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Posts Tagged ‘quotes’

A Message From John McCain

These are difficult times for our country. And I pledge to [Barack Obama] tonight to do all in my power to help him lead us through the many challenges we face…I urge all Americans who supported me to join me in not just congratulating him, but offering our next president our good will and earnest effort to find ways to come together to find the necessary compromises to bridge our differences and help restore our prosperity, defend our security in a dangerous world, and leave our children and grandchildren a stronger, better country than we inherited. Whatever our differences, we are fellow Americans. And please believe me when I say no association has ever meant more to me than that.

Read the full text of the speech here.

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I just got back from a pretty incredible week in Slovakia with our high school students. For the past few years, I’ve become more and more convinced of the effectiveness of service projects as outreach / evangelism events. Though in our ministry, they are explicitly designed as “growth” events for Christian teens, we always see unchurched or disinterested kids meet and trust Christ for the first time during service projects. This year, instead of just seeing that as a by-product of the event, we pursued it as a primary goal. We actively invited all teens, regardless of spiritual belief, to attend the project. However, we desperately wanted to avoid tricking anyone or pulling a bait-and-switch; we made it abundantly clear in pre-trip meetings that this trip was about dying to ourselves and participating in the body of Christ in service to his world. We had one or two kids consider dropping out when they discovered how much of a “God thing” this trip was. But once again, no one was scared away, and this year more than ever before, we saw the Holy Spirit moving radically in students’ lives, including (or even especially) teens who did not previously express any belief in or commitment to Jesus. I think service projects work evangelistically because instead of simply presenting some basic facts about Jesus to be believed, we’re inviting people to come and “try him on.” We provide an opportunity for all participants (whether or not they actually “are Christians”) to live the life Jesus has called us into: self-sacrifice, loving one another, serving, prayer, worshiping in community. Turns out, that life is attractive. We facilitate a subjective experience to provide something for our students to connect themselves with Jesus, the truth (with a capital “T” if you like). To affirm a potentially cliche phrase: we seek to provide transformation before information.

Of course, following an event like this, I think that we leaders now have a significant responsibility to provide that information while simultaneously nurturing the transformation students experienced. I think one of the first bits of “information” to relay is to provide some perspective and appropriate expectations regarding how God uses spiritual mountaintop experiences, like the one our students just lived. In Scripture, when God dramatically reveals himself on the mountain, the witnesses (such as Moses in Exodus 34, Elijah in I Kings 19, and Peter, James and John in Luke 9) are immediately sent back down the mountain into significant conflict to minister. The three disciples are not allowed to build even temporary dwellings on the mountain. The first time I ever went on a youth service project (as a Club Beyond volunteer, Czech ’99), one of the other volunteers came across an Oswald Chambers devotion that was astonishingly appropriate for that group. It was the April 16 entry from My Utmost for His Highest, which happened to be the day we were traveling home. After almost every service project I’ve attended since, I’ve read the team that devotion during the return trip or soon after. The gist of it is that we are not meant to live on our spiritual mountaintops, but we are meant to live according to what we’ve learned while there. As I prepared for this year’s iteration of the “Chambers talk,” I came across a page of quotations that reveal this idea to be one of Chambers’ recurring themes. I pasted a few of my favorites below. Some speak into the tension between the importance of the subjective experience (so key in postmodern theology and thought) and the need to submit that experience to the objective supremacy of Christ (a perhaps more modernist value). OK, on re-reading, that sentence sounds way too high-falutin’. Just enjoy these thoughts from Oswald:

The greatest hindrance of our spiritual life lies in looking for big things to do; Jesus Christ “took a towel…..” We are not meant to be illuminated versions; we are meant to be the common stuff of ordinary human life exhibiting the marvel of the grace of God. The snare in the Christian life is looking for the gilt-edge moments, the thrilling times; there are times when there is no illumination and no thrill, when God’s angel is the routine of drudgery on the level of towels and washing feet. Are we prepared to ‘get a move on’ there? Routine is God’s way of saving us between moments of inspiration. We are not to expect Him to give us His thrilling minutes always.

God does not expect us to imitate Jesus Christ: He expects us to allow the life of Jesus to be manifested in our mortal flesh.

People stagnate because they never get beyond the image of their experience into the life of God which transcends all experience. Jesus Christ Himself is the Revelation, and all our experiences must be traced back to Him and kept there.

Nowadays the great passion is the passion for souls, but you never find that passion mentioned in the New Testament, it is the passion for Christ that the New Testament mentions. It is not a passion for men that saves men; a passion for men breaks human hearts. The passion for Christ inwrought by the Holy Ghost goes deeper down than the deepest agony the world, the flesh and the devil can produce.

None of this is experience, it is a life; experience is the door that opens into the life. When we have had an experience the snare is that we want to go back to it. Leave experiences alone, let them come or go. God wants our lives to be absolutely centered in Himself.

Jesus Christ must be greater than any experience of Him.

And finally, the one that I find almost constantly convicting me and driving me to reflection and repentance:

The test of Christianity is that a man lives better than he preaches.

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Another Nouwen quote that really rung my bell today:

O Lord, thinking about you, being fascinated with theological ideas and discussions, being excited about histories of Christian spirituality and stimulated by thoughts and ideas about prayer and meditation, all of this can be as much an expression of greed as the unruly desire for food, possessions, or power.

Every day I see again that only you can teach me to pray, only you can set my heart at rest, only you can let me dwell in your presence. No book, no idea [including this one], no concept or theory will ever bring me close to you unless you yourself are the one who lets these instruments become the way to you. – Henri Nouwen, A Cry for Mercy

If/when I go to seminary, I think I need to print out this prayer and laminate it and put it on or over my desk. Just listened to a Rob Bell sermon today (Jan 27th on the link) that reinforced the idea that there is a difference between knowing something with your mind and really knowing something with your heart, soul, and life. I love it when God let’s me hear something twice in one day from two different sources.

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