As we have explored these tough choices (earlier chapters in this book, the purpose hasn’t been to convince you to agree in principle with any of them. The purpose is to promote action. Agreeing in principle allows us to remain as passive spectators to the life that Jesus is inviting us into. The call of the real Jesus is for us to move and participate in these new ways of living.
Jason Mitchell, No Easy Jesus, p.184
In a 2004 article titled “Live More Musically,” journalist Andy Crouch explores the differences between purchasing music and practicing music, which he compares to “playing a CD [or] playing a fugue.” One of his main points is that we experience different levels of satisfaction with music we’ve learned to play through long hours of sacrifice than with music we’ve merely purchased.
[T]he music we purchase delivers almost all of its satisfaction up front. In other words, we’ll never be happier with a product we’ve purchased than when we use it for the first time. After that, our satisfaction level tends to go down.
But when we learn to play a musical instrument, the satisfaction curve moves in the opposite direction. During the early stages, there is little enjoyment. (Not just for us, but even more so for those who have to endure our attempts to blow air through a brass instrument or draw a bow across strings.) But if we make the choice to grit it out and keep practicing, in time something beautiful will happen. What at first were discordant noises will eventually become distinguishable notes. And those notes will eventually become phrases, melody, music.
“But when we practice, we change.”
Jason Mitchell, No Easy Jesus, p.188-9
Compassion requires reaction.
That’s what the world needs – our presence as well as our prayers. People who are struggling and in need aren’t looking for pity. They’re looking for care and concern that act on their behalf – for people who will not only pray from a distance, but who will also be willing to draw so close to them that our shirts might get stained.
Jason Mitchell, No Easy Jesus, p. 66
The truth is, we will never encounter the real Jesus until we go beyond merely believing in him and actually start following him. Yes, it’s much harder to follow that to merely believe. But following is the only route to the rich and satisfying life we desire.
Jason Mitchell, No Easy Jesus forward, page 24.
If gospel messengers were meant to merely blast out information, Jesus would have told his followers to go make subscribers, not disciples (Matthew 28:18-20). But because the Christian story is a message about Jesus, the real person, our response is not about what we do with the data but what we do with him.
Jonathan Parnell, Never Settle For Normal, p. 93
Your greatest contribution to the world may not be something you do, but someone you raise.”
Andy Stanley, Global Leadership Summit, August 10, 2017
if obedience is not asking more of us that we are, then it won’t lead us to more of Jesus. Obedience that doesn’t need him won’t have him. But really, there’s no such thing as obedience like that.
Jonathan Parnell, Never Settle For Normal, p. 124
Anger is not an original emotion. It never exists on its own; instead, anger is reactionary and always depends upon a context of previously established love. It can happen only as a reaction to a threat against someone or something that we truly value. In fact, the more we consider it, we begin to see that anger itself serves as a form of love that aims to defend our beloved.
Jonathan Parnell, Never Settle For Normal, p 75.
Sometimes I wake, and, lo! I have forgot,
And drifted out upon an ebbing sea!
My soul that was at rest now resteth not,
For I am with myself and not with thee;
Truth seems a blind moon in a glaring morn,
Where nothing is but sick-heart vanity;
Oh, thou who knowest! save thy child forlorn.
George MacDonald, A Book of Strife in the Form of The Diary of An Old Soul, p. 6
Published in 1880.
One of the grandest things in having rights is, that though they are your rights, you may give them up.
from A Dictionary of Thoughts: Being a Cyclopedia of Laconic Quotations from the Best Authors, Both Ancient and Modern by Tryon Edwards, D.D.
Thanks to Tom Pedersen for bringing this quote to my attention.
One of the most critical times to prune is early in the branch’s history. Failure to prune early will result in a weak root system, which can cause the branches to become a tangled web of foliage unable to produce enough sap to bear fruit. If not pruned, a branch will eventually die a premature death. But if pruned carefully, though, its life span and fruitfulness dramatically increases.
A typical young branch will surface ten to twelve buds that can become clusters of grapes. But early on, it will need to be pruned back to two or three buds, in order to product rich, luscious clusters of grapes. Two or three luscious clusters is preferable to ten or twelve mediocre clusters. Interestingly, the gardener is never closer to the branch than when he is pruning it. Each branch is unique, so each branch needs to be carefully analyzed in order to be pruned most effectively. The gardener scrutinizes each branch, because he knows than an abundant harvest is at stake.
Dann Spader, 4 Chair Discipling, p 118-119.