Quotational Ponderings

The only way to overcome the unpredictability of your future is the power of promising

When we make a promise we take it on our feeble wills to keep a future rendezvous with someone in circumstances we cannot possibly predict. We take it on ourselves to create our future with someone else no matter what fate or destiny may have in store. This is almost ultimate freedom.

When I make a promise, I bear witness that my future with you is not locked into a bionic beam by which I was stuck with the fateful combinations of X’s and Y’s in the hand I was dealt out of my parents’ genetic deck.

When I make a promise, I testify that I was not routed along some unalterable itinerary by the psychic conditioning visited on me by my slightly wacky parents.

When I make a promise I declare that my future with people who depend on me is not predetermined by the mixed-up culture of my tender years.

I am not fated, I am not determined, I am not a lump of human dough whipped into shape by the contingent reinforcement and aversive conditioning of my past. I know as well as the next person that I cannot create my life de novo; I am well aware that much of what I am and what I do is a gift or a curse from my past. But when I make a promise to anyone I rise above all the conditioning that limits me.

— Lewis Benedictus Smedes (1921 — 2002)
“Controlling the Unpredictable – The Power of Promising”
Christianity Today Jan. 1983

I’m an Absolute Clod.

by Thomas Phillips, oil on canvas, 1807

The Clod and the Pebble
“Love seeketh not itself to please,
Nor for itself hath any care,
But for another gives its ease,
And builds a Heaven in Hell’s despair.”So sung a little Clod of Clay
Trodden with the cattle’s feet,
But a Pebble of the brook
Warbled out these metres meet:

“Love seeketh only self to please,
To bind another to its delight,
Joys in another’s loss of ease,
And builds a Hell in Heaven’s despite.”

William Blake (1757 – 1827)
I announced at a meal with friends last evening that I was a dirt clod. They love me, so as expected they objected. I asked them, “Well, would it be better to be a pebble in a brook? Which would you rather be?” The expected answer. I asked, “Why a pebble?” I was answered, “Well, a pebble in a beautiful brook with the clean water flowing over me would be much better than a hunk of dirt.”This was the lead-in I hoped for because I wanted to read for them a poem I’d never come across before, one that sang out my own feelings and beliefs on love. I’d never come across it before because I always assumed Blake, Shelly, Keats, Wordsworth, and all the other English Romantic poets to be a bit inaccessible, and I find forced Romanticism to be rather offputting. Even works of the great Rabbie Burns, the Bard of Ayrshire, which I desired to read, while beautiful and the fodder for many a lovely heart-capturing tune, was still, beyond the dialect struggles, difficult and a bit unrelatable. Assumptions make for bad outcomes for you and for some fellow by the family name of Umption. I’m not going to run out and buy a tome; I really have to much to read on my list for the next three lifetimes, but I will be more open to the experience by happenstance and serendipity.

Blake’s “And builds a Heaven in Hell’s despair.” measures well against my top standard as it seems a phrase I would expect from C.S. Lewis, Peter Kreeft, or the lyric giftings of Andrew Peterson.

This particular serendipity occurred as I traveled to that lovely meal shared with friends. I was again listening to what I am certain is the absolute best book on understanding true covenantal and joyful marriage I’ve ever found, and I doubt the like of my ever finding one better. A recent discovery, I’m on my fourth listen and still finding little precious gems. My physical copy of “The Meaning of Marriage” by pastor Timothy Keller will join books by Lewis, Eggerichs, and Kreeft in a place of honor upon my bookshelf once I’m done filling it’s margins with annotations from the heart.

Keller throughout illustrates that the covenant of Marriage as prescribed by God; love through companionship, service, and self-sacrifice, bears precious little resemblance to the postmodern social-humanist me-centred marriage that is so pervasive today. One would expect that God need not check the box labeled, “Substitutions not permitted.” or “Dispense as prescribed.”

Truly, it seems that throughout history, mankind, even the Israelites, God’s Chosen People, have chosen designs that deviate greatly in critical respects and suffer greatly for the deviation. When Christ clarifies that the adultery of the Ten Commandments takes place in the heart, mind, and eyes as much as in the bedroom; when He rebukes the religious leaders arguing over divorce telling them that God granted divorce to them only due to the hardness of their hearts we doubt not that the curse on relationship that fell upon us through Adam and Eve was doing its painful work then amongst the Isrealites as terribly as it does for all of us today.

A fallen world produces only highly imperfect replicas of the archetype. Understanding the archetype helps to shore up weaknesses, correct transcription errors, and repair imperfections one pair of hearts at a time, and I think that is what Keller has done here in providing such understanding. He discusses and then sweeps away the world’s rubbish and then expounds upon and makes accessible and understandable… and most importantly, desirable God’s greatest gift and blessing to His children available, to us this side of heaven. He shines ray of bright light dazzling The Shadowlands. He teaches the only method capable of building a Heaven in Hell’s despair.

I am a clod. A joyful clod of clay in full awareness of God’s blessings, not a pebble lulled by the endless mindless tuneless music of the rill passing over me, bombarded by beauty, lessening appreciation until I value it not.

This view of marriage and ourselves is somewhat allegorical of God’s love for us. We clods of clay don’t merit a second glance.

  • I am The Stone the Builders Rejected – Psalm 118:22
  • I am the Lost Sheep that would have been far easier to abandon. – Luke 15:1-7
  • I am the Prodigal Son rebellious yet beaten, all conceivable worth removed before being redeemed. – Luke 15:11-32
  • I am the clay in the Potter’s hands – Jeremiah 18:1-6
  • I am the Widow of no station, ostracized as a woman of foreign descent made valuable by my Kinsman Redeemer. – Ruth 1-4
  • I am the Lost Coin. – Luke 15:8-10

I’m on Aslan’s side even if there isn’t any Aslan to lead it.

“One word, Ma’am,” he said, coming back from the fire; limping, because of the pain. “One word. All you’ve been saying is quite right, I shouldn’t wonder. I’m a chap who always liked to know the worst and then put the best face I can on it. So I won’t deny any of what you said. But there’s one more thing to be said, even so. Suppose we have only dreamed, or made up, all those things-trees and grass and sun and moon and stars and Aslan himself. Suppose we have. Then all I can say is that, in that case, the made-up things seem a good deal more important than the real ones.

Suppose this black pit of a kingdom of yours is the only world. Well, it strikes me as a pretty poor one. And that’s a funny thing, when you come to think of it. We’re just babies making up a game, if you’re right. But four babies playing a game can make a play-world which licks your real world hollow. That’s why I’m going to stand by the play world. I’m on Aslan’s side even if there isn’t any Aslan to lead it. I’m going to live as like a Narnian as I can even if there isn’t any Narnia. So, thanking you kindly for our supper, if these two gentlemen and the young lady are ready, we’re leaving your court at once and setting out in the dark to spend our lives looking for Overland. Not that our lives will be very long, I should think; but that’s a small loss if the world’s as dull a place as you say.”
— C.S. Lewis, The Silver Chair
If it is disagreeable in your sight to serve the Lord, choose for yourselves today whom you will serve: whether the gods which your fathers served which were beyond the River, or the gods of the Amorites in whose land you are living; but as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.”

— Joshua 24:15 NASB

God ain’t got no taste


“One of the reasons I love the bible is because the humans in the bible are not very refined. They’re pretty goofy if you want to know the whole truth about it. And I remember when I was a kid and people would always say, you know… ’cause I was always one of those typical depressed adolescent types, I wrote poetry and stuff. It’s how morose I was as a kid and people would go around saying, “Cheer up man, because God loves you.” And I would always say, “Big deal. God loves everybody. That don’t make me special. That just proves that God ain’t got no taste.” And I don’t think He does. Thank God! Cause God takes the junk of our lives and He makes the greatest art out of it and if He was cultured; if He was as civilized as most Christian people wish He was, He would be useless to Christianity… but God is a wild man. And I hope that in the course of your life you encounter him. But let me warn you, you gotta ‘hang on for dear life’… or ‘let go for dear life’, maybe is better.”
— Rich Mullins, in a live performance of Sometimes by Step

And he lifts up his arms in a blessing; For being born again

I walked out the door this morning and was checked hard by a moist cold wind that smelled so fresh and clean that I had little choice but to stand still, feel, smell, and then praise God for His blessings. Praise Him for seasons that turn and turn again and days so in-your-face awesome that even should you be consumed with internalized doldrums or busy thinking those work-a-day thoughts, they will gobsmack you with beauty and pleasure.
And the wrens have returned, and are nesting;
In the hollow of that oak, where his heart once had been.
And he lifts up his arms in a blessing, for being born again.

— Rich Mullins, The Color Green, A Liturgy
a Legacy, & a Ragamuffin Band

If you want someone to know the truth, you tell them. If you want someone to love the truth, tell them a story.

“So it’s a good question, and I’m not sure I know how to answer it, but today I think He did it that way in the arena of history and time and place because our hearts can only grasp His love if we’re told it in a story. Someone said, ‘If you want someone to know the truth, you tell them. If you want someone to love the truth, tell them a story.’ Since God is after our hearts… since He knows the only way for those hearts to work properly is to exist in the knowledge and experience of His love. He laid down his life to tell us a story.”
— Andrew Peterson in answer his wife’s wondering
why the horror of the Crucifixion had to happen.
“He Gave Us Stories”, Reformation Bible College,
2013 Fall Conference, Creation & Re-Creation.

Go back to timecode 34:45 to hear his guiding idea behind writing The Wingfeather Saga. He had a vision of who the main character Janner Igiby was and who he was to become and that it could only be accomplished through conflict. “The only way for Janner Igiby to become that person was for me to ruin his life. To send him on an adventure that would cause him pain. To strip him of everything that was familiar. To bring him to a point where he could not see the light at the end of the tunnel. And now, at the end of my story I keep thinking about how my whole point, my whole goal at the end of this epic tale I’m trying to tell is to make the darkness seem so great that it’s insurmountable. To make it so that the main characters in my story are on the brink of giving up hope, so that at the very last moment, I can lift the veil, and blow their minds and they can see that there was something stronger than all the darkness.”

Reading Narnia to Your Children

Andrew Peterson - On reading the Chronicles of Narnia to his boys
“I read the Narnia books to my sons when they were little boys and I cried the whole way through. I don’t know how many of you guys have read those books to your kids. It’s one thing to read the Chronicles of Narnia as a boy. It’s another thing to read them as a man to your children and I just wept my way through those books.”
I too tear up throughout reading the Chronicles of Narnia. I struggle not to weep upon listening to him say these things as he describes my own dream for fatherhood. I rejoice that there are other men out there doing exactly that and fulfilling that selfsame dream. This only serves to revive all the same feelings I had upon first becoming acquainted with Andrew Peterson through the below video, Family Man. Not everyone has their dreams fulfilled. I am glad that some do. I am grateful that God gives comfort and contentment even to those who do not.

Dragons Can Be Beaten

“Fairytales don’t tell children that dragons exist. Children already know that dragons exist. Fairytales tell children that dragons can be killed.”
— Paraphrased of G. K. Chesterton.
“Fairy tales, then, are not responsible for producing in children fear, or any of the shapes of fear; fairy tales do not give the child the idea of the evil or the ugly; that is in the child already, because it is in the world already. Fairy tales do not give the child his first idea of bogey. What fairy tales give the child is his first clear idea of the possible defeat of bogey. The baby has known the dragon intimately ever since he had an imagination. What the fairy tale provides for him is a St. George to kill the dragon. Exactly what the fairy tale does is this: it accustoms him for a series of clear pictures to the idea that these limitless terrors had a limit, that these shapeless enemies have enemies in the knights of God, that there is something in the universe more mystical than darkness, and stronger than strong fear.”
— G. K. Chesterton, Tremendous Trifles (1909), XVII: “The Red Angel”

Quote discovered in listening to an interview with artist, author, and musician Andrew Peterson.

Paralyzed with Awe at the Power of Prayer

Peter Kreeft

“I strongly suspect that if we saw all the difference even the tiniest of our prayers make, and all the people those little prayers were destined to affect, and all the consequences of those prayers down through the centuries, we would be so paralyzed with awe at the power of prayer that we would be unable to get up off our knees for the rest of our lives.”
— Peter Kreeft, Professor of Philosophy, Boston College

Higher Tribunal Than Him

Clive Staples Lewis

I think that if God forgives us we must forgive ourselves. Otherwise, it is almost like setting up ourselves as a higher tribunal than Him.

— Clive Staples Lewis – Letters of C.S. Lewis (1951)

Clive Staples Lewis

Ugly Moral Portrait

Charles SpurgeonBrother, if any man thinks ill of you, do not be angry with him; for you are worse than he thinks you to be. If he charges you falsely on some point, yet be satisfied, for if he knew you better he might change the accusation, and you would be no gainer by the correction. If you have your moral portrait painted, and it is ugly, be satisfied; for it only needs a few blacker touches, and it would be still nearer the truth.

— Charles Haddon Spurgeon, sermon, “David Dancing before the Ark because of His Election” in The Metropolitan Tabernacle Pulpit Sermons, vol. 35.

Christianity Cannot be Moderately Important

Clive Staples Lewis“Only thus will you be able to undermine their belief that a certain amount of ‘religion’ is desirable but one mustn’t carry it too far. One must point out that Christianity is a statement which, if false, is of -no- importance, and, if true, of infinite importance. The one thing it cannot be is moderately important.”

— C. S. Lewis, Christian Apologetics, God in the Dock and other Essays, page 102, Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing, Sep 15, 2014

All Good Proclaims God

“There is not a flower that opens, not a seed that falls into the ground, and not an ear of wheat that nods on the end of its stalk in the wind that does not preach and proclaim the greatness and the mercy of God to the whole world. There is not an act of kindness or generosity, not an act of sacrifice done, or a word of peace and gentleness spoken, not a child’s prayer uttered, that does not sing hymns to God before his throne, and in the eyes of men, and before their faces.” — Thomas Merton (1915 – 1968), Seven Story Mountain (1948)

Titus 1:15-16

To the pure, all things are pure; but to those who are defiled and unbelieving, nothing is pure, but both their mind and their conscience are defiled. They profess to know God, but by their deeds they deny Him, being detestable and disobedient and worthless for any good deed.

I wonder if Lewis was not considering this passage when he wrote Book 3: Chapter 8 of A Pilgrim’s Regress, “Parrot Disease”. ‘Are you a liar or only a fool, that you see no difference between that which Nature casts out as refuse and that which she stores up as food?’

Every day a jailor brought the prisoners their food, and as he laid down the dishes he would say a word to them. If their meal was flesh he would remind them that they were eating corpses, or give them some account of the slaughtering: or, if it was the inwards of some beast, he would read them a lecture in anatomy and show the likeness of the mess to the same parts in themselves—which was the more easily done because the giant’s eyes were always staring into the dungeon at dinner time. Or if the meal were eggs he would recall to them that they were eating the enstruum of a verminous fowl, and crack a few jokes with the female prisoners. So he went on day by day. Then I dreamed that one day there was nothing but milk for them, and the jailor said as he put down the pipkin:

‘Our relations with the cow are not delicate—as you can easily see if you imagine eating any of her other secretions.’ Now John had been in the pit a shorter time than any of the others: and at these words something seemed to snap in his head and he gave a great sigh and suddenly spoke out in a loud, clear voice:

‘Thank heaven! Now at last I know that you are talking nonsense.’

‘What do you mean?’ said the jailor, wheeling round upon him.

‘You are trying to pretend that unlike things are like. You are trying to make us think that milk is the same sort of thing as sweat or dung.’

‘And pray, what difference is there except by custom?’

‘Are you a liar or only a fool, that you see no difference between that which Nature casts out as refuse and that which she stores up as food?’

‘So Nature is a person, then, with purposes and consciousness,’ said the jailor with a sneer. ‘In fact, a Landlady. No doubt it comforts you to imagine you can believe that sort of thing;’ and he turned to leave the prison with his nose in the air.

‘I know nothing about that,’ shouted John after him. ‘I am talking of what happens. Milk does feed calves and dung does not.’

‘Look here,’ cried the jailor, coming back, ‘we have had enough of this. It is high treason and I shall bring you before the Master.’ Then he jerked John up by his chain and began to drag him towards the door; but John as he was being dragged, cried out to the others, ‘Can’t you see it’s all a cheat?’ Then the jailor struck him in the teeth so hard that his mouth was filled with blood and he became unable to speak: and while he was silent the jailor addressed the prisoners and said:

‘You see he is trying to argue. Now tell me, someone, what is argument?’

There was a confused murmur.

‘Come, come,’ said the jailor. ‘You must know your catechisms by now. You, there’ (and he pointed to a prisoner little older than a boy whose name was Master Parrot), ‘what is argument?’

‘Argument,’ said Master Parrot, ‘is the attempted rationalization of the arguer’s desires.’

‘Very good,’ replied the jailor, ‘but you should turn out your toes and put your hands behind your back. That is better. Now: what is the proper answer to an argument proving the existence of the Landlord?’

‘The proper answer is, “You say that because you are a Steward.”’

‘Good boy. But hold your head up. That’s right. And what is the answer to an argument proving that Mr. Phally’s songs are just as brown as Mr. Halfways’?’

‘There are two only generally necessary to damnation,’ said Master Parrot. ‘The first is, “You say that because you are a Puritanian,” and the second is, “You say that because you are a

‘Good. Now just one more. What is the answer to an argument turning on the belief that two and two make four?’

‘The answer is, “You say that because you are a mathematician.”’

‘You are a very good boy,’ said the jailor. ‘And when I come back I shall bring you something nice. And now for you,’ he added, giving John a kick and opening the grating.

The Grace & Truth Paradox – Randy Alcorn

The Grace & Truth Paradox
This marvelous little book by Randy Alcorn fell into my metaphoric hands just at the right time when I and my roommate were asked to start a small-group bible study and the topic asked for was “How to debate with love.”

Below are quotes that I found especially meaningful. (More to follow as I continue my exploration.)

What Gives Us Away?

A friend sat down in a small London restaurant and picked up a menu.

“What will it be?” the waiter asked.

Studying the puzzling selections, my friend said, “Uhh…”

The waiter smiled. “Oh, a Yank. What part of the States are you from?”

He hadn’t said a word. But he’d already given himself away.

In the first century, Christ’s followers were also recognized immediately. What gave them away?

It wasn’t their buildings. They had none.

It wasn’t their programs. They had none.

It wasn’t their political power. They had none.

It wasn’t their slick publications, TV networks, bumperstickers, or celebrities. They had none. What was it?

With great power the apostles continued to testify to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus, and much grace was upon them all. ~ Acts 4:33

They testified to the truth about Christ and lived by His grace. Truth was the food they ate and the message they spoke. Grace was the air they breathed and the life they lived.

The world around them had never seen anything like it. It still hasn’t.

— Randy Alcorn, The Grace & Truth Paradox, Ch 1

“We should never approach truth except in a spirit of grace, or grace except in the spirit of truth. Jesus wasn’t 50 percent grace, 50 percent truth, but 100 percent grace and 100 percent truth.

Truth-oriented Christians love studying Scripture and theology. But sometimes they’re quick to judge and slow to forgive. They’re strong on truth, weak on grace.

Grace-oriented Christians love forgiveness and freedom. But sometimes they neglect Bible study and see moral standards as “legalism.” They’re strong on grace, weak on truth.

Countless mistakes in marriage, parenting, ministry, and other relationships are failures to balance grace and truth. Sometimes we neglect both. Often we choose one over the other.”

“A paradox is an apparent contradiction. Grace and truth aren’t really contradictory. Jesus didn’t switch on truth and then turn it off so He could switch on grace. Both are permanently switched on in Jesus. Both should be switched on in us.”

“Some church services are permeated with Christian clichés that mystify unbelievers. Nobody’s drawn to what’s incomprehensible. Grace compels us to put the cookies on the lower shelf where the uninitiated can reach them. Jesus warmly welcomed the nonreligious and spoke words they understood. So should we.

Other churches try to make sinners feel comfortable. How? They never talk about sin. Never offend anyone. They replace truth with tolerance, lowering the bar so everyone can jump over it and we can all feel good about ourselves.

But Jesus said, ‘ ‘No servant is greater than his master.’ If they persecuted me, they will persecute you also’ (John 15:20).

Something’s wrong if all unbelievers hate us.

Something’s wrong if all unbelievers like us.

If we accurately demonstrate grace -and- truth, some will be drawn to us and other will be offended by us—just as they were by Jesus.

When we offend everybody, it’s because we’ve taken on the truth mantle without the grace. When we offend nobody, it’s because we’ve watered down truth in the name of grace.”

— Randy Alcorn, The Grace and Truth Paradox, Chapter 2.

“Grace never ignores the awful truth of our depravity. In fact, it emphasizes it. The worse we realize we are, the greater we realize God’s grace is.”

— Randy Alcorn, The Grace and Truth Paradox, Chapter 3.

“God has written His truth on human hearts (Romans 2:15). Shame and twinges of conscience come from recognizing that truth has been violated. When people hear truth spoken graciously, many are drawn to it because of the moral vacuum they feel. Hearts long for truth—even hearts that reject it.”

— Randy Alcorn, The Grace and Truth Paradox, Chapter 4.

This next one is very similar to Ray Comfort’s analogy in his talk Hell’s Best Kept Secret in which he talks of Jesus being offered not as salvation from the transgressions of the law, but as “Life Enhancement”. People are enticed to ‘try on Christ’ with promises that their difficulties in life will be resolved (using a parachute as metaphor for Christ), but without any true understanding of the jump out of the airplane that is to come. They put it on. It is uncomfortable and bulky and gives no benefit and so they tear it off, are angry at the parachute (and the stewardess who gave it to them), and resolves never to be fooled by that nonsense again. This as opposed to the one who is told at the outset that there will be a jump to come and the only thing that will save them is wearing the parachute. Then when the difficulties of life befall him, say for instance, a new stewardess who trips and spills boiling hot coffee on him, he doesn’t cast off the parachute and say “You stupid parachute!” No, holds it all the tighter, and may ever Look Forward to the jump to come.

If a teacher is guilty of preaching life enhancement instead of the truth, then there is nothing at all redemptive in his ministry. Indeed, it is less than redemptive. It is damning.

The opposite is nearly as bad. That is, preaching truth in absence of all grace. Ray Comfort clarifies, “I’m not talk­ing about Hell­fire Preach­ing. Hell­fire Preach­ing will pro­duce Fear-Filled con­verts. Using God’s law will pro­duce Tear-Filled converts.”

The world’s low standards, its disregard for truth, are not grace. The illusory freedom, however, -feels- like grace to someone who’s been pounded by graceless truth—beaten over the head with a piece of the guardrail. In fact, people who grow up in joyless religion learn that there’s no hope of living up to such daunting standards. “Why even try? It’s -impossible!-.”

But properly understood, biblical truths are guardrails that protect us from plunging off the cliff. A smart traveler doesn’t curse the guardrails. He doesn’t whine, “That guardrail dented my fender!” He looks over the cliff, and sees demolished autos below, and is -grateful- for guardrails.

The guardrails of truth are there not to punish, but to protect us.

— Randy Alcorn, The Grace and Truth Paradox, Chapter 4.

Godly living centers not on what we avoid, but on whom we embrace. Anytime we talk more about dos and don’ts than about Jesus, something’s wrong.

—Randy Alcorn, The Grace and Truth Paradox, Chapter 4

Disappearance of Theology from the Church

David F. Wells

“The disappearance of theology from the life of the Church, and the orchestration of that disappearance by some of its leaders, is hard to miss today, but oddly enough, not easy to prove. It is hard to miss in the evangelical world–in the vacuous worship that is so prevalent, for example, in the shift form God to the self as the central focus of faith, in the psychologized preaching that follows this shift, in the erosion of its conviction, in its strident pragmatism, in its inability to think incisively about the culture, in its reveling in the irrational.”
― David F. Wells, No Place for Truth: Or, Whatever Happened to Evangelical Theology

Lower the Law and you dim the light

Charles Spurgeon
“Lower the Law and you dim the light by which man perceives his guilt. This is a very serious loss to the sinner rather than a gain, for it lessens the likelihood of his conviction and conversion. I say you have deprived the gospel of its ablest auxiliary [most powerful weapon] when you have taken away the schoolmaster that is to bring men to Christ. They will never accept grace until they tremble before a just and holy Law. Therefore the Law serves most necessary and blessed purpose and must not be moved from its place.”
— Charles Haddon Spurgeon

YOU have no ene­mies, you say?

Charles Mackay (1812-1889)
YOU have no enemies, you say?
Alas! my friend, the boast is poor;

He who has mingled in the fray
Of duty, that the brave endure,

Must have made foes! If you have none,
Small is the work that you have done.

You’ve hit no traitor on the hip,
You’ve dashed no cup from perjured lip,

You’ve never turned the wrong to right,
You’ve been a coward in the fight.

Charles Mackay, (English Chartist poet, 1814–1889)

The Cry for Justice: An Anthology of the Literature of Social Protest, 1915 The Writings of Philosophers, Poets, Novelists, Social Reformers, and Others Who Have Voiced the Struggle Against Social Injustice, Selected from Twenty-Five Languages, Covering a Period of Five Thousand Years, Upton Sinclair, ed. (1878–1968)

Divine punishments are also mercies and particular good is worked out of particular evil

SurprisedByJoy1“If the Northerness seemed then a bigger thing than my religion, that may partly have been because my attitude toward it contained elements which my religion ought to have contained and did not. It was not itself a new religion for it contained no trace of belief and imposed no duties. Yet unless I am greatly mistaken, there was in it something very like adoration; some kind of quite disinterested self-abandonment to an object which securely claimed this by simply being the object it was. We are taught in the Prayer Book to ‘give thanks to God for His great glory’ as if we owed Him more thanks for being what He necessarily is than for any particular benefit he confers upon us; and so indeed we do, and to know God is to know this, but I had been far from any such experience. I came far nearer to feeling this about the Norse gods whom I disbelieved in than I had ever done about the true God while I believed. Sometimes I can almost think that I was sent back to the false gods, there to acquire some capacity for worship against the day when the true God should recall me to Himself. Not that I might not have learned this sooner and more safely in ways I shall now never know without apostasy, but that divine punishments are also mercies and particular good is worked out of particular evil and the penal blindness made sanitive. “ ~ C. S. Lewis, Surprised by Joy

Relational Relationship

Matthew Henry“Eve was not taken out of Adam’s head to top him, neither out of his feet to be trampled on by him, but out of his side to be equal with him, under his arm to be protected by him, and near his heart to be loved by him.” — Matthew Henry

Stories tell of a 17 year old Abraham Lincoln singing a poeticised (Created by himself?) version of this put to music for a sister’s wedding.

Jesus Loved the Broken

Rich Mullins“Jesus said whatever you do to the least of these my brothers you’ve done it to me. And this is what I’ve come to think. That if I want to identify fully with Jesus Christ, who I claim to be my Savior and Lord, the best way that I can do that is to identify with the poor. This I know will go against the teachings of all the popular evangelical preachers. But they’re just wrong. They’re not bad, they’re just wrong. Christianity is not about building an absolutely secure little niche in the world where you can live with your perfect little wife and your perfect little children in a beautiful little house where you have no gays or minority groups anywhere near you. Christianity is about learning to love like Jesus loved and Jesus loved the poor and Jesus loved the broken….” — Rich Mullins

Ran across some unrelated quotes that I don’t want to lose track of:

“I think that’s where the church is doubly damned; when they use Jesus as a vehicle for achieving all of that [worshiping, pleasure, leisure and affluence]. Like, if you give a tithe, He ll make you rich. Why? … If you give a tithe, you get rid of ten percent of the root of all evil. You should be giving ninety percent, ‘cause God can handle money better than we can.” — Rich Mullins

The secret of rock music: “If you can’t be good, be loud.” — Rich Mullins

The current trends in worship: “Shallow, mindless, stupid, and perfectly harmless, at best.” — Rich Mullins

“I don’t want to be tolerated. Argue with me, and I will respect you. — Rich Mullins

“It never fails. God will put people in your path that irritate you, especially if you’re prone to be irritated.” — Rich Mullins

“I hope I would leave a legacy of joy -a legacy of real compassion,” — Rich Mullins

The Hound of Heaven

Francis ThompsonI fled Him, down the nights and down the days;
  I fled Him, down the arches of the years;
  I fled Him, down the labyrinthine ways
    Of my own mind; and in the mist of tears
  I hid from Him, and under running laughter.
        Up vistaed hopes, I sped;
        And shot, precipitated,
  Adown Titanic glooms of chasmed fears,
    From those strong Feet that followed,
          followed after.
        But with unhurrying chase,
        And unperturbed pace,
      Deliberate speed, majestic instancy,
        They beat--and a Voice beat
        More instant than the Feet--
      "All things betray thee, who betrayest Me."

        I pleaded, out law-wise,
  By many a hearted casement, curtained red,
    Trellised with intertwining charities
  (For, though I knew His love Who followed,
        Yet was I sore adread
  Lest, having Him, I must have naught beside);
  But, if one little casement parted wide,
    The gust of His approach would clash it to.
    Fear wist not to evade as Love wist to pursue.
  Across the margent of the world I fled,
    And troubled the gold gateways of the stars,
    Smiting for shelter on their clanged bars;
        Fretted to dulcet jars
  And silvern chatter the pale ports o' the moon.
  I said to dawn: Be sudden; to eve: Be soon--
    With thy young skyey blossoms heap me over
        From this tremendous Lover!
  Float thy vague veil about me, lest He see!
    I tempted all His servitors, but to find
  My own betrayal in their constancy,
  In faith to Him their fickleness to me,
    Their traitorous trueness, and their loyal deceit.
  To all swift things for swiftness did I sue;
    Clung to the whistling mane of every wind.
        But whether they swept, smoothly fleet,
      The long savannahs of the blue;
          Or whether, Thunder-driven,
      They clanged His chariot 'thwart a heaven
  Plashy with flying lightnings round the spurn o' their feet:--
    Fear wist not to evade as Love wist to pursue.
          Still with unhurrying chase,
          And unperturbed pace,
  Deliberate speed, majestic instancy,
          Came on the following Feet,
          And a Voice above their beat--
  "Naught shelters thee, who wilt not shelter Me."

I sought no more that after which I strayed
      In face of man or maid;
      But still within the little children's eyes
    Seems something, something that replies,
  _They_ at least are for me, surely for me!
  I turned me to them very wistfully;
  But just as their young eyes grew sudden fair
      With dawning answers there,
  Their angel plucked them from me by the hair.

  Come then, ye other children,
    With me" (said I) "your delicate fellowship;
    Let me greet you lip to lip,
    Let me twine with you caresses,
    With our Lady-Mother's vagrant tresses,
    With her in her wind-walled palace,
    Underneath her azured dais,
    Quaffing, as your taintless way is,
        From a chalice
  Lucent-weeping out of the dayspring."
        So it was done;
  _I_ in their delicate fellowship was one--
  Drew the bolt of Nature's secrecies.
        _I_ knew all the swift importings
        On the wilful face of skies;
        I knew how the clouds arise,
        Spumed of the wild sea-snortings;
          All that's born or dies
      Rose and drooped with; made them shapers
  Of mine own moods, or wailful or divine--
        With them joyed and was bereaven.
        I was heavy with the even,
    When she lit her glimmering tapers
      Round the day's dead sanctities.
      I laughed in the morning's eyes.
  I triumphed and I saddened with all weather,
      Heaven and I wept together,
  And its sweet tears were salt with mortal mine;
  Against the red throb of its sunset-heart
          I laid my own to beat,
          And share commingling heat;
  But not by that, by that, was eased my human smart.
  In vain my tears were wet on Heaven's grey cheek.
  For ah! we know not what each other says,
        These things and I; in sound _I_ speak--
  _Their_ sound is but their stir, they speak by silences.
  Nature, poor stepdame, cannot slake by drouth;
        Let her, if she would owe me,
  Drop yon blue bosom-veil of sky, and show me
        The breasts o' her tenderness:
  Never did any milk of hers once bless
          My thirsting mouth.
        Nigh and nigh draws the chase,
          With unperturbed pace,
        Deliberate speed, majestic instancy,
          And past those noised Feet
          A Voice comes yet more fleet--
        "Lo! naught contents thee, who content'st not Me."
 Naked I wait Thy love's uplifted stroke!
  My harness piece by piece Thou hast hewn from me,
          And smitten me to my knee;
          I am defenceless utterly.
          I slept, methinks, and woke,
  And, slowly gazing, find me stripped in sleep.
  In the rash lustihead of my young powers,
          I shook the pillaring hours
  And pulled my life upon me; grimed with smears,
  I stand amid the dust o' the mounded years--
  My mangled youth lies dead beneath the heap.
  My days have crackled and gone up in smoke,
  Have puffed and burst as sun-starts on a stream.
      Yea, faileth now even dream
  The dreamer, and the lute the lutanist;
  Even the linked fantasies, in whose blossomy twist
  I swung the earth a trinket at my wrist,
  Are yielding; cords of all too weak account
  For earth, with heavy griefs so overplussed.
        Ah! is Thy love indeed
  A weed, albeit an amaranthine weed,
  Suffering no flowers except its own to mount?
          Ah! must--
          Designer infinite!--
  Ah! must Thou char the wood ere Thou canst limn with it?
  My freshness spent its wavering shower i' the dust;
  And now my heart is as a broken fount,
  Wherein tear-drippings stagnate, spilt down ever
          From the dank thoughts that shiver
  Upon the sighful branches of my mind.
          Such is; what is to be?
  The pulp so bitter, how shall taste the rind?
  I dimly guess what Time in mists confounds;
  Yet ever and anon a trumpet sounds
  From the hid battlements of Eternity:
  Those shaken mists a space unsettle, then
  Round the half-glimpsed turrets slowly wash again;
          But not ere Him who summoneth
          I first have seen, enwound
  And now my heart is as a broken fount,
  Wherein tear-drippings stagnate, spilt down ever
  From the dank thoughts that shiver
  With glooming robes purpureal, cypress-crowned;
  His name I know, and what his trumpet saith.
  Whether man's heart or life it be which yields
          Thee harvest, must Thy harvest fields
          Be dunged with rotten death?

 Now of that long pursuit
  Comes on at hand the bruit;
  That Voice is round me like a bursting sea:
          "And is thy earth so marred,
          Shattered in shard on shard?
    Lo, all things fly thee, for thou fliest Me!
        Strange, piteous, futile thing,
  Wherefore should any set thee love apart?
  Seeing none but I makes much of naught" (He said),
  "And human love needs human meriting:
        How hast thou merited--
  Of all man's clotted clay the dingiest clot?
        Alack, thou knowest not
  How little worthy of any love thou art!
  Whom wilt thou find to love ignoble thee,
        Save Me, save only Me?
  All which I took from thee I did but take,
        Not for thy harms,
  But just that thou might'st seek it in My arms.
        All which thy child's mistake
  Fancies as lost, I have stored for thee at home:
        Rise, clasp My hand, and come."
          Halts by me that footfall:
          Is my gloom, after all,
    Shade of His hand, outstretched caressingly?
          "Ah, fondest, blindest, weakest,
          I am He Whom thou seekest!
  Thou dravest love from thee, who dravest Me."

Francis Thompson (16 December 1859 – 13 November 1907) was an English poet and ascetic. After attending college, he moved to London to become a writer, but in menial work, became addicted to opium, and was a street vagrant for years. A married couple read his poetry and rescued him, publishing his first book Poems in 1893. Thompson lived as an unbalanced invalid in Wales and at Storrington, but wrote three books of poetry, with other works and essays, before dying of tuberculosis in 1907.

Awesome God

Rich Mullins - here in americaThe legendary song “Awesome God” was not crafted in a comfy-cozy songwriting room, with fresh legal pads and flavored coffee. It was picked up somewhere between Tennessee and Missouri, in the cab of a sweaty little pickup truck, on the way to a concert. Rich told me that while he was driving, he envisioned an imaginary “hellfire and brimstone” preacher, waving his finger in the air, making proclamations about God to his congregation. Line by line the man shouted out the phrases of “Awesome God.” Rich committed those lines to memory until he got to the venue and found a piano to figure out what key to play it in. After he’d played it for me, Rich said in a small voice “I think it’s going to be big.” Rich then asked me if I would sing the verses and he assembled a small choir for the choruses. We rehearsed and performed “Awesome God” for the first time that night. It amazes me how good Rich’s intuition was about that song, as it continues to impact so many people.

— Steve Cudworth

…the moods which arise from a physical condition, never submit to them for a second.

OswaldChambers“There are certain things we must not pray about – moods, for instance. Moods never go by praying, moods go by kicking. A mood nearly always has its seat in the physical condition, not in the moral. It is a continual effort not to listen to the moods which arise from a physical condition, never submit to them for a second. We have to take ourselves by the scruff of the neck and shake ourselves, and we will find that we can do what we said we could not. The curse with most of us is that we won’t. The Christian life is one of incarnate spiritual pluck.”

— Oswald Chambers (24 July 1874 – 15 November 1917)

My Utmost for His Highest

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