Classic and contemporary excerpts

Growing Downward

We grow up into Christ by growing down into lowliness. …

Off-loading our fantasies of omnicompetence, we start trying to be trustful, obedient, dependent, patient, and willing in our relationship to God. We give up our dreams of being greatly admired for doing wonderfully well. We begin teaching ourselves unemotionally and matter-of-factly to recognize that we are not likely ever to appear, or actually to be, much of a success by the world's standards. We bow to events that rub our noses in the reality of our own weaknesses, and we look to God for strength quietly to cope. …

It is impossible at the same time to give the impression both that I am a great Christian and that Jesus Christ is a great Master. So the Christian will practice curling up small, as it were, so that in and through him or her the Savior may show himself great. That is what I mean by growing downward.

- J. I. Packer in "Rediscovering Holiness"

God's Presence-In Us

The emotional ecstasy of black Protestant worship symbolizes a profound religious truth: the preeminent place of God's presence in this world is the person. His altar is the human heart. Moreover, it is the whole person, body as well as spirit, that makes God present. In a society chronically split between body and spirit, African-American ritual exemplifies embodied spirit and inspirited body in gesture, dance, song and performed word. ... A radically personal vision of life flows from this liturgical sensibility. Contrary to the depersonalizing pressures of slavery and racial oppression, the person is of ultimate value because an image of the divine. Anything, then, that defaces that image is sacrilegious.

- Albert J. Raboteau in "America" (May 21, 1994)

His Glory Fills The Earth

In order that we finite beings may apprehend the Emperor He translates His glory into multiple forms-into stars, woods, waters, beasts, and the bodies of men.

- C. S. Lewis in "God in the Dock"

Personal Shake-Up

Anyone who opens his personality to the living Spirit takes a risk of being considerably shaken.

- J. B. Phillips in "For This Day"

The Great Depression

The modern view seems much nicer to talk about than sin. Sin is so depressing. It makes people feel bad about themselves-or so psychologists tell us.

- John Alexander in "The Other Side" (Jan.-Feb. 1993)

We Need Each Other

Communion is strength; solitude is weakness. Alone, the fine old beech yields to the blast and lies prone on the meadow. In the forest, supporting each other, the trees laugh at the hurricane. The sheep of Jesus flock together. The social element is the genius of Christianity.

- Charles Spurgeon from "The Quotable Spurgeon"

Imitators Of God

The study of divinity is not possible apart from what the author of the Epistle to the Ephesians dares to call the imitation of God. ... [M]ost people who teach and study at divinity schools miss this point. That the way in which life together is conducted is as essential to the knowledge and love of God as is much reading. … [A]part from the way of life that imitates the life of God, our words about him are more like gossip than truth.

- Philip Turner in "First Things" (October 1992)

Little Is Much When

God is in it

Serving God with our little is the way to make it more; and we must never think that wasted with which God is honored or men are blest.

- Henrietta Mears in "Dream Big: The Henrietta Mears Story"

Keep Looking Up

Remember the great need you have of the grace and assistance of God. You should never lose sight of Him-not for a moment.

- Andrew Murray in "The Believer's Secret of the Abiding Presence"

Always The Winner

Let [Truth] and Falsehood grapple; who ever knew Truth put to the worse, in a free and open encounter?

- John Milton in "Areopagitica"

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Philip Yancey
Philip Yancey is editor at large of Christianity Today and cochair of the editorial board for Books and Culture. Yancey's most recent book is What Good Is God?: In Search of a Faith That Matters. His other books include Prayer (2006), Rumors of Another World (2003), Reaching for the Invisible God (2000), The Bible Jesus Read (1999), What's So Amazing About Grace? (1998), The Jesus I Never Knew (1995), Where is God When It Hurts (1990), and many others. His Christianity Today column ran from 1985 to 2009.
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