The most important word in the Bible
Some years ago Elton Trueblood asked me, “Do you know what the most important word in the Bible is?” Being a spiritual type, I naturally thought of words like “justification,” “atonement,” and “salvation.”
“You’re on the wrong track,” he said. “The greatest word is and. For example, you read, ‘Therefore every scribe who has been trained for the kingdom of heaven is like a householder who brings out of his treasure what is new and what is old,’ ” (Matt. 13:52).
“Renewal,” Dr. Trueblood told me, “always involves both the new and the old.”
—Bruce Larson in The Power to Make Things New
The minister never knows
A minister often thinks he is most effective for God in the pulpit on that Sunday morning when he is preaching an eloquent sermon after hours of preparation. But between the nine and eleven o’clock services when he is in the process of going from one service to another—trying to relax a moment—someone urgently grabs his arm and says, “The superintendent of the children’s department didn’t come this morning!” … He goes in and shares informally something … never knowing as he rushes out to the next service that the mind of a little visitor on the back row was struck by his impromptu words, and offered itself to God. Perhaps a great Christian life has been conceived—and the minister never knows.
—Keith Miller in The Taste of New Wine
Discipleship equals joy
If we answer the call to discipleship, where will it lead us? What decisions and partings will it demand? To answer this question we shall have to go to Him, for only He knows the answer. Only Jesus Christ who bids us follow Him, knows the journey’s end. But we do know that it will be a road of boundless mercy. Discipleship means joy.
—Dietrich Bonhoeffer in The Cost of Discipleship
The moment men begin to care more for education than for religion they begin to care more for ambition than for education. It is no longer a world in which the souls of all are equal before heaven, but a world in which the mind of each is bent on achieving unequal advantage over the other.
—G. K. Chesterton in The Quotable Chesterton
Prayer, coupled with loving obedience, is the way to put God to the test and to make prayer answer all ends and all things.
—E. M. Bounds in The Best of E. M. Bounds on Prayer
Putting gadgets before God
I have observed that when any of us embarks on the pursuit of happiness for ourselves, it eludes us. Often I’ve asked myself why. It must be because happiness comes to us only as a dividend. When we become absorbed in something demanding and worthwhile above and beyond ourselves, happiness seems to be there as a by-product of the self-giving.
That should not be a startling truth, yet I’m surprised at how few people understand and accept it. Have we made a god of happiness? Have we been brainwashed by ads assuring us “Happiness is …”—usually a big, shiny, new gadget?
—Catherine Marshall in A Closer Walk
The “Novel” Church
All church services have this wonderful element: People with other things to do get up on a Sunday morning, put on good clothes and assemble out of nothing but faith—some vague yen toward something larger. Simply as a human gathering I find it moving, reassuring and even inspiring. A church is a little like a novel in that both are saying there’s something very important about being human.
—John Updike, in U.S. News & World Report (Oct. 20, 1986)
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