Archive for the 'quote' Category

John Stott:

Our love grows soft if it is not strengthened by truth, and our truth grows hard if it is not softened by love.

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In Christianity Today, Eric O. Jacobsen writes about how we understand the new creation

A key to this significant paradigm shift has been a reconsideration of the provocative text in the second half of 2 Peter 3:10. As the King James Version has it, “The earth also and the works that are therein shall be burned up.” One common way to understand this text is that the earth and sky (heaven) will be completely annihilated, then later replaced with a brand new heaven and earth.

However, another possibility—and the one that some of the more contemporary translations use—is that the earth and everything on it will be disclosed or laid bare. That is to say, the fire will not annihilate the entire earth, but will refine it by burning away everything that is unworthy (Malachi 3:2-3). This newer translation seems to fit the context better, as the author had just made a parallel reference to the destruction of the Flood, which wreaked havoc on creation but didn’t annihilate everything.

We’ve talked about and argued about this with each other and our readers in the past. We’ve all been up in arms over various doctrines that we are passionate about. And while I believe that our doctrine shapes and defines how we live our lives, I have a hard time believing that we’ve got it all together. Or that those of us who have argued for a refiners fire have let that belief shape us enough. We look at the evil around us with sadness but do nothing to participate in God’s redeeming work. Well, I don’t really think that. I’m sure you do something to that end, but when I see stories like this -

I wonder about the work that the church is participating in. I live an hour away from Indianapolis. Sex trafficking has been on my radar as a problem the church in the U.S. needs to be aware of and working on. We’ve done nothing. 11 Catholic churches worked on this effort. A lot of our churches are invested in a lot of good and Godly work around this world and in their communities. I get that. I encourage that. But this isn’t another tax seminar, or specialized conference, or study series, or the latest book that can be ignored because there is something better to do with our time. This is mercy for the hurting, justice for the abused, humility for the proud.

We didn’t start the fire
It was always burning
Since the world’s been turning
We didn’t start the fire
No we didn’t light it
But we tried to fight it

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“Don’t be dogmatic about something that Scripture is not dogmatic about.” — Michael Card

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“Having recently completed six years of research on the question of how God transforms us, I can tell you that genuine transformation is about love God and people with everything you have. To reach that state, you must be permanently changed. First, you have to be broken by God–broken over your sins against Him, over your focus on self, and over your reliance on society for your cues and marching orders. And it gets tougher once you are shattered by what you’ve done and who you’ve become. At that point, you have to surrender the fullness of your life to God and submit yourself to His will. That’s a searing process: being humbled by your bad choices, getting over yourself, recognizing the holiness of your creator Father, accepting His forgiveness and love, and returning that love by throwing out your own plans and expectations and completely adopting His. Only then can you truly love God and others. Without this kind of inner transformation, you’ll choose to love yourself more than Him. When push comes to shove and difficult choices have to be made, you’ll opt for those things that advance you rather than God. Brokenness, surrender, submission, and deep love–those are the ‘big four’ that most of us ignore in our lives to our own detriment and that of the people we’ve been placed on earth to love and serve”–George Barna, Futurecast, 222-223

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I’m fascinated about the topic of prayer. I have friends that all over the page when it comes to what prayer is, how it is and is not effective. I came across this quote today by a person who is about to write a new book on prayer. What do you think of the quote?

“To speak about prayer is indeed presumptuous. There are no devices, no techniques; there is no specialized art of prayer. All of life must be a training to pray. We pray the way we live.”~Abraham Joshua Heschel

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This is only one small excerpt from the book I am thoroughly enjoying–deep though it may be with commentary on the work of dead theologians. It’s worth the trouble if you have the time for a slow read. I love the following quote:

Most especially is this overarching by heaven heard to be the case with respect to the lack of parity in the Gospel message between heaven and hell. While scriptural references to heaven and earth tell of a creation in which earth is under heaven, even more so they tell of a redemption in which hell is rendered powerless before the keys of the coming basileia of heaven (Mt. 16.18-19). Contrary to any idea that heaven and hell are equally optional alternative states of affairs that can be actualized somehow by our decisions, it is precisely when beclouded by the direst forebodings and fear of the powers of heaven being shaken that hearers of the Gospel are told, in the words of Jesus, to lift up their heads because ‘redemption is drawing near’ (Lk. 21.28). (The Difference Heaven Makes 36)

With so much conversation in the blog world about hell, maybe inserting a little conversation around the idea of heaven would be beneficial. Although, to be sure, merely talking about heaven won’t make much difference. Bringing the reality of heaven to broken people, wherever they are, will. Heaven makes a difference when heaven is brought to bear on this world–and I believe that Christians have a vital role to play here in this regard.

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I have been on this crazy bender lately–listening to 3 or 4 sermons a day for the last several days. Last night I was listening to an older sermon Tim Keller preached concerning the Church, the culture, and how Christians fit into these worlds and so on and so forth. You can find the sermon here. (It’s not so much a sermon as it is a lecture, but it is worth the effort and time, and it is a little older, but it is still quite relevant with, perhaps, a few tweaks.)

As Keller spoke, he mentioned, near the end, a definition of salvation and what the ultimate purpose of salvation is. I wrote it down because it was so powerful and compelling:

“The ultimate purpose of salvation is a new heavens and a new earth. This world is not a theater, temporary theater, for the salvation of individual souls who get converted and then leave. Our individual salvation is a means to an end. The world is not the means and our salvation the end. Our salvation is the means and a brand new material world is an end where music is perfect, where farming is perfect, where there is no disease, where there is no death.”

This is just wonderful.

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“It is not enough to have the courage of your convictions, but you must also have the courage to have your convictions challenged.” (emphasis his)

~Christopher Phillips from Socrates Cafe (pp 3-4)

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“There’s a common misconception that the choice between Christ and false gods is the choice between desiring to go to hell and desiring to go to heaven. I’ve heard preachers say the narrow way is the way of Christianity that people choose when they want to go to heaven, and the broad way is the way people choose who are content to go to hell. But they are misinformed or confused. It is not a contrast between godliness and Christianity on the one hand and irreligious, lewd, lascivious pagan masses headed merrily for hell on the other. It is a contrast between two kinds of religions, both roads marked ‘This way to Heaven.’ Satan doesn’t put up a sign that says, ‘Hell–Exit Here.’ That’s not his style. People on the broad road think that road goes to heaven.”–John MacArthur, Hard to Believe, 78

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“There is neither encouragement or effective exhortation in telling those who are suffering that others have suffered more, in telling those grieving that others have lost more, in telling the hungry that others have actually starved. Such spoutings produce feelings of guilt, shame, and anger—all of which are not only counterproductive but also destructive of the faith that was already only barely clinging to the altar.”—Fred Craddock, in The New Interpreter’s Bible Commentary, ‘Hebrews,’ p 83

I had to apologize to my eldest son this morning after reading this. Sometimes being a parent is especially difficult and even though he is graduating on Saturday, I realize I am still learning and he is still teaching. Learning how to speak to our children properly and being repentant when we speak to them improperly is a humbling lesson to learn. I confess I have had to learn the lesson more than once.

What I think happens is that there are times when my son will come to me for conversation, for dialogue concerning his life. Lately, it has been mostly about his car. It breaks; a lot. And it frustrates him. It collapses entire days for him. So when he starts in about how terrible his life is because his car is broken, again, my usual response has been something like, “Jerry, it’s a car. It’s not the worst thing in the world. You want to go and see people your age who are having a difficult time?” Ugh. Worst. Response. Ever.

Worst parent ever.

So I have to learn: his suffering does matter. Is the end of the world? To me, no; to him, yes! To a teenager, the car is everything. It is their lifeline to freedom and responsibility. So I err when I am dismissive of something that, to me, seems so miniscule or minor and to him seems so major and life altering. What I have suffered is irrelevant as a means of comparison. Comparison is unnecessary in such situations because that is not what people want or need to hear. Comparison is meaningless because it ends up being like a game of one-upmanship.

People need grace. If they are weeping, weep alongside them. If they are laughing, laugh it up fuzz-ball. If they are angry, join them in anger. If they are dejected, come alongside them and sit in the ashes. I’ve always been impressed with the first seven days and nights of Job’s suffering when his friends sat with him on the ground and said nothing to him for seven days and seven nights. When someone suffers, yes there are probably others who are and have suffered more. Undoubtedly this is true. But that is irrelevant because it minimizes the suffering of the individual directly in front of me. It is dismissive and likely damages them even more. Not to mention that it also sort of cheapens the suffering of others too–those who have become mere props in our game of who has suffered more.

My role is to help them strengthen their grip, not weaken them even more.

Frankly, I don’t even think it is very nice or appropriate when preachers say things like, “You are suffering, but you have not suffered as much as Jesus.” Well, maybe; maybe not. But is that the point? Jesus didn’t say, “Father I am suffering, but I have not suffered as much as David or Job so it’s OK.” No, Jesus said, “Father, I am suffering; take this cup from me.” Even Jesus didn’t minimize his suffering by comparing it with that of others. Jesus suffered.

This is about learning to see the person directly in front of me and loving them regardless of whatever else in the world is going on today. My son’s suffering is as valid as any other person’s suffering precisely because it is he who is suffering. His suffering is not minimized because others have suffered more; his suffering is not maximized because others have suffered less. His suffering is his. And that is where we start.

Lord, forgive me for being dismissive of people who have suffered—especially my son. Teach me Lord to patiently listen to those who speak, to sit silently for as long as it takes, and when I finally speak, if asked to, to speak softly the words of your grace and mercy.

“Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.”—Colossians 4:6

I’ll leave it up to you, the reader, to determine how grace fills our conversations.

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