Wednesday, 30 April 2014


'It is these half-conscious fears, this dread of insecurity, rather than any deliberate refusal to face the cost of following Christ, which make us hold back. We feel that the risks of out-and-out discipleship are too great for us to take. In other words we are not persuaded of the adequacy of God to provide for the needs of all those who launch out whole-heartedly on to the deep sea of unconventional living in obedience to the call of Christ. Therefore, we feel obliged to break the first commandment just a little, by withdrawing a certain amount of our time and energy from serving God in order to serve mammon. This, at bottom, seems to be what is wrong with us. We are afraid to go all the way in accepting the authority of God, because of our secret uncertainty as to his adequacy to look after us if we do. 
Now let us call a spade a spade. The name of the game we are playing is unbelief...'
JI Packer, Knowing God, p.307.


'The reason why the Bible spends so much of its time reiterating that God is a strong rock, a firm defence, and a sure refuge and help for the weak, is that God spends so much of his time bringing home to us that we are weak both mentally and morally, and dare not trust ourselves to find, or follow, the right road.
When we walk along a clear road feeling fine, and someone takes our arm to help us, as likely as not we shall impatiently shake him off; but when we are caught in rough country in the dark, with a storm getting up and our strength spent, and someone takes our arm to help us, we shall thankfully lean on him. And God wants us to feel that our way through life is rough and perplexing so that we may learn thankfully to lean on him. Therefore he takes step to drive us out of self-confidence to trust in himself - in the classical scriptural phrase for the secret of the godly life, to "wait on the Lord".'
JI Packer, Knowing God, p.284. 

Wednesday, 23 April 2014


'Churches that silence the biblical message of sin and grace simply aren't anywhere near where people actually live their lives, including the kids in the congregation. Kids who read Harry Potter know all about good and evil. Maybe they wouldn't use the word "sin" to describe the evil in the books. Fine. Bracket the word "sin" and talk about what Voldermort does, what the Dementors do. Hollywood screenwriters are so conscious of good and evil that if a character cheats on a good woman or kills an innocent person, something will happen to him. He won't simply get away with it. The formula today is the same as it always has been: let dramatically portrayed evil entertain us, and then punish it satisfyingly by the end of the show. Do this because, of course, the guilty deserve to be punished. Hollywood writers are old fashioned people. They mostly don't go to church so they have never learned that personal guilt for wrongdoing has become passe.' 
Cornelius Plantinga Jr, Reading for Preaching, p.115. 


'The Bible is a supernatural book with a supernatural story of creation and redemption done by a supernatural God. Preachers without supernatural understandings and expectations end up preaching a tiny gospel about a disappointingly skinny God.' 
Cornelius Plantinga Jr, Reading for Preaching, p.104. 


'....secrets are potent things. We may think we are honoring someone by telling him our secret. But the knowledge of it may fester in him and turn to poison. Maybe only God can absorb deep human secrets without internal damage.' 
Cornelius Plantinga Jr, Reading for Preaching, p.76. 


'...preachers face the translator's challenge. Like translators, preachers are trying to say in different words the same thing the text says without inadvertently saying a different thing in different words.' 
Cornelius Plantinga Jr, Reading for Preaching, p.44. 


'...the central human drama is the heart in conflict with itself.'
William Faulkner in Cornelius Plantinga Jr, Reading for Preaching, p.30. 


' is truly better to have read and lost than never to have read at all.' 
Cornelius Plantinga Jr, Reading for Preaching, p.19. 


'The written word
Should be as clean as bone,
Clear as light,
Firm as stone.
Two words are not
As good as one.'
Anonymous in Cornelius Plantinga Jr, Reading for Preaching: the preacher in conversation with storytellers, biographers, poets, and journalists, p.15. 


'What's prayer? It's shooting shafts into the dark. What mark they strike, if any, who's to say? It's reaching for a hand you cannot touch. The silence is so fathomless that prayers like plummets vanish in the sea. You beg. You whimper. You load God down with empty praise. You tell him sins that he already knows full well. You seek to change his changeless will. Yet Godric prays the way he breathes, for else his heart would wither in his breast. Prayer is the wind that fills his sail. Else waves would dash him on the rocks, or he would drift with witless tides. And sometimes, by God's grace, a prayer is heard.'
Frederick Buechner, Godric, p.142. 


'...the ten thousand little things every day that a woman kept thinking of, on account of children. Hardly even thinking, he thought to himself, as he pulled on his other sock. Practically automatic. Like breathing.' 
James Agee, A Death in the Family, p.27.