Making Up Our Minds

The moment we make up our minds that
we are going on with this determination to exalt
God overall, we step out of the world’s parade…
We shall acquire a new viewpoint; a new and different
psychology will be formed within us; a new power
will begin to surprise us by its upsurgings
and its outgoings.

– A. W. Tozer
The Pursuit of God

The Humanity of God

“THE WORD BECAME flesh,” wrote John, “and dwelt among us, full of grace and truth” (John 1:14). That is what incarnation means. It is untheological. It is unsophisticated. It is undignified. But according to Christianity it is the way things are.

All religions and philosophies which deny the reality or the significance of the material, the fleshly, the earth-bound, are themselves denied. Moses at the burning bush was told to take off his shoes because the ground on which he stood was holy ground (Exodus 3:5), and incarnation means that all ground is holy ground because God not only made it but walked on it, ate and slept and worked and died on it. If we are saved anywhere, we are saved here. And what is saved is not some diaphanous distillation of our bodies and our earth, but our bodies and our earth themselves. Jerusalem becomes the New Jerusalem coming down out of Heaven like a bride adorned for her husband (Revelation 21:2). Our bodies are sown perishable and raised imperishable (1 Corinthians 15:42).

One of the blunders religious people are particularly fond of making is the attempt to be more spiritual than God.

– Frederick Buechner

The Incarnate Message

Jesus Christ is the Word become flesh, not the Word become idea. Had it been the Word become idea, it would have been a philosophy, a moralism. In that case it would have taken its place among the great philosophies of the world—higher, but among. But the Christian faith is not a philosophy, but a fact—the fact of Christ. In him all the ideas have taken shoes and walked. The message is the Man, for the Man is the message—incarnate. Everything he spoke he lived and more. This makes the Christian message not “among,” but apart from, different, sole, unique. “Never man spoke like this man,” for never man lived like this Man. You can’t tell where his words end and his deeds begin, or where his deeds end and his words begin, for his deeds were words and his words deeds. They entwine like words and music of a song. And what words, and what a son, and what harmony!

 –E. Stanley Jones,
A Song of Ascents

Awakening to Wonder

Gratitude takes
nothing for granted.
It is constantly awakening
to new wonder.

– Thomas Merton

Published in: on 11/26/2020 at 17:40  Leave a Comment  
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Called To Encourage

One of the highest of human duties is the duty of encouragement… It is easy to laugh at men’s ideals; it is easy to pour cold water on their enthusiasm; it is easy to discourage others. The world is full of discouragers. We have a Christian duty to encourage one another. Many a time a word of praise or thanks or appreciation or cheer has kept a man on his feet. Blessed is the man who speaks such a word.

– William Barclay

Published in: on 11/09/2020 at 19:55  Leave a Comment  
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No Better Ending

THE PRODIGAL SON STORY
Try, if you please, to invent a different ending for this story. Make the old man rebuff the boy at first; have him stand on his dignity and require of the rascal proofs of his change of heart; let him read a sermon on wild oats before the forgiving kiss is bestowed; have him take the penitent at his word—as he richly deserves to be taken—and try him out with the slaves for a year or two, till the family pride or outraged justice, is satisfied. Imagine, in short, any possible ending but this, and you have destroyed the noblest picture of redeeming grace ever created, and lowered God to the level of man’s virtue. Heathen religions in plenty, and some versions of Christian religion, furnish us with the alternatives suggested above; Christ alone shows us the suffering Father who saves by forgiving.

–Albert E. Bailey,
The Gospel in Art

No Cause To Fear

If the Lord be with us,
we have no cause of fear.
His eye is upon us, His arm over us,
His ear open to our prayer –
His grace sufficient,
His promise unchangeable.

– John Newton

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Still Rejoicing

Though vine nor fig tree neither
Their wonted fruit shall bear,
Though all the field should wither,
Nor flocks nor herds be there:
Yet God the same abiding,
His praise shall tune my voice;
For, while in Him confiding,
I cannot but rejoice.

– William Cowper

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A Place of Refuge

Fortress in Ukraine

The Lord is a refuge for the oppressed,
a stronghold in times of trouble.
Those who know your name trust in you,
for you, Lord, have never forsaken
those who seek you.

– Psalms 9:9-10

Published in: on 08/01/2020 at 6:13  Leave a Comment  
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A Place Of Peace

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Peace = Our lives hidden in Christ,
our feet standing in grace,
our hearts rooted in God’s love,
our stories being written
by our Father.

–Scotty Smith

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A Message From the Maker

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God sings his love to you in birdsong.
God smiles at you in maple trees.
God charms you with the color green.
He gave you eyes to see sunsets,
ears to hear rainfall, a nose to smell a rose.
God’s massive love appears in small fragments.
God is loving you in these moments,
even if you don’t know it.

– James Bryan Smith,
The Magnificent Story

Choose Life

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 Indeed we can rest content in
the full assurance that nothing harms
or destroys us but the wrong use of that
liberty of choice which God has entrusted to us.
Choose any life but the life of God
and you choose death.

– William Law,
(1686-1761)

STAFF

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An Unshakeable Kingdom

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The world’s ways of responding to the intimations of decay is to engage equally in idiot hopes and idiot despair. On the one hand some new policy or discovery is confidently expected to put everything right: a new fuel, a new drug, detente, world government. On the other, some disaster is as confidently expected to prove our undoing. Capitalism will break down. Fuel will run out. Plutonium will lay us low. Atomic waste will kill us off. Overpopulation will suffocate us, or alternatively a declining birth rate will put us more surely at the mercy of our enemies.

In Christian terms, such hopes and fears are equally beside the point. As Christians we know that here we have no continuing city, that crowns roll in the dust and every earthly kingdom must sometime flounder, whereas we acknowledge a king men did not crown and cannot dethrone as we are citizens of a city of God they did not build and cannot destroy.

–Malcolm Muggeridge

Not Just For Tombstones

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The Worst Virus

Published in: on 05/10/2020 at 3:48  Leave a Comment  
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A Steadfast Hope

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We pray for God to be merciful in our distress.
We weep with those who weep.
We suffer with those who are suffering.
We use wisdom and take necessary precautions.
But we also lift up our heads in confidence.
We have a hope that neither death nor life,
nor viruses nor sagging economies can touch.
We are not promised that we will survive
the coronavirus, but we are promised that
we will survive something far worse, the curse
that falls on those who don’t know God.
And we can’t look into the future and predict
what will happen next on the world stage.
Still, we as Christians have an anchor.
Our God is a mighty fortress.

– Tom Schreiner

Published in: on 05/02/2020 at 20:11  Leave a Comment  
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Made Strong By Joy

Joy of the Lord

Published in: on 04/29/2020 at 16:00  Leave a Comment  
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To Good To Believe?

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We’ve become too polite. We don’t laugh and cry with God. We’ve forgotten the excitement of the Good News. What greater sign of the extraordinary, lavish marvellous love of God than the incarnation! God so loved the world and all of us in it that God himself came to live with us as one of us! Is it so good that we’re afraid to believe it?

– Madeleine L’Engle

Beauty & Brokenness

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In the beauty of the world,
we are to see God’s existence.
In the brokenness of the world,
we are to see God’s justice.
As we do, we run back to the place
where we see God’s mercy:
the cross.

– Timothy Keller

Well Anchored

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Will your anchor hold in the storms of life,
When the clouds unfold their wings of strife?
When the strong tides lift, and the cables strain,
Will your anchor drift or firm remain?

We have an anchor that keeps the soul
Stedfast and sure while the billows roll,
Fastened to the Rock which cannot move,
Grounded firm and deep in the Savior’s love.

– Priscilla J. Owens

The Word On The Tree

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The children of Adam . . . nailed God in Flesh to a tree.
The sky grew black. The earth shook in horror.
And He spoke. God spoke.
At our very worst, He spoke the very best.
His Word on the tree: “Father, forgive.”
And there we stop… and begin.

–Peter Hiett

Almost Beyond Belief

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An astounding Story…
a virgin-born babe,
a carpenter-Creator,
a foot-washing King,
a crucified God,
a hollow tomb,
a Lion-Lamb,
a glorious hope.

Cross Examined

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The Creator of the universe was willing to suffer everything in order that the nails which harpooned and bloodily smashed the human life in which he was expressing himself might also pin down our wandering thoughts and stab our consciences awake.

– David Edwards

Published in: on 04/11/2020 at 7:32  Leave a Comment  
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The Unveiling of God

5936efd26f73e.imageThere on the cross is displayed the glory, the wisdom, the righteousness, the love, the justice, and the power of God (1 Cor. 1:18-31). And none of it looks anything like what you’d expect. Would you ever have thought a man dying on a cross was the definition of love? Yet this is how we know what love is (1 Jn. 3:16).

Would you ever have looked at the miscarriage of justice that was his trial and imagined that there, above all, is displayed the perfect justice of God? Yet God did it to demonstrate his justice (Rom. 3:26).

Would you ever have dreamed that the Almighty would make the definitive display of his power there, nailed to a cross between common criminals? There seems to be nothing powerful about that man in the throes of death. Yet, hanging there, he is crushing the head of the Serpent, tying up the strong man, driving out the prince of this world, destroying death, putting the spiritual powers to open shame and triumphing over them. On the cross we see true, pure power, used as it should be: to bless…

Adam sought knowledge from the tree, and died; Christ died on his tree and won for us a knowledge altogether more wonderful: the knowledge of God. In other words, on the cross we are given not only the sweet salvation of God but the counterintuitive revelation of God.

– Michael Reeves,
Rejoicing in Christ

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