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Augustine of Hippo
Nothing so clearly discovers a spiritual man as his treatment of an erring brother.
What is it then that I love when I love you? Not bodily beauty, and not temporal glory, not the clear shining light, lovely as it is to our eyes, not the sweet melodies of many-moded songs, nor the soft smell of flowers and ointments and perfumes, not manna and honey, not limbs made for the body’s embrace, not these do I love when I love my God. Yet I do love a certain voice, a certain odor, a certain food, a certain embrace when I love my God; a light, a voice, an odor, a food, an embrace for the man within me, where his light, which no place can contain floods into my soul; where he utters words that time does not speed away; where he sends forth an aroma that no wind can scatter; where he provides food that no eating can lessen where he so clings that satiety does not sunder us. This is what I love when I love my God.
Thou hast made us for thyself, O Lord, and our heart is restless until it finds its rest in thee.
Jesus does not give recipes that show the way to God as other teachers of religion do. He is Himself the way.
God is always trying to give good things to us, but our hands are too full to receive them.
The world is a book and those who do not travel read only one page.
Trust the past to God’s mercy, the present to God’s love and the future to God’s providence.
By loving us, God makes us lovable
There are two great days in a person’s life … the day we are born and the day we discover why.
Research by Gallup shows that the more hours per day you spend doing what you’re good at, the less stressed you feel and the more you laugh, smile, and feel you’re being treated with respect.
Total need requires total help.
To clasp the hands in prayer is the beginning of an uprising against the disorder of the world.
Prayer without study would be empty. Study without prayer would be blind.
If you’re bored, one thing is for sure: You’re not following in the footsteps of Christ.
Neuroimaging has shown that as we age, our cognitive center of gravity shifts from the imaginative right brain to the logical left brain. At some point, most of us top living out of imagination and start living out of memory. That’s the day we stop creating the future and start repeating the past. That’s the day we stop living by faith and start living by logic.
In the realm of physics, an all-encompassing theoretical framework that fully explains and links together all physical aspects of the universe is called a theory of everything. It’s also called a master theory, ultimate theory, or final theory.
Prayer is the difference between seeing with our physical eyes and seeing with our spiritual eyes.
Henry Ward Beecher
Every time your enemy fires a curse, you must fire a blessing, and so you are to bombard back and forth with this kind of artillery. The mother grace of all graces is Christian good-will.
When life caves in, you do not need reasons – you need comfort. You do not need some answers – you need someone. Jesus does not come to us with an explanation – He comes to us with His presence.
Bernard of Clairvaux
I believe though I do not comprehend, and I hold by faith what I cannot grasp with the mind.
Why should not the creature love His creator, who gave him the power to love? Why should he not love Him with all his being, since it is by His gift alone that he can do anything that is good? It was God’s creative grace that out of nothingness raised us to the dignity of manhood (or womanhood); and from this appears our duty to love Him, and the justice of His claim to that love.
Do unto those downstream as you would have those upstream do unto you.
The care of the Earth is our most ancient and most worthy, and after all our most pleasing responsibility. To cherish what remains of it and to foster its renewal is our only hope.
Don’t own so much clutter that you will be relieved to see your house catch fire.
If we are serious about peace, then we must work for it as ardently, seriously, continuously, carefully, and bravely as we have ever prepared for war.
Christian Leaders: You were trained for a world that is disappearing.
Relational congruence is the ability to be fundamentally the same person with the same values in every relationship, in every circumstance and especially amidst crisis. It is the internal capacity to keep promises to God, to self and to one’s relationships that consistently express one’s identity and values in spiritually and emotionally healthy ways. Relational congruence is about both constancy and care at the same time. It is about both character and affection, and self-knowledge and authentic self-expression. Relational congruence is the leader’s ability to cultivate strong, healthy, caring relationships; maintaining healthy boundaries; and communicating clear expectations, all while staying focused on the mission.
A God who let us prove his existence would be an idol.
The Christian belongs not in the seclusion of cloistered life but in the thick of foes.
Christianity without discipleship is always Christianity without Christ.
When Christ calls a man, he bids him come and die.
Everything has its time and the main thing is that we keep in step with God and do not keep pressing on a few steps ahead-nor keep dawdling a few steps behind.
Lack of repentance is the root cause of powerlessness in the church, in this materialistic, self-indulgent age. There can be no spiritual power in a non-repentant church.
It is very easy to overestimate the importance of our own achievements in comparison with what we owe others.
Judging others makes us blind, whereas love is illuminating. By judging others we blind ourselves to our own evil and to the grace which others are just as entitled to as we are.
Nothing is too big for Him to handle, and nothing is too small to escape His attention.
Adversity is hard to endure, and can even be harder to understand. If God were really in control, why would He allow the tragic auto accident or crucial job loss? How could He permit cancer in a loved one or the death of a child? Grappling with His concern for us we ask, “Why is God allowing this?” or “What have I done wrong?
The grace that brought salvation to you is the same grace that teaches or disciplines you. But you must respond on the basis of grace, not law.
Trouble and prayer are closely related. Trouble often drives men to God in prayer, while prayer is but the voice of men in trouble.
The key to a well-lived life is to have trained the emotions to send the right signals and to be sensitive to their subtle calls.
Timothy Wilson of the University of Virginia puts it more scientifically: “One of the most enduring lessons of social psychology is that behavior change often precedes changes in attitude and feelings.”
Let us think often that our only business in this life is to please God. Perhaps all besides is but folly and vanity.
In prayer it is better to have a heart without words than words without a heart.
Of the 7 deadly sins, anger is possibly the most fun. To lick your wounds, to smack your lips over grievances long past, to roll over your tongue the prospect of bitter confrontations still to come, to savor to the last toothsome morsel both the pain you are given and the pain you are giving back–in many ways it is a feast fit for a king. The chief drawback is that what you are wolfing down is yourself. The skeleton at the feast is you.
True wisdom consists in two things: Knowledge of God and Knowledge of Self.
There is not one blade of grass, there is no color in this world that is not intended to make us rejoice.
Man’s nature, so to speak, is a perpetual factory of idols.
Men (and woman) are undoubtedly more in danger from prosperity than from adversity. for when matters go smoothly, they flatter themselves, and are intoxicated by their success.
The pastor ought to have two voices: one, for gathering the sheep; and another, for warding off and driving away wolves and thieves. The Scripture supplies him with the means of doing both.
Our prayer must not be self-centered. It must arise not only because we feel our own need as a burden we must lay upon God, but also because we are so bound up in love for our fellow men that we feel their need as acutely as our own. To make intercession for men is the most powerful and practical way in which we can express our love for them.
Whoever is not satisfied with Christ alone, strives after something beyond absolute perfection.
George Washington Carver
There is literally nothing that I ever asked to do, that I asked the blessed Creator to help me to do, that I have not been able to accomplish.
I love to think of nature as an unlimited broadcasting system, through which God speaks to us every hour, if we will only tune in.
One step forward in obedience is worth years of study about it.
We have to pray with our eyes on God, not on the difficulties.
What are you doing right now that requires faith?
Lukewarm people don’t really want to be saved from their sin; they want only to be saved from the penalty of their sin.
Our greatest fear should not be of failure but of succeeding at things in life that don’t really matter.
Christians are like manure: spread them out and they help everything grow better, but keep them in one big pile and they stink horribly.
Immaturity talks when it should listen, and is silent when it should speak.
Hospitality means opening our lives, and our homes, to those who believe differently than we do.
No change of job, no increased income, no new home, no new electronic device, or no new spouse is going to make things better inside of you.
Fallacies do not cease to be fallacies because they become fashions.
There are two ways to get enough: One is to accumulate more and more, the other is to desire less.
One sees great things from the valley; only small things from the peak.
A dead thing can go with the stream, but only a living thing can go against it.
Never let a good crisis go to waste
Experience is overrated. Some people say they have twenty years’ experience, when, in reality, they only have one year’s experience, repeated twenty times.
Jesus said, “Blessed are the peacemakers,” not “blessed are the troublemakers.”
Thomas Currie III
We sometimes find God’s forgiveness to be offensive: “It reveals us to be distressingly like everyone else!” (And we are so special.)
Alexis De Tocqueville
I am ignorant of His designs, but I will not cease to believe in them because I cannot penetrate them. And I will prefer to doubt my own lights rather than His justice.
We don’t know what’s going on here. If these tremendous events are random combinations of matter run amok, the yield of millions of monkeys at millions of typewriters, then what is it in us, hammered out of those same typewriters, that they ignite? We don’t know. Our life is a faint tracing on the surface of mystery, like the idle, curved tunnels of leaf miners on the face of a leaf. We must somehow take a wider view, look at the whole landscape, really see it, and describe what’s going on here. Then we can at least wail the right question into the swaddling band of darkness, or, if it comes to that, choir the proper praise.
Antoine de Saint-Exupery
If you want to build a ship, don’t summon people to buy wood, prepare tools, distribute jobs, and organize the work, rather teach people the yearning for the wide, boundless ocean.
The darker the night, the brighter the stars,
The deeper the grief, the closer is God!
“The awful thing is that beauty is mysterious as well as terrible. God and the devil are fighting there and the battlefield is the heart of man.
Lying to ourselves is more deeply ingrained than lying to others.
There are walls that need to come down. You can pray unity but then you have to work unity by demonstrating what unity really looks like.
Is life not full of opportunities for learning love? Every man and woman every day has a thousand of them. The world is not a playground; it is a schoolroom. Life is not a holiday, but an education. And the one eternal lesson for us all is how better we can love.
V. Raymond Edman
Never doubt in the dark what God told you in the light.
Resolved: that all men should live for the glory of God. Resolved second: that whether others do or not, I will.
God always gives his best to those who leave the choice with him.
If we do anything to further the kingdom of God, we may expect to find what Christ found on that road – abuse, indifference, injustice, misunderstanding, trouble of some kind. Take it. Why not? To that you were called. In Latin America someone who feels sorry for himself is said to look like a donkey in a downpour. If we think of the glorious fact that we are on the same path with Jesus, we might see a rainbow.
Harry Emerson Fosdick
Life asks not merely what you can do; it asks how much can you endure and not be spoiled.
We really must understand that the lust for affluence in contemporary society is psychotic. It is psychotic because it has completely lost touch with reality. We crave things we neither need nor enjoy. ‘We buy things we do not want to impress people we do not like.’ …It is time to awaken to the fact that conformity to a sick society is to be sick.
The desperate need today is not for a greater number of intelligent people, or gifted people, but for deep people.
Francis of Assisi
It is no use walking anywhere to preach unless our walking is our preaching.
Self-righteous service comes through human effort. True service comes from a relationship with the divine Other deep inside. Self-righteous service is impressed with the “big deal.” True service finds it almost impossible to distinguish the small from the large service. Self-righteous service requires external rewards. True service rests contented in hiddenness. Self-righteous service is highly concerned about results. True service is free of the need to calculate results. Self-righteous service is affected by moods and whims. True service ministers simply and faithfully because there is a need. Self-righteous service is temporary. True service is a life-style. Self-righteous service fractures community. True service, on the other hand, builds community.” True service, on the other hand, builds community.
No one has ever become poor by giving.
Everything can be taken from a man (or woman) but one thing: To choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s way.
Anger is never without a reason, but seldom with a good one.
Whatever is begun in anger ends in shame.
Failure isn’t final until you quit!
Great moves of God are usually preceded by simple acts of obedience.
The reason we struggle with insecurity is because we compare our behind-the-scenes with everyone else’s highlight reel.
I agree with people like Richard Dawkins that mankind felt the need for creation myths. Before we really began to understand disease and the weather and things like that, we sought false explanations for them. Now science has filled in some of the realm – not all – that religion used to fill. But the mystery and the beauty of the world is overwhelmingly amazing, and there’s no scientific explanation of how it came about. To say that it was generated by random numbers, that does seem, you know, sort of an uncharitable view [laughs]. I think it makes sense to believe in God, but exactly what decision in your life you make differently because of it, I don’t know.
The will of God will not take us where the grace of God cannot sustain us.
Your prayer for someone may or may not change them, but it always changes YOU.
The best way to defend Jesus is to live like Him.
A pure heart won’t get us out of conflict and controversy. It may well be the very thing that gets us into it.
God does not die on the day when we cease to believe in a personal deity, but we die on the day when our lives cease to be illumined by the steady radiance, renewed daily, of a wonder the source of which is beyond all reason.
In the Christian subculture, there is an unspoken standard, a notorious goal to “win the contest.” It’s there, the contest. We don’t say it out loud, because it sounds ludicrous spoken into the open air, but we all know about it, we feel it. The contest is a race to see who is the better Christian, and beyond the basics of behaving, extra points are awarded to people who do the subculture, there is an unspoken standard, a notorious goal to “win the contest.” It’s there, the contest. We don’t say it out loud, because it sounds ludicrous spoken into the open air, but we all know about it, we feel it. The contest is a race to see who is the better Christian, and beyond the basics of behaving, extra points are awarded to people who do the hardest work with the least amount of fluff.
It is incredibly tempting to disparage people who didn’t “change” with us. I have criticized the words of others when the same words came out of my own mouth just two years earlier, which is incredibly un-self-aware. We need to get better at permission and grace. What is right for us may not be right for everyone, and we don’t have to burn down the house simply because we’ve moved our things out. Other good folks probably still live there, and until one minute ago, we did too. We can bless the honorable parts of that house and express sincere gratitude for what we learned under its roof. It is unwise and shortsighted to isolate the remaining inhabitants, because there is a lot of life left, and as it turns out, we are all still neighbors.
A Christian in tune with God’s whole character neither regards herself as too important or too unworthy to enjoy this life. Yes, we are part of God’s plan to heal the world, but we are also sons and daughters in the family. We are not just the distributors of God’s abundant mercies but also their recipients.
Richard B. Hays
The content of the word “love” is given fully and exclusively in the death of Jesus on the cross; apart from this specific narrative image, the term has no meaning.
God has chosen to save the world through the cross, through the shameful and powerless death of the crucified Messiah. If that shocking event is the
revelation of the deepest truth about the character of God, then our whole way of seeing the world is turned upside down… all values are transformed… God refuses to play games of power and prestige on human terms.
In times like these, it helps to recall that there have always been
times like these.
Ronald A Heifetz
The improvisational ability to lead adaptively relies on responding to the present situation rather than importing the past into the present and laying it on the current situation like an imperfect template.
Leadership is often a matter of failing people’s expectations at a rate they can stand.
In the heat of leadership, with the adrenaline pumping, it is easy to convince yourself that you are not subject to the normal human frailties that can defeat ordinary mortals. You begin to act as if you are indestructible. But the intellectual, physical, and emotional challenges of leadership are fierce. So, in addition to getting on the being and assess the tolls those changes are taking. If you don’t, your seemingly indestructible self can self-destruct. This, by the way, is an ideal outcome for your foes-and even friends who oppose your initiative- because no one has to feel responsible for your downfall.
When you take “personal” attacks personally, you unwittingly conspire in one of the common ways you can be taken out of action-you make yourself the issue. Attacks may be personal, understand that they are basically attacks on positions you represent and the role you are seeking to play.
When you lead people through difficult change, you take them on an emotional roller coaster because you are asking them to relinquish something—a belief, a value, a behavior—that they hold dear. People can stand only so much change at any one time.
You cannot expect people to seriously consider your idea without accepting the possibility that they will challenge it. Accepting that process of engagement as the terrain of leadership liberates you personally.
You know the adage “People resist change.” It is not really true. People are not stupid. People love change when they know it is a good thing. No one gives back a winning lottery ticket. What people resist is not change per se, but loss. When change involves real or potential loss, people hold on to what they have and resist the change.
The challenge of leadership when trying to generate adaptive change is towork with differences, passions, and conflicts in a way that diminishes their destructive potential and constructively harnesses their energy.
You stay alive in the practice of leadership by reducing the extent to which you become the target of people’s frustrations. The best way to stay out of range is to think constantly about giving the work back to the people who need to take responsibility. Place the work within and between the factions who are faced with the challenge, and tailor your interventions so they are unambiguous and have a context.
Ronald A Heifetz, Marty Linsky, Alexander Grashow
In order to exercise leadership on that challenge, they had to go beyond what people expected of them, risk testing some relationships, and move themselves and their organizations into unfamiliar territory. They had to be coolly realistic and skilled at diagnosing their own resources and constraints, and make some necessary adaptations in their own preferred behaviors. And they needed to do the same coolheaded diagnosis for the situation: understand the underlying value conflicts embedded in the strategy of the organization or community, what and whose interests benefited from the status quo, and the political dynamics that both kept their organizations in their current equilibrium and offered some potential for catalyzing change.
Prayer does not merely consist in our speaking to God. It is not a monologue but rather a dialogue.
If we’re going to impact our world in the name of Jesus, it will be because people like you and me took action in the power of the Spirit. Ever since the mission and ministry of Jesus, God has never stopped calling for a movement of “Little Jesuses” to follow him into the world and unleash the remarkable redemptive genius that lies in the very message we carry. Given the situation of the Church in the West, much will now depend on whether we are willing to break out of a stifling herd instinct and find God again in the context of the advancing kingdom of God.
The doctrines of grace humble a man without degrading him and exalt him without inflating him.
God does not choose those who are fit. He outfits those whom He chooses.
A friend cannot be known in prosperity. An enemy cannot be hidden in adversity.
The man who refuses to forgive destroys the bridge over which he himself must cross.
If every man and woman in the world knew what it was to hunger and thirst after righteousness, there would be no danger of war.
Alone we can do so little; together we can do so much.
While they were saying among themselves it cannot be done, it was done.
The only thing worse than being blind is having sight but no vision.
I long to accomplish a great and noble task, but it is my chief duty to accomplish small tasks as if they were great and noble.
What is the main theme of Lord of the Rings? The world needs a king.
I take a page from Kierkegaard’s The Sickness Unto Death and I define sin as building your identity—your self-worth and happiness—on anything other than God. Instead of telling them they are sinning because they are sleeping with their girlfriends or boyfriends, I tell them that they are sinning because they are looking to their careers and romances to save them, to give them everything that they should be looking for in God. This idolatry leads to drivenness, addictions, severe anxiety, obsessiveness, envy of others, and resentment.
A faith without some doubts is like a human body with no antibodies in it.
If you love anything more than God, even if you believe in God, if there’s anything in your life that’s more important to you than God, than it is a master in your life…it will continually say, ‘serve me or die.
He loved us, not because we were lovely to him, but to make us lovely.
Sin isn’t only doing bad things, it is more fundamentally making good things into ultimate things. Sin is building your life and meaning on anything, even a very good thing, more than on God. Whatever we build our life on will drive us and enslave us. Sin is primarily idolatry.
Thomas a Kempis
Instant obedience is the only kind of obedience there is; delayed obedience is disobedience.
God is not like a human being; it is not important for God to have visible evidence so that he can see if his cause has been victorious or not; he sees in secret just as well
Martin Luther King Jr.
All labor that uplifts humanity has dignity and importance and should be undertaken with painstaking excellence.
We must use time creatively.
The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy.
Failures are finger posts on the road to achievement.
I believe in Christianity as I believe that the sun has risen: not only because I see it, but because by it I see everything else.
In friendship…we think we have chosen our peers. In reality a few years’ difference in the dates of our births, a few more miles between certain houses, the choice of one university instead of another…the accident of a topic being raised or not raised at a first meeting–any of these chances might have kept us apart. But, for a Christian, there are, strictly speaking no chances. A secret master of ceremonies has been at work. Christ, who said to the disciples, “Ye have not chosen me, but I have chosen you,” can truly say to every group of Christian friends, “Ye have not chosen one another but I have chosen you for one another.” The friendship is not a reward for our discriminating and good taste in finding one another out. It is the instrument by which God reveals to each of us the beauties of others.
The Christian does not think God will love us because we are good, but that God will make us good because He loves us.
To be a Christian means to forgive the inexcusable because God has forgiven the inexcusable in you.
Everyone says forgiveness is a lovely idea, until they have something to forgive.
Do not let your happiness depend on something you may lose … only [upon] the Beloved who will never pass away.
Progress means getting nearer to the place you want to be. And if you have taken a wrong turning, then to go forward does not get you any nearer. If you are on the wrong road, progress means doing an about-turn and walking back to the right road; and in that case the man who turns back soonest is the most progressive man.
Fine feelings, new insights, greater interest in ‘religion’ mean nothing unless they make our actual behavior better…. When we Christians behave badly, or fail to behave well, we are making Christianity unbelievable to the outside world.
Today I come to that part of Christian morals where they differ most sharply from all other morals. There is one vice of which no man in the world is free; which everyone loathes when he sees it in someone else; and of which hardly any people, except Christians, ever imagine that they are guilty themselves. I have heard people admit that they are bad-tempered, or that they cannot keep their heads about girls or drink, or even that they are cowards. I do not think I have ever heard anyone who was not a Christian accuse himself of this vice. And at the same time I have very seldom met anyone, who was not a Christian, who showed the slightest mercy to it in others. There is no fault that makes a man more unpopular, and no fault which we are more unconscious of in ourselves. And the more we have it ourselves, the more we dislike it in others. The vice I am talking of is Pride or Self-Conceit: and the virtue opposite to it, in Christian morals, is called Humility. You may remember, when I was talking about sexual morality, I warned you that the centre of Christian morals did not lie there. Well, now, we have come to the centre. According to Christian teachers, the essential vice, the utmost evil, is Pride. Unchastity, anger, greed, drunkenness, and all that, are mere fleabites in comparison: it was through Pride that the devil became the devil: Pride leads to every other vice: it is the complete anti-God state of mind.
Helen Grace Lescheid
Our circumstances are not an accurate reflection of God’s goodness. Whether life is good or bad, God’s goodness, rooted in His character, is the same.
Sir, my concern is not whether God is on our side; my greatest concern is to be on God’s side, for God is always right.
I am now the most miserable man living. If what I feel were equally distributed to the whole human family, there would not be one cheerful face on earth. To remain as I am is impossible. I must die or be better.
I will go anywhere, provided it is forward.
Faith is not the belief that God will do what you want. It is the belief that God will do what is right.
God loves you just as you are but too much to leave you that way.
Conflict is inevitable, but combat is optional.
All those who do not at all times trust God and do not in all their works or sufferings, life and death, trust in His favor, grace and good-will, but seek His favor in other things or in themselves, do not keep this [First] Commandment, and practice real idolatry, even if they were to do the works of all the other Commandments, and in addition had all the prayers, obedience, patience, and chastity of all the saints combined. For the chief work is not present, without which all the others are nothing but mere sham, show and pretense, with nothing back of them… If we doubt or do not believe that God is gracious to us and is pleased with us, or if we presumptuously expect to please Him only through and after our works, then it is all pure deception, outwardly honoring God, but inwardly setting up self as a false [savior]….
The idea that the service to God should have only to do with a church altar, singing, reading, sacrifice, and the like is without doubt but the worst trick of the devil.
I have held many things in my hands and I have lost them all; but whatever I have placed in God’s hands, that I still possess.
Sometimes the curses of the godless sound better than the hallelujahs of the pious.
Pray, and let God worry.
It is our best work that God wants, not the dregs of our exhaustion. I think he must prefer quality to quantity.
There are thousands willing to do great things for one willing to do a small thing.
My deepest awareness of myself is that I am deeply loved by Jesus Christ and I have done nothing to earn it or deserve it.
Faith isn’t a feeling; it’s a choice to trust God even when the road ahead seems uncertain.
Attitude is an accurate monitor of where we fall on the spectrum of pride and humility.
Our vocation is not simply to be, but to work together with God in the creation of our own life, our own identity, our own destiny.… To work out our identity in God.
Fear is a manipulative emotion that can trick us into living a boring life.
Dying for something is easy because it is associated with glory. Living for something is the hard thing. Living for something extends beyond fashion, glory, or recognition. We live for what we believe.
It is not so much the aim of the devil to lure me with evil as it is to preoccupy me with the meaningless.
Most conversations are simply monologues delivered in the presence of a witness.
If you have no opposition in the place you serve, you’re serving in the wrong place.
God is the Friend of Silence. See How Nature … Trees, Flowers, Grass… Grow in Silence.
If you judge people, you have no time to love them.
Imagine a president who was elected who spent all his time talking about his election…he ordered studies on how he was elected…people wouldn’t be happy…right, you are elected to do something…it’s the same thing with our own election.
Pride must die in you or nothing of heaven can live in you.
Humility is perfect quietness of heart. It is to expect nothing, to wonder at nothing that is done to me, to feel nothing done against me. It is to be at rest when nobody praises me, and when I am blamed or despised. It is to have a blessed home in the Lord, where I can go in and shut the door, and kneel to my Father in secret, and am at peace as in a deep sea of calmness, when all around and above is trouble.
Here is the path to the higher life: down, lower down! Just as water always seeks and fills the lowest place, so the moment God finds men abased and empty, His glory and power flow in to exalt and to bless.
Our love to God is measured by our everyday fellowship with others and the love it displays.
The sight of any trouble strikes terror into the heart of those who do not have faith, but those who trust Him say, “Here comes my food!”
The more one probes the workings of an emotional life the more he will be convinced of its vacillation and undependability. No one should wonder that a child of God who walks by emotion rather than by spirit usually comports himself in a wavelike fashion. He bemoans his existence because it is so unstable.
The gospel is not just the illustration (even the best illustration) of an idea. It is the story of actions by which the human situation is irreversibly changed.
The resurrection is the revelation to chosen witnesses of the fact that Jesus who died on the cross is indeed king – conqueror of death and sin, Lord and Savior of all. The resurrection is not the reversal of a defeat but the proclamation of a victory. The King reigns from the tree. The reign of God has indeed come upon us, and its sign is not a golden throne but a wooden cross.
Through the repeated hammer blows of defeat, destruction, and deportation, interpreted by the faithful prophets, Israel has to learn that election is not for comfort and security but for suffering and humiliation.
The relativism which is not willing to speak about truth but only about ‘what is true for me’ is an evasion of the serious business of living. It is the mark of a tragic loss of nerve in our contemporary culture. It is a preliminary symptom of death.
A person who wields power cannot see truth; that is the privilege of the powerless.
We build too many walls and not enough bridges.
We should always use our weaknesses to point others to Christ’s strength.
How very little can be done under the spirit of fear.
Our inclination is to reveal to God only what we feel comfortable in sharing. Naturally, we want to love and be loved by God, but we also want to keep a little corner of ourselves, where we can hide and think our own secret thoughts, dream our dreams, and play with our own mental fabrications. We are often tempted to select carefully the thoughts that we bring into conversation with God.
Prayer, therefore, is not introspection. It does not look inward but outward. Introspection easily can entangle us in the labyrinth of inward-looking analysis of our own ideas, feelings, and mental processes and can lead to paralyzing worries, self-absorption, and despair. Prayer is an outward, careful attentiveness to the One who invites us to an unceasing conversation. Prayer is the presentation of all thoughts as well as daydreams and nightmares-to our loving Father who can see them and respond to them with divine compassion. Prayer is the joyful affirmation that God knows our minds and hearts without anything being hidden.
When we honestly ask ourselves which person in our lives mean the most to us, we often find that it is those who, instead of giving advice, solutions, or cures, have chosen rather to share our pain and touch our wounds with a warm and tender hand. The friend who can be silent with us in a moment of despair or confusion, who can stay with us in an hour of grief and bereavement, who can tolerate not knowing, not curing, not healing and face with us the reality of our powerlessness, that is a friend who cares.
Forgiveness is the name of love practiced among people who love poorly. The hard truth is that all people love poorly. We need to forgive and be forgiven every day, every hour increasingly. That is the great work of love among the fellowship of the weak that is the human family.
A spiritual discipline or practice is a way of creating some open and free space in which God can move and speak. For example, the discipline of solitude helps us spend time with God alone and so become aware of the divine silence. The discipline of community helps us to let God speak to us through others. Both solitude and community are disciplines of prayer because in both we try to listen to God. All the disciplines of the spiritual life are intended to help us to move from an absurd (deaf) life to an obedient (listening) life of freedom, joy, and peace.
Aren’t you like me, hoping that some person, thing, or event will come along to give you that final feeling of inner well-being you desire? Don’t you often hope: “May this book, idea, course, trip, job, country, or relationship fulfill my deepest desire.” But as long as you are waiting for that mysterious moment, you will go on running helter-skelter, always anxious and restless, always lustful and angry, never fully satisfied. You know that this is the compulsiveness that keeps us going and busy but at the same time makes us wonder whether we are getting anywhere in the long run. this is the way to spiritual exhaustion and burnout. This is the way to spiritual death.
Spiritual Direction is a relationship initiated by a spiritual seeker who finds a mature person of faith willing to pray and respond with wisdom and understanding to his or her questions about how to live spiritually in a world of ambiguity and distraction.
We aim for happiness but we settle for pleasure…which is only momentary.
God uses chronic pain and weakness, along with other afflictions, as his chisel for sculpting our lives.
Wisdom is the power to see and the inclination to choose the best and highest goal, together with the surest means of attaining it.
The way of Jesus cannot be imposed or mapped — it requires an active participation in following Jesus as he leads us through sometimes strange and unfamiliar territory, in circumstances that become clear only in the hesitations and questionings, in the pauses and reflections where we engage in prayerful conversation with one another and with him.
What this means is that prayer can be learned only in the vocabulary and grammar of personal relationship: Father! Friend! It can never be a matter of getting the right words in the right order. It can never be a matter of good behavior or proper disposition or skillful manipulation. It can ever be a matter of acquiring some information about God or getting in touch with myself. It is a relationship, exclusively and unendingly personal. And so it is imperative that we watch our language gauge, for the personal is constantly and increasingly in danger of suppression by the arrogant and blasphemous claims of technology, the very apotheosis of the impersonal.
The model prayer that Jesus gives them is surprisingly, maybe even insultingly, brief. They ask to be taught to pray. They have sifted through the possibilities of what they want from Jesus. They have narrowed the options down to this one request, teach us to pray. They have arrived at the heart of the matter and are motivated to engage in this central action that undergirds and shapes and motivates Jesus’ life. They sign up and assemble. Jesus begins to teach. He has barely started before he is finished. The prayer he teaches them is composed of thirty-eight words. Prayed slowly and meditatively it takes a mere twenty-two seconds. and then it’s over. Class dismissed.
Go after a life of love as if your life depended on it—because it does.
[Jesus] said “Follow me” and ended up with a lot of losers. And these losers ended up, through no virtue or talent of their own, becoming saints. Jesus wasn’t after the best but the worst.
St. Paul tells us that Jesus Christ, the revelation of God become human, “set aside the privileges of deity and took on the status of a slave, became human! Having become human, he stayed human. It was an incredibly humbling process. He didn’t claim special privileges. Instead, he lived a selfless, obedient life and then died a selfless, obedient death-and the worst kind of death at that: crucifixion” (Phil. 2:5-8, The Message) In other words, when God became man, revealing to us our sheer humanity, he didn’t come in the form of a superhuman, but “experienced the poverty of human existence more deeply and more excruciatingly than any other man could.” He became absolutely poor and of no account: ‘a root out of dry ground…no form or comeliness…despised and rejected…we esteemed him not” (Isa. 53:2-3 RSV)
When we listen to and follow Jesus, who lived in continual dependence on his Father, we become convinced of our poverty as men and women. We realize our absolute neediness. We are all beggars. Father give us bread. Friend, lend us three loaves. Being human means that we are the poorest and most incomplete of all creatures. Our needs are beyond our capacities.
The Parable is a form of speech that has a style all of its own. It is a way of saying something that requires the imaginative participation of the listener. Inconspicuously, even surreptitiously, a parable involves the hearer. This brief, commonplace, unpretentious story is thrown into a conversation and lands at our feet, compelling notice. A Parable is literally “something thrown alongside of” (para, alongside, plus bole, thrown) to which our first response is, “what is this doing here?” We ask questions, we think, we imagine.”parables appear in quick precise strokes. A parable is feeble; almost all the power is in the one who hears it.” And then we begin seeing connections, relations. A parable is not ordinarily used to tell us something new but to get us to notice something that we have overlooked although it has been right there before us for years. Or is is used to get us to take seriously something that we have overlooked although it has been right there before us for years. Or it is used to get us to take seriously something we have dismissed as unimportant because we have never seen the point of it. Before we know it, we are involved.
Language is primarily a means of revelation, both for God and for us. Using words, God reveals himself to us. Using words, we reveal ourselves to God and to one another. By means of language, the entire cycle of speaking and listening, both God and his Word-created men and women are able to reveal vast interiors otherwise inaccessible to us.
When we sin and mess up our lives, we find that God doesn’t go off and leave us- he enters into our trouble and saves us.
It is not easy to convey a sense of wonder, let alone resurrection wonder, to another. It’s the very nature of wonder to catch us off guard, to circumvent expectations and assumptions. Wonder can’t be packaged, and it can’t be worked up. It requires some sense of being there and some sense of engagement.
All the persons of faith I know are sinners, doubters, uneven performers. We are secure not because we are sure of ourselves but because we trust that God is sure of us.
When we submit our lives to what we read in scripture, we find that we are not being led to see God in our stories but our stories in God’s. God is the larger context and plot in which our stories find themselves.
We cannot be too careful about the words we use; we start out using them and they end up using us.
Virtually every temptation that comes to those of us who are committed to Jesus and have thrown ourselves sacrificially into a life of following Jesus comes in the form of something right and necessary and obviously good. The devil doesn’t waste his time tempting us to do something that we know is evil. He hides the evil in something good and then tempts us with the good. We have been well warned that the devil comes as an angel of light. Why do we continue to live in such naiveté? The old camp song has it right: The devil is a liar and a conjuror too, and if you don’t watch out he’ll conjure you.”
The only opportunity you will ever have to live by faith is in the circumstances you are provided this very day: this house you live in, this family you find yourself in, this job you have been given, the weather conditions that prevail at the …moment.
And yet I decide, every day, to set aside what I can do best and attempt what I do very clumsily–open myself to the frustrations and failures of loving, daring to believe that failing in love is better than succeeding in pride.
I will not try to run my own life or the lives of others; that is God’s business.
Stories are verbal acts of hospitality.
Speaking to people does not have the same personal intensity as listening to them. The question I put to myself is not ‘How many people have you spoken to about Christ this week?’ but ‘How many people have you listened to in Christ this week?
The vocation of pastor(s) has been replaced by the strategies of religious entrepreneurs with business plans.
It is easier to find guides, someone to tell you what to do, than someone to be with you in a discerning, prayerful companionship as you work it out yourself. This is what spiritual direction is.
To follow Jesus implies that we enter into a way of life that is given character and shape and direction by the one who calls us. To follow Jesus means picking up rhythms and ways of doing things that are often unsaid but always derivative from Jesus, formed by the influence of Jesus. To follow Jesus means that we can’t separate what Jesus is saying from what Jesus is doing and the way that he is doing it. To follow Jesus is as much, or maybe even more, about feet as it is about ears and eyes.
There is a great market for religious experience in our world; there is little enthusiasm for the patient acquisition of virtue, little inclination to sign up for a long apprenticeship in what earlier generations of Christians called holiness.
My job is not to solve people’s problems or make them happy, but to help them see the grace operating in their lives.
The Latin words humus, soil/earth, and homo, human being, have a common derivation, from which we also get our word ‘humble.’ This is the Genesis origin of who we are: dust – dust that the Lord God used to make us a human being. If we cultivate a lively sense of our origin and nurture a sense of continuity with it, who knows, we may also acquire humility.
Like the sacramental use of water and bread and wine, friendship takes what’s common in human experience and turns it into something holy.
Before Jeremiah knew God, God knew Jeremiah: “Before I shaped you in the womb, I knew all about you.” This turns everything we ever thought about God around. We think that God is an object about which we have questions. We are curious about God. We make inquiries about God. We read books about God. We get into late-night bull sessions about God. We drop into church from time to time to see what is going on with God. We indulge in an occasional sunset or symphony to cultivate a feeling of reverence for God. But that is not the reality of our lives with God. Long before we ever got around to asking questions about God, God had been questioning us. Long before we got interested in the subject of God, God subjected us to the most intensive and searching knowledge. Before it ever crossed our minds that God might be important, God singled us out as important. Before we were formed in the womb, God knew us. We are known before we know. This realization has a practical result: no longer do we run here and there, panicked and anxious, searching for the answers to life. Our lives are not puzzles to be figured out. Rather, we come to God, who knows us and reveals to us the truth of our lives. The fundamental mistake is to begin with ourselves and not God. God is the center from which all life develops. If we use our ego as the center from which to plot the geometry of our lives, we will live eccentrically.
It’s your heart, not the dictionary, that gives meaning to your words.
Christians don’t simply learn or study or use Scripture; we assimilate it, take it into our lives in such a way that it gets metabolized into acts of love, cups of cold water, missions into all the world, healing and evangelism and justice in Jesus’ name, hands raised in adoration of the Father, feet washed in company with the Son.
No text can be understood out of its entire context. The most “entire” context is Jesus. Every biblical text must be read in the living presence of Jesus. Every word of the scriptural text is a window or door leading us out of the tarpaper shacks of self into this great outdoors of God’s revelation.
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. It is the opposite of making plans that we demand that God put into effect, telling him both how and when to do it. That is not hoping in God but bullying God. “I pray to GOD-my life a prayer-and wait for what he’ll say and do. My life’s on the line before God, my Lord, waiting and watching till morning, waiting and watching till morning.”
Classically, there are three ways in which humans try to find transcendence–religious meaning–apart from God as revealed through the cross of Jesus: through the ecstasy of alcohol and drugs, through the ecstasy of recreational sex, through the ecstasy of crowds. Church leaders frequently warn against the drugs and the sex, but at least, in America, almost never against the crowds.
A genuine leader will never exploit your emotions or your pocketbook.
The Christian gospel is rooted in langauge: God spoke a creation into being; our Savior was the Word made flesh. The poet is the person who uses words not primarily to convey information but to make a relationship, shape beauty, form truth…
Isn’t it odd that pastors, who are responsible for interpreting the Scriptures, so much of which come in the form of poetry, have so little interest in poetry? … Words create. God’s word creates; our words can participate in creation.
We care more for our possessions with which we hope to make our way in the world than with our thoughts and dreams which tell us who we are in the world.
What people resist is not change per se, but loss.
God made man small and the universe big to say something about himself.
God is not looking for people to work for Him but people who let Him work mightily in and through them.
After nourishment, shelter and companionship, stories are the thing we need most in the world.
Circumstances which we have resented, situations which we have found desperately difficult, have all been the means in the hands of God of driving the nails into the self-life which so easily complains.
A good journey begins with knowing where you are and being willing to go somewhere else.
One’s philosophy is not best expressed in words. It is expressed in the choices one makes. In the long run, we shape our lives and we shape ourselves. The process never ends until we die. And the choices we make are ultimately our responsibility.
In the battle of life, it is not the critic who counts; nor the one who points out how the strong person stumbled, or where the doer of a deed could have done better. The credit belongs to the person who is actually in the arena; whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood, who strives valiantly; who errs and comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; who does actually strive to do deeds; who knows the great enthusiasms, the great devotion, spends oneself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement; and who at worst, if he or she fails, at least fails while daring greatly.
Far better it is to dare mighty things, to win glorious triumphs, even though checkered by failure, than to take rank with those poor spirits who neither enjoy much nor suffer much, because they live in the gray twilight that knows not victory nor defeat.
Comparison is the thief of joy.
The greatest temptation of our time is impatience, in its full original meaning: refusal to wait, undergo, suffer. We seem unwilling to pay the price of living with our fellows in creative and profound relationships.
Beware of manufacturing a God of your own: a God who is all mercy, but not just. Such a God is an idol of your own.
In the world it is called Tolerance, but in hell it is called Despair…the sin that believes in nothing, cares for nothing, seeks to know nothing, interferes with nothing, enjoys nothing, hates nothing, finds purpose in nothing, lives for nothing, and remains alive because there is nothing for which it will die.
Sin is a deep interior dislocation of the soul. It’s a desire to keep control of your life.
Biblical orthodoxy without compassion is surely the ugliest thing in the world.
You’re afraid? So what. Everybody’s afraid. Fear is the common ground of humanity. The question you must wrestle to the ground is, ‘Will I allow my fear to bind me to mediocrity?’
Not one person who comes through your door comes haphazardly. By sending that guest to you, God is giving you the privilege of cooperating with Him to move someone forward in their journey toward Jesus.
Three first-time guests for every 100 attenders is the minimum number of guests that FCC, or any church, needs just to maintain consistency as people move away, join other churches or die. Five guests per 100 regular attenders usually signals a growing church, while 7 to 10 guests per 100 regular attenders would indicate rapid growth.
An idol is anything or anyone that receives my primary focus of both my energy and my resources, which should first of all, belong to God.
The meaning of earthly existence lies not, as we have grown used to thinking, in prospering…but in the development of the soul.
Character is always lost when a high ideal is sacrificed on the altar of conformity and popularity.
Before any great achievement, some measure of depression is very usual.
We can invent a God who forgives everybody without requiring repentance. All such avenues are established in delusion.
The word of God can be in the mind without being in the heart, but it cannot be in the heart without first being in the mind.
Peace is a fruit of the Spirit, not a byproduct of accumulated wealth.
Adversity is always unexpected and unwelcomed. It is an intruder and a thief, and yet in the hands of God, adversity becomes the means through which His supernatural power is demonstrated.
Adversity is not simply a tool. It is God’s most effective tool for the advancement of our spiritual lives. The circumstances and events that we see as setbacks are oftentimes the very things that launch us into periods of intense spiritual growth. Once we begin to understand this, and accept it as a spiritual fact of life, adversity becomes easier to bear.
If I withhold mercy, I have lost touch with the gospel. I have lost touch with God’s undeserved kindness and pardon.
Anything under God’s control is never out of control.
Unless there is an element of risk in our exploits for God, there is no need for faith.
Your religion is what you do with your solitude.
The church is the only cooperative society in the world that exists for the benefit of its non-members.
Corrie Ten Boom
Never be afraid to trust an unknown future to a known God.
Henry David Thoreau
The price of anything is the amount of life you exchange for it.
A man that flies from his fear may find that he has only take a short cut to meet it.
Faith is seeing the invisible, but not the nonexistent.
All great Christians have been wounded souls.
Kindness is a language that deaf people can hear and that blind people can see.
What is the difference between a taxidermist and a tax collector? The taxidermist takes only your skin.
You can’t depend on your eyes when your imagination is out of focus.
Religion is like a knife: you can either use it to cut bread, or stick in someone’s back.
Kindness is a language that deaf people can hear and that blind people can see.
In the words of E. Stanley Jones, “The God I find in Christ is a God who overcomes evil with good, hate by love, and the world by a cross.”
The way you think determines the way you feel, and the way you feel determines the way you act.
Thus was the King and the Lord of glory judged by man’s judgment, when manifest in flesh: far be it from any of his ministers to expect better treatment.
Warren W. Wiersbe
Truth without love is brutality, and love without truth is hypocrisy.
The only difference between the saint and the sinner is that every saint has a past, and every sinner has a future.
We live in a culture that has, for centuries now, cultivated the idea that the skeptical person is always smarter than one who believes. You can almost be as stupid as a cabbage as long as you doubt.
Grace is not opposed to effort, it is opposed to earning. Earning is an attitude. Effort is an action. Grace, you know, does not just have to do with forgiveness of sins alone.
The process of spiritual formation in Christ is one of progressively replacing…destructive images and ideas with the images and ideas that filled the mind of Jesus himself.
Jesus’s resurrection is the beginning of God’s new project not to snatch people away from earth to heaven but to colonize earth with the life of heaven. That, after all, is what the Lord’s Prayer is about.
The point of the resurrection…is that the present bodily life is not valueless just because it will die…What you do with your body in the present matters because God has a great future in store for it…What you do in the present—by painting, preaching, singing, sewing, praying, teaching, building hospitals, digging wells, campaigning for justice, writing poems, caring for the needy, loving your neighbor as yourself—will last into God’s future. These activities are not simply ways of making the present life a little less beastly, a little more bearable, until the day when we leave it behind altogether (as the hymn so mistakenly puts it…). They are part of what we may call building for God’s kingdom.
The church is often called a killjoy for protesting against sexual license. But the real killing of joy comes with the grabbing of pleasure. As with credit card usage. the price tag is hidden at the start, but the physical and emotional debt incurred will take a long time to pay off.
Without God’s Spirit, there is nothing we can do that will count for God’s kingdom.
A clear conscience is usually the sign of a bad memory.
There is nothing we can do to make God love us more. There is nothing we can do to make God love us less.
Grace is a gift that costs everything for the giver and nothing for the recipient.
By forgiving another, I am trusting that God is a better justice-maker than I am.
We have a right to believe whatever we want, but not everything we believe is right.