Iphilip-yanceymperfection is the prerequisite for grace. Light only gets in through the cracks.

Faith means believing in advance what will only make sense in reverse.

Endurance is not just the ability to bear a hard thing, but to turn it into glory.

We tend to think, ‘Life should be fair because God is fair.’ But God is not life. And if I confuse God with the physical reality of life – by expecting constant good health for example- then I set myself up for crashing disappointment.

What a nation needs more than anything else is not a Christian ruler in the palace but a Christian prophet within earshot.

A God wise enough to create me and the world I live in is wise enough to watch out for me.

God’s terrible insistence on human freedom is so absolute that he granted us the power to live as though He did not exist, to spit in His face, to crucify Him.

One who has been touched by grace will no longer look on those who stray as “those evil people” or “those poor people who need our help.” Nor must we search for signs of “loveworthiness.” Grace teaches us that God loves because of who God is, not because of who we are.

The proof of spiritual maturity is not how pure you are but awareness of your impurity. That very awareness opens the door to grace.

The solution to sin is not to impose an ever-stricter code of behaviour. It is to know God.

Some who attempt prayer never have the sense of anyone listening on the other end. They blame themselves for doing it wrong…. Prayer requires the faith to believe that God listens.

When I pray for another person, I am praying for God to open my eyes so that I can see that person as God does, and then enter into the stream of love that God already directs toward that person.

Prayer is to the skeptic a delusion, a waste of time. To the believer it represents perhaps the most important use of time.

Whatever makes us feel superior to other people, whatever tempts us to convey a sense of superiority, that is the gravity of our sinful nature, not grace.

Christians get very angry toward other Christians who sin differently than they do.

When Jesus came to earth, demons recognized him, the sick flocked to him, and sinners doused his feet and head with perfume. Meanwhile he offended pious Jews with their strict preconceptions of what God should be like. Their rejection makes me wonder, could religious types be doing just the reverse now? Could we be perpetuating an image of Jesus that fits our pious expectations but does not match the person portrayed so vividly in the Gospels?

Yet as I read the birth stories about Jesus I cannot help but conclude that though the world may be tilted toward the rich and powerful, God is tilted toward the underdog.

Christ bears the wounds of the church, his body, just as he bore the wounds of crucifixion. I sometimes wonder which have hurt worse.

I rejected the church for a time because I found so little grace there. I returned because I found grace nowhere else.

Love deems this world worth rescuing.

Politics draws lines between people; in contrast, Jesus’ love cuts across those lines and dispenses grace. That does not mean, of course, that Christians should not involve themselves in politics. It simply means that as we do so we must not let the rules of power displace the command to love.

Sometimes I feel like the most liberal person among conservatives, and sometimes like the most conservative among liberals.

Thunderously, inarguably, the Sermon on the Mount proves that before God we all stand on level ground: murderers and temper-throwers, adulterers and lusters, thieves and coveters. We are all desperate, and that is in fact the only state appropriate to a human being who wants to know God. Having fallen from the absolute Ideal, we have nowhere to land but in the safety net of absolute grace.

Having spent time around “sinners” and also around purported saints, I have a hunch why Jesus spent so much time with the former group: I think he preferred their company. Because the sinners were honest about themselves and had no pretense, Jesus could deal with them. In contrast, the saints put on airs, judged him, and sought to catch him in a moral trap. In the end it was the saints, not the sinners, who arrested Jesus.

I have come to know a God who has a soft spot for rebels, who recruits people like the adulterer David, the whiner Jeremiah, the traitor Peter, and the human-rights abuser Saul of Tarsus. I have come to know a God whose Son made prodigals the heroes of his stories and the trophies of his ministry.