A pilgrimage of the heart

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Faith is not the clinging to a shrine,
but an endless pilgrimage of the heart.
Audacious longing, burning songs,
daring thoughts, an impulse
overwhelming the heart,
usurping the mind —
these are all a drive towards
serving Him who rings
our hearts like a bell.

–Abraham Joshua Heschel

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Trusting in the dark

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If we insist on visible proofs from God, we may well prepare the way for a permanent state of disappointment.

True faith does not so much
attempt to manipulate God
to do our will as it does to position us
to do his will.

 As I searched through the Bible for models of great faith, I was struck by how few saints experienced anything like Job’s dramatic encounter with God. The rest responded to the hiddenness not by demanding that he show himself, but by going ahead and believing him though he stayed hidden.

–Philip Yancey
Disappointment with God

The beginning and the end

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I don’t know the end
from the beginning,
but I know the One
who has already written the end
and the beginning,
and I know he is
trustworthy.

―Stephen Altrogge
Untamable God

Published in: on 03/21/2014 at 16:07  Leave a Comment  
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Just say thank you

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The life of grace
is simply believing
that Somebody Else
has made it all right, and
you just say thank you
and shut up.

–Robert Farrar Capon

Published in: on 11/01/2013 at 5:58  Leave a Comment  
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Where the road ends

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The conscience, our own anxiety, and all slaves of the law bid us go the way of obedience to the very end in order to find peace with God. But the way of obedience has no end. It lies endlessly before you, bringing continually severer demands and constantly growing indebtedness. If you seek peace on that road, you will not find peace, but the debt of ten thousands talents instead.

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But now Christ is the end of the law;
the road ends at His feet, and here
His righteousness is offered
to everyone who believes.

It is to that place, to Jesus only, that God has wanted to drive you with all your unrest and anguish of soul.

Bo Giertz
The Hammer of God

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)

When faith falters

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Just as the Christian has his moments when the clamour of this visible and audible world is so persistent and the whisper of the spiritual world so faint that faith and reason can hardly stick to their guns, as I well remember, the atheist too has his moments of shuddering misgiving, of an all but irresistible suspicion that old tales may after all be true, that something or someone from outside may at any moment break into his neat, explicable, mechanical universe.

Believe in God and you will have
to face hours when it seems obvious
that this material world is the only reality:
disbelieve in Him and you must face hours
when this material world seems to shout  
at you that it is not all.

No conviction, religious or irreligious will, of itself, end once and for all this fifth-coumnist [internal subversive agent] in the soul. Only the practice of Faith resulting in the habit of Faith will gradually do that.

–C. S. Lewis
Christian Reflections

On the Rock

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Believe God’s love
and power more
than you believe
your own feelings
and experiences.
Your rock is Christ,
and it is not the rock
that ebbs and flows
but the sea.

–Samuel Rutherford
(1600-1661)

A Magnificent Obsession

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There is a magnificent insanity about the parable that [Jesus told in Mt. 13:45]. It has to do with a pearl freak—a merchant whose hobby was pearls. One day he evidently came across a pearl to end all pearls. You can imagine the quick intake of his breath, his staring eyes, the licking of his dry lips, the anxious inquiry about price, the haggling, the pondering of the tremendous cost of the pearl. You can also imagine him returning home and looking over the rest of his pearl collection. With shaking hands he would pick them up one by one and drop them into a soft leather pouch. Not only the pearls but house, slaves, everything went so that the one pearl might be his.

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And then, bereft of everything but a big pearl—what would the fool do? You can’t eat pearls. In my mind is a picture of a crazy merchant sitting in a miserable hovel, his glowing eyes feasting on his pearl and his fingers gently caressing it. Crazy? Perhaps he is the one sane person among us.

It all depends on whether the pearl was worth it. We see at once that treasure in heaven would be worth it. Why are we so quick to opt for earthly treasure and so slow to be obsessed with the heavenly? Perhaps it is because we do not believe in heavenly realities. They represent a celestial cliché in our minds, but no more. Basically you see, it is faith that makes us step lightheartedly along the Way of the Cross—not a spirit of sacrifice but faith that the next life is important…

The Way of the Cross is a magnificent obsession with a heavenly pearl, beside which everything else in life has no value.

—John White
The Cost of Commitment

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

Faithing storms

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Faith does not lie in trusting God
to stop the storm, but in trusting Him
to enable us to walk through the storm.

–Jill Briscoe

Image by Craig Stevens

Published in: on 06/14/2013 at 7:11  Leave a Comment  
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More than a dream

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Faith is the assurance
that the best and holiest dream
is true after all.

–Frederick Buechner

Published in: on 05/01/2013 at 4:58  Leave a Comment  
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God, explain yourself

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How is faith to endure, O God, when you allow all this scraping and tearing on us? You have allowed rivers of blood to flow, mountains of suffering to pile up, sobs to become humanity’s song–all without lifting a finger that we could see. You have allowed bonds of love beyond number to be painfully snapped. If you have not abandoned us, explain yourself.

We strain to hear. But instead of hearing an answer we catch sight of God himself scraped and torn. Through our tears we see the tears of God.

―Nicholas Wolterstorff
Lament for a Son

Absolutely no barrier

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But people whose faith makes them acceptable to God will never ask, “Who will go up to heaven to bring Christ down?” Neither will they ask, “Who will go down into the world of the dead to raise him to life?”

All who are acceptable because of their faith simply say, “The message is as near as your mouth or your heart.” And this is the same message we preach about faith.  —Romans 10:6-8 (CEV)

We have the good news to tell to all men that there is absolutely no barrier to Christ. That which appears to be the obstacle which keeps a certain person from Christ is in reality the very thing which will assure him an entrance into His presence.

He who cannot believe,
let him come with his unbelief.

He who cannot understand may come with his confusion. The rebellious man may come if he will only bring his rebellion. The indifferent and the cold person may come with his indifference and coldness. He who is troubled with bitterness and deep feeling may bring his tangled emotions. He who has no feelings may come as he is. The moral failure may come with his failures knowing that Christ will forgive and continue to forgive as often as he fails…

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Christ, Himself, is immediately available to all who will receive Him. This is good news, not only to the unconverted, but also to the weary Christian. Christ is the door; all who will may enter. He is also the way; all who will may walk thereon.

There is no one so evil
that he may not come;
no one so saintly that this
should not still be good news to him.

There is no one so unbelieving and rebellious that he may not bring his unbelief and rebellion to Christ; there is no one so trusting and submissive that he does not need to depend on the Shepherd to restore his soul.

This is good news for all men. It is the only good news of which no one can say, “This is not for me.” This is the “Good News” which is called “The Gospel of Christ.”

–Wesley W. Nelson
Captivated by Christ

Walking in the dark

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I hear men praying everywhere for more faith, but when I listen to them carefully, and get to the real heart of their prayer, very often it is not more faith at all that they are wanting, but a change from faith to sight. Faith says not, “I see that it is good for me, so God must have sent it,” but, “God sent it, and so it must be good for me.” Faith, walking in the dark with God, only prays Him to clasp its hand more closely…

–Phillips Brooks
(1835 – 1893)

Squirrels, dungeons and freedom

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We say, not lightly but very literally, that the truth has made us free. They [the denouncers of dogma] say that it makes us so free that it cannot be the truth.

To them it is like believing in fairyland
to believe in such freedom as we enjoy . . .

It is like accepting a fable about a squirrel in conversation with a mountain to believe in a man who is free to ask or a God who is free to answer. This is a manly and a rational negation, for which I for one shall always show respect. But I decline to show any respect for those who first of all clip the wings and cage the squirrel, rivet the chains and refuse the freedom, close all the doors of the cosmic prison on us with a clang of eternal iron, tell us that our emancipation is a dream and our dungeon a necessity; and then calmly turn round and tell us they have a freer thought and a more liberal theology.

–G. K. Chesterton
The Everlasting Man

One day we shall laugh

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You will yet know the dignity of your high calling, and the love of God that passes knowledge. He is not afraid of your presump-tuous approach to him. It is you who are afraid to come near him. He is not watching over his dignity. It is you who fear to be sent away as the disciples would have sent away the little children. It is you who think so much about your souls and are so afraid of losing your life, that you dare not draw near to the Life of life, lest it should consume you.

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Our God, we will trust you. Shall we not find you equal to our faith? One day, we shall laugh ourselves to scorn that we looked for so little from you; for your giving will not be limited by our hoping.

–George MacDonald
The Higher Faith

I don’t believe in him either

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“Describe the God
you rejected . . .
Describe the God
you don’t believe in . . .
Maybe I don’t believe in
that God either.”

–Tim Keller

Rebuilt faith

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A rebuilt faith is superior to an inherited faith that has never stood the strain of a great testing storm. If you have not clung to a broken piece of your old ship in the dark night of the soul, your faith may not have the sustaining power to carry you through to the end of the journey.

-Rufus Jones (1863–1948)

Joyful uncertainty

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We are uncertain of the next step, but we are certain of God. As soon as we abandon ourselves to God and do the task He has placed closest to us, He begins to fill our lives with surprises.

When we become simply a promoter
or a defender of a particular belief,
something within us dies.

That is not believing God — it is only believing our belief about Him. Jesus said, “. . . unless you . . . become as little children . . .” (Matthew 18:3 ). The spiritual life is the life of a child. We are not uncertain of God, just uncertain of what He is going to do next. If our certainty is only in our beliefs, we develop a sense of self-righteousness, become overly critical, and are limited by the view that our beliefs are complete and settled.

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. . . when we have the right
relationship with God,
life is full of spontaneous,
joyful uncertainty
and expectancy.

Jesus said, “. . . believe also in Me” (John 14:1 ), not, “Believe certain things about Me”. Leave everything to Him and it will be gloriously and graciously uncertain how He will come in— but you can be certain that He will come. Remain faithful to Him.

–Oswald Chambers
My Utmost For His Highest
(emphasis added)

Arguing against God

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Argue against God
and you argue against the power
that makes you able to argue at all:
you cut off the branch you sit on.

–C. S. Lewis

Published in: on 02/11/2013 at 5:28  Leave a Comment  
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Where to turn?

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When belief in God becomes difficult,
the tendency is to turn away from Him;
but in heaven’s name to what?

–C. K. Chesterton
(1874 – 1936)

Published in: on 02/10/2013 at 4:29  Leave a Comment  
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When we cease to believe

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God does not die on the day when we cease to believe in a personal deity, but we die on the day when our lives cease to be illumined by the steady radiance, renewed daily, of a wonder, the source of which is beyond all reason.

–Dag Hammarskjold
(1905 – 1961)

Published in: on 02/09/2013 at 3:10  Leave a Comment  
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Faith prays

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Those who do not believe do not pray.
This is a good functional definition of faith.
Faith prays, unbelief does not.

–John A. Hardon

Published in: on 02/08/2013 at 4:46  Leave a Comment  
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The pianist continued to play

CENTRAL PARK TRAFFIC

Imagine a family of mice who lived all their lives in a large piano. To them in their piano-world came the music of the instrument, filling all the dark spaces with sound and harmony. At first the mice were impressed by it. They drew comfort and wonder from the thought that there was Someone who made the music–though invisible to them–above, yet close to them.

They loved to think of the Great Player 
whom they could not see.

Then one day a daring mouse climbed up part of the piano and returned very thoughtful. He had found out how the music was made. Wires were the secret; tightly stretched wires of graduated lengths which trembled and vibrated. They must revise all their old beliefs: none but the most conservative could any longer believe in the Unseen Player.

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Later, another explorer carried the explanation further. Hammers were now the secret, numbers of hammers dancing and leaping on the wires. This was a more complicated theory, but it all went to show that they lived in a purely mechanical and mathematical world. The Unseen Player came to be thought of as a myth.

But the pianist continued to play.

– from the London Observer 
(emphasis added)

A matter of faith

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If belief rests on a longing, it could be argued that faith in God reflects nothing more than our longing that there should be a God. Yet it could be argued that a belief that there is no God rests on exactly the same basis — a hope and desire that it is, in fact, the case.

Atheism is as much a matter
of faith as Christianity.

As Boris Pasternak, the author of Dr. Zhivago, once remarked: “I am an athiest who has lost his faith.” Might not atheism’s basic assumptions rest on a longing for total autonomy, not having to give account to anyone, and not being limited by anything?

–Alister McGrath
The Unknown God
(emphasis added)

Faith is a fight

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Every day we have to fight
the God-denying look of things.

–George MacDonald
(1824 – 1905)

Published in: on 02/05/2013 at 4:56  Leave a Comment  
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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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Faith is a journey

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Faith is homesickness.
Faith is a lump in the throat.
Faith is less a position on
than a movement toward,
less a sure thing than a hunch.
Faith is waiting.
Faith is journeying . . .

–Frederick Buechner

Published in: on 02/03/2013 at 4:33  Leave a Comment  
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Faith is rest

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Faith is rest, not toil. It is the giving up all the former weary efforts to do or feel something good, in order to induce God to love and pardon; and the calm reception of the truth . . . that God is not waiting for any such inducements, but loves and pardons of His own goodwill, and is showing that goodwill to any sinner who will come to Him on such a footing, casting away his own poor performances or goodnesses, and relying implicitly upon the free love of Him who so loved the world that He gave His only-begotten Son.

—Horatius Bonar (1808-1889)
“The Everlasting Righteousness”

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