An Uphill Climb

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You want to grow in virtue, to serve God, to love Christ? Well, you will grow in and attain to these things if you will make them a slow and sure, an utterly real, a mountain step-plod and ascent, willing to have to camp for weeks or months in spiritual desolation, darkness and emptiness at different stages in your march and growth. All demand for constant light . . . all the attempt at eliminating or minimizing the cross and trial, is so much soft folly and puerile trifling.

― Friedrich von Hügel

He’ll pick you up

falling
Each time you fall
He’ll pick you up.
He knows your own efforts
are never going to bring you
anywhere near perfection.
     –C. S. Lewis

Make me new

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Batter my heart, three-person’d God, for you
As yet but knock, breathe, shine, and seek to mend;
That I may rise, and stand, o’erthrow me, and bend
Your force to break, blow, burn, and make me new.

–John Donne
(1573-1631)

Higher ground

Rock Climbing on Turnagain Arm

There is a great market for religious experience in our world; there is little enthusiasm for the patient acquisition of virtue, little inclination to sign up for the long apprenticeship in what earlier generations of Christians called holiness… (That seems to be why) dissatisfaction – coupled with a longing for peace and truth – are the only way we set off on the pilgrim path of wholeness in God…

As long as we think that the next election might eliminate crime and establish justice or another scientific breakthrough might save the environment or another pay raise might push us over the edge of anxiety into a life of tranquility, we are not likely to risk the arduous uncertainties of the life of faith. A person has to get fed up with the ways of the world before he or she acquires an appetite for the world of grace.

–Eugene Peterson

Noticing Jesus

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Spiritual growth is not running faster, as in more meetings, more Bible studies, and more prayer meetings. Spiritual growth happens when we slow our activity down. If we want to meet Jesus, we can’t do it on the run. If we want to stay on the road of faith, we have to hit the brakes, pull over to a rest area, and stop.

Christianity is not about
inviting Jesus to speed through life with us;
it’s about noticing Jesus
sitting at the rest stop.

While the church earnestly warns Christians to watch for the devil, the devil is sitting in the congregation encouraging everyone to keep busy doing “good things.

–Mike Yaconelli

Stepping into the light

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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.

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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)

Unearned but not inactive

The path of spiritual growth in the riches of Christ is not a passive one. Grace is not opposed to effort. It is opposed to earning. Effort is action. Earning is attitude.

You have never seen people more active
than those who have been set on fire
by the grace of God.

Paul, who perhaps understood grace better than any other mere human being, looked back at what had happened to him and said: “By the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace toward me did not prove vain; but I labored even more than all of them, yet not I, but the grace of God with me.” (I Cor. 15:10)

–Dallas Willard (emphasis added)

Published in: on 11/22/2012 at 8:21  Leave a Comment  
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