These are from our weekly "updates" from our pastor. He usually includes some links or quotes like these. I want to post them here to have my favorites all in one place.
Oswald Chambers on cosmic redemption and our place in it:
Paul states here that the call of God is to preach the gospel. But remember what Paul means by "the gospel," namely, the reality of redemption in our Lord Jesus Christ. We are inclined to make sanctification the goal of our preaching. Paul refers to personal experiences only by way of illustration, never as the end of the matter. We are not commissioned to preach salvation or sanctification -- we are commissioned to lift up Jesus Christ (see John 12:32 ). It is an injustice to say that Jesus Christ labored in redemption to make me a saint. Jesus Christ labored in redemption to redeem the whole world and to place it perfectly whole and restored before the throne of God. The fact that we can experience redemption illustrates the power of its reality, but that experience is a byproduct and not the goal of redemption. If God were human, how sick and tired He would be of the constant requests we make for our salvation and for our sanctification. We burden His energies from morning till night asking for things for ourselves or for something from which we want to be delivered! When we finally touch the underlying foundation of the reality of the gospel of God, we will never bother Him anymore with little personal complaints.
Martin Luther on forgiveness of sins (yes, even the most "shocking" sins):
You must by no means make Christ to seem paltry and trifiling to us, as though he could be our helper only when we want to be rid from imaginary, nominal, childish sins. No, no! That would not be good for us. He must rather be a Savior and Redeemer from real, great, grievous, and damnable transgressions and iniquities, yea, from the very greatest and most shocking sins.
John Piper on faithful parenting:
The Ten Commandments are not central in Christian parenting. The gospel is.
The gospel is the rule and power by which we teach our children to live...Successful parenting is more than compliant kids. It is gospel-saturated living and teaching—a gospel is not just something that begins the Christian life but empowers it and shapes and sustains it.
Changed and sustained by the gospel, our children can rebel against the low expectations of adolescence and “do hard things” in a way that magnifies Jesus.
Doug Wilson on friendship evangelism:
Friendship evangelism rests upon generosity, sacrifice, kindness, openness, hospitality, goodness, and open-handedness. That is to be the texture of your life, and non-believers are welcome to come along with you. In short, is your evangelism giving or taking? Are you a benefactor or a salesman?
Lauren Winner on liturgy:
Sometimes, I think I have come up with something poetic. One day, when I was full in the flush of agony about what I should do with my life, whether I would always be alone, whether I should become a nun, whether I should drop out of graduate school, and other high-pitch anxieties, I heard, reverberating around in my brain, "Go out to do the work I have given you to do." The work I have given you to do. The work I have given you to do. What an ingenious sentiment, I thought. I can't believe I dreamed that up. Maybe I should drop out of grad school and enter a poetry-writing Master of Fine Arts program. All day, all week I heard those words, the work I have given you to do, heard them and was deeply consoled by them, sure that God had given me work to do, that He has sent me out into the world to do it, that He had even woke me up too early in the morning to do that work, it was mine, I was consecrated to it, and it was given of Him. I heard those words all week, and I felt peaceful. Not only had God given me work to do, He had given me poetic snatches of reassurance, too.
Then I got to church on Sunday. We opened with a hymn. The crucifier and the priest processed in. We prayed the collect of the day, we read three passages from Scripture. Milind [the priest] gave a rousing sermon about forgiveness. We sang some more, we prayed the prayers for the people, and exchanged the peace. Milind consecrated the Eucharist and we received it. Then we said the prayer of thanksgiving. "We thank you for receiving us as living members of your Son." And there, in the middle of that prayer, the words God had given me all week: "And now, Father, send us out to the do the work you have given us to do." It was the liturgy that had lodged in my brain, words of the liturgy I barely noticed Sunday to Sunday when we said them, but here I was,
noticing them raptly, in the middle of a weekday afternoon, when I needed them most.
Habit and obligation have both become bad words. That prayer becomes a habit must mean that it is impersonal, unfeeling, something of a rouse. If you do something because you are obligated to, it doesn't count, at least not as much as if you'd done it on your own free will, like the children who says thank you because his parents tell him to, it doesn't count. Sometimes, often, prayer feels that way to me, impersonal and unfeeling and not something I've chosen to do. I wish it felt inspired and on fire and like a real, love-conversation all the time, or even just more of the time. But what I am learning the more I sit with liturgy is that what I feel happening bears little relation to what is actually happening. It is a great gift when God gives me a stirring, a feeling, a something-at-all in prayer. But work is being done whether I feel it or not. Sediment is being laid. Words of praise to God are becoming the most basic words in my head. They are becoming the fallback words, drowning our advertising jingles and
professors lectures and sometimes even my own interior monologues. Maybe St. Paul was talking about liturgy when he encouraged us to pray without ceasing.
N. T. Wright on the resurrection and the mission of the church (excellent!!):
To preach the Resurrection is to announce the fact that the world is a different place, and that we have to live in that "different-ness." The Resurrection is not just God doing a wacky miracle at one time. We have to preach it in a way that says this was the turning point in world history....
But how can the church announce that God is God, that Jesus is Lord, that the powers of evil, corruption, and death itself have been defeated, and that God's new world has begun? Doesn't this seem laughable? Well, it would be if it wasn't happening. But if a church is actively involved in seeking justice in the world, both globally and locally, and if it's cheerfully celebrating God's good creation and its rescue from corruption in art and music, and if, in addition, its own internal life gives every sign that new creation is indeed happening, generating a new type of community - then suddenly the announcement makes a lot of sense.
Doug Jones on Priest Oscar Romero, a twentieth centruy martyr for the gospel in El Salvador, killed for his stance on human rights:
Oscar Romero gave his last homily on March 24 . Moments before a sharpshooter felled him [as he administered the Eucharist], reflecting on Scripture, he said, 'One must not love oneself so much, as to avoid getting involved in the risks of life that history demands of us, and those that fend off danger will lose their lives.'