quote: the God of the second chance


“In terms of qualifications and rights, we are all like Jonah. Who can claim to be qualified for participation in the divine work? Who has not disobeyed in the past and forfeited any rights that might pertain to serving God? The service of God is thus … always a second chance, always an undeserved privilege. And if vocation comes to us, we can never say that it is on the grounds of our gifts and qualities, or our capacities for the job at hand. The call of God is … a sign of mercy, in that he is willing to employ the unworthy …” (Peter C. Craigie)

quote: how is it God reaches out to us?


“God is holy and just. In all his deeds, God is true to himself and faithful to his promises. In contrast, we act in opposition to our true selves and break our covenant promises. Rather than acknowledging God’s gifts with grateful hearts, we take our lives for granted; or, even worse, we use them as if we had created ourselves. When we ought to honor God by conforming to his holiness and justice, we follow our own foolish inclinations and reject the divine wisdom embodied in God’s law.

“Even if we admit that God has bridged the gaps between being and nothingness, between meaning and meaninglessness, why should the righteous and holy God reach out to an arrogant and ungrateful sinner? That which is nothing might at least arouse pity, since its pitiful state is not its own doing. But the ungrateful lawbreaker who considers himself wiser than God clearly deserves the consequences of his actions. Divine righteousness on one side and human unrighteousness on the other, God’s holiness above and our unholiness beneath – how can God bridge such chasms? And why would he do so if he could?

“To our amazement, God wills to have fellowship with the unrighteous: he chooses to save sinners from the consequences of their actions. … Why does God forgive sinners and reconcile them to himself by taking on their sin? Because he loves us with a love that ‘surpasses knowledge’ (Eph. 3.19), and that provokes our wonder and amazement.”

(Ron Highfield, Great Is the Lord: Theology for the Praise of God; pp. 175-176)

the Gospel argues against war—and yet we make war with … wild enthusiasm


The work we know today as the King James Bible (KJV, 1611) was strongly influenced by the first edition of the New Testament to appear in the English language, the work of William Tyndale (1526). In fact, 92% of the wording of Tyndale’s English NT was retained by the KJV’s translators. Tyndale’s English translation was based on the third edition of Desiderius Erasmus’ Greek New Testament (1522).

And so, it is interesting to note the view held by Erasmus – arguably the most learned man of his time in the entire world regarding the Greek NT – concerning Christian faith, the participation of Christians in military service and warfare, and the lust for war. His thoughts on such, quoted below, were penned in 1516 in a work created for the man who came to be known as King Charles V.

“Even if we allow that some wars are just, yet since we see that all mankind is plagued by this madness, it should be the role of wise priests to turn the minds of people and princes to other things. Nowadays we often see them as very firebrands of war. Bishops are not ashamed to frequent the camp; the cross is there, the body of Christ is there, the heavenly sacraments become mixed up in this worse than hellish business, and the symbols of perfect charity are brought into these bloody conflicts. Still more absurd, Christ is present in both camps, as if fighting against himself. It is not enough for war to be permitted between Christians; it must also be accorded the supreme honor.

“The Hebrews were allowed to engage in war, but with God’s permission. On the other hand, our oracle, which re-echoes again and again in the pages of the Gospel, argues against war—and yet we make war with more wild enthusiasm than the Hebrews.

“I would merely exhort the princes who bear the name of Christian to set aside all trumped-up claims and spurious pretexts and apply themselves seriously and whole-heartedly to making an end of this long-standing and terrible mania among Christians for war, and to establishing peace and harmony among those who are united by so many common interests.”

   Desiderius Erasmus (The Education of a Christian Prince)

vertical church: quotes to ponder


Following are a few quotes from James McDonald’s thought-provoking book Vertical Church (David C. Cook, 2012).

Maybe the greatest rationality of all is the recognition that rationality itself is incomplete as a way of knowing. (p. 50)

God forgive the church of Jesus Christ for trading its birthright access to the transcendent for the pot of stew that is horizontal helpfulness. (p. 56)

When we ask people what they want in church instead of giving them what they were created to long for, we play into the very idolatry that church was created to dismantle.” (p. 59)

May I ask what has happened in your ministry in the past seven days that would be impossible without God’s active engagement? (p. 71)

When people are taught that their ultimate purpose is reaching the lost or building a church or extending their hands to the poor, they derail during difficult times. (p. 109)

We must stop assuming God’s involvement and start inviting it. (p. 128)

If we think ‘business as usual’ will turn the tide in this tsunami of decline, we need to wear a jacket where the sleeves tie behind us. (p. 131)

When the people of God are not told the works of God, they lose the wonder of God, and everyone does what is right in their own eyes. (p. 133)

Placing evangelistic mission above the mission of God’s glory is the single most destructive error in the church today and the one from which many other errors fall. (p. 140)

Is the coldhearted husband who never loves or cherishes his wife but sleeps beside her with his back turned every night better than the philanderer? (p. 145)

Churches don’t die. God’s voice in them dies. (p. 200)

God uses the circumstances of life to ripen people to the gospel. (p. 257)

If you can’t pick the fruit, don’t bruise it. (p. 261)

The problem in the church today is that we treat God’s glory as a by-product and the missional activities of the church as the primary thing when the opposite is what Scripture demands. (p. 300)