Two Quotes from Jerome

On the benefit of obeying Jesus’ words to the rich young man in Matthew 19:

“It is an act of apostolic perfection and of perfect virtue to sell all one has and to give to the poor—thus becoming weightless and unimpeded and flying up with Christ toward heavenly delights.”-Jerome, in Bonaventure, Defense of the Mecidants, ch.7.

And on preaching what we ourselves have not done:

“I exalt virginity to heaven, not because it is mine, but because I more greatly admire what I do not have. Preaching to others a quality lacking in oneself, this indeed amounts to a frank and embarrassing confession. But if I am held down to earth by the weight of my body, is this reason enough not to admire the flight of birds?” (Jerome in letter to Pammachius, qtd in Bonaventure ch.7, p.141)

Source: Bonaventure, Defense of the Mendicants, in The Works of Bonaventure,
trans. José de Vinck, v. 4: Defense of the Mendicants.

Origen on Windows in Scripture

“And as for the apostolic epistles, what man who is skilled in literary interpretation would think them to be plain and easily understood, when even in them there are thousands of passages that provide, as if through a window, a narrow opening leading to multitudes of the deepest thoughts?”
Origen,  On First Principles

Read Your Bible More and More – Desiring God

Read Your Bible More and More – Desiring God.

I love the first two reasons Piper gives as to why reading the Bible everyday (whether one feels like it or not) is not legalism.

  1. You are confessing your lack of desire as sin, and pleading as a helpless child for the desire you long to have. Legalists don’t cry like that. They strut.
  2. You are reading out of desperation for the effects of this heavenly medicine. Bible-reading is not a cure for a bad conscience; it’s chemo for your cancer. Legalists feel better because the box is checked. Saints feel better when their blindness lifts, and they see Jesus in the word. Let’s get real. We are desperately sick with worldliness, and only the Holy Spirit, by the word of God, can cure this terminal disease.

I actually founds this as I searched DG for “daily Bible reading” to see what Piper or some other might have to say to “stir me up” and rekindle my fire for reading the Word before breakfast each day. Why do I go to DG? Because a true friend tells you what you need to hear instead of what you want to hear, and I can often count on the folks at DG for that, and Piper is simply the most motivating advocate of daily reading of the Word in personal and/or corporate devotions, but especially the former.

Let us continue the race of faith, slowly and steadily, always quick to listen and slow to speak, humbly and boldly.

via Read Your Bible More and More – Desiring God.

Tim Keller – Christ Is Your King

“Democracy is medicine, not food.” -C.S. Lewis

We all worship something or someone, admittedly it or not, so choose the real king: Jesus Christ.

Tim Keller – Christ Is Your King

As Keller gives instruction on how to treat Jesus like a king, namely, to accept whatever he gives (including orders), in prayer, Keller recalls a stanza of John Newton’s hymn, which I like:

“Thou art coming to a King,

Large petitions with thee bring;

For His grace and power are such,

None can ever ask too much;

None can ever ask too much.”  

via Tim Keller – Christ Is Your King 

As Much as I Love Books and Literature: Marginalia

As much as I love books and literature, the books in my library are not eternal. Every physical book I own is in the process of returning to dust—“For you are paper pulp and to paper pulp you shall return.” I keep this in mind when I uncap a pen and begin scrawling my notes into the pages of a book. My books are not fragile museum pieces to archive behind a glass display; my books are well-worn hand tools—hammers, tin snips, measuring tapes, and vice grips—to help me remodel my brain.

-Tony Reinke in Lit!: A Christian Guide to Reading Books

“We Have Cause to Be Uneasy” and The Quotable *Mere Christianity*

As so often happens, my wife received a phone call from a friend asking questions about her faith and how one can trust that the Bible as true.

The time was 10:00pm, and since I was in a place to consider sleep, I reached for my Kindle and thought to browse the “Theo”(logy) section for some titles that might be of use to my wife’s discussion.

First, I saw Dr. R.C. Sproul’s “Can I Trust the Bible?” and as great as it is, I did not find that for which I was hoping. I was about to give up when I saw that classic title: “Mere Christianity” — always worth a read. Lewis didn’t say what I was looking for either, but I was hooked.

The first paragraph which my eyes came across — when I skipped around the work’s natural order — was worth highlighting. (That in itself is noteworthy, considering how unpleasant highlighting can be on the oldest, most basic Kindle). Once the highlighting was completed, I realized the next paragraph was a continuation of the genius that was the previous paragraph. [Spend another 30 seconds highlighting the next paragraph.] Not too long thereafter, lo and behold: another highlight-worthy passage. We could almost underline or highlight the whole book…

Thus, here they are — probably over-quoted but worth the re-read again and again — from the first book’s fifth chapter. (NOTE: this is in not meant to be a comprehensive list of the work’s best quotes. These are the paragraphs that captivated me in my ten minute gander, before provoking me to rise again and share them on the blog.) Now…

You may have felt you were ready to listen to me as long as you thought I had anything new to say; but if it turns out to be only religion, well, the world has tried that and you cannot put the clock back. If anyone is feeling that way I should like to say three things to him.

First, as to putting the clock back. Would you think I was joking if I said that you can put a clock back, and that if the clock is wrong it is often a very sensible thing to do? But I would rather get away from that whole idea of clocks. We all want progress. But progress means getting nearer to the place where you want to be. And if you have taken a wrong turning, then to go forward does not get you any nearer. If you are on the wrong road, progress means doing an about turn and walking back to the right road; and in that case the man who turns back soonest is the most progressive man. We have all seen this when doing arithmetic.

When I have started a sum the wrong way, the sooner I admit this and go back and start over again, the faster I shall get on. There is nothing progressive about being pigheaded and refusing to admit a mistake. And I think if you look at the present state of the world, it is pretty plain that humanity has been making some big mistake. We are on the wrong road. And if that is so, we must go back. Going back is the quickest way on.

Of course, I quite agree that the Christian religion is, in the long run, a thing of unspeakable comfort. But it does not begin in comfort; it begins in the dismay I have been describing, and it is no use at all trying to go on to that comfort without first going through that dismay. In religion, as in war and everything else, comfort is the one thing you cannot get by looking for it. If you look for truth, you may find comfort in the end; if you look for comfort you will not get either comfort or truth– only soft soap and wishful thinking to being with and, in the end, despair. Most of us have got over the prewar wishful thinking about international politics. It is time we did the same about religion.

Future Glory and Forgetting the Past

This morning I read in Genesis the forty-first chapter and noticed something new to me: Joseph forgets his past suffering, because God has blessed him so greatly. Are we all capable of receiving such blessing that we might be able forget all of the past pain?

Here are the verses in which I learned about Joseph forgetting the old misfortunes:

Before the year of famine came, two sons were born to Joseph. Asenath, the daughter of Potiphera priest of On, bore them to him. Joseph called the name of the firstborn Manasseh. “For,” he said, “God has made me forget all my hardship and all my father’s house.” The name of the second he called Ephraim, “For God has made me fruitful in the land of my affliction.” (Genesis 41:50-52, ESV)

How beautiful it is that God did not only make Joseph fruitful and happy, but God did so for Joseph in the same place Joseph was in during his worst period of suffering.  Moreover, it was so good that Joseph forgot about the slavery he was in before the sunshine came.

The apostle Paul adds insight here:

“For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal. (2 Corinthians 4:17-18, ESV, emphasis added)

By the way, if you haven’t read The Weight of Glory, by C.S. Lewis, the book is well worth the time and money.

Lewis writes therein, “At present we are on the outside of the world, the wrong side of the door. We discern the freshness and purity of morning, but they do not make us fresh and pure. We cannot mingle with the splendours we see. But all the leaves of the New Testament are rustling with the rumour that it will not always be so. Some day, God willing, we shall get in.”

Paul adds again, “I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us. (Romans 8:18, ESV)

One day, God will right all the wrongs and bless you who would be in Christ out of this world and into a far, far better one that is unimaginably fantastic, yet — real.  That is not to say this one is to be tossed out and forgotten just yet.  Uncertain as we are as to how long it shall take us to get to the next world, it is our duty to make this one as much like the next as possible.

Fatherhood According to Piper (plus his relocation to Knoxville)

John Piper steps away in Knoxville for a year of writing and reflection, and shares his thoughts on fatherhood » Knoxville News Sentinel.

Dads, start with being a son, and I mean a son of God, and if you’re not a son of God get that right through faith in Jesus. Start by being reconciled to your Father.

“Secondly, don’t let your imperfections presently and failures of the past dictate your efforts at love in the future. I think all of us, if we are honest, look back and say, ‘Good night, I could have done this better!’ Because you learn so much as you get old. You learn from your grown kids, really. And it’s easy then to be paralyzed.

God is in the business of taking a mess and making it useful in the future. Don’t let the past failures hinder your future with your kids. Your kids may be 40, 50 years old, and you can venture new things, you can reach out in new ways to them because God is a God of redemption.

via John Piper on Fatherhood (plus his relocation to Knoxville).