Beyond Force

The Gospel is not made to dominate the world. It’s the grain of sand that upsets the world’s machinery. One can’t inhale its fragrance and be content to leave everything the way it is.

Jean Sulivan in Morning Light (The Spiritual Journal of Jean Sulivan, tr. Joseph Cunneen and Patrick Gonnally)

Peace—Or Pieces?

Several years ago I knew a girl who had signed a contract to teach. In August she received another offer from a school closer to where she wanted to live. So she broke the original contract. Had she acted on the biblical principle in Psalm 15:4, where God says that He is pleased with a person who swears to his own hurt and does not change, she would not have done that. The department chairman … said her justification was “I have a peace about it,” and he commented rather sardonically, “Isn’t that lovely? She’s got the peace and I’ve got the pieces.” I believe that girl missed the will of God. She violated a principle which, if she had been alert and had applied it to her situation, would have given her clear guidance in this specific detail of her life.

Paul E. Little in a sermon, “Affirming the Will of God” (in Great Sermons of the 20th Century)

Generation Gap

I’m not sure there is any way I could document this, but I suspect that the greatest fear that haunts evangelical parents is that their children will not follow in their footsteps, that they will not sustain the same level of piety as their parents—stated baldly, that they are headed for hell rather than heaven.

Randall Balmer in an excerpt from Mine Eyes Have Seen the Glory (in The Reformed Journal, June, 1989)

Distraction, Not Distance

Men struck down by affliction are at the foot of the Cross, almost at the greatest possible distance from God. It must not be thought that sin is a greater distance. Sin is not a distance, it is a turning of our gaze in the wrong direction.

Simone Weil in Waiting for God

Long Night Coming

As you know, birthdays make one thoughtful. If one is prepared to be honest, any birthday means one has aged. That makes me realize that whenever we speak of aging we use distancing language. We say words like “they,” or “the aged.” We say that “by the end of the century there will be such and such a percentage of our population such and such an age” and so avoid the fact that we may well be part of that great impersonal statement. We are all, potentially and inevitably, the aged, the elderly, the old.

Herbert O’Driscoll in And Every Wonder True

The “Good Life”

Prosperity has often been fatal to Christianity, but persecution never.

An Amish bishop quoted in The Economist (July 22, 1989)

Open Hands

The genius of Christian spirituality is to integrate [the] spirit of possession with the spirit of dispossession. The spirit of dispossession implies that all the good and delightful things of this world are never allowed to own, possess, or shackle me. Dispossession implies that I am always free, my own person, liberated from the tyranny that possession can easily exercise over us.

John Powell in Through Seasons of the Heart

Disbelieving The Lie

The great act of faith is when man decides that he is not God.

O. W. Holmes, Jr., to William James, quoted in The Practical Cogitator

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