God-Indwelt Jars

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He’ll pick you up

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Each time you fall
He’ll pick you up.
He knows your own efforts
are never going to bring you
anywhere near perfection.
     –C. S. Lewis

Flowers and Weeds

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Unless we know the difference between flowers and weeds, we are not fit to take care of a garden.

It is not enough to have truth planted in our minds. We must learn and labor to keep the ground clear of thorns and briars, follies and perversities, which have a wicked propensity to choke the word of life.

–Evan S. Coslett, Leaves of Gold

On the Path of Life

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Published in: on 01/13/2017 at 9:39  Leave a Comment  
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New Year’s Resolve

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Published in: on 12/31/2016 at 10:01  Leave a Comment  
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Only One Life

k8281975Remember that you have only one soul; that you have only one death to die; that you have only one life, which is short and has to be lived by you alone; and that there is only one glory, which is eternal. If you do this, there will be many things about which you care nothing.

–Teresa of Avila,
(1515-1582)

Keep Back Nothing

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Keep back nothing. Nothing that you have not given away will ever be really yours. Nothing in you that has not died will ever be raised from the dead. Look for yourself, and you will find in the long run only hatred, loneliness, despair, rage, ruin, and decay. But look for Christ and you will find Him, and with Him, everything else thrown in.

–‎C. S. Lewis,
Mere Christianity

Rivers and swamps

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The difference between a river and a swamp is that one has banks and the other has none. The swamp is very gracious and kindly, it spreads over everything, hence it is a swamp. Some of us are moral and spiritual swamps. We are so broad and liberal that we taken in everything from the shady to the sacred… We tolerate everything in our lives and hence we must finally tolerate our own spiritual paralysis. Paul said, “This one thing I do;” we would have said, “These forty things I dabble in.” He was a river. We are swamps. There lies the difference.

—E. Stanley Jones,
The Christ of Every Road

Homeward Bound

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We are on pilgrimage, not in permanent quarters. We serve a Lord who for the joy set before him went forward to the Cross, despising the shame. If we would follow him, we must press on, not slacking, not accepting any concordat with the world, not looking for ease or security, but seeking only to offer him new obedience day by day until he comes.

–Lesslie Newbigin

Published in: on 01/03/2016 at 10:59  Leave a Comment  

Climbing higher

climbing rock copyAnd now because you are His child, live as a child of God; be redeemed from the life of evil, which is false to your nature, into the life of goodness, which is the truth of your being. Scorn all that is mean; hate all that is false; struggle with all that is impure. Live the simple, lofty life which befits an heir of immortality.

–Frederick W. Robertson

We haven’t arrived

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He who thinks that
he is finished is finished…
Those who think that
they have arrived, have lost their way.
Those who think they have
reached their goal, have missed it.
Those who think they are saints,
are demons.

–Henri Nouwen
The Genesee Diary

Continuing to climb

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Those on the heights
Are not the souls
Who never erred nor went astray,
Who trod unswerving
To their goals
Along a smooth, rose-bordered way.
Nay, those who stand
Where first comes dawn,
Are those who stumbled–
but went on.

-J. Sidlow Baxter
Explore the Book

Photo credit: HARRY BERKING

The “folly” of following Jesus

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If the world is sane, then Jesus is mad as a hatter and the Last Supper is the Mad Tea Party. The world says, Mind your own business, and Jesus says, There is no such thing as your own business. The world says, Follow the wisest course and be a success, and Jesus says, Follow me and be crucified. The world says, Drive carefully — the life you save may be your own — and Jesus says, Whoever would save his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it. The world says, Law and order, and Jesus says, Love. The world says, Get and Jesus says, Give. In terms of the world’s sanity, Jesus is crazy as a coot, and anybody who thinks he can follow him without being a little crazy too is laboring less under a cross than under a delusion.

—Frederick Buechner
Listening to Your Life

Remembering God

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The first great commandment requires us to love God, which we do best through our awareness of his great love for us. Thomas Merton remarks, “The ‘remembering’ of God, of which we sing in the Psalms, is simply the discovery, in deep compunction of heart, that God remembers us.”

We remember God best by believing that we matter, personally and infinitely, to him. I must ask again and again for the faith to believe that God delights in me and desires to relate to me. For that reason as much as any, I study the Bible: not merely to master a work of great literature or to learn theology, but to let soak into my soul the inescapable message of God’s love and personal concern.

–Philip Yancey
Reaching for the Invisible God

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

The other point of view

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The moment you wake up each morning, all your wishes and hopes for the day rush at you like wild animals. And the first job each morning consists in shoving it all back; in listening to that other voice, taking that other point of view, letting that other, larger, stronger, quieter life come flowing in.

– C. S. Lewis

Frequent failings

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You are surprised at your imperfections, — why? I should infer from that, that your self-knowledge is small. Surely you might rather be astonished that you do not fall into more frequent and more grievous faults, and thank God for His upholding grace.

―Jean Nicolas Grou
(1731–1803)

Adventuresome road

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It must be made clear…
that the narrow path
that leads unto life
is as crowded
with adventure
as the broad path
that leads to
destruction.

–F. W. Boreham
The Ivory Spires

Through unknown waters

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You are leaving port under sealed orders and in a troubled period. You cannot know whither you are going or what you are to do.

But why not take the Pilot on board who knows the nature of your sealed orders from the outset, and who will shape your entire voyage accordingly?

He knows the shoals and the sandbanks, the rocks and the reefs. He will steer you safely into that celestial harbor where your anchor will be cast for eternity.

Let His almighty nail-pierced hands hold the wheel, and you will be safe.

–Peter Marshall
(1902-1949)

Published in: on 01/07/2015 at 3:55  Leave a Comment  
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Start living now

bodegones-ventanas-flores-oleos copy 2Start living now. Stop saving the good china for that special occasion. Stop withholding your love until that special person materializes. Every day you are alive is a special occasion. Every minute, every breath, is a gift from God.

–Mary Manin Morrissey

 

Artwork: Stephen Darbishire

 

Keep running the race

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Keep sacrificing. Keep losing. Keep laying your life down. Keep loving your enemies. Keep blessing those who despise you. Keep refusing to return fire upon those who bad-mouth you. Keep pouring your life into others, even if those same people never acknowledge it and others never notice. Keep freely sharing what God gives you, even if some steal your words and make them their own without giving you credit. Keep faithfully serving your Lord without looking back.

Why? Because there is One who is watching. And only His opinion matters.

–Frank Viola

Three things promised

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Jesus promised
the disciples three things–
that they would be
completely fearless,
absurdly happy and
in constant trouble.

—G. K. Chesterton

When God comes in

8fec65aa copyLord, come into my heart. It’s hard for me to get the door open very far, but if at the Incarnation you managed to squeeze into an embryo, perhaps you could make it into my heart too—even if I only manage to crack it open a bit.

Sorry about the clutter inside. There are things that shouldn’t be here, but come to think of it, the first place you came to wasn’t exactly a clean scrubbed hospital room—it was a barn. That being the case, perhaps you would venture to enter my heart too.

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I have been told that sin is something you do not look upon or come close to. However, if a bad smelling cow shed was your place of your birth, there’s probably no place you wouldn’t come if invited. That’s a relief.

As a matter of fact, you seem to make a point of coming to where things are not as they should be. You walked and talked and ate with fallen, failing people; it appears that sin doesn’t keep you away.

And interestingly, when you come, sin decides it’s time to leave. It flees like darkness before the light. It melts like wax on a candle.

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Thanks for coming into my heart. I know there’s still a lot of stuff that needs to go, but because you are here, I have a feeling it’s not going to stick around for long.

And not only that, but your presence causes everything that is wholesome and true and lovely to flourish and grow. When you are around goodness goes viral.

It makes me wonder why anyone would ever keep you out.

–Jurgen O. Schulz

No other peace

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This is certain,
that there is no peace
but in the will of God.
God’s will is our peace
and there is no other peace.
God’s peace is perfect
freedom and there is
no other freedom.

–Henry Ernest Hardy

Gospel-shaped lifestyle

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Since believers have been forgiven,
they will forgive.
Since they have received good for evil,
they will repay evil with good.
Since, when they were enemies of God,
God loved them,
they will love their enemies.

–Jürgen Moltmann

Getting it all right

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“You haven’t got it right!” says the exasperated piano teacher. Junior is holding his hands the way he’s been told. His fingering is unexceptionable. He has memorized the piece perfectly. He has hit all the proper notes with deadly accuracy. But his heart’s not in it, only his fingers. What he’s playing is a sort of music, but nothing that will start voices singing or feet tapping. He has succeeded in boring everybody to death, including himself.

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Jesus said to his disciples, “Unless your righteousness exceeds that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 5:20). The scribes and Pharisees were playing it by the book. They didn’t slip up on a single do or don’t. But they were getting it all wrong.

Righteousness is getting it all right.
If you play it the way
it’s supposed to be played,
there shouldn’t be a still foot
in the house.

–Frederick Buechner
Beyond Words

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

Transfer of life

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“I am the vine,
you are the branches.”
(John 15:5)

Communication between
the Vine and the branches
is not about the exchange
of information, but a natural,
ongoing, and essential
communion of life
between the two.

–R. Thomas Ashbrook

Fantasy and faith

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Someone says, “Listen, God doesn’t have time for your little problems. He is busy in the Middle East right now. He has bigger fish to fry. If you want something for yourself, you better get is the best way you can: buy this product and you will be important; wear these clothes and everyone will realize how distinguished you are; read this book and the knowledge will set you a cut about the crowd. Take care of yourself.”

less5divider2That sounds good, we begin to respond. And then we hear Paul’s indignant, “I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting him who called you in the grace of Christ.” Instinctively, immediately, we know that he is right. The only good news that will make a difference is that the living God personally addresses and mercifully forgives us. He sets things right at the center. This is what we need, what we want. We determine and we will not abandon the free life of the gospel and live in the fantasy dreams that others paint for us and then sell to us for a fee. We will live forgiven and in faith, not as a parasite on others, but creatively for others. We will not mope or cringe or whine. We will praise and venture and make.

–Eugene H. Peterson
Living the Message

Unscripted grace

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If Christianity is grace,
we don’t have
a push-button God.
Get ready for
an adventure.

–Tim Keller

Published in: on 05/29/2014 at 8:48  Leave a Comment  
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