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

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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

How to avoid a broken heart

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There is no safe investment.

To love at all is to be vulnerable.

Love anything, and your heart will certainly be wrung and possibly broken.

If you want to make sure of keeping it intact, you must give your heart to no one, not even to an animal.

Wrap it carefully round with hobbies and little luxuries; avoid all entanglements; lock it up safe in the casket or coffin of your selfishness.

But in that casket—safe, dark, motionless, airless—it will change.

It will not be broken; it will become unbreakable, impenetrable, irredeemable.

The alternative to tragedy, or at least to the risk of tragedy, is damnation.

The only place outside of Heaven where you can be perfectly safe from all the dangers and perturbations of love is Hell.

—C. S. Lewis
The Four Loves

Published in: on 07/29/2013 at 6:10  Leave a Comment  
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Sublime extravagance

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Holiness is love of God
and of others carried to
a sublime extravagance.

–Jean Baptiste H. Lacordaire
(1802 – 1861)

Credibility

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Love alone is credible,
nothing else can be believed,
and nothing else ought
to be believed.

–Hans Urs von Balthasar
(1905 – 1988)

True love involves anger

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One wants to have love alone, not seeing that by denying God’s holiness and wrath, God’s love is deprived of its true depth and meaning. Is it not so even in human experience?

The man who cannot become angry,
cannot truly love.

The man who passes over treachery, infidelity, breach of confidence as if it were nothing, cannot be a true friend and cannot be faithful himself. It is here that a decision of the first order takes place: he who refuses to hear of God’s wrath, judgment and condemnation, will never understand Jesus Christ. The living God is the God whose love is united with holiness.

This paradox of holiness and mercy is . . .
the essence of the biblical doctrine of God.

–Emil Brunner
The Scandal of Christianity

Faith and love

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The whole being of any Christian
is Faith and Love . . .
Faith brings the man to God,
love brings him to men.

–Martin Luther (1483-1546)

Published in: on 02/04/2013 at 1:53  Leave a Comment  
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Love does not mean approval

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We often confuse unconditional love
with unconditional approval.
God loves us without conditions but does not
approve of every human behavior.

God doesn’t approve of betrayal, violence, hatred, suspicion, and all other expressions of evil, because they all contradict the love God wants to instill in the human heart. Evil is the absence of God’s love. Evil does not belong to God.

God’s unconditional love means that
God continues to love us even when
we say or think evil things.

God continues to wait for us as a loving parent waits for the return of a lost child. It is important for us to hold on to the truth that God never gives up loving us even when God is saddened by what we do. That truth will help us to return to God’s ever-present love.

–Henri Nouwen
(emphasis added)

Love is a God thing

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To love another person
is to help them love God.

–Soren Kierkegaard
(1813 – 1855)

Published in: on 01/09/2013 at 22:21  Leave a Comment  
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Differing knowledge, same love

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“For our knowledge is imperfect,
and so is our prophesying.”
(I Corinthians 13:9 WEY)

Even to Paul it must have been unthinkable that all believers’ imperfect knowledge could coincide in every detail, so that we would have no disagreements and so that each of us would receive exactly the same correction in glory.

Surely Paul implies that my imperfect knowledge
is different from your imperfect knowledge,
but that in spite of disagreement, love must
still characterize and unite us.

Even if “though I may be wrong, I am not as wrong as you,” I am in the worst possible wrong if I therefore do not love you, or if I refuse to fellowship with you because your imperfect knowledge is more imperfect than mine.

–Author unknown

Published in: on 01/06/2013 at 22:20  Leave a Comment  
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The great thing to remember

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On the whole, God’s love for us is a much safer subject to think about than our love for him. Nobody can always have devout feelings; and even if we could, feelings are not what God principally cares about. Christian love, either toward God or toward man, is an affair of the will.

But the great thing to remember is that, though our feelings come and go, his love for us does not.

–C. S. Lewis

Keeps coming back

There’s nothing more beautiful
than how the ocean
can’t stop kissing the shore,
no matter how many times
it is sent away.

–Rhianna Moss

When God renounced power

Power, no matter how well-intentioned, tends to cause suffering. Love, being vulnerable, absorbs it. In a point of convergence on a hill called Calvary, God renounced the one for the sake of the other.

―Philip Yancey

Published in: on 11/03/2012 at 10:52  Leave a Comment  
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The seduction of power

What makes the temptation of power so seemingly irresistible? Maybe it is that power offers an easy substitute for the hard task of love. It seems easier to be God than to love God, easier to control people than to love people, easier to own life than to love life. Jesus asks, “Do you love me?” We ask, “Can we sit at your right hand and your left hand in your Kingdom?” (Mt. 20:21). …We have been tempted to replace love with power.

–Henri Nouwen

Published in: on 11/02/2012 at 11:00  Leave a Comment  
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What is holiness?

In the course of a Bible study for college students in Delhi, a Hindu girl asked me what I consider to be a brilliant question: “How can you Christians say God is good? Good is the opposite of evil; evil is not eternal; therefore, good cannot be eternal as well.” . . . The Christian insists that God exists without reference to evil and rejects the dualism of positing good and evil as equal and opposite. But how can the Christian sustain this position philosophically and existentially?

If I were awakened suddenly in the middle of the night and asked this question, “What is holiness?” my instinctive answer would be “Absence of sin!” Although that may be enough of an answer for our understanding of holiness because of our fallenness and familiarity with sin, it would be inadequate as a definition of the holiness of God. He is holy without any reference to sin. How do we define that kind of holiness? We cannot define good with reference to evil because good is the original of which evil is the counterfeit—a problem parallel to defining the infinite in terms of the finite. Evil is an aberration. We need to look for a positive definition of good without reference to evil.

Love is the highest expression of holiness

Very significantly, the answer lies in the trinitarian being of God. Love is the epitome of all virtue and the highest expression of holiness. And God should not have to depend upon his creation to actualize his capacity to love, for that would make creation as important as the Creator because the Creator would be incomplete without his creation. But the Bible introduces love as an interpersonal quality requiring a subject-object relationship that is available in the Trinity because of the Father-Son relationship through the Holy Spirit. The trinitarian God is complete in his love relationship without reference to his creation. The Father loves the Son before the creation of the world (John 17:24). The infinite personal medium through whom this love is communicated is the Holy Spirit, and he is the one who pours the love of God in our hearts as well (Romans 5:5). The final answer that I could give to this college girl was to appeal to the Trinity, where good always existed without any reference to, outside of, and before evil…

Holiness is relational

The Ten Commandments that God gave to his people (Exodus 20:1–17) sum up God’s requirement in terms of relationships—with him and with one another. The Old Testament also sums up the commandments as love relationships with God (Deuteronomy 6:4–5) and among his people (Leviticus 19:18). In other words, holiness by God’s own definition (Leviticus 19:2) is seen in the relational commandments that comprise the rest of that chapter. Holiness is therefore not the stand-alone ascetic quality that is the hallmark of some Eastern religions but a community of people in right relationship to one another…

We are born to our parents and we grow in our understanding of ourselves as we learn to relate to parents, siblings, and friends. Simply put, I can’t be me without someone else; you can’t be you without reference to someone else. What makes a person a person is her (or his) capability of interpersonal relationship. In fact, we derive our most fundamental sense of identity by relating to God and other human beings. Moreover, the identity that we seek from impersonal entities such as achievement, fame, pleasure, and possessions—the hallmarks of today’s consumerist, shopping-mall existence—can be extremely inadequate and frustrating. To add to the confusion, we are deep into the use of gadgets and cyber-technology that is accelerating this tendency to depersonalization…

The lack of Trinitarian thinking and preaching has exacerbated the prevailing individualism of our culture and has brought it right into our Christian life and practice. If we do not think of God as a relational being in himself, we cannot appreciate the point that we are made to reflect his image in our relationships with one another…

Our response to the holiness of God is to reflect his character in our lives—in one phrase, the pursuit of holiness. In our endeavor in this direction, however, we need to be careful to note that what we have come to call personal holiness—what is inward—is only a potential that has to be constantly actualized in inter-personal relationships…

Trinitarian holiness

Holiness, in the final analysis, is therefore otherward and thus unselfconscious. I have been fascinated by the trinitarian example from John 5:19-27; 16:13, 14. The Father entrusts all things to the Son: his authority, his power over life and judgment. But the Son will not do anything by himself; he will only do what he sees the Father doing. The Spirit will not speak of himself nor seek his own glory. He will bring glory to Jesus by taking what belongs to Jesus and showing them to us.

Three self-giving, self-effacing persons constitute the amazing God whom we worship! It is this aspect of God’s character that we seek to reflect in our life and walk as the church of Jesus Christ.

–adapted from L.T. Jeyachandran

Qualified to command love

There are other religions which claim belief in “one God,” and still others which worship many gods. But only Christianity embraces the magnificent reality of the Trinity, of three Divine Persons subsisting in perfect unity in the one Godhead.

Only a God who lives Himself in love can call upon a man and a women to love one another, let alone command all men to love their enemies.

This God alone embodies the power for gathering into the unit of love the vast multiplicity of mankind. He alone is at the same time the Creator, the Perfect Example, and the Transcender of personhood: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.

–Mike Mason

The self-giving God

Whereas Western theology tended to begin with the unity and nature of God and then sought to explain the three persons, the East began with the three persons and then sought to resolve the nature of their unity. From the Eastern Orthodox perspective, therefore, it is out of the Godhead’s personal relatedness that all else flows: the creation of angels, man in the imago dei, and the great plan of redemption — all in order that finite beings might enter into the joyous fellowship of the Holy Trinity. Put another way, creation and salvation begin and end with God’s self-givingness, both internally (each to the other within the Godhead) and externally (the Triune God to all creation). And so, in the most profound sense as Trinity — and finally only as Trinity — God is love.

. . . If God were selfish, it would be hard to understand why he would create something outside himself. Perhaps a God who is only one person would create in order to satisfy his own desire (or need) for glory, for relationship or so that he might exercise his sovereignty. But in an eternal Trinity where each member glorifies the other, where profound interpersonal relationships already exist and where God is completely self-sufficient, what would be the motive for the creation? As has been alluded to earlier, various scholars conclude that the Triune God created the vast realm of heaven — with its diversity of angelic beings — and our immense universe and tiny earth — with its vast diversity of plants, animals and people — as a overflow of the life and creative love of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. This divine overflow is not in pantheistic or deterministic senses, but rather God’s creative artistry that gives being to the other while maintaining God’s own freedom and independence. If such a deduction is true, then all creation exists as the result of God’s own self-giving beyond the internal personal relations of the Godhead. As Luther said, creation is grace.

If earth’s very existence owes itself to divine self-giving, then the local church created in the divine image would seem called to give itself to the world as well. Believers are called to manifest the saving presence of Jesus Christ through their own collective sacrifice among a hurting and hopeless humanity.

. . . In Beasley-Murray’s words, this is “the law of the kingdom of God: life is given through death,” exemplified powerfully by Jesus giving his own life for the sins of the world. The Savior emphasizes the principle of daily sacrifice of oneself in love and obedience to God — a continual letting go of life that daily refills the believer with the life of God. Cuban evangelist B. G. Lavastida put it this way: “There are three paradoxes of the Christian life: You must give in order to receive, you must let go in order to possess, and you must die in order to live.” Together with the commands to love wholeheartedly the Lord God, our brothers in Christ and our fellow human beings, the command to let go of self is one the most repeated of all the Savior’s admonitions.

–adapted from J. Scott Horrell

Home is a Relationship

[T]he shared life of Father, Son, and Spirit – the home-life of the Trinity – is the place where we truly belong. It offers us the fullest experience of the love, joy, and peace we all desire. It is our true home.

Perhaps the thing that keeps us from experiencing the love, joy, and peace of our true home is our constant attempt to find these things in a “home away from home.” Do we really believe that our heart’s deepest longings are fulfilled in God? Do we truly believe that our longings for home are ultimately satisfied in God? . . .

We must realize that we are not homeless. The truth is that we all have a home. We have been created out of the overflow of love between Father, Son, and Spirit. Home is not a place, but a relationship to which we belong.

— Richard J. Vincent

Love, life and beauty

The triune God
is the love behind all love,
the life behind all life,
the music behind all music,
the beauty behind all beauty.

–Mike Reeves

Published in: on 04/30/2012 at 10:01  Leave a Comment  
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It’s been going on forever

All sorts of people are fond of repeating the Christian statement that ‘God is love.’ But they seem not to notice that the words ‘God is love’ have no real meaning unless God contains at least two Persons. Love is something that one person has for another person. If God was a single person, then before the world was made, He was not love. Of course, what these people mean when they say that God is love is often something quite different: they really mean ‘Love is God.’ They really mean that our feelings of love, however and wherever they arise, and whatever results they produce, are to be treated with great respect. Perhaps they are: but that is something quite different from what Christians mean by the statement ‘God is love.’ They believe that the living, dynamic activity of love has been going on in God forever and has created everything else.

–C. S. Lewis

Love’s mystery

“Perfect love casts out fear” (1 John 4:18).

Love should cast out terror, but it should not cast out awe. True love includes awe. This is one of the great secrets of sex and marriage that our age has tragically forgotten: awe at the mystery that sex is. Science has not explained away this mystery, nor has psychology. No true mystery is ever explained away. Sex, death, love, evil, beauty life, the soul, God—these remain forever infinite mysteries that we can never exhaust and should not want to. They are like the ocean, for us to swim in, not like a glass of water for us to drink and drain dry.

God is love, And love is not “luv.” Luv is nice; love is not nice. Love is a fire, a hurricane, an earthquake, a volcano, a bolt of lightning. Love is what banged out the big bang in the beginning, and love is what went to hell for us on the cross…

Perfect love casts out fear, but unless we begin with fear, we cannot progress to perfect love. Fear is the caterpillar, love is the butterfly.

–Peter Kreeft

Love has a Face

It is all about Love. Love is the foundation, the focus; the how, the why; the reason, the promise, the call, the catalyst, the flame, the goal, the mandate, the mantle, the method, the message, the heartbeat, the demonstration, the answer, the everything because Love is WHO HE IS.

–Michele Perry

The true glory of God

For the divinest thing in God is love, and the true ‘glory of God’ is neither some symbolical flashing light nor the pomp of mere power and majesty; nor even those inconceivable and incommunicable attributes which we christen with names like Omnipotence and Omnipresence and Infinitude, and the like. These are all at the fringes of the brightness. The true central heart and lustrous light of the glory of God lie In His love, and of that glory Christ is the unique Representative and Revealer, because He is the only Begotten Son, and ‘full of grace and truth.’

–Alexander McLaren
(1826 – 1910)

Published in: on 02/27/2012 at 12:13  Leave a Comment  
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The controlling attribute

If one perfection of God shines out in redemption with greater effulgence than any other, it is this. Love is the focus of all the rest, the golden thread which draws and binds them all together in holy and beautiful cohesion. Love was the moving, controlling attribute in God’s great expedient of saving sinners. Justice may have demanded it, holiness may have required it, wisdom may have planned it, and power may have executed it, but love originated the whole, and was the moving cause in the heart of God; so that the salvation of the sinner is not so much a manifestation of the justice, or holiness, or wisdom, or power of God, as it is a display of His love.

–Octavius Winslow
(1808 – 1878)

Published in: on 02/24/2012 at 18:46  Leave a Comment  
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By Love alone

God is present by Love alone. By Love alone He is great and glorious. By Love alone He lives and feels in other persons. By Love alone He enjoys all the creatures, by Love alone He is pleasing to Himself, by Love alone He is rich and blessed…  The Soul is shrivelled up and buried in a grave that does not love. But that which does love wisely and truly is the joy and end of all the world, the King of Heaven, and the Friend of God.

–Thomas Traherne
(1637?-1674)

Published in: on 02/24/2012 at 6:29  Leave a Comment  
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Love is God’s essence

 

Love is God’s essence. Nowhere else does the Scripture express God’s essence in this way. Scripture says God is just and merciful, but it does not say that God is justice itself or mercy itself. It does say that God is love, not just a love. Love is God’s very essence. Everything else is a manifestation of this essence to us, a relationship between this essence and us. This is the absolute, everything else is relative to it.

–Peter Kreeft

Published in: on 02/23/2012 at 7:20  Comments (1)  
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Love’s power

He that
is furnished
with love,
stands at
a distance
from all sin.

–Polycarp
(69?-155?)

Published in: on 01/20/2012 at 16:09  Leave a Comment  
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One road to joy

There is only one
and only one possible
road to joy:
selfless love.

–Peter Kreeft

Published in: on 01/06/2012 at 9:04  Leave a Comment  
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