Saturday, 28 September 2019

AN AUDIENCE OF ONE

'The public for which masterpieces are intended is not on this earth.' 
Thornton Wilder, The Bridge of San Luis Rey, p.87. 

LOVE IS NEVER EQUALLY MATCHED?

'Now he discovered that secret from which one never quite recovers, that even in the most perfect love one person loves less profoundly than the other. There may be two equally good, equally gifted, equally beautiful, but there may never be two that love one another equally well.' 
Thornton Wilder, The Bridge of San Luis Rey, p.49

THE IMPORTANCE OF NURSES

'...nursing is not so much about tasks, but about how in every detail a nurse can provide comfort to a patient and a family. It is a privilege to witness people at the frailest, most significant and most extreme moments of life, and to have the capacity to love complete strangers. Nursing, like poetry, is the place where metaphorical and literal meanings cross borders. A hole in the heart is a hole in the heart; the nurse is the thing at the centre: between the surgeon's skill at fixing the literal hole, and the patient's anxiety and loss, the metaphorical hole. Nursing is - or should be - an indiscriminate act of caring, compassion and empathy. It should be a reminder of our capacity to love one another. If the way we treat our most vulnerable is a measure of our society, then the act of nursing itself is a measure of of our humanity. Yet it is the most undervalued of professions.'
Christie Watson, The Language of Kindness: A Nurse's Story, p.265. 

Wednesday, 25 September 2019

JESUS & THE SATISFACTION OF WORK

'When absorbed in work, clocks dissolve, mealtimes pass, and we hardly know where we are. The best work does not deplete our energy; it renews it. Jesus knew the experience. As he died on the cross, he exulted, "It is finished," and then delivered his spirit to the Father (19:30). "It is finished" can refer to Jesus' substitutionary atonement, but the phrase normally means just that - something is finished. Jesus finished his redemptive task by laying down his life. When Jesus says, "My food is to do the will of him who sent me," he means that his work invigorates him. Since Jesus is the archetypal human being, we might be able to experience similar results.' 
Daniel M Doriani, Work: Its Purpose, Dignity, and Transformation, p.25. 

Saturday, 14 September 2019

THE POWER OF THE BIBLE'S STORY

'In a confused and contradictory world, the grand theme of Scripture offers a coherent worldview. Instead of the choppy narrative of the single-person play, the gospel invites us into God's great story, of which our singular part contributes to the great mosaic of salvation beauty, in which we are invited to partner with the Creator God Himself in the redemption of the world and the marriage of heaven and earth. This story, even whispered between people on a suburban train, is grander and more resonant than the biggest budget Hollywood blockbuster or the cleverest viral marketing campaign.' 
Mark Sayers, Disappearing Church, p.144. 

WHERE FREEDOM HAS GOT US

'Our culture is depleted and burned out because it rebels against the God-given limitations placed on it. Individuals are depleted because we refuse to live within the fields that God has given us. Instead, we burn ourselves out seeking greater freedom and autonomy.' 
Mark Sayers, Disappearing Church, p.137. 

THE GOOD OF INSTITUTIONS

'Institutions have to instruct us what to do. They must contain commands. These commands may mean short-term sacrifice, but they will ensure freedom, human flourishing, and peace, so we obey to benefit. If there are commands, there must also be prohibitions and regulations that prevent behaviours that the institution believes will harm the collective and the individual, or the institution itself. Institutions thus require the individual to at some point submit to the authority of the institution with its commands and controls to enjoy a flourishing that they could not achieve on their own. 
The universal nature of institutions, in which anyone can join if they are willing to submit to the commands and regulations, is a natural guard against tribalism, nepotism, and special interest groups dominating. Institutions act as safeguards.' 
Mark Sayers, Disappearing Church, p.133. 

BIBLICAL SPIRITUALITY

'The Scriptures of Israel could contain prophetic, ethereal visions of the heavenly court, alongside commandments regarding menstrual blood, ethical outpourings for justice alongside erotically charged verse, and psalms filled with praise, tears, anger, and joy. This was no "spirituality." This was a blood and gits religion that did not tolerate a distance between heart and mind, word and deed. It was a world of commitments and connections, a universe of relationships and responsibilities.' 
Mark Sayers, Disappearing Church, p.130. 

Thursday, 12 September 2019

CONTEMPORARY DISCIPLESHIP

'We need to release ourselves from the addiction of trying to win over the public and the burden of trying to influence public opinion, of trying to build ministries upon pitch alone. Instead we need to remember that if we are to build resilient disciples in our "on-to-the-next-shiny-thing" culture, we need to do as Jesus did and focus on the concreteness of actual people. We see Jesus building His ministry upon going deep with a few, rather than going shallow with the public.' 
Mark Sayers, Dsiappearing Church, p.117 

WHY PEOPLE WALK AWAY FROM CHURCH

'In the beautiful world, there is a point in which many realise that while their hip and fantastic church may offer them opportunities to engage in justice projects, a life group that meets for community and meal at the pub, and digestible life advice, they can leave the church and find similar opportunities. The kicker is that you can still enjoy all of this while ditching the biblical prohibitions on sex, or having to measure up to the limitations of biblical holiness, or the commitments of creedal Christian community. If you still want to keep your sneaker toe in the Christian camp, no problme. Just pick up a book or suscribe to that podcast by a "progressive" Christian author who will reassure you that you can still be a Christian while not getting too stressed about sex or Scripture of going to church.' 
Mark Sayers, Disappearing Church, p.99. 

Monday, 9 September 2019

THE IMPLICIT PROSPERITY GOSPEL

'If, in the explicit prosperity gospel, it is unthinkable that God would withold from His faithful followers cash, cars, and mansions, in the implicit prosperity gospel of many, shaped by a culture that must elevate sex beyond its station in God's created order, we cannot imagine that God would ask of some celibacy.'
Mark Sayers, Disappearning Church, p.82.  

A GROWING CHURCH

'A church that is no longer disppearing is one that leads people into realizing that they are not God.' 
Mark Sayers, Disappearing Church, p.79. 

CHURCH & CULTURE

'New Cultural Landscapes + Faithful Orthodoxy + Courageous Creative Response = Revitalization of the Church and Culture.'
Mark Sayers, Disappearing Church, p.70. 

Thursday, 5 September 2019

THE SELF-DESTRUCTION OF LIBERAL CHRISTIANITY

'Like a team of suicide bombers who obliterate themselves yet irrevocably change the cultural atmosphere, liberal Christianity has essentially destroyed itself as an ecclesiological, institutional force, yet has won the culture over to its vision of a Christianity reshaped for contemporary tastes.' 
Mark Sayers, Disappearing Church: From Cultural Relevance to Gospel Resilience, p.23. 

Wednesday, 4 September 2019

CHRISTIANS TALK TO THEMSELVES

'...he is no fool that...talks to himself and excites his own soul to that which is good.'
Matthew Henry in Julian Hardyman, Fresh Pathways in Prayer, p.27.  

Monday, 2 September 2019

THE SACAMENTS

'We believe that our good God,
mindful of our crudeness and weakness,
has ordained sacraments for us
to seal his promises in us,
to pledge good will and grace toward us,
and also to nourish and sustain our faith.
God has added these to the Word of the gospel
to represent better to our external senses
both what God enables us to understand by the Word
and what he does inwardly in our hearts,
confirming in us
the salvation he imparts to us.'
Belgic Coonfession 33 in Todd Billings, 'Sacraments' in Christian Dogmatics: Reformed Theology for the Church Catholic (Edited by Michael Allen & Scott R Swain), p.342.  

UNINTENDED CONSEQUENCES

'Few friendly remarks are more annoying than the information that we are always seeming to do what we never mean to do.' 
George Eliot, Daniel Deronda, p.409. 

Sunday, 1 September 2019

HOW CHRISTIANITY ATTTRACTS IN A HOSTILE CULTURE

'One is immediately struck in 1 Peter with two contrary reactions of outsiders to the soft missionary difference. On the one hand, there is angered surprise and blaspheming from non-Christians that Christians are no longer joining them  "in the same excesses of dissipation" (4:4). The Christian difference is the cause of discrimination and persecution. Moreover, 1 Peter tells us, such negative reaction is to be expected from non-Christians. Christians should not be surprised by the "fiery ordeal" which they have to endure (4:12). The negative reactions of non-Christians do not rest on misunderstanding, but are rooted in the inner logic of the non-Christian constellation of values which seem incompatible with the values of Christians. On the other hand, one of the central passages in 1 Peter entertains a lively hope that precisely the Christian difference - outwardly visible in their good deeds - will cause non-Christians to see the truth and eventually convert (2:12,15; 3:1;3:16). This expectation presupposes overlap between Christan and non-Christian constellations of values. The good works of Christians can be appreciated by non-Christians and look attractive to them.' 
Miroslav Volf, Soft Difference: Theological Reflections on the Relation Between Church and Culture in 1 Peter, p.25.

WHERE CHRISTIAN IDENTITY LIES

'Notice the significance of the new birth for Christian social identity. Christians do not come into their social world from outside seeking either to accommodate to their new home (like second generation immigrants would), shape it in the image of the one they have left behind (like colonizers would), or establish a little haven in the strange new world reminiscent of the old (as resident aliens would). They are not outsiders who either seek to become insiders or maintain strenuously the status of outsiders. Christians are the insiders who have diverted from their culture by being born again. They are by definition those who are not what they used to be, those who do not live like they used to live. Christian difference is therefore not an insertion of something new into the old from outside, but a bursting out of the new precisely within the proper space of the old.'
Miroslav Volf, Soft Difference: Theological Reflections on the Relation Between Church and Culture in 1 Peter, p.18.