All the persons of faith I know are sinners, doubters, uneven performers. We are secure not because we are sure of ourselves but because we trust that God is sure of us.
When we sin and mess up our lives, we find that God doesn’t go off and leave us- he enters into our trouble and saves us.
The only opportunity you will ever have to live by faith is in the circumstances you are provided this very day: this house you live in, this family you find yourself in, this job you have been given, the weather conditions that prevail at the …moment.
The Bible makes it clear that every time that there is a story of faith, it is completely original. God’s creative genius is endless.
It is not easy to convey a sense of wonder, let alone resurrection wonder, to another. It’s the very nature of wonder to catch us off guard, to circumvent expectations and assumptions. Wonder can’t be packaged, and it can’t be worked up. It requires some sense of being there and some sense of engagement.
Self is the soul minus God.
One way to define spiritual life is getting so tired and fed up with yourself you go on to something better, which is following Jesus.
I will not try to run my own life or the lives of others; that is God’s business.
The mature Christian life involves a congruence of grace and work.
Christian faith is not neurotic dependency but childlike trust. We do not have a God who forever indulges our whims but a God whom we trust with our destinies.
The vocation of pastor(s) has been replaced by the strategies of religious entrepreneurs with business plans.
I was astonished to learn in one of these best-selling books (on church life) that the size of my church parking lot had far more to do with how things fared in my congregation than my choice of texts in preaching. I was being lied to and I knew it.
You don’t make your words true by embellishing them with religious lace. In making your speech sound more religious, it becomes less true.
American culture is probably the least Christian culture that we’ve ever had because it is so materialistic and it’s so full of lies. The whole advertising world is just, it’s just intertwined with lies, appealing to the worst of the instincts we have.
American religion is conspicuous for its messianically pretentious energy, its embarrassingly banal prose, and its impatiently hustling ambition.
That’s the whole spiritual life. It’s learning how to die. And as you learn how to die, you start losing all your illusions, and you start being capable now of true intimacy and love.
The Latin words humus, soil/earth, and homo, human being, have a common derivation, from which we also get our word ‘humble.’ This is the Genesis origin of who we are: dust – dust that the Lord God used to make us a human being. If we cultivate a lively sense of our origin and nurture a sense of continuity with it, who knows, we may also acquire humility.
There’s nobody who doesn’t have problems with the church, because there’s sin in the church. But there’s no other place to be a Christian except the church.
It is easier to find guides, someone to tell you what to do, than someone to be with you in a discerning, prayerful companionship as you work it out yourself. This is what spiritual direction is.
People are not problems to be solved. They are mysteries to be explored.
We cannot be too careful about the words we use; we start out using them and they end up using us.
No text can be understood out of its entire context. The most “entire” context is Jesus. Every biblical text must be read in the living presence of Jesus. Every word of the scriptural text is a window or door leading us out of the tar-paper shacks of self into this great outdoors of God’s revelation.
The power that the world acknowledges comes out of the mouth of a gun; the power that the person of faith respects comes from the mouth of Christ.
The way of Jesus cannot be imposed or mapped — it requires an active participation in following Jesus as he leads us through sometimes strange and unfamiliar territory, in circumstances that become clear only in the hesitations and questionings, in the pauses and reflections where we engage in prayerful conversation with one another and with him.
Abraham entered into what God was doing for him, and that was the turning point. He trusted God to set him right instead of trying to be right on his own. Romans 4:3
Like the sacramental use of water and bread and wine, friendship takes what’s common in human experience and turns it into something holy.
The Christian gospel is rooted in language: God spoke a creation into being; our Savior was the Word made flesh. The poet is the person who uses words not primarily to convey information but to make a relationship, shape beauty, form truth…
It’s odd that pastors, who are responsible for interpreting the Scriptures, so much of which come in the form of poetry, have so little interest in poetry? … Words create. God’s word creates; our words can participate in creation.
Isn’t it interesting that all of the biblical prophets and psalmists were poets?
The resurrection of Jesus creates and makes available the reality in which we are formed as new creatures in Christ by the Holy Spirit. This is a foreign concept in our egocentric, do-it-yourself, control freakish society. However, the Christian life is a Jesus-resurrection life, a life in us that is accomplished by the power of the resurrection, the Holy Spirit.