God of the Beautiful

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One of my greatest difficulties in consenting to think of religion was that I thought I should have to give up my beautiful thoughts and my love for the things God has made. But I find that the happiness springing from all things not in themselves sinful is much increased by religion.

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God is the God of the Beautiful—Religion is the love of the Beautiful, and Heaven is the Home of the Beautiful—Nature is tenfold brighter in the Sun of Righteousness, and my love of Nature is more intense since I became a Christian—if indeed I am one. God has not given me such thoughts and forbidden me to enjoy them.

–George MacDonald
(1824 – 1905)

Artwork: Jim Mitchell

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Published in: on 09/30/2014 at 2:22  Leave a Comment  
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Astonishing cross

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The Cross never finds
its rightful place
in a man’s heart
until it takes his breath away.
It becomes life’s supreme
and most bewildering
astonishment.

–F. W. Boreham
The Drums of Dawn

The anti-Christian

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There is nothing more cheering than transformed Christian people and there is nothing more disintegrating than people who have been merely “brushed” by Christianity, people who have been sown with a thousand seeds but in whose lives there is no depth and no rootage . . .

This is the wood from which
anti-Christians . . . are cut.
They are almost always
former half-Christians.

A person who lets Jesus only half way into his heart is far poorer than one hundred per cent worldling. He does not get the peace that passes all under-standing and he also loses the world’s peace, because his naïveté has been taken from him. Therefore a constant bickering goes on in his heart and it is quite apparent than one day in a fit of rage he will slam the door on that quiet Figure, who even then has continued to knock and seek entrance. The anti-Christian is always a half-Christian gone mad. This you can depend upon.

–Helmut Thielicke
The Waiting Father

Countercultural Cross

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The cross of Christ stands
as a mystery because it is foreign
to everything we exalt —
self over principle,
power over meekness,
the quick fix over the long haul,
cover-up over confession,
escapism over confrontation,
comfort over sacrifice,
feeling over commitment,
legality over justice,
the body over the spirit,
anger over forgiveness,
man over God.

–Ravi Zacharias

Published in: on 09/25/2014 at 23:36  Leave a Comment  
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The severity of grace

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The Law was severe but Grace is severer still. The Law demanded much but Grace demands all. The Law regulates the act. Grace purifies the motive. The Law left the people at the foot of Mount Sinai but grace brings us to the seat of Mount Zion. Jesus time and again utters these words, “You have heard that it was said by them of old . . . but I say unto you . . . “ Where the Law did not intrude, Grace is determined to control. The Law of Moises said, “Thou shalt not do this or that . . . ” —a negative prohibition; Grace comes to us in Jesus Christ and says, “I will make you to become . . . ” involving a positive recreation.

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Striving to obey the Law seeks to put God in our debt. Grace redeems us, teaching us that we are now totally in debt to God.

He does not look
for any legal repayment
but only loving response.

We are not our own, we are bought with a price. Ours is now the discipline of glorifying Him in our body and in our spirits which are God’s. It is no longer a question of seeking to keep the letter of the law but of having fulfilled in us the spirit of Jesus Christ. The Law was written on tables of stone but God has written now His own word upon our hearts. This is the difference between the Old and New Covenant. The “Old” started with our hands asking something from us—but the “New” begins in our hearts giving something to us.

–Geoffrey T. Bull
The Sky is Red

Holiness is a flood

green - waterfallWe should strive for holiness, but holiness is a flood, not an absence. Are you the kind of parent who can create joys for your children that they never imagined wanting? Does your sun shine, warming the faces of others? Does your rain green the world around you? Do you end your days with anything resembling a sunset? Do you begin with a dawn?

We say that we would like to be more like God. So be more thrilled with moonlight. And babies. And what makes them. And holding on to one lover until you’ve both been aged to wine, ready to pour. Holiness is nothing like a building code. Holiness is 80-year-old hands crafting an apple pie for others, again. It is aspen trees in a backlit breeze. It is fire on the mountain.

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Speak your joy. Mean it. Sing it. Do it. Push it down into your bones. Let it overflow your banks and flood the lives of others.

At his right hand, there are pleasures forevermore. When we are truly like him, the same will be said of us.

–N. D. Wilson
Lighten Up, Christians

Published in: on 09/21/2014 at 5:37  Leave a Comment  
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Freedom

LookingWe have freedom to the degree that the master whom we obey grants it to us in return for our obedience. We do well to choose a master in terms of how much freedom we get for how much obedience…

To obey the dictates of our own consciences leaves us freedom from the sense of moral guilt, but not the freedom to gratify our own strongest appetites.

To obey our strongest appetites for drink, sex, power, revenge, or whatever leaves us the freedom of an animal to take what we want when we want it, but not the freedom of a human being to be human.

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The old prayer speaks of God “in whose service is perfect freedom.” The paradox is not as opaque as it sounds. It means that to obey Love itself, which above all else wishes us well, leaves us the freedom to be the best and gladdest that we have it in us to become. The only freedom Love denies us is the freedom to destroy ourselves ultimately.

–Frederick Buechner
Beyond Words

Grace upon grace

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“From his fullness we have all received,
grace upon grace” (John 1:16).

The achievements of the Saviour, resulting from His becoming man, are of such kind and number, that if one should wish to enumerate them, he may be compared to men who gaze at the expanse of the sea and wish to count its waves.  For as one cannot take in the whole of the waves with his eyes, for those which are coming on baffle the sense of him that attempts it; so for him that would take in all the achievements of Christ in the body, it is impossible to take in the whole, even by reckoning them up, as those which go beyond his thought are more than those he thinks he has taken in.

–St. Athanasius
(296 – 373)

Image: Tim Curtis

It is a promise

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The final secret, I think, is this: that the words “You shall love the Lord your God” become in the end less a command than a promise. And the promise is that, yes, on the weary feet of faith and the fragile wings of hope, we will come to love him at last as from the first he has loved us–loved us even in the wilderness, especially in the wilderness, because he has been in the wilderness with us. He has been in the wilderness for us. He has been acquainted with our grief.

–Frederick Buechner
A Room Called Remember

Transformation

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The sinful heart
is never transformed
by conformity to
the imperatives
but only by relationship
with the One who
cleanses hearts.

— Elyse M. Fitzpatrick

Looking beyond

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The purpose of the Bible is that you may look through it and see Jesus Christ. Some people stop with the Bible. . . . But I say that the Bible is not a thing to be analyzed, criticized, outlined and examined, just for it’s own sake. That would be just like sitting in a room and writing a book about a window, without seeing the ocean with its waves curling up the beach or the way the lights and clouds play upon the water.

The Bible is not an end in itself
any more than a window
is an end in itself.

The window allows us to see the beauty that lies beyond. The Bible is the way to life in Jesus Christ.

–Donald G. Barnhouse
(1895 – 1960)

Image: David Miller

Lifelong journey

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To read the Bible for knowledge is tiresome. To read the Bible as a docudrama is boring. To read the Bible as a book of rules is deadening. But to read the Bible as a love letter from a Friend, and to meet that Friend in the text of Scripture, is to pack your bags for a lifelong journey.

–Leonard Sweet
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