'...it is obvious that there is no mechanical solution to true spirituality or the true Christian life. Anything that has the mark of the mechanical is a mistake. It is not possible to say, "Read so many of the chapters of the Bible every day, and you will have this much sanctification." It is not possible to say, "Pray so long every day, and you will have a certain amount of sanctification." It is not possible to add the two together and to say, "You will have this big a piece of sanctification." This is a purely mechanical solution, and it denies the whole Christian position. For the fact is that the Christian life, true spiritulaity, can never have a mechanical solution. The real solution is being cast up into the moment-by-moment communion, personal communion with God himself, and letting Christ's truth flow through me through the agency of the Holy Spirit.'
'In justification the basis is the finished work of Jesus Christ; in sanctification it is the finished work of Christ. In justification, we must see, acknowledge, and act upon the fact that we cannot save ourselves. In sanctification, we must see, acknowledge, and act upon the fact that we cannot live the Christian life in our own strength, or in our own goodness.'
'As a child of God, sanctification from the time of justification on, in the present life, is moment-by-moment. Justification is once for all, at that moment when, by God's grace, I accept Christ as my Savior; but sanctification is moment-by-moment, a moment-by-moment life of faith.'
'We...trivialize prayer whenever we forget the repeated miracle it involves, the gracious condescension of the King of glory, who stoops down to listen to our verbs and nouns, our adverbs and questions, our groans and tears.'
'Sixty-two years ago I preached a poor, dry, barren sermon, with no comfort to myself, and, as I imagined, with no comfort to others. But a long time afterwards I heard of nineteen distinct cases of blessing that had come through that sermon.'
George Muller in Roger Steer, George Muller, p.224.
'The great fault of the children of God is, they do not continue in prayer, they do not go on praying, they do not persevere. If they desire anything for God's glory, they should pray until they get it.'
George Muller in Roger Steer, George Muller, p.224.
'"'In November 1844, I begain to pray for the conversion of five individuals. I prayed every day without one single intermission, whether sick or in health, on the land or on the sea, and whatever the pressure of my enegagements might be. Eighteen months elapsed before the first of the five was converted. I thanked God and prayed on for the others. Five years elapsed, and then the second was converted. I thanked God, and prayed on for the other three. Day by day I continued to pray for them, and six more years passed before the third was converted. I thnaked God for the three, and went on praying for the other two. These two remained unconverted. The man to whom God in the riches of His grace has given tens of thousands of answers to prayer, in the self-same day or hour in which they were offered, has been praying day by day for nearly thirty-six years for the conversion of these two individuals, and yet they remain unconverted; for next November it will be thirty-six years since I began to pray for their conversion. But I hope in God, I pray on, and I look yet for the answer.
Therefore, beloved brethren and sisters, go on waiting upon God, go on praying; only be sure you ask for things that are according to the mind of God, for He does not desire the death of the sinner. This is the revelation God has made of Himself - "Not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance." Go on, therefore, praying; expect an answer, look for it, and in the end you will praise God for it."
Of the two individuals still unconverted at the time of this sermon, one became a Christian before Muller's death and the other a few years later.'
George Muller in Roger Steer, George Muller, p.193.
'...the third Ashley Down Orphan-House opened on March 2nd 1862. The largest of the buildings erected by Muller on Ashley Down, No.3's position was also the most prominent and it became (and remains) a familiar landmark in Bristol. A man living in Horfield, in sight of Ashley Down, said that, "whenever he felt doubts about the Living God creeping into his mind he used to get up and look the night at the many lights lit up on Ashley Down, gleaming out through the darkness as stars in the sky."'
Roger Steer, George Muller: Delighted in God, p.135.
'Is it not true that our thoughts, our prayers for ourselves and those we love, and our conversations are almost entirely aimed at getting rid of the negative at any cost - rather than by praying that the negatives might be faced in the proper attitude? How much prayer do we make for our children and those we love that they may indeed be willing to walk, by the grace of God, through the steps of rejection and being slain? We are infiltrated by the world with its attitudes, rather than the attitudes of the perspective of the kingdom of God.'
'We are surrounded by a world that says no to nothing. We are surrounded with this sort of mentality, in which everything is judged by binges and by success, then suddenly to be told that in the Christian life there is to be this strong negative aspect of saying no to things and no to self, it must seem hard. And if it does not feel hard to us, we are not really letting it speak to us.
In our culture we are often told that we should not say no to our children. Indeed, in our society repression is often correlated with evil. We have a society that holds itself back from nothing, except perhaps to gain something more in a different area. Any concept of a real no is avoided as much as possible.'
'....there is a personal God. He is my Father since I have accepted Christ as my Savior. Then surely when I lack trust, I am denying what I say I believe. At the same time, I say there is a battle in the universe, and God is God. Then, if I lack trust, what I am really doing is denying in practice that he has a right, as my God, to use me where he wants in the spiritual battle that exists in the seen and the unseen world.'
'I want to redefine extraordinary. I don't think it is wrong for church planters and church revitalizers to long for an extraordinary ministry. After all, we serve an extraordinary God who has procured an extraordinary salvation by extraordinary means. We should expect extraordinary things to happen when we serve him. Yet we need to come to grips with the fact that the extraordinary thinsg that God does may not be immediately and outwardly extraordinary in the eyes of other people.
What should we count as God's extraordinary work? It's not a stadium-sized building, a multi-million dollar budget, or satellite feeds to multiple venues. That's how the world measures and acheives extraordinary. Rather, it's extraordinary when God converts our neighbors, coworkers, children, friends, and family. It's extraordinary when proud, angry, selfish people have their hearts changed by the gospel. It's exraordinary when new churches selflessly invest their time, money, and prayes to establish and multiply even newer congregations. It's extraordinary when marriages are restorted and cultural predudices give way to unity in the gospel of Christ. It's extraordinary whenever God uses "normal" pastors and church planters, faithful men with ordinary gifts and talents, to do all this work.'
Mike McKinley, Church Planting is For Wimps, p.110.
'...being a real man means being responsible, dependable, humble, and strong. It means pouring yourself out for your wife and kids. It means walking closely with Christ and taking care of people in need. Seriously, who cares about what kind of clothes a guy wears? Who cares what kind of car he drives? What could possibly be more irrelevant? I have guys in my church who are loud, big, and dedicated to mixed martial arts and beer. And I have guys who are soft-spoken, cerebral, and oblivious to sports and cars. Guess who are more of a headache for me as a pastor? And guess who are more reliable, faithful, dependable, and better husbands and fathers? I'm not convinced that the way to raise up men in my church is run around like some pro-Jesus hybrid of Jesus "The Toolman" Taylor and Steve McQueen. Instead, men need to be taught, trained, and challenged and then set loose to serve God with their individual personalities and temperaments.'
Mike McKinley, Church Planting is For Wimps, p.102.
'The purpose of a worldview is to explain our experience of the world - and any philosophy can be judged by how well it succeeds in doing so. When Christianity is tested, we discover that it alone explains and makes sense of the most basic and universal human experiences. This is the confidence that should sustain us when we bring our faith perspective into the public arena, whether in persoanl evangelism or in our professional work.'
'An old spiritual classic says that the Christian life really begins when we understand by hard experience that "apart from me you can do nothing" (John 15:5). It's a verse many of us have memorized and can quote at the drop of a hat. But it rarely becomes real in practice until we encounter an overwhelming crisis that pushes us to the end of our own resources. For people with a lot of resources, that may not be until middle life or even later. But at some point, the realization crashes in on us that life is not what we had hoped for, and we ask, Is this all there is? We realize that in a fallen world, even the good things cannot fully satisfy our deepest hungers, and everything we have loved and lived for turns to sawdust and slips through our fingers. If we are honest, we have to admit that our personal relationships are often driven by what we want and need from others, not by a genuinely unselfish love for them. Even our efforts at Christin ministry are often motivated more by personal zeal and ambition than by God's Spirit. And the greater our natural zeal, the greater the crisis God has to allow in order to bring us to the end of our rope. Only after dying to everything we have ever lived for do we genuinely come to believe, as a practical reality, that "apart from me you can do nothing." And only then can God really pour His life and power into our work.'
'The only way the church can establish genuine credibility with nonbelievers is by showing them something they cannot explain or duplicate through their own natural, pragmatic methods - something they can explain only by invoking the supernatural.'
'We are much involved, all of us, with questions about things that matter a good deal today but will be forgotten by this time tomorrow - the immediate wheres and whens and hows that face us daily at home and at work - but at the same time we tend to lose track of the questions about things that matter always, life-and-death questions about meaning, purpose, and value. To lose track of such deep questions as these is to risk losing track of who we really are in our own depths and where we are really going. There is perhaps no stronger reason for reading the Bible than that somewhere among all those India-paper pages there awaits each reader whoever he is the one question which, though for years he may have been pretending not to hear it, is the central questioon of his own life.'
'It was a terrible battle. The most dreadful of all Bilbo's experiences, and the one which at the time he hated most - which is to say that it was the one he was most proud of, and the most fond of recalling long afterwards, although he was quite unimportant in it.'
'Jim and Irene Wescott were the kind of people who seem to strike that satisfactory average of income, endeavor, and respectability that is reached by the statistical reports in college alumni bulletins. They were the parents of two young children, they had been married nine years, they lived on the twelfth floor of an apartment house near Sutton Place, they went to the theatre on an average of 10.3 times a year, and they hoped someday to live in Westchester.'
John Cheever, 'The Enormous Radio' in Collected Stories, p.49.
'Now it is a strange thing, but things that are good to have and days that are good to spend are soon told about, and not much to listen to; while things that are uncomfortable, palpitating, and even gruesome, may make a good tale, and take a good deal of telling anyway.'
'...the sin most insistently called abhorrent to God is the failure of generosity, the neglect of widow and orphan, the oppression of strangers and the poor, the defrauding of the laborer. Since many of the enthusiasts of this new theology are eager to call themselves Christians, I would draw their attention to the New Testament, passim.
I have heard pious people say, Well you can't live by Jesus' teachings in this complex modern world. Fine, but they might as well call themselves the Manichean Right or the Zorastrian Right and not live by those teachings. If an economic imperative trumps a commandment of Jesus, they should just say so and drop those pretensions toward particular holiness - which, while we are on the subject of divine abhorrence, God, as I recall, does not view much more kindly than he does neglect of the poor. In fact these two are often condemned together.'
Marilynne Robinson, 'Family' in The Death of Adam, p.102.
'Conspiracy theories are childish and comforting, assuming as they do that there are smart people somewhere who are highly efficient at putting their intentions into effect, when history and experience combine to assure us that nothing could be more unlikely.'
Marilynne Robinson, 'Family' in The Death of Adam, p.92.
'It seems very plausible to me that our ceasing to romanticize the family has precipitated, as much as it has reflected, the weakening of the family. I am sure it is no accident that the qualities of patience and respect and loyalty and generosity which would make family sustainable are held in very low regard among us, some of them even doubling as neuroses such as dependency and lack of assertiveness. I think we have not solved the problem of living well, and that we are not on the way to solving it, and that our tendency to insist on noisier and more extreme statements of the new wisdom that has already failed gives us really very little ground for optimism.
Imgaine that some morning we awake to the cultural consensus that a family, however else defined, is a sort of compact of mutual loyalty, organized around the hope of growing rich, human meaning to the lives of its members. Toward this end they do what people do - play with their babies, comfort their sick, keep their holidays, commemorate their occasions, sing songs, tell jokes, fight and reconcile, teach and learn what they know about what is right and wrong, about what is beautiful and what is to be valued. They enjoy each other and make themslves enjoyable. They are kind and receive kindness, they are generous and are sustained and enriched by others' generosity. The antidote to fear, distrust, self-interest is always loyalty. The balm for failure or weakness, or even for disloyalty, is always loyalty.
This is utopian. And yet. Certainly it describes something of which many of us feel deprived. We have reasoned our way to uniformly conditioanl relationships. This is at the very center of the crisis of the family, since the word means, if it means any thing, that certain people exist on special terms with each other, which terms are more or less unconditional. We have instead decided to respect our parents, maybe, if they meet our stringent standards of deserving. Just so do our children respect us, maybe.
Siblings founder, spouses age. We founder. We age. That is when loyalty should matter. But invoking it now is about as potent a gesture as flashing a fat roll of rubles. I think this may contribute enormously to the sadness so many of us feel at the heart of contemporary society. "Love is not love / Which alters when it alteration finds," in the words of the sonnet, which I can only interpret to mean, love is loyalty. I would suggest that in its absence, all attempts to prop the family economically or morally or through education or otherwise will fail. The real issue is, will people shelter and nourish and humanize one another?'
Marilynne Robinson, 'Family' in The Death of Adam, p.88.
'We are all aware that "family" is a word which eludes definition, as do other important things, like nation, race, culture, gender, species; like art, science, virtue, vice, beauty, truth, justice, happiness, religion; like success; like intelligence. The attempt to impose definitions on indeterminacy and degree and exception is about the straighest road to mischief I know of, very deeply worn, very well travelled to this day. But just for the purposes of this discussion, let us say: one's family are those toward whom one feels loyalty and obligation, and/or from whom one derives identity, and/or to whom one gives identity, and/or with whom one shares habits, tastes, stories, customs, memories. This definition allows for families of circumstances and affinity as well as kinship, and it allows also for the existence of people who are incapable of family, though they may have parents and siblings and spouses and childen.'
Marilynne Robinson, 'Family' in The Death of Adam, p.87.
'...the truths of experience are not self-explanatory. Instead they merely constitute the data that cries out to be explained within an overarching worldview. Why is it that the bits of matter we call our bodies have consciousness and are able to navigate the wolrd so effectively? Why are we capable of building societies with some measure of justice and compassion? As I write, NASA has just released stunning new photographs of the surface of Mars - but why is it possible for humans to calculate a trajectory and land a spacecraft on another planet? What kind of world permits these fascinating acheivements? Our claims as Christians is that only a biblically based worldview offers a complete and consistent explanantion of why we are capable of knowing scientific, moral and mathematical truths. Christianity is the key that fits in the lock of the universe.
Moreover, since all other worldviews are false keys, we can be absolutely confident, when talking with nonbelivers, that they themselves know things that are not accounted for by their own worldview - whatever it might be. Or, to turn it around, they will not be able to live consistently on the basis of their own worldview. Since their metaphysical beliefs do not fit the world God created, their lives will be more or less inconsistent with those beliefs. Living in the real world requires them to function in ways that are not supported by their worldview.
This creates a state of cognitive dissonance, and at that point of tension, the gospel may find an opening. In evangelism we can draw people's attention to the conflict between what they know on the basis of experience and what they profess in their stated beliefs - because that is a sure sign that something is wrong with their beliefs.'
'Today evangelicalism is still emerging form the fundamentalist era - still working to regain a more holistic understanding of the Lordship of Christ over all of life and culture. In recent decades, evangelicals have moved up the social and economic ladder. We are more likely to be educated and have high incomes. Yet I would suggest that in our churches and parachurch ministries we still encounter many of the basic patterns from an earlier age - the tendency to define religion primarily in emotional terms; the anti-creedal, anti-historical attitude that ignores the theological riches of the past; the assertion of individual choice as the final determinant of belief; the atomistic view of the church as merely a collection of individuals who happen to believe the same things; the preference for social activism over intellectual reflection. Most of all, perhaps, evangelicalism still produces a clebrity model of leadership - men who are entrepreneurial and pragmatic, who deliberately manipulate their listeners' emotions, who subtly enhance their own image through self-serving personal anecdotes, whose leadership style within their own congregations or parachurch ministry tends to be imperious and domineering, who calculate success in terms of results, and who are willing to emply the latest secular techniques to boost numbers.'
'"Good morning!" said Bilbo, and he meant it. The sun was shining, and the grass was very green. But Gandalf looked at him from under long bushy eyebrows that stuck out further than the brim of his shady hat.
"What do you mean?" he said. "Do you wish me a good morning, or mean that it is a good morning whether I want it or not; or that you feel good this morning; or that it is a morning to be good on?"
..."Good morning!" he said at last. We don't want any adventures here, thank you! You might try over The Hill or across The Water." By this he meant that the conversation was at an end.
"What a lot of things you do use Good morning for!" said Gandalf. "Now you mean that you want to get rid of me and it won't be good till I move off!"'