Martin Luther King Jr. Quotes

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Biography:

Martin Luther King, Jr., (January 15, 1929 – April 4, 1968) was one of the main leaders of the American civil rights movement, a political activist, a Baptist minister, and was one of America’s greatest orators. King’s most influential and well-known public address is the “I Have A Dream” speech, delivered on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C. in 1963. In 1964, King became the youngest man to be awarded the Nobel Peace Prize (for his work as a peacemaker, promoting nonviolence and equal treatment for different races). On April 4, 1968, King was assassinated in Memphis, Tennessee.

Quotes

The oceans of history are made turbulent by the ever-rising tides of revenge. Man has never risen above the injunction of the lextalionis: ‘Life for life, eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot.’ In spite of the fact that the law of revenge solves no social problems, men continue to follow its disastrous leading. History is cluttered with the wreckage of nations and individuals that pursued this self-defeating path. Jesus eloquently affirmed from the cross a higher law. He knew that the old eye-for-an-eye philosophy would leave everyone blind. He did not seek to overcome evil with evil. He overcame evil with good.   Although crucified by hate, he responded with aggressive love. What a magnificent lesson! Generations will rise and fall; men will continue to worship the god of revenge and bow before the altar of retaliation; but ever and again this noble lesson of Calvary will be a nagging reminder that only goodness can drive out evil and only love can conquer hate.

-Martin Luther King Jr.

We have learned to fly the air like birds and swim the sea like fish, but we have not yet learned the simple art of living together as brothers.

-Martin Luther King

To live by the Old Law everyone would be walking around blind and toothless

-Martin Luther King

“An individual has not started living until he can rise above the narrow confines of his individualistic concerns to the broader concerns of all humanity.”

-Martin Luther King Jr.

“We are called to play the good Samaritan on life’s roadside; but that will be only an initial act. One day the whole Jericho road must be transformed so that men and women will not be beaten and robbed as they make their journey through life. True compassion is more than flinging a coin to a beggar; it understands that an edifice that produces beggars needs restructuring.”

-Martin Luther King Jr.   (Source: April 4, 1967 “Beyond Vietnam” address at Riverside Church, New York)

“Everywhere and at all times, the love ethic of Jesus is a radiant light revealing the ugliness of our stale conformity.  In spite of this imperative command to live differently, we have cultivated a mass mind and have moved from the extreme of rugged individualism to the even greater extreme of rugged collectivism.  We are not makers of history,; we are made by history.  Longfellow said, ‘in this world a man must either be anvil or hammer,” meaning that he is either a molder of society or is molded by society.  Who doubts that today most men are anvils and are shaped by the patterns of the majority?  Or to change the figure, most people, and Christians in particular, are thermometers that record or register the temperature of majority opinion, not thermostats that transform and regulate the temperature of society.

-Martin Luther King Jr. (Strength to Love)

Many people fear nothing more terribly than to take a position which stands out sharply and clearly from prevailing opinion.  The tendency of most is to adopt a view so ambiguous that it will include everything and so popular that it will include everybody.  Along with this has grown an inordinate worship of bigness.  We live in an age of ‘jumboism’ where men find security in that which is large and extensive – big cities, big buildings, big corporations.  This worship of size has caused many to fear being identified with a minority idea.  Not a few men, who cherish lofty and noble ideals, hide them under a bushel for fear of being different.”

-Martin Luther King Jr. (Strength to Love)

“I believe that standing up for the truth of God is the greatest thing in the world. This is the end of life. The end of life is not to be happy. The end of life is not to achieve pleasure and avoid pain. The end of life is to do the will of God, come what may.”

-Martin Luther King Jr (A Testament of Hope)

“I believe that unarmed truth and unconditional love will have the final word in reality. This is why right temporarily defeated is stronger than evil triumphant.”
– Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr

“Jesus gave us a new norm of greatness. If you want to be important, wonderful. If you want to be recognized, wonderful. If you want to be great, wonderful. But recognize that he who is greatest among you shall be your servant. That’s your new definition of greatness. And this morning, the thing that I like about it, by giving that definition of greatness, it means that everybody can be great. Because everybody can serve. You don’t have to have a college degree to serve. You don’t have to make your subject and your verb agree to serve. You don’t have to know about Plato and Aristotle to serve. You don’t have to know Einstein’s theory of relativity to serve. You don’t have to know the second theory of thermodynamics in physics to serve. You only need a heart full of grace. A soul generated by love. And you can be that servant.”
-Martin Luther King Jr.

Mother Teresa Quotes

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Biography

Mother Teresa (born Agnes Gonxha Bojaxhiu(August 26, 1910September 5, 1997), was a Roman Catholic nun who founded the Missionaries of Charity and won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1979 for her humanitarian work. For over forty years, she ministered to the needs of the poor, sick, orphaned, and dying in Kolkata (Calcutta), India.

As the Missionaries of Charity grew under Mother Teresa’s leadership, they expanded their ministry to other countries. By the 1970s she had become internationally famed as a humanitarian and advocate for the poor and helpless, due in part to a documentary, and book, Something Beautiful for God by Malcolm Muggeridge.

Quotes

“In reality, there is only one true prayer, only one substantial prayer: Christ himself. There is only one voice which rises above the face of the earth, the voice of Christ. Prayer is oneness with Christ.”

-Mother Teresa

“Christ prays in me, Christ works in me, Christ thinks in me, Christ looks through my eyes, Christ speaks through my words, Christ works with my hands, Christ walks with my feet, Christ loves with my heart. As St Paul’s prayer was: “I belong to Christ and nothing will separate me from the love of Christ.” It was that oneness, oneness with God in the Holy Spirit.”

-Mother Teresa

Prayer is nothing but that complete surrender, complete oneness with Christ. And this is what makes us contemplative in the heart of the world; for we are twenty-four hours then in His presence: in the hungry, in the naked, in the homeless, in the unwanted, unloved, uncared for. For Jesus said, “Whatever you do to the least of my brethren, you do it to me.”

-Mother Teresa

Our Father, here I am, at your disposal, your child, to use me to continue your loving the world, by giving Jesus to me and through me, to each other that we allow Jesus to love in us and through us with the love with which His Father loves him.

-Mother Teresa

“Behold , I have graven you upon the palm of my hand”, that is what Jesus came on earth to do: to proclaim, to give us the Good News that God loves us, that we are precious to Him.

-Mother Teresa

We need prayer to understand God’s love for us. If we really mean to pray and want to pray we must be ready to do it now. These are only the first steps towards prayer but if we never make the first step with determination, we will not reach the last one: the presence of God

-Mother Teresa

Living intensely each present day means letting Christ dwell within you. His words are so clear: “Today I would like to enter your home.”

-Mother Teresa

Never let anything so fill you with sorrow as to make you forget the joy of the Risen Christ.

-Mother Teresa

Therefore, even if you write a letter for a blind man or you must go and sit and listen, or you take the mail for him, or you visit somebody or bring a flower to somebody… it is never too small, for this is our love of Christ in action

-Mother Teresa

Lord Jesus, make us realize that it is only by frequent deaths of ourselves and our self-centered desires that we can come to live more fully; for it is only by dying with you that we can rise with you.

-Mother Teresa

My secret is quite simple: I pray!

-Mother Teresa

We complicate prayer as we complicate many things. It is to love Jesus with undivided love-for you, for me, for all of us. And that undivided love is put into action when we do as Jesus said, “love as I have loved you”

-Mother Teresa

I have come to you, Jesus, to take your touch before I begin my day. Let your eyes rest upon my eyes for a while let me take to my work the assurance of your friendship. Fill my mind to last through the desert of noise. Let your blessed sunshine fill the peaks of my thoughts. And give me strength for those who need me.

-Mother Teresa

The beginning of prayer is silence. If we really want to pray we must first learn to listen, for in the silence of the heart God speaks. And to be able to see that silence, to be able to hear God we need a clean heart; for a clean heart can see God, can hear God, can listen to God; and then only from the fullness of our heart can we speak to God. But we cannot speak unless we have listened, unless we have made that connection with God in the silence of our heart.

-Mother Teresa

Then we have the silence of the eyes which will always help us to see God. Our eyes are like two windows through which Christ or the world comes to our hearts. Often we need great courage to keep them closed. How often we say, “I wish I had not seen this thing”, and yet we take so little trouble to overcome the desire to see everything.

-Mother Teresa

Silence gives us a new outlook on everything. We need silence to be able to touch souls. The essential thing is not what we say but what God says to us and through us.

-Mother Teresa

When a poor person dies I want then to die in the arms of somebody who loves them. I want them to be able to look for the last time into the eyes of somebody who cares for them

-Mother Teresa

Faith is a gift of God. Without it there would be no life. And our work, to be fruitful, and to be all for God, and to be beautiful, has to be built of faith. Faith in Christ who has said, “I was hungry, I was naked, I was sick, and I was homeless, and you ministered to me!” On these words of His all our work is based.

-Mother Teresa

Faith is lacking because there is so much selfishness and so much gain only for self. But faith, to be true has to be giving love. Love and faith go together. They complete each other.

-Mother Teresa

People are hungry for something more beautiful, for something greater than people round about can give. There is a great hunger for God in the world today. Everywhere there is much suffering, but there is also great hunger for God and love for each other.

-Mother Teresa

Suffering in itself is nothing, but suffering shared with Christ’s passion is a wonderful gift. Man’s most beautiful gift is that he can share in the passion of Christ. Yes a gift and a sign of his love; because this is how His Father proved that He loved the world.   By giving His Son to die for us.

-Mother Teresa

Without our suffering our work would just be social work, very good and helpful, but not the work of Jesus Christ, not part of the Redemption. Jesus wanted to help by sharing our life, our loneliness, our agony, our death. Only by being one with us has He redeemed us.

-Mother Teresa

If you can learn this art of being thoughtful, you will become more and more Christ-like, for his heart was meek, and he always thought of others. Thoughtfulness is the beginning of great sanctity. Our vocation to be beautiful must be full of thoughts for others.

-Mother Teresa

A Christian is the dwelling place of the living God. He created me, he chose me, He came to dwell in me, because he wanted me. Now that you have known how much God is in love with you it is but natural that you spend the rest of your life radiating that love.

-Mother Teresa

When Christ said, “I was hungry and you fed me,” he didn’t mean only the hunger for bread; he meant the hunger to be loved. Jesus himself experienced this loneliness. He came amongst his own and his own received him not, and it hurt him then and it has kept hurting him. The same hunger, loneliness, the same having no one to be accepted by and be loved and wanted by. Every human being in that case resembles Christ in his loneliness, that’s the hardest part, that’s real hunger.

-Mother Teresa

We are asked to do the same; all for the desolation of the poor people, not only their material poverty, but their spiritual desolation, must be redeemed. And we must share it, for only by being one with them can we redeem them by bringing God into their lives and bringing them to God.

-Mother Teresa

If sometimes our poor people have had to die of starvation, it is not because God didn’t care for them, but because you and I didn’t give, were not instruments of love in the hands of God, to give them the bread, to give them the clothing, because we did not recognize him, when once more Christ came in distressing disguise-in the hungry man, in the lonely man, in the homeless child, and seeking for shelter. God has identified himself with the hungry, the sick, the naked, the homeless, hunger not only for bread, but for love, for care, to be somebody to someone, nakedness, not of clothing only, but nakedness for that compassion that very few people give to the unknown; homelessness, not only for shelter but that homelessness that comes from having no one to call your own.

-Mother Teresa

Be kind and merciful, let no one ever come to you without ever leaving better and happier. Be the living expression of God’s kindness. Let this be expressed in your face, eyes, smile, warm greetings. Give not only your care but your hearts.

-Mother Teresa

There should be less talk; a preaching point is not a meeting point. What to do? Take a broom and clean someone’s house, that says enough.

-Mother Teresa

All of us our but his instruments who do our part and pass by.

-Mother Teresa

Let us not be satisfied with just giving money; money is not enough, for money one can get. The poor need our hands to serve them, they need our hearts to love them. The religion of Christ is love, the spreading of love.

-Mother Teresa

People everywhere are the same; they are all people to be loved. They are all hungry for love.

-Mother Teresa

I remember I picked up a person from the street who was nearly eaten up with maggots, and he said, I have lived like an animal, but I am going to die like an angel, loved and cared for.

-Mother Teresa

God is purity himself, nothing impure can come before him, but I don’t think God can hate. Because God is love and He loves us in spite of our misery and sinfulness. He is our loving father and so we only have to turn to him. God cannot hate, he loves because he is love, but impurity is an obstacle to seeing God. This doesn’t mean the sin of impurity, but any attachment, anything that takes us away from God, anything that makes us less Christ-like, any hatred, any uncharitableness is also impurity. If we are full of sin, God cannot fill us, because even God cannot fill what is full. That’s why we need forgiveness to become empty; therefore God fills us with himself

-Mother Teresa

Keep giving Jesus to whomever is before you, not by words but by your example. By your being in love with Jesus, by radiating his holiness and spreading his fragrance of love everywhere you go. Just keep the joy of Jesus as your strength!

-Mother Teresa

I do not agree with the big way of doing things. To us what matters is the individual. To get to love the person we must come in close contact with him, if we wait for the numbers, then we will be lost in the numbers and we will never be able to show that love and respect for the person. I believe in person to person; every person is Christ to me, and since there is only one Jesus that person is the one person in the world at that moment.

-Mother Teresa

Thou shall love the Lord with thy whole heart, soul, and mind. This is the commandment of the Great God, and he cannot command the impossible. Love is a fruit in season at all times and within reach of every hand. Anyone may gather it and no limit is set. Everyone can reach this love through meditation, spirit of prayer, and sacrifice by an intense inner life. There is no limit because God is love, love is God, God’s love is infinite. But part is to love and to give until it hurts. That’s why it is not how much you do, but how much love you put into the action.

-Mother Teresa

We need to find God, and he cannot be found in noises and restlessness. God is the friend of silence. See how nature-trees, flowers, grass-grow in silence. Is not our mission to give God to those we walk with? Not a dead God, but a living, loving God. The more we receive in silent prayer, the more we can give in active life. We need silence to be able to touch souls. The essential thing is not what we say, but what God says to us and through us. Words that don’t give the light of Christ increase the darkness.

-Mother Teresa

Dearest Lord, may I see you today and every day in the person of your sick, and whilst nursing them, minister unto you. Though you hide yourself behind the unattractive disguises of the irritable, the exacting, the unreasonable, may I still recognize you. And say, Jesus, my patient, how sweet it is to serve you.

-Mother Teresa

Lord, help us to see in your crucifixion and resurrection an example of how to endure and seemingly to die in the agony and conflict of daily life, so that we may live more fully and creatively. You accepted patiently and humbly the rebuffs of human life, as well as the torture of the cross. Help us to accept the pains and conflicts that come to us each day as opportunity to grow as people and become more like you-make us realize that it is only by frequent deaths of ourselves, and our self-centered desires that we can come to live more fully, only by dying with you that we can rise with you.

-Mother Teresa

The mass is the spiritual food that sustains me, without which I could not get through one single day or hour in my life; in the mass we have Jesus in the appearance of bread. While in the slums we see Christ and touch him in the broken bodies, in the abandoned children.

-Mother Teresa

We all long for heaven where God is, but we have it our power to be in heaven with him right now-to be happy with him at this very moment. But this means being: Loving as he loves, helping as he helps, giving as he gives, serving as he serves, rescuing as he rescues, being with him all 24 hours of the day, touching him in his distressing disguise.

-Mother Teresa

Make us worthy, Lord, to serve our fellow men throughout the world who live and die in poverty and hunger. Give them through our hands this day their daily bread, and by our understanding love, give them peace and joy.

-Mother Teresa

make us worthy, Lord, to serve our fellow man throughout the world who live and die in poverty and hunger. Give them, through our hands this day their daily bread, and by our understanding love give peace and joy. Lord make me a channel of thy peace, that where there is hatred I may bring love; that where there is wrong, I may bring the spirit of forgiveness; that where there is discord, I may bring harmony; that where there is error, I may bring truth, where there is doubt-faith, where there is despair-hope; where there are shadows-light; where there is sadness-joy. Lord grant that I may seek rather to comfort than to be comforted; to understand than to be understood, to love than be loved, for it is by forgetting self that one finds it; by dying that one awakens to eternal life—Amen

-Mother Teresa and St Francis of Assisi

“It is easy to love those who are far away. It isn’t always easy to love those who are right next to us. It is easier to offer food to the hungry than to answer the lonely suffering of someone who lacks love right in one’s own family…The world today is upside down because there is so very little love in the home, and in family life. We have no time for each other. Everybody is in such a terrible rush, and so anxious…and in the home begins the disruption of the peace of the world.”

-Mother Teresa

“My prayer for you is that you may grow in the likeness of Christ, being real carriers of God’s love and that you really bring his presence, first, into your own family, then, to the next door neighbor, the street you we live in, the town we live in, the country we live, then only, in the whole world, that living example of God’s presence.”

-Mother Teresa

“I always begin prayer with silence, for it is in the silence of the heart that God speaks. God is the friend of silence—we need to listen to God because it’s not what w say but what He says to and through us that matters. Prayer feeds the soul—as blood is to the body, prayer is to the soul—and it brings you closer to God. It also gives you a clean and pure heart, a clean heart can see God, can speak to God , and can see the love of God in others.”

-Mother Teresa

“you must give what will cost you something.”

-Mother Teresa

The fruit of silence is prayer, The fruit of prayer is faith, The fruit of faith is love, The fruit of love is service, The fruit of service is peace

-Mother Teresa

“If we have no peace it’s because we have forgotten that we belong to each other.”

-Mother Teresa

The best way to show your gratitude to God and people is to accept everything with joy.…We may not be able to give much but we can always give the joy that springs from a heart that is in love with God. All over the world people are hungry and thirsty for God’s love. We meet that hunger by spreading joy. Joy is one of the best safeguards against temptation.

-Mother Teresa

“We must become holy not because we want to feel holy but because Christ must be able to live his life fully in us.”

-Mother Teresa

“Though we are involved in social work, our goal is to be contemplatives at the heart of the world. We are with Jesus twenty-four hours a day. We do everything for Jesus. We do it all unto Jesus.”


– Mother Teresa

In order for us to be able to love, we need to have faith, because faith is love in action and love in action is service. In order for us to be able to love, we have to see and touch. Faith in action through prayer, faith in action through service: each is the same thing, the same love, the same compassion.

-Mother Teresa

Look at the cross and you will know what one soul means to Jesus. The Cross will be for us as it was for Christ: proof of the greatest love.

~Mother Teresa

Frederick Buechner Quotes

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Biography

Frederick Buechner (born July 11, 1926) is a Presbyterian minister and an American author.

Buechner (pronounced BEEK-nur) graduated from Lawrenceville School in 1943 and was accepted to Princeton University. Buechner spent two years (19441946) in the military, including combat duty in World War II, before finishing his studies at Princeton. Buechner received a Bachelor of Arts degree in 1947. During his senior year he won the prestigious Glascock Prize for poetry.

In 1948, Buechner returned to Lawrenceville as an English teacher. In 1950, Buechner published his first novel, A Long Day’s Dying, which he had begun writing during his senior year at Princeton. Buechner quit teaching in 1953 and moved to New York to become a full-time writer.

Buechner then began attending Union Theological Seminary, and received his Bachelor of Divinity Degree in 1958, which is equivalent to what is now called a Master of Divinity. He then served as the school chaplain at Phillips Exeter Academy from 1958-1967. Collections of his sermons to Exeter students were published.

Buechner’s work has often been praised for its ability to inspire readers to see the grace in their daily lives.

Quotes

“In the Christian sense, love is not primarily an emotion but an act of the will. When Jesus tells us to love our neighbors, he is not telling us to love them in the sense of responding to them with a cozy emotional feeling. You can as well produce a cozy emotional feeling as you can a cough or sneeze. On the contrary, he is telling us to love our neighbors in the sense of being willing to work for their well-being even if it means sacrificing our well-being to that end.”

-Frederick Buechner

“The best moments any of us have as human beings are those moments when for a little while it is possible to escape the squirrel-cage of being me into the landscape of being us.”

-Frederick Buechner

“To do for yourself the best that you have it in you to do—to grit your teeth and clench your fists in order to survive the world at its harshest and worst—is, by that very act, to be unable to let something be done for you and in you that is more wonderful still. The trouble with steeling yourself against the harshness of reality is that the same steel that secures your life against being destroyed secures your life also against being opened up and transformed.”

-Frederick Buechner

“She was right that reality can be harsh and that you shut your eyes to it only at your own peril because if you do not face up to the enemy in all his dark power, then the enemy will come up from behind some dark day and destroy you while you are facing the other way.”

-Frederick Buechner

“We are in constant danger of being not actors in the drama of our lives but reactors, to go where the world takes us, to drift with whatever current happens to be running the strongest.”

-Frederick Buechner

“If I were called upon to state in a few words the essence of everything I was trying to say both as a novelist and as a preacher, it would be something like this: Listen to your life. See it for the fathomless mystery it is. In the boredom and pain of it no less than in the excitement and gladness: touch, taste, smell your way to the holy and hidden heart of it because in the last analysis all moments are key moments, and life itself is grace.”

-Frederick Buechner

“To confess your sins to God is not to tell him anything he doesn’t already know. Until you confess them, however, they are the abyss between you. When you confess them, they become the bridge.”

-Frederick Buechner

“Doubts are the ants in the pants of faith. They keep it awake and moving.”

-Frederick Buechner

“I believe that by and large the human family all has the same secrets, which are both very telling and very important to tell. They are telling in the sense that they tell what is perhaps the central paradox of our condition-that what we hunger for perhaps more than anything else is to be known in our full humanness, and yet that is often just what we also fear more than anything else. It is important to tell at least from time to time the secret of who we truly and fully are-even if we tell it only to ourselves-because otherwise we run the risk of losing track of who we truly and fully are and little by little come to accept instead the highly edited version which we put forth in hope that the world will find it more acceptable than the real thing. It is important to tell our secrets too because it makes it easier that way to see where we have been in our lives and where we are going. It also makes it easier for other people to tell us a secret or two of their own, and exchanges like that have a lot to do with what being a family is all about and what being human is all about. Finally, I suspect that it is by entering that deep place inside us where our secrets are kept that we come perhaps closer than we do anywhere else to the One who, whether we realize it or not, is of all our secrets the most telling and the most precious we have to tell.”

-Frederick Buechner (From the introduction of Telling Secrets)

“The only way I knew to be a father was to take care of her, as my father had been unable to take care of me, to move heaven and earth if necessary to make her well, and of course I couldn’t do that. I didn’t have either the wisdom or the power to make her well. None of us has the power to change other human beings like that, and it would be a terrible power if we did, the power to violate the humanity of others even for their own good…the only way she would ever be well again was if and when she freely chose to be. The best I could do as her father was to stand back and give her that freedom even at the risk of her using it to choose for death instead of life.”

-Frederick Buechner

“Love your neighbors as yourself is part of the great commandment. The other way to say it is, Love yourself as your neighbor. Love yourself not in some egocentric, self-serving sense but love yourself the way you would love your friend in the sense of taking care of yourself, nourishing yourself, trying to understand, comfort, and strengthen yourself. Ministers in particular, people in the caring professions in general, are famous for neglecting their selves with the result that they are apt to become in their own way as helpless and crippled as the people they are trying to care for and thus no longer selves who an be of much use to anybody. If your daughter is struggling for life in a raging torrent, you don’t save her by jumping into the torrent with her, which lead only to your both drowning together. Instead you keep your feet on the dry bank-you maintain as best you can your own inner peace, the best and strongest of who you are-and from that solid ground reach out a rescuing hand.”

-Frederick Buechner

“The power that created the universe and spun the dragon fly’s wing and is beyond all other powers holds back, in love, from overpowering us. I have never felt God’s presence more strongly than when my wife and I visited that distant hospital where our daughter was. Walking down the corridor to the room that had her name taped to the door, I felt that presence surrounding me like air-God in his very stillness, holding his breath, loving her, loving us all, the only way he can without destroying us. One night we went to compline in an Episcopal cathedral, and in the coolness and near emptiness of the great vaulted place, in the remoteness of the choir’s voices chanting plainsong, in the grayness of the stone, I felt it again-the passionate restraint and hush of God.”

-Frederick Buechner

“At least to look back over their own lives, as I have looked back over mine, for certain themes and patterns and signals that are so easy to miss when you’re caught up in the process of living them. If God speaks to us at all other than through such official channels as the Bible and the church, then I think he speaks to us largely through what happens to us, so listen to what has happened to you—for the sound, above all else, of his voice.”

-Frederick Buechner

“Because the word that God speaks to us is always an incarnate word—a word spelled out to us not alphabetically, in syllables, but enigmatically, in events, even in the books we read and the movies we see—the chances are we will never get it just right. We are so used to hearing what we want to hear and remaining deaf to what it would be well for us to hear that it is hard to break the habit. But if we keep our hearts and minds open as well as our ears, if we listen with patience and hope, if we remember at all deeply and honestly, then I think we come to recognize, beyond all doubt, that, however faintly we may hear him, he is indeed speaking to us, and that, however little we may understand of it, his word to each of us is both recoverable and precious beyond telling. In a sense autobiography becomes a way of praying, and a book like this, if it matters at all, matters mostly as a call to prayer.”

-Frederick Buechner

“I could, of course, have done no more if no less than affiliated myself in one way or another with a particular church, could have simply read books about Christianity, talked to Christian people, set out to discover something about what a Christian life is supposed to involve and then tried as best I could to live one. But, on the one hand, that didn’t seem enough to me, and on the other, it seemed to much.”

-Frederick Buechner

“In the last analysis, I have always believed, it is not so much their subjects that the great teachers teach as it is themselves.”

-Frederick Buechner

“The Jesus who is the one whom we search for even when we do not know that we are searching and hide from even when we do not know that we are hiding.”

-Frederick Buechner

“Repent and believe in the gospel, Jesus says. Turn around and believe that the good news that we are loved is better than we ever dared hope, and that to believe in that good news, to live out of it and toward it, to be in love with that good news, is of all glad things in this world the gladdest thing of all. Amen, and come, Lord Jesus.”

-Frederick Buechner

“To be bored is to turn a cold shoulder to engage all that God is and has for you in the moment.”

-Frederick Buechner

“Prayer—prayer not as speaking to God, which in a scattered way I do many times a day because I cannot help doing it, but prayer as being deeply silent, as watching and listening for God to speak.” (Pslam 139…but I have calmed and quieted my soul)

-Frederick Buechner

“What deadens us most to God’s presence within us, I think, is the inner dialogue that we are continually engaged in with ourselves, the endless chatter of human thought.”

-Frederick Buechner

“You may never know what may cause them. The sight of the Atlantic Ocean can do it, or a piece of music, or a face you’ve never seen before. A pair of somebody’s old shoes can do it. Almost any movie made before the great sadness that came over the world after the Second World War, a horse cantering across a meadow, the high school basketball team running out onto the gym floor at the start of a game. You can never be sure. But of this you can be sure. Whenever you find tears in your eyes, especially unexpected tears, it is well to pay the closest attention. They are not only telling you something about the secret of who you are, but more often than not God is speaking to you through them of the mystery of where you have come from and is summoning you to where, if your soul is to be saved, you should go next.”

-Frederick Buechner (Whistling in the Dark)

“Our stories are all stories of searching. We search for a good self to be and for good work to do. We search to become human in a world that tempts us always to be less than human or looks to us to be more. We search to love and to be loved. And in a world where it is often hard to believe in much of anything, we search to believe in something holy and beautiful and life-transcending that will give meaning and purpose to the lives we live.”

-Frederick Buechner

“The sacred moments, the moments of miracle, are often the everyday moments.”

-Frederick Buechner (From The Magnificent Defeat)

“If God speaks to us at all in this world, if God speaks anywhere, it is into our personal lives that he speaks. Someone we love dies, some unforeseen act of kindness or cruelty touches the heart or makes the blood run cold. We fail a friend, or a friend fails us, and we are appalled at the capacity we all of us have for estranging the very people in our lives we need the most. Or maybe nothing extraordinary happens at all—just one day following another, helter-skelter, in the manner of days. We sleep and dream. We wake. We work. We remember and forget. And into the thick of it, or out of the thick of it, at moments even the most humdrum of our days, God speaks.”

-Fredrick Buechner (The Sacred Journey) 

“He comes to us in such a way that we can always turn him down…God comes to us in the hungry man we do not have to feed, comes to us in the lonely man we do not have to comfort, comes to us in all the desperate human need of people everywhere that we are always free to turn our backs upon.”

-Frederick Buechner (The Hungering Dark)

“One way or another we are always remembering, of course. There is no escaping it even if we want to, or at least no escaping it for long, though God knows there are times when we try to, don’t want to remember. In one sense the past is dead and gone, but in another sense, it is of course not done with at all or at least not done with us. Every person we have ever known, every place we have ever seen, everything that has ever happened to us—it all lives and breathes deep in us somewhere whether we like it or not, and sometimes it doesn’t take much to bring it to the surface in bits and pieces. A scrap of some song that was popular years ago. A book we read as a child. A stretch of road we used to travel. An old photograph, an old letter. There is no telling what trivial think may do it, and then suddenly there it all is—something that happened to us once—and it is there not just as a picture on the wall to stand back from and gaze at but as a reality we are so much a part of still and that it still so much a part of us that we feel something close to its original intensity and freshness what it felt like, say, to fall in love at the age of sixteen, or to smell the smells and hear the sounds of a house that has long since disappeared, or to laugh till the tears ran down our cheeks with somebody who died more years ago than we can easily count or for whom, in every way that matters, we might as well have died year ago ourselves. Old failures, old hurts. Times to beautiful to tell or too terrible. Memories come at us helter-skelter and unbidden, sometimes so thick and fast that they are more than we can handle in their poignance, sometimes so sparsely that we all but cry out to remember more.”

-Frederick Buechner (A Room Called Remember)

“Here is the world. Beautiful and terrible things will happen. Don’t be afraid.”

“Go where your best prayers take you.”

“Listen to your life. All moments are key moments.”

“The story of any one of us is in some measure the story of us all.”

“The place where God calls you to is the place where your deep gladness and the world’s deep hunger meet.”

-Frederick Buechner

There is little we can point to in our lives as deserving anything but God’s wrath. Our best moments have been mostly grotesque parodies. Our best loves have been almost always blurred with selfishness and deceit. But there is something to which we can point. Not anything that we ever did or were, but something that was done for us by another. Not our own lives, but the life of one who died in our behalf and yet is still alive. This is our only glory and our only hope. And the sound that it makes is the sound of excitement and gladness and laughter that floats through the night air from a great banquet.

Frederick Buechner 

“And now brothers, I will ask you a terrible question, and God knows I ask it also of myself. Is the truth beyond all truths, beyond the stars, just this: that to live without him is the real death, that to die with him the only life?”

-Frederick Buechner

 

C.S. Lewis Quotes

c.s. lewis      th

Biography

Clive Staples Lewis (29 November 189822 November 1963), commonly referred to as C. S. Lewis, was an Irish author and scholar. Lewis is known for his work on medieval literature, Christian apologetics, literary criticism and fiction. He is best known today for his series The Chronicles of Narnia.

Lewis was a close friend of J. R. R. Tolkien, the author of The Lord of the Rings. Both authors were leading figures in the English faculty at Oxford University and in the informal Oxford literary group known as the “Inklings“. Due in part to Tolkien’s influence, Lewis converted to Christianity, becoming “a very ordinary layman of the Church of England“. (Lewis 1952, p. 6) His conversion had a profound effect on his work, and his wartime radio broadcasts on the subject of Christianity brought him wide acclaim. Late in life he married the American writer Joy Gresham, who died of bone cancer four years later at the age of 45.

Quotes

I believe in Christ like I believe in the sun, not just because I see it, but because by it I can see everything else

-C.S. Lewis

“If I had really cared as I thought I did about the sorrows of the world I should not have been so overwhelmed when my own sorrow came- I thought I trusted the rope until it mattered to me whether it would bear me, now it matters and I find I didn’t.”

-C.S. Lewis

Aslan speaking to Bree the horse; “now Bree, you poor, proud, frightened horse, draw near. Nearer still, my son. Do not dare not to dare. Touch me. Smell me. Here are my paws, here is my tail, these are my whiskers. I am a true Beast.

-C.S. Lewis (Horse and his Boy)

Child said Aslan, “I am telling you your story, not hers. No one is told any story but their own.

-C.S. Lewis

Do not let your happiness depend on something you may lose…only upon the Beloved who will never pass away.

-C.S. Lewis

I pray because I cant help myself, I pray because I am helpless, I pray because the need flows out of me. Prayer does not change God, it changes me.

-C.S. Lewis

The happiness now is part of the pain later, the pain later is part of the happiness now.

-C.S. Lewis

Our best havings are wantings

-C.S. Lewis

(Mad, Bad, or God) I’m ready to accept Jesus as a great moral teacher, but I don’t accept his claims to be God.’ That is the one thing we must not say. A man who was merely a man and said the sort of things Jesus said would not be a great moral teacher. He would be either a lunatic-on a level with the man who says he is a poached egg-or else he would be the Devil of Hell. You must make your choice. Either this man was, and is the Son of God; or else a madman or something worse. You can shut him up for a fool, you can spit at him and kill him as a demon, or you can fall at his feet and call him Lord and God. But let us not come with any patronizing nonsense about his being a great human teacher. He has not left that open to us. He did not intend to.

-C.S. Lewis

(Christ the Lion) ‘Are you thirsty?’ said the Lion. ‘I’m dying of thirst,’ said Jill. ‘Then drink,’ said the Lion. ‘May I-could I-would you mind going away while I do?’ said Jill. The Lion answered this only by a look and a very low growl…’I dare not come and drink,’ said Jill. Then you will die of thirst,’ said the Lion. ‘Oh dear!’ said Jill, coming another step nearer. ‘I suppose I must go and look for another stream then.’ ‘There is no other stream,’ said the Lion.

-C.S. Lewis

(Faith in the Dark) Suppose we have only dreamed, or made up, all those things-trees and grass and sun and moon and stars and Aslan himself. Suppose we have. Then all I can say is that, in that case, the made-up things seem a good deal more important than the real ones. Suppose this black pit of a kingdom of yours is the only world. Well, it strikes me as a pretty poor one. And that’s a funny thing, when you come to think of it. We’re just babies making up a game, if you’re right. But four babies playing a game can make a play-world which licks your real world hollow. That’s why I’m going to stand by the play world. I’m on Aslan’s side even if there isn’t any Aslan to lead it. I’m going to live as like a Narnian as I can even if there isn’t any Narnia.’

-C.S. Lewis

This is Lucy talking to Mr. and Mrs. Beaver about Aslan:
“Then he isn’t safe?” said Lucy.
“Safe?” and Mr. Beaver; “don’t you hear what Mrs. Beaver tells you?
Who said anything about safe?” ‘Course he isn’t safe. But he’s good.
He’s the King, I tell you.”

-C.S. Lewis

(Something Wrong) Chastity is the most unpopular of the Christian virtues. There is no getting away from it: the old Christina rule is, ‘either marriage, with complete faithfulness to your partner, or else total abstinence.’ Now this is so difficult and so contrary to our instincts, that obviously either Christianity is wrong or our sexual instinct, as it now is, has gone wrong. One our the other…you can get a large audience together for a strip-tease act-that is, to watch a girl undress on the stage. Now suppose you came to a country where you could fill a theatre by simply bringing a covered plate on to the stage and then slowly lifting the cover so as to let everyone see, just before the lights went out, that it contained a mutton chop or a bit of bacon, would you not think that in that country something had gone wrong with the appetite for food? And would not anyone who had grown up in a different world think there was something equally queer about the state of the sex instinct among us?

-C.S. Lewis

When I first became a Christian, about 14 years ago, I thought that I could do it on my own, by retiring to my room and reading theology, and I wouldn’t go to churches and gospel halls…I disliked very much their hymns, which I considered to be fifth-rate poems set to sixth-rate music. But as I went on I saw the great merit of it. I came up against different people of quite different outlooks and different education, and then gradually my conceit just began peeling off. I realized that the hymns (which were just sixth-rate music) were, nonetheless, being sung with devotion and benefit by an old saint in elastic boots in the opposite pew, and then you realize that you aren’t fit to clean those boots. It gets you out of your solitary conceit.

-C.S. Lewis

It is easy to think that the Church has a lot of different objects-education, building, missions, holding services…the Church exists for nothing else but to draw men into Christ, to make them little Christs. If they are not doing that, all the cathedrals, clergy, missions, sermons, even the Bible itself, are simply a waste of time. God became man for no other purpose. It is even doubtful, you know, whether the whole universe was created for any other purpose.

-C.S. Lewis

God loves us not because we are loveable, but because He is love

-C.S. Lewis

God whispers to us in our pleasures, speaks to us in our conscience, but shouts in our pain; it is His megaphone to rouse a deaf world

-C.S. Lewis

Only those who try to resist temptation know how strong it is…that is why bad people know very little about badness. They have lived a sheltered life by always giving in. We never find out the strength of the evil impulse inside us until we try to fight it: and Christ because He was the only man who never yielded to temptation, is also the only man who knows to the full what temptation means-the only complete realist     

-C.S. Lewis

Do not waste time bothering whether you “love” your neighbor; act as if you do, as soon as we do this we find one of the greatest secrets. When you are behaving as if you loved someone, you will presently come to love him.

-C.S. Lewis

To love at all is to be vulnerable. Love anything, and your heart will certainly be wrung and possibly broken. If you want to make sure of keeping it intact, you must not give your heart to no one, not even to an animal…lock it up safe in the coffin of your selfishness. But in that casket…it will change. It will not be broken; it will become unbreakable, impenetrable…the only place outside heaven where you can be perfectly safe from all the dangers and perturbations of love is Hell.

-C.S. Lewis

‘He has set eternity in their hearts’ (Ecc. 3:11) “If I find in myself desires which nothing in this world can satisfy, the only logical explanation is that I was made for another world.”

-C.S. Lewis

“We do not want merely to see beauty, we want something else that can hardly be put into words-to be united with the beauty we see, to pass into it, to receive it into ourselves, to bathe in it, to become part of it.

-C.S. Lewis

Until you have given yourself to Him you will not have a real self.

-C.S. Lewis

A car is made to run on gasoline, and it would not run properly on anything else. Now God designed the human machine to run on Himself. He himself is the fuel our spirits were designed to burn, or the food our spirits were designed to feed on. There is no other.

-C.S. Lewis

Enemy-occupied territory—that is what this world is

-C.S. Lewis

“Who can duly adore that Love which will open the high gates to a prodigal who is brought in kicking, struggling, resentful, and darting his eyes in every direction for a chance to escape? The hardness of God is kinder than the softness of men, and His compulsion is our liberation.”

-C.S. Lewis

Fallen man is not simply an imperfect creature who needs improvement. He is a rebel who must lay down his arms. Laying down your arms, surrendering, saying you are sorry, realizing that you have been on the wrong track and getting ready to start life over again from the ground floor – that is the only way out of a hole. This process of surrender – this movement full speed astern – is repentance.

-C.S. Lewis

Courage is not simply one of the virtues, but the form of every virtue at the testing point, which means, at the point of highest reality. A chastity or honesty or mercy which yields to danger will be chaste or honest or merciful only on conditions. Pilate was merciful till it became risky

-C.S. Lewis

The command “Be ye perfect” is not idealistic gas.  Nor is it a command to do the impossible.  He is going to make us into creatures that can obey that command.   

-C.S. Lewis

“The hard sayings of Christ are nourishing only to those who find them hard. He has given us the daunting task to feed unconditionally the hungry and broken around us. But so, he has given us himself. His is a love that receives us unadorned and vulnerable, love not merited because of accomplishments but because of desperate need.”

-C.S. Lewis

The devil, he writes, “always sends errors into the world in pairs—pairs of opposites. And he always encourages us to spend a lot of time thinking about which is the worse… He relies on your extra dislike of the one error to draw you gradually into the opposite one. It is a struggle that calls us to be faithfully alert, lest we oscillate from one plague to another. “But do not let us be fooled” writes Lewis. “We have to keep our eyes on the goal and go straight through both errors.”

-C.S. Lewis

C.S. Lewis writes of the Gospel, “Here is a door, behind which, according to some people, the secret of the universe is waiting for you. Either that is true or it isn’t. And if it isn’t, then what the door really conceals is simply the greatest fraud, the most colossal ‘sell’ on record. Isn’t it obviously the job of every person…to try to find out which, and then to devote his full energies either to serving this tremendous secret or to exposing and destroying this gigantic humbug?”

-C.S. Lewis

“May it be the real I who speaks. May it be the real Thou I speak to.

-C.S. Lewis

“When the author walks on the stage the play is over. God is going to invade, all right…something so beautiful to some of us and so terrible to others that none of us will have any choice left? For this time it will be God without disguise…it will be too late then to choose your side. There is no use saying you choose to lie down when it has become impossible to stand up.”

-C S Lewis

The Christian way is different: harder, and easier. Christ says, ‘Give me All. I don’t want so much of your time and so much of your money and so much of your work: I want You. I have not come to torment your natural self, but to kill it. No half-measures are any good. I don’t want to cut off a branch here and a branch there, I want to have the whole tree down. Hand over the whole natural self, all the desires which you think are innocent as well as the ones you think wicked—the whole outfit. I will give you a new self instead. In fact, I will give you Myself: my own will shall become yours.’

-C.S. Lewis

There have been times when I think we do not desire heaven; but more often I find myself wondering whether, in our heart of hearts, we have ever desired anything else…It is the secret signature of each soul, the incommunicable and unappeasable want, the thing we desired before we met our wives or made our friends or chose our work, and which we shall still desire on our deathbeds, when the mind no longer knows wife or friend or work…All your life an unattainable ecstasy has hovered beyond the grasp of your consciousness. The day is coming when you will wake to find, beyond all hope, that you have attained it.

-C.S. Lewis (the Problem of Pain (New York Macmillan, 1962 Pg. 145)

I have tried since…to make every pleasure into a channel of adoration. I don’t mean simply by giving thanks for it. One must of course give thanks, but I meant something different…Gratitude exclaims, very properly, “How good of God to give me this.” Adoration says, “what must be the quality of that Being whose far-off and momentary coruscations are like this!” One’s mind runs back up the sunbeam to the sun…If this is Hedonism, it is also a somewhat arduous discipline. But it is worth some labor.”

-Letter so Malcom chiefly on prayer p.89-90

Provided the thing is in itself right, the more one likes it and the less one has to “try to be good,” the better. A perfect man would never act from sense of duty; he’d always want the right thing more than the wrong one. Duty is only a substitute for love (of God and of other people), like a crutch, which substitute for a leg. Most of us need the crutch at times; but of course it’s idiotic to use the crutch when our own legs (our own loves, tastes, habits, etc.) can do the journey on their own

-C.S. Lewis (C.S. Lewis: Letters to Children, ed. Lyle W. Dorsett and Majorie Lamp Mead (New York: Simon & Schuster, 1995), 276

“We should bring to God what is in us, not what ought to be in us. The ‘oughts’ will keep us from telling the truth. They will also keep us from feeling the truth. Especially the truth about our pain.”

-C.S. Lewis

“Our greatest dignity as creatures is not in initiative but in response. God speaks, we hear. He knocks, we open. He sows the seed, we receive it.”

-C.S. Lewis

“The first qualification for judging any piece of workmanship from a corkscrew to a cathedral is to know what it is—what it was intended to do and how it was meant to be used.”

-C.S. Lewis

The presence of God is not the same as the sense of the presence of God. The latter may be due to imagination; the former may be attended with no “sensible consolation”. The act which engenders a child ought to be, and usually is, attended by pleasure. But it is not the pleasure that produces the child. Where there is pleasure there may be sterility: where there is no pleasure the act may be fertile. And in the spiritual marriage of God and the soul it is the same. It is the actual presence, not the sensation of the presence, of the Holy Spirit which begets Christ in us. The sense of the presence is a super-added gift for which we give thanks when it comes.”

-C.S. Lewis

That is why the real problem of the Christian life comes where people do not usually look for it. It comes the very moment you wake up each morning. All your wishes and hopes for the day rush at you like wild animals. And the first job each morning consists in shoving them all back; in listening to that other voice, taking that other point of view, letting that other larger, stronger, quieter, life come flowing in. and so on, all day…we can do it only for moments at first. But from those moments the new sort of life will be spreading through our systems because now we are letting Him work at the right part of us.”

-C.S. Lewis

Christ works on us in all sorts of ways…He works through Nature, through our own bodies, through books,…But above all, He works on us through each other.”

-C.S. Lewis Mere Christianity

“Meanwhile, where is God? This is one of the most disquieting symptoms. When you are happy, so happy that you have no sense of needing Him, so happy that you are tempted to feel His claims upon you as an interruption, if you remember yourself and turn to Him with gratitude and praise, you will be—or so it feels—welcomed with open arms. But go to Him when your need is desperate, when all other help is vain, and what do you find? A door slammed in your face, and a sound of bolting and double bolting on the inside. After that, silence. You may as well turn away. The longer you wait, the more emphatic the silence will become. There are no lights in the windows. It might be an empty house. Was it ever inhabited? It seemed so once. And that seeming was as strong as this. What can this mean? Why is He so present a commander in our time of prosperity and so very absent a help in time of trouble?”

-C.S. Lewis   A Grief Observed

“Think of yourself just as a seed patiently wintering in the earth; waiting to come up a flower in the Gardener’s good time, up into the real world, the real waking.”

-C.S. Lewis   Letter dated June 29, 1963

“There is only One being who can satisfy the last aching abyss of the human heart, and that is the Lord Jesus Christ.”

– C.S. Lewis

“We must lay before God what is in us, not what ought to be in us”

-C.S. Lewis

Lose you life and you will save it. Submit to death, death of your ambitions and favorite wishes every day, and death to your whole body in the end: submit with every fibre of your being, and you will find eternal life. Keep back nothing. Nothing that you have not given away will be really yours. Nothing in you that has not died will be raised from the dead. Look for yourself, and you will find in the long run only hatred, loneliness, despair, rage, ruin, and decay. But look for Christ and you will find him, and with him everything else thrown in.

-C.S. Lewis

To forgive the incessant provocations of daily life – to keep on forgiving the bossy mother-in-law, the bullying husband, the nagging wife, the selfish daughter, the deceitful son – how can we do it?  Only, I think, by remembering where we stand, by meaning our words when we say in our prayers each night, “Forgive our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us.” We are offered forgiveness on no other terms. To refuse it is to refuse God’s mercy for ourselves. There is no hint of exceptions and God means what he says.

-C.S. Lewis

Henri Nouwen Quotes

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Biography

Henri Jozef Machiel Nouwen, (Nijkerk, January 24, 1932Hilversum, September 21, 1996) was a Dutch Catholic priest and writer who authored 40 books on the spiritual life.

His books are widely-read today by both Protestants and Catholics alike. The Wounded Healer, In the Name of Jesus, Clowning in Rome, The Life of the Beloved and The Way of the Heart are just a few of the more widely recognized titles. After nearly two decades of teaching at the Menninger Foundation Clinic in Topeka, Kansas, and at the University of Notre Dame, Yale University and Harvard University, he left to share his life with mentally handicapped people at the L’Arche community of Daybreak in Toronto, Canada. He died in September of 1996 from a sudden heart attack.

His spirituality was influenced by many, notably by his friendship with Jean Vanier. At the invitation of Vanier he visited L’Arche in France, the first of over 130 communities around the world where people with developmental disabilities live and share life together with those who care for them. In 1986 Nouwen accepted the position of pastor for a L’Arche community called “Daybreak” in Canada, near Toronto.

One of his most famous works is Inner Voice of Love, his diary between December 1987 to June 1988 during one of his most serious bouts with clinical depression.

Quotes

Ministers who have many projects, plans, and appointments, but who have lost their heart somewhere in the midst of their activities

-Henri Nouwen

When I think of the many lecture invitations I declined with the argument that I had no time to prepare, I see now how I looked at every speaking engagement-be it a lecture, a sermon or commencement address-as a new performance that calls for new preparation. As if I had to entertain a demanding audience that could not tolerate any poor performance. No wonder that this attitude leads to exhaustion and fatigue…now I see that I was all mixed up. The question is not, do I have time to prepare? But do I live in a state of preparedness.

-Henri Nouwen

In recent years, I have become more and more aware of my own tendency to think that the value of my presence depends on what I say or do. And yet it is becoming clearer to me every day that this preoccupation with performing in fact prevents me from letting God speak through me in any way he wants, and so keeps me from making connections prior to any special word or deed….over the years we have developed the idea that being present to people in all their needs is our greatest and primary vocation. The Bible does not seem to support this. Jesus’ primary concern was to be obedient to his Father, to live constantly in his presence. Only then did it become clear to him what his task was in his relationship with people.

-Henri Nouwen

In the middle of sentences loaded with action-healing suffering people, casting out devils, responding to impatient disciples, traveling from town to town and preaching from synagogue to synagogue-we find these quite words “in the morning long before dawn, Jesus got up and left the house, and went off to a lonely place and prayed there.” In the center of the breathless activities we hear a restful breathing. Surrounded by hours of moving we find a moment of quite stillness…the more I read this nearly silent sentence locked between the loud words of action, the more I have the sense that the secret place of Jesus’ ministry is hidden in that lonely place where he went to pray, early in the morning, long before dawn.

-Henri Nouwen

“In solitude we can slowly unmask the illusion of our possessiveness and discover in the center of our own self that we are not what we can conquer, but what is given to us. In solitude we can listen to the voice of him who spoke to us before we could speak a word, who healed us before we could make any gesture to help, who set us free long before we could free others, and who loved us long before we could give love to anyone. It is in this solitude that we discover that being is more important than having, and that we are worth more than the result of our effort. In solitude we discover that our life is not a possession to be defended, but a gift to be shared”

-Henri Nouwen (from Out of Solitude pg. 22)

Solitude is the furnace of transformation. Without solitude we remain victims of our society and continue to be entangled in the illusions of the false self. Jesus himself entered this furnace, and there he was tempted with the three compulsions of the world: to be relevant (“turn stones into loaves), to be spectacular (“throw yourself down”), and to be powerful (“I will give you all these kingdoms”). There he affirmed God as the only source of his identity (“You must worship the LORD your God and serve him alone”). Solitude is the place of the great struggle and the great encounter—the struggle against the compulsions of the false self, and the encounter with the loving God who offers himself as the substance of the new self.”

-Henri Nouwen

“In solitude I get rid of my scaffolding: no friends to talk with, no telephone calls to make…The task is to persevere in my solitude, to stay in my cell until all my seductive visitors get tired of pounding on my door and leave me alone.”

-Henri Nouwen (the way of the heart pg. 20-25)

Dear Lord, you are the first of the just. You lived the righteous life. It is because of you that your heavenly Father keeps this world in existence and shows us such mercy to us sinners. who am I, Lord, to expect your love, protection, and mercy? Who am I to deserve a place in your heart, in your house, in your reign? Who am I, Lord, to hope in your forgiveness, your friendship, your embrace? and still this is what I am waiting for, expecting, even counting on! Not because of my own merits, but solely because of your immense mercy. You lived for us the life that is pleasing to God. O Lord, you are the just one, the blessed one, the beloved one, the righteous one, the gracious one. I pray that your Father, the Father of all people, the One who created me and sustains me day in and day out, may recognize in me your marks and receive me because of you. Help me to follow you, to unite my life with yours and to become a mirror of your love

-Henri Nouwen

More and more, the desire grows in me simply to walk around, greet people, enter their homes, sit on their doorsteps, play ball, throw water, and be known as someone who wants to live with them. It is a privilege to have the time to practice this simple ministry of presence. Still, it is not as simple as it seems. My own desire to be useful, to do something significant, or to be part of some impressive project is so strong that soon my time is taken up by meetings, conferences, study groups, and workshops that prevent me from walking the streets. It is difficult not to have plans, not to organize people around an urgent cause, and not to feel that you are working directly for social progress. But I wonder more and more if the first thing shouldn’t be to know people by name, to eat and drink with them, to listen to their stories and tell your own and to let them know with words, handshakes, and hugs that you do not simply like them, but you truly love them.”

-Henri Nouwen

For a person of prayer is, in the final analysis, the person who is able to recognize in others the face of the Messiah and make visible what was hidden, make touchable what was unreachable. The person of prayer is a LEADER precisely because through their articulation of God’s work WITHIN THEM, they can lead others out of confusion to clarification, through their compassion, they can guide them out of closed circuits of their in-groups to the wide world of humanity, and through their critical contemplation they can convert their destructiveness into creative work for the new world to come.

-Henri Nouwen

Giving yourself to others is only possible when you have been fully received…only when you know yourself as unconditionally loved-that is fully received by God-can you give gratuitously. Giving without wanting anything in return is trusting that all of your needs will be provided by the one who loves you unconditionally. It is trusting that you do not need to protect your own security but can give yourself completely to the service of others…you cannot give yourself to others if you do not own yourself, and you can only truly own yourself when you have been fully received in unconditional love. Often what looks like love is really a cry for affection or support. When you know yourself as fully loved you will be grateful for what is given to you without clinging to it, and joyful for what you can give without bragging about it. You will be a free person….Free to love!

-Henri Nouwen

The goal of our life is not people it is God. Only in him shall we find the rest we seek. It is therefore to solitude that we must return, not alone, but with all those we embrace through our ministry. This return continues until the time when the same Lord who sent us into the world calls us back to be with Him in never-ending communion.

-Henri Nouwen

The goal of education and formation of the ministry is continually to recognize the Lord’s voice, his face, and his touch in every person we meet

-Henri Nouwen

Long before any human being saw us, we are seen by God’s loving eyes. Long before anyone heard us cry or laugh, we are heard by our God who is all ears for us

-Henri Nouwen

Here is the mystery of my life is unveiled, I am loved so much that I am left free to leave home. The blessing is here from the beginning. I have left and keep leaving it. But the father is always looking for me with outstretched arms to receive me back and to whisper again in my ear, “You are my Beloved on you my favor rests”           

-Henri Nouwen

The farther I run away from the place God dwells, the less I am able to hear the voice that calls me the Beloved, and the less I hear the voice, the more entangled I become in the manipulations and power games of the world.

-Henri Nouwen

There is so much fear in us. Fear of people, fear of God, and much raw, undefined, free-floating anxiety. I wonder if fear is not our main obstacle to prayer. When we enter into the presence of God start to sense that huge reservoir of fear in us, we want to run away into the many distractions which our busy world offers us so abundantly. But we should not be afraid of our fears. We can confront them, give words to them, and lead them into the presence of the one who says, “Do not be afraid, it is I.” Our inclination is to show our Lord only what we feel comfortable with. But the more we dare to reveal our whole trembling self, the more we will be able to sense that God’s love, which is perfect love, casts out all fears.

-Henri Nouwen

O Lord, I pray that your children may come to feel your presence and be immersed in your deep, warm, affective love. And to me, O Lord, your stumbling friend, show your mercy….   Amen  

-Henri Nouwen

Spiritual life is the life of God’s Spirit within us, both as individuals and as a community. Therefore the point of spiritual formation is to discern where something is happening. The reason for this is that there is a real tendency in us to think of the spiritual life as a life that will begin when we have certain feelings, think certain thoughts, or gain certain insights. The problem, however, is not how to make the spiritual life happen, but to see where it actually is happening. We work on the premise that God acts in this world, in the lives of individuals and communities. God is doing something. Our task is to become aware of where and how God is presently acting and to recognize that indeed it is God who is acting. Our task is to help people see that in fact they are involved in the spiritual life already…

-Henri Nouwen

Obedience means listening to and really hearing how much God loves us. Obedience means, therefore, slowly allowing God’s Spirit to draw us to places some of which we might rather avoid. For God is a demanding God. God’s love is a demanding love. God demands a lot of us, but he demands it out of love.

-Henri Nouwen

I think that real teaching and preaching should create community, create a joyful recognition of being a part of the same human condition. So I feel quite often that the purpose of teaching or lecturing or preaching is indeed to bring people together. It’s a form of convening. As a minister you are a convener.

-Henri Nouwen

I have noticed one thing in particular: increasing prosperity has not made people more friendly toward one another. They’re better off; but that newfound wealth has not resulted in a new sense of community. I get the impression that people are more preoccupied with themselves and have less time for one another that when they didn’t possess so much. There’s more competitiveness, more envy, more unrest, and more anxiety. There’s less opportunity to relax, to get together informally, and enjoy the little things in life. Success has isolated a lot of people and made them lonely.

-Henri Nouwen

I think it’s this mentality that lies behind a lot of anxiety, unrest, and agitation. Its as though we’re forever on the go, trying to prove to each other that we deserve to be loved. The doubt we harbor within us drives us on to ever-greater activity.   In that way we try to keep our heads above water and not drown in our ever-increasing lack of self-respect. The enormous propensity to seek recognition, admiration, popularity, and renown is rooted in the fear that without all this we are worthless. You could call it the “commercialization” of love. Nothing for nothing. Not even love.

-Henri Nouwen

We fail to know our hidden center; and so we live and die often without knowing who we really are. If we ask ourselves why we think, feel, and act in a certain way, we often have no answer, thus proving to be strangers in our own house.

-Henri Nouwen

Prayer is the bridge between my unconscious and conscious self. Prayer connects my mind with my heart, my will with my passions, my brain with my belly. Prayer is the way to let the life-giving Spirit of God penetrate all the corners of my being. Prayer is the divine instrument of my wholeness, unity and inner peace.

-Henri Nouwen

For me personally, prayer becomes more and more a listening to the blessing. I have read and written much about prayer, but when I go to a quiet place to pray, I realize that, although I have a tendency to say many things to God, the real “work” of prayer is to become silent and listen to the voice that says good things about me. This might sound self-indulgent, but, in practice, it is a hard discipline. I am so afraid of being cursed, of hearing that I am no good or not good enough, that I quickly give in to the temptation to start talking and to keep talking in order to control my fears. To gently push aside and silence the many voices that question my goodness and to trust that I will hear a voice of blessing…that demands real effort

-Henri Nouwen

I still believe deeply that our few years on this earth are part of a much larger event that stretches out far beyond the boundaries of our birth and death. I think of it as a mission into time a mission that is very exhilarating and even exciting. Mostly because the One who sent me on the mission is waiting for me to come home and tell the story of what I have learned.

-Henri Nouwen

O Lord Jesus, you who came to us to show the compassionate love of your Father, make your people know this love with their hearts, minds and souls. So often we feel lonely, unloved, and lost in the valley of tears. We desire to feel affection, tenderness, care, and compassion, but suffer from inner darkness, emptiness, and numbness. I pray tonight: Come, Lord Jesus, come. Do not just come to our understanding, but enter our hearts—our passions, emotions, and feelings—and reveal your presence to us in our inmost being. As long as you remain absent from that intimate core of our experience, we will keep clinging to people, things, or events to find some warmth, some sense of belonging. Only when you really come, really touch us, set us ablaze with your love, only then will we become free and let go of all false forms of belonging. Without that inner warmth, all our ascetical attempts remain trivial, and we might even get entangled in the complex network of our own good intentions.

-Henri Nouwen

Nouwen remarked of his experience with the people of L’Arche, “If they express love for you, then it comes from God. It’s not because you accomplished anything. These broken, wounded, and completely unpretentious people forced me to let go of my relevant self—the self that can do things, show things, prove things, build things—and forced me to reclaim that unadorned self in which I am completely vulnerable, open to receive and give love regardless of any accomplishments.”

-Henri Nouwen

A Rule offers ‘creative boundaries within which God’s loving presence can be recognized and celebrated.’ It does not prescribe but invite, it does not force but guide, it does not threaten but warn, it does not instill fear but points to love. In this it is a call to freedom, freedom to love

-Henri Nouwen.

A spiritual discipline…is the concentrated effort to create some inner and outer space in our lives…A spiritual discipline sets us free to pray, or to say it better, allows the Spirit of God to pray in us.

-Henri Nouwen (‘Making All Things New’)

“true solitude far from being the opposite of community life is the place where we come to realize that we were together before we came together and that community life is not a creation of the human will but an obedient response to the reality of our being united. Many people who have lived together for years and whose love for one another has been tested more than once know that the decisive experience in their life was not that they were able to hold together but that they were held together. That in fact we are a community not because we like each other or have a common task or project but because we are called together by God.”

-Henri Nouwen

“To live a life that is not dominated by the desire to be relevant but is instead safely anchored in the knowledge of God’s first love, we have to be mystics—a mystic is a person whose identity is deeply rooted in God’s first love.”

-Henri Nouwen

“The mystery of ministry is that we have been chosen to make our own limited and very conditional love the gateway for the unlimited and unconditional love of God.”

-Henri Nouwen

“Stop wondering around. Instead come home and trust that God will bring you what you need; For as long as you can remember, you have been a pleaser, depending on others to give you an identity. But now you are being asked to let go of all these self made props and trust that God is enough for you…the root choice is always trust at all times that God is with you and will give you what you most need.”

-Henri Nouwen

“truly accepting love, forgiveness, and healing is often much harder than giving it. The place beyond earning, deserving, and rewarding. Place of surrender and complete trust. I did not realize how deeply rooted my resistance was and how agonizing it would be too…”come to my senses, fall on my knees and let my tears fall freely…to become part of the story of the prodigal son…each step seemed impossible; to let go one more time of wanting to be in control, the desire to predict life, fear of not knowing where it will all lead, and surrender to a love that knows no limits. I will never be able to live the great commandment to love without allowing myself to be loved without conditions or prerequisites.

-Henri Nouwen

 “a stranger as someone who is estranged from their own past, culture and country, from their neighbors, friends and family, from their deepest self and from God.”

-Henri Nouwen

“The way of the Christian leader is not the way of upward mobility in which our world has invested so much, but the way of downward mobility ending on the cross…powerlessness and humility in the spiritual life do not refer to people who have no spine and who let everyone make decisions for them. They refer to people who are so deeply in love with Jesus that they are ready to follow him wherever he guides them, always trusting that, with him, they will find life and find it abundantly.”

-Henri Nouwen (In the Name of Jesus p.62-64)

“Receptivity without confrontation leads to a bland neutrality that serves nobody. Confrontation without receptivity leads to an oppressive aggression which hurts everybody.”

-Henri Nouwen

“We always seem to have something more urgent to do and ‘just sitting there’ and ‘doing nothing’ often disturbs us more than it helps. But there is no way around this. Being useless and silent in the presence of God belongs to the core of all prayer. In the beginning we often hear our own unruly noises more loudly than God’s voice. This is at times very hard to tolerate. But slowly, very slowly, we discover that the silent time makes us quiet and deepens our awareness of God. Then, very soon, we start missing these moments when we are deprived of them, and before we are fully aware of it an inner momentum has developed that draws us more and more into silence and closer to that still point where God speaks to us.”

-Henri Nouwen (‘Reaching Out’)

“Listen to your heart. It’s there that Jesus speaks most intimately to you. Praying is first and foremost about listening to Jesus, who dwells in the very depths of your heart. He doesn’t shout. He doesn’t thrust himself upon you. His voice is an unassuming voice, very nearly a whisper, the voice of a gentle love.”

-Henri Nouwen Way of the Heart

“Reading the scriptures is not as easy as it seems since in our academic world we tend to make anything and everything we read subject to analysis and discussion. But the word of God should lead us first of all to contemplation and meditation. Instead of taking the words apart, we should bring them together in our innermost being; instead of wondering if we agree or disagree, we should wonder which words are directly spoken to us and connect directly with our most personal story. Instead of thinking about the words as potential subjects for an interesting dialogue or paper, we should be willing to let them penetrate into the most hidden corners of our heart, even to those places where no other word has yet to find entrance. Then and only then can the word bear fruit as seed sown in rich soil. Only then can we really “hear and understand.”

-Henri Nouwen Reaching Out

“Old and New Testament stories not only show how serious our obligation is to welcome the stranger into our home, but they also tell us that guests are carrying precious gifts with them, which they are eager to reveal to a receptive host. When Abraham received three strangers at Mamre and offered them water, bread and fine tender calf, they revealed themselves to him as the Lord announcing that Sarah his wife should give birth to a son (Genesis 18:1-15). When the widow of Zarephath offered food and shelter to Elijah, he revealed himself as a man of God offering her an abundance of oil and meal and raising her son from the dead (I Kings 17:9-24). When the two travelers to Emmaus invited the stranger, who had joined them on the road to stay with them for the night, he made himself known in the breaking of the bread as their Lord and Saviour (Luke 24: 13-35)

            When hostility is converted to hospitality then fearful strangers can become guests revealing to their hosts the promise they are carrying with them. Then in fact, the distinction between host and guest proves to be artificial and evaporates in the recognition of the new found unity. Thus the biblical stories help us to realize not jus that hospitality is an important virtue, but even more that in the context of hospitality guest and host can reveal their most precious gifts and bring new life to each other.”

-Henri Nouwen Reaching Out 

Joy is essential to the spiritual life. Whatever we may think or say about God, when we are not joyful, our thoughts and words cannot bear fruit. Jesus reveals to us God’s love so that his joy may become ours and that our joy may become complete. Joy is the experience of knowing that you are unconditionally loved and that nothing—sickness, failure, emotional distress, oppression, war, or even death—can take that love away…

            Still, nothing happens automatically in the spiritual life. Joy does not simply happen to us. We have to choose joy and keep choosing it every day. It is a choice based on the knowledge that we belong to God and have found in God our refuge and our safety and that nothing, not even death, can take God away from us…it is important to become aware that at every moment of our life we have an opportunity to choose joy. Life has many sides to it. There are always sorrowful and joyful sides to the reality we live. And so we always have choice to live in the moment as a cause for resentment or as a cause for joy. It is in the choice that our true freedom lies, and that freedom is, in the final analysis, the freedom to love. It might be a good idea to ask ourselves how we develop our capacity to choose joy. Maybe we could spend a moment at the end of each day and decide to remember that day—whatever may have happened—as a day to be grateful for. In so doing we increase our hearts capacity to choose for joy. And as our heart becomes more joyful, we will become, without any special effort, a source of joy for others. Just as sadness begets sadness, so joy begets joy.”

-Henri Nouwen Here and Now

“The mystery of God’s presence, can be touched only be a deep awareness of his absence. It is in the center of our longing for the absent God that we discover his footprints, and realize that our desire to love God is born out of the love with which he has touched us. In the patient waiting for the loved one, we discover how much he has filled our lives already. Just as the love of a mother for her son can grow deeper when he is away, just as children can learn to appreciate their parents more when they have left the home, just as lovers can rediscover each other during long periods of absence, so our intimate relationship with God can become deeper and more mature by the purifying experience of his absence. By listening to our longings, we hear God as their creator. By touching the center of solitude, we sense that we have been touched by loving hands. By watching carefully the endless desire to love, we come to the growing awareness that we can love only because we have been loved first, and that we can offer intimacy only because we are born out of the inner intimacy of God himself.”

-Henri Nouwen Reaching Out

“I am beginning now to see how radically the character of my spiritual journey will change when I no longer think of God as hiding out and making it difficult as possible for me to find him, but, instead, as the one who is looking for me while I am doing the hiding.”

-Henri Nouwen

“When Jesus was moved to compassion, the source of all life trembled, the ground of all love burst open, and the abyss of God’s immense, inexhaustible and unfathomable tenderness revealed itself.”

-Henri Nouwen Compassion 

“Compassion asks us to go where it hurts to enter into the places of pain, to share in brokenness, fear, confusion, and anguish. Compassion challenges us to cry out with those in misery, to mourn with those who are lonely, to weep with those in tears. Compassion requires us to be weak with the weak, vulnerable with the vulnerable, and powerless with the powerless. Compassion means immersion in the condition of being human.”

-Henri Nouwen Compassion

“Since I was very young my life has been dominated by two strong voices. The first said, “Make it in the world and be sure you can do it on your own.” And the other voice said, “Whatever you do for the rest of your life, even if it’s not very important, be sure you hold on to the love of Jesus.” Again the first voice urged me to make my mark, and make sure I do something relevant. And the other voice said, “Don’t lose touch with Jesus, who chose a very humble and simple way. Jesus by his life and death will be your example for living.” I’ve struggled because one voice seemed to be asking for upward mobility and the other for downward mobility and I was never sure how to do both at the same time.”

-Henri Nouwen ‘Home Tonight’

“In the competitive world we live in the word “home,” means very little. Success, power, and prestige obliterate the concepts of community, intimacy, and togetherness.”

-Henri Nouwen

When I saw the men and women who announced their covenant with Jesus and the poor, I saw how real this downward way of Jesus is and how, if I go this way, I go not alone, but as a member of the “body of Jesus.” Seldom have I experienced so directly the difference between individual heroism and communal obedience. Whenever I think about becoming poor as something I must accomplish, I become oppressed. But as soon as I realize that my brothers and sisters call me to go this way with them in obedience to Jesus. I am filled with hope and Joy

-Henri Nouwen ( The Road to Daybreak)

“As soon as we are alone…chaos opens up in us. This chaos can be so disturbing and so confusing that we can hardly wait to get busy again. Entering a private room and shutting the door, therefore does not mean that we immediately shut out all our inner doubts, anxieties, fears, bad memories, unresolved conflicts, angry feelings and impulsive desires. On the contrary, when we have removed our outer distractions, we often find that our inner distractions manifest themselves to us in full force. We often use the outer distractions to shield ourselves from the interior noises. This makes the discipline of solitude all the more important.”

-Henri Nouwen

“Solitude is the place where Christ remodels us in his own image and frees us from the victimizing compulsions of the world.”

-Henri Nouwen

For a long time, I sought safety and security among the wise and clever, hardly aware that the things of the Kingdom were revealed to “little children”; that God has chosen “those who by human standards are fools to shame the wise.” But when I experienced the warm, unpretentious reception of those who have nothing to boast about, and experienced a loving embrace from people who didn’t ask any questions, I began to discover that a true spiritual homecoming means a return to the poor in spirit to whom the Kingdom of Heaven belongs.

-Henri Nouwen

Gratitude is not a simple emotion or an obvious attitude. It is a difficult discipline to constantly reclaim my whole past as the concrete way in which God has led me to this moment and is sending me into the future. It is hard precisely because it challenges me to face the painful moments – experiences of rejection and abandonment, feelings of loss and failure – and gradually to discover in them the pruning hands of God purifying my heart for deeper love, stronger hope, and broader faith. 

-Henri Nouwen

“Mystics are men and women of God who ardently desire to dwell in God’s presence, to listen ot God’s voice, to look at God’s beauty, to touch God’s incarnate Word an to taste fully God’s infinite goodness.”

-Henri Nouwen (In the Name of Jesus 29-30)

“God, help me to see others not as my enemies or as ungodly but rather as thirsty people. And give me the courage and compassion go offer your Living Water, which alone quenches deep thirst.”

-Henri Nouwen

“The desire to save, whether from sin or poverty or exploitation, is one of the most damaging motives in ministry. “Humility is the real Christian virtue…when we come to realize that…only God saves, then we are free to serve, then we can live truly humble lives. It makes all the difference in the world whether I view my neighbor as a potential convert or as someone whom God already loves.”

-Henri Nouwen

“Our life in Christ and our ministry in his name belong together as the two beams of the cross.”

-Henri Nouwen ‘The Selfless Way of Christ’

“There is a profound difference between the false ambition for power and the true ambition to love and serve. It is the difference between trying to raise ourselves up and trying to lift up our fellow human beings.”

-Henri Nouwen ‘The Selfless Way of Christ’

“The spiritual life is a life guided by the same Spirit who guided Jesus Christ. The Spirit is the breath of Christ in us, the divine power of Christ active in us, the mysterious source of new vitality by which we are made aware that it is not we who live, but Christ who lives in us (Galatians 2:20). Indeed, to live a spiritual life means to become living Christs. It is not enough to try to imitate Christ as much as possible; it is not enough to remind others of Jesus; it is not even enough to be inspired by the words and actions of Jesus Christ. No, the spiritual life presents us with a far more radical demand: to be living Christs here and now, in time and history.”

-Henri Nouwen ‘The Selfless Way of Christ’

Regardless of the particular shape we give to our lives, Jesus’ call to discipleship is primal, all-encompassing, all-inclusive, demanding a total commitment. One cannot be a little bit for Christ, give his some attention, or make him one of many concerns.”

-Henri Nouwen ‘The Selfless Way of Christ’

“To pray is to walk in the full light of God, and to say simply, without holding back, ‘I am human and you are God.’ At that moment, conversion occurs, the restoration of the true relationship. A human being is not someone who once in a while makes a mistake, and God is not some who now and then forgives. No, human beings are sinners and God is love.”

-Henri Nouwen

Waiting is not a very popular attitude. Waiting is not something that people think about with great sympathy. In fact, most people consider waiting a waste of time. Perhaps this is because the culture in which we live is basically saying, “Get going! Do something! Show you are able to make a difference! Don’t just sit there and wait!” For many people, waiting is an awful desert between where they are and where they want to go. And people do not like such a place. They want to get out of it by doing something.

-Henri Nouwen

“You have to trust that every true friendship has no end …. The love you give and receive is a reality that will lead you closer and closer to God as well as to those whom God has given you to love.”

-Henri Nouwen

Phillip Yancey Quotes

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Biography:

Growing up in a strict, fundamentalist church in the southern USA, a young Philip Yancey tended to view God as “a scowling Supercop, searching for anyone who might be having a good time—in order to squash them.” Yancey jokes today about being “in recovery” from a toxic church. “Of course, there were good qualities too. If a neighbor’s house burned down, the congregation would rally around and show charity—if, that is, the house belonged to a white person. I grew up confused by the contradictions. We heard about love and grace, but I didn’t experience much. And we were taught that God answers prayers, miraculously, but my father died of polio just after my first birthday, despite many prayers for his healing.”

For Yancey, reading offered a window to a different world. So, he devoured books that opened his mind, challenged his upbringing, and went against what he had been taught. A sense of betrayal engulfed him. “I felt I had been lied to. For instance, what I learned from a book like To Kill a Mockingbird or Black Like Me contradicted the racism I encountered in church. I went through a period of reacting against everything I was taught and even discarding my faith. I began my journey back mainly by encountering a world very different than I had been taught, an expansive world of beauty and goodness. Along the way I realized that God had been misrepresented to me. Cautiously, warily, I returned, circling around the faith to see if it might be true.”

Ever since, Yancey has explored the most basic questions and deepest mysteries of the Christian faith, taking millions of readers with him. Early on he crafted best-selling books such as Disappointment with God and Where is God When it Hurts? while also editing The Student Bible. He coauthored three books with the renowned surgeon Dr. Paul Brand. “No one has influenced me more,” he says. “We had quite a trade: I gave words to his faith, and in the process he gave faith to my words.” More recently, he has felt the freedom to explore central issues of the Christian faith, penning award-winning titles such as The Jesus I Never Knew, What’s So Amazing About Grace? and Prayer: Does It Make Any Difference? His books have garnered 13 Gold Medallion Awards from Christian publishers and booksellers. He currently has more than 15 million books in print, published in 35 languages worldwide.

Yancey worked as a journalist in Chicago for some twenty years, editing the youth magazine Campus Life while also writing for a wide variety of magazines including Reader’s Digest, Saturday Evening Post, National Wildlife, and Christianity Today. In the process he interviewed diverse people enriched by their personal faith, such as President Jimmy Carter, Habitat for Humanity founder Millard Fuller, and Dame Cicely Saunders, founder of the modern hospice movement. In 1992 he and his wife Janet, a social worker and hospice chaplain, moved to the foothills of Colorado. His writing took a more personal, introspective turn even as his activities turned outward. “Writing is such an introspective act that I found myself looking for ways to connect with the planet bodily. My interests include skiing, climbing mountains, mountain-biking, golf, international travel, jogging, nature, theology (in small doses), politics, literature, and classical music.”

“I write books for myself,” he says. “I’m a pilgrim, recovering from a bad church upbringing, searching for a faith that makes its followers larger and not smaller. I feel overwhelming gratitude that I can make a living writing about the questions that most interest me. My books are a process of exploration and investigation of things I wonder about and worry about.” Yancey writes with an eye for detail, irony, and honest skepticism.

So, just how does a man who’s been through all Yancey has, draw close to the God he once feared? He spends about an hour each morning reading spiritually nourishing books, meditating, and praying. This morning time, he says, helps him “align” himself with God for the day. “I tend to go back to the Bible as a model, because I don’t know a more honest book,” Yancey explains. “I can’t think of any argument against God that isn’t already included in the Bible. To those who struggle with my books, I reply, ‘Then maybe you shouldn’t be reading them.’ Yet some people do need the kinds of books I write. They’ve been burned by the church or they’re upset about certain aspects of Christianity. I understand that feeling of disappointment, even betrayal. I feel called to speak to those living in the borderlands of faith.”

Quotes:

My brother left the faith, and never returned- in large part because he did not observe truth setting people free and never found a church that makes room for prodigals.

-Phillip Yancey

Churches that leave room for mystery, that do not pretend to spell out what God himself has not spelled out, create an environment most conductive to worship. After all, we lean on God out of need and not surplus

-Phillip Yancey

The only thing more difficult in having a relationship with an invisible God is not having one.

-Phillip Yancey

If only our churches could communicate grace to a world of competition, judgment, and ranking—a world of un-grace—then the church would become a place where people gather eagerly, without coercion, like desert nomads around an oasis.

-Phillip Yancey

To follow Jesus, I learned, does not mean to solve Every human problem—Christ himself did not attempt that—but rather responded as he did, against all reason to dispense grace and love to those who deserve it least

-Philip Yancey

“I have come to see prayer as a privilege, not a duty. Like all good things, prayer requires some discipline. Yet I believe that life with God should seem more like friendship than duty. Prayer includes moments of ecstasy and also dullness, mindless distraction and acute concentration, flashes of joy and bouts of irritation. In other words, prayer has features in common with all relationships that matter.”

-Philip Yancey ‘Prayer’  

“If prayer stands as the place where God and human beings meet, then I must learn about prayer. Most of my struggles in the Christian life circle around the same two themes: why God doesn’t act the way we want God to, and why I don’t act the way God wants me to. Prayer is the precise point where those themes converge.”

-Philip Yancey ‘Prayer’  

Prayer helps correct myopia, calling to mind a perspective I daily forget. I keep reversing roles, thinking of ways in which God should serve me, rather than vice versa.”

-Philip Yancey ‘Prayer’

“There was a time Genesis informs us, when God and Adam walked together in the garden and conversed as friends. Nothing seemed more natural for Adam than to commune with the One who had made him, who gave him creative work, who granted his desire for a companion with the lovely gift of Eve. Then, prayer was as natural as conversation with a colleague, or a lover. At the moment of the fall, for Adam and for all who succeeded him, God’s presence grew more remote, easier to doubt and even deny.”

-Philip Yancey ‘Prayer’  

“Prayer and only prayer, restores my vision to one that more resembles God’s. I awake from blindness to see that wealth lurks as a terrible danger, not a goal worth striving for; that value depends not on race or status but on the image of God every person bears; that no amount of effort to improve physical beauty has much relevance for the world beyond.”

-Philip Yancey ‘Prayer’

“Prayer is fundamentally a position, a placement of oneself…a way of life of attentiveness”

-Phillip Yancey

“Truth hurts. Yet I cannot receive healing unless I accept God’s diagnosis of my wounded state. God already knows who we are; we are the ones who must find a way to come to terms with our true selves. Psalm 139 cries out, “Search me, O God…See if there is any offensive way in me.” In order to overcome self-deception, I need God’s all-knowing help in rooting out hidden offenses like selfishness, pride, deceit, lack of compassion.”

-Philip Yancey ‘Prayer’

“In truth, what I think and feel as I pray, rather than the words I speak, may be the real prayer, for God “hears” that too. My every thought occurs in God’s presence.”

-Philip Yancey ‘Prayer’  

“God alone knows the selfish motives behind my every act, the vipers’ tangle of lust and ambition, the unhealed wounds that paradoxically drive me to appear whole. Prayer invites me to bring my whole life into God’s presence for cleansing and restoration. Self-exposure is never easy, but when I do it I learn that underneath the layers of grime lies a damaged work of art that God longs to repair.”

-Philip Yancey ‘Prayer’

“I realize that my image of God, more than anything else, determines my degree of honesty in prayer…the most important purpose of prayer may be to let our true selves be loved by God.”

-Philip Yancey ‘Prayer’

It is strange—those of us who involve ourselves in places where there is the most suffering, look back in surprise to find that it was there that we discovered the reality of joy.” Happy are those who bear their share of the world’s pain in the long run they will know more happiness than those who avoid it.

-Phillip Yancey ‘Soul Survivor’ p86

G.K. Chesterton Quotes

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Gilbert Keith Chesterton (May 29, 1874June 14, 1936) was an influential writer of the early 20th century. His prolific and diverse output included journalism, poetry, biography, Christian apologetics, fantasy, and detective fiction.

Chesterton has been called the “prince of paradox.” He wrote in an off-hand, whimsical prose studded with startling formulations. For example: “Thieves respect property. They merely wish the property to become their property that they may more perfectly respect it.” He is one of the few Christian thinkers who are equally admired and quoted by both liberal and conservative Christians, and indeed by many non-Christians. Chesterton’s own theological and political views were far too nuanced to fit comfortably under the “liberal” or “conservative” banner

If the world grows too worldly, it can be rebuked by the Church, but if the Church grows too worldly, it cannot be adequately rebuked for worldliness by the world.

-G.K. Chesterton

One sees great things from the valley; only small things from the peak

-G. K. Chesterton

The way to love anything is to realize that it might be lost

-G. K. Chesterton

The Christian ideal has not been tried and found wanting. It has been found difficult; and left untried.

-G.K. Chesterton

People have fallen into a foolish habit of speaking of orthodoxy as something heavy, humdrum, and safe. There never was anything so perilous or so exciting as orthodox. It was sanity: and to be sane is more dramatic than to be mad…it is easy to be a madman: it is easy to be a heretic. It is always easy to let the age have its head; the difficult thing is to keep one’s own. It is always easy to be a modernist; as it is easy to be a snob…It is always simple to fall; there are an infinity of angels at which one falls, only one at which one stands. To have fallen into any one of fads from Gnosticism to Christian Science would indeed have been obvious and tame. But to have avoided them all has been one whirling adventure; and in my vision the heavenly chariot flies thundering through the ages, the dull heresies sprawling and prostrate, the wild truth reeling but erect.

-G.K. Chesterton

“A man knocking on the door of the brothel is knocking for God.”

-G.K. Chesterton 

“Jesus promised his disciples three things: they would be completely fearless, absurdly happy, and in constant trouble.”

~G.K. Chesterton

Because children have abounding vitality, because they are in spirit fierce and free, therefore they want things repeated and unchanged. They always say, “Do it again”; and the grown-up person does it again until he is nearly dead. For grown-up people are not strong enough to exult in monotony. But perhaps God is strong enough to exult in monotony. It is possible that God says every morning, “Do it again” to the sun; and every evening, “Do it again” to the moon. It may not be automatic necessity that makes all daisies alike; it may be that God makes every daisy separately, but has never got tired of making them. It may be that he has the eternal appetite of infancy; for we have sinned and grown old, and our Father is younger than we.

-G.K. Chesterton

“divine discontent” “We have come to the wrong star…That is what makes life at once so splendid and so strange. The true happiness is that we don’t fit. We come from somewhere else. We have lost our way.”

-G.K. Chesterton (from Orthodoxy)