Saturday, 31 August 2019

INTIMACY IS KEY TO HUMANITY

'Humans are distinctly made to respond to God with a level of intimacy that distinguishes them from the rest of the creaturely realm.' 
Kelly M Kapic, 'Anthropology' in Christian Dogmatics: Reformed Theology for the Church Catholic (Edited by Michael Allen & Scott R Swain)p.182.  

BEING HUMAN IS ALL ABOUT COMMUNION

'Being human in God's image is fundamentally about communion, loving God and neighbor. That is always an embodied love, a love that fully engages the whole human being...
...What makes us human is our distinctive ability to love and commune with God, other humans, and the earth.' 
Kelly M Kapic, 'Anthropology' in Christian Dogmatics: Reformed Theology for the Church Catholic (Edited by Michael Allen & Scott R Swain)p.178.  

Friday, 30 August 2019

CHRISTIAN FRIENDSHIPS BETWEEN THE SEXES

'Our call to Christian love and fellowship as brothers and sisters doesn't call us to the "false modesty of the prude" but to a "humble sincerity." Of course we promote one another's holiness, take sin seriously, and realise that we can easily fall into it. We don't think of a bunch of reasons to be alone with the other sex, we don't naively assume that everyone is safe, and we don't overestimate our own virtue. But, rather than creating extrabiblical rules, we are to do the hard work of rightly orientating our affections and exercising wisdom and discernment with others. We live before God in every situation. And in this manner, we will be able to perform ordinary acts of kindness and business without scandal.' 
Aimee Byrd, Why Can't We Be Friends? p.77. 

WHAT WERE WE CREATED FOR?

'We are created for communion with the Triune God and with one another...Our sexuaility is expressed in more places than the bedroom.' 
Aimee Byrd, Why Can't We Be Friends? p.49. 

HOW HOLLYWOOD HAS TAUGHT THE CHURCH

'...over time I learned that much of the conservative church believes the "Billy Crystal rule" taught by Burns. In a complete contradiction of our fight to uphold a biblical standard of sexuality, Hollywood became our teacher on relationships and gender after all. The church sent messages that a woman's attractiveness serves the purpose of landinbg a husband, then becomes a threat to all other men. My sexuality became a barrier to friendship. This has been quite a challnegs in my adult years.' 
Aimee Byrd, Why Can't We Be Friends: Aviodance is not purity, p.23. 

GREEK

'...in practical life nobody does give you the cue for pages of Greek.'
George Eliot, Daniel Deronda, p.217. 

SUFFERING CAN PRODUCE EMPATHY

'The sense of an entailed disadvantage - the deformed foot doubtfully hidden by the shoe, makes a restlessly active spiritual yeast, and easily turns a self-centred, unloving nature into a Ishmaelite. But in the rarer sort, who presently see their own frustrated claim as one among a myriad, the inexorable sorrow takes the form of fellowship and makes the imagination tender.' 
George Eliot, Daniel Deronda, p.215. 

GOSSIP

'Gossip is a sort of smoke that comes from the dirty tobacco-pipes of those who diffuse it; it proves nothing but the bad taste of the smoker.' 
George Eliot, Daniel Deronda, p.177. 

WE ENGLISH

'We English are a miscellaneous people, and any chance fifty of us will present many varieties of animal architecture or facial ornament; but it must be admitted that our prevailing expression is not that of a lively, impassioned race, preoccupied with the ideal and carrying the real as a mere make-weight. The strong point of the English gentleman pure is the easy style of his figure and clothing; he objects to marked ins and outs in his costume, and he also objects to looking inspired.' 
George Eliot, Daniel Deronda, p.135. 

SCRIPTURE & PRAYER ARE INSEPERABLE

'Scripture and prayer are not two separate entities. My pastoral work was to fuse them into a single act: scriptureprayer or prayerscripture. It is this fusion of God speaking to us (Scripture) and us speaking to him (prayter) that the Holy Spirit uses to form the life of Christ in us.' 
Eugene H Peterson, A Long Obedience in the Same Direction, p.196. 

GRACE & GRATITUDE

'Grace and gratitude blong together like heaven and earth. Grace evokes gratitude like the voice an echo. Gratitude follows grace as thunder follows lightning.' 
Karl Barth in Eugene H Peterson, A Long Obedience in the Same Direction, p.192. 

THE IMPORTANCE OF HISTORY IN THE CHRISTIAN LIFE

'...history is important, for without it we are at the mercy of whims. Memory is a databank we use to evaluate our position and make decisions. With a biblical memory we have two thousand years of experience from which to make the off-the-cuff responses that are required each day in the life of faith. If we are going to live adequately and maturely as the people of God, we need more data to work from than our own experience can give us. 
What would we think of pollster who issues a definitive report on how the American people felt about a new television special, if we discovered later that he has interviewed only one person who had seen only ten minutes of the program? We would dismiss the conclusions as frivolous. Yet that is exactly the kind of evidence that too many Christians accept as the final truth about many much more important matters - matters such as answered prayer, God's judgement, Christ's forgiveness, eternal salvation. The only person they consult is themselves, and only experience they evaluate is the most recent ten minutes. But we need other experiences, the community of experience of brothers and sisters in the church, the centuries of experience provided by our biblical ancestors. A Christian who has David in his bones, Jeremiah in his bloodstream, Paul in his fingers tips and Christ in his heart will know how much and how little value to put on his own momentary feelings and the experience of the past week.' 
Eugene H Peterson, A Long Obedience in the Same Direction, p.160.  

GOING WITH THE GRAIN OF CREATION

'Our lives are lived well only when they are lived on the terms of their creation, with God loving and us being loved, with God making and us being made, with God revealing and us understanding, with God commanding and us responding. Being a Christian means accepting the terms of creation, accepting God as our maker and redeemer, and growing day by day into an increasingly glorious creature in Christ, developing joy, experiencing love, maturing in peace. By the grace of Christ we experience the marvel of being made in the image of God. If we reject this way, the only alternative is to attempt the hopelessly fourth-rate, embarrassingly awkward imitation of God made in the image of men and women like us.' 
Eugene H Peterson, A Long Obedience in the Same Direction, p.147. 

HUMAN LONGING

'A man's reach should exceed his gasp, or what's a heaven for?' 
Robert Browning in Eugene H Peterson, A Long Obedience in the Same Direction, p.147. 

WHEN A SIN BECOMES A CULTURAL IDOL

'...when an ancient temptation or trial becomes an approved feature in the culture, a way of life that is expected and encouraged, Christians have a stumbling block put before them that is hard to recognise for what it is, for it has been made into a monument, gilded with bronze and bathed in decorative lights. It has become an object of veneration. But the plain fact is that it is right in the middle of the road of faith, obstructing discipleship. For all its fancy dress and honored position, it is still a stumbling box.'  
Eugene H Peterson, A Long Obedience in the Same Direction, p.144. 

THE COUNSELLING WE NEED

'When we suffer we attract counselors as money attracts thieves. Everybody has an idea of what we did wrong to get ourselves into such trouble and a prescription for what we can do to get out of it. We are flooded first with sympathy and then with advice, and when we don't come around quickly we are abandoned as a hopeless case. But none of that is what we need. We need hope. We need to know that we are in relation to God. We need to know that suffering is part of what it means to be human and not something alien. 
We need an eye specialist rather, then, say, a painter. A painter tries to convey to us with the aid of his brush and palette a picture of the world as he sees it; an ophthalmologist tries to enable us to see the world as it really is.' 
Eugene H Peterson, A Long Obedience in the Same Direction, p.138. 

WHAT TRUE HOPE IS

'Hoping does not mean doing nothing. It is not fatalistic resignation. It means going about our assigned tasks, confident that God will provide the meaning and the conclusions. It is not compelled to work away at keeping up appearances with a bogus spirituality. It is the opposite of desperate and panicky manipulations, of scurrying and worrying. 
And hoping is not dreaming. It is not spinning an illusion or fantasy to protect us from our boredom or our pain. It means a confident, alert expectation that God will do what he said he will do. It is imagination put in the harness of faith. It is a willingness to let God do it his way and in his time.' 
Eugene H Peterson, A Long Obedience in the Same Direction, p.138. 

Friday, 23 August 2019

THE DANGERS OF NOT RECKONING WITH SUFFERING

'A Christian is a person who decides to face and live through suffering. If we do not make that decision, we are endangered on every side. A man or woman of faith who fails to acknowledge and deal with suffering becomes, at last, either a cynic or a melancholic or a suicide.' 
Eugene H Peterson, A Long Obedience in the Same Direction, p.131.

PLUMBING & MORALITY

'...next to plumbing, morality is social convenience number one.'
Austin Farrer in Eugene H Peterson, A Long Obedience in the Same Direction, p.114. 

FEAR OF THE LORD

'...the Bible talks of the fear of the Lord - not to scare us but to bring us to awesome attention before the overwhelming grandeur of God, to shut up our whining and chattering and stop our running and fidgeting so that we can really see him as he is and listen to him as he speaks his merciful, life-changing words of forgiveness.'
Eugene H Peterson, A Long Obedience in the Same Direction, p.114.

THE ROLE OF FEELINGS IN DISCIPLESHIP

'My feelings are so important for many things. They are essential and valuable. They keep me aware of much that is true and real. But they tell me next to nothing about God or my relation to God. My security comes from who God is, not from how I feel. Discipleship is a decision to live by what I know about God, not what I feel about him or myself or my neighbors.' 
Eugene H Peterson, A Long Obedience in the Same Direction, p.81. 

Thursday, 15 August 2019

THE BEST POETRY IS HONEST POETRY

'There is no literature in all the world that is more true to life and more honest than Psalms, for here we have warts-and-all religion. Every skeptical thought, every disappointing venture, every pain, every despair that we can face is lived through and integrated into a personal, saving relationship with God - a relationship that also has in it acts of praise, blessing, peace, security, trust, and love. 
Good poetry survives not when it is pretty or beautiful or nice but when it is true: accurate and honest. The psalms are great poetry and have lasted not because they appeal to our fantasies and our wishes but because they are confirmed in the intensities of honest and hazardous living.' 
Eugene H Peterson, A Long Obedience in the Same Direction, p.69. 

THE PRACTICALITY OF THE PSALMS

'A psalm is not a lecture; it is a song. In a psalm we have the observable evidence of what happens when a person of faith goes about the business of believing and loving and following God. We don't have a rule book defining the action, we have a snapshot of players playing the game.' 
Eugene H Peterson, A Long Obedience in the Same Direction, p.55.

Sunday, 11 August 2019

FAKE IT TILL YOU MAKE IT IN WORSHIP

'We think that if we don't feel something there can be no authenticity in doing it. But the wisdom of God says something different: that we can act ourselves into a new way of feeling much better than we can feel ourselves into a new way of acting. Worship is an act that develops feelings for God, not a feeling for God that is expressed in an act of worship. When we obey the command to praise God in worship, our deep, essential need to be in relationship with God is nurtured.'
Eugene H Peterson, A Long Obedience in the Same Direction, p.48.

AVOID THIS MISTAKE WHEN SUFFERING

'The only serious mistake we can make when illness comes, when anxiety threatens, when conflict disturbs our relationships with others is to conclude that God has gotten bored looking after us and has shifted his attention to a more exciting Christian, or that God has become disgusted with our meandering obedience and decided to let us fend for ourselves for a while, or that God has gotten too busy fulfilling prophecy in the Middle Easr to take time now to sort out the complicated mess we have gotten ourselves into. That is the only serious mistake we can make.' 
Eugene H Peterson, A Long Obedience in the Same Direction, p.37. 

WHERE TRUE WISDOM LIES

'...to deviate from the truth for the sake of some prospect of hope of our own can never be wise, however slight the deviation may be. It is not our judgment of the situation which can show us what is wise, but only the truth of the Word of God. Here alone lies the power of God's faithfulness and help. It will always be true that the wisest course for the disciple is always to abide soley by the Word of God in all simplicity.' 
Dietrich Bonhoeffer in Eugene H Peterson, A Long Obedience in the Same Direction, p.30. 

Friday, 9 August 2019

WHAT REPENTANCE LOOKS LIKE

'Repentance is not an emotion. It is not feeling sorry for your sins. It is a decision. It is deciding that you have been wrong in suppoosing that you could manage your own own life and be your own god; it is deciding that you were wrong in thinking that you had, or could get, the stregnth, education and training to make it on your own; it is deciding that you have been told a pack of lies about yourself and your neighbors and your world. And it is deciding that God in Jesus Christ is telling you the truth.' 
Eugene H Peterson, A Long Obedience in the Same Direction, p.23. 

THE NEED FOR DISGUST BEFORE CONVERSION

'A person has to be thoroughly disgusted with the way things are to find the motivation to set out on the Christian way. As long as we think the next election might eliminate crime and establish justice or another scientific breakthrough might save the environment or another pay rise might push us over the edge of anxiety into a life of tranquillity, we are not likely to risk the arduous uncertainties of the life of faith,. A person has to get fed up with ways of the world before he, before she, acquires an appetite for the world of grace.'
Eugene Peterson, A Long Obedience in the Same Direction, p.19. 

Wednesday, 7 August 2019

HUMANS EXCLUDE

'Cultural exclusion seems to happen almost universally. People are shamed and punished in our modern, pluralistic societies if they do not conform to the reigning parties. For all our talk of tolerance, we demand that others adopt our characteristics and beliefs. They must express no difference from us, or we will name them as beyond the pale of engagement. It is common for us to insist that everyone "respect difference" - allow people to be themselves - but in the very next moment we show complete disrespect for anyone who diverges from out cherished beliefs. We sneer at people more liberal than us as social justice warriors; we disdain those more conservative than us as hateful bigots.' 
Timothy J Keller, The Prodigal Prophet, p.171. 

Sunday, 4 August 2019

SIN

'Sin always begins with character assassination of God.'
Timothy J Keller, The Prodigal Prophet: Jonah and the Mystery of God's Mercy,  p.138. 

Saturday, 3 August 2019

THE MISEDUCATION OF PORN

'For both straight and gay boys, Internet pornography now offers an easily available correspondence degree with a major in sex, from a third-rate faculty with a poorly conceived curriculum.'
Walt Odets, Out of the Shadows, p.239.

THE IMPORTANCE OF DIFFERENCE FOR SEX

'A beautiful, potent body engaged in hot sex with the beautiful body of an idealized stranger is what all men, but particularly gay men, have been acculturated to believe is the definition of "good sex." Long-term partners usually know way too much about each other - and each other's imperfect bodies - for either to buy the "I'm hot, you're hot, let's fuck" approach that characterizes most gay adolescent, and much adult singles, sex. When the male sensibility cannot make any transition from pure sport sex to relationship sex, both gay and straight couples experience a "loss of sexual interest." Against this loss, straight couples often have an advantage: they have some measure of feminine sensibility in the game, a sensibility much more attuned to emotional expression.
Among gay men I have worked with in therapy, those with no previous sexual experience with women almost invariably have more difficulty in understanding the idea of relationship sex.'
Walt Odets, Out of the Shadows: Reimagining Gay Men's Lives, p.239.