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Quotes

July 05, 2008

Here is yet another little quote drawn from that great big book I’ve been reading. In his Old Testament Theology, Bruce Waltke is careful to prove that gender roles and differences are rooted not in society and culture but in creation. He shows that, though men and women have been created equal, man was to take the leadership role in family and in the church. This is not a result of the fall into sin but a part of the created order. This brief quote stood out to me as an example of godly submission and one that is, of course, exceedingly counter-cultural. Here we see submission not as suffering but as a glorious and meaningful expression of faith.

Mary’s response to the angel’s announcement that she would be with child, “I am the Lord’s servant. May it be to me as you have said,” models for Christian women an obedience she offers out of her freedom, her independence, and her thoughtful commitment so that her submission is meaningful and glorious, not a passive resignation to her fate.

May we all learn from Mary’s example and submit well to those God has placed over us.

July 02, 2008

I have recently been reading Bruce Waltke’s (rather large!) Old Testament Theology and came across this quote. It seemed appropriate in light of all of the attention being give to The Shack and its distinctly feminine portrayal of God. Waltke argues here that it really does matter how we think of God and how we address Him.

God, who is over all, represents himself by masculine names and titles, not feminine ones. He identifies himself as Father, Son, and Spirit, not Parent, Child, and Spirit, nor Mother, Daughter, and Spirit. Jesus taught his church to address God as “Father” (Luke 11:2) and to baptize disciples “in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit” (Matt. 28:19). God’s titles are King, not Queen; Lord, not Lady. God, not mortals, has the right to name himself. It is inexcusable hubris and idolatry on the part of mortals to change the images by which the eternal God chooses to represent himself. We cannot change God’s names, titles, or metaphors without committing idolatry, for we will have reimagined him in a way other than the metaphors and the incarnation by which he revealed himself. His representations and incarnation are inseparable from his being.

June 02, 2008

What follows are three quotes from Leonard Sax’s book Boys Adrift. I am going to post a full review of the book soon, but for now suffice it to say that if you have boys or you are a boy (or a young man), you need to read this book!

Forty years ago, even thirty years ago, there was no shame in a young man choosing a career in the trades. Beginning in the early 1980s-and particularly after publication of the Nation at Risk report in 1983-a consensus grew in the United States that every young person should go to college, regardless. “Vocational education” lost whatever prestige it had, and came to be viewed in some quarters very nearly as a dumping ground for the mildly retarded.”

Traditionally, one of the factors driving Western society has been the fact that women prefer successful, affluent men over men who are less successful. Because men understood that women would be reluctant to marry men who couldn’t comfortably support a wife and children, men were motivated to be successful. That simple mechanism has suffered a double whammy in the past forty years. First, sex has been divorced from marriage. Second-and here’s what’s really disturbing to those of us in the over-thirty crowd-sexual satisfaction has been divorced from women altogether.”

Thirty years ago, if a boy cursed his parents and spit at his teacher, the neighbors might say that the boy was a disobedient brat who needed a good spanking. Today, the same behavior from a similar boy might well prompt a trip to the pediatrician or the child psychiatrist. And the doctor is likely to ‘diagnose’ the boy with Conduct Disorder (DSM-IV 312.82) or Oppositional-Defiant Disorder (DSM-IV 313.81). The main criterion for both these ‘disorders’ is disobedient and disrespectful behavior that persists despite parental efforts.’ Is there really much of a difference between a neighbor saying ‘That boy is a disobedient brat,’ and a doctor saying ‘That boy has oppositional-defiant disorder’? I think there is. If another parent whom you trust and respect suggests that your son is a disobedient brat who needs stricter discipline, you just might consider adopting a tougher parenting.”

May 25, 2008

Continuing my new habit of posting prayers on Sunday, here is a prayer for Scriptural convictions. It is once more drawn from The Valley of Vision. It seemed appropriate in a week I’ve been considering how I tend not to regard Scripture as the treasure it is. This is a prayer praising God for the gift of the Bible and asking forgiveness for regarding it so little and so lightly.


O God of love,
I approach thee with encouragements derived from thy character,
for I am not left to feel after thee in the darkness of my nature,
nor to worship thee as the unknown God.
I cannot find out thy perfections,
but I know thou art good,
ready to forgive, plenteous in mercy.
Thou hast displayed thy wisdom, power, and goodness in all thy works,
and hast revealed thy will in the Scripture of truth.
Thou hast caused it to be preserved, translated, published, multiplied,
so that all men may possess it and find thee in it.
Here I see thy greatness and thy grace,
thy pity and thy rectitude,
thy mercy and thy truth,
thy being and men’s hearts;
Through it thou hast magnified thy name,
and favoured mankind with the gospel.
Have mercy on me,
for I have ungratefully received thy benefits,
little improved my privileges,
made light of spiritual things,
disregarded thy messages,
contended with examples of the good,
rebukes of conscience, admonitions of friends, leadings of providence.
I deserve that thy kingdom be taken away from me.
Lord, I confess my sin with feeling, lamentation, a broken heart,
a contrite spirit, self-abhorrence, self-condemnation, self-despair.
Give me relief by Jesus my hope,
faith in his name of Saviour,
forgiveness by his blood,
strength by his presence,
holiness by his Spirit:
And let me love thee with all my heart.

May 20, 2008

Here is a quote sent to me by a reader of this site. It is drawn from Precious Remedies Against Satan’s Devices by Thomas Brooks. It is well worth pondering (and, in a case of good timing, was something I was pondering this morning as I opened the Bible to Psalm 19).

Remember, it is not hasty reading, but serious meditating upon holy and heavenly truths, that make them prove sweet and profitable to the soul. It is not the bee’s touching of the flower that gathers honey, but her abiding for a time upon the flower that draws out the sweet. It is not he that reads most, but he that meditates most, that will prove the choicest, sweetest, wisest, and strongest Christian.

May 05, 2008

Here is a quote from Mortimer Adler, author of the classic How to Read a Book. In this piece he explains the importance of making a book your own.


There are two ways in which one can own a book. The first is the property right you establish by paying for it, just as you pay for clothes and furniture. But this act of purchase is only the prelude to possession. Full ownership comes only when you have made it a part of yourself, and the best way to make yourself a part of it is by writing in it. An illustration may make the point clear. You buy a beefsteak and transfer it from the butcher’s icebox to your own. But you do not own the beefsteak in the most important sense until you consume it and get it into your bloodstream. I am arguing that books, too, must be absorbed in your blood stream to do you any good.

Confusion about what it means to “own” a book leads people to a false reverence for paper, binding, and type — a respect for the physical thing — the craft of the printer rather than the genius of the author. They forget that it is possible for a man to acquire the idea, to possess the beauty, which a great book contains, without staking his claim by pasting his bookplate inside the cover. Having a fine library doesn’t prove that its owner has a mind enriched by books; it proves nothing more than that he, his father, or his wife, was rich enough to buy them.

There are three kinds of book owners. The first has all the standard sets and best sellers — unread, untouched. (This deluded individual owns woodpulp and ink, not books.) The second has a great many books — a few of them read through, most of them dipped into, but all of them as clean and shiny as the day they were bought. (This person would probably like to make books his own, but is restrained by a false respect for their physical appearance.) The third has a few books or many — every one of them dog-eared and dilapidated, shaken and loosened by continual use, marked and scribbled in from front to back. (This man owns books.) …

But the soul of a book “can” be separate from its body. A book is more like the score of a piece of music than it is like a painting. No great musician confuses a symphony with the printed sheets of music. Arturo Toscanini reveres Brahms, but Toscanini’s score of the G minor Symphony is so thoroughly marked up that no one but the maestro himself can read it. The reason why a great conductor makes notations on his musical scores — marks them up again and again each time he returns to study them—is the reason why you should mark your books. If your respect for magnificent binding or typography gets in the way, buy yourself a cheap edition and pay your respects to the author.

April 30, 2008

I guess it is about time the semicolon got its due. Here’s a little excerpt of a book I ran across recently. It is written by Lewis Thomas (whoever that is or was…):

I have grown fond of semicolons in recent years. The semicolon tells you that there is still some question about the preceding full sentence; something needs to be added; it reminds you sometimes of the Greek usage. It is almost always a greater pleasure to come across a semicolon than a period. The period tells you that that is that; if you didn’t get all the meaning you wanted or expected, anyway you got all the writer intended to parcel out and now you have to move along. But with a semicolon there you get a pleasant little feeling of expectancy; there is more to come; read on; it will get clearer.

I will also include Thomas’ thoughts on the ever-annoying exclamation mark. I do so for the benefit of my friends David and Paul who have had discussions about this very topic. In fact, David sought out Paul at Together for the Gospel precisely so he could meet him and tell him to stop using so many of them. I think Thomas would be on your side, David!!!

Exclamation points are the most irritating of all. Look! they say, look at what I just said! How amazing is my thought! It is like being forced to watch someone else’s small child jumping up and down crazily in the center of the living room shouting to attract attention. If a sentence really has something of importance to say, something quite remarkable, it doesn’t need a mark to point it out. And if it is really, after all, a banal sentence needing more zing, the exclamation point simply emphasizes its banality!

You can read the rest of Thomas’ thoughts on punctuation here.

April 28, 2008

Over the weekend I read an advanced reading copy of Crazy Love by Francis Chan (a book that is due for publication in May). You may not know the name, but you may well have seen his “Just Stop and Think” movie where he walks along a beach with a surfboard while sharing the gospel. This is Chan’s first book and I really enjoyed reading it. I’ll post a review in the near future, but for now, here is a short quote that jumped out at me, perhaps because I’ve been thinking along the same lines lately.


A while back I had a free evening, so I decided to go to the store and buy some items to give away to those who needed them more than I do. It was a good idea, something I want my life to be characterized by more and more.

But it was embarrassing.

I realized that everyone I knew had enough, that I didn’t know many people who were truly in need, and that I need to change that. I needed to go and intentionally meet people who don’t live like I do or think like I do, people who could never repay me. For their sake but for my own as well.

April 24, 2008

Lydia Brownback, author and editor extraordinaire, has recently released a couple of books in a new “On-the-Go Devotional” series. Written for women, “On-the-Go Devotionals easily tuck into a purse or gym bag and make great gifts. Each lesson is self-contained, with Scripture and a paragraph or two of teaching that will steer women away from worldly coping techniques, away from themselves and their circumstances, and onto God and their security in Christ.” The first in series is Trust: A Godly Woman’s Adornment and the second Contentment: A Godly Woman’s Adornment. Aileen has been reading them, enjoying them and benefiting from them. Husbands: these are two books well worth buying as a treat for your wife.

Here is a brief excerpt from a chapter in Contentment that deals with “My Share.” Though the topic in view is family squabbles over “stuff” (and really, how many families do not have shameful stories of fighting over dividing an inheritance) the application is far wider.


We can pray, “Lord, work in my sister’s heart so that she sees how unfair this is,” but the answer we will get is the same answer that Jesus game to this man: “Man, who made me an judge or arbitrator over you?” (Luke 12:14). And he turned to all who were listening and said to them, “Take care, and be on your guard against all covetousness, for one’s life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions” (v. 15).

The first thing Jesus did was to clear up misconceptions about who he is (v.14). He did that then, and he does it today. We will never know contentment in Christ if we seek him as a divine referee, however unfairly we may have been treated. His work in our lives is not about making sure we get the maximum benefits in the here and now, even when we are entitled to those benefits. In fact, real contentment often comes when we willingly embrace the loss of them.

The second thing Jesus does is reveal the spirit of covetousness that underlies most of our prayers about obtaining our share. Fighting over things is something we are to guard against because all such fighting is sin. But Jesus does more than simply place his finger on the sin problem; he provides a remedy for it by redirecting our thinking to the place of peace. We will never find contentment—freedom from that angry feeling of unfairness—by getting the things that are rightfully ours. We will find it by letting go of our entitlement to them.

April 23, 2008

Here is another excerpt from James Spiegel’s Gum, Geckos and God. This brief passage deals with how and why we trust God (or fail to trust God).


The other day I was sitting in a faculty meeting, trying not to doze off during some committee reports. As I looked around, I mused over how much each of my colleagues understands about his or her discipline. It occurred to me that if there was a single mind that possessed all of the knowledge in that room, its intelligence would be surpassed in human history. I also considered how easy it would be to trust such a person if he or she were to counsel me on some matter. From there I extrapolated: What if that person had all of the combined knowledge of everyone in Indiana? In the United States? Of the entire world population? Even if God had merely the sum of all human understanding, he should be easy to trust. Yet his wisdom and knowledge infinitely exceed the best human comprehension. Still we struggle to trust him. How twisted is that?

Faith is essentially the practice of trust. And our routine failure to properly trust an infinitely wise God reveals something of our own perversity. We all desire to control our circumstances, and faith is a surrendering of that control. So we naturally tend to rebel against faith. But God graciously counteracts this tendency by nurturing us. Like a good parent, he consistently demonstrates his love. And we, like kids, must trust him on this basis.

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