Stronger Cords

Praying

Grace binds you with
far stronger cords than
the cords of duty or obligation
can bind you.

–E. Stanley Jones

Becoming What We Are

1280_Red-Gerbera_wallpaper

When Paul . . . says that “if any one is in Christ, he is a new creation” he is teaching that God has done for us everything that needs to be done; when Peter says that ‘his divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness’, there is the same note of completeness . . . Both Paul and Peter speak of the work of God in the past tense: it is our foundation inheritance as believers. The remainder of our earthly life is an outworking of what God has already ‘in-worked’. We are called to become what we are.

divider-2 copy

This is the mighty imperative of Christian ethics. Every other ethical system calls us to the costly effort of becoming what we are not. But in the full salvation already bequeathed to us in Christ, the new nature is already ours, waiting for expression, poised for growth, until its potential is triggered by our obedience to the Word of God.

–Alec Motyer,
The Message of Philippians

The freedom of obedience

Looking up towards the lighObedience. The most thrilling word in the world; a very thunderclap of a word. Why do these fools fancy that the soul is only free when it disagrees with the common command? Even the mobs who rise to burn and destroy owe all their grandeur and terror, and a sort of authority, not to their anger, but to their agreement. Why should mere disagreement make us feel free?

—G. K. Chesterton
“The Surprise”

Published in: on 02/25/2016 at 12:00  Leave a Comment  
Tags: , , ,

To have faith in Christ

sitting on shore 3[To have faith in Christ] means, of course, trying to do all that He says. There would be no sense in saying you trusted a person if you would not take his advice. Thus if you have really handed yourself over to Him, it must follow that you are trying to obey Him. But trying in a new way, a less worried way. Not doing these things in order to be saved, but because He has begun to save you already. Not hoping to get to Heaven as a reward for your actions, but inevitably wanting to act in a certain way because a first faint gleam of Heaven is already inside you.

―C. S. Lewis
Mere Christianity

Published in: on 09/09/2015 at 9:15  Leave a Comment  
Tags: , , , ,

Love is the foundation

546523_549a25cac3ec855d5c672f46c9ee6d6e_large copy

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  
Tags: , , , , , ,

Too Much Religion

3-keys-to-seeking-god112310

It seems odd to have to say so, but too much religion is a bad thing. We can’t get too much of God, we can’t get too much faith and obedience, can’t get too much love and worship. But religion—the well intentioned efforts we make to “get it all together” for God—can very well get in the way of what God is doing for us. The main and central action is everywhere and always what God has done, is doing, and will do for us. Jesus is the revelation of that action. Our main and central task is to live in responsive obedience to God’s action revealed in Jesus. Our part in the action is the act of faith.

1305427767825968289fancy-divider-md

But more often than not we become impatiently self-important along the way and decide to improve matters with our two cents worth. We add on, we supplement, we embellish. But instead of improving on the purity and simplicity of Jesus, we dilute the purity, clutter the simplicity. We become fussily religious, or anxiously religious. We get in the way.

1305427767825968289fancy-divider-md

That’s when it’s time to read and pray our way through the letter to the Hebrews again, written for “too religious” Christians, for “Jesus-and” Christians. In the letter, it is Jesus-and-angels, or Jesus-and-Moses, or Jesus-and-priesthood. In our time it is more likely to be Jesus-and-politics, or Jesus-and-education, or even Jesus-and-Buddha. This letter deletes the hyphens, the add-ons. the focus becomes clear and sharp again: God’s action in Jesus. And we are free once more for the act of faith, the one human action in which we don’t get in the way but on the Way.

–Eugene Peterson
Living the Message

Heaven already inside

look

If you have really handed yourself over to Him it must follow that you are trying to obey Him. But trying in a new way, a less worried way. Not doing these things in order to be saved, but because He has begun to save you already. Not hoping to get Heaven as a reward for your actions, but inevitably wanting to act in a certain way because a first faint gleam of Heaven is already inside you.

–C. S. Lewis
Christian Behavior

Challenging Caesar

biblestudy

In every worship service, the Christian ekklesia is renewed in her unique story and language, her unique political experience and vocation. Every worship service is a challenge to Caesar, because every Lord’s Day we bow to a Man on the throne of heaven, to whom even great Caesar must bow. O’Donovan claims that all political order rests on a people’s homage to authority, which is to say, on an act of worship. Every Lord’s Day, the Church is reconstituted as a polity whose obedience is owed to Christ, and we are taught to name Jesus as King of kings and Lord of lords.

―Peter J. Leithart

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.

decorative-lines-300x56

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

Wonderful “imposition”

The+Cleveland+Orchestra+Conducted+by+Franz+Welser-Most+10-7-06+(Photography+by+Pete+Checchia)+DSC_9131

It’s not tyrannical
for God to “impose”
his will on ours;
it’s the most loving thing
he can possibly do.

–Scotty Smith

Published in: on 05/13/2014 at 11:20  Leave a Comment  
Tags: , , ,

The Offer and the Dance

Rejoice-in-the-Lord-alway-and-again-Rejoice copy

The gospel of Jesus is not the Gospel of a Demand but the Gospel of an Offer. Christ offers life to men: “He that drinketh of the waters that I shall give him shall never thirst”…

Of course, at the center of that offer is a demand—for repentance, for self-surrender, for following—but once the offer is accepted, the demand dances its way into a delight and is gone.

–E. Stanley Jones
Christ at the Round Table

His will means life

Nelleke-Pieters-7

God is not concerned about you doing his will because he wants to be obeyed. He is concerned about you—about making you blessed with his blessedness. He is not thinking about himself, but about you.

–George MacDonald
(paraphrased)

Image: Nelleke Pieters

His will is glorious

Road-Winding-Road-webs copy

Anytime we emphasize
the difficulty of obeying
the will of God above
the rewards and fruits
of doing His will,
we will have a victim’s
approach to obedience.
His will is glorious.

–Bill Johnson

Image: Paul Klenck

Published in: on 11/02/2013 at 6:49  Leave a Comment  
Tags: , , ,

Where the road ends

road-exotic

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.

divider-1

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

Two kinds of people

fork slide_crossroads2

There are only two kinds
of people in the end:
those who say to God,
“thy will be done,”
and those to whom
God says, in the end,
“Thy will be done.

–C. S. Lewis
The Great Divorce

A kingdom of paradox

metamorphosis-t5-forest-view

It’s not what we do that matters, but what a sovereign God chooses to do through us.

God doesn’t want our success. He wants us.

He doesn’t demand our achievements; He demands our obedience.

The kingdom of God is a kingdom of paradox, where through the ugly defeat of a cross, a holy God is utterly glorified.

Victory comes through defeat; healing through brokeness; finding self through losing self.

–Charles Colson
Loving God

Choosing the way to life

sitting thinking copy

When we want to be something other than the thing God wants us to be, we must be wanting what, in fact, will not make us happy. Those Divine demands which sound to our natural ears most like those of a despot and least like those of a lover, in fact marshal us where we should want to go if we knew what we wanted.

–C. S. Lewis
The Problem of Pain

Everyone surrenders

determined

If you don’t surrender to God,
don’t think you don’t surrender.
Everybody surrenders— 
to something.

–E. Stanley Jones

The power of forgiving love

spring_park_wallpaper_spring_nature_wallpaper_1280_801_widescreen_1215

Terror accomplishes no real obedience. Suspense brings forth no fruit unto holiness. No gloomy uncertainty as to God’s favour can subdue one lust, or correct our crookedness of will. But the free pardon of the cross uproots sin, and withers all its branches. Only the certainty of love, forgiving love, can do this.

–Horatius Bonar
God’s Way of Holiness

A larger life

3820514832_fe8b955bfb_z

If we will but let
our God and Father
work His will with us,
there can be no limit to
His enlargement
of our existence.

–George MacDonald

Coming home

Glory of Morning

The soul of man
can finally shout
“Home, sweet home,”
when it has found its true rest
in the will of God.

–Fuchsia Pickett

Published in: on 06/05/2013 at 6:20  Leave a Comment  
Tags: , , ,

Stepping into the light

SoFull

If any man will do His will,
he shall know of the doctrine . . .
John 7:17

The golden rule for understanding spiritually is not intellect, but obedience. If a man wants scientific knowledge, intellectual curiosity is his guide; but if he wants insight into what Jesus Christ teaches, he can only get it by obedience. If things are dark to me, then I may be sure there is something I will not do. Intellectual darkness comes through ignorance; spiritual darkness comes because of something I do not intend to obey.

Walking among trees 4 copy

No man ever receives a word from God without instantly being put to the test over it. We disobey and then wonder why we don’t go on spiritually. ‘If when you come to the altar,’ said Jesus, ‘there you remember your brother hath ought against you . . . don’t say another word to Me, but first go and put that thing right.’ The teaching of Jesus hits us where we live. We cannot stand as humbugs before Him for one second. He educates us down to the scruple. The Spirit of God unearths the spirit of self-vindication; He makes us sensitive to things we never thought of before.

When Jesus brings a thing home
by His word, don’t shirk it.
If you do, you will become
a religious humbug.

Watch the things you shrug your shoulders over, and you will know why you do not go on spiritually. First go – at the risk of being thought fanatical you must obey what God tells you.

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

The coming Kingdom

Every kingdom work, whether public or private, partakes of the kingdom’s imperishable character. Every honest intention, every stumbling word of witness, every resistance of temptation, every repentance, every gesture of concern, every motion of worship, every struggle towards obedience, every mumbled prayer, everything, literally, which flows out of our faith-relationship with the Ever-Living One, will find its place in the ever-living heavenly order which will dawn at his coming.

–Bruce Milne

To know God

To know God
is to experience his love in Christ
and to return that love
in obedience.

–C. H. Dodd (1884 – 1973)

Love is first

It is not that we keep
His commandments first,
and that then He loves;
but that He loves us, and then
we keep His commandments.

Augustine of Hippo


%d bloggers like this: