Monday, 31 December 2012

TOP 10 BOOKS OF 2012

As ever, in no particular order (although if there was a No.1 it would be the Wallace Stegner):
  • John Cheever, The Journals of John Cheever
  • Wallace Stegner, Crossing to Safety
  • Alan Paton, Cry, The Beloved Country
  • Frederick Buechner, Telling the Truth: The Gospel as Tragedy, Comedy and Fairy Tale
  • Henri JM Nouwen, The Wounded Healer
  • John Flavel, Keeping the Heart
  • Jenell Williams Paris, The End of Sexual Identity: Why Sex Is too Important to Define Who We Are
  • Andrew Sullivan, Love Undetectable: reflections on friendship, sex and survival
  • Timothy Keller, Center Church: Doing Balanced, Gospel-Centered Ministry in Your City
  • Robert A Caro, The Years of Lyndon Johnson, Vol.4: The Passage of Power

Sunday, 30 December 2012


'The pain of your loneliness may be rooted in your deepest vocation. You might find that your loneliness is linked to your call to live completely for God. Thus your loneliness may be revealed to you as the other side of your unique gift. Once you can experience in your innermost being the truth of this you may find your loneliness not only tolerable but even fruitful. What seemed primarily painful may then become a feeling that, though painful, opens for you the way to an even deeper knowledge of God's love.'
Henri JM Nouwen, The Inner Voice of Love, p.31.


'Think about yourself as a little seed plated in rich soil. All you have to do is stay there and trust that the soil contains everything you need to grow. This growth takes place even when you do not feel it. Be quiet, acknowledge your powerlessness, and have faith that one day you will know how much you have received.'
Henri JM Nouwen, The Inner Voice of Love, p.27.


'The love that came to you in particular human friendships and that awakened your dormant desire to be completely and unconditionally loved was real and authentic. It does not have to be denied as dangerous and idolatrous. A love that comes to you through human beings is true, God-given love and needs to be celebrated as such. When human friendships prove to be unlivable because you demand that your friends love you in ways that are beyond human capacity, you do not have to deny the reality of the love you received. When you try and die to that love in order to find God's love you are doing something God does not want. The task is not to die to life-giving relationships but to realise that the love you received in them is part of a greater love.'
Henri JM Nouwen, The Inner Voice of Love, p.24.


'No one person can fulfil all your needs. But the community can truly hold you. The community can let you experience the fact that, beyond your anguish, there are human hands that hold you and show you God's faithful love.'
Henri JM Nouwen, The Inner Voice of Love: A Journey Through Anguish To Freedom, p.7.

Saturday, 29 December 2012


'...although the cliche says that power always corrupts, what is seldom said, but what is equally true, is that power always reveals. When a man is climbing, trying to persuade others to give him power, concealment is necessary: to hide traits that might make others reluctant to give him power, to hide also what he wants to do with that power; if men recognized the traits or realized the aims, they might refuse to give him what he wants. But as a man obtains more power, camouflage is less necessary. The curtain begins to rise. The revealing begins.'
Robert A Caro, The Years of Lyndon Johnson, Volume 4: The Passage of Power, p.xiv. 

Friday, 21 December 2012


'Meditation is looking at the Word of God like a thirsty tree looks at water. This shows us that meditation goes beyond the intellectual. It is spiritually "tasting" Scripture - delighting in it, sensing its sweetness, thanking and praising God for what you see. It is also spiritually "digesting" Scripture - applying it, thinking about how it affects you, describes you, and guides you in the most practical way. It is also drawing strength from the Scripture - letting it give you hope, using it to remember how loved you are.'
Timothy Keller, Prayer: The Leader's Guide, p.70.

Thursday, 20 December 2012


'Just as a sleeping child can be in her mother's arms and not consciously be aware of the mother's loving presence, so God's presence and love are realities that are not limited to our conscious awareness.'
John Jefferson Davis, Meditation and Communion with God, p.127.


'Words alone without Spirit can dry us up; Spirit alone without the words of Scripture (and the fellowship of the church), can blow us up; but with Word and Spirit in proper balance, we can grow up in our knowledge and experience of the loving presence of God.'
John Jefferson Davis, Meditation and Communion with God, p.99.

Wednesday, 19 December 2012


'The church is joyful community in communion with the joyful community of the triune God.'
John Jefferson Davis, Meditation and Communion with God, p.89.


'...focus on the three persons of the Trinity, persons eternally and essentially connected in holy, loving relationships, can help us to stand against the individualism of our culture and Lone Ranger styles of ministry in the church. I have been saved by grace alone, but I have not been saved alone or to be alone; we have been saved for community, for communion and union with God and for communion with the body of Christ.'
John Jefferson Davis, Meditation and Communion with God, p.88.


'There is no inherent reason that a piece of paper printed by the U.S. Treasury with the picture of Abraham Lincoln on it should be worth five dollars - but once created and defined as such by competent authority it really is five dollars, at least in a certain context: within the boundaries of the United States.
...When God, the ultimate competent authority, says in his Word, the Bible, that in the context of the church and of Christian faith, my baptism counts as my being united with Christ in his death and resurrection (Rom 6:4), then it is really so: I really have died and risen with Christ. Because of my God-declared union with Christ, I indeed truly have a new identity...'
John Jefferson Davis, Meditation and Communion with God, p.84.


'Salvation is the fuller and more biblical sense is sharing in ever deepening measure in the life of the triune God: participating in and enjoying, by and in the Holy Spirit, Jesus' joyous experience of his Father's love. Our experience of salvation is one of being "invited into the circle" of the love, joy and peace that the Father, Son and Spirit have enjoyed amongst themselves from all eternity.'
John Jefferson Davis, Meditation and Communion with God, p.54.


'...the reader of the Bible comes to the text not as a stranger to Christ - who is the central subject of all Scripture - but as one who is actually connected to Christ by the Holy Spirit, as one who is really in the real presence of the risen Lord in the prayerful reading of Scripture. Meditating on Scripture can and should be a real-time experience of communion with the living Christ.'
John Jefferson Davis, Meditation and Communion with God, p.48.


'The best image of the "ordinary supernatural" presence of the Holy Spirit is that of the gentle, quiet dove that descended on Jesus at his baptism in the Jordan River, empowering him for ministry and communicating to him as beloved Son the love of the Father - not an explosive stick of dynamite that can "explode" in churches! We do receive energy and power with the Spirit, but this power is constructive, not destructive. God wants churches to grow up - not to blow up!'
John Jefferson Davis, Meditation and Communion with God: Contemplating Scripture in an Age of Distraction, p.38.


'Eating well and drinking freely are a wet nurse to many harmful passions.'
William Williams, The Experience Meeting, p.60.


'My beloved, when the Scriptures seem to strike one against the other, understand that the cause for this is the darkness of our understanding, and that there is not, in reality, a single inconsistency in the Holy Scriptures; and the only thing for us to do (whenever we find anything obscure) is to run to the Lord for heavenly light; for the same Spirit that wrote the Word is the only One who can open up the Word which He Himself have to His Church as a pillar of fire and of cloud to lead her unto life.'
William Williams, The Experience Meeting, p.47.


'Is their love increasing toward the church? Do they sympathise more with her in all her trials; have they a less censorious spirit towards those who fall; have they greater compassion for all, feeling the troubles and afflictions of others as though they were suffering them themselves?' 
William Williams, The Experience Meeting, p.40.


'...the good catechizer perceives what particular sin it is that keeps the man away from God; he can seek out those dark dens, where lurk sin and Satan, fleshly lusts and the lust of the world and its idols. In the same way as a fisherman knows where the fish are, and the mole-catcher the runs of the moles, and the fowler where to find the patridge, so does the expert catechizer recognize the secret ways of the temptations of the world and of the flesh, and know all the twist and turns of human nature; the difference between the stirrings of grace and the strirrings of nature, between true repentance and fits of melancholy, or the state of unhappiness that overtakes us at times in this world. As Sir Isaac Newton, with a few round and triangular figures, comprehends all the circuits of the stars and planets, so the good catchechizer, with a word or two that he gets from the lips of a simple man, comes to an exact understanding of the sate of that man's heart...'  
William Williams, The Experience Meeting, p.32.

Tuesday, 18 December 2012


'This poor specimen (carrying his poisonous foods around with him) is upset by any disappointment, offended at every slight, displeased at every poor reception and difficult to please in any way  - there is hardly food, drink, fire in the grate, or bed that will please him. He will grumble, condemn, criticize and trample people underfoot because he cannot get enough love, generosity and courtesy for himself. He wants to be fetched and carried, to be made much of and cherished - in a word, he wants the preacher to be worshipped rather than the God whom he preaches.'
William Willams, The Experience Meeting, p.29.


'As is the custom with girls, when they are dressing and adorning themselves, to look at each other's clothes in case there shall be any untidy or unsuitable thing, or something not in keeping with the other garments, so the Church of God, she who has descended from heaven like a bride adorned for her husband, is to look each member at the life and behaviour of the others, for fear that anyone might have formed a bosom friendship with an ungodly world...'
William Willams, The Experience Meeting, p.15.


'For people to keep away from each other in the same church (when there is every opportunity for meeting frequently) engenders a lack of love and extreme coldness; and Satan never seeks a better method of kindling these things just mentioned than to get us to neglect this fellowship with one another. The gardener has only to neglect visit his garden, and to refrain from weeding it, and it will be overrun with weeds in a few weeks; and the church of God need only keep at a distance the one from the other, and lack of love will grow like a root, and from it will come every sorry, miserable branch, and none can destroy it save God alone. But on the other hand, what love, what concord, what good intentions, what security and what protection there is a for the members of a church who do not neglect the gathering of themselves together!'
William Williams, The Experience Meeting: An Introduction to the Welsh Societies of the Evangelical Awakening, p.14.

Tuesday, 11 December 2012


'The extent of our sacrifice coupled with the depth of our joy displays the worth we put on the reward of God. Loss and suffering, joyfully accepted for the kingdom of God, show the supremacy of God's glory more clearly in the world than worhsip and prayer.'
John Piper, Let the Nations Be Glad! p.256.

Monday, 3 December 2012


'...there was a deep, black, wordless conviction in him that the way to avoid Jesus was to avoid sin.'
Flannery O'Connor in Timothy Keller, The Prodigal God, p.37.

Sunday, 2 December 2012


' the trajetory of a soul, living a self-absorbed, self-centered life, going on and on forever.'
Timothy Keller, The Reason for God, p.77.

Saturday, 1 December 2012


'...a place is not a place until people have been born in it, have grown up in it, lived in it, known it, died in it - have both experienced and shaped it, as individuals, families, neighborhoods, and communities, over more than one generation. Some are born in their place, some find it, some realize after long searching that the place they left is the one they have been searching for. But whatever their relation to it, it is made a place only by slow accrual, like a coral reef.'
Wallace Stegner, 'The Sense of Place' in Where the Bluebird Sings to the Lemonade Springs, p.201.


'If you don't where you are, you don't know who you are.'
Wendell Berry in Wallace Stegner, 'This Sense of Place' in Where the Bluebird Sings to the Lemonade Springs, p.199.


'We are creatures shaped by our experiences; we like what we know, more often than we know what we like.'
Wallace Stegner, 'Thoughts in a Dry Land' in Where the Bluebird Sings to the Lemonade Springs, p.53.