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

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The power to do good

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Do right, and God’s recompense to you will be the power of doing more right. Give, and God’s reward to you will be the spirit of giving more: a blessed spirit, for it is the Spirit of God Himself, whose Life is the blessedness of giving. Love, and God will pay you with the capacity of more love; for love is Heaven: love is God within you.

–F. W. Robertson
(1816 – 1853)

On the Crushing of Grapes

grapes_narrowweb__200x263God can never make us wine if we object to the fingers he uses to crush us with. If God would only use his fingers to make me broken bread and poured out wine in a spiritual way! But when he uses someone whom we dislike, or some set of circumstances to which we said we would never submit, we object. We must never choose the scene of our own martyrdom. If ever we are going to be made wine to drink, we shall have to be crushed. Grapes become wine only when they have been squeezed. You can not drink grapes.

–Oswald Chambers

Life Is Meant to Be Spent

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Lay your life down. Your heartbeats cannot be hoarded. Your reservoir of breaths is draining away. You have hands, blister them while you can. You have bones, make them strain—they can carry nothing in the grave. You have lungs, let them spill with laughter.

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With an average life expectancy of 78.2 years in the US (subtracting eight hours a day for sleep), I have around 250,00 conscious hours remaining to me in which I could be smiling or scowling, rejoicing in my life, in this race, in this story, or moaning and complaining about my troubles.

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I can be giving my fingers, my back, my mind, my words, my breaths, to my wife and my children and my neighbors, or I can grasp after the vapor and the vanity for myself, dragging my feet, afraid to die and therefore afraid to live. And, like Adam, I will still die in the end.

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

Keep running the race

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Keep sacrificing. Keep losing. Keep laying your life down. Keep loving your enemies. Keep blessing those who despise you. Keep refusing to return fire upon those who bad-mouth you. Keep pouring your life into others, even if those same people never acknowledge it and others never notice. Keep freely sharing what God gives you, even if some steal your words and make them their own without giving you credit. Keep faithfully serving your Lord without looking back.

Why? Because there is One who is watching. And only His opinion matters.

–Frank Viola

Not done in vain

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What you do in the Lord is not in vain. You are not oiling the wheels of a machine that’s about to roll over a cliff. You are not restoring a great painting that’s shortly going to be thrown on the fire. You are not planting roses in a garden that’s about to be dug up for a building site.

You are—strange though it may seem . . .
accomplishing something
that will become in due course
part of God’s new world.

Every act of love, gratitude, and kindness; every work of art or music inspired by the love of God and delight in the beauty of his creation; every minute spent teaching a severely handicapped child to read or to walk; every act of care and nurture, of comfort and support, for one’s fellow human beings and for that matter one’s fellow nonhuman creatures; and of course every prayer, all Spirit-led teaching, every deed that spreads the gospel, builds up the church, embraces and embodies holiness rather than corruption, and makes the name of Jesus honored in the world—all of this will find its way, through the resurrecting power of God, into the new creation that God will one day make.

– N.T. Wright
Surprised by Hope

Gotta serve somebody

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I came to know . . . that each one’s uniqueness, or in modern parlance, each one’s identity, is experienced only through the Lord or through the demons to which one surrenders. No one belongs to himself or herself.

–Ernst Käsemann
(1906 – 1998)

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Lamebrains and misfits

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“We are fools for Christ’s sake,” Paul says. You can’t put it much more plainly than that. God is foolish too, he says–“the foolishness of God”–just as plainly. God is foolish to choose for his holy work in the world the kind of lamebrains and misfits and nitpickers and holier-than-thous and stuffed shirts and odd ducks and egomaniacs and milquetoasts and closet sensualists as are vividly represented here by you and me…

–Frederick Buechner
The Road Goes On

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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A God who stoops

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I search in vain through non-Christian systems for one authentic note of the self-giving, serving God. True, there is service as a royal dispenser of favors and benefits; but this is deeper, for here is service by a Servant.

He did not merely bend over to hand out,
he bent over to get under.

He stooped under the poverty and the toil, the sin and the shame, the troubles and the toil—under the very lives of fallen men, and when there was nothing left to get under, he got under the cross and bore that for them.

–E. Stanley Jones
The Christ of Every Road

The glorious paradox of grace

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Truly I am your servant, Lord . . .
you have freed me from my chains.
–Psalm 116:16 NIV

Here is a fascinating combination!

Freed—but serving.

Loosed—but bound.

Liberty and servitude. How can we put these two opposites together?

The Gospel joins them in a glorious paradox.

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Our chains have been broken, but our hearts are captured by Calvary love. Our bonds have been loosed, but we willingly become bondservants of our Redeemer.

Grace emancipates and captivates.

Charles Wesley said it so well:
          My chains fell off, my heart was free,
          I rose, went forth, and followed Thee.

Absolute autonomy quickly leads to new tyrannies. It doesn’t take long for total freedom to turn into servitude to new masters and new vices.

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“Liberty too can corrupt, and absolute liberty can corrupt absolutely,” wrote Getrude Himmelfarb.

Dietrich Bonhoeffer underscored this truth: “The demand for absolute liberty brings men to the depths of slavery.”

It is only as the Son makes us free that we shall be free indeed. It is in surrender to Christ that we find freedom. Gripped by grace our hearts take flight. Low at his feet we stand tall. Under His lordship we find liberty.

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It is in belonging to Him that we find ourselves.
It is in obeying Him that we are set free.

Blessed contradiction!

The glorious liberty of slavery to grace!

–Jurgen O. Schulz

Published in: on 01/03/2013 at 20:47  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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Throwing away power

When God gave us free will, the Maker did indeed throw away power. When Christ came to us as Jesus, that was an even more radical throwing away of power. But that’s what our loving God does!

God throws away power over and over again,
while we greedily grab for it.

A lover wants to love the beloved, not to wield power, but to love, hoping that the love will be returned in the same way. When we are caught up in power we are not free, but in bondage to the power we have grasped. God is completely free because power has been laughingly thrown away in order that love may reign.

The throwing away of power
requires enormous power.

The all-powerful God who manipulates every event is like that Oriental potentate. When Lord Acton wrote that power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely, was he thinking only of human power? God’s rejection of power makes me wonder.

–Madeleine L’Engle (emphasis added)

Living on forgiveness

How can we ever manage to love unselfishly, to serve humbly and patiently in spite of frustration, if we do not live on God’s forgiveness?”

–Peter G. vanBreemen

People who rekindle

In everyone’s life, at some time,
our inner fire goes out.
It is then burst into flame
by an encounter with
another human being.
We should all be thankful
for those people who
rekindle the inner spirit.

–Albert Schweitzer

Passing through once

I expect to pass through this world but once; any good thing therefore that I can do, or any kindness that I can show to any fellow creature, let me do it now, let me not defer or neglect it, for I shall not pass this way again.

 –John Wesley
(1703 – 1791)

Published in: on 08/14/2011 at 21:28  Leave a Comment  
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Overflow



No life of faith
can be lived privately.
There must be overflow
into the lives of others.

–Eugene Peterson

Belonging to Jesus Christ

When you most belong to Him, you most belong to yourself. Lowest at His feet you stand straightest before everything else. Bound to Him you walk the earth free. Fearing Him you are afraid of nothing else. You bow to Him, but you do not bow to anything else. You are God’s freeman, for you are God’s slave. The strongest persons are those most surrendered to themselves. This works with a mathematical precision, and there are no exceptions. If you are centered in yourself, you are a problem—if you are centered in God, you are a person.

–E. Stanley Jones (1884–1973)

Redefining greatness

Whenever there is trouble over who is the greatest, there is trouble over who is the least. That is the crux of the matter for us, isn’t it? Most of us know we will never be the greatest; just don’t let us be the least. Gathered at the Passover feast, the disciples were keenly aware that someone needed to wash the others’ feet. The problem was that the only people who washed feet were the least. So there they sat, feet caked with dirt. It was such a sore point that they were not even going to talk about it. No one wanted to be considered the least. Then Jesus took a towel and a basin and redefined greatness.

–Richard Foster

Published in: on 06/08/2011 at 13:41  Leave a Comment  
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Ultimate greatness

When Christ tells us
that greatness is service,
is he not telling us that
the One who is infinitely great
is the greatest servant of all—
that God is great because
His ultimate passion
is to serve?

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