Wednesday, 30 March 2011

SUFFERING & MINISTRY

'The lesson of wisdom is BE NOT DISMAYED BY SOUL-TROUBLE. Count it no strange thing, but as part of ordinary ministerial experience. Should the power of depression be more than ordinary, think not that all is over with your usefulness. Cast not away your confidence, for it hath great recompense of reward. Even if the enemy's foot be on your neck, expect to rise and overthrow him. Cast the burden of the present, along with the sin of the past and the fear of the future, upon the Lord, who forsaketh not his saints. Live by the day - aye, by the hour. Put no trust in frames and feelings. Care more for a grain of faith than a ton of excitement. Trust in God alone, and lean not on the reeds of human help. Be not surprised when friends fail you; it is a failing world. Never count upon immutability in man; inconstancy you may reckon upon without fear of disapointment. The disciples of Jesus forsook him; be not amazed if your adherents wander away to other teachers: as they were not your all when with you, all is not gone from you when with their departure.
Serve God with all your might when the candle is burning, and then when it goes out for a season, you will have less to regret. Be content to be nothing, for that is what you are. When your own emptiness is painfully forced upon your consciousness, chide yourself that you ever dreamed of being full, except in the Lord. Set small store by present rewards; be grateful for earnests by the way, but look for the recompensing joy hereafter. Continue, with double earnestness to serve your Lord when no visible result is before you. Any simpleton can follow the narrow path in the light; faith's rare wisdom enables us to march on in the dark with infallible accuracy, since she places her hand in that of her Great Guide. Between this and heaven there may be rougher weather yet, but all is provided for by our covenant Head. In nothing let us be turned aside from the path which the divine call has urged us to pursue. Come fair or come foul, the pulpit is our watch-tower, and the ministry our warfare; be it ours, when we cannot see the face of God, to trust under the THE SHADOW OF HIS WINGS.'
Charles Spurgeon, 'The Minister's Fainting Fits' in Lectures to My Students, p.191.

SUCCESS & MINISTRY

'My witness is that those who are honoured of their Lord in public, have usually had to endure a secret chastening, or to carry a peculiar cross, lest by any means they exalt themselves, and fall into the snare of the devil.'
Charles Spurgeon, 'The Minister's Fainting Fits' in Lectures to My Students, p.191.

SUFFERING

'If it be inquired why the Valley of the Shadow of Death must so often be transversed by the servants of King Jesus, the answer is not far to find. All of this promotive of the Lord's mode of working, which is summed up in these words, "Not by might nor by power, but by my Spirit, saith the LORD." Instruments shall be used, but their intrinsic weakness shall be clearly manifested; there shall be no division of the glory, no diminishing the honour due to the Great Worker. The man shall be emptied of self, and then filled with the Holy Ghost.'
Charles Spurgeon, 'The Minister's Fainting Fits' in Lectures to My Students, p.191.

REST

'Rest is not waste time. It is economy to gather fresh strength.'
Charles Spurgeon, 'The Minister's Fainting Fits' in Lectures to My Students, p.187.

MINISTRY & REST

'He who forgets the humming of the bees among the heather, the cooing of the woodpigeons in the forest, the song of birds in the woods, the rippling of rills among the rushes, and the sighing of the wind among the pines, needs not wonder if his heart forgets to sing and his soul grows weary. A day's breathing of fresh air upon the hills, or a few hours' ramble in the beech woods' umbrageous calm, would sweep the cobwebs out of the brain of scores of our toiling ministers who are now but half alive. A mouthful of sea air, or a stiff walk in the wind's face, would not give grace to the soul, but it would yield oxygen to the body, which is next best.'
Charles Spurgeon, 'The Minister's Fainting Fits' in Lectures to My Students, p.184.

SUFFERING & MINISTRY

'...infirmities may be no detriment to a man's career of special usefulness; they may even have been imposed upon on him by divine wisdom as necessary qualifications for his peculiar course of service. Some plants owe their medicinal qualities to the marsh in which they grow; others to the shades in which alone they flourish. There are precious fruits put forth by the moon as well as by the sun. Boats need ballast as well as sail; a drag on the carriage-wheel is no hindrance when the road runs downhill. Pain has, probably, in some cases developed genius; hunting out the soul which otherwise might have slept like a lion in its den.'
Charles Spurgeon, 'The Minister's Fainting Fits' in Lectures to My Students, p.181.

Tuesday, 29 March 2011

GOD

'The God of the Bible is not a formless blob of celestial protoplasm, not some form of cosmic jello with a sickly smile. He has a nature, a character, positive and negative. He is not the grand relativist but the living extremist.'
Dale Ralph Davis, The Way of the Righteous in the Muck of Life, p.130.

FRIENDSHIP

'The love of your friends will often create your most subtle temptations.'
HL Ellison in Dale Ralph Davis, The Way of the Righteous in the Muck of Like: Psalams 1-12, p.128.

Tuesday, 22 March 2011

CHRISTIANS & SLAVERY

'Historically...both in the early nineteenth century, and again in the 1960s, the force of the shame directed at slave-holders and segregationists was religious. Realistically, it is unlikely that the propagation of Enlightenment views of humanity would have swayed millions of nineteenth-century white Americans against slavery. After all, such moral principles convinced Jefferson and Patrick Henry of the infamy of the institution, but still failed to move them to liberate their own slaves, so what hope was there of persuading less high-minded southerners to make sacrifice of their property, or what Henry described as "inconveniencing" himself? Both in the 1830s and 1840s, and then again in the 1960s, it was the determination of the Rankins and Finnerys, and Fannie Lou Hamers, to cross the line between religion and politics and appeal to the country's Christian conscience that brought white Americans into brotherhood with persecuted blacks. For secular humanists (like this writer) this is an awkward historical truth to acknowledge, accustomed as we are to equating evangelical fervour with illiberal reaction. The abolitionist argument that some enormities were so vicious that they had to be made accountable to the principles of the gospel, even if that meant breaching the establishment clause of the First Amendment in the interests of a higher good, is not altogether different from the way Right to Life evangelicals argue today. History sets such snares to make us think harder.'
Simon Schama, The American Future: A History, p.182.

Tuesday, 15 March 2011

THE GOSPEL & HAPPY ENDINGS

'If we disbelieve the gospel, we may weep for joy at the happy ending of some other inspiring story, but the enchantment will quickly fade, because our minds will tell us "life is not really like that." But if we believe the gospel, then our hearts slowly heal as we face the darkest times because we know that, because of Jesus, life is like that.' Timothy Keller, King's Cross, p.229.

HAPPY ENDINGS

'We live in one of the first eras of history in which it is widely believed that a happy ending is the mark of inferior art. Why? Many are certain that, ultimately, life is meaningless and that happy endings are misleading at best. Life therefore would be better represented by paradox, irony, and a sense of frustration. Happy endings are all right for children's stories, perhaps, but not for thinking adults. "Grown-up" art, whether it's Seinfeld or Waiting for Godot, deliberately lacks narrative coherence and, of course, any happy ending.'
Timothy Keller, King's Cross, p.226.

SUFFERING

'The resurrection means we can look forward with hope to the day our suffering will be gone. But it even means that we can look forward with hope to the day our suffering will be glorious. When Jesus shows the disciples his hands and feet, he is showing them his scars. The last time the disciples saw Jesus, they thought those scars were ruining their lives. The disciples had thought they were on a presidential campaign. They thought their candidate was going to win and that they were going to be in the cabinet, and when they saw the nails going into the hands and feet and the spear going into the side, they believed those wounds had destroyed their lives. And now Jesus is showing them that in his resurrected body his scars are still there.
Why is this important? Because now that they understand the scars, the sight and meory of them will increase the glory and joy for the rest of their lives. Seeing Jesus Christ with his scars reminds them of what they did for them - that the scars they thought had ruined their lives actually saved their lives. Remembering those scars will help many of them endure their own crucifixions.
On the Day of the Lord - the day when God makes everything right, the day that everything sad comes untrue - on that day the same thing will happen to your own hurts and sadness. You will find that the worst things that have ever happened to you will in the end only enhance your eternal delight. On that day, all of it will be turned inside out and you will know joy beyond the walls of the world. The joy of your glory will be that much greater for every scar you bear.'
Timothy Keller, King's Cross, p.224.

THE NEW CREATION

'If you can't dance and you long to dance, in the resurrection you'll dance perfectly. If you're lonely, in the resurrection you will have perfect love. If you're empty, in the resurrection you will be fully satisfied. Ordinary life is what's going to be redeemed. There is nothing better than ordinary life, except that it's always going away and falling apart. Ordinary life is food and work and chairs by the fire and hugs and dancing and mountains - this world. God loves it so much that he gave his only Son so we - and the rest of this ordinary world - could be redeemed and made perfect. And that's what is in store for us.'
Timothy Keller, King's Cross, p.224.

Friday, 11 March 2011

CHURCH

'Church life...should be like a giant game of pass the parcel. We are given God's grace - his goodness and kindness - and we pass it on to other people. It is given to us for them - and a faithful steward of it passes it on.'
Graham Beynon, Mirror, Mirror, p.112.

GOD'S ANGER

'...if you want a loving God, you have to have an angry God. Please think about it. Loving people can get angry, not in spite of their love but because of it. In fact, the more closely and deeply you love people in your life, the angrier you can get. Have you noticed that? When you see people who are harmed or abused, you get mad. If you see people abusing themselves you get mad at them, out of love. Your senses of love and justice are activated together, not in opposition to each other. If you see people destroying themselves or destroyiong other people and you don't get mad, it's because you don't care. You're too absorbed in yourself, too cynical, too hard. The more loving you are, the more ferociously angry you will be at whatever harms your beloved. And the greater the harm, the more resolute your opposition will be.'
Timothy Keller, King's Cross, p.176.

THE NEW CREATION

'If you put seeds into a pot of soil and then put it away in the dark far away from the sun, the seeds go into dormancy. They can't grow to their potential. But if you bring the pot with the seeds into the presence of the sun, all that has been locked away with them bursts forth. The Bible says that everything in this world - not just we human beings but even the plants, the trees, the rocks - is dormant. These things are just shadows of what they have been, would be, and will be in the presence of their Creator. When the Lamb of God presides over the final feast and the presence of God covers the earth again, the trees and the hills will clap and dance, so alive will they be. And if the tree and hills will be able to clap and dance in the future kingdom, picture what you and I will be able to do.'
Timothy Keller, King's Cross, p.172.

Wednesday, 9 March 2011

HUMILITY

'...do you know where constant worry comes from? It's rooted in an arrogance that assumes, I know the way my life has to go, and God's not getting it right. Real humility means to relax. Real humility means to laugh at yourself. Real humility means to be self-critical. The cross brings that kind of humility into our lives.'
Timothy Keller, King's Cross, p.148.

FRIENDSHIP

'There are a lot of wounded people out there. They are emotionally sinking, they're hurting, and they desperately need to be loved. And when they are with you, you want to look at your watch and make a graceful exit, because listening to them with all their problems can be grueling. It can be exhausting to be a friend to an emotionally damaged person. The only way they're going to start filling up emotionally is if somebody loves them, and the only way to love them is to let yourself be emotionally drained. Some of your fullness is going to have to go into them, and you have to empty out to some degree. If you hold on to your emotional comfort and simply avoid these people, they will sink. The only way to love them is through substitutionary sacrifice.'
Timothy Keller, King's Cross, p.142.

LOVE

'...all life-changing love is substitutionary sacrifice...'
Timothy Keller, King's Cross, p.141.

Tuesday, 8 March 2011

PRIDE & HUMILITY

'At every stage of our Christian development and in every sphere of our Christian discipleship, pride is the greatest enemy and humility our greatest friend.'
John Stott in CJ Mahaney, Humility, p.29.

Saturday, 5 March 2011

FRIENDSHIP

'...for the maintenance of love and friendship, continued correspondence between distant friends is naught. Distance in time and place, but especially in time, will diminish friendship. It is a rule of nature that it should be so, and thus the friendships which a man most fosters are those which he can best enjoy. If your friend leave, and seek a residence in Pantagonia, make a niche for him in your memory, and keep him there as warm as you may. Perchance he may return from Patagonia and the old joys may be repeated. But never think those joys can be maintained by the assistance of ocean postage...'
Anthony Trollope, Phineas Redux, p.28.

FORGIVENESS

'True forgiveness always entails suffering.'
Timothy Keller, King's Cross, p.101.

Friday, 4 March 2011

FAITH

'If you want to believe but can't, stop looking inside; go to Jesus and say, "Help me believe." Go to him and say, "So you're the one who gives faith! I've been trying to work it out by reasoning and thinking and meditating and going to church in hope that a sermon will move me - I've been trying to get faith by myself. Now I see that you're the source of faith. Please give it to me." If you do that, you'll find that Jesus has been seeking you - he's the author of faith, the provider of faith, and the object of faith.'
Timothy Keller, King's Cross, p.56.

SUFFERING

'If you have a God great enough and powerful enough to be mad at because he doesn't stop your suffering, you also have a God who's great enough and powerful enough to have reasons that you can't understand. You can't have it both ways.'
Timothy Keller, King's Cross, p.54.

THE GOSPEL

'The gospel isn't advice: It's the good news that you don't need to earn you way to God; Jesus has already done it for you. And it's a gift that you receive by sheer grace - through God's thoroughly unmerited favor. If you seize that gift and keep holding on to it, then Jesus's call won't draw you into fanaticism or moderation. You will be passionate to make Jesus your absolute goal and priority, to orbit around him; yet when you meet somebody with a different set of priorities, a different faith, you won't assume that they're inferior to you. You'll actually seek to serve them rather them oppress them. Why? Because the gospel is not about choosing to follow advice, it's about being called to follow a King. Not just someone with the power and authority to tell you what needs to be done - but someone with the power and authority to do what needs to be done, and then to offer it to you as good news.'
Timothy Keller, King's Cross, p.20.

JESUS

'As a child blossoms under the authority of a wise and good parent, as a team flourishes under the direction of a skillful, brilliant coach, so when you come under the healing of the royal hands, under the kingship of Jesus, everything in your life will begin to heal. And when he comes back, everything sad will come untrue. His return will usher in the end of fear, suffering and death.'
Timothy Keller, King's Cross, p.16.

CREATION

'Why would a triune God create the world? If he were a uni-personal God, you might says, "Well he created the world so he can have beings who give him worshipful love, and that would give him joy." But the triune God already had that - and he received love within himself in a far purer, more powerful form than human beings can ever give him. So why would he create us? There's only one answer. He must have created us not to get joy but to give it.'
Timothy Keller, King's Cross; The Story of the World in the Life of Jesus, p.9.

Tuesday, 1 March 2011

BITTERNESS

'Fooling around with bitterness is like drinking poison and hoping that someone else will die.'
Chris Brauns, Unpacking Forgiveness, p.155.