Thursday, 31 January 2013

HOSPITALITY

'God's guest list includes a disconcerting number of poor and broken people, those who appear to bring little to any gathering except their need. The distinctive quality of Christian hospitality is that it offers a generous welcome to the "least," without concern for advantage or benefit to the host. Such hospitality reflects God's greater hospitality that welcomes the undeserving, provides the lonely with a home, and sets a banquet table for the hungry.'
Christine Pohl in Michael S Beates, Disability & The Gospel, p.142.

CHRISTIAN LEADERSHIP

'Christian leadership is not a leadership of power and control, but a leadership of powerlessness and humility in which the suffering servant of God, Jesus Christ, is made manifest.'
Henri JM Nouwen in MIchael S Beates, Disability & The Gospel, p.138.

THE CHURCH & DISABILITY

'...the foundation of ministry to those with disabilities begins through faithful preaching - reestablishing an authentic Christian worldview based on weakness and grace. This must then be modeled by leaders who embrace their weakness as an example to others. Finally we need a corporate community that grasps a vision wherein this ministry can find root and grow - first through availability and hearts open to experience transforming grace in a way that is entirely new to many, then through growing "expertise," that is the application and working out of grace based on the mercy and grace we have received and experienced from God in Christ.'
Michael S Beates, Disability & The Gospel, p.131.

Wednesday, 30 January 2013

SIN

'...the structure of sin in the human personality is something far more complicated than the isolated acts and thoughts of deliberate disobedience commonly designated by the word. In its biblical definition, sin cannot be limited to isolated instances or patterns of wrongdoing; it is something far more akin to the psychological term complex: an organic network of compulsive attitudes, beliefs and behavior deeply rooted in our alienation from God. Sin originated in the darkening of the human mind and heart as man turned from the truth about God to embrace a lie about him and consequently a whole universe of lies about his creation. Sinful thoughts, words and deeds flow forth from this darkened heart automatically and compulsively, as water from a polluted fountain.'
Richard Lovelace, Dynamics of Spiritual Life, p.88.

THE CHRISTIAN LIFE

'The apprehension of God's presence is the ultimate core of genuine Christian experience, and the touchstone of its authenticity is the believer's vision of the character of God.'
Richard Lovelace, Dynamics of Spiritual Life, p.85.

Tuesday, 29 January 2013

PEOPLE

'The gospel teaches, not that we are equal, but that we are all incomparable. Each person is unique in the eyes of God. All people, regardless of how they score on the popularity rating of "normalacy," are of infinite value, are infinitely treasured, and are infinitely interesting....So the problem is not with people with disabilities. We are all disabled in significant ways, and who is to say what is the more severe disability...The problem is rather with the idea of normalacy itself. Those with disabilities are a continual accusation to those who have sold their souls to normalacy. No wonder people with disabilities are sometimes hated, shamed or ignored. They are an ultimate threat to a "normal" person's very self-definition. Their very existence is a mute reminder that the "normal" person has lost what is most precious, most incomparable, about themsleves in their very anxiety to fit in.
So the world is divided up into two groups after all. Not, however, the normal and the abnormal, or the able and the diabled. Rather, the line is drawn between those who are aware of their disabilities and those who are blind to them.'
Walter Wink in Michael S Beates, Disability & The Gospel, p.120.

Thursday, 24 January 2013

CHANGE

'I suppose that is where we are coming to, but at the moment when we arrive there for good and all, I hope I will have managed to be somewhere else.'
William Maxwell, What there is to say we have said, p.212.

Wednesday, 23 January 2013

SIN

'Human depravity, like the mule, is reluctant to move even when it is given a hard shove; but it will sometimes at least shift its weight from one foot to another.'
Richard Lovelace, Dynamics of Spiritual Life, p.54.

CHRISTIAN UNITY

'Remember that genuine experience of Christ has generated several different theological languages during the church's history. Because of human limitations and the grandeur of the subject, no single language has been adequate to convey this. Reporters on Christian experience who describe it in a language strange to us may only be viewing the same thing from another perspective. We need to listen with care and sensitivity for the distinctive notes of true Christianity expressed in unfamiliar patterns.' 
Richard Lovelace, Dynamics of Spiritual Life, p.20.   

Monday, 21 January 2013

THE GOSPEL

'The gospel allows us the liberating freedom to admit what the world doesn't want to hear: we are utterly unable, but our God is supremely able.'
Michael S Beates, Disability & The Gospel, p.80.

THE CHURCH & SUFFERING

'...just as the culture works hard to bury the reality of our sin and mortality, so too often does the church. While we confess our belief in salvation by grace alone, we all get properly dressed and work quite hard to appear clean, healthy, and whole (too often for all the wrong reasons). True spirituality does not project an image of superiority or power or "togetherness." Rather, true spirituality is quite ordinary and transparent in its shortcomings and weaknesses. The Lord Jesus, in his humanity was quite ordinary and even weak. Like all of us, he was ordinarily weak as an infant in the manger and extraordinarily weak and vulnerable on the cross.'
Michael S Beates, Disability & The Gospel, p.79.

FAITH

'...the opposite of faith is not doubt but self reliance.'
Michael S Beates, Disability & The Gospel, p. 71.

SUFFERING

'Not everyone can be trusted with suffering. Not everyone can endure a fiery ordeal. So the Master scrutinizes the jewels and carefully selects those which can bear the refining, the branches which can stand the knife. It is given for some to preach, for others to work, for others to give, and for still others to suffer. Where do you fit in on that scale? He has selected you to handle that particular, individual set of circumstances in your own life. Not everyone could be trusted with what you're wrestling with, but you have been so trusted.'
Joni Eareckson Tada in Michael S Beates, Disability & The Gospel, p.66.

Saturday, 19 January 2013

LONELINESS

'When you experience the deep pain of loneliness, it is understandable that your thoughts go to the person who was able to take that loneliness away, even if only for a moment. When, underneath all the praise and acclaim, you feel a huge absence that makes everything look useless, you heart wants only one thing - to be with the person who was once able to dispel these frightful emotions. But it is the absence itself, the emptiness within you, that you have to be willing to experience, not the one who will temporarily take it away.
It is not easy to stay with your loneliness. The temptation is to nurse your pain or escape into fantasies about people who will take it away. But when you can acknowledge your loneliness in a safe, contained place, you make your pain available for God's healing.
God does not want your loneliness; God wants to touch you in a way that permanently fulfills your deepest need. It is important that you dare to stay with your pain and allow it to be there. You have to own your loneliness and trust that it will not always be there. The pain you suffer now is meant to put you in touch with the place where you most need healing, your very heart. The person who was able to touch that place has revealed to you your pearl of great price. 
It is understandable that everything you did, are doing, or plan to do seems completely meaningless compared with that pearl. That pearl is the experience of being fully loved. When you experience deep loneliness, you are willing to give up everything in exchange for healing. But no human being can heal that pain.Still people will be sent to you to mediate God's healing, and they will be able to offer you the deep sense of belonging that you desire and that gives meaning to all you do. 
Dare to stay with your pain, and trust in God's promise to you.'
Henri JM Nouwen, The Inner Voice of Love, p.39. 

FUNERALS

'...I now find find that a funeral is not the dreadful travesty I used to think, but one of the moments when everybody, quite simply, agrees to live on a plane of reality.' 
William Maxwell, What there is to say we have said, p.134.

Friday, 18 January 2013

SUFFERING

'...the most fertile quadrant in the north-west part of the land of the Bible - the Jezreel valley and surrounding territory - was the location of the worst apostasy, unfaithfulness, and rejection of God anywhere in the land. Where conditions were most ripe and most hospitable, people tended to forget God, to wander from God, even to outright reject him. But correspondingly, the opposite quadrant - the most arid, dry, hostile, and forsaken part of the land - is where God met people in the quiet desolation of their souls.
This is a strong metaphor for us. When the circumstances of life are comfortable, we are more likely to drift from God. We are in danger of believing that we can be self-sufficient, and faith in God can become merely an intellectual exercise. But when we find ourselves in the desolation of loneliness and pain, doubt and desertion, deprivation and despair, there God meets us - even when we can't hear his voice. This is the way God works.'
Michael S Beates, Disability & The Gospel, p.51.

Thursday, 17 January 2013

SUFFERING

'Do you bear the mark of wounds from God's sovereign hand? You and I can take heart because this means we are in his hand. And he promises that no one (and Romans 8 expands on this) can take us out of his hand. His grasp on those he loves is firm, immoveable, eternal, and unshakeable. And at the end of the day, no matter how hard the day may prove to be, that is a good thing!'
Michael S Beates, Disability & The Gospel, p.33.

GOD'S SOVEREIGNTY

'Does God ordain? Permit? Plan? Allow? The verb is not so much the important thing as the noun: God. And God is love.'
Joni Eareckson Tada in Michael S Beates, Disability & The Gospel, p.30.

SUFFERING

'...God intentionally brings woundedness to those he loves. And in fact, those God uses the most he breaks, in some manner, for his sovereign purposes. Think about your life. Perhaps there is a physical scar or dehabilitating condition you carry. Or maybe the scar or weakness is much more subtle and unseen by the human eye, but no less profound in its effect on your life. God used Jacob to show us that he uses such people not despite their weakness but rather because of and through these very weaknesses.'
Michael S Beates, Disability & The Gospel: How God uses our brokeness to display his grace, p.28.

Wednesday, 16 January 2013

LETTERS

'All letters, old and new, are the still exciting parts of a life. To read them now is to be present when some discovery of truth - or perhaps untruth, some flash of light - is just occuring. It is clamorous with the moment's happiness or pain. To come upon a personal truth of a human being however little known, and now gone forever, is in some way to admit him to our friendship. What we've been told need not be momentous, but it can be as good as receiving the darting glance from some very bright eye, still mischievous and mischief-making, arriving from fifty or a hundred years ago.'
Eudora Welty in What There to Say We Have Said: The Correspondence of Eudora Welty and William Maxwell (Edited by Suzanne Marrs), p.1.

Monday, 14 January 2013

THE CHURCH & HOMOSEXUALITY

'The homosexual Christians in our midst may teach us something about our true conditon as people living between the cross and the final redemption of our bodies.
In the midst of a culture that worships self-gratification, and in a church that often preaches a false Jesus who panders to our desires, those who seek the narrow way of obedience have a powerful word to speak.'
Richard B Hays, The Moral Vision of the New Testament, p.402.
 

SEX

'The Bible undercuts our cultural obsession with sexual fulfillment. Scripture (along with many subsequent generations of faithful Christians) bears witness that lives of freedom, joy, and service are possible without sexual relations. Indeed, however odd it may seem to contemporary sensibilities, some New Testament passages (Matt. 19:10-12, 1 Cor. 7) clearly commend the celibate life as a way of faithfulness. In the view of the world that emerges from the pages of Scripture, sex appears as a matter of secondary importance. To be sure, the power of sexual drives must be acknowledged and subjected to constraints, either through marriage or through disciplined abstinence. But never within the canonical perspective does sexuality become the basis for defining a person's identity or for finding meaning and fulfilment in life. The things that matter are justice, mercy and faith (Matt. 23:23). The love of God is far more important than any human love. Sexual fulfilment finds its place, at best, as a subsidiary good within this larger picture.'
Richard B Hays, The Moral Vision of the New Testament, p.390.


SIN & HOMOSEXUALITY

'...the Bible's sober anthropology rejects the apparently commonsense assumption that only freely chosen acts care morally culpable. Quite the reverse: the very nature of sin is that it is not freely chosen. That is what it means to live "in the flesh" in a fallen creation. We are in bondage to sin but still held accountable to God's righteous judgment of our actions. In the light of this theological anthropology, it cannot be maintained that a homosexual orientation is morally neutral because it is involuntary.'
Richard B Hays, The Moral Vision of the New Testament, p.390.

HOMOSEXUALITY

'...in Romans 1 Paul portrays homosexual behavior as a "sacrament" (so to speak) of the antireligion of human beings who refuse to honor God as Creator. When human beings engage in homosexual activity, they enact an outward and visible sign of an inward and spiritual reality: the rejection of the Creator's design. Thus, Paul's choice of homosexuality as an illustration of human depravity is not merely random: it serves his rhetorical purposes by providing a vivid image of humanity's rejection of the sovereignty of God the Creator.'
Richard B Hays, The Moral Vision of the New Testament: A Contemporary Introduction to New Testament Ethics, p.386.

Saturday, 12 January 2013

FRIENDSHIP

'What does more to stay us and keep our backbones stiff while the world reels around us than the sense that we are linked with someone who listens and understands and so in some way completes us?'
Wallace Stegner, The Selected Letters of Wallace Stegner, p.i.

AGE

'The key to age is patience; and the key to patience is unfortunately age, which cannot be hurried, which takes time...'
William Maxwell, 'What Every Boy Should Know' in Over by The River and Other Stories, p.90. 

Thursday, 10 January 2013

CONTROVERSY

'...we owe to people who differ from us to seek to understand their aims. What is it that they are looking for? What is it that makes them tick? What is it that they are recoiling against? What are the experiences, perhaps tragic experiences, that have steeled them into a particular stance? What are the things that they fear and the things that they yearn for? Is there not something that I fear for or yearn for in the same way? Is there not a possibility here to find a point of contact at the very start rather than to move on with an entirely defensive or hostile mood?'
Roger Nicole, 'Polemic Theology: How to Deal with Those Who Differ from Us'. Available at: http://www.founders.org/journal/fj33/article3.html

Wednesday, 9 January 2013

CONTROVERSY

'We have obligations to people who differ from us. This does not involve agreeing with them. We have an obligation to the truth, and that has priority over agreement with any particular person. If someone is not in the truth, we have no right to agree. We have no right even to minimize the importance of the difference. Consequently, we owe them neither consent nor indifference. But what we owe that person who differs from us, whoever that may be, is what we owe every human being--we owe them love. And we owe it to them to deal with them as we ourselves would like to be dealt with or treated. (Matthew 7:12)
How then do we desire to be treated? First, we want people to know what we are saying or meaning. If we are going to voice differences, therefore, we have an obligation to make a serious effort to understand the person with whom we differ. That person may have published books or articles. Then we should be acquainted with those writings. It is not appropriate for us to voice sharp differences if we have neglected to read what is available. The person with whom we differ should have evidence that we have read carefully what has been written and that we have attempted to understand its meaning. In the case of an oral exchange where we don't have any written words, we owe the person who differs from us the courtesy to listen carefully to what he or she says. Rather than preparing to pounce on that person the moment he or she stops talking, we should concentrate on apprehending precisely what his or her position is.'
Roger Nicole, 'Polemic Theology: How to Deal with Those Who Differ from Us'. Available at:  http://www.founders.org/journal/fj33/article3.html
 

Monday, 7 January 2013

JESUS

'One of the reasons we can be pretty sure Jesus actually existed is that if He had not, the Church would never have invented Him. He stands so passionately, resolutely and inconveniently against everything an established church stands for. Continuity? Tradition? Christ had nothing to do with stability. He came to break up families, to smash routines, to cast aside the human superstructures, to teach abandonment of earthly concerns and a throwing of ourselves upon God’s mercy.'

Thursday, 3 January 2013

CHRISTIAN LEADERSHIP

'He who proclaims a crucified Messiah must himself live cruciform.'
Paul Barnett, The Second Letter to the Corinthians (NICNT), p.232.

Wednesday, 2 January 2013

EVANGELICALISM

'It is no accident that news media so frequently misprint evangelism for evangelicalism, for the Evangelical understanding of church renewal has all too often been restricted to church growth. Evangelicals have frequently directed most of their critical faculties not at their own needs but at their liberal neighbors' equally strange reduction of renewal to social action, and they have been content to concentrate their energies on exporting the gospel and enlarging their membership. This approach would never have satisfied the Puritans and Pietists, who were convinced that their primary responsibility was to be ecclesia reformata semper reformanda, a reformed church always reforming.'
Richard Lovelace, Dynamics of Spiritual Life, p.51.

SPIRITUALITY

'True spirituality is not a superhuman religiosity; it is simply true humanity released from bondage to sin and renewed by the Holy Spirit.'
Richard Lovelace, Dynamics of the Spiritual Life, p.19.
 

SPIRITUAL WARFARE

'Although part of the church pays lip service to the reality of sin and worldliness and even demonic agents, it seems to me that much of the church's warfare today is fought by blindfolded soldiers who cannot see the forces ranged against them, who are buffeted by invisible opponents and respond by striking one another.'
Richard Lovelace, Dynamics of Spiritual Life, p.18.

REFORMATION & REVIVAL

'Concentration on reformation without revival leads to skins without wine; concentration on revival without reformation soon loses the wine for want of skins.'
Richard Lovelace, Dynamics of Spritual Life: An Evangelical Theology of Renewal, p.16.