Saturday, 31 December 2011

TOP 10 BOOKS OF 2011

In no particular order...

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

Thursday, 29 December 2011


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

Thursday, 22 December 2011


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


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


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


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

Wednesday, 21 December 2011


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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

Tuesday, 20 December 2011


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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

Saturday, 17 December 2011


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

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

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

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

John Crum

Thursday, 15 December 2011


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

Wednesday, 14 December 2011


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

Tuesday, 13 December 2011


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

Sunday, 11 December 2011


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


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

Saturday, 10 December 2011


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


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


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

Friday, 9 December 2011


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


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


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

Thursday, 8 December 2011


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

Wednesday, 7 December 2011


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


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


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

Tuesday, 6 December 2011


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

Monday, 5 December 2011


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


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


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

Friday, 2 December 2011


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


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


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


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