From My Reading – February

The root choice is to trust at all times that God is with you and will give you what you most need. . . . God says to you, “I love you. I am with you. I want to see you come closer to me and experience the joy and peace of my presence. I want to give you a new heart and a new spirit. I want you to speak with my mouth, see with my eyes, hear with my ears, touch with my hands. All that is mine is yours. Just trust me and let me be your God.

This is the voice to listen to. And that listening requires a real choice, not just once in a while but every moment of every day and night. It is you who decides what you think, say, and do. You can think yourself into a depression, you can talk yourself into low self-esteem, you can act in a self-rejecting way. But you always have a choice to think, speak, and act in the name of God and so move toward the Light, the Truth, and the Life.”(Henri Nouwen).

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“What good is it to me if Mary gave birth to the Son of God 1400 years ago and I do not give birth to the Son of God in my own person and time and culture? . . . We are all meant to be mothers of God” (Matthew Fox, paraphrasing Meister Eckhart).

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“In American churches, particularly in evangelism, our emphasis on bringing people into the faith has had the unintended consequence of not being spaces where the work of discipleship is being done. Many churches are just not equipped to be helpful to people who seriously long to learn to live as Jesus lived in the midst of their particular lives.

The loneliness and isolation that many earnest followers of Christ experience is profound. And while . . . educational programs can provide a wonderful community, they leave some convinced they cannot have similar experiences locally. This is hugely problematic. The local Church is important, exceedingly important. And, jumping headlong into service and leadership is not the answer. What’s desperately needed is for us to intentionally and creatively look for ways to carve out environments that help foster a deep commitment to Jesus Christ, places where we can “provoke one another to love and good deeds (Hebrews 10:24)” (Nathan Foster, Renovare Weekly Digest, January 6-2020).

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“In 869 AD, a Norse army invaded England, and captured its king, Saint Edmund the Martyr. The Viking ruler ordered Edmund to renounce his faith and rule as an underlord. When Edmund refused, the chief threatened him saying, “Don’t you realize that I have the power to kill you?” Edmund replied, “But don’t you realize I have the power to die.” The power to die is the supreme expression, the consummate example of the fierce and final freedom we receive as we grow ever deeper into the likeness of Christ. But how is it achieved? By grace, no doubt. But also by someone who has been dying all their life, someone who’s grown so accustom to sacrificing the inward-self, that sacrificing the outward-self is not an onerous choice but an obvious one” (Jonathan R. Bailey in jonathan@jonathanrbailey.com).

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“When somebody you’ve wronged forgives you, you’re spared the dull and self-diminishing throb of a guilty conscience.  For both parties, forgiveness means the freedom to be at peace inside their own skins and to be glad in each other’s presence” (Frederick Buechner, Wishful Thinking).

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