Here's a sampling of some of the things I've been reading and reviewing this week. The hope is that these bite-sized sections of books, articles, blog posts, etc will stand on their own and be beneficial (or at least thought-provoking!) in-and-of-themselves. But I also hope that some of you will like these excerpts enough that they pull you into the larger work from which they've been taken.
Let's start sampling:
Mark Labberton, Called: The Crisis and Promise of Following Jesus Today. IVP Books, 2014. p. 48:
"The full vocation of the church today is to follow Jesus in the declaration and enactment of the kingdom. This involves all we are and all we have. It's a call to nothing less than God's work of re-creation, in which all things will be made new.
"As far reaching as this vocation is, it is played out in the small and the ordinary as well as in the large and in the exceptional. Our gifts and context help shape our contributions, but even before we know what those are, even before God gives clarity to our focus or concentration in kingdom life, even before we have a namable 'job' or 'mission,' we are called to imitate Jesus Christ. As Blaise Pascal said so well, 'Do little things as if they were great, because of the majesty of Jesus Christ who does them in us, and who lives our life; and do the greatest things as though they were little and easy, because of his omnipotence.'"
Matt Perman, What's Best Next: How the Gospel Transforms the Way You Get Things Done. Zondervan, 2014. pp. 169-70:
"It's strange that sometimes there is an aversion in the church to thinking big. Perhaps this comes from the good tendency to realize that we ought to always value small things as well as big things, that caring only about big things and despising small things is not the Christian way.
"But it is a fallacy to let our legitimate concerns for small things lead to a despising of big things. We can - and must - value both. No one captures this better than Charles Bridges. In his commentary on Proverbs 3:18, he writes, 'Do not despise the day of small things (Zech. 4:10). But do not be satisfied with it either. Aim high, and you will come closer to reaching the mark. Religion must be a shining and progressive light. We must not mistake the beginning for the end of the course. We must not sit down at the entrance and say to our soul, "Take it easy now." There is no point where we may rest in complacency, as if there were no loftier heights that it is our duty to climb.'
"God is a big God (Jer. 32:27), he has given us a gigantic task (Matt. 28:18-20), and he is able to do abundantly more than we can even ask or imagine (Eph 3:20). Thinking small, merely, is not the Christian thing to do.
"As Dave Harvey shows in his excellent book Rescuing Ambition, God never intended true humility to be a fabric softener for our aspirations. We aren't to be ambitious for our own honor or glory. But we are to be ambitious for God's honor and glory, radically so. 'Dreaming and doing things for God is the evidence, the effect, and the expectation of genuine faith.'"
Blaise Pascal, "A Prayer of Pascal, Asking God to Use Sickness in His Life Appropriately." In Mind on Fire: A Faith for the Skeptical and Indifferent, ed by James M. Houston. Bethany House, 1997. p. 285:
"O Lord, whose Spirit is so good and gracious in all things, and who is so merciful that not only prosperities but even the adversities that happen to your elect are the effects of your mercy, give me grace not to act like the unbelievers in the state you bring me into by your justice. Instead, like a true Christian, help me to acknowledge you as my Father and my God, in whatever circumstances you may place me. For no change of circumstances can ever alter your will for my life. You are ever the same, though I may be subject to change. You are no less God when you are afflicting and punishing me than when you are consoling and showing compassion."
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