Category Archives: Church Life

fight for other people’s children

We need to . . . think about what we can do in our everyday lives for the people who aren’t our neighbors. We should be fighting for opportunities for other people’s children as if the future of our own children depended on it. It probably does.

Matthew Stewart, The Atlantic: The 9.9 Percent
Is the New American Aristocracy
, June 2018

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a fountain of love

Eighteenth-century philosopher and preacher Jonathan Edward wrote a famous sermon titled “Heaven Is a World of Love,” which conveys the Christian hope with power. Edwards understands the ultimate Christian hope not to be in abstractions such as radiance and immortality but in relationship. At the center of heaven is not merely a generic God but the triune Christian God, one God in three persons, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, “who are united in infinitely dear and incomprehensible mutual love.” There is “an . . . eternal mutual holy energy between the Father and the Son, a pure holy act whereby the Deity becomes nothing but an infinite and unchangeable act of love.” Pouring love into one another in degrees of unimaginable power and joy makes this three-in-one God into a “fountain of love.” In heaven this fountain “is set open without any obstacle to hinder access to it,” and so it “overflows in streams and rivers of love and delight, enough for all to drink at, and to swim in, yea, so as to overflow the world as it were with a deluge of love.”

Timothy Keller, Making Sense of God, p 168.


civilian or soldier

“What we need to ask ourselves today is, ‘Am I a civilian or a soldier?” This is how a civilian thinks: ‘God, I want to do this for you. I have these gifts, these talents and I’m this old and I want to do this for you, God. I love to play music. I want to play music for you.’

“But a soldier says, ‘Tell me what to do with my life. I don’t care what it is. Whatever you want me to do, I will do it.’ There is a tremendous difference.”

David Pierce, Rock Priest, page 254


christianity the only worldwide religion

One of the unique things about Christianity is that it is the only truly worldwide religion. Over 90 percent of Muslims live in a band from Southeast Asia to the Middle East and Northern Africa. Over 95 percent of all Hindus are in India and immediate environs. Some 88 percent of Buddhists are in East Asia. However, about 25 percent of Christians live in Europe, 25 percent in Central and South America, 22 percent in Africa, 15 percent (and growing fast) in Asia, and 12 percent in North America. Professor Richard Bauckham writes: “Almost certainly Christianity exhibits more cultural diversity than any other religion, and that must say something about it.” . . . It is no longer a Western religion (nor was it originally). It is truly a world religion.

Timothy Keller, Making Sense of God, page 148.


veneer of holiness

When religion becomes a veneer of holiness to conceal unholy character, it makes its bearers less receptive to God’s transforming grace.

Craig Keener, Matthew, p.335.


sick people show up

If you pursue a life like the one Jesus demonstrated, one where you join with others and become a church that is truly a hospital for sick people, then guess what? Sick people show up. In my experience, a lot of them show up.

And that’s not all. Not only will sick people show up to churches that are genuinely running after Jesus, but guess what they’ll do when they get there? They will act sick.

Jim Burgen, No More Dragons, p. 164-165


most romantic places on earth

The two most romantic places on earth are the prayer closet and the pulpit.

Francis Chan, at Mission Connexion Northwest 2018
quoting someone he couldn’t exactly remember.


don’t convert culture

In both West and East it is vital for us to learn to distinguish between Scripture and culture, and between those things in culture which are inherently evil and must therefore be renounced for Christ’s sake and those things which are good or indifferent and may therefore be retained, even transformed and enriched.

In the West, according to the authors of God’s Lively People (Fontana 1971),
‘our congregations demand from every new member not only a conversion but also a change in culture. He has to abandon some of his contemporary beliefs and to accept the older patterns prevalent among the majority of the congregation. The new Christian has to learn the old hymns and to appreciate them. He has to learn the language of the pulpit. He has to share in some conservative political opinions. He has to dress a bit oldfashioned… In brief, he has to step back two generations and undergo what one may call a painful cultural circumcision’ (p.206).

Similarly Bishop David Sheppard writes that ‘few are able to be as objective as the shop steward who said that churches require you to do a crash course in middle-class behaviour, rather than to learn Christian maturity’ (Built as a City, p. 50).

John Stott, Christian Mission in the Modern World, p. 122-123.


the matter of vocation

Consider what the realistic outworkings of ‘mission’ are likely to be.

I begin with vocation, by which I mean a Christian’s life-work. We often given the impression that if a young Christian man is really keen for Christ, he will undoubtedly become a foreign missionary, that if he is not quite as keen as that he will stay at home and become a pastor, that if he lacks the dedication to be a pastor, he will no doubt serve as a doctor or teacher, while those who end up in social work or the media or (worst of all) in politics are not far removed from serious backsliding! It seems to me urgent to gain a truer perspective in this matter of vocation. Jesus Christ calls all his disciples to ‘ministry’, that is, to service. He himself is the Servant par excellence, and he calls us to be servants too. This much then is certain: if we are Christians we must spend our lives in the service of God and man. The only difference between us lies in the nature of the service we are called to render. Some are indeed called to be missionaries, evangelists or pastors, and others to the great professions of law, education, medicine and the social sciences. But others are called to commerce, to industry and farming, to accountancy and banking, to local government or parliament, and to the mass media, while there are still many girls who find their vocation in home-making and parenthood without pursuing an independent career as well. In all these spheres, and many others besides, it is possible for Christians to interpret their lifework christianly, and to see it neither as a necessary evil (necessary, that is, for survival), nor even as a useful place in which to evangelize or make money for evangelism, but as their Christian vocation, as the way Christ has called them to spend their lives in his service. Further, a part of their calling will be to seek to maintain Christ’s standards of justice, righteousness, honesty, human dignity and compassion in a society which no longer accepts them.

John Stott, Christian Mission in the Modern World, pp. 31-32.

Note: This book was written in 1975, and some of his language may seem out of step with our current norms. Please consider the intent behind his words, not his choice of words, which were culturally acceptable at the time they were written.


we are not to make men beleive

It is not our work to make men believe; that is the work of the Holy Spirit.

D. L. Moody, How to Study the Bible: Updated Edition, page 13