Tuesday, January 15, 2019

Quote of the Day

There is probably no Christian to whom God has not given the uplifting experience of genuine Christian community at least once in his life.  But in this world such experiences can be no more than a gracious extra beyond the daily bread of Christian community life.  We have no claim upon such experiences, and we do not live with other Christians for the sake of acquiring them.  It is not the experience of Christian brotherhood, but solid and certain faith in brotherhood that holds us together.  That God has acted and wants to act upon us all, this we see in faith as God's greatest gift, this makes us glad and happy, but it also makes us ready to forego all such experiences when God at times does not grant them.  We are bound together by faith, not by experience.

- Dietrich Bonhoffer
From his book: Life Together

Monday, January 14, 2019

Quote of the Day

Just as surely as God desires to lead us to a knowledge of genuine Christian fellowship, so surely must we be overwhelmed by a great disillusionment with others, with Christians in general, and, if we are fortunate, with ourselves. By sheer grace, God will not permit us to live even for a brief period in a dream world. He does not abandon us to those rapturous experiences and lofty moods that come over us like a dream. God is not a God of the emotions but the God of truth. Only that fellowship which faces such disillusionment, with all its unhappy and ugly aspects, begins to be what it should be in God's sight, begins to grasp in faith the promise that is given to it. The sooner this shock of disillusionment comes to an individual and to a community, the better for both. A community which cannot bear and cannot survive such a crisis, which insists upon keeping its illusion when it should be shattered, permanently loses in that moment the promise of Christian community. Sooner or later it will collapse. Every human wish dream that is injected into the Christian community is a hindrance to genuine community and must be banished if genuine community is to survive.

He who loves his dream of a community more that the Christian community itself becomes a destroyer of the latter, even though his personal intentions may be ever so honest and earnest and sacrificial. God hates visionary dreaming; it makes the dreamer proud and pretentious. The man who fashions a visionary ideal of community demands that it be realized by God, by others, and by himself. He enters the community of Christians with his demands, sets up his own laws, and judges the brethren and God himself accordingly. He stands adamant, a living reproach to all others in the circle of the brethren. He acts as if he is the creator of the Christian community, as if his dream binds men together.

When things do not go his way, he calls the effort a failure. When his ideal picture is destroyed, he sees the community going to smash. So he becomes, first an accuser of his brethren, then an accuser of God, and finally the despairing accuser of himself.Because God has already laid the only foundation of our fellowship, because God has bound us together in one body with other Christians in Jesus Christ, long before we entered into common life with them, we enter into that common life not as demanders but as thankful recipients. We thank God for giving us brethren who live by his call, by his forgiveness, and his promise. We do not complain of what God does not give us; we rather thank God for what he does give us daily.

And is not what has been given us enough: brothers, who will go on living with us through sin and need under the blessing of His grace? Is the divine gift of Christian fellowship anything less than this, any day, even the most difficult and distressing day? Even when sin and misunderstanding burden the communal life, is not the sinning brother still a brother, with whom I, too, stand under the Word of Christ? Will not his sin be a constant occasion for me to give thanks that both of us may live in the forgiving love of God in Christ Jesus? Thus, the very hour of disillusionment with my brother becomes incomparably salutary, because it so thoroughly teaches me that neither of us can ever live by our own words and deeds, but only by the one Word and Deed which really binds us together--the forgiveness of sins in Jesus Christ. When the morning mists of dreams vanish, then dawns the bright day of Christian fellowship . . .

If we do not give thanks daily for the Christian fellowship in which we have been placed, even where there is no great experience, no discoverable riches, but much weakness, small faith, and difficulty; if on the contrary, we only keep complaining to God that everything is so paltry and petty, so far from what we expected, then we hinder God from letting our fellowship grow according to the measure and riches which are there for us all in Jesus Christ.

-Dietrich Bonhoeffer
From his book Life Together

Friday, November 30, 2018

Quote of the Day

Those of this world (of this 'age') will all react to God's Word in the same way seeing it as a threat to the priority of living for the "now" and all of its priorities.  One thing, practically speaking, the Word of God really messes up the "now".  Mankind instinctively lives, one way or another, for the "now", for right now.  We live in the "now" for what's coming.

- Don Lambert

Tuesday, November 27, 2018

Quote of the Day

Our Master has never promised us success.  He demands obedience.  He expects faithfulness.  Results are His concern, not ours.  And our reputation is a matter of no consequence at all.

Amy Carmichael

Tuesday, October 23, 2018

Quote of the Day

God neither chose us nor called us because we were holy, but he called us that we might be holy, and holiness is the beauty produced by his workmanship in us.  The excellencies which we see in a believer are as much the work of God as the atonement itself.  Thus is brought out very sweetly the fullness of the grace of God.  Salvation must be of grace, because the Lord is the author of it.  Salvation must be of grace, because because the Lord works in such a manner that our righteousness is forever excluded.  Such is the believers privilege - a present salvation; such is the evidence that he is called to it - a holy life.  

- Charles Spurgeon

Saturday, September 8, 2018

Quote of the Day

"Again, the societies have taught us from every pulpit that every Christian should be at heart a missionary, on the unshakable ground that the spirit of Christ is given to all Christians, and that the spirit given is the spirit which longs for and strives after the salvation of all men in Christ……The preacher, no doubt, expected a reaction in the form of support for his society, and no doubt it generally took that form, but there is no reason why it should take that form.  There is nothing in the teaching to convince anyone that to express his missionary zeal he need support, or belong to, any other society than the Church to which he already belongs.  It is not necessary, though it may be convenient, to support any special society in order to do missionary work….He does not cease to be a Christian and a member of a  missionary body because he does not add to the order of the Church the more elaborate and precise order of some society organization.  The only reason why men have not so acted more often is because they have been obsessed with the idea that a man to express his missionary zeal properly must be a member of some other body within the church and that church membership is not sufficient.

Many before now have thought that if they were to express their zeal freely outside the limits and restrictions of a special missionary society, they must go outside the Church itself.  But that is absurd.  The multiplication of societies, which, viewed as a missionary organization for the attainment of a common object, is wasteful, has at least kept before us the truth that men can work outside the societies without working outside the Church."

- Roland Allen

Friday, September 7, 2018

Quote of the Day

"Nor was the adoption of these methods of propagating our religion without its effect upon us.  The establishment of schools and hospitals and colleges in great centres, altered our conception of our work as colleges in great centres, altered our conception of our work as missionaries.  They called out large numbers of mission workers of a new type with new ideas of missionary work.  We began to hear such phrases as these:  the gospel of enlightenment, the gospel of healing, the social gospel, and in, in later of years, the gospel of sex equality.    Whilst we continued to speak of our medical and education work in the old way as designed to open doors and attract hearers, and to convert, we began also to speak of medical, educational and social work as forms of preaching the Gospel.  The uplift of the people was a gospel in itself. Christ came to raise mankind, and to raise mankind out of the slough of superstition and evil conditions was, we argued to preach and to practice His Gospel….We practiced the same theory in England in an age of great social upheaval.  Social service was a cry which held and attracted large numbers of the younger and the abler Christian minds, and to a very great extent the Church threw herself into this work.  A church was scarcely considered complete without large institutions, guilds, clubs, halls.  And all of these things were urged upon the generosity of churchmen on the assurance that their provision would prepare the way for Christ. 

We have now had many years' experience of the method of approach, and it is becoming increasingly plain, it is, indeed, already commonly acknowledged, that the Church has not, by these social activities, brought men in any great degree within the sphere of its spiritual influence.  It has not succeeded along this road in imparting that spiritual life which it exists to minister.  Many deplore the obvious fact that, while the institutions have done much valuable work, the great mass of those who have used them have not drawn nearer to the Church or to Christ.  The churches which supported them most strongly have increased neither in umber nor in spiritual power in anything like the proportion which the energy thrown into this social work presupposed.  

This is not really surprising; for it is extremely easy to divorce social reform and the alleviation of suffering from religion.  How easily they can be divorced is proved by the common fact that both at home and abroad the Church is being supplanted in these social activities by governments which promote education, and support activities by governments which promote education, and support hospitals ad schemes of industrial reform subsidized from public funds without any religious purpose.  Social reform is not necessarily Christian, and schemes for the amelioration of the conditions of life certainly do not necessarily lead men to Christ, even if they are set on foot by Christian men with the most serious Christian intention."

- Roland Allen

Thursday, September 6, 2018

Quote of the Day

….It leads us to attempt to organize spiritual forces.  Our love of organization leads us to attempt to fix the place where, and the time at which, and the men by whom, a spiritual movement is to take place.  We fix the place.  We choose what we call a strategic centre and plant there our buildings and our institutions.  There the spiritual movements must take place if we are to be in any way the agents of it…..For spiritual work spiritual organization is necessary; but can we create a spiritual organization of spiritual forces?  Only a divine intelligence can do that.  But we attempt to do the work of that divine intelligence; by fixing our stations and immobilizing our men……But to be God's agents in spiritual movements we must follow, not lead.  We want to lead, and, trying to lead, we are simply left behind.  We say: 'Here we will have our buildings,' but the spiritual movements may be growing unseen by us in another place and by other means.  ….While the organization cumbrously laboring, the time is at hand, and come, and passing away, and the organization has nothing, or little, to do with it.  The organization is always too late.  For we can organize the external results of a spiritual movement, but we cannot organize a spiritual movement."

- Roland Allen

Sunday, January 21, 2018

Quote of the Day

Whatever people may say, ignorance is not a virtue.  Neither is knowledge, however, unless it is applied and put to proper use.  This application of knowledge to real-life situations is called 'wisdom'

- Andreas Kostenberger

Friday, January 19, 2018

Quote of the Day

Spirituality is…not an individualistic experience of solitude, defined by the amount of time spent in protracted periods of communion alone with God, but  an active obedience to God's commands that practically demonstrates love to others and is integrally involved in Jesus's mission to the world.  Christian spirituality, properly understood is a spirituality of engagement, not withdrawal…There is nothing inherently spiritual about the study of Scripture if that study does not lead to obedient, active application. 

- Andreas Kostenberger

Thursday, November 16, 2017

Quote of the Day

How could Hudson Taylor have imagined, for example, that the robbery that left him in such distress upon this journey was to result in the deliverance of the entire mission he was yet to found, during a period of financial danger?  How could he suppose that the upset of all his plans and the severance of a partnership in service more precious than any he had ever known was to prove the crowning blessing of his life on the human side, bringing him into association and at last union with the one of all others most suited both to him and his work? 

But so it is God leads.  His hand is on the helm.  We are being guided even when we feel it least.  The closed door is as much His providence as the open, and equally for our good and the accomplishment of His own great ends.  And one learns at last that it is not what we set ourselves to do that really tells in blessing so much as what He is doing through us when we least expect it.

- Dr. and Mrs Howard Taylor

Quote from their book:

The Growth of a Soul: Hudson Taylor in the Early Years

Monday, November 13, 2017

Quote of the Day

...Yes, that is how it ever has been, ever must be with the people of God.  Until we are carried quite out of our depth, beyond all our own wisdom and resources, we are not more than beginners in the school of faith.  Only as everything fails us and we fail ourselves, finding out how poor and weak we really are, how ignorant and helpless, do we begin to draw upon abiding strength.  "Blessed is the man whose strength is in Thee," not partly in Thee and partly in himself.  The devil often makes men strong, strong in themselves to do evil…. The Lord on the contrary makes His servant weak, puts him in circumstances that will show him his own nothingness, that he may lean upon the strength that is unfailing.  It is a long lesson for most of us, but it cannot be passed over until deeply learned.  And God Himself thinks no trouble too great, no care too costly to teach us this.

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Quote of the Day

  It is certainly to be deplored that error and fanaticism have been so often mingled with prophetic studies.  God has been thereby dishonored, and his word profaned.  The lips of scoffers have been opened in taunt and derision, while timid believers have kept silence, as if unable to reply. 
  We need not keep silence.  Let us admit the fact on which the mockery is founded, and there let it rest.  It will humble us; it will inspire caution; it will teach us wisdom, but it will do no more.  It will not deter us from such studies, nor will it lead us to impeach the Word of God for consequences in which man alone is the delinquent.  It will not lead us to join in the fears of the over-prudent respecting the perilous nature of these investigations, nor to relinquish the field as either impracticable, or barren, or injurious.  Because visions of futurity, drawn professedly from Scripture, have, with unholy fire, kindled some burning fancies into the wildness of a frenzied enthusiasm……are we, therefore, to shut up the prophetic record, and turn away our eyes from pages tamped so broadly with the seal, and encircled so brightly with the blessing of God?  Are the prophets to be treated as if belonging to the kindred of the sybils, and their books to be buried out of sight? Nothing more profane has ever been uttered against Scripture, than that the study of any part of it is fitted to unhinge the mind, or raise its temperature beyond the point of calm and solemn inquiry.  No Romanist ever promulgated an idea so indefensible as that any region of Scripture is unfruitful or forbidden ground, to be employed merely as a field out of which a casual text may be culled as taste or fancy may incline; that whole chapters and books of Scripture are wrapt in such studied mystery that the very endeavor to understand them betokens rashness and folly. 

  "Secret things belong to God," says an objector.  Most certainly; and whoever insists on prying into God's secrets will only proclaim his own pride and plunge himself into profounder ignorance.  But prophecy is no secret thing; it is a thing revealed.  It is not truth over which God has drawn the veil.  It is just the opposite.  It is truth from which God has withdrawn the veil, on purpose that we may know it and profit by it.……We hear much of the difference between things essential and things non-essential; but who will undertake to draw the dividing line?  Or who will venture to affirm that the prophetic portions of the Word are its non-essentials?  Do not such truths as the advent, the resurrection, the judgment, form some of the chief scenes of prophecy; and are these non-essentials?  Strange, truly strange, that man should make such a division of the Word of God!  Stranger still, that he should make it for the purpose of excusing himself for the neglect of so large and precious a portion of revelation.  Is not the fact of its being revealed enough to show us that God thought it essential; or if not essential absolutely and with reference to salvation, at least essential relatively and as pertaining to holiness?  If a man will persist in calling it non-essential, surely he will not irreverently pronounce it unimportant?  And if it be admitted to be important, then surely all farther argument is at end.  It must be studied.  We dare not overlook or postpone the duty.

- Horatius Bonar 
From his book: Prophetic Landmarks