposed higher life, a more sophisticated life, some kind of super-spiritual life in which repentance and faith are too ordinary and simple to be practiced. This is what will happen unless we sit under faithful preaching. We need the urgency of a city watchman to cry out, "Listen to the sound of the trumpet!" (Jer.6:17).'
Christopher Ash, The Priority of Preaching, p.61.


'One of the greatest gifts a preacher needs is such a sensitive understanding of people and their problems that he can anticipate their reactions to each part of his sermon and respond to them.'
John Stott in Christopher Ash, The Priority of Preaching, p.54.


'For some time we have emphasises the centrality of "teaching the Bible" in pastoral ministry. That was good because it stopped us being side-tracked onto teaching our systematic theology or our experience, or just setting out strategic thinking or baptising the wisdom of the world with a religious veneer. We were reminded that we were leading our churches by teaching the Bible. But I fear that we have so emphasised "teaching the Bible" that we rest happy with "teaching the Bible". But preaching the Bible is more important than teaching the Bible, let alone simply explaining the Bible. Many of us have been introduced as a visiting speaker with the words, "Now so and so will explain the Bible/ teach the Bible." When that happens to me I want to interrupt and say, "Yes, I hope to explain and teach it. But I hope also to preach it, and that is not the same."'
Christopher Ash, The Priority of Preaching, p.48.

Sunday, 17 April 2011


'...notice and verbalize.'
Sam Crabtree, Practicing Affirmation, p.158.  


'Always model what it is you want from others.'
Sam Crabtree, Practicing Affirmation, p.127.

Saturday, 16 April 2011


' of the crucial ingredients of successful education is the ability to learn from mistakes.'
Jonah Lehrer, The Decisive Moment, p.55.


'...short sentences drawn from long experience...'
Cervantes in Jonah Lehrer, The Decisive Moment, p.53.

Friday, 15 April 2011


'The process of thinking requires feeling, for our feelings are what let us understand all the information that we can't directly comprehend. Reason without emotion is impotent.'
Jonah Lehrer, The Decisive Moment: How the Brain Makes Up Its Mind, p.31.


'...this is what Christ illustrated when he healed the sick in his ministry on earth that men might see, as in an object-lesson - that provision was made in his substitionary work for the relief of every human ill. There is included in this, however, no promise that this relief is to be realized in its completeness all at once, or in this earthy life. Our Lord never permitted it for a moment to be imagined that the salvation he brought was fundamentally for this life. His was emphatically an other-world religion. He constantly pointed to the beyond, and bade men find their true home, to set their hopes, and to place their aspirations, there.'
BB Warfield, 'Is Christ Our Sickness-Bearer?' in Nancy Guthrie (Ed.), O Love That Will Not Let Me Go, p.41.

Thursday, 14 April 2011


' shall we distinguish flattery from affirmation? While affirmation commends virtues, flattery exagerates them, glosses over flaws, offers excessive input, and is insincere, not chiefly interested in building up the recipient in Christlikeness, but interested chiefly in obtaining some kind of direct favor. Healthy affirmation does not exagerate or schmooze. Having affirmed, the affirmer can walk away with no expectation of receiving anythiung from the recipient. A good affirmer...looks to God for his reward. In contrast, there is a thread of seduction in flattery. The flatterer is after something from the flattered. While affirmation is a free gift with no strings attached and trusts God to bring about whatever good harvest he wishes to bring from the seed planted, flattery is a bribe, and a direct return is expected - soon.
Godly affirmation approves of Christlikeness and disapproves of anything contrary, whereas the flatterer approves anything - Christlike or not - that may achieve the desired response.'
Sam Crabtree, Practicing Affirmation, p.108.


'Beware of blanket endorsements and blanket condemnations. The situation in the real world is more complicated than that.'
Sam Crabtree, Practicing Affirmation, p.105.


'We make idols when we praise what God has made more than we praise God, or praise those things without regard to God. But we glorify God when we praise what he made by commending how it reflects and testifies of him.'
Sam Crabtree, Practicing Affirmation, p.91.


'The more I try and live this Christian life, and the more I read the New Testament, the more convinced I am that the trouble with most of us is that we have never truly realized what it is to be a Christian. If only we understood what the Christian really is and the position in which he is placed, if only we realized the privilege and the possibilities of that position, and, above everything, the glorious destiny of everyone who is truly a Christian, then our entire outlook would be completely changed.'
Martyn Lloyd-Jones, 'Not of the World' in Nancy Guthrie (Ed.), O Love That Will Not Let Me Go, p.35.  

Wednesday, 13 April 2011


' preacher who wants to be in the pulpit ought to be in the pulpit. Nobody who likes the limelight ought to be a preacher. We do not want in our pulpits men like Diotrephes who loved to have the pre-eminence, who couldn't wait to be given the microphone (3 John 9).'
Christopher Ash, The Priority of Preaching, p.42.


'...the biggest problem faced by every church leader, the physical absence of Jesus Christ.'
Christopher Ash, The Priority of Preaching, p.32.


'...preaching in its essence is an authorized human being speaking the words of God to listening human beings; and every culture understands that.
An interactive Bible study is not culturally-neutral. To sit around drinking coffee with a book open, reading and talking about that book in a way that forces me to keep looking at that book and finding my place and showing a high level of mental agility, functional literacy, spoken coherence and fluency, that is something that only some of the human race are comfortable doing. Not everyone feels comfortable when the bright spark in the corner pipes up, "Ah, yes, but I was wondering about the significance of the word "However" in verse 3b. What do you think about that?" Some of us love that kind of seminar interaction, but many do not. For those who can do it, it may way be profitable; but many people can't, and just feel daunted or excluded by the exercise.
In some churches we have slipped into assuming that personal Bible reading and one-to-one Bible studies and Bible study groups are the normative way for Christian people to hear the Word of God. This, we say, is what a healthy Christian life looks like. But in redefining the Christian life like that we may unwittingly have alienated the illiterate, the functionally illiterate, the less-educated, those less confident in studying a text. I wonder if, quite unintentionally, we may have contributed to making some of our churches more monocultural than they might otherwise be. Paradoxically it is not that preaching is culturally outmoded, but rather that the study of written Biblical texts is culturally narrow.'
Christopher Ash, The Priority of Preaching, p.28.


'The preacher is only the half of the Church's activity of proclamation...The assumption seems to be that, whereas the preacher is really doing something, the people have a passive role, like so many jugs waiting to be filled...Anyone who has regularly preached over many years but then then has been a member of a congregation for some time, would (if he had strong views on preaching) be hard put to decide which was the more demanding, preaching well or listening properly.'
THL Parker in Christopher Ash, The Priority of Preaching, p.11.


'Behaviours that are rewarded and celebrated are more likely to be repeated. So reward what you'd like to see more of. It's basic Psychology 101.'
Sam Crabtree, Practicing Affirmation, p.75.

Tuesday, 12 April 2011


'Affirmations are deposits. Corrections are checks that you write against the balance in the account. If you write too many checks in relations to deposits, your checks bounce - they're no good. It will take additional deposits to restore your credit. And if the pattern of writing bad checks continues, you'll not only face overdrafts and fees and penalties and bounced checks that don't buy anything, but your account may be frozen until you get serious about putting things in the black. Your checks may be refused at certain businesses, regardless of your restored balance with the bank. These establishments may no longer wish to do business with you; your record with them is too problematic. And if your pattern of writing bad checks continues, you may be arrested and removed from circulation altogether.'
Sam Crabtree, Practicing Affirmation, p.52.


'...self-interest is not selfishness. Everyone knows that to seek gain by means of someone else's loss is wrong-headed. But if you seek to be rewarded by enriching someone, that is not selfish. Your reward for their enrichment is not selfish on your part, even though your reward for doing it is your self-interest. Rewards are a big deal in God's economy. You can't even come close to God unless you believe that he rewards: "And without faith it is impossible to please him, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him (Heb.11:6).'
Sam Crabtree, Practicing Affirmation, p.48.


'...those two words that deserve their own verse: "Jesus wept" (John 11:35).'
Michael S Horton, 'Death's Sting Is Removed but Its Bite Remains' in Nancy Guthrie (Ed.), O Love That Will Not Let Me Go, p.22.


'...upon meeting Jesus she reiterates the charge "Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died." (John 11:32). Mary is not to be blamed here, but to be respected for having brought her doubts as well as her faith to her Savior. Living in denial of tragedy, too many Christians live schizophrenic spiritual lives: outwardly smiling and brimming with trust and joy, but inwardly filled with doubts and anger. They often do not know where to turn, but Mary, like Job and the psalmist, says, "To God, of course." Bring him your doubts, frustration, even anger. He can handle it. Remember the cross and God-forsakeness of the Beloved: God, too, knows how to sing the blues.'
Michael S Horton, 'Death's Sting Is Removed but Its Bite Remains' in Nancy Guthrie (Ed.), O Love That Will Not Let Me Go, p.22.

Monday, 11 April 2011


'Affirming Christlike transformation makes a distinction between praising a doer of good and praising a do-gooder. One commends the pursuit of that which is truly excellent; the other flatters the performer who longs to outdo others, seeking attention and man's applause.
Our problem then is not that we want to be made much of. Our problem is that we want to be made much of for the wrong reasons. Our problem is that we do not want strongly enough, desperately enough, to be made much of by God himself for reasons that he establishes and brings to completion in and through Christ and for his glory. We are nothing without him - but he has not abandoned us there.'
Sam Crabtree, Practicing Affirmation, p.29.


'To fail to commend the character of Christ in people is to fall into the same lackluster indifference of a person who never exclaims what a beautiful morning it is, thereby robbing the Creator of Glory he deserves for making that sky, that volcano, that character.'
Sam Crabtree, Practicing Affirmation, p.24.


'Why has modern Protestantism so largely lost its grip on this biblical otherworldliness? Several factors have combined to produce the effect.
First, death is no longer our constant companion. Until the twentieth century most children died before they were ten, and adults dies at home with the family around them. But nowadays deaths in the family are rarer and, as often as not, happen in hospitals, so that we can easily forget the certainity of our own death for years together.
Second, modern materialism, with its corollary that this life is the only life for enjoying anything has infected Christian minds, producing the feeling that is a cosmic outrage for anyone to have to leave this world before he or she has tasted all that it has to offer.
Third, Marxist mockery of the Christian hope ("Pie in the sky when you die") and the accusation that having a hope of heaven destroys one's zeal for ending evil on earth have given Christians a false conscience that inhibits them about being heavenly minded.
Fourth, modern Christians are rightly troubled at the cultural barrenness, social unconcern, and seemingly shrunken humanity that have sometimes accompanied professed longings for heaven. We have come to suspect that such longings are escapist and unhealthy.
Fifth, man's natural sense of being made for an eternal destiny, the awareness formerly expressed by the phrase "the greatness of the soul," has largely atrophied amid the hectic artificialities of Western urban life.'
JI Packer, 'When You Know How To Die You Know How To Live' in Nancy Guthrie (Ed.), O Love That Will Not Let Me Go: Facing Death with Courageous Confidence in God, p.16.

Thursday, 7 April 2011


'Love is more than keeping the commandments, even if it is not less than keeping them. Love always seeks what is edifying and good for others and does not content itself with calculating whether one has fulfilled the proper rule. In other words, love always seeks what will bring the most glory to God in the life of one's neighbour.'
Thomas R Schriener, 40 Questions About Christians and Biblical Law, p.107. 

Wednesday, 6 April 2011


'Why should I fear the darkest hour,
Or tremble at the tempter's pow'r?
Jesus vouchsafes to be my tow'r.

Though hot the fight, why quit the field?
Why must I either flee or yield,
Since Jesus is my mighty shield?

When creature comforts fade and die,
Worldlings may weep; but why should I?
Jesus still lives, and still is nigh.

Though all the flocks and herds were dead,
My soul a famine need not dread,
For Jesus is my living bread.

I know not what may soon betide,
Or how my wants shall be supplied;
But Jesus knows, and will provide.

Though sin would fill me with distress,
The throne of grace I dare address;
For Jesus is my righteousness.

Though faint my prayers and cold my love,
My steadfast hope shall not remove,
While Jesus intercedes above.

Against me earth and heaven combine,
But on my side is pow'r divine;
Jesus is all, and he is mine.'
John Newton.


'I am trying here to prevent anyone saying the really foolish thing that people often say about Him: "I'm ready to accept Jesus as a great moral teacher, but I don't accept His claim to be God." That is the one thing we must not say. A man who was merely a man and said the the sort of things Jesus said would not be a great moral teacher. He would either be a lunatic - on a level with the man who says he is a poached egg - or else he would be the Devil of Hell. You must make your choice. Either this man was, and is, the Son of God: or else a madman or something worse. You can shut Him up for a fool, you can spit at Him and kill Him as a demon; or you can fall at His feet and call Him Lord and God. But let us not come with any patronising nonsense about His being a great moral teacher. He has not left that option open to us. He did not intend to.'
CS Lewis, Mere Christianity, p.45.