Spreading goodness

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If I can put one touch
of a rosy sunset into the life
of any man or woman,
I shall feel that I have
worked with God.

–George MacDonald

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Published in: on 02/28/2015 at 10:11  Leave a Comment  
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Child’s play and the Kingdom

dsc_00201-1Unless you become like a child, Jesus said, you will never enter the Kingdom of Heaven, and maybe part of what that means is that in the long run what is good about religion is playing the way a child plays at being grown up until he finds that being grown up is just another way of playing and thereby starts to grow up himself. Maybe what is good about religion is playing that the Kingdom will come, until—in the joy of your playing, the hope and rhythm and comradeship and poignance and mystery of it—you start to see that the playing is itself the first-fruits of the Kingdom’s coming and of God’s presence within us and among us.

–Frederick Buechner
Now and Then

New life breaking through

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The whole of the Sermon [Matt 5-7] is framed within Jesus’s announcement that what his fellow Jews had longed for over many generations was now at last coming to pass – but that new kingdom didn’t look like they had thought it would. Indeed, in some ways it went in exactly the other direction. No violence, no hatred of enemies, no anxious protection of land and property against the pagan hordes. In short, no frantic intensification of the ancestral codes of life.

Rather, a glad and unworried trust in the creator God, whose kingdom is now at last starting to arrive, leading to a glad and generous heart toward other people, even those who are technically “enemies.” Faith, hope, and love: here they are again. They are the language of life, the sign in the present of green shoots growing through the concrete of this sad old world, the indication that the creator God is on the move, and that Jesus’s hearers and followers can be part of what he’s now doing.

― N. T. Wright

He was the message

Christ 1D copy 2Fundamentally, our Lord’s message was Himself. He did not come merely to preach a Gospel; He himself is that Gospel. He did not come merely to give bread; He said, “I am the bread.” He did not come merely to shed light; He said, “I am the light.” He did not come merely to show the door; He said, “I am the door.” He did not come merely to name a shepherd; He said, “I am the shepherd.” He did not come merely to point the way; He said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life.

–J. Sidlow Baxter
Explore the Book

Costly relationship

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Relationships are costly.
Whatever it cost you
to be with God is nothing
compared to what it cost Him
to be with you.

–Tim Keller

Made for another world

the_garden_of_hope 2If I find in myself a desire which no experience in this world can satisfy, the most probable explanation is that I was made for another world. If none of my earthly pleasures satisfy it, that does not prove that the universe is a fraud. Probably earthly pleasures were never meant to satisfy it, but only to arouse it, to suggest the real thing.

If that is so, I must take care, on the one hand, never to despise, or to be unthankful for, these earthly blessings, and on the other, never to mistake them for the something else of which they are only a kind of copy, or echo, or mirage.

I must keep alive in myself the desire for my true country, which I shall not find till after death; I must never let it get snowed under or turned aside; I must make it the main object of life to press on to that country and to help others to do the same.

― C. S. Lewis
Mere Christianity

Miniscule and massive

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Understand this: we are both tiny and massive. We are nothing more than molded clay given breath, but we are nothing less than divine self-portraits, huffing and puffing along the mountain ranges of epic narrative arcs prepared for us by the Infinite Word Himself.

―N. D. Wilson
Death by Living:
Life Is Meant to Be Spent

Daily living of love

 

Francisco Ayala GressJesus does not propositionalize love, give norms and precepts for what love is, give applications for its use, or spell out in detail what love looks like in every situation—because love requires imagination and creativity and customization. What is Jesus looking for in response to His teaching? Not penitential acts or a Jesus worldview but a Jesus life and a daily living of love.

–Frank Viola

Published in: on 02/18/2015 at 7:13  Leave a Comment  
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Beyond all expectation

Heaven, shores

I believe, to be sure, that any man who reaches Heaven will find that what he has abandoned (even in plucking out his right eye) was precisely nothing: that the kernel of what he was really seeking even in his most depraved wishes will be there, beyond expectation, waiting for him in ‘the High Countries.’

–C. S. Lewis
The Great Divorce

Artwork: Freydoon Rassouli

Published in: on 02/14/2015 at 8:24  Leave a Comment  
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Not a fairy tale

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In the salvation
of Jesus Christ
we learn that
the happy ending
we all long for
is not a fairy tale.

–Tim Keller

Published in: on 02/13/2015 at 5:48  Leave a Comment  
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Longing for more

648965_8e4d4e76a6f1bf435d57952f49cc667c_largeBeauty is to the spirit what food is to the flesh. A glimpse of it in a young face, say, or an echo of it in a song fills an emptiness in you that nothing else under the sun can. Unlike food, however, it is something you never get your fill of. It leaves you always aching with longing not so much for more of the same as for whatever it is, deep within and far beyond both it and yourself, that makes it beautiful.

“The beauty of holiness” is how the Psalms name it (29:2), and “As the hart panteth after the water brooks, so panteth my soul after thee” (42:1) is the way they describe the ache and the longing.

  –Frederich Buechner
  Beyond Words

Meekness and majesty

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He was the meekest and lowliest of all the sons of men, yet he spoke of coming on the clouds of heaven with the glory of God. He was so austere that evil spirits and demons cried out in terror at his coming, yet he was so genial and winsome and approachable that the children loved to play with him, and the little ones nestled in his arms. His presence at the innocent gaiety of a village wedding was like the presence of sunshine.

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No one was half so compassionate to sinners, yet no one ever spoke such red hot scorching words about sin. A bruised reed he would not break, his whole life was love, yet on one occasion he demanded of the Pharisees how they ever expected to escape the damnation of hell. He was a dreamer of dreams and a seer of visions, yet for sheer stark realism He has all of our stark realists soundly beaten. He was a servant of all, washing the disciples feet, yet masterfully He strode into the temple, and the hucksters and moneychangers fell over one another to get away from the mad rush and the fire they saw blazing in His eyes.

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He saved others, yet at the last Himself He did not save. There is nothing in history like the union of contrasts which confronts us in the gospels. The mystery of Jesus is the mystery of divine personality.

– James S. Stewart
(1896–1990)

Reverence and intimacy

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The two elements come together in worship . . . The acts of reverence and intimacy need each other. The reverence needs the infusion of intimacy lest it become a cool and detached aesthetic. The intimacy needs to be suffused in reverence lest it become a gushy emotion.

–Eugene Peterson
Living the Resurrection

Spiritual thirst

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What man needs
is discovered in Christ.
Then he realizes
he is thirsty because,
incomprehensibly,
God is thirsty for him.

–Antonio Lopez

Under or overwhelmed?

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If we’re underwhelmed
with the gospel we’ll be
more easily overwhelmed
with almost anything.

–Scotty Smith ‏

Image: Maxwell Dickson

Published in: on 02/08/2015 at 5:17  Leave a Comment  
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Working with God

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To effect the blessedness
for which God made him,
man must become
a fellow-worker
with God.

–George MacDonald
Guild Court

Published in: on 02/07/2015 at 5:42  Leave a Comment  
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All these toys

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All these toys
were never intended
to possess my heart.
My true good
is in another world,
and my only real treasure
is Christ.

–C. S. Lewis
The Problem of Pain

Powerful and proven

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Giving thanks is dangerous,
it’s igniting and contagious
and otherworldly
and it’s been proven
biblically, scientifically,
to win demon wars.

–Ann Voskamp

Published in: on 02/05/2015 at 7:46  Leave a Comment  
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Jonah, the whale and the worm

Jonah_and_the_Whale

Within a few minutes of swallowing the prophet Jonah, the whale suffered a severe attack of acid indigestion, and it’s not hard to see why. Jonah had a disposition that was enough to curdle milk.

When God ordered him to go to Nineveh and tell them there to shape up and get saved, the expression on Jonah’s face was that of a man who has just gotten a whiff of trouble in his septic tank. In the first place, the Ninevites were foreigners and thus off his beat. In the second place, far from wanting to see them get saved, nothing would have pleased him more than to see them get what he thought they had coming to them.

It was as the result of a desperate attempt to get himself out of the assignment that he got himself swallowed by the whale instead; but the whale couldn’t stomach him for long, and in the end Jonah went ahead, and with a little more prodding from God, did what he’d been told. He hated every minute of it, however, and when the Ninevites succumbed to his eloquence and promised to shape up, he sat down under a leafy castor oil plant to shade him from the blistering sun and smouldered inwardly. It was an opening that God could not resist.

He caused the castor oil plant to shrivel up to the last leaf, and when Jonah got all upset at being back in the ghastly heat again, God pretended to misunderstand what was bugging him.

“Here you are, all upset out of pity for one small castor oil plant that has shriveled up,” he said, “so what’s wrong with having pity for this whole place that’s headed for Hell in a handcart if something’s not done about it?” (Jonah 4:10-11).

It is one of the rare instances in the Old Testament of God’s wry sense of humor, and it seems almost certain that Jonah didn’t fail to appreciate it.

–Frederick Buechner
Peculiar Treasures

Published in: on 02/03/2015 at 20:53  Leave a Comment  
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He can’t get closer

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No prayer can ever
bring God any closer.
Already, without any effort
on your part,
God patiently dwells
within the tender recesses
of your own heart.

–Mike Yaconelli 

Did the Lamb succeed?

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Try this one on for size..read all of it. Under the old covenant when a man sinned he could have his sins taken care of by taking a lamb to the temple to be sacrificed. The priest representing God would inspect the lamb to make sure it was spotless and without fault. HE WOULD NEVER EXAMINE OR SCRUTINIZE THE SINNER ONLY THE LAMB.

If the lamb was perfect it would be sacrificed in place of the sinner to pay for the sin of the man who was guilty. The man would go away from God with a clear conscience….In the book of John, JESUS IS CALLED THE LAMB OF GOD WHO TAKES AWAY THE SIN OF THE WORLD. I guess the only question that remains is: did the Lamb do what He was sent to do or did He fail?

–Don Keathley

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