The Gladdest News of All

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Christianity tells us we are part of a story that has an Author. It tells us He is good—indisputably, overwhelmingly, irresistibly good— and He is the source of everything that is beautiful and worthwhile and true. He created us to play a role in His story and placed within our hearts a deep longing to know Him. Christianity warns us there is a villain and dangers and distortions and perversions of the truth. It declares that tragedy, evil, and chaos have been defeated in Jesus Christ. It calls us to believe that the gospel is not only the greatest truth—but the most wonderful one of all. It invites us to become the beloved sons and daughters of the Writer of the story.

Could there be anything more astounding than that?

–J. O. Schulz
What Jesus Wished People Knew About God

Pleasure Was God’s Idea

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Pleasure is designed to
raise our sense of God’s goodness,
deepen our gratitude to him,
and strengthen our hope of
richer pleasures to come.

–J. I. Packer

Patches of Godlight

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Any patch of sunlight in a wood will show you something about the sun which you could never get from reading books on astronomy. These pure and spontaneous pleasures are ‘patches of Godlight’ in the woods of our experience.

–C. S. Lewis,
Letters to Malcolm

Not just survival

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It is worth mentioning . . .
that this God . . .
is the one who created kites,
and sex, and good wine,
and spring flowers,
and children’s eyes.
Coming home to him
will not just be survival—
it could turn out to be
an awful lot of fun.

–Adrian Plass
When You Walk

More to come

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We long for more
and God’s promise is
that there is more awaiting us.
More to delight us than
we will ever exhaust.

–C. S. Lewis

Abundant supply

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“Oh, how great is Your goodness,
Which You have laid up
for those who fear You,
Which You have prepared
for those who trust in You…”

–Psalm 31:19 (NKJV)

Two lessons to learn

Stephen Darbishire 1940 - British Interiors and Landscape painter - Tutt'Art@ (18)

There are but two lessons
for the Christian to learn:
the one is to enjoy
God in everything;
the other is to enjoy
everything in God.

–Charles Simeon
(1759–1836)

Artwork: Stephen Darbishire

Reason to rejoice

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God is the one
who helps us, who accepts us,
who brings us holiness
in our unholiness.
In this God we may and can
and must rejoice.

–Karl Barth

Art: Stephen Darbishire

Published in: on 11/26/2014 at 2:18  Leave a Comment  
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Looking to the Source

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There is but one good;
that is God.
Everything else is good
when it looks to Him
and bad when it turns
from Him.

–C. S. Lewis

The Giver of gladness

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Every spring-fountain of gladness about us is his making and his delight. He tends us and cares for us; he is close to us, breathing into our nostrils the breath of life, and breathing into our spirit this thought and that thought to make us look up and recognize the love and the care around us. . . . To recognize and know this loving-kindness, and to stand up in it strong and glad; this is the ministration of God unto us.

–George MacDonald
(1824 – 1905)

Image: Henri Martin

Easy to live with

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Unfortunately, many Christians cannot get free from their perverted notions of God, and these notions poison their hearts and destroy their inward freedom . . . Their idea of God rules out the possibility of His being happy in His people, and they attribute the singing and shouting to sheer fanaticism. Unhappy sods, these, doomed to go heavily on their melancholy way, grimly determined to do right if the heavens fall and to be on the winning side in the day of judgment.

How good it would be if we could learn
that God is easy to live with.

He remembers our frame and knows that we are dust. He may sometimes chasten us, it is true, but even this He does with a smile, the proud, tender smile of a Father who is bursting with pleasure over an imperfect but promising son who is coming every day to look more and more like the One whose child he is.

–A. W. Tozer
The Root of the Righteous

Lacking moderation

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God never
seems capable
of moderation.

–N. D. Wilson

Published in: on 03/03/2014 at 18:48  Leave a Comment  
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Taking nothing for granted

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To be grateful is to recognize the Love of God in everything He has given us–and He has given us everything. Every breath we draw is a gift of His love, every moment of existence is a grace, for it brings with it immense graces from Him. Gratitude therefore takes nothing for granted, is never unresponsive, is constantly awakening to new wonder and to praise of the goodness of God. For the grateful man knows that God is good, not by hearsay but by experience. And that is what makes all the difference.

–Thomas Merton
Thoughts in Solitude

Image: Stephen Darbishire

 

Only God is good

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There is but one good;
that is God.
Everything else is good
when it looks to Him
and bad when it turns
from Him.

–C. S. Lewis

He seeks to be found

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The reason we can hope to find God is that He is here, engaged all the time in finding us.

Every gleam of beauty
is a pull toward Him.

Every pulse of love is a tendril that draws us in His direction. Every verification of truth links the finite mind up into a Foundational Mind that undergirds us. Every deed of good will points toward a consummate Goodness which fulfills all our tiny adventures in faith. We can find Him because in Him we live and move and have our being.

–Rufus M. Jones
(1863-1948)

Fountain of rich grace

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Men are afraid to have good thoughts of God. They think it is a boldness to eye God as good, gracious, tender, kind, loving. I speak of saints. They can judge him hard, austere, severe, almost implacable, and fierce (the very worst affections of the very worst of men, and most hated by God). Is not this soul-deceit from Satan? Was it not his design from the beginning to inject such thoughts of God?

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Assure yourself, then, there is nothing more acceptable to the Father than for us to keep up our hearts unto him as the eternal fountain of all that rich grace which flows out to sinners in the blood of Jesus.

–John Owen
(1616 – 1683)

Image: Joseph Boltrukiewicz

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

On our side

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The God of the universe
who made the stars
with a whisper of His breath,
who holds the oceans in His palm,
who fashioned redwood trees,
He is for us, on our side.

–Mary DeMuth

Grace and goodness

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O my Divine Love,
the desire I had to please You,
the tears I shed, my great labours
and the little fruit I reaped from it,
moved Your compassion.
You gave me in a moment, through
Your grace and Your goodness alone,
what I had been unable to give myself
through all my efforts.

–Madame Guyon
(1648 – 1717)

Spreading joy

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If God already had
perfect joy in himself,
why did He create us?
He must have created us
not to get joy but to give it.

–Tim Keller

The problem of pleasure

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Why is sex fun? Reproduction surely does not require pleasure: some animals simply split in half to reproduce . . . Why is eating enjoyable? Plants and the lower animals manage to obtain their quota of nutrients without the luxury of taste buds. Where are there colors? Some people get along fine without the ability to detect color. Why complicate vision for all the rest of us?

It struck me, after reading my umpteenth book on the problem of pain, that I have never seen a book on “the problem of pleasure.” Nor have I met a philosopher who goes around shaking his or her head in perplexity over the question of why we experience pleasure. Yet it looms as a huge question: the philosophical equivalent, for atheists, to the problem of pain for Christians. On the issue of pleasure, Christians can breathe easier.

A good and loving God would naturally want
his creatures to experience delight,
joy and personal fulfillment.

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Christians start from that assumption and then look for ways to explain the origin of suffering. But should not atheists have an equal obligation to explain the origin of pleasure in a world of randomness and meaninglessness?

. . . Where does pleasure come from? Chesterton settled on Christianity as the only reasonable explanation.

Moments of pleasure are
the remnants washed ashore
from a shipwreck, bits of Paradise
extended through time.

We must hold these relics lightly, and use them with gratitude and restraint, never seizing them as entitlements.

. . . Evil’s greatest triumph may be its success in portraying religion as an enemy of pleasure when, in fact, religion accounts for its source: every good and enjoyable thing is the invention of a Creator who lavished gifts on the world.

–Philip Yancey
Soul Survivor

In hot pursuit

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God is like a highway patrolman
pursuing you down the interstate
with lights flashing and siren blaring
to get you to stop–not to give you a ticket,
but to give you a message so good
it couldn’t wait till you get home.

–Author unknown

The expansive goodness of God

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In the beginning, God formed Adam,
not as if he stood in need of humanity,
but so that he would have someone
to confer his benefits upon.

–Irenæus (2nd century)
Against Heresies

Published in: on 03/11/2013 at 7:13  Leave a Comment  
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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

Expect good surprises

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“Enlarge the place of your tent, and let them
stretch out the curtains of your habitations;
do not spare; lengthen your cords,
and strengthen your stakes.”
(Isaiah 54:2)

The prophet was telling the people that their tents were far too small. They needed to enlarge them, and quickly. God was coming, so they needed to let their tents be stretched as far as they could be. They needed to lengthen their ropes, deepen their pegs, for they were going to need one mighty big tent to accommodate the gifts of God.

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The same is true for us. We’ve constructed personal and theological dwellings for ourselves that are far too small. Then God comes to us, and there’s no room for him, for we’ve poured foundational habits, framed rigid attitudes, and rooted our lives with limited goals that are inadequate to contain him.

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When God comes to us,
he gives us life — abundantly.

This continues to be one of the great Christian surprises. All the stories in the ancient world about the gods were very different. When the gods came down among humans, which they did with some frequency, they robbed them. Life diminished in contact with the gods. People never knew whether some stranger might be a god in human disguise, ready to cheat them out of something that was important to them.

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Can you see how fresh and liberating the prophets words were to a people conditioned to expect the worst from divinity? Every one of Israel’s contemporaries, hearing that God was coming would have put a padlock on the door. Israel did the opposite. And so should we.

We should expect the best from God, not the worst —
to be blessed, not cursed, to be surprised
by his generosity, not by his chicanery.

–Eugene Peterson

Jesus shows us God

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As Christians—as followers of the Lord Jesus—when we talk about God, we are talking about one who has entered into the very fabric of our world, who has come as close to us as we are to ourselves, a God who has become incarnate. When we talk about God, ultimately, we are always talking about Jesus. For the God of the gospel is the God who has come among us in Jesus of Nazareth. We believe in God because of Jesus.

Jesus is the one who showed us the face of God—
Jesus shows us the truth of God,
Jesus shows us the love of God.

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Jesus is God’s smile beaming at us out of the depths of eternity. Jesus is God’s love wrapping around us, seizing us and not letting us go. Jesus is God’s grace, reaching into the darkest and most shameful dimensions of our experience. Jesus is God’s healing, binding up the wounded.

Jesus is God’s goodness, in a world
full of chaos and disaster and catastrophe.

Jesus is God’s great strength for the weak. Jesus is water for the thirsty, and when you drink that water you will never thirst again. Jesus is bread for all those who are starved and hungry, famished for something good and something true. Jesus shows us God. He is not God’s explanation, he is not God’s argument, he is not God’s debate. He is God’s simple, great, loving act, showing us, Here I am, here you are.

In Jesus, God shows us God.
That I believe, is the whole secret
of the Christian faith.

–Ben Myers
(emphasis added)

Spreading goodness

God’s goodness is a . . . spreading goodness . . . If God did not have a . . . spreading goodness, he would never have created the world.  The Father, Son and Holy Spirit were happy in themselves and enjoyed one another before the world was. But God delights to communicate and spread his goodness.

–Richard Sibbes
(1577–1635)

Astounding liberality

Jesus once declared that God is “good to the ungrateful and the wicked” (St. Luke 6:35), and I remember preaching a sermon on this text to a horrified and even astonished congregation who simply refused to believe (so I gathered afterwards) in this astounding liberality of God. That God should be in a state of constant fury with the wicked seemed to them only right and proper, but that God should be kind towards those who were defying or disobeying His laws seemed to them a monstrous injustice. Yet I was but quoting the Son of God Himself . . .

We do not need to explain or modify
His unremitting love towards mankind.

–J. B. Phillips (1906 – 1982)
(emphasis added) 

His pleasure is to give

It is written that God has “created all things for His pleasure.” At first thought that sounds selfish, until one realizes that His pleasure is that of giving His all. He’s not looking for something to get from us to fulfill His desires or to please Himself, but rather His pleasure is to give.

–Christopher Bernard

Living with gratitude

When everything we receive from him is received and prized as fruit and pledge of his covenant love, then his bounties (generous gifts), instead of being set up as rivals and idols to draw our heart from him, awaken us to fresh exercises of gratitude and furnish us with fresh motives of cheerful obedience every hour.

–John Newton (1725-1807)

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