Friday, 30 September 2011


'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.  


'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


'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.  


'...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.


' 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.


'...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


'...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.


'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


'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.


'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


'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 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


'...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


'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


'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.


'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.


'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


'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.

Monday, 19 September 2011


'It is the distinguishing glory of Christianity not to rest satisfied with superficial appearances, but to rectify the motives, and purify the heart.'
William Wilberforce, A Practical View of Christianity, p.127.

Sunday, 18 September 2011


'As I get older I very seldom have a feeling of present happiness; it is rather anticipation or reminiscence, and chiefly the former, which makes my heart swell with happiness.'
John Colville, The Fringes of Power: Downing Street Diaries 1939-1955, p.27.


'Credit and reputation, in the judgment of the true Christian, stand on ground not very different from riches; which he is not to prize highly, or desire and pursue with solicitude; but which, when they are alloted to him by the hand of Providence, he is to accept with thankfulness, and use with moderation; reliquishing them when it becomes necessary without a murmur; guarding most circumspectly for so long as they remain with him, against that sensual and selfish temper, and no less against that pride and wantoneness of heart, which they are too apt to produce and cherish; thus considering them as in themselves acceptable, but, from the infirmity of his nature, as highly dangerous possessions; and valuing them chiefly not as instruments of luxury or spendor, but as affording the means of honoring his heavenly Benefator, and lessening the miseries of mankind.'
William Wilberforce, A Practical View of Christianity, p.122.


'...the follower of Christ must not only make up his mind to the occasional relinquishment of wordly favour, but that it should even afford him matter of holy jealousy and suspicion of himself, when it is very lavishly and very generally bestowed.'
William Wilberforce, A Practical View of Christianity, p.121.


'The desire of human estimation and distinction, and honor, of the admiration and applause of our fellow creatures, if we take it in its full comprehension, and in all its various modifications, from the thirst of glory to the dread of shame, is the passion by which the empire is by far the most general, and perhaps the authority the most commanding. Though its power be most conspicuous and least controllable in the higer classes of society, it seems, like some resistless conqueror, to spare neither age, nor sex, nor condition; and taking ten thousand shapes, insinuating itself under the most specious pretexts, and shelttering itself necessary under the most artful disguises, it winds its way in secret, when it dares not openly avow itself, and mixes all we think, and speak, and do. It is in some instances the determined and declared pursuit, and confessedly the main practical principle; but where this is not the case, it is not seldom the grand spring of action, and in the Beauty and the Author, no less than in the Soldier, it is often the master passion of the soul.'
William Wilberforce, A Practical View of Christianity, p.116.

Friday, 16 September 2011


' is the Heart which constitutes the Man...'
William Wilberforce, A Practical View of Christianity, p.108.


'...take the case of our very children, when our hearts being most interested to promote their happiness, we must be supposed most desirous of determining on right principles, and where therefore the real standard of our deliberate judgments may be indisputably ascertained: in their education and marriage, in their choice of their professions, in our comparartive consideration and judgments of the different parts of their several charcters, how little do we reflect that they are immortal beings? Health, learning, credit; the amiable and agreeable qualities; above all, fortune and success in life, are taken, and not unjustly taken into the account; but how small a share in forming our opinion is allowed to the probable effect which may be produced on their eternal interests? Indeed the subjects of our mutual inquiries, and congratulations, and condolences, prove but too plainly what considerations are in these cases uppermost in our thoughts.'
William Wilberforce, A Practical View of Christianity, p.104.


'...if it be indeed true, that except the affections of the soul be supremely fixed on God; that unless it be the leading and governing desire and primary pursuit to possess his favor and promote his glory, we are considered as having transferred our fealty to an usurper, and as being in fact revolters for our lawful sovereign; if this be indeed the Scripture doctrine, all the several attachements which have been lately enumerated, of the different classes of society, wherever they interest the affections, and possess the soul in any measure of strength as deserves to be called predominance, are but so many varied expressions of disloyalty. God requires to set up his throne in the heart, and to reign in it without a rival: if he be kept out of his right, it matters not by what competitor. The revolt may be be more avowed or more secret; in may be the treason of deliberate preference, or inconsiderate levity; we may be the subjects of a more or a less creditable master; we may be employed in services more gross or more refined: but whether the slaves of avarice, of sensuality, of dissipation, of sloth, or the votaries of ambition, of taste, or of fashion; whether supremely governed by vanity and self-love, by the desire of literary fame or of military glory, we are all alike estranged from the dominion of our rightful sovereign.'
William Wilberforce, A Practical View of Christianity, p.102.  

Thursday, 15 September 2011


'The promotion of the glory of God, and the possession of his favor, are no longer recognized as the objects of highest regard, and most strenuous endeavors; as furnishing to us, a vigorous, habitual, and universal principle of action. We set up for ourselves: we are become are own masters. The sense of constant homage and continual service is irksome and galling to us; and we rejoice in being emancipated from it as from a state of base and servile villainage. Thus the very tenure and condition by which life and all its possessions are held, undergo a total change: our faculties and powers are now are own: whatever we have is regarded rather as a property than as a trust; or if there still exist the remembrance of some paramount claim, we are satisfied with an occasional acknowledgement of a nominal right; we pay our pepper corn, and take our estates to ourselves in full and free enjoyment.'
William Wilberforce, A Practical View of Christianity, p.97.  


'It is not in bowing the knee to idols that idolatry consists, so much as in the internal homage of the heart; as in feeling toward them, any of that supreme love, or reverence, or gratitude, which God reserves to himself as his own exclusive prerogative. On the same principle, whatever else draws off the heart from him, engrosess our prime regard, and holds the chief place in our esteems and affections, that, in the estimation of reason, is no less an idol to us than an image of wood or stone would be; before which we should fall down and worship.'
William Wilberforce, A Practical View of Christianity, p.93.


'The central problem of age is not liberalism or modernism, nor the old Roman Catholicism or the new Roman Catholicism, nor the threat of communism, nor even the threat of rationalism and the monolothic consensus that surrounds us. All these are dangerous but not the primary threat. The real problem is this: the church of the Lord Jesus Christ, individually or corporately, tending to do the Lord's work in the power of the flesh rather than of the Spirit. The central problem is always in the midst of the people of God, not in the circumstances surrounding them.'
Francis Schaeffer, 'The Lord's Work in the Lord's Way' in No Little People, p.66.

Monday, 12 September 2011


'From the daily incidents of conjugal and domestic life, we learn that a heart of affection occasionally vehement, but superficial and transistory, may consist too well with a course of conduct, exhibiting incontestable proffs of neglect and unkindness. But the passion which alone the Holy Scriptures dignify with the name of Love, is a deep, not a superficial feeling; a fixed and permanent, not an occasional emotion. It proves the validity of its title, by practical endeavors to gratify the wishes and promote the interests of the object of affection. "If a man loves me, he will keep my sayings" [John 14:24]. "This is the love of God, that we keep his commandments" [2 John 1:6]. This therefore is the best standard by which to try the quality, or the quality being ascertained, to estimate the strength of the religious affections.'
William Wilberforce, A Practical View of Christianity, p.52.

Friday, 9 September 2011


'...if in Christianity some things are difficult, that which it most concerns us to know is plain and obvious.'
William Wilberforce, A Practical View of Christianity, p.32.

Thursday, 8 September 2011


'The bulk of professed Christians are used to speak of man as of a being, who naturally pure, and inclined to all virtue, is sometimes, almost involuntarily, drawn out of the right course, or is overpowered by the violence of temptation. Vice with them is rather an accidental and temporary, than a constitutional and habitual distemper; a noxious plant, which though found to live and ever thrive in the human mind, is not the natural growth and production of the soil.
Far different is the humiliating language of Christainity. From it we learn that man is an apostate creature, fallen from his high original, degraded in his nature, and depraved in his faculties; indisposed to good and disposed to evil; prone to vice, it is natural and easy to him; disinclined to virtue, it is difficult and laborious; that he is tainted with sin, not slightly and superficially, but radically and to the very core.'
William Wilberforce, A Practical View of Christianity, p.14.  


'...we should become impressed with that weighty truth, so much forgotten, and never to be too strongly insisted on, that Christianity calls on us, as we value our immortal souls, not merely in general, to be religious  and moral, but specially to believe the doctrines, and imbibe the principles, and practice the precepts of Christ.'
William Wilberforce, A Practical View of Christianity, p.6. 

Tuesday, 6 September 2011


'...I have to learn to "steal" all the real joy there is to steal and lift it up for others to see. Yes, I know that not everybody has been converted yet, that there is not yet peace everywhere, that all pain has not yet been taken away, but still, I see people turning and returning home; I hear voices that pray; I notice moments of forgiveness, and I witness many moments of hope. I don't have to wait until all is well, but I can celebrate every little hint of the Kingdom that is at hand.
This is a real discipline. It requires choosing for the light even when there is much darkness to frighten me, choosing for life even when the forces of death are so visible, and choosing for the truth even when I am surrounded by lies. I am tempted to be so impressed by the obvious sadness of the human condition that I no longer claim the joy manifesting itself in many small but very real ways. The reward of choosing joy is joy itself. Living among people with mental disabilities has convinced me of that. There is so much rejection, pain, and woundedness among us, but once you choose to claim the joy hidden in the midst of all suffering, life becomes celebrtation. Joy never denies the sadness, but transforms it a fertile soil for more joy.'  
Henri JM Nouwen, The Return of the Prodigal Son, p.115.

Monday, 5 September 2011


'Here lies the core of my spiritual struggle: the struggle against self-rejection, self-contempt, and self-loathing. It is a very fierce battle because the world and its demons conspire to make me think about myself as worthless, useless, and negligible. Many consumerist economies stay afloat by manipulating the low self-esteem of their consumers and by creating spiritual expectations through material means. As long as I am kept "small," I can easily be seduced to buy things, meet people, or go places that promise a radical change in self-concept even though they are totally incapable of bringing this about. But every time I allow myself to be thus manipulated or seduced, I will have still more reasons for putting myself down and seeing myself as the unwanted child.'
Henri JM Nouwen, The Return of the Prodigal Son, p.107.


'Here lies hidden the great call to conversion: to look not with the eye of my own low self-esteem, but with the eyes of God's love. As long as I keep looking at God as a landowner, as a father who wants to get the most out of me for the least cost, I cannot but become jealous, bitter, and resentful toward my fellow workers or my brothers and sisters. But if I am am able to look at the world with the eyes of God's love and discover that God's vision is not that of a stereotypical landowner or patriarch but rather that of an all-giving and forgiving father who does not measure out his love to his children according to how well they behave, then I quickly see that my only true response can be deep gratitude.'
Henri JM Nouwen, The Return of the Prodigal Son, p.105.

Thursday, 1 September 2011


'If you would find freedom, learn above all to discipline your senses and your soul. Be not led hither and thither by your desires and your members. Keep your spirit and your body chaste, wholly subject to you, and obediently seeking the goal that is set before you. None can learn the secret of freedom, save by discipline.'
Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Letters and Papers from Prison, p.161.


'I have never realized so clearly what the Bible and Luther mean by spiritual trial. Quite suddenly, for no apparent reason, whether physical or psychological, the peace and placidity which have been a mainstay hitherto begin to waver, and the heart, in Jeremiah's expressive phrase, becomes that defiant and despondent thing one cannot fathom. It is like an invasion from outside, as though evil powers were trying to deprive one of life's dearest treasures. But it is a wholesome and necessary experience which helps one to a better understanding of human life.'
Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Letters and Papers from Prison, p.17.


'You can't know what goes on between a man and a woman unless you write the novel yourself.'
Richard Ford, The Lay of the Land, p.57.


'Regular life always felt like an unfinished flamenco needing, either from me or a source outside me, a completing beat, after which tranquility would reign.'
Richard Ford, The Lay of the Land, p.52.