But we must begin by giving up any idea that we can bring about these healings without fundamental changes in the way we think and live. We face a choice that is starkingly simple: we must change or be changed. If we fail to change for the better, then we will be changed for the worse.
– Wendell Berry, Sex, Economy, Freedom & Community, p. 12
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I question whether, as channels for damnation, Satan has upon earth more apt instruments for breeding infidelity, and for causing men to regard the gospel with contempt, than those who profess to believe it, and then act as though the belief were a matter of no consequence whatsoever.
– Charles Spurgeon, An All-Round Ministry, p. 21
O blessed retirement, friend to life’s decline,
Retreats from care, that never must be mine,
How happy he who crowns in shades like these
A youth of labor with an age of ease;
Who quits a world where strong temptations try,
And, since ‘tis hard to combat, learns to fly!
– Oliver Goldsmith, from The Deserted Village
It seems that we humans were designed to find our purpose and meaning not simply in ourselves and our own inner lives, but in one another and in the shared meanings and purposes of a family, a street, a workplace, a community, a town, a nation.
– N. T. Wright, Simply Christian, p. 31
Whether well paid or not, the chief satisfactions are those that involve reaching out to others, trying to make things better… Those who develop a passion for their work gain pleasure from it, and are rewarded with satisfactions that can’t be taken away.
– Derrick Bell, Ethical Ambition, p. 25
Speech is like salt: too little, and we do not taste the flavour of the food; too much, and we are left with the unpleasant taste of the salt. Like salt, our lives and speech are to bring out the ‘flavour’ of Jesus Christ. Too much of ourselves – too much of our talk – will likewise leave an unpleasant taste.
– Sinclair Ferguson, The Sermon on the Mount, p. 60
A person has to be thoroughly disgusted with the way things are to find the motivation to set out on the Christian way… A person has to get fed up with the ways of the world before he, before she, acquires an appetite for the world of grace.
– Eugene H. Peterson, Living the Message, Reflection for January 13
I found this post (over at Provocations) so inspiring I just had to link to it. At the age of 40 Alphonsuz Rodriguez’ life just unraveled: “His wife died in childbirth, followed shortly by the deaths of his mother and his other children, and the family business failed.” But did he turn his back on God? No!
Rather than shaking his fist at God for such multiple misfortune, Alphonsus decided to dedicate the rest of his life in service to God.
The lesson here is: overcome evil with good. When misfortune, affliction, failure, calamity and what-have-you strike, serve God all the more!
Click here to read the whole thing.
What is man? A vessel that the slightest shaking, the slightest toss will break… A body weak and fragile, naked, in its natural state defenceless, dependent upon another’s help and exposed to all the affronts of Fortune.”
(Seneca, quoted in Alan de Botton’s The Consolations of Philosophy)
The New Testament says something similar; the difference is it subscribes to the idea of providence, not fortune.
Come now, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go into such and such a town and spend a year there and trade and make a profit”— yet you do not know what tomorrow will bring. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes. Instead you ought to say, “If the Lord wills, we will live and do this or that.” As it is, you boast in your arrogance. All such boasting is evil. (James 4:13-16)
The “spirituality” of the 24/7 global marketplace goes like this:
He who dies with the most toys wins.
Look out for #1.
Nobody gives a damn: remember that!
Get the most, give the least.
The bottom line is the top priority.
(Catherine M. Wallace, Selling Ourselves Short)