Often there is a sentence someone says in a sermon, or a line in a book, or a verse in a song, which speaks to you as if it was written just for you. The quotes below are exactly that for me. When I first saw them, they inspired me, or they encouraged me or they just gave me a kick. They are words of life. May they speak to you as they have to me.

Am I part of the cure or am I part of the disease?

Coldplay, Clocks

Jesus has no need of apologetics. He shines through. He shines upon everyone who comes into the world and does not deliberately look away. It is my conviction that the Church should not pursue any apologetics for itself, but should instead make Jesus visible-embody Christ. That is why I try to live the way I do-to show the beauty and goodness of Christ.

– Mark Van Steenwyk

You may be 38 years old, as I happen to be. And one day, some great opportunity stands before you and call you to stand up for some great principle, some great issue, some great cause. And you refuse to do it because you are afraid.. You refuse to do it because you want to live longer. You’re afraid that you will lose your job, or you are afraid that you will be criticised or that you will lose your popularity, or you are afraid that somebody will stab you, or shoot at you, or bomb your house; so you refuse to take the stand. Well you may go on and live until you are 90, but you’re just as dead at 38 as you would be at 90. And the cessation of breathing in your life is but the belated announcement of an earlier death of the spirit.

– Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

Cowardice asks the question: Is it safe? Expediency asks the question: Is it politic? Vanity asks the question: Is it popular? But conscience asks the question: Is it right? And there comes a time when one must take a position that is neither safe, nor politic, nor popular — but he must take it simply because conscience tells him it is right.

– Martin Luther King Jr., from his address, “To Chart Our Course for the Future” (1968)

Hope is not occasioned by perfect circumstances. In fact, most of the people I know, who have great faith or hope, live in very difficult circumstances, and so they learn and trust “falling” [into faith, hope and love]. Folks who live in ease and self sufficiency, conversely, often need little faith or hope, because they never have to practice surrendering.

 – Richard Rohr

Prophets are, by their nature, inconvenient party-poopers. It is a mistaken notion that prophets can see the future. Rather, they tell us what is true right now.
– Thomas Cahill

Do what is right not only to respectable citizens, but especially to the disrespectable ones as well; be at peace not only with those who are peaceable, but especially with those who do not wish to let us live in peace.
– Dietrich Bonhoeffer

The Psalms defy our notions of profane and sacred, proving that everything we feel, witness, do unto others, and have done to us is acceptable subject matter for conversing with the Divine. They invite us to bring every part of ourselves into our houses of worship. If we omit expressions of faith lost, of rage, of disdain, and of the desire for revenge, we leave parts of ourselves at the door.
– Kari Jo Verhulst

Photo by Sias van SchalkwykWe are deeply, passionately dedicated to the cause of nonviolence, to the force of truth and love, to soul-force. To those who say that we are naive, utopian idealists, we say that we are the only realists, and that those who continue to support militarism in our time are supporting the progress towards total self-destruction of the human race.
– Betty Williams, in her 1976 Nobel Peace Prize acceptance speech

Where would we be today if certain women, men, young people, and also children had not arisen at moments when the human family seemed destined for the worst? They did not say: “Let things take their course!” Beyond the confrontations between persons, peoples, and spiritual families, they prepared a way of trusting. Their lives bear witness to the fact that human beings have not been created for hopelessness.
– Brother Roger of Taize

The big question, however, is the validity of the protest as communication. Is the current protest making any real headway in re-educating us, in giving us a new attitude toward war?  Or is it simply an outlet for the indignation, the frustration and the anxiety of those who see that the war is irrational, but fear they can do nothing to stop it?
– Thomas Merton

[N]either the stockpiling of sophisticated armaments nor an extension of territory are an adequate guarantee or a viable substitute for peace. They are illusory. The best borders are peaceful borders, and the best security lies in a truly peaceful relationship between neighbors.
– Naim Ateek from “Justice and Only Justice: A Palestinian Theology of Liberation”

The Christian message is not that “God will love us because we are good but that God will make us good because He loves us”

– C.S. Lewis

Faith is taking the first step even when you don’t see the whole staircase.
– Martin Luther King Jr.

For thus says the high and lofty one who inhabits eternity, whose name is Holy: I dwell in the high and holy place, and also with those who are contrite and humble in spirit, to revive the heart of the contrite. For I will not continually accuse, nor will I always be angry; for then the spirits would grow faint before me, even the souls that I have made.
– Isaiah 57:15-16

Let no one be discouraged by the belief there is nothing one man or one woman can do against the enormous array of the world’s ills, against misery and ignorance, injustice and violence. … Few will have the greatness to bend history itself, but each of us can work to change a small portion of events, and in the total of all those acts will be written the history of our generation.
– Robert F. Kennedy

I swore never to be silent whenever and wherever human beings enduresuffering and humiliation. We must always take sides. Neutrality helps the oppressor, never the victim. Silence encourages the tormentor, never the tormented.
– Elie Wiesel

To show great love for God and our neighbour we need not do great things. It is how much love we put in the doing that makes our offering something beautiful for God.
– Mother Teresa

We are reclaiming a world precariously on the edge. We take action not with arrogance and certainty, but with humility and uncertainty. It is our giving that counts – not our success. But in selfless giving, we have victories. And through everyday actions, we reweave the web of life.
– Vandana Shiva

Whatever may be the tensions and the stresses of a particular day, there is always lurking close at hand the trailing beauty
of forgotten joy or unremembered peace.
– Howard Thurman

The helping of others, the giving of alms, and all external goods don’t calm the arrogance of the heart. Humility of the mind, the pain of repentance and the breaking of the will, however, humble the proud spirit.
– Elder Joseph the Hesychast

Because Jesus’ teachings are so challenging and radical, it is much more comfortable to focus on a quiet, private, personal relationship with him than it is to follow his teachings that call for a public prophetic witness.
– Alvin Alexi Currier

Whoever loves true prayer and yet becomes angry or resentful is his own enemy. He is like a man who wants to see clearly and yet inflicts damage on his own eyes.
– Evgarius the Solitary
Treatise on Prayer, 64.

All travelers, somewhere along the way, find it necessary to check their course, to see how they are doing. We wait until we are sick, or shocked into stillness, before we do the commonplace thing of getting our bearings. And yet, we wonder why we are depressed, why we are unhappy, why we lose our friends, why we are ill-tempered. This condition we pass on to our children, our husbands, our wives, our associates, our friends. Cultivate the mood to linger. … Who knows? God may whisper to you in the quietness what [God] has been trying to say to you, oh, for so long a time.
– Howard Thurman

Now and then, set aside for yourself a day on which, without hindrance, you can be at leisure to praise God and to make amends for all the praise and thanksgiving you have neglected all the days of your life to render to God for all the good he has done. This will be a day of praising and thanksgiving and a day of jubilation, and you will celebrate the memory of that radiant praise with which you will be jubilant to the Lord for eternity, when you will be satisfied fully by the presence of God, and the glory of the Lord will fill your soul.
– Gertrude the Great

The object of life, according to Jesus, is breathtakingly simple: Be rich toward God. Don’t spend your life playing Master of the Board. It’s a sucker’s game. You can’t beat the house. But you can be rich toward God. Your life – with God’s help – can be a source of pleasure to the God of the universe. You can make God smile.

When the game is over, all that will matter will be God’s assessment of our lives. Venture capitalists and Hollywood stars and school janitors and Somalian tribesmen will stand in line before him on level ground.

From “When the Game Is Over, It All Goes Back in the Box”
by John Ortberg

To attain the promises of God, we need above all continuous exercise in the virtues; for however firm one’s commitment to some good may be, if it is not renewed daily, it quickly dies out.

– John Trithemius

from the ‘Rule’, quoted in Essential Monastic Wisdom: Writings on the Contemplative Life by Hugh Feiss.

Jesus’ approach is always fresh, surprising, new, and unexpected. Consequently, it always provoked a direct reaction…. He shattered firmly formed convictions and beliefs. He often used nonreligious language, avoiding the religious language of his contemporaries, a language that had been used so long, and so often by so many people, that it had lost its meaning almost completely. He continually used examples from everyday life to express himself.

– Joseph G. Donders

Photo by Kym McLeodWe realise that we cannot grab people by their intellectual lapels and argue them into accepting Jesus by (as Dietrich Bonhoeffer put it) pouncing on their weakness and insisting that they can only find fulfilment in him. A lot of them simply won’t know what we are talking about. But with C. S. Lewis I affirm that every mature human person knows in his or her subconsciousness that life is empty without a transcendent source, foundation, and goal.

While there may not be a “God-shaped empty place” in every human heart and while people may not be aware of being restless until they find rest in God, I believe everyone has an awareness of something lacking apart from connection with an eternal love.

From “Questions to All Your Answers: The Journey from Folk Religion to Examined Faith” by Roger E. Olson

Merely to resist evil with evil by hating those who hate us and seeking to destroy them, is actually no resistance at all. It is active and purposeful collaboration in evil that brings the Christian into direct and intimate contact with the same source of evil and hatred which inspires the acts of his enemy. It leads in practice to a denial of Christ and to the service of hatred rather than love.
– Thomas Merton
from Passion For Peace

Very often people object that nonviolence seems to imply passive acceptance of injustice and evil and therefore that it is a kind of cooperation with evil. Not at all. The genuine concept of nonviolence implies not only active and effective resistance to evil but in fact a more effective resistance… But the resistance which is taught in the Gospel is aimed not at the evil-doer but at evil in its source.

– Thomas Merton

from Passion For Peace

Rest your heart in God, let yourself float on the safe waters, loving life as it comes, with all the rough weather it may bring. Give, without counting how many years are left, not worried about surviving as long as possible.

– Brother Roger

No Greater Love

To love at all is to be vulnerable. Love anything, and your heart will certainly be wrung and possibly be broken. If you want to make sure of keeping it intact, you must give your heart to no one, not even to an animal. Wrap it carefully round with hobbies and little luxuries; avoid all entanglements; lock it up safe in the casket or coffin of your selfishness. But in that casket-safe, dark, motionless, airless-it will change. It will not be broken; it will become unbreakable, impenetrable, irredeemable. The alternative to tragedy, or at least to the risk of tragedy, is damnation. The only place outside Heaven where you can be perfectly save from all the dangers and perturbations of love is Hell.

– C.S Lewis
The Four Loves

In the Hebrew language there is no word for spiritual. If you would have said to Jesus, “Jesus, how is your spiritual life?” [He would have said,] “What? What do you mean?” Because to label one area as spiritual is to label others areas not spiritual. It’s absolutely foreign to the world of the Scriptures. It’s absolutely foreign to the worldview of Jesus.

The assumption is that you are a fusion of two realms. And a human being occupies a totally unique place in the entire universe. Everything we do, we do as an integrated being–one hundred percent physical, one hundred percent spiritual. The first Christians latched on to this right away: “Whatever you do in word or in deed, do it in the name of Jesus Christ.” Every act is a spiritual act (see Colossians 3:17).

From “Everything Is Spiritual–Rob Bell”

Any movement that stresses Christlikeness comes with a cost. While we often laud Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s classic “The Cost of Discipleship,” I sometimes wonder how many Christians still read it and, even more, how many truly believe it. What I’m about to say may sound like heresy, but I believe it will be truth medicine for Christ-followers: character transformation, though dependent on grace and God’s empowerment, requires a lot of hard work, vigilant oversight, rigorous thought, self-discipline, and a life marked by repentance. It also entails surrendering to a God who is more concerned with our character than with our comfort.

From “The Beautiful Fight: Surrendering to the Transforming Presence of God Every Day of Your Life” by Gary Thomas

Clearly, the early Christians considered Jesus to be not just their Savior but also their Lord. He was the atmosphere in which they lived, worked, prayed, suffered, and loved. They understood that their happiness depended not on having things their way, but on being completely aligned with Christ, uniting themselves to his character and purposes, regardless of the personal cost.

From “Immanuel: Praying the Names of God through the Christmas Season”
by Ann Spangler

I’ve come to realize that when I refuse to face the pain of transformation, eventually I must endure the misery of my immaturity. I can drive like a Christian, or I can fork over hundreds of dollars for traffic fines. I can eat and drink in moderation, or I can spend time in a hospital. I can be selfless and loving toward my family, or I can endure the cold scorn and lack of respect of my wife and kids.

I have found, from far more experience than I care to admit, that sin overpromises and underdelivers. It shouts its promises but then mockingly reneges on its pledge. Obedience whispers its alternative but then shouts its affirmation.

From “The Beautiful Fight: Surrendering to the Transforming Presence of God Every Day of Your Life” by Gary Thomas

At first we got a kind of boost from our affliction, before we were overwhelmed by it. For a while the world seemed to look brighter, more exciting. But how about the letdown, the painful aftermath? In this program we get a real boost, not a false feeling of exhilaration but a genuine feeling of satisfaction with ourselves and a new self-respect. And we have a feeling of friendliness toward the world that is not like the sick pleasures of before. Then we thought that we were happy, but it was an illusion. Am I getting real pleasure and serenity from this program?

Hazelden thought – 10 December 2007

Having faced the personal misery and relational pain of doing things my way, having experienced the futility of living life to be noticed, and having carried the heavy burden of making pleasure my idol, I’m far more willing to pay the price for transformation. There’s pain in either direction. I may as well embrace the pain that leads me to God instead of suffer the pain of being drawn away from him.

So I hope you’ll take these words as an encouragement. Pain in this world is a foregone conclusion. The only question is whether we choose to live a life of redemptive pain or of self-destructive pain. I pray you’ll choose redemptive pain.

From “The Beautiful Fight: Surrendering to the Transforming Presence of God Every Day of Your Life” by Gary Thomas

The best way I know to enrich my relationships is to know myself better and be well trained in the skills of emotional intimacy. Intimacy is about connecting with someone emotionally and spiritually. It is not about merely sharing positive feelings or having a great se*ual connection. Intimacy means finding security in a relationship that allows you to share all of your feelings, including fear, anxiety, anger, disappointment, joy, hope, and so forth. In an intimate and safe relationship, you trust that when you do share, you will not be abandoned, criticized, or judged. That is a huge vision for what a relationship can be–and such a relationship can take a lifetime of training to develop.

From “Shattered Vows: Hope and Healing for Women Who Have Been Se*ually Betrayed” by Debra Laaser

An honest reading of the Bible reveals a God who does not shy away from awkward questions. In fact, he almost seems to welcome them. The ruined lives of Job and Naomi pose disturbing questions about God without censorship–a surprising indication that the disconcerting questions journalists are asking about God are not off-limits for us either. An honest reading also reveals a God who doesn’t explain himself. He didn’t tell Job about his earlier conversation with Satan (Job 1:6-12) and he didn’t give Naomi three good reasons why her world fell apart (Ruth 1:1-5). Both sufferers went to their graves with their whys unanswered and the ache of their losses still intact. But somehow, because they met God in their pain, both also gained a deeper kind of trust in him that weathers adversity and refuses to let go of God. Their stories coax us to get down to the business of wrestling with God instead of chasing rainbows and to employ the same kind of brutal honesty that they did, if we dare.

From “The Gospel of Ruth: Loving God Enough to Break the Rules”

by Carolyn Custis James

What shalt thou do? … Do good. Do all the good thou canst. Let thy plenty supply thy neighbor’s wants; and thou wilt never want something to do. Canst thou find none that need the necessaries of life, that are pinched with cold or hunger; none that have not raiment to put on, or a place where to lay their head; none that are wasted with pining sickness; none that are languishing in prison? If you duly considered our Lord’s words, “The poor have you always with you,” you would no more ask, “What shall I do?”

John Wesley

“On Worldly Folly”

No one left Jesus less than they were when they came to him. He spoke plainly and directly, but never destructively. Those who could hear Jesus’ message left him with a greater love for themselves, with a clearer sense of direction for their lives, and with a renewed awareness of God’s unfailing love. Those who could not hear the message left him angry and resentful yet confronted with the truth of their lives.

Paula Ripple

Called to Be Friends

To pray is to change. Prayer is the central avenue God uses to transform us.

Richard Foster
Celebration of Discipline

We long to be first, to be the centre of attention, to have control. We hate to admit it, but we can struggle with insecurity and jealousy and sometimes become threatened when others succeed. We find secret satisfaction when our rival fails. We yearn for significance, to accomplish something great.

But Jesus redirects our earthly rationale by teaching us that being great means serving, choosing to be second, stepping out of the limelight so someone else can shine. We are on our way to greatness in God’s perspective when we roll up our sleeves and offer our gifts wherever they are needed (see Mark 10:42-45).

From “The Grandmother’s Bible”
Devotion by Dawn Scott Jones

Moral courage is a rarer commodity than bravery in battle or great intelligence. Yet it is the one essential, vital quality of those who seek to change a world which yields most painfully to change.

– Robert F. Kennedy, in a speech in Capetown, South Africa, June 6, 1966

“Believing in people before they have proved themselves is the key to motivating people to reach their potential.”

John C Maxwell

Photo by Vince Petaccio (http://www.shadowsquared.com/)The thing about life that so many persons do not suspect is that it gives us something only if we are always giving something of ourselves first.

– Eugene Kennedy
Free To Be Human

Of the Seven Deadly Sins, anger is possibly the most fun. To lick your wounds, to smack your lips over grievances long past, to roll over your tongue the prospect of bitter confrontations still to come, to savor to the last toothsome morsel both the pain you are given and the pain you are giving back-in many ways it is a feast fit for a king. The chief drawback is that what you are wolfing down is yourself. The skeleton at the feast is you.

– Frederick Buechner
Wishful Thinking

It is sad to see that, in our highly competitive and greedy world, we have lost touch with the joy of giving. We often live as if our happiness depended on having. But I don’t know anyone who is really happy because of what he or she has. True joy, happiness and inner peace come from the giving of ourselves to others. A happy life is a life for others.
– Henri J.M. Nouwen
Life of the Beloved

The challenges in your life are real, but Jesus is the truth! If you will learn to praise Jesus Christ regardless of your circumstances, you will find inner freedom and joy, and you will have the strength to overcome whatever you are faced with. The joy of the Lord is such a key, because Nehemiah said, “The joy of the Lord is your strength” (Nehemiah 8:10).

If you have allowed the devil to steal the joy of the Lord from you, then you will feel weak and powerless. But when the joy of the Lord returns, you will be strong! If you feel defeated, then “strengthen the feeble hands, steady the knees that give way; say to those with fearful hearts, ‘Be strong, do not fear; your God will come'” (Isaiah 35:3-4). It is in the very nature of our God to help the oppressed (see Psalm 146:7-8).
From “Living Water” by Brother Yun

I believe the Western church is generally in the same condition as Martha. You know the truths about God’s Word in your head, but you still like to run your own lives. Like Martha, many Christians cry out, “Lord, if you had just done things according to our plans, we would never have ended up in such a mess.”

Friend, you need to realize that God is not at all interested in your plans. He is only interested in His plans! So many churches and individual believers think they should make their own plans and strategies, then ask God to bless them.

The almighty God is not our servant! He does not do what we tell Him to do.
Many Christians need to climb down from the throne they have built for themselves, fall on their faces before God and do whatever the Master tells them to do.
From “Living Water” by Brother Yun

Justice is what love looks like in public.
– Cornel West
From Call and Response, a documentary on global slavery.

Those who are slaves to pride do anything to maintain the illusion that they are more capable, more worthy, and more significant than others. Pride prompts people to do any number of horrible acts to those they think are lesser beings than themselves. Pride is the original sin–it was Satan’s sin in heaven and the sin he promotes among human beings (see Isaiah 14:13). And pride before God is absurd as well as deadly. “The Lord sustains the humble but casts the wicked to the ground,” says Psalm 147:6.

The cure for pride is cultivating humility. Humility is being honest about who we really are before God. Humility is recognizing who God is: The King of kings and the Lord of lords. Being empty before God is the only way he can fill us with himself.
From “New Women’s Devotional Bible”

Dear God, please make me the person my dog thinks I am.
– Anon.

God does not share his love between all of his creatures; he gives *all* of his love to *each* of his creatures!’

– Hugh of St. Victor

We can move in the direction of justice, but if our personal relationships don’t become more human, we haven’t moved in the direction of the reign of God and, in the long run, we will discover that our point of arrival is just another form of tyranny.

Arturo Paoli

Photo by Brett TheriaultAll throughout history, the church of Jesus Christ has grown through the consecrated lives of committed men and women, irrespective of their social, economic or educational background. Peasants have testified before kings, and farmers have been used mightily by God to shake whole nations. God even once chose a shepherd boy to be king of Israel!

The way of the world is always to look at human credentials as the prerequisite for success. We look for the strongest, most attractive, most educated, thinking that God’s work can be accomplished through human effort. God, however, clearly uses a different set of scales when he weighs a person. He looks at the character and heart of each individual.
– Brother Yun

Esther did not set out to be queen, but once she was on the throne, she had to decide between a shadow mission of safety, wealth, and power and her God-given mission of saving her people (see Esther 4:6-16).

What is your position? Maybe it involves your job, your marriage, your tasks as a parent, or your friendships. Maybe your position includes going to school. Maybe it involves the neighborhood where you live, or volunteering, or your church. One thing is for sure: This is your time. Not some other situation. Not tomorrow or yesterday. We are often tempted to think that we are treading water right now, waiting for some other time, some more important position. You don’t get to choose your time; your time chooses you. You are where and who you are for a reason.

From “When the Game Is Over It All Goes Back in the Box” by John Ortberg

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