Fun and God’s will

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Whence comes this idea that if what we are doing is fun, it can’t be God’s will? The God who made giraffes, a baby’s fingernails, a puppy’s tail, a crooknecked squash, the bobwhite’s call, and a young girl’s giggle, has a sense of humor. Make no mistake about that.

  –Catherine Marshall
(1914 – 1983)

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Published in: on 05/17/2014 at 9:33  Leave a Comment  
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Inventor of pleasure

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In my unloveliness I plunged into the lovely things which you created. You were with me, but I was not with you. Created things kept me from you; yet if they had not been in you, they would have not been at all.

— St. Augustine

Stretches of darkness

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If anyone tells you that the life of prayer is one uninterrupted experience of being happy with Jesus, do not follow him. He is not a safe guide. Those who follow the Lamb know that there are stretches of darkness and loneliness and perplexity along the way, and they know that Jesus himself went that way.

–Lesslie Newbigin
(1909-1998)

Playful universe

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The universe is not
God at work but
God at play.

–Leonard Sweet
The Well Played Life

Sillier and better fun

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“Talking of beasts and birds…when you read a scientific account of any animal’s life, you get an impression of laborious, incessant almost rational economic activity, as if all animals were Germans. But when you study any animal you know, what strikes you is their cheerful fatuity, the pointlessness of nearly all they do. Say what you like, Barfield. The world is sillier and better fun than they make out.”

–C. S. Lewis
A letter to Owen Barfield

Published in: on 03/10/2014 at 11:40  Leave a Comment  
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The problem of good

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We have spent centuries of philosophy trying to solve “the problem of evil,” yet I believe the much more confounding and astounding issue is the “problem of good.” How do we account for so much gratuitous and sheer goodness in this world? Tackling this problem would achieve much better results.

–Richard Rohr
Immortal Diamond

 

Known and loved

Stephen Darbishire 1940 - British Interiors and Landscape painter - Tutt'Ar@ (23)

Tolkien says of the Gospel, “There is no tale men more wish to be true.” For life’s greatest joy is to be loved, passionately loved, infinitely loved; to be totally known, with all our wrinkles, and yet totally loved . . .

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To be loved and known at once: that is Heavenly. Remember the joy you felt when you received even a little of that, even the tiniest approximation to that, from one little stupid, sinful human being like yourself? Now multiply that by infinity, which is the difference between humanity and divinity, and you begin to understand the joy of being known and loved by God. Loved how much? This much. Christ-much.

–Peter Kreeft
The Philosophy of Jesus

Image: Stephen Darbishire

Published in: on 03/06/2014 at 11:48  Leave a Comment  
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Cause for rejoicing

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Joy is the rarest and most infrequent thing in the world. We already have enough fanatical seriousness, enthusiasm, and humorless zeal in the world. But joy? This shows us that the perception of the living God is rare. When we have found God our Saviour – or when he has found us – we will rejoice in him.

–Karl Barth
(1886 – 1969)

Published in: on 02/28/2014 at 7:39  Leave a Comment  
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A good joke

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A good joke is one that catches you by surprise—like God’s, for instance. Who would have guessed that Israel of all nations would be the one God picked or Sarah would have Isaac at the age of ninety or the Messiah would turn up in a manger? Who could possibly see the duck-billed platypus coming or Saint Simeon Stylites or the character currently occupying the pulpit at First Presbyterian? The laugh in each case results from astonished delight at the sheer unexpectedness of the thing.

Satan’s jokes, on the other hand, you can usually spot a mile off. As soon as the serpent came slithering up to Adam and Eve, almost anybody could tell that the laugh was going to be on them. That a person as blameless, upright, and well-heeled as Job was bound to have the rug pulled out from under him before he was through… And so on.

In the last analysis, the only one who gets much of a kick out of Satan’s jokes is Satan himself. With God’s, however, even the most hardened cynics and bitterest pessimists have a hard time repressing an occasional smile. When God really gets going, even the morning stars burst into singing and all the sons of God shout for joy.

–Frederick Buechner

Published in: on 02/06/2014 at 11:24  Leave a Comment  
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Beauty was God’s idea

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

–George MacDonald
(1824 – 1905)

Image: Stephen Darbishire

Invaded by God

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The Gospel is not an academic discussion of truth—a set of doctrines about life, but an interpretation of “things” (Lk. 1:1) . . . Some “things” had happened on this earth that had never happened before—our planet has been invaded by God—redemptively invaded. That is the biggest and most decisive “thing” that has ever happened or can happen on this planet. . . .

This is cosmic news—the Good News,
that will make every planet, every cell,
every thing dance with joy
at the wonder of it.

Of all the things that have happened, or could happen this is the thing . . . the Central Cosmic Fact: God appeared on a little planet to take us by the hand and put us back on the Way. This is news—Good News—comparatively speaking, the only Good News that every reached our planet.

–E. Stanley Jones

Image: Maxime Courty

The best things

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The best things are nearest:
breath in your nostrils,
light in your eyes,
flowers at your feet,
duties at your hand,
the path of God
just before you.

–Robert Louis Stevenson

The coming joy

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While other worldviews
lead us to sit in the midst of life’s joys,
foreseeing the coming sorrows,
Christianity empowers its people to sit
in the midst of this world’s sorrows,
tasting the coming joy.

–Tim Keller

Published in: on 10/01/2013 at 5:03  Leave a Comment  
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The hierarchy of happiness

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If God is God – and so he is –
the hierarchy of happiness begins
with him, not from the other end.
The closer we are to God, the happier we are.
The further away from him, the poorer.
Sin, which is a flight from God, is no fun.
It gives no joy, fulfillment or peace,
and constantly betrays us.

–Carlo Carretto
I Sought and I Found

Published in: on 09/30/2013 at 4:39  Leave a Comment  
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A trail of bread crumbs

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Whenever we experience
something truly beautiful,
it’s as if someone is leaving
a trail of breadcrumbs to the place
where we are fully known and fully loved.
Our task is to follow the bread crumbs
to see where they lead.

–Jonathan Martin
Prototype

The pleasure and the pain

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There is nothing life-denying or teetotaling or pleasure-eschewing about authentic Christianity; it embraces the joys of human existence with great enthusiasm. However, let me make at least a nod in the direction of the Puritans. Since pleasure – like all good created things – can become an attachment, it too must be disciplined if we are to stay rooted in the center.

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To stand with Christ is hardly to embrace a hedonistic campaign of marching from delight to delight; rather it is to do the will of the Father even when that costs dearly, even when it conduces to the cross. Therefore the centered person must be ready for pain as well as pleasure, for deep sadness as well as contentment, clinging neither to one nor the other.

–Robert Barron
The Strangest Way

God’s word of delight

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When Christians are unsure of the Father’s declarative word of delight over them, real Christian joy is absent; and passionate Christian living is lacking. Mobilizing Christians, who are unsure of God’s delight in them, . . . to serve . . . with unflappable confidence and joy is nearly impossible.

–Dan Cruver

Published in: on 09/24/2013 at 5:21  Leave a Comment  
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Known, accepted and cherished

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To believe in this Jesus means that we believe ourselves to be known, accepted and cherished by the Father Himself. And what happens to us and in us when we encounter such Divine acceptance? What happens in us when we believe ourselves to be at-home with the Father? Are we plunged into bondage? Are we overwhelmed with fear and anxiety? Are we turned into religious androids? Do we become workaholics, materialists, sexual addicts, murderers, gossips? Are we enslaved to the crowd?

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No. We find ourselves released, set free from the very things that enslaved us. We find a new freedom from the tyranny of work and greed and lust, a new freedom from the need for the approval of peers. We find ourselves at peace and playing golf in the kingdom, filled with joy and hope, free to look into our daughters’ souls and share life with them, free to rest, free to love, free to be who we are. We find ourselves flourishing.

–Baxter Kruger
Home

Artwork: Thomas Kinkade

Daring to believe it

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It is not a matter 
of arrogance . . . but faith 
when we celebrate: 
we are accepted!

–St. Ambrose
(337 – 397)

Getting ready for heaven

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Learn to dance,
so when you get to heaven
the angels know what
to do with you.

–St. Augustine of Hippo
(354 – 430)

Published in: on 08/25/2013 at 4:34  Leave a Comment  
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The root of joy

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The root of joy is gratefulness…
It is not joy that makes us grateful;
it is gratitude that makes us joyful.

–David Steindl-Rast

Published in: on 08/24/2013 at 4:50  Leave a Comment  
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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

Intended for joy

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There is not one blade of grass,
there is no color in this world
that is not intended
to make us rejoice.

–John Calvin
(1509 – 1564)

Published in: on 07/16/2013 at 4:10  Leave a Comment  
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Joy and danger

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Forgiveness of sins,
ought to make you rejoice;
this is the very heart of Christianity,
and yet it is a mighty dangerous
thing to preach.

–Martin Luther
Table Talk

Satisfied and wanting more

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“Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks the water that I shall give him will never suffer thirst any more. The water that I shall give him will be an inner spring always welling up for eternal life” (John 4:14 NEB).

Everyone who drinks this water, the waters of the world, “will be thirsty again.” The waters of this world – sex, money, pleasure, fame – have the doom of thirst upon them. You get them and then you know that they are not what you really want. “But whoever drinks the water that I shall give him will never suffer thirst any more.”

“Never suffer thirst”  – 
that is literally true.
For the inner being and Christ
are made for each other,
and when you find him you find yourself.
The soul cries “This is it,”
and you never thirst again.

But a strange thing happens: “The water that I shall give him will be an inner spring always welling up for eternal life.” The gift, “the water that I shall give,” will become “an inner spring,” become an inner spontaneity. The gift creates spontaneity. That is a miracle, for gifts usually create dependence and weakness. This creates independence and strength, “an inner spring.” Another strange thing happens: The person who drinks of the water which Jesus gives “will never suffer thirst anymore” – he will be forever satisfied, and yet that water becomes “an inner spring always welling up for eternal life.” That satisfaction becomes not a dissatisfaction, but an unsatisfaction for more; it becomes something “always welling up for eternal life,” always crying for more of this eternal life. A paradox, but a blessed paradox. I had what I wanted and I wanted more.

–E. Stanley Jones
A Song of Ascents

He gives a Song

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Life to me has not been a struggle. It has been, and is, a Song. The struggle has been only when I have departed from His Way. Only when I have jumped the rails of his Way and have bumped along the ties of my own self-will, tearing myself and my situation to pieces, have I had a struggle, a struggle to get back on the rails, to get back on the Way to live – his will.

When I am in his will,
life is not a struggle;
it is a Song.

And it is a Song, not a song, a ditty to divert you from reality, but a Song which has behind it the “music of the spheres”; the sum total of reality is behind your Song. You have something to sing about. You sing the song that the “morning stars sang” and when “all the sons of God shouted for joy” – that strain is in it. You have cosmic backing. You sing because you can’t help it. It’s the only method of expression . . .

But my Song will not be primarily about special events, but about the special event, about Jesus Christ. I have something to sing about – and the something is a Someone.

–E. Stanley Jones
A Song of Ascents

Unlocking life

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Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life;
it can turn a meal into a feast,
a house into a home,
a stranger into a friend.

–Melody Beath

Published in: on 05/18/2013 at 3:45  Leave a Comment  
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When God rejoices

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God rejoices. Not because the problems of the world have been solved, not because all human pain and suffering have come to an end, nor because thousands of people have been converted and are now praising him for his goodness. No, God rejoices because one of his children who was lost has been found. What I am called to is to enter into that joy. It is God’s joy, not the joy that the world offers. It is the joy that comes from seeing a child walk home amid all the destruction, devastation, and anguish of the world…

Surely I will be called naive, unrealistic, and sentimental, and I will be accused of ignoring the “real” problems, the structural evils that underlie much of human misery.

But God rejoices when
one repentant sinner returns.
Statistically that is not very interesting.
But for God, numbers
never seem to matter.

Who knows whether the world is kept from destruction because of one, two, or three people who have continued to pray when the rest of humanity has lost hope and dissipated itself?

From God’s perspective, one hidden act of repentance, one little gesture of selfless love, one moment of true forgiveness is all that is needed to bring God from his throne to run to his returning son and to fill the heavens with sounds of divine joy.

–Henry Nouwen
The Return of the Prodigal
(emphasis added)

 

Creation renewed

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Jesus, unlike the founder of any other major faith, holds out hope for ordinary human life. Our future is not an ethereal, impersonal form of consciousness. We will not float through the air, but rather will eat, embrace, sing, laugh, and dance in the kingdom of God, in degrees of power, glory, and joy that we can’t at present imagine.

Jesus will make the world our perfect home again. We will no longer be living ‘east of Eden,’ always wandering and never arriving. We will come, and the father will meet us and embrace us, and we will be brought into the feast.

–Tim Keller
The Prodigal God

The quest for happiness

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The Christian doctrine of suffering explains, I believe, a very curious fact about the world we live in.

The settled happiness and security
which we all desire, God withholds from us
by the very nature of the world:
but joy, pleasure, and merriment,
He has scattered broadcast.

We are never safe, but we have plenty of fun, and some ecstasy. It is not hard to see why. The security we crave would teach us to rest our hearts in this world and oppose . . . our return to God: a few moments of happy love, a landscape, a symphony, a merry meeting with our friends, a bathe or a football match, have no such tendency.

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Our Father refreshes us on the journey
with some pleasant inns, but will not
encourage us to mistake them for home.

―C. S. Lewis
The Problem of Pain

Published in: on 04/21/2013 at 5:48  Leave a Comment  
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