Next to the Gospel

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To have peace and love
in a marriage is a gift
that is next to the knowledge
of the gospel.

–Martin Luther

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Published in: on 11/06/2017 at 4:33  Leave a Comment  
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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

Lambs in the Midst of Wolves

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At first sight . . . the Kingdom seems impossible and the world way the reasonable and workable way. Jesus, knowing that men would feel that his way is impossible says: “I send you as lambs in the midst of wolves.” It looks as thought the principles of Jesus have about as much chance of success as lambs have of getting through a pack of wolves. What can humility do in a world where it is considered a weakness?

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What chance of success has a business man if he should take the way of the Sermon on the Mount? Would not his competitors tear him to pieces, as wolves do a lamb, if he attempted it? And a nation that built its collective life upon the principle of love and turning the other cheek—would not other nations make short shrift of it? They would be lambs in the midst of wolves. So it seems. But when John saw the final end of things in Apocalypse the Lamb was on the throne!

-E. Stanley Jones,
Christ at the Round Table

Love is not like that

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No man, whether good or bad, can lay claim in strict justice to the love of God, because love is not like that at all. It has to be given as a free gift, or not at all. The sinner who is ready to accept love as a gift from God is far closer to God than the “just” man who insists on being loved for his own merits. For the former will soon stop sinning (since he will be loved by God), and the latter has probably already begun to sin.

–Thomas Merton,
The New Man

Published in: on 02/20/2016 at 4:52  Leave a Comment  
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Love is the foundation

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Love is the foundation of all obedience. Without it, morality degenerates into mere casuistry. Love is the foundation of all knowledge. Without it religion degenerates into a chattering about Moses and doctrines and theories; a thing that will neither kill nor make alive, that never gave life to a single soul or blessing to a single heart, and never put strength into any hand in the conflict and strife of daily life.

–Alexander MacLaren
(1826 – 1910)

Published in: on 08/23/2015 at 17:59  Leave a Comment  
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When love takes over

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The event of falling in love is of such a nature that we are right to reject as intolerable the idea that it should be transitory. In one high bound it has overleaped the massive wall of our selfhood; it has made appetite itself altruistic, tossed personal happiness aside as a triviality and planted the interests of another in the centre of our being.

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Spontaneously and without effort we have fulfilled the law (towards one person) by loving our neighbour as ourselves. It is an image, a foretaste, of what we must become to all if Love Himself rules in us without a rival. It is even (well used) a preparation for that.

―C. S. Lewis
The Four Loves

Learning from the Master

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Somehow Jesus had mastered
the ability of loving people
whose behavior he disapproved.
That’s a lesson the church
has not been so good
at learning.

–Philip Yancey

The power not to strike back

Sunbaked Mud in DesertBy turning the other cheek you disarm your enemy. He hits you on the cheek and you, by your moral audacity, hit him on the heart by turning the other cheek. His enmity is dissolved. Your enemy is gone. You get rid of your enemy by getting rid of your enmity . . . The world is at the feet of the Man who had power to strike back but who had power not to strike back. That is power—ultimate power.  –E. Stanley Jones

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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Both love and truth are vital

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Love without truth is sentimentality; it supports and affirms us but keeps us in denial about our flaws. Truth without love is harshness; it gives us information but in such a way that we cannot really hear it.

God’s saving love in Christ, however,
is marked by both radical truthfulness
about who we are and yet also radical,
unconditional commitment to us.

The merciful commitment strengthens us to see the truth about ourselves and repent. The conviction and repentance moves us to cling to and rest in God’s mercy and grace.

–Timothy Keller

Hope, faith and love

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Nothing worth doing is completed in our lifetime;
Therefore, we are saved by HOPE.

Nothing true or beautiful or good makes complete sense
in any immediate context of history;
Therefore, we are saved by FAITH.

Nothing we do, however virtuous, can be accomplished alone.
Therefore, we are saved by LOVE.

No virtuous act is quite as virtuous from the standpoint
of our friend or foe as from our own;
Therefore, we are saved by the final form of love
which is forgiveness.

–Reinhold Niebuhr

Published in: on 01/02/2015 at 3:02  Leave a Comment  
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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

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

Touching another life

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The life I touch…
will touch another life,
and in turn another,
until who knows where
the trembling stops.

–Frederick Buechner

Published in: on 07/15/2014 at 9:05  Leave a Comment  
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Living in our belovedness

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Imagine how much a man’s life would be changed if he trusted that he was loved by God? He could interact with the poor and not show partiality, he could love his wife easily and not expect her to redeem him, he would be slow to anger because redemption was no longer at stake, he could be wise and giving with his money because money no longer represented points, he could give up on formulaic religion, knowing that checking stuff off a spiritual to-do list was a worthless pursuit, he would have confidence and the ability to laugh at himself, and he could love people without expecting anything in return. It would be quite beautiful, really.

–Donald Miller

Love still grows

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The world is indeed full of peril and in it there are many dark places. But still there is much that is fair. And though in all lands, love is now mingled with grief, it still grows, perhaps, the greater.

–J. R. R. Tolkien

Published in: on 05/30/2014 at 8:50  Leave a Comment  
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The soaring life of grace

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Giving is what we do best. It is the air into which we were born. It is the action that was designed into us before our birth. Giving is the way the world is. He makes no exceptions for any of us. We are given away to our families, to our neighbors, to our friends, to our enemies—to the nations. Our life is for others. That is the way creation works. Some of us try desperately to hold on to ourselves, to live for ourselves. We look so bedraggled and pathetic doing it, hanging on to the dead branch of a bank account for dear life, afraid to risk ourselves on the untried wings of giving. We don’t think we can live generously because we have never tried. But the sooner we start the better, for we are going to have to give up our lives finally, and the longer we wait the less time we have for the soaring and swooping life of grace.

–Eugene Peterson
Running with the Horses

Overflow of life

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The biblical story is driven by the love of the triune God, and in this love by the relationship between God, on the one side . . . and humanity on the other. In this relationship, the Father speaks. He reveals. He gives. Humanity is thereby summoned to hear, to know, and to receive the Father’s love.

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And in hearing the Father’s voice, in knowing His affirmation and receiving His love, humanity is quickened with an abounding life that it does not possess in itself, nor can it create. This abounding life is then to overflow into our relationships with one another and with the whole creation.

–Baxter Kruger
Across All Worlds

Giving is life-giving

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I suppose all the ills
of human personality
can be traced back
to one thing—
not understanding
the meaning of the phrase:
“It is more blessed to give
than to receive.”

–Dr. Alfred W. Adler
Jewish psychiatrist

Where Hell begins

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Christianity asserts that we are going to go on forever . . . Now there are a great many things that wouldn’t be worth bothering about if I was only going to live eighty years or so, but I had better bother about if I am going to go on living forever. Perhaps my bad temper or my jealousy are getting worse so gradually that the increase in my lifetime will not be very noticeable but it might be absolute hell in a million years. In fact, if Christianity is true, hell is precisely the correct technical term for it. Hell begins with a grumbling mood, always complaining, always blaming others, but you are still distinct from it. You may even criticize it in yourself and wish you could stop it. But there may come a day when you can no longer. Then there will be no you left to criticize the mood or to even enjoy it, but just the grumble itself going on and on forever like a machine. It is not a question of God ‘sending us’ to hell. In each of us there is something growing, which will “be” Hell unless it is nipped in the bud.

–C. S. Lewis
Mere Christianity

Published in: on 02/10/2014 at 17:40  Leave a Comment  
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The melody of the new creation

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The point of 1 Corinthians 13 is that love is not our duty; it is our destiny. It is the language Jesus spoke, and we are called to speak it so that we can converse with him. It is the food they eat in God’s new world, and we must acquire the taste for it here and now. It is the music God has written for all his creatures to sing, and we are called to learn it and practice it now so as to be ready when the conductor brings down his baton. It is the resurrection life, and the resurrected Jesus calls us to begin living it with him and for him right now.

–N. T. Wright
Surprised by Hope

The goal is to love

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To love is to be selfless. To be selfless is to be fearless. To be fearless is to strip enemies of their greatest weapon. Even if they break our bodies and drain our blood, we are unvanquished.

Our goal was never to live;
our goal is to love.

It is the goal of all noble men and women. Give all that can be given. Give even your life itself.

–N. D. Wilson
Empire of Bones

Published in: on 01/11/2014 at 3:48  Leave a Comment  
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What life is about

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Life is rooted in love

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Love seeks no cause beyond itself and no fruit. It is its own fruit, its own enjoyment. I love because I love; I love that I may love. Love is a great thing provided it recurs to its beginning, returns to its origin, and draws always from that Fountain which is perpetually in flood.

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Of all the feelings and affections of the soul, love is the only one by which the creature, though not on equal terms, is able to respond to the Creator and to repay what it has received from Him. For when God loves us He desires nothing but to be loved. He loves for no other reason, indeed, than that He may be loved, knowing that by their love itself those who love Him are blessed.

–Bernard of Clairvaux
(1091 – 1153)

Life and love

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We only live if we love;
we only love if we live
in God’s love. 

–Leonard Sweet

Published in: on 10/15/2013 at 20:31  Leave a Comment  
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Made in heaven

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Every bit of love and beauty and truth that anyone ever experiences on earth is made in Heaven and is a participation in Heaven. For Heaven is God’s presence; and God is present in all goodness, all truth, and all beauty . . . In God all goodness, truth and beauty exist, coexist and meet . . . God is the point of it all.

–Peter J. Kreeft
Heaven: The Earth’s Deepest Longing

Published in: on 10/05/2013 at 17:49  Leave a Comment  
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Beauty, love and shampoo

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The goal of all marketing is the reduction of a big desire to a small desire. In other words, you long for beauty, love, friendship, wisdom, and it is the job of the marketer to convince you that the way you will achieve these desires is to purchase a certain brand of shampoo.

–Kimberly Shankman

Longing to be loved

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As soon as we become
spiritually deaf to the voice
that calls us the beloved,
we are going to look someplace else
to make us the beloved.

–Henri J. M. Nouwen

Image: Nelleke Pieters

Retreating from Love

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All sin is rooted in the failure of love.
All sin is a withdrawal of love from God,
in order to love something else.
Sin sets boundaries to our hope,
and locks our love in prison.

–Thomas Merton
No Man Is An Island

The heart of every virtue

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If love is the soul of Christian existence, it must be at the heart of every other Christian virtue. Thus, for example, justice without love is legalism; faith without love is ideology; hope without love is self-centeredness; forgiveness without love is self-abasement; fortitude without love is recklessness; generosity without love is extravagance; care without love is mere duty; fidelity without love is servitude.

Every virtue is an expression of love.

No virtue is really a virtue unless it is permeated, or informed, by love.

–Richard P. McBrien

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