“We are human, but we don’t wage war with human plans and methods. We use God’s mighty weapons, not mere worldly weapons, to knock down the Devil’s strongholds. With these weapons we break down every proud argument that keeps people from knowing God. With these weapons we conquer their rebellious ideas, and we teach them to obey Christ” (2 Cor. 10:3-5).
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” . . . who can resist the strength of a faithful, gentle and humble soul? These qualities are . . . the weapons we need to overcome all our enemies. Jesus Christ has placed them in our hands so we can defend ourselves. Once we know how to use them, we need fear nothing. We must not be cowardly, but act with a noble courage, and then we shall be able to use these God-given weapons.”
“Who is Lucifer? He is a radiant angel and the most enlightened of all, but an angel hostile to God and His designs. The mystery of sin is merely the result of this hostility, which manifests itself in every possible way. Lucifer does all he can to ensure that all that God has made and governs is overthrown. Wherever he gets a foothold, the work of God is defaced. The more knowledge and intelligence a person has, the more misgivings we should have about him unless he has not that basic piety which consists in being happy to serve God and do all He wants. A well-disposed heart unites us with God’s will. Without it, we behave according to our natural impulses and usually fight against the divine plans. God, strictly speaking, uses only the humble as His instruments. Yet, to fulfill His designs, He makes use of those proud folk who defy Him as His slaves. Whenever I come across a soul who thinks only of God and His will, I pay no attention to any other qualities [he] . . . may lack, but declare: ‘This is a soul with a genius for serving God. . . .’ A host of other talents without this surpassing virtue terrify me, and I suspect the activity of Lucifer. I stay on my guard and brace myself in opposition to all this brilliancy, which seems to me be no more than a bit of fragile glass.”
Jean-Pierre De Caussade, Abandonment to Divine Providence, 115-16.
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“Just as the sweet and cordial reproaches of a father make more of an impression on a son than his rage and anger, so also, if we reproach our heart when it commits some fault with sweet and peaceful reproaches, using more compassion than anger and arousing the heart to amend, we shall succeed in arousing a repentance which is much more profound and penetrating than that which could be aroused with resentment, anger, and anxiety …. Nevertheless, detest with all your heart the offense which you have committed against God and, filled with courage and confidence in his mercy, begin again the practice of that virtue which you have abandoned.”
Francis de Sales, Introduction to the Devout Life, 3.9
“Pastor, it is plain and simple: you and I need to be pastored. One of the scandals of hordes of churches is that no one is pastoring their pastor. No one is helping him see what he is not seeing. No one is helping him examine his thoughts, desires, words, and behaviors. No one is regularly calling him to confession. No one is delineating where repentance is appropriate. No one is reaching into his discouragement with the truths of the presence, promises, and provisions of the Savior. No one is confronting his idolatry and pride. No one is alerting him to the places of temptation and danger in his life.”
“Now, you and I don’t have the liberty to just wait and hope that this happens. We need to take the initiative to seek out someone whom we respect and with whom we can build this kind of counseling relationship and commit to for the duration of our ministries. I am positing that it is not enough to do this in moments of personal discouragement and trouble. You and I need to humbly acknowledge that we need this kind of knowledgeable ministry relationship as a regular component of our ministries. In every ministry location I’ve been in, I have sought someone to pastor me. I can’t imagine living my life or doing ministry without the protection, rescue, vision, and growth that this has provided for me. And I will confess that I need to be pastored today as much as I did years ago when I began to realize that, as a pastor, I had not been called or hardwired to go it on my own.”
Paul David Tripp, Dangerous Calling: Confronting the Unique Challenges of Pastoral Ministry, 210-211.
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“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to them” (Matt. 5:3)
“It means a complete absence of pride, a complete absence of self-assurance and of self-reliance. It means a consciousness that we are nothing in the presence of God. It is nothing, then, that we can produce; it is nothing that we can do in ourselves. It is just this tremendous awareness of our utter nothingness as we come face-to-face with God. That is to be ‘poor in spirit.’ Let me put it as strongly as I can, and I will do so on the basis of the teaching of the Bible. It means this, that if we are truly Christian we shall not rely upon our natural birth. We shall not rely upon the fact that we belong to certain families; we shall not boast that we belong to certain nations or nationalities. We shall not build upon our natural temperament. We shall not believe in and rely upon our natural position in life, or any powers that may have been given to us. We shall not rely upon money or any wealth we may have. The thing about which we shall boast will not be the education we have received, or the particular school or college to which we may have been. No, all that is what Paul came to regard as ‘dung’, and a hindrance to this greater thing because it tended to master and control him. We shall not rely upon any gifts like that of natural ‘personality’, or intelligence or general or special ability. We shall not rely upon our own morality and conduct and good behaviour. We shall not bank to the slightest extent on the life we have lived or are trying to live. No; we shall regard all that as Paul regarded it. That is ‘poverty of spirit.’”
Martyn Lloyd-Jones, Studies in the Sermon on the Mount, 50.
“We cannot make progress in holiness unless we devote much time to the reading, hearing, and meditating upon the word of God, which is the truth whereby we are sanctified. The more this truth is brought before the mind; the more we commune with it, entering into its import, applying it to our own case, appropriating its principles, appreciating its motives, rejoicing in its promises, trembling at its threatenings, rising by its influence from what is seen and temporal to what is unseen and eternal, the more may we expect to be transformed by the renewing of our mind, so as to approve and love whatever is holy, just, and good.”
Charles Hodge, The Way of Life, 376-77.
“Someone, I was told, at the sight of a very beautiful body [a woman’s or man's] felt impelled to glorify the Creator. The sight of it increased his love for God to the point of tears. Anyone who entertains such feelings in such circumstances is already risen .. . before the general resurrection.”
John Climacus, The Ladder of Divine Ascent, 15th step, 58
“The unavoidable reality is that by the year 2050, projections point to a nation without an ethnic majority. In other words, the majority of Americans will be made up of current ethnic minorities. America will no longer be a Euro-centric, white nation. Furthermore, the trends seem to indicate that the non-white population among Christians is growing at a disproportional rate. In other words, American Christianity will become non-white before the rest of American society. Even now, most denominations are faced with the reality that unless they see growth among the ethnic minority population within their denomination, they will experience steady decline.”
“The problem of immigration presents an interesting dilemma for majority-culture Christians. Immigrants and ethnic minorities are saving American Christianity. Immigrants and ethnic minorities tend to be socially and morally conservative. Immigrant and ethnic minority churches are restoring spiritual vitality and fervor oftentimes missing in many white evangelical churches. Too often, the future of American evangelicalism is viewed as a battle over the heart and soul of middle-America (i.e. – white America), when the restoration of faith in American culture may actually depend on the ongoing growth of immigrant and ethnic minority Christian communities.”
Soong-Chan Rah, The Next Evangelicalism: Freeing the Church from Western Cultural Captivity, 74-75
“. . . Jesus specifically directed us to follow him in his life’s general direction, the Way of the Cross. Lest we object to bearing the cross as pietistic nonsense in a world of ‘scientific’ management principles and psychological method, simply observe that virtually all the trouble that the best, and most talented pastors get into comes from not following the Way of the Cross. The best and most talented in the pastoral ministry and in denominational hierarchies harm themselves and harm the church most through their unrestrained ego and unwillingness to step off the high places. Sexual sin gets the press, but ego sin kills the church. Jesus told us exactly what direction our lives are to take: ‘If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me’ (Mark 8:34). The power to do pastoral ministry and its central focus . . . lies specifically in the everyday, concrete following of Jesus, led by him on the Way of the Cross. . . . Paul recognized this when he told the Corinthians: ‘We always carry around in our body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may be revealed in our body. For we who are alive are always being given over to death for Jesus’ sake, so that his life may be revealed in our mortal body’ (2 Cor 4:10-11).”
David Hansen, The Art of Pastoring, Ministry without All the Answers, 27-28
Artwork by Fyodor Bronnikov (1827-1902)
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