Your nakedness shall be uncovered,
and your shame shall be seen.
[Isaiah 47:3 NRSV]


What is transcendent needs no protection from science.
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There is not a greater truth that is not also a simple truth. Remember that God confounds the wisest, that which is plain to the children. For all the complexity of man’s knowledge, he has most trouble with the simple things: Why am I? What is the world? How shall I live? The meaning of life escapes us all, and one suspects that those who know it best of all are the ones who never ask what it might be. These are not paradoxes, merely the real that is stranger than any fiction: what else could we expect from a God who is love? We will never understand something so simple, always misinterpreting the miracle: ask and it shall be given to you, knock and it shall be opened….
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Most men dislike a teaching which lays upon them strict moral requirements that check their natural desires. Yet they like to be considered as Christians, and listen willingly to the hypocrites who preach that our righteousness is only that God holds us to be righteous, even if we are bad people, and that our righteousness is without us and not in us, for, according to such teaching, they can be counted as holy people. Woe to those who preach that men of sinful walk can not be considered pious; most are furious when they hear this, as we see and experience, and would like all such preachers to be driven away or even killed; but where that cannot be done, they strengthen their hypocrite preachers with praise, comfort, presents and protection, so that they may go on happily and give no place to the truth, however clear it may be.
              – Andreas Osiander
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How can you wish all the wrongs done you to be redressed, while all the wrongs you do to be overlooked?
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Institutions can never conserve without betraying the movements from which they proceed. The institution is static, whereas its parent movement has been dynamic; it confines men within its limits, while the movement had liberated them from the bondage of institutions; it looks to the past, [although] the movement had pointed forward. Though in content the institution resembles the dynamic epoch whence it proceeded, in spirit it is like the [state] before the revolution. So the Christian church, after the early period, often seemed more closely related in attitude to the Jewish synagogue and the Roman state than to the age of Christ and his apostles; its creed was often more like a system of philosophy than like the living gospel.
              – H. Richard Niebuhr
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People don’t understand what it means that Jesus Christ is our Lord and Savior. Quite specifically, that we could never be admitted into Heaven because we are sinful. We all fall short of the glory. We may only enter because Christ can enter, and because of His reward: that he may invite as many tagalongs as He sees fit. That is what is meant by His being the only way to salvation. Life and death rests solely upon His saying, “I know him,” or “I know him not”: this is the Judgement. And no work we do in this life can earn this path, for all who live besides Him sin in some way, some how. Though faith without works is hollow, it is by faith alone that we are saved. This is the miracle. We are only His when we believe He is as He said He is — the Son of God — and receive the Holy Spirit, which He sent us after He came back from the dead, and then ascended to His right place on high. This is the narrow way, and wide is the way to destruction. Believe, and be saved.
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Very few people in the world would care to listen to the real defense of their own characters. The real defense, the defense which belongs to the Day of Judgment, would make such damaging admissions, would clear away so many artificial virtues, would tell such tragedies of weakness and failure, that a man would sooner be misunderstood and censured by the world than exposed to that awful and merciless eulogy.
              – Gilbert Keith Chesterton
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There was a light, but it faded. It was not faith.

There were visions, but they twisted. They were not faith.

There was a feeling, but it was illusory. It was not faith.

Faith was to hold on, when all those things went wrong.

Because I saw that light, had those visions, felt what I felt.

The narrow way is a journey, and rest may only be momentary.

It is a life that leads to life.
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I have had more trouble with myself than with any other man I have ever met.
              – Dwight L. Moody
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If you believe, then you must believe this: that whatever evil, it will inevitably play into the purpose of God. This, I think, is the most difficult point to reconcile. This, I think, is the reason for many who simply cannot reconcile it, who fall away from faith entirely. For it is a deep point of faith in the greatness of God, and in His wisdom: that no matter how horrible, how horrific, that He can make it right in the end. There are too many things in the world that test this hypothesis. There are too many things that can shake this heart of belief. The true believer must be able not to turn away from the worst of the evil in the world, and still in his soul believe that God is good. Supremely good. If making us believe that the Devil does not exist is Satan’s greatest trick, surely it is his secondmost to make of the world a playground of horrors. For anyone who feels, it makes faith need to explain itself. And God seems so silent on such things.
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It would be the height of absurdity to label ignorance tempered by humility “faith;” for faith consists in the knowledge of God and Christ, not in reverence for the Church.
              – John Calvin
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The devil will tempt us with trivialities, when the task at hand is to save a soul.
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True religion invites us to become better people. False religion tells us that this has already occurred.
              – Abdal-Hakim Murad
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A function of prayer may be that God lets us ask for things and not just give them to us, so that we might become better, wiser people. Even better, that we ask things for other people. Perhaps it is only secondary whether or not our prayers are answered, especially in the way that we mean for them to be. Or as George Meredith said, “Who rises from prayer a better man, his prayer is answered.” After all, God already knows what we need and what we want: it is we who are clueless about the whole affair. In seeking God, then, we find out our own true selves. Not that we should not care about the things we pray for, because that is a part of it too, I think. To quote Ani DiFranco, “God’s work isn’t done by God.” Amen to that. Indeed.
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[C. S. Lewis] was leery of too many prayers that leave all the work to God and other people.
              – Kathryn Lindskoog
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Consign yourself to weakness. Understand that any strength you thought you possessed was but an illusion. Give up. Let the Lord take care of anything and everything, humbly let yourself be led to whichever direction God is pointing you. Do your best merely to be able to listen for and to do what you are supposed to at any given moment. For in thinking you understand the best way to go is to put your own will before the will of love, who knows better. You will never understand, except in fragmentary fractions. You will never be able to do any good, except in the smallest of victories. You will ultimately have nothing to boast of, except that you did as you were told, and that, badly. But whatever little you can do, do it. For in these small, small things, even the saints were made.
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Lord Jesus Christ! A whole life long didst thou suffer that I too might be saved; and yet thy suffering is not yet at an end; but this too wilt thou endure, saving and redeeming me, this patient suffering of having to do with me, I who so often go astray from the right path, or even when I remained on the straight path stumbled along it or crept so slowly along the right path. Infinite patience, suffering of infinite patience. How many times have I not been impatient, wished to give up and forsake everything; wished to take the terribly easy way out, despair: but thou didst not lose patience. Oh, I cannot say what thy chosen servant says: that he filled up that which is behind of the afflictions of Christ in his flesh; no, I can only say that I increased thy sufferings, added new ones to those which thou didst once suffer in order to save me.
              – Søren Kierkegaard
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Being free is not being a slave to your whim. It’s doing everything you want to do, and not doing anything you don’t. The only question is, what do you want to do? What don’t you? Being free is something akin to not selling out, where what you want to preserve is your integrity, and you keep it. That is freedom. This is what it means to be born not of the flesh, but of the will of God. What those who do not have eyes to see can only perceive is someone who adheres to the rules of the good, and being a slave to what is right. But that’s the whole point of the good: it’s not the good if you don’t freely choose it of your own free will. The other side is being the subject of any random animal impulse that pops up. This is akin to walking through life unconscious. This would be what it is to be a waste of humanity.
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Faith is taking the first step even when you don’t see the whole staircase.
              – Martin Luther King, Jr.
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If we truly look at things, what is amazing is not what we ourselves do, or can do. That is very little. What is done for us, upon command, that we take for granted makes us think we can do so much. But in actuality, almost all that we have or can do in this life has been given to us, usually at no price whatsoever. Very few people seem to realize this, however, that if we had to purchase emotion, what cost would even the sadness be. We are less than ghosts in the machine. Truly, we are wonderfully and fearfully made, but it only the smallest part of us we are responsible for, so it is critical that we get those parts right: these are the choices that we make. Understand that if we get those wrong, there is nothing else to say what is the “I” in any of us. By these, therefore, are we judged....
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The very Nazis look at you with wonderment and an open contempt! For even they are sure that to live for nothing higher than oneself is to lose life; that life, to be called life, can be found only in serving something bigger than one's personal interests; something that crowds these out of mind and heart, till one forgets about them and lives wholly, and without exception, for that other, worthier thing... It is long since Aristotle told us that only barbarians have as their ideal the wish to live as they please, and to do what they like. And the New Testament gravely sets us down before the Cross, and bids us gaze, and still gaze, and keep gazing, till the fact has soaked itself into our minds that that, not less than that, is now the standard set us, and that whatever in our lives clashes with that is sin.
              – A. J. Gossip
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We may find out, if the Rapture truly does happen, who it is that the spirit of Christ is within, that many of the so-called Christian were excluded, and those who took no baptism were called up, because they indeed were saints.
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The Kingdom is to be in the midst of your enemies. And he who will not suffer this does not want to be of the Kingdom of Christ; he wants to be among friends, to sit among roses and lilies, not with the bad people but the devout people. O you blasphemers and betrayers of Christ! If Christ had done what you are doing, who would ever have been spared?
              – Martin Luther
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If you cannot believe in God because there is so much suffering in the world, your idea of God is too small. God is greater than all the suffering the world has known, or will know. This is one of the prime articles of faith. The test is to see and truly empathize with the pain, and to know that God, if He is as advertised, is extraordinary enough to make it right.
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You are a man, not God; you are human, not an angel. How can you expect to remain always in a constant state of virtue, when this was not possible even for an angel of heaven, nor for the first man in the Garden?
              – Thomas à Kempis
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Our prayers are not so that some hour on some day, we receive what we ask for. In fact, what prayer does, by putting us in the position to ask for such things as we do, those things become secondary to the prayer itself. This is in itself a small miracle.
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We may look into a church, almost any church, and discover someone who, though he is offered a gospel of love, must subtly convert it into a gospel of hate before he can receive it. The gospel of love — with its emphasis upon brotherhood, equality before God, the dignity of every human being, and man’s social responsibility toward man — does not satisfy the lack that he urgently feels. That calls for something altogether different, for an assurance that he is superior, that he is right where others are wrong — a kind of cosmic teacher’s pet.
              – Bonaro W. Overstreet
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Will you indeed be His disciples, and be kind to the point where it is dangerous to be so? Or will you stand instead in safety with those who hold the guns?
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Men stand much upon the title of orthodox, by which is usually understood, not believing the doctrine of Christ or His apostles, but such opinions as are in vogue among such a party, such systems of divinity as have been compiled in haste by those whom we have in admiration; and whatever is not consonant to these little bodies of divinity, though possibly it agree well enough with the Word of God, is error and heresy; and whoever maintains it can hardly pass for a Christian among some angry and perverse people. I do not intend to plead for any error, but I would not have Christianity chiefly measured by matters of opinion. I know no such error and heresy as a wicked life… Of the two, I have more hopes of him that denies the divinity of Christ and lives otherwise soberly, and righteously, and godly in the world, than of the man who owns Christ to be the Son of God, and lives like a child of the devil.
              – John Tillotson
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Somehow, we must remove the notion from us of our own infallibility. It is a hindrance like no other. Somehow we can discern the faults of everyone but our own selves, because we always have a reason why this thing of ours went foul, so that we seem always to be justified. We must constantly strive to see the right in everyone else, and see the wrong in us, because the balance is always stacked the other way. Our selves will always get in the way of any selfless notion — by definitions, this must be the case. There was only ever one of us who did nothing wrong, and I think on the day of judgement, we will be surprised — shocked — by the amount and number of the ills we have rendered, the injustices we have overlooked, and all the while pointing at the mote in our brothers’ eyes, seeking all that we thought was unfair to us to be redressed, and all that which we did of the dishonorable overlooked. I do not think this will be how the Judge will look at things.
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The most critical issue facing Christians is not abortion, pornography, the disintegration of the family, moral absolutes, MTV, drugs, racism, sexuality, or school prayer. The critical issue today is dullness. We have lost our astonishment. The Good News is no longer good news, it is okay news. Christianity is no longer life changing, it is life enhancing. Jesus doesn’t change people into wild-eyed radicals anymore. He changes them into “nice people”.
              – Mike Yaconelli
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[more to come...]