Sunday, 30 August 2015


'To live in a culture that turns its back on institutions is equivalent to trying to live in a physical body without its skeleton or hoping to use a language but not its grammar. A culture wholly commited to distrusting its institutions is a self-contradiction.' 
Hugh Heclo, On Thinking Insitutionally. p.38. 

Tuesday, 18 August 2015


'Prayer is the ultimate humility, because it presents the empty cup of ourselves to God for his fullness in Christ.' 
Jared C Wilson, The Pastor's Justification, p.69. 


'To be a follower of Jesus, you must renounce comfort as the ultimate value of your life.' 
Mike Ayers in Jared C Wilson, The Pastor's Justification, p.65. 


'To become humble is to have been humbled. Some choose humility; some have humility thrust upon them.' 
Jared C Wilson, The Pastor's Justification, p.65. 


'Truth seduces us very easily into a kind of joy of possession: I have comprehended this and that, learned it, understood it. Knowledge is power. I am therefore more than the other man who does not know this and that. I have great possibilities and also greater temptations. Anyone who deals with truth - as we theologians certainly do - succumbs all too easily to the psychology of the possessor. But love is the opposite of the will to possess. It is self-giving. It boasteth not in itself, but humbleth itself.' 
Helmut Thielicke in Jared C Wilson, The Pastor's Justification, p.62. 

Monday, 17 August 2015


'Can he have a drink without needing  a drink? Can he surf the web without feeling the tractor pull of porn? Can he prepare for his sermon or research a writing project online without surfing the web at all? Can he spend long, unhalting periods of time reading a book or listening to sermon audio? Does he need constant stimulation? Can he take a nap? Can he read a critical letter without becoming sinfully self-defensive and self-justifying? Can he hear of the successes of others and not covet or begrudge? Will he rejoice with those who rejoice and weep with those who weep? All these are issues of self-control.' 
Jared C Wilson, The Pastor's Justification,. p.52. 


'A pastor goes first. In groups where transparency is expected, a pastor goes first. In the humility of service, a pastor goes first. In the sharing of the gospel with the lost, a pastor goes first. In the discipleship of new believers, a pastor goes first.  In the singing of spiritual songs with joy and exuberance, a pastor goes first. In living generously, a pastor goes first. In the following of Christ by the taking up of one's cross, a pastor goes first. All I am saying is that one who talks the talk ought to walk the walk. Don't lead your flock through domineering; lead by example.' 
Jared C Wilson, The Pastor's Justification, p.48. 


'My first thoughts on Monday mornings are to my fatigue and all I must do, but I must push them into thoughts of Christ, of all he is and all he has done. There lies the vision that compels my will.' 
Jared C Wilson, The Pastor's Justification: Applying the Work of Christ in Your Life and Ministry, p.34.

Thursday, 13 August 2015


'Without the help of the Holy Spirit, I believe all of us tend naturally toward being mainly warm and gentle or mainly forceful and authoritative in the pulpit. We must recognize our imbalance and seek the Lord for growth into the fullness of his holy character.' 
Timothy Keller, Preaching, p.200. 


'A Christian minister has three basic roles or functions - preaching, pastoring/ counselling, and leading. No one is equally gifted in all three areas, and yet we must do them all. The greatest factor in the long-term effectiveness of a Christian minister is how (or whether) the gift-deficient areas in his skill set are mitigated by the strong grace operations in his character. The leadership literature advises us to know our weaknesses, our gift-deficient area. It usually tells us to surround ourselves with a team of people with complementary gifts, and this is certainly wise if you can do it. But even if you can, that is not sufficient, for your gift deficient areas will undermine you unless there is compensatory godliness. What do I mean? 
You may not have strong public-speaking gifts, but if you are godly, your wisdom and love and courage will make you an interesting preacher. You may not have strong pastoral or counselling gifts (e.g., you may be very shy or introverted), but if you are godly, your wisdom and love and courage will enable you to comfort and guide people. You may not have strong leaderships gifts (e.g., you may be disorganized or cautious by nature) but if you are godly, your wisdom and love and courage will mean that people will respect and follow you.' 
Timothy Keller, Preaching, p.196. 

Wednesday, 12 August 2015


'The Lord who created must wish us to create
And employ our creation again in His service
Which is already His service in creating.'
TS Eliot, Choruses from "The Rock", IX. 


'Why should men love the Church? Why should they love her
She tells them of Life and Death, and of all that they would forget.
She is tender where they would be hard, and hard where they
  like to be soft.
She tells them of Evil and Sin, and other unpleasant facts.'
TS Eliot, Choruses from "The Rock", VI. 


'What life have you if you have not life together?
There is no life that is not in community,
And no community not lived in praise of God.
Even the anchorite who meditates alone,
For whom the days and nights repeat the praise of God,
Prays for the Church, the Body of Christ incarnate.
And now you live dispersed on ribbon roads.
And no man knows or cares who is his neighbour...'
TS Eliot, Choruses from "The Rock", II.


'"Our citizenship is in Heaven"; yes, but that is the model and
type for your citizenship upon earth.'
TS Eliot, Choruses from "The Rock", II.


'The endless cycle of idea and action,
Endless invention, endless experiment,
Brings knowledge of motion, but not of stillness;
Knowledge of speech, but not of silence;
Knowledge of words, and ignorance of the Word.
All our knowledge brings us nearer to our ignorance,
All our ignorance brings us  nearer to death,
But nearness to death no nearer to God.
Where is the Life we have lost in living?
Where is the wisdom we have lost in knowledge?
Where is the knowledge we have lost in information?'
TS Eliot, Choruses from "The Rock", I 

Tuesday, 11 August 2015


'The essence of a good illustration to evoke a remembered sense experience and bring it into connection with a principle. That makes the truth real both by helping listeners better understand it and by inclining their hearts more to love it.' 
Timothy Keller, Preaching, p.173. 


'Sin is the suicidal action of the human soul against itself.' 
Timothy Keller, Preaching, p.172. 

Sunday, 9 August 2015


'Freedom is not, then, simply the absence of restrictions, but rather consists of finding the right, liberating restrictions.' 
Timothy Keller, Preaching, p.144. 


'Imagine an Anglo-Saxon warrior in Britain in AD 800. He has two very strong inner impulses and feelings. One is aggression. He loves to smash and kill people when they show him disrespect. Living in a shame-and-honor culture with its warrior ethic, he will identify with that feeling. He will say to himself, That's me! That's who I am! I will express that! The other feeling he senses is same-sex attraction. To that he will say, That's not me. I will control and suppress that impulse. Now imagine a young man walking around Manhattan today. He has the same two inward impulses, both equally strong, both difficult to control. What will he say? He will look at the aggression and think, This is not who I want to be, and will seek deliverance in therapy and anger-management programs. He will look at his sexual desire, however, and conclude, This is who I am. 
What does this thought experiment show us? Primarily it reveals that we do not get our identity simply from within. Rather, we receive some interpretative moral grid, lay it down over our various feelings and impulses, and sift them through it. This grid helps us decide which feelings are "me" and should be expressed - and which are not and should not be. So this grid of interpretative beliefs - not an innate, unadulterated expression of our feelings - is what gives us our identity. Despite protests to the contrary, we instinctively know our inner depths are insufficient to guide us. We need some standard or rule from outside of us to help us sort out the warring impulses of our interior life. 
And where do our Anglo-Saxon warrior and our modern Manhattan man get their grids? From their cultures, their communities, their heroic stories. They are actually not simply "choosing to be themselves" - they are filtering their feelings, jettisoning some and embracing others. They are choosing to be the selves their cultures tell them they may be. In the end, an identity based independently on your inner feelings is impossible.' 
Timothy Keller, Preaching, p.136.


'What is unique about late modernity in history's marketplace of worldviews is this. Nonsecular cultures are overt about their faith, and their members acknowledge the faith nature of their beliefs. Many late-modern secular people, however, don't see or grant the faith leaps that they are taking.' 
Timothy Keller, Preaching, p.125.

Tuesday, 4 August 2015


'It isn't just that I don't believe in God and naturally, hope that I'm right in my belief. It's that I hope there is no God! I don't want there to be a God: I don't want the universe to be like that...This cosmic authority problem is not a rare condition.'
Thomas Nagel in Timothy Keller, Preaching, p.108.


'God said to Abraham, "Now I know you love me, because you did not withold your son, your only son whom you love, from  me." Now we can say to God, "Now we know that you love us, because you did not withold your son, your only son whom you love, from us."'
Timothy Keller, Preaching, p.77.

Monday, 3 August 2015


'...both the law and the gospel are expressions of God's grace.'
Sinclair Ferguson in Timothy Keller, Preaching, p.55.

Sunday, 2 August 2015


'Why has modern criticism remained so especially defensive toward the Pastorals? What about them was so offensive to modernity? Why were they singled out for some of the most unreasonable and virulent attacks and speculative pseudo-scientific treatment of all New Testament documents? Is it because they were concerned with transmission of tradition, with the ordering of the church and its leadership, and with the rigorous resistance of false teaching?'
Thomas C Oden, First and Second Timothy and Titus, p.11. 


'Cultural engagement in preaching must never be for the sake of appearing "relevant" but rather must be for the purpose of laying bare the listener's life foundations.' 
Timothy Keller, Preaching, p.21. 


'We are social-cultural beings, and our inner-heart motivations are profoundly shaped by the human communities in which we are embedded. In the course of expounding a biblical text the Christian preacher should compare and contrast the Scripture's message with the foundational beliefs of the culture which are usually invisible to people inside it, in  order to help people understand themselves more fully. If done rightly it can lead people to say to themselves, Oh, so that's why I tend to think and feel that way. This can be one of the most liberating and catalytic steps in a person's journey to faith in Christ.' 
Timothy Keller, Preaching: Communicating Faith in an Age of Scepticism, p.21