Crib death

Many babes in Christ die in infancy because of their inability to live up to the impossible standards which are thrown upon them by more mature believers, who so often fall short in those standards themselves.

—James Sennett in

The Wittenburg Door

(Dec. 1984/Jan. 1985)

Inside knowledge

Religions, like languages, must be understood on their own terms, learned, as we would learn French grammar, from the inside.

—William H. Willimon in

The Christian Century (Jan. 28, 1987)

Borderline Christianity

There’s something comfortable about reducing Christianity to a list of do’s and don’ts, whether your list comes from mindless fundamentalism or mindless liberalism: you always know where you stand, and this helps reduce anxiety. Do’s-and-don’tism has the advantage that you don’t need wisdom. You don’t have to think subtly or make hard choices. You don’t have to relate personally to a demanding and loving Lord.

—Robert C. Roberts in

The Reformed Journal (Feb. 1987)

A leaky ship

If we lose the vision, we alone are responsible, and the way we lose the vision is by spiritual leakage. If we do not run our belief about God into practical issues, it is all [over] with the vision God has given.

—Oswald Chambers in

My Utmost for His Highest

Reordering priorities

As a child I was brought up to believe that it was not whether you won or lost, but how you played the game. Then, in the real world, I found that to be all wrong. There I learned you have to win to get anywhere, and it didn’t matter how you did it. But now, after what has happened to [my husband] Dick, I realize that my priorities in the so-called real world were all wrong. Now Dick and I know that the old way was the right way. You know, it really … and truly … is how you play the game.

—Nancy Howser in Sports Illustrated after her husband’s resignation as manager of baseball’s Kansas City Athletics following two surgeries for brain cancer

Religious kitsch

I think kitsch [pretentious bad taste] presents us with a serious theological problem and stands, far beyond the formal bounds of theology, for something amiss in our culture, as, for example, when well-washed fat babies or puppy dogs presented on the cinema screen evoke disproportionate cries of delight. Kitsch is a form of lying, and religious kitsch lies about what is, for the believer, the deepest reality.—

J. M. Cameron, correspondence in The New York Review of Books (May 29, 1986)

Love without price

I try to give to the poor people for love what the rich could get for money. No, I wouldn’t touch a leper for a thousand pounds; yet I willingly cure him for the love of God.

—Mother Teresa in

A Gift for God

God needs no go-fer

When God said, “Let there be light,” he did not speak in order that some subordinate might hear, understand what the speaker wanted, and go and perform the task. This is what happens in human affairs. But the Word of God is creator and maker, and he is the Father’s will.

—Athanasius in The

Wisdom of the Saints


We can’t plan for joy, or put a specific date and time on our calendars when we plan to savor it. Joy overtakes us while we’re busy at something else.

—James Allen Sparks in

If This Pew Could Talk!

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