The aim of spiritual maturity is to magnify God’s glory for people to see and admire. (from John Piper, page 100)
Francis often quotes the words of the German poet Holderlin
“may the man not betray what he promised as a child” (page 25)
Francis knew some familiar struggles
“One regular gripe was that vocations to the priesthood had fallen in Buenos Aires in his time” (page 121)
On Rafael Tello, the Liberation Theologian silenced by the Church
“Nobody who has opened up new paths leaves without scars on his body.” (page 138)
“Guilt by itself… is just another human resource. Guilt, without atonement, does not allow us to grow” (page 146)
On going out to the peripheries (a now famous speech before the conclave and given here) the surge needs to surge forth to the peripheries.
“The Church is supposed to be the mysterium lunae, the mystery of the moon is that it has no light, but simply reflects the light of the sun” (page 155)
“It’s about a shift in our understanding of Church. The community which presides in love; that is putting the Pope back in the college. It is ecclesiastically radical. He has thought through what he is doing. It is the produce of the many years of practical theology.” (page 166)
He calls for “a church that gets out in the street and runs the risk of an accident” rather than a church which “doesn’t get out and sooner or later gets sick from being locked up” (page 180)
You can kiss your family and friends good-bye and put miles between you, but at the same time you carry them with you in your heart, your mind, your stomach, because you do not just live in a world but a world lives in you – Frederick Buechner, Telling the Truth – page 209
An infinite God can give all of Himself to each of his children. He does not distribute Himself that each may have a part, but to each one he gives all of himself as fully as if there were no others – A.W. Tozer (page 218)
Earth has no sorry that heaven cannot heal – author unknown (page 231)
She lives where there is no impatience. She does not mind waiting. (page 235)
Faith never knows where it is being led. But it knows and loves the one who does the leading. – Oswald Chambers, page 239
Earth’s crammed with heaven
And every common bush afire with God
But only he who sees takes off his shoes
The rest sit around it and pluck blackberries – Elizabeth Berrett Browning
Dallas and I used to play a game. I would ask him for definitions of all kinds of words. And every definition would contain a clarity and freshness and precision that would require folks to sit and reflect for a while. “Hey Dallas . . . ,” and then I’d ask him about any word or concept that mattered, and would receive a brief education in the possibilities of redeemed thought.
The word spirit. “Disembodied personal power.”
Beauty. “Goodness made manifest to the senses.”Maturity
A disciple is “anyone whose ultimate goal is to live as Jesus would live if he were in their place.”
Dignity is “a value that creates irreplaceability.” (This one, he graciously attributed to Immanuel Kant.)
“Hey Dallas, what is reality?”
“Reality is what you can count on.”
“Hey Dallas, what is pain?””Pain is what you experience when you bump into reality.”
“What is spiritual maturity?”
“The mature disciple is one who effortlessly does what Jesus would do in his or her place.”
“What exactly does it mean to glorify God?”
“To glorify God means to think and act in such a way that the goodness, greatness, and beauty of God are constantly obvious to ourselves and all those around us. It means to live in such a way that when people see us they think, Thank God for God, if God would create such a life.”
Somebody once said of Dallas: “I’d like to live in his time zone.” During one of his lectures, a listener challenged him with statements that were both offensive and incorrect. Dallas paused, thanked the person for their comments, and then simply moved on to the next question. Somebody asked Dallas afterward why he had not countered the student’s argument and put him in his place. “I’m practicing the discipline of not having to have the last word.”
“One sign of maturity are the thoughts that no longer occur to you.” On the first day of sobriety, a recovering alcoholic will be filled with thoughts of her heroic efforts. After 20 years of sobriety, her mind will be free to think other, more interesting thoughts. Her sobriety will no longer look heroic, only sane—only a gift.
“Hey Dallas, what’s death?”
“Jesus made a special point of saying those who rely on him and have received the kind of life that flows in him and in God will never experience death. . . . Jesus shows his apprentices how to live in the light of the fact that they will never stop living.”
Our destiny, Dallas used to say, is to join a tremendously creative team effort, under unimaginably splendid leadership, on an inconceivably vast plane of activity, with ever more comprehensive cycles of productivity and enjoyment. This is what the “eye hath not seen, nor ear hath heard” in the prophetic vision. It is worth a few dozen read-throughs (found in The Divine Conspiracy).
Dallas also used to say, “God will certainly let everyone into heaven that can possibly stand it.” This is another one of those statements that becomes more daunting and frightening and wonderful the more you think about it.
“Keep eternity before the children,” his mother said. Dallas kept eternity before us in a way no one else quite has. And now he has stepped into the eternal kind of life in a way he never has before.
I’ll bet he can stand it. I’ll bet he can.
He said, “I can’t dress myself, I don’t have….”
She said, “You’ll have top dress yourself” and she left the room.
He said “I kicked, I screamed, I kicked, I screamed, I yelled, ‘You don’t love me anymore!” Finally I realised that, if I were to get any clothes on, I’d have to get my clothes on.” After hours of struggle, he got some clothes on. He said, “It was not until later that I knew my mother was in the next room crying.”
I don’t know if God distances God’s self from us, but I know sometimes we feel some distance.
From Velvet Elvis:
Imagine what happens when a young woman is raised in a Christian setting but hasn’t been taught that all things are hers and then goes to a university where she’s exposed to all sorts of new ideas and perspectives. She takes classes in psychology and anthropology and biology and world history and her professors are people who’ve devoted themselves to their particular fields of study. Ist it possible that in the course of lecturing on their field of interest, her professors will from time to time say things that are true?…What if she has been taught there’s not truth outside the Bible? She’s now faced with this dilemma: believe the truth she’s learning or the Christian faith she was brought up with… (page 119)
On the commitment demanded of Mormon young people
They may only convert one person for every thousand doors they knock on, but it’s easy to esee why this kind of dedication has led to the numbers of Mormons in America increasing by over 100% in the last ten years.
In the UK many children from Muslim families return home from school each evening and straight away start two hours of Koran study. Many Jewish children attend at least one evening a week of Torah instruction. (page 128)
The answer doesn’t lie in simply giving our congregations the right answers to difficult questions: ‘If someone asks you where dinosaurs fit into God’s plan, then this is what you need to say.” (page 120)
Talks about how Jesus grew, and may not have been a physically great specimen, but when he died the Spirit entered into him and was able to draw him out of death.
There is thing about trying to pretend to be smart – if you are the smartest person in the room then you are in the wrong room.
Also great comparison of 10 year olds who were given maths problems, and some of them gave up and were frustrated, but others loved the challenge, even though they were getting these wrong all the time.
The violence of the command “Chop it down!” is a clue to the context. Following Jesus doesn’t make for smooth sailing. Travelling with Jesus through Samaria on the way to Jerusalem is not a parade led by a brass band and cartwheeling cheerleaders. Suspicion and hostility are pervasive throughout this trip, so perhaps it doesn’t matter where Jesus inserts the story; almost any place on the journey would serve as a suitable context. There are going to be fig trees without figs – an offense to any serious farmer – at every turn in the road. But Luke places it early on, so that it can be working in our imaginations all through the journey. (page 66)
“The more you keep your mouth shut, the more fertile you become.” (page 73)
The violence intended for the fig tree is deflected by the gardener’s “Let it alone”. The violence visited on Jesus is countered by “Father, forgive them.” (page 74)
Whilst it’s true that a Lone Ranger can learn a lot through self-study, Lone Rangers (and even Brains on a Stick who know the Bible inside out) aren’t exempt from need-to-know and need-to-grow moments. Yet when they are faced with one, their isolation guarantees that the only thing they’ll know is what they already know.
As for wise counsel, a warm hug, or a swift kick in the rear, those are rather hard to self-administer. If we don’t have those kinds of relationships in place, it’s usually too late to pull them together once a need-to-know or need-to-grow crisis hits with full force.