Meeting God

LUTHER

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Uniqueness of the Gospel

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We see that the uniqueness
of the Gospel is that when He who is
self-giving love takes over a human life,
the one who is taken over himself
becomes an other-lover,
and not just blessed but a blesser,
not just healed but a healer,
not just loved but a lover.

–Norman P. Grubb

Only God can Make a Tree

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I think that I shall never see
A poem lovely as a tree.

A tree whose hungry mouth is prest
Against the earth’s sweet flowing breast;

A tree that looks at God all day,
And lifts her leafy arms to pray;

A tree that may in Summer wear
A nest of robins in her hair;

Upon whose bosom snow has lain;
Who intimately lives with rain.

Poems are made by fools like me,
But only God can make a tree.

–Joyce Kilmer

Published in: on 01/15/2017 at 15:38  Leave a Comment  
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It’s About Time

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Published in: on 01/02/2017 at 9:57  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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A Narrative Reversal

christ-1d-copyBecause the true story of the world has been lost in the seemingly endless epic of sin, Christ must retell — in the entire motion and content of his life, lived both toward the Father and for his fellows — the tale from the beginning. Says Athanasius, the Logos became flesh in order to reestablish the original pattern after which the human form was crafted in the beginning, and to impress anew upon creation the beauty of the divine image . . . It is because Christ’s life effects a narrative reversal, which unwinds the story of sin and death and reinaugurates the story that God tells from before the foundation of the world . . .

–David Bentley Hart,
The Beauty of the Infinite

The Gift of Chosenness

lynnfecteaau-painting-bThe great spiritual battle begins—and never ends—with the reclaiming of our chosenness. Long before any human being saw us, we are seen by God’s loving eyes. Long before anyone heard us cry or laugh, we are heard by our God who is all ears for us. Long before any person spoke to us in this world, we are spoken to by the voice of eternal love. Our preciousness, uniqueness, and individuality are not given to us by those who meet us in clock-time—our brief chronological existence—but by One who has chosen us with an everlasting love, a love that existed from all eternity and will last through all eternity.

–Henri J. Nouwen

Beyond Comprehension

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The slender capacity
of man’s heart
cannot comprehend
the unfathomable depth
and burning zeal of
God’s love toward us.

–Martin Luther

Published in: on 02/18/2016 at 6:48  Leave a Comment  
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Grace descended

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Man fell miserably,
but God descended mercifully;
man fell through his pride,
God descended with his grace.

–St. Augustine

The coming of God

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We cannot take a step
toward the heavens.
God crosses the universe
and comes to us.

–Simone Weil

Jonah, the whale and the worm

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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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A preference for pigs

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I like pigs.
Dogs look up to us.
Cats look down on us.
Pigs treat us as equals.

–Winston Churchill

Published in: on 10/19/2014 at 15:51  Leave a Comment  
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Making history

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The stream of history is sometimes filled with people who are stealing, shouting, and doing the things historians usually record, while on the banks, unnoticed, people build homes, make love, raise children, sing songs, write poetry and even whittle statues. The story of civilization is the story of what happened on the banks. Historians are pessimists because they ignore the banks for the river.

–Will Durant
(1885-1981)

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

Theological wipeouts

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Christian theology, however, never is and never can be anything more than the thoughts that Christians have (alone or with others) after they have said yes to Jesus. Sure, it can be a thrilling subject. Of course, it is something you can do well or badly — or even get right or wrong. And naturally, it is one of the great fun things to do on weekends when your kidney stones aren’t acting up.

Actually, it is almost exactly like another important human subject that meets all the same criteria: wind-surfing. Everybody admires it, and plenty of people try it. But the number of people who can do it well is even smaller than the number who can do it without making a fool of themselves.

Trust Jesus, then. After that, theologize all you want, Just don’t lose your sense of humor if your theological surfboard deposits you unceremoniously in the drink.

–Robert Farrar Capon
Kingdom, Grace, Judgment

Published in: on 06/04/2014 at 8:02  Leave a Comment  
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Climbers or Critics?

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It’s not the critic who counts, not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena; whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood, who strives valiantly, who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in worthy causes; who at best knows in the end triumph of high achievement and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly.

–Theodore Roosvelt

Books, vanity and glory

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Vanity is so anchored in the heart of man that . . . those who write against it want to have the glory of having written well; and those who read it desire the glory of having read it.

–Blaise Pascal
(1623-1662)

Published in: on 04/12/2014 at 10:53  Leave a Comment  
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Never seen before

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Half the fun of waking up
in the morning is the feeling
that you have come upon a day
that the world has never 
seen before.

–F. W. Boreham

Published in: on 03/09/2014 at 17:12  Leave a Comment  
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A matter of altitude

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All through life,
sunshine is simply
a matter of altitude.

–F. W. Boreham

Published in: on 02/16/2014 at 17:19  Leave a Comment  
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You are on stage

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Clear your throat and open your eyes. You are on stage. The lights are on. It’s only natural if you’re sweating, because this isn’t make-believe. This is theater for keeps. Yes, it is a massive stage, and there are millions of others on stage with you. Yes, you can try to shake the fright by blending in. But it won’t work. You have the Creator God’s full attention, as much attention as He ever gave Napoleon. Or even Moses. Or billions of others who lived and died unknown. Or a grain of sand. Or one spike on one snowflake. You are spoken. You are seen.

It is your turn to participate in creation.

Like a kindergartener shoved out from behind the curtain during his first play, you might not know which scene you are in or what comes next, but God is far less patronizing than we are. You are His art, and He has no trouble stooping.

You can even ask Him for your lines.

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

Choices

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Every time you make a choice
you are turning the central part of you
into something a little different
than it was before.

–C. S. Lewis

Image: Adam Van Bunnens

Published in: on 10/14/2013 at 14:49  Leave a Comment  
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The choice of ways

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Most, I fancy, have discovered
that to be born is to be exposed
to delights and miseries greater
than imagination could have anticipated;
that the choice of ways at any cross-road
may be more important than we think;
and that short cuts may lead
to very nasty places.

–C. S. Lewis

It’s the set of the sails

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One ship drives east
and another drives west
With the selfsame winds that blow.
‘Tis the set of the sails
and not the gales
Which tells us the way to go.

–Ella Wheeler Wilcox

Published in: on 10/03/2013 at 5:37  Leave a Comment  
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Two kinds of people

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There are only two kinds
of people in the end:
those who say to God,
“thy will be done,”
and those to whom
God says, in the end,
“Thy will be done.

–C. S. Lewis
The Great Divorce

A voyage of discovery

Baby on the road

Life is a pilgrimage of learning,
a voyage of discovery,
in which our mistaken views are corrected,
our distorted notions adjusted,
our shallow opinions deepened
and some of our vast ignorances
diminished.

–John R. W. Stott

Not half so sure

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When I was young I was sure of everything;
in a few years, having been mistaken
a thousand times, I was not half so sure
of most things as I was before;
at present, I am hardly sure of anything
but what God has revealed to me.

–John Wesley
(1703 – 1791)

Published in: on 07/13/2013 at 16:42  Leave a Comment  
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An Irish blessing

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May the road rise up to meet you,
May the wind be always at your back,
May the sun shine warm upon your face,
And the rain fall soft upon your fields,
And until we meet again, May God hold you
In the palm of his hand.

–Irish Blessing

Published in: on 06/30/2013 at 16:53  Leave a Comment  
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It’s worth fighting for

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Frodo: I can’t do this, Sam.

Sam: I know. It’s all wrong. By rights we shouldn’t even be here. But we are. It’s like in the great stories, Mr. Frodo. The ones that really mattered. Full of darkness and danger, they were. And sometimes you didn’t want to know the end. Because how could the end be happy? How could the world go back to the way it was when so much bad had happened? But in the end, it’s only a passing thing, this shadow. Even darkness must pass. A new day will come. And when the sun shines it will shine out the clearer. Those were the stories that stayed with you. That meant something, even if you were too small to understand why. But I think, Mr. Frodo, I do understand. I know now. Folk in those stories had lots of chances of turning back, only they didn’t. They kept going. Because they were holding on to something.

Frodo: What are we holding onto, Sam?

Sam: That there’s some good in this world, Mr. Frodo… and it’s worth fighting for.

― J.R.R. Tolkien
The Two Towers

A journey of unknowables

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If knowing answers to life’s questions is absolutely necessary to you, then forget the journey. You will never make it, for this is a journey of unknowables—of unanswered questions, enigmas, incomprehensibles, and most of all, things unfair.

–Madame Jeanne Guyon (1648-1717)

God is there

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We must never get into the habit
of being preoccupied with the future.
There is no reason to do so.
God is there.

–Mother Teresa of Calcutta

Published in: on 12/31/2012 at 23:45  Leave a Comment  
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