7 Quotes Worth Sharing from “The Imitation of Christ” by Thomas à Kempis


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“Be imitators of me as I am of Christ.” —1 Corinthians  11:1 (ESV)

Thomas à Kempis’ The Imitation of Christ has a strong claim to be the most-read book ever written aside from the Bible. What The Pilgrim’s Progress is to works written in English, The Imitation of Christ is to everything ever written.

So what’s so special about it? Why have countless individuals over the centuries since its publication treasured it and read it again and again?

Here are seven quotes to give you a taste for yourself of Thomas à Kempis’ classic on the Christian life. I highly recommend it—it’s one I enjoyed,was challenged by, and know that I will reread in the future.

1. Learning Must be Accompanied by Grace and Love

What good does it do to speak learnedly about the Trinity if, lacking humility, you displease the Trinity? …I would rather feel contrition than know how to define it. For what would it profit us to know the whole Bible by heart and the principles of all the philosophers if we live without grace and the love of God? (1)

2. Liberty and joy are incomplete without the fear of the Lord.

No liberty is true and no joy is genuine unless it is founded in the fear of the Lord and a good conscience (18).

3.Christ is the Only One who will never fail us.

He who clings to a creature will fall with its frailty, but he who gives himself to Jesus will ever be strengthened….Cling, therefore, to Jesus in life and death; trust yourself to the glory of Him who alone can help you when all others fail (34).

4. Following Christ entails suffering as well as consolation.

Jesus has always many who love His heavenly kingdom, but few who bear his cross. he has many who desire consolation, but few who care for trial. He finds many to share His table, but few to take part in His fasting. All desire to be happy with Him; few wish to suffer anything for Him (39).

5. No one (or no thing) is good except God alone.

He who considers anything great except the one, immense, eternal good will long be little and lie groveling on the earth. Whatever is not God is nothing and must be accounted as nothing (79).

6. The Disciple should glory in God alone.

Let Your name, not mine, be praised. Let Your work, not mine, be magnified, Let Your holy name be blessed, but let no human praise be given to me. You are my glory. You are the joy of my heart.

7. It is Grace alone that enables any goodness on our part.

What am I without grace, but dead wood, a useless branch, fit only to be cast away?
Let your grace, therefore, go before me and follow me, O Lord, and make me always intent upon good works, through Christ Jesus, Your Son.

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5 Quotes Worth Sharing from “Home” by Marilynne Robinson


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First with Gilead and now with Home, Marilynne Robinson has cemented her place as one of my favorite authors. I might say a bit more about the book in a future upcoming post, so for now I’ll limit myself to blatantly copying an idea for a blog post I’ve seen elsewhere: sharing some of my favorite quotes from the book.

  1. “There is a saying that to understand is to forgive, but that is an error, so Papa used to say. You must forgive in order to understand….If you forgive, he would say, you may indeed still not understand, but you will be ready to understand, and that is the posture of grace.” p. 45
  2. “It expresses the will of God to sustain us in this flesh, in this life. Weary or bitter or bewildered as we may be, God is faithful. He lets us wander so we will know what it means to come home.” p. 102
  3. “Prayer, you know, you open up your thoughts, and then you can get a clear look at them. No point trying to hide anything. There is a great benefit in anything the Lord asks of us, especially in prayer.” p. 132
  4. “I suspect Scottishness is another name for predestination. It explains everything, more or less.” p. 135
  5. “It is in family that we most often feel the grace of God, His faithfulness. Yes.” p. 183

Who is one of your favorite authors that you’ve been (re?)reading recently? Or a recent discovery you’ve made?

FREEsources: “Glorious Ruin” by Tullian Tchividjian


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Tullian Tchividjian’s book “Glorious Ruin” is FREE today (6/21) for Kindle, Nook, and many other e-reader devices. Just follow the link and pick out your preferred retailer and boom-you’ve got a free book!

From the publisher:

In this world, one thing is certain: Everybody hurts. Suffering may take the form of tragedy, heartbreak, or addiction. Or it could be something more mundane (but no less real) like resentment, loneliness, or disappointment. But there’s unfortunately no such thing as a painless life. In Glorious Ruin, best-selling author Tullian Tchividjian takes an honest and refreshing look at the reality of suffering, the ways we tie ourselves in knots trying to deal with it, and the comfort of the gospel for those who can’t seem to fix themselves—or others.

This is not so much a book about Why God allows suffering or even How we should approach suffering—it is a book about the tremendously liberating and gloriously counterintuitive truth of a God who suffers with you and for you. It is a book, in other words, about the kind of hope that takes the shape of a cross.

Via David C Cook Ebooks

Book Review Roundup: July 2014


I was going to write separate reviews for two or three of these books but decided to combine them into one post and also throw in a few extra (but shorter) reviews that I might not have included otherwise. 

17675008Encounters with Jesus by Tim Keller (4 stars)

Keller has become a warm, familiar voice to me over the past few years as I’ve read many of his books and listened to a good number of his sermons. One of his more recent offerings, “Encounters with Jesus” is to the heart what “The Reason for God” is for the mind. For those familiar with Navigator terminology, it’s like sitting down across the table from Keller and him leading an Investigative Bible Discussion with you. The book focuses on encounters Jesus has in the Gospels with several individuals and teases out theological principles, questions, and answers from these encounters, all the while revealing more and more of the character of this Jesus.

The first five chapters focus on the book of John and the last five on events from the other Gospels. Keller’s conversational prose is very easy to read and his gentle but firm counsel proves a reliable guide for the reader who is honestly skeptical (that is, actually interested in addressing doubts and not just looking to dismiss them).

Highly recommended whether you’re meeting looking to meet Jesus for the first time or perhaps looking to be reintroduced in one way or another.

The Hole in our Holiness by Kevin DeYoung (4 stars) 148972402

I read this book mainly because of a lot that I’d been hearing about various leaders and pastors having some conflict about the role and purpose of sanctification in believers’ lives. Tullian Tchividjian represents the “Grace, grace, and more grace!” side of the spectrum and I read his book One Way Love recently (which I reviewed here). While not denying or downplaying the role of grace, Kevin DeYoung is on the other end of the spectrum in the “debate.”

It’s unavoidable that I ended up comparing this book to One Way Love from start to finish. The verdict? This is the better book. Now, that’s not to say that Tullian’s book is bad. This is just a superior book. DeYoung is both humorous and humble throughout the book, showing in page after page that is dripping with Scripture what it looks like to pursue holiness not in order to somehow earn salvation but as a result of union with Christ.

In one sentence, he sums up New Testament ethics as: “Be who you are.”  That is, you are holy positionally because of Christ’s imputed righteousness. Now pursue that holiness each and every day.

An enjoyable and yet convicting/exhorting read.

 

The-Kneeling-ChristianThe Kneeling Christian (2 stars)

I had this book recommended to me by a few folks and was available as a free pdf online so I slotted it into my “to read” list. Among the many, many areas where I could grow in my Christian walk, prayer stands out as one that I feel I need the most help in. And so I eagerly dove into this book…but petered out pretty quick. I mainly finished it just to finish it. It was probably a combination of the style and approach of the book. Additionally, there were a few things that the author suggested about prayer that I wasn’t sure I agreed with that seemed to suggest that every time a prayer is unanswered it must be because of some fault within the prayer. Seemed like echoes of Job’s friends to me.

Now, to be fair, there were many more quotes that I actually liked a lot than ones I disagreed with. But there was enough about the book that I didn’t enjoy or connect with for me to only rate it “okay” (i.e. 2 stars).

Amazing Grace: William Wilberforce and the Heroic Campaign to End Slavery by Eric Metaxas (5 stars)amazing-grace

The only time I had heard of William Wilberforce before reading this book was hearing a story about how when he became a Christian he felt the only way to serve Christ was to become a pastor. He went to John Newton, known for composing the hymn “Amazing Grace,”  for advice. But instead of affirming his perceived “call” to the pastorate, Newton challenged Wilberforce to remain where he was–an incredibly influential position in the British Parliament–and use that position to glorify God and benefit his fellow man.

And use that position and influence he did. Wilberforce was one of the main, if not THE main, drivers in the campaign to abolish the slave trade in England. Metaxas, the author of Bonhoeffer: Pastor, Martyr, Prophet, Spy, argues that Wilberforce “overturned not just European civilization’s view of slavery but its view of almost everything in the human sphere…it was nothing less than a fundamental and important shift in human consciousness” (p. xv). In other words, Wilberforce is responsible for shaping the character of Western civilization! If you believe that every human being is fundamentally equal to and has the same rights as every other human being, you owe it to Wilberforce’s Christian faith and his influence on society.

That is a massive claim, especially for someone that most of us have probably never heard of. But Metaxas supports this claim and reintroduces Wilberforce to a modern-day audience. It’s a heroic story about an amazingly humble and incredibly influential individual that is masterfully told by Metaxas. I can’t recommend this book highly enough!

 What are you currently reading? Any suggestions or thoughts on these books I’ve just finished?

Book Review: One Way Love


one-way-love-book It wasn’t until his recent exit from The Gospel Coalition that I started paying attention to Tullian Tchividjian. I’d heard his name before, read some of his blogs, and knew he was one of Billy Graham’s grandsons, but I couldn’t tell you much about him or what made him distinctive. But when he got caught up in the middle of a bit of controversy with TGC, I decided to start paying closer attention. There’s a bit of a debate/discussion in the Church right now over sanctification: what should the believer’s approach to it be, how should we preach on it, where does the power and motivation come from, etc. On the one hand you have folks who emphasize our own effort partnering with God in the process. On the other (and this is the camp Tchividjian is in), you have those whose sole focus is God’s grace-any effort on our part cannot be really mandated or exhorted but rather must come solely as a response to God’s grace. I personally think both sides are looking at the same coin and arguing that what they see on their side is more important. In other words, they are more similar than they would care to admit. But I had more of an outsider’s perspective on it than anything-I wasn’t up to date on what each side had said in the past and what they really believed. This is the lens that I read “One Way Love” through-what does Tullian say about the role of grace in our lives once we’ve trusted Christ with our life and salvation? But that’s not the only answer that I got in the process. First, the Pros of the book:

  • Tullian shares much of his personal story throughout the book. To say that he identifies with the Prodigal Son is an understatement. I hugely appreciated his humility and vulnerability-not many believers, let alone pastors, would feel comfortable being so open about where they’ve come from.
  • Tullian’s writing style is conversational and warm-he’s not writing from some distant ivory tower or insecurely lashing out at his critics, but rather sharing his life and beliefs. It’s easy to identify with and to like Tullian.
  • Tullian uses many great sources to add to or flesh out some of his points. Tim Keller, Jerry Bridges, Brennan Manning, and Paul M.F. Zahl are just a few of those he references. You get the feeling that Tullian’s done his homework in researching what others have to say about grace and its role in our lives.
  • Tullian champions grace. You can’t read too much of the book without his passion and love for the grace of God dripping off the page. This is a very good and refreshing thing.

There are, however, some Cons to the book:

  • The book’s structure. Tullian says in the beginning that the book is adapted from a series of sermons…and it shows. It’s not a major flaw, but there are definitely ways where the book might have worked better if it had been designed as a book from the beginning. The book can be a tad repetitive at times.
  • Tullian seems to generalizes those who are on the other side of the sanctification divide. This is, to an extent, unavoidable. But I couldn’t help but think several times “Do people really preach that way? Do people really teach that way?” I know Tullian has a lot of personal experience here that I don’t…but I don’t feel he backed up some of the claims he made about the “opponents of grace alone.”

In summary: I enjoyed “One Way Love” and had some definite personal takeaways. His descriptions of what unconditional grace looks like in marriage and relationships in general were especially convicting and inspiring. My eyes were opened to just how conditional my love often is and I was reminded of my constant need of grace.  post-tbird I also thought his discussion in Chapter 10 of how total depravity affects Christians both before and after conversion to be very interesting (and worth some more thought). As Tullian says, “We never outgrow our need for grace–ever” (p 219). post-tbird  This book is an excellent reminder of that, wherever we are on our journey of faith.

Calling: As Simple As G+P+V?


A recent article on Time.com titled “What Should You Do In Life?” had a short formula to help answer the article’s titular question. But surely a short little formula can’t answer a question that important! Or can it? I drew out the formula on a napkin like the article suggested you could do:

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What the equation promises is that your calling is the sum of your:

  • (G)ifts
    • These are the things we’re good at doing. Our talents or skills, natural or developed.
  • (P)assions
    • The things you care about-that get you fired up.
  • (V)alues
    • The preferences you have in how you do things and live life.

So just figure out what you’re good at, what you care about, and your preferences in how you do them and you’re set! Done. Pretty easy, right?

Well…

Maybe not.

Maybe what you’re good at isn’t something you’re particularly excited or passionate about. Maybe you can’t come up with much that you’re good at or maybe no one does what you care about in a way that you value and would want to learn or imitate. Maybe you just have THREE more confusing questions instead of one now (“What are my gifts? What am I passionate about? What do I value?”). Maybe x, maybe y, or maybe even z!

That’s a lot of maybes. A lot of uncertainty. And it can be a scary place to be.

No matter what our questions might be, Christ is our certainty. Before all else, Christ calls us to himself.  post-tbird

“Follow me” Jesus says in Matthew 4:19 (ESV, emphasis mine) to a group of fishermen about to go through some major job transition.

“Come to me” Jesus says to “all who are weary and heavy laden” in Matthew 11:28, “and I will give you rest.”

“If anyone thirsts, let him come to me and drink,” he says to the crowd at the Feast of Booths in John 7:37.

The questions of career, vocation, etc are important ones, even critical! But the first and most important question has already been answered definitively at the Cross for us. This gives us hope in the rest of the questions.

One Way Love


If you don’t already know this about me, I LOVE sharing music, resources, and lots of other things! It is rarely enough for me to find a good thing and just enjoy it myself-I have to pass it on to other people too!

This is especially true if said resource/music/etc. is FREE! I mean, you barely even have to convince someone to give something a chance if it’s not going to cost them anything to give it a chance. It’s basically selling itself.

To that end, I’ll be sharing free resources that I come across here on the blog. Perhaps I’ll have a weekly roundup sort of thing (Freebie Fridays? …I think i need to work on the name lol). But for now, I think it’ll be intermittent updates.

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Right now Tullian Tchividjian (Billy Graham’s grandson) has one of his books on Grace and the Law on noisetrade.com for free! I don’t know how long it will stay there, but I’d recommend you check it out. I just downloaded it myself and am looking forward to diving into it soon. Here’s the link to use to download it:

http://books.noisetrade.com/pastortullian/one-way-love