Quotes Sampler

Here is a selection of quotes from books I am currently reading:

My brother’s passing away was the biggest surprise of my life, until it was quickly eclipsed by another surprise just a few weeks later: I was surprised by how much my faith in Jesus and my resolve to stay committed to him vanished. C. S. Lewis’s reflections after the death of his wife rang true for me: “God has not been trying an experiment on my faith or love in order to find out their quality. He knew it already. It was I who didn’t.… He always knew that my temple was a house of cards. His only way of making me realize the fact was to knock it down.” I got punched in the face, and my resolve for the Lord disappeared. My strength dried up, and I was left with nothing. Everyone has a plan until they get punched in the mouth.” (Onwuchekwa, Prayer)

“Therefore, think ahead always, thoughtful preparation is best, Forethought and foresight forestall worry of mind.” Wilson, Beowulf

“In effect verse 15 [Psalm 106] says, ‘Take care what you pray – you might get it!’ – like the frightful island in The Voyage of the Dawn Treader where people always get what they dream! This is what happened in Numbers 11:33. Desire developed into the sin of covetousness – the ‘can’t-do-without-always-want-more’ mind-set which the New Testament calls idolatry (Ephesians 5:5) – and provoked divine wrath (compare James 1:14–15). The only sure way forward is to safeguard all our prayers with a fervent and heart-felt ‘May your will be done!’ People often say (and think), Do I have to say this every time? And behind that question lies a misunderstanding. Walk through a graveyard and you will find – is it specially on gravestones recording a particularly sad death? – ‘Thy will be done’. Is there a thought lying behind this that since God is in charge I can only accept life as he orders it, but if I were in charge I would arrange things better? I fear it sometimes is just like that. What an understandable but terribly mistaken reaction! Tell me: what makes heaven heaven? Why is it the utterly perfect place it is? Answer: because the will of God is perfectly done there. When we obey Jesus and pray, ‘Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven’, what are we asking? We are asking for heaven on earth, for the utterly perfect. And when we safeguard our prayers by adding ‘your will, not mine be done’, what are we doing? We are saying, Don’t give me what I am asking, give me what you know to be perfect. To say ‘your will, not mine’ does not bring our prayers down from the heights of what we would generously give ourselves; it lifts our prayers up to the heights of the best and most generous and totally perfect thing our heavenly Father has at his disposal. It removes all limitation from our praying, the limits of our wisdom, our feebleness in asking (Romans 8:26), our sheer boneheaded blindness. It lifts our prayers up to heaven and asks for heaven on earth.” (Motyer, Psalms by the Day)

Tactics Read Through: Foreword and Preface

If you are like me, you are most likely feeling some level of discouragement or resignation in light of the political environment. The atmosphere is abismal and I don’t think it is necessary to convince you of that fact. Rather, I am assuming you are already frustrated. We can skip all the facts and rehashing of what is going on in the USA and around the world.

But you may also be discouraged about the religious environment. You see evil winning. You see the canceling of the freedom of speech and belief. You perhaps have had frustrating conversations with others of different religious beliefs. There seems to be a darkening of the moral order.

So where do we go from here? Do we hole up? Do we circle the wagons? Do we close down communications and simply hurl statements through social media at the opposing side, at least until we are kicked off? Is there any hope?

Enter Greg Koukl and his book, Tactics: a game plan for discussing your Christian convictions. This book has changed me over the years (here is a review I wrote 9 years ago). I don’t know how many times I have read it and been challenged. But here on the blog I will be reading through it again over the coming weeks. I need to hear this again. You need to hear this. Believe me. Please buy the book and read through it with me. Leave comments, talk through it with others, learn with me. Koukl points us to a better way. A hope.

Below is from the foreword and preface.

“There are plenty of resources that help Christians understand what they believe and why they believe it, and certainly those are vital. But it’s equally crucial to know how to engage in a meaningful dialogue with a skeptic or a person from another religious viewpoint.”(Location: 141)

Note:This is the heart and hope of this book. We do not need to have all the answers within reach. We do not have to have the perfect argument or be able to shut down someone who has a different belief system.

“I am going to give you a game plan that will allow you to converse with confidence in any situation, no matter how little you know or how knowledgeable or aggressive or even obnoxious the other person might be.” (Location: 181)

Note:This is a high claim, but I have seen it in my own life. I don’t always do it, but I could if I kept myself from trying to appear smart.

“My plan follows Paul’s pattern found in Colossians 4:5–6. Here’s what he says: “Conduct yourselves with wisdom toward outsiders, making the most of the opportunity. Let your speech always be with grace, as though seasoned with salt, so that you will know how you should respond to each person.” Notice three elements in Paul’s injunction. First, he says, “Be smart.” Make the most of the moment, but watch your steps. Come in slowly, under the radar. Be shrewd, not blunt. Next, he says, “Be nice.” Show warmth. Probe gently. Be calm and patient. Remember, if anyone gets mad, you’ll lose. Finally, he says, “Be tactical.” Adjust to the individual. Tailor your comments to his special situation. Each circumstance is different. Each person is unique. Treat them that way.” (Location: 200)

Note:So often I just want to follow the plan, “prove them wrong”. They might be wrong, but they will never agree with me that they are wrong if I belittle them. And then again, I may be wrong as well, or be right but for the wrong reasons. That is a dangerous place to be!

“When I talk with people about spiritual matters, I’m not looking to close the deal with them. I’m just looking to do a little gardening in their lives. That’s all. I want to get them thinking. If I can do that, then I’m satisfied, since I know they are ultimately in God’s hands.” (Location: 211)

Note:This is so much better than the misconception often found in evangelism – that of pushing for a decision. We don’t want that done to us in other areas of life. Why would I want to be pushed into a decision about marrying someone, purchasing a house, children, job, etc? And then to push someone to make a “decision” in following Jesus Christ…that is dangerous.

Quotes Sampler

Here is a collection of quotes from books I am reading:

As George Smeaton so helpfully wrote, “We have but one public representative, corporate act performed by the Son of God, in which we share as truly as if we had accomplished that atonement ourselves.” So, as Dr. Smeaton again wrote, “Thus we may either say, Christ died for us; or say, we died in Him. We may equally affirm He was crucified for us, or we were co-crucified with Him.” The latter expression is in fact what Paul essentially said when he wrote, “I have been crucified with Christ” (Galatians 2:20)” (Discipline of Grace, 68)

It is easy to consent to the primacy of love and yet so difficult to practice it. Some years ago, in an effort to help me put “shoe leather” to the concept of love, I stated a couple of verses from the great love chapter, 1 Corinthians 13, as action statements. As you read over these action statements from verses 4 and 5, ask yourself how you are doing in your day-to-day practice of love. Is there any room for self-righteousness in the light of this practical standard of love?

• I am patient with you because I love you and want to forgive you.

• I am kind to you because I love you and want to help you.

• I do not envy your possessions or your gifts because I love you and want you to have the best.

• I do not boast about my attainments because I love you and want to hear about yours.

• I am not proud because I love you and want to esteem you before myself.

• I am not rude because I love you and care about your feelings.

• I am not self-seeking because I love you and want to meet your needs.

• I am not easily angered by you because I love you and want to overlook your offenses.

• I do not keep a record of your wrongs because I love you, and “love covers a multitude of sins.”

(Bridges, The Discipline of Grace, 39)

“Apoet is a man who is glad of something, and tries to make other people glad of it, too.” (George MacDonald quoted in Peterson, Adorning the Dark)

Quote Sampler

Here is a selection of quotes from books I am currently reading:

“Centuries before the advent of smartphones, email, and instant messages, Lord Chesterfield warned his son against the dangers of multitasking. ‘There is time enough for everything in the course of the day, if you do but one thing at once,’ he said, ‘but there is not time enough in the year, if you will do two things at a time’.” (Hyatt, Free to Focus)

“We save the most compelling lesson for last. We have already introduced the idea of the insula housing with inter-connected rooms that were added to accommodate extending families. Bringing a new bride into the family would be a celebrated event, and the home would expand with the growth of the household. As Jesus prepared his small band of disciples for the forthcoming tumult of his arrest, trial, and death, he comforted them with the assurance that in his Father’s house there were many rooms. Better yet, he was going to prepare a place for them, and he promised them that ultimately, they would be with him there (John 14:1–3). In other words, they were assured that they were added to God’s family. The symbolism of the bridegroom preparing a place for his bride, the church, is powerful and enduring.” (Lexham Geographic Commentary on the Gospels)

Perhaps our failure to be hospitable explains why so many Christians have few non-Christian friends and find themselves far removed from evangelistic opportunities.” (Anyabwile, Finding Faithful Elders and Deacons, 72)

“Now, the question is, why? Why does that matter? Well, the reason it matters is because usually when we read the Sermon on the Mount, we often dip into it. It’s what I call in many instances a Viking exegesis. We do this with all the Bible, but we do it with the Sermon as much as anything, where we are like Vikings who land on the shore of the Bible, run in, grab a few things, put them in bags over our shoulders and pillage the area, and run back to our ships and then sail away. That’s how we often treat the Bible. We sort of pillage it for what we’re interested in. But I want to suggest to you that that can really result in—at worst, wrong readings, but even at best, just not very nuanced and not very careful readings. The best kind of reading of the Bible is one that really pays attention to context and really pays attention to literary structure, because these books are classics. They’ve been written and tested and preached—in Matthew’s case, he probably preached these sermons and put together this material in these ways for thirty years before he finally wrote it down. This is his magnum opus.” (Pennington, Sermon on the Mount)

Quote Sampler

Here are some quotes taken from different books which I am currently reading:

“Much has been made of the natural association of Nazareth with Sepphoris—at four miles apart, the journey between the two would have taken less than two hours—and that in the early years of the first century ad this is the place where construction jobs could be found. Joseph the father of Jesus was a tektōn by trade (Matt 13:55), as quite naturally was his oldest son, Jesus (Mark 6:3). Though nearly all English translations of the Gospels render the term tektōn as “carpenter,” a tektōn was a skilled worker in local building materials of all kinds, be they wood, stone, or metal. In first century ad Galilee that meant someone who was primarily a stonemason. Typically a tektōn was hired to build the parts of a building or house that were beyond the skill of his fellow townspeople (e.g., set the corners, align the walls so that roof would hold, build the door and the lock, etc.) and to oversee the entire construction process. This made the tektōn part builder, part architect, part contractor, and part artisan. Anthropological studies of pre-industrialized Palestinian towns suggest that every town, village, or group of villages had a tektōn to service its specialized building needs. If this model is correct, Joseph and then Jesus was the tektōn for Nazareth. Like many similarly skilled workers from other small villages, they would have found work in neighboring towns and cities. This reasonable assumption brings Joseph and Jesus to Sepphoris where they not only would have found gainful employment but been exposed to a cultural and ethnic world much larger than that of Nazareth. It also gives a realistic context to many of Jesus’ teachings that reference structures and construction techniques known to a tektōn (Matt 7:24–27; 16:18; 21:33, 42; Mark 2:1–4; Luke 12:18; 14:28–30; John 14:2–3)” (Lexham Geographic Commentary on the Gospels).

“Early Christian tradition claims that Luke was an artist as well as a doctor and historian. That is purely speculative, but it is a fact that we remember the Gospel of Luke partly as a gallery of verbal pictures. Any list is arbitrary, but here is one such list: Mary wrapping the newly born Jesus and laying him in a manger; the shepherds being awestruck by the chorus of angels announcing the birth and then hurrying to the manger; the boy Jesus discoursing with the teachers in the temple; the paralytic being lowered through the roof of a house so Jesus could heal him; the transfiguration of Jesus; the Good Samaritan caring for the wounded man in the road; the father welcoming his prodigal son back into the family; and many others. Luke painted with words, if not with a brush.” (Ryken, Literary Introductions to the Books of the Bible)

Quotes Sampler

These are some individual quotes which I have pulled from my reading this past week.

“[Jesus] gave the impression that he actually preferred the company of the rejects of society; he not only made them feel at home in his company, so that they felt free to take liberties with him that they would never have thought of taking with an ordinary rabbi, but even accepted invitations to share a meal with them and appeared genuinely to enjoy such an occasion. When he was challenged for this unconventional behavior, his reply was that this was how God treated sinners…” (Hard Sayings of the Bible)

“Pharaoh was another matter. Israel represented a large and inexpensive work force. There was no way he would release them willingly, so God peeled back Pharaoh’s hold on them one finger at a time by sending ten plagues upon the land.” (Ramsey, Behold the Lamb of God)

“I accept that—after I’ve eaten well and exercised often, after I’ve flossed and scrubbed and groomed and scoured, after I’ve cleaned the dirt from under my fingernails and clipped the hair bristling out my ears—I am still outwardly wasting away. I live by a great nevertheless. Nevertheless, though I die, yet shall I live. Nevertheless, though the stall is empty and the fig tree does not blossom, yet will I trust. Nevertheless, though He slay me, yet shall I worship. I have staked everything on being renewed inwardly day by day.” (Buchanan, Things Unseen)

“…before the scientific method and modern medicine in the late nineteenth century, most active medical treatment was more likely to kill you than make you better, so you could do worse than eating some herbs and hoping for the best. Anyone who actually thought himself knowledgeable about medicine was probably a menace and would just try making a hole in your head to see what happened.” (West, 1066 and Before all That)

Quotes Sampler

Here are some quotes from books I am reading this week:

“Books are experiences that make us grow, that add something to our inner stature.” (Gladys Hunt in Eskridge, Adventuring Together)

“Faith is not sticky sentiment or dry academics. It’s not an emergency provision for the times we’re unable to compile enough hard, cold facts or weave a tight enough web of logic to explain things. It’s not the last-ditch stand beyond biology, physics, psychology. It’s not something we muster—a rough mix of sentimentality, piety, nostalgia, and stubbornness—only for the hard times and the dark times. It is more than a flutter in the belly or a warm glow in the heart, more than nodding approval to a set of doctrinal statements. Faith is sinewy and feisty and vigorous, a living hope and a deep certainty that sparks life into all we are and all we do. “Faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see” (Hebrews 11:1).” (Buchanan, Things Unseen)

“Reinhard Hütter has summed up Jesus’ teaching regarding the Decalogue. He says, “Positively, the Decalogue can and should be summarized in the double love commandment; negatively, it can be summarized in the stark commandment Thou shalt not covet—that is, Do not submit yourself to the insatiable thirst of your desires directed toward the world: wealth, power, ownership of truth, control of the neighbor and all the goods of the world.” Hütter is arguing that Jesus sums up the entire Decalogue according to His response to that rabbinic question, “What is the greatest command?”—the love of God, the love of the neighbor.” (Allen, Law and Gospel: The Basis of Christian Ethics)

Quotes Sampler

Here is a selection of quotes from a variety of books I am reading:

“Only those who fill their hearts and minds with heaven can want or even recognize its earthly counterpart. Only they can seek after it in a way that indulges neither utopian dreams nor despotic solutions. To be of real earthly good requires a certain fearlessness: a freedom from the fear of death, from the loss of property or status or title or comfort, from the threat of tyrants, the power of armies, the day of trouble.” (Buchanan, Things Unseen)

“Why won’t we be bored in heaven? Because it’s the one place where both impulses—to go beyond, to go home—are perfectly joined and totally satisfied. It’s the one place where we’re constantly discovering—where everything is always fresh and the possessing of a thing is as good as the pursuing of it—and yet where we are fully at home—where everything is as it ought to be and where we find, undiminished, that mysterious something we never found down here. All that has held us back here on earth—the weariness, the fear, the dullness, the brevity, the poverty—vanishes. And this lifelong melancholy that hangs on us, this wishing we were someone else somewhere else, vanishes too. Our craving to go beyond is always and fully realized. Our yearning for home is once and for all fulfilled. The ahh! of deep satisfaction and the aha! of delighted surprise meet, and they kiss.” (Buchanan, Things Unseen)

“Perseverance is not something that is merely handed down to us, but it is something that comes to realization only in the path of faith.” (G. C. Berkouwer, from Wellum and Parker, Progressive Covenantalism)

“The explanation did not seem to explain.” (The Hobbit) (I feel like I am left with this same feeling regularly while talking with our children!)

Quotes to Consider

Woke culture requires we weigh in on every injustice lest we are complicit in evil, and call-out culture requires anger without grace.

Vrbicek and Beeson, Blogging for God’s Glory

The prospect of Sheol was frightening for those who knew (or felt) themselves to be astray from Yahweh. We saw this in Psalm 30, the dread of dying if God’s favour has been withdrawn (compare Psalm 6:5; etc.). But, in contrast, there is the bright expectation of life and light for those who belong to him. The saying is true: ‘Death is not the extinguishing of the light, it is putting out the lamp because dawn has come.’ To those right with God, death brings a reversal of the inequalities of our present life (Psalm 49:14b); it leads to a blessed ‘taking’, undefined in Psalm 49:15 (nkjv ‘receive’), but which Psalm 73:24 says leads to ‘glory’. The night is over (compare Romans 13:12); morning has come (Psalm 49:14). Shadows have passed away, death is ‘swallowed up’, let the feasting begin (Isaiah 25:6–10a)!

Motyer, Psalms by the Day

Confronted with a cancer or a slum the Pantheist can say, ‘If you could only see it from the divine point of view, you would realise that this also is God.’ The Christian replies, ‘Don’t talk damned nonsense.’* For Christianity is a fighting religion. It thinks God made the world—that space and time, heat and cold, and all the colours and tastes, and all the animals and vegetables, are things that God ‘made up out of His head’ as a man makes up a story. But it also thinks that a great many things have gone wrong with the world that God made and that God insists, and insists very loudly, on our putting them right again.

Lewis, Mere Christianity, 37

Quotes to consider

Any time self-will emerges—“I must have this”—an idol lurks underneath. An idol is always, to echo Augustine’s phrase, a love out of balance or a love not rightly ordered.8 The right order is God at the center and our lesser loves in submission.

Miller, A Loving Life, 152

But if we are going to chase contentment, then we must learn the hard lessons of self-denial.

Raymond, Chasing Contentment.

When you are in a ship at sea which has all its sails spread with a full gale of wind, and is swiftly sailing, can you make it stand still by running up and down in the ship? No more can you make the providence of God alter and change its course with your vexing and fretting; it will go on with power, do what you can.

Jeremiah Burroughs as quoted in Chasing Contentment

So short is the time of man’s continuance on earth, and so infinite the joys or miseries of the future world, that to make much of these little differences would be like estimating the weight of a feather, when engaged in weighing mountains. Who thinks it a matter of any concern, whether the circumstances of persons who lived a thousand years ago were affluent or destitute except, so far as these external enjoyments and privations contributed to their moral improvement, or the contrary? If we could be duly impressed with the truths which respect our eternal condition, we should consider our afflictions here as scarcely worthy of being named.

Archibald Alexander

Will there be a time for answering questions? My work with people tells me that, in fact, there is, but it’s after the moment of suffering. As they begin to emerge and try to move forward with their life—and to try to figure out: How do I create this suffering as something that’s part of my history but not determining who I am?—at that point, they start asking questions, and we can begin to give answers.

David Wenzel, Counseling Suffering People

A Psalm of Asaph.
1 The Mighty One, God the Lord,
speaks and summons the earth
from the rising of the sun to its setting.
2 Out of Zion, the perfection of beauty,
God shines forth.
3 Our God comes; he does not keep silence;
before him is a devouring fire,
around him a mighty tempest.
4 He calls to the heavens above
and to the earth, that he may judge his people:
5 “Gather to me my faithful ones,
who made a covenant with me by sacrifice!”
6 The heavens declare his righteousness,
for God himself is judge! Selah

Psalm 50:1-6