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Lord, would you shrink my territory, so I actually care about the people and places in which we minister?
The Reverse Jabez Prayer as Told by Ben Katt, an Organizer of the 2011 Inhabit Conference; as quoted by @fitchest (David Fitch), w/ minor editing
“It can only be that God begins in a small way, at one single place in the world. There must be a place, visible, tangible, where the salvation of the world can begin: that is, where the world becomes what it is supposed to be according to God’s plan. Beginning at that place, the new thing can spread abroad, but not through persuasion, not through indoctrination, not through violence. Everyone must have the opportunity to come and see. All must have the chance to behold and test this new thing. Then, if they want to, they can allow themselves to be drawn into the history of salvation that God is creating. Only in that way can their freedom be preserved. What drives them to the new thing cannot be force, not even moral pressure, but only the fascination of a world that is changed.”
Gerhard Lohfink, Does God Need the Church (p. 27) (as quoted by @fitchest)
“Returning hate for hate multiplies hate, adding deeper darkness to a night already devoid of stars. Darkness cannot drive out darkness: only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate: only love can do that.”
– Martin Luther King, Jr. (thx 2 whitney)
4/24 (Easter 2011)
“Our task,as image‑bearing,God‑loving,
Christ‑shaped,Spirit‑filled Christians,following Christ and shaping our world,is to announce redemption to the world that has discovered its fallenness,to announce healing to the world that has discovered its brokenness,to proclaim love and trust to the world that knows only exploitation, fear and suspicion.”Humans were made to reflect God’s creative stewardship into the world. Israel was made to bring God’s rescuing love to bear upon the world. Jesus came as the true Israel, the world’s true light, and as the true image of the invisible God. He was the true Jew, the true human. He has laid the foundation, and we must build upon it. We are to be the bearers both of his redeeming love and of his creative stewardship: to celebrate it, to model it, to proclaim it, to dance to it.”
N.T. Wright, “The Challenge of Easter” (via @robeckvining)
4/23 (Holy Saturday 2011)
“Why dost thou then dread to take this cross since it is the very way to the kingdom of heaven, and none but that? In the cross is health, in the cross is life, in the cross is infusion of heavenly sweetness; in the cross is the strength of mind, the joy of spirit, the highness of virtue, and the full perfection of holiness; and there is no health of soul nor hope of everlasting life but through virtue of the cross.”
– Thomas à Kempis, from The Imitation of Christ
It helps, now and then, to step back and take a long view.
The kingdom is not only beyond our efforts,
it is even beyond our vision.
We accomplish in our lifetime only a tiny fraction
of the magnificent enterprise that is God’s work.
Nothing we do is complete, which is a way of saying
that the kingdom always lies beyond us.
No statement says all that could be said.
No prayer fully expresses our faith.
No confession brings perfection.
No pastoral visit brings wholeness.
No program accomplishes the church’s mission.
No set of goals and objectives includes everything.
This is what we are about.
We plant the seeds that one day will grow.
We water seeds already planted,
knowing that they hold future promise.
We lay foundations that will need further development.
We provide yeast that produces far beyond our capabilities.
We cannot do everything, and there is a sense of liberation
in realizing that. This enables us to do something,
and to do it very well. It may be incomplete,
but it is a beginning, a step along the way,
an opportunity for the Lord’s grace to enter and do the rest.
We may never see the end results, but that is the difference
between the master builder and the worker.
We are workers, not master builders; ministers, not messiahs.
We are prophets of a future not our own.
Oscar Romero (1917-1980)
Catholic Archbishop and Christian martyr
You come of the Lord Adam & the Lady Eve. That is both honor enough to lift the head of the poorest beggar & shame enough to bow the shoulders of the greatest emperor on earth. Be content.
Aslan in the story Prince Caspian (thx to @jimvining)
Lord, we acknowledge that we have made a mess of what Jesus started. We affirm that we are wrong and Jesus is right. We choose not to defend what we have done and what we have become. We understand that many good Christians will not want to participate in our quest, and we welcome their charitable critique. We acknowledge that we have created many Christianities up to this point and they all call for reassessment and in many cases, repentance. We choose to seek a better path into the future than the one we have been on. We desire to be born again as disciples of Jesus Christ. Now grant us wisdom and guide us in our quest and create something new and beautiful in and among us for the good of all creation and to your glory, Living God.
John Robinson, as quoted in A New Kind of Christian (McLaren), p. 25
“It is still God’s policy to work through the embarrassingly insignificant to change his world and create his future. He has chosen to work through the foolishness of human instrumentality. And he wants to use your life and mine to make a difference in the world.”
Tom Sine, The Mustard Seed Conspiracy, p. 12
When everyone is thinking the same, no one is thinking.
John Wooden (via Jim Vining via Leonard Sweet tweet)
If you need a theory of truth to assume that Jesus has been raised from the dead, go worship that theory. There can be no truth than that known through Jesus’ crucifixion and resurrection. But what it means “to believe” in that cross and resurrection requires being made a participant in a community whose existence depends on the miracle of the resurrection.
Stanley Hauerwas, “Beyond the Boundaries: The Church is Mission” in Walk Humbly with the Lord: Church and Mission Engaging Plurality, p. 61
Tradition is the living faith of the dead; traditionalism is the dead faith of the living.
Jaroslav Pelikan, in “The Vindication of Tradition”
When there is love the end of love is impossible. Why? Because when the end comes the love that was never happened.
Peter Rollins, from PeterRollins.net
Celebration brings joy into life, and joy makes us strong. Scripture tells us that the joy of the Lord is our strength (Neh 8:10). We cannot continue long in anything without it….
We may be able to begin tennis instruction or piano lessons by dint of will, but we will not keep at them for long without joy. In fact, the only reason we can begin is because we know that joy is the end result. That is what sustains all novices; they know there is a sense of pleasure, enjoyment, joy in mastery….
We need to understand that God does at times give us an infusion of joy even in our bitterness and hard-heartedness. But that is the abnormal situation. God’s normal means of bringing his joy is by redeeming and sanctifying the ordinary junctures of human life. When the members of a family are filled with love and compassion and a spirit of service to one another, that family has reason to celebrate.
There is something sad in people running from church to church trying to get an injection of “the joy of the Lord.” Joy is not found in singing a particular kind of music or in getting with the right kind of group or even in exercising the charismatic gifts of the Spirit, good as all these may be. Joy is found in obedience. When the power that is in Jesus reaches into our work and play and redeems them, there will be joy where once there was mourning. To overlook this is to miss the meaning of the Incarnation.
Foster, Celebration, 191-193
The whole purpose of the Bible, it seems to me, is to convince people to set the written word down in order to become living words in the world for God’s sake. For me, this willing conversion of ink back to blood is the full substance of faith.
– Barbara Brown Taylor, from her book, Leaving Church
Prayer of Abandonment:
I abandon myself into your hands;
do with me what you will.
Whatever you may do, I thank you:
I am ready for all, I accept all.
Let only your will be done in me,
and in all your creatures –
I wish no more than this, O Lord.
Into your hands I commend my soul:
I offer it to you with all the love of my heart,
for I love you, Lord, and so need to give myself,
to surrender myself into your hands without reserve,
and with boundless confidence,
for you are my Father.
Charles de Foucauld
A Footnote to All Prayers
He whom I bow to only knows to whom I bow
When I attempt the ineffable Name, murmuring Thou,
And dream of Pheidian fancies and embrace in heart
Symbols (I know) which cannot be the thing Thou art.
Thus always, taken at their word, all prayers blaspheme
Worshiping with frail images a folk-lore dream,
And all men in their praying, self-deceived, address
The coinage of their own unquiet thoughts, unless
Thou in magnetic mercy to Thyself divert
Our arrows, aimed unskillfully, beyond desert;
And all men are idolaters, crying unheard
To a deaf idol, if Thou take them at their word.
Take not, O Lord, our literal sense. Lord, in thy great
Unbroken speech our limping metaphor translate.
Gathered at the Passover feast, the disciples were keenly aware that someone needed to wash the others’ feet. The problem was that the only people who washed feet were the least. So there they sat, feet caked with dirt. It was such a sore point that they were not even going to talk about it. NO one wanted to be considered the least. Then Jesus took a towel and a basin and redefined greatness.
Having lived out servanthood before them, he called them to the way of service: “If I then, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet. For I have given you an example, that you also should do as I have done to you” (John 13:14,15) In some ways we would prefer to hear Jesus’ call to deny father and mother, houses and land for the sake of the gospel than his word to wash feet. Radical self-denial gives the feel of adventure. If we forsake all, we even have the chance of glorious martyrdom. But in service we must experience the many little deaths of going beyond ourselves. Service banishes us to the mundane, the ordinary, the trivial.
-Richard Foster, Celebration of Discipline 3rd ed., pp. 126-127