An Uphill Climb

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You want to grow in virtue, to serve God, to love Christ? Well, you will grow in and attain to these things if you will make them a slow and sure, an utterly real, a mountain step-plod and ascent, willing to have to camp for weeks or months in spiritual desolation, darkness and emptiness at different stages in your march and growth. All demand for constant light . . . all the attempt at eliminating or minimizing the cross and trial, is so much soft folly and puerile trifling.

― Friedrich von Hügel

Teach us, Good Lord

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Teach us, Good Lord,
To serve Thee as Thou deservest:
To give and not to count the cost,
To fight and not to heed the wounds,
To toil and not to seek for rest
To labor and not to seek for reward
Save that of knowing
that we do Thy will.

–Ignatius of Loyola

Responding to Grace

blank squareRoad Home-744913 C copyThe only legitimate
and genuine answer
to the unconditional
Yes in which
God forgives us
is an equally
unconditional
human Yes.

–Karl Barth

Deliver Us

prayingguyFrom the cowardice that
shrinks from new truth.
From the laziness that
is content with half-truths.
From the arrogance that
thinks it knows all truths:
O God of Truth, deliver us.

–Ancient prayer

Published in: on 04/04/2016 at 5:17  Leave a Comment  
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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  

Only one life

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Remember 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)

When Christ is accepted

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To “Accept Christ” is to know the meaning of the words “as He is, so are we in this world” (1 Jn. 4:17). We accept His friends as our friends, His enemies as our enemies, His ways as our ways, His rejection as our rejection, His cross as our cross. His life as our life and His future as our future.

–A. W. Tozer

Published in: on 08/05/2015 at 16:07  Leave a Comment  
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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

Heaven already inside

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If you have really handed yourself over to Him it must follow that you are trying to obey Him. But trying in a new way, a less worried way. Not doing these things in order to be saved, but because He has begun to save you already. Not hoping to get Heaven as a reward for your actions, but inevitably wanting to act in a certain way because a first faint gleam of Heaven is already inside you.

–C. S. Lewis
Christian Behavior

A New Epicenter

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At the Sea of Galilee, Christ called to the disciples to follow him. And they did so, leaving behind their boats and businesses. They were so taken with Christ that they never felt the cost of their renunciation. They walked in the epicenter of a new adoration that had silently slain their old affections. Renunciation that is self-aware is mere asceticism, subtly boasting its own magnificent sacrifice.

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The apostles came to Christ, having surrendered the possessions that stood between them and the will of God. Even so, we do not remember them because they chose poverty, but because they adored Christ. If we too are spellbound by His excellence, relinquishment will be more a byproduct of devotion than a prerequisite of it.

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True lovers of Christ can stand in the pain of self denial . . . The glory of the Spirit blinds them to the showy temporal treasures of earth. They see only the Host. His hands are bruised and scarred; his once broken fingers now break the loaf.

–Calvin Miller
Table of Inwardness

Dangerously different

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The truth is that the greatest enemy of the Western church is not the state or any ideology such as atheism, but the world and the spirit of the age.

Anything less than a full-blooded
expression of the Christian faith
has no chance of standing firm
against the assaults and seductions
of the advanced modern world.

So when the church becomes worldly, she betrays her Lord, and she also fails to live up to her calling to be dangerously different and thus to provide deliverance from the world by a power that is not of the world.

–Os Guinness
(emphasis added)

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 yoke is on you

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And to try to be happy by being admired by men, or loved by women, or warm with liquor, full of lust, or getting possessions and treasures, that turns you away, soon, from the love of God; then men, women, and drink and lust and greed take precedence over God; and they darken His light. . . . And then we are unhappy and afraid and angry and fierce, and impatient, and cannot pray, and cannot sit still. That is the bitter yoke of sin; and for this we leave the mild and easy yoke of Christ.

–Thomas Merton
(1915 – 1968)

Following Jesus

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Following Jesus is the yes that comes after the no. We have renounced self-initiative for Jesus obedience. We have renounced clamoring assertion and replaced them with quiet listening. We watch Jesus work. We listen to Jesus speak. We accompany Jesus into new relationships, odd places, odd people. We pray our prayers in Jesus’ name. Keeping company with Jesus, observing what he does, and listening to what he says develops into a life of answering God, a life of responding to God, which is a life of prayer.Page-divider

Following Jesus is not a robotic lockstep, marching in a straight line after Jesus. The following gets inside of us, becomes internalized, gets into our muscles and nerves. It’s much more like a ramble, and it becomes prayer.

Prayer is what develops in us after we step out of the center and begin responding to the center, to Jesus.

–Eugene Peterson
Living the Resurrection

More than sin management

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Being a Christian is less
about cautiously avoiding sin
than about courageously
and actively doing
God’s will.

–Dietrich Bonhoeffer
(1906 – 1945)

Life out of death

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The principle runs through all life from top to bottom. Give up yourself, and you will find your real self. Lose your life and you will save it. Submit to death, death of your ambitions and favourite wishes every day . . . and you will find eternal life. Keep back nothing.

Nothing that you have not
given away will 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

His will is glorious

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Anytime we emphasize
the difficulty of obeying
the will of God above
the rewards and fruits
of doing His will,
we will have a victim’s
approach to obedience.
His will is glorious.

–Bill Johnson

Image: Paul Klenck

Published in: on 11/02/2013 at 6:49  Leave a Comment  
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Call us back

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Come, Lord,
stir us up, call us back.
Kindle and seize us.
Be our fire and our sweetness.
Let us love. Let us run.

–St. Augustine

Published in: on 09/18/2013 at 4:34  Leave a Comment  
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Bold believers

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In vain I have searched the Bible, looking for examples of early believers whose lives were marked by rigidity, predictability, inhibition, dullness, and caution.

Fortunately, grim, frowning,
joyless saints in Scriptures
are conspicuous by their absence.

Instead, the examples I find are of adventurous, risk-taking, enthusiastic, and authentic believers whose joy was contagious even in times of full trial. Their vision was broad even when death drew near. Rules were few and changes were welcome. The contrast between then and now is staggering.

–Charles Swindoll

A magnificent obsession

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There is a magnificent insanity about the parable that [Jesus told in Mt. 13:45]. It has to do with a pearl freak—a merchant whose hobby was pearls. One day he evidently came across a pearl to end all pearls. You can imagine the quick intake of his breath, his staring eyes, the licking of his dry lips, the anxious inquiry about price, the haggling, the pondering of the tremendous cost of the pearl. You can also imagine him returning home and looking over the rest of his pearl collection. With shaking hands he would pick them up one by one and drop them into a soft leather pouch. Not only the pearls but house, slaves, everything went so that the one pearl might be his.

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And then, bereft of everything but a big pearl—what would the food do? You can’t eat pearls. In my mind is a picture of a crazy merchant sitting in a miserable hovel, his glowing eyes feasting on his pearl and his fingers gently caressing it. Crazy? Perhaps he is the one sane person among us.

It all depends on whether the pearl was worth it. We see at once that treasure in heaven would be worth it. Why are we so quick to opt for earthly treasure and so slow to be obsessed with the heavenly? Perhaps it is because we do not believe in heavenly realities. They represent a celestial cliché in our minds, but no more. Basically you see, it is faith that makes us step lightheartedly along the Way of the Cross—not a spirit of sacrifice but faith that the next life is important…

The Way of the Cross is a magnificent obsession with a heavenly pearl, beside which everything else in life has no value.

–John White
The Cost of Commitment

Stepping out of the parade

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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 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

Choosing the way to life

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When we want to be something other than the thing God wants us to be, we must be wanting what, in fact, will not make us happy. Those Divine demands which sound to our natural ears most like those of a despot and least like those of a lover, in fact marshal us where we should want to go if we knew what we wanted.

–C. S. Lewis
The Problem of Pain

A larger life

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If we will but let
our God and Father
work His will with us,
there can be no limit to
His enlargement
of our existence.

–George MacDonald

The Gospel is a Person

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If the gospel were primarily
a set of good ideas, then the end
would be intellectual assent and acceptance.
But if the gospel is primarily a Person,
then the end is a surrender to,
and a following of, that Person.

–E. Stanley Jones

Spirituality, intimacy and illusions

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Many people assume that spirituality is about becoming emotionally intimate with God. That’s a naïve view of spirituality. What we’re talking about is the Christian life. It’s following Jesus. Spirituality is no different from what we’ve been doing for two thousand years just by going to church and receiving the sacraments, being baptized, learning to pray, and reading Scriptures rightly. It’s just ordinary stuff.

This promise of intimacy is both right and wrong. There is an intimacy with God, but it’s like any other intimacy; it’s part of the fabric of your life. In marriage you don’t feel intimate most of the time. Nor with a friend. Intimacy isn’t primarily a mystical emotion. It’s a way of life, a life of openness, honesty, a certain transparency . . .

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It involves following Jesus. It involves the Cross. It involves death, an acceptable sacrifice. We give up our lives. The Gospel of Mark is so graphic this way. The first half of the Gospel is Jesus showing people how to live. He’s healing everybody. Then right in the middle, he shifts. He starts showing people how to die: “Now that you’ve got a life, I’m going to show you how to give it up.” That’s the whole spiritual life. It’s learning how to die. And as you learn how to die, you start losing all your illusions, and you start being capable now of true intimacy and love.

–Eugene Peterson
Spirituality for All the Wrong Reasons
Interview by Mark Galli, Christianity Today

Belief or faith?

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The Reformational paradigm, which tempts us to replace relationships with reason, is captured in the word belief. It is concerned with right thinking and adherence to a particular way of articulating biblical teaching. It involves systematizing and assenting—and excluding those who don’t fully subscribe to the current fashion in creedal statements. Belief is inert. It is intellectual, defensible . . .

In contrast, the missional paradigm is a way of life—the life of faith. It is a quest for discovery. It is nothing less than the pursuit of the GodLife relationship.

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Faith is kinetic and transformational.
It is described in Scripture as following,
forgiving, seeking, rejoicing, sharing.

It is the life of relating to God, to others, and to God’s creation. To the Western mind it can appear sloppy and unpredictable and meandering. Yes, it is all of those things, and much more!

Belief is Plato; faith is Jesus.

–Leonard Sweet
Out of the Question . . . Into the Mystery
(emphasis added)

The commitment of faith

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Faith is not only a commitment
to the promises of Christ;
faith is also a commitment
to the demands of Christ.


–William Barclay, (1907 – 1978)

A holy adventure

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At the edge of the map, a holy adventure awaits. A movement of love is rising in those who will choose to lay down their lives each day, becoming the expression of God’s grace and goodness to the people. He brings them… We are invited to join a global tribe of sons and daughters of their Father in heaven…

We are called to be a part of the coming
of an upside-down, inside out Kingdom
where the last are first and
the greatest are servants . . .

We have only one life to give, so we give it away extravagantly, hilariously, without reserve.

–Michelle Perry

Called to follow a Person

When we are called to follow Christ, we are summoned to an exclusive attachment to His person. The grace of His call bursts all the bonds of legalism. It is a gracious call, a gracious commandment. It transcends the difference between the law and the Gospel. Christ calls, the disciple follows; that is grace and commandment in one. “I will walk at liberty, for I seek your commandments.” (Psalm 119:45)

–Dietrich Bonhoeffer

A tricky balance

The New Testament presents a tricky balance. On one hand it blasts legalism and its childish insistence on a set of rules. On the other hand it condemns immorality and calls us to holiness.

–Philip Yancey

Published in: on 11/01/2011 at 8:28  Leave a Comment  
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