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


imitation

“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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“No Longer I” by Matt Redman


“I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.”

matt-1

Heard this new(ish) song by Matt Redman the other week and can’t get it out of my head. I love how he takes the lyrics to the old hymn “At the Cross” and adds new thoughts to it from Galatians 2:20 (see above).  Check it out for yourself!

At the cross, at the cross
where I first saw the light
and the burden of my soul rolled away
It was there by faith I received my sight
now no longer I, but Christ in me

10 Quotes Worth Sharing from “Preaching” by Tim Keller


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Tim Keller’s Preaching is another home-run. While perhaps not as life-changing or spectacular as Prayer, this volume is filled with insights and wisdom from cover to cover. The chapter on “Preaching and the (Late) Modern Mind” and the bibliography of the best other books on preaching are each worth the price of the book alone! 

And you don’t need to be a preacher to read it. “This book,” says Keller in the introduction, “aims to be a resource for all those who communicate their Christian faith in any way” (p. 4).

Here are ten quotes to give you a taste of Keller’s manifesto on preaching.

1. The Holy Spirit is critical in preaching

…while the difference between a bad sermon and a good sermon is mainly the responsibility of the preacher, the difference between good preaching and great preaching lies mainly in the work of the Holy Spirit in the heart of the listener as well as the preacher (11).

2. True and effective preaching must center on Christ.

To preach the text truly and the gospel every time, to engage the culture and reach the heart, to cooperate with the Spirit’s mission in the world—we must preach Christ from all of Scripture (23).

3. To leave Christ out of a sermon is to not finish the task of preaching.

Every time you expound a Bible text, you are not finished unless you demonstrate how it shows us that we cannot save ourselves and that only Jesus can (48).

4. You cannot preach the gospel without preaching Christ.

To preach the gospel every time is to preach Christ every time, from every passage (57).

(sensing a theme, here?)

5. Culture shapes us more than we would care to admit.

It is a mistake to think that faithful believers in our time are not profoundly shaped by the narratives of modernity. We certainly are, and so when you unveil these narratives and interact with them in the ordinary course of preaching the Word, you help them see where they themselves may be more influenced by their society than by the Scripture, and you give them important ways of communicating their faith to others (118).

6. We find our true selves in Christ.

The process of sanctification, of growth into the likeness of Christ, is also, then, the process of becoming the true self God created us to be (139).

7. The gospel is “the right side of history.”

Such will always be the case. The philosophies of the world will come and go, rise and fall, but the wisdom we preach—The Word of God—will still be here (156).

8. Preaching must reach and capture the heart.

What the heart most wants the mind finds reasonable, the emotions find valuable, and the will finds doable. It is all-important, then, that preaching move the heart to stop trusting and loving other things more than God….People, therefore, change not by merely changing their thinking but by changing what they love most (159-emphasis added).

9. Preaching can do so much more than just convey information.

A sermon that just informs the mind can give people things to do after they go home, but a sermon that moves the heart from loving career or acclaim or one’s own independence to loving God and his Son changes listeners on the spot (165).

10. End every sermon pointing the listeners to worship Christ

Resist ending your sermon with “live like this,” and rather end with some form of “You can’t live like this. Oh, but there’s one who did! And through faith with him you can begin to live like this too.” The change in the room will be palpable as the sermon moves from primarily being about them to being about Jesus. They will have shifted from learning to worship (179).

Monday Morning Music: “It Is Well With My Soul” by Matt Redman


Matt Redman is easily one of my favorite songwriters. “Blessed be Your Name,” “Our God” (which he wrote but Chris Tomlin arranged), and “10,000 Reasons” are just a small sampling of the many many many songs of his that have significantly impacted me and ministered to me through the truth they contain and the poetic way that truth is expressed.

The most recent song of his that I’ve enjoyed is called “It is Well.” Redman took the chorus from the famous hymn by Horatio Spafford and added new verses and lyrics. I’ve had it on repeat the past couple days and thought I’d share. Enjoy!

“Weeping may come / remain for a night
But joy will paint the morning sky”

Monday Morning Music: “Look How He Lifted Me” by Elevation Worship


It's currently neither Monday nor the morning, but this IS some music! :) So go ahead and hit "play" and enjoy!

Look how He lifted me / His grace and mercy is my testimony / For every victory / I’ve got a song to sing / Look how He lifted me!

I’ve had this song on repeat for the past few weeks-it’s catchy and exciting but (best of all) also contains beautiful truth: When we have things to boast of, it’s first of all because of what He has done for us! “…as it is written, “Let the one who boasts, boast in the Lord.” -1 Corinthians 1:31

Don’t Eat the Chocolate: Why Contemporary Worship Music is Dead, Dying, and Decaying


Tongue firmly in cheek, here’s a repost of a blog on 10 reasons Contemporary music is DEAD! Here’s a sneak peek:
“6. Repetition is never appealing
These new song writers have never studied great compositions like the ‘Hallelujah Chorus’ or ‘Psalm 107’ to see how you don’t need to repeat phrases to emphasize something.”

Worthily Magnify

1It’s become clear to me that contemporary worship music is dead, dying, and decaying. Think I’m wrong? I’m not. Here’s my proof (read it and weep. Really. Please weep):

1. The new songs aren’t nearly as old as the older songs
“All Hail the Power of Jesus’ Name” was written in 1779! “Ten Thousand Reasons” was written in 2011. These new songs aren’t even close to being as old as the old songs. The old songs have been around for several hundred years! These new ones? Not nearly that long!

2. Some of the new songs are trying to pretend they’re old hymns
Have you read some of the new songs? They’re trying to act like they’re hymns, with their deep theology and everything. It’s ridiculous.

3. Whatever happened to singing Isaac Watts?
Hasn’t he written anything new lately? Why aren’t we singing his new stuff? Even more ridiculous. We’re missing out…

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Hymns and Praise Choruses: What’s the Difference?


Last week I came across this humorous story about an old man’s perspective on praise choruses and a young man’s perspective on hymns. It sounds like a lot of people I know on both sides of the story, so I thought I’d share. Funny how different the same thing can sound to different ears, right?
The first "worship wars"
The first “worship wars”

An old farmer went to the city one weekend and attended the big city church. He came home and his wife asked him how it was.

“Well,” said the farmer. “It was good. They did something different, however. They sang praise choruses instead of hymns.”

“Praise choruses?” asked the wife. “What are those?”

“Oh, they’re okay. They’re sort of like hymns, only different,” said the farmer.

“Well, what’s the difference?” asked the wife.

The farmer said, “Well it’s like this … If I were to say to you, ‘Martha, the cows are in the corn,’ well that would be a hymn. If, on the other hand, I were to say to you, ‘Martha, Martha, Martha, Oh, Martha, MARTHA, MARTHA, the cows, the big cows, the brown cows, the black cows, the white cows, the black and white cows, the COWS, COWS, COWS are in the corn, are in the corn, are in the corn, in the CORN, CORN, CORN, COOOOORRRRRNNNNN,’ then, if I were to repeat the whole thing two or three times, well that would be a praise chorus.”

As luck would have it, the exact same Sunday a young, new Christian from the city church attended the small town church. He came home and his wife asked him how it was.

“Well,” said the young man, “It was good. They did something different, however. They sang hymns instead of regular songs.”

“Hymns?” asked the wife. “What are those?”

“They’re okay. They’re sort of like regular songs, only different,” said the young man.

“Well, what’s the difference?” asked the wife.

The young man said, “Well it’s like this … If I were to say to you, ‘Martha, the cows are in the corn,’ well that would be a regular song. If on the other hand, I were to say to you,

Oh Martha, dear Martha, hear thou my cry
Inclinest thine ear to the words of my mouth.
Turn thou thy whole wondrous ear by and by
To the righteous, glorious truth.

For the way of the animals who can explain
There in their heads is no shadow of sense,
Hearkenest they in God’s sun or his rain
Unless from the mild, tempting corn they are fenced.

Yea those cows in glad bovine, rebellious delight,
Have broke free their shackles, their warm pens eschewed.
Then goaded by minions of darkness and night
They all my mild Chilliwack sweet corn chewed.

So look to that bright shining day by and by,
Where all foul corruptions of earth are reborn
Where no vicious animal makes my soul cry
And I no longer see those foul cows in the corn,

then, if I were to do only verses one, three and four, and change keys on the last verse, well that would be a hymn.”

Do you identify more with the farmer or the young man? When you’re in a service that uses a style different than your preferred one, are you still able to worship? Why or why not? Sound off in the comments 🙂

Hymns Are the Worst (Or are they?)


hymn-book

One of the more common complaints Christians have about their church revolves around the type of music you’ll hear on a given Sunday there. The phrase “worship wars”–which by all rights should be an oxymoron–sadly is all too familiar to a host of Christians. I recently came across some complaints to pastors from fans of “traditional” music regarding that newfangled, altogether too loud, and plain offensive noise they’re calling “music” these days. They’re all from different decades but the same theme runs through them. Here they are:

“Pastor, I am not music scholar, but I feel I know appropriate church music when I hear it. Last Sunday’s new song, if you call it that, sounded like a sentimental love ballad one might expect to hear crooned in a saloon. If you persist in exposing us to rubbish like this in God’s house, don’t be surprised if many of the faithful look for a new place to worship. The hymns we grew up with are all we need.” -From ’65

“Was it the organist’s idea or yours that our peaceful worship service was shattered by that new song last Sunday? The music was sacrilegious; something one would expect to hear in a den of iniquity, not a church! Don’t expect me even to attempt to sing it next time!” -From ’74

“What’s wrong with the inspiring hymns with which we grew up? When I go to church, it is to worship God, not to be distracted with learning a new song. Last Sunday’s was particularly unnerving. While the text was good, the tune was unsingable and the new harmonies were quite discordant.” -From the 90’s

Ouch! Them there’s some strong words aimed at contemporary music. But just which songs are the guilty parties? Well they might not seem too “contemporary” to us, seeing as how they’re all hymns that are over a hundred years old. (In each letter the phrase “new song” was originally “new hymn”)

The first complaint is from a letter written in 1865 regarding the hymn “Just As I Am.” The second is from a letter written in 1874 complaining about the hymn “I Love To Tell The Story.” And the final one is from an 1890 letter to a minister complaining about the new hymn, “What A Friend We Have in Jesus.” (As a disclaimer, they were all found online, so take them with a grain or two of salt haha).

Sadly, it seems this is nothing new in the history of the Church. In fact, Isaac Watts, considered the Father of English Hymnody, created a storm of controversy in the early years of the 18th Century when he started writing “human centered” songs like…oh, I dunno…“When I Survey The Wondrous Cross”!

While we Protestants are quick to whip out phrases like “Sola scriptura!” and decry any and and all forms of (ohhh so evil!) tradition, it seems that (all too often) we still have our own traditions that are clothed/disguised as preferences…until they are threatened by the new. May we all (myself especially included) be quick to be gracious, slow to condemn, and remember that these at best tertiary issues.

How does your church deal with addressing the varying preferences for traditional versus contemporary worship? Different services with different musical styles? One service with a mishmash of styles? Only one or the other of the styles? And more importantly-How does that choice affect the makeup and unity of the congregation?

Monday Morning Music-“This I Believe” by Hillsong


Part of our reading for my Church History class here at Golden Gate was some of the various creeds that the Church has used over the past few centuries. It reminded me of this song that I enjoy from Hillsong and want to share with you.

What an amazing privilege to share these beliefs with those who have gone before us in the journey of faith that following Jesus is!

(…of particular interest to me is what portions of the song are actually from prior creeds and what the songwriters added themselves. But no need to go into all that detail analyzing it if you don’t want to! 🙂 )

Monday Morning Music-“Surrender All” by Jesus Culture


A familiar set of (powerful) lyrics set to a new and different tune.

All to Jesus I surrender All to him I freely give

I will ever love and trust him, in his presence daily live.

Oh that we would live fully surrendered to him! Help us to surrender more and more to you, Lord.