I have started a new Bible reading plan, the M’Cheyne Bible Reading Plan (M’Cheyne Bible Reading Plan) which is going well. Some cool and profound quotes on the Word of God:
“The Bible is God’s chart for you to steer by, to keep you from the bottom of the sea, and to show you where the harbor is, and how to reach it without running on rocks or bars” – Henry Ward Beecher
“The Bible…is the one supreme source of revelation of the meaning of life, the nature of God, and spiritual nature and needs of men. It is the only guide of life which really leads the spirit in the way of peace and salvation” – Woodrow Wilson
“There is one sure and infallible guide to truth, and therefore, one, and only one, corrective for error, and that is the Word of God” – G. Campbell Morgan
“We cannot attain to the understanding of the Scripture either by study or by intellect. Your first duty is to begin by prayer. Entreat the Lord to grant you, of His great mercy, the true understanding of His Word. There is no interpreter of the Word of God than the Author of this Word, as He Himself has said, “They shall all be taught of God” (John 6:45). Hope for nothing of your own labors, from your own understanding: Trust solely in God, and in the influence of His Spirit. Believe this on the word of a man who has experience” – Martin Luther
“Go to the Scriptures…the joyful promises it contains will be a balsam to all your troubles” – Andrew Jackson
“Though we claim to believe the whole of Scripture, in practice we frequently deny much of it by ignoring it.” – Dr Martyn Lloyd Jones
“To what greater inspiration and counsel can we turn than to the imperishable truth to be found in this treasure house, the Bible?” – Queen Elizabeth II
“What Dryden said about Chaucer applies in infinitely greater degree to the Bible: “Here is God’s plenty” – Robert J McCracken
“Everything must be decided by Scripture” – Dr Martyn Lloyd Jones
And one more quote that is related to the Word of God through Jesus, the ‘Word made flesh’, by Queen Victoria
“I wish Jesus would come in my lifetime so that I could take my crown and lay it at His feet.”
“One of our problems is that very few of us have developed any distinctive personal life. Everything about us seems secondhand, even our emotions. In many cases we have to rely on secondhand information in order to function. I accept the word of a physician, a scientist, a farmer, on trust. I do not like to do this. I have to because they possess vital knowledge of living of which I am ignorant. Secondhand information concerning the state of my kidneys, concerning the effects of cholesterol, and the raising of chickens, I can live with. But when it comes to questions of meaning, purpose, and death, secondhand information will not do. I cannot survive on a secondhand faith in a secondhand God. There has to be a personal word, a unique confrontation, if I am to come alive!”
-Alan Jones in Scott Peck’s “The Road Less Traveled”
Often I think to myself that there are not enough people who have healthy delusions of grandeur. Wanting to accomplish something big in your life is not a sin in and of itself. So often we look at those feelings as prideful or greedy and yet I don’t think that the root is pride or greed. For sure this desire for greatness can be manifested in the wrong way by people wanting to amass fortunes or become famous. But we cannot throw the baby out with the bathwater – there is a place for this desire for greatness and significance, for purpose and meaning. Ambitious people who come to Christ should not be told to cut off that desire since the correct response to abuse is not non-use but proper use. Those energies should be channelled into something productive and of eternal significance. As people grow up, most lose their ambition to want to do something important or unconventional and instead settle for a run of the mill life…hmmm
“The presence of massive unemployment in Europe (10 to 12 percent in many of the major European countries) entails deprivations that are not well reflected in income distribution statistics. These deprivations are often downpalyed on the grounds that the European system of social security (including unemployment insurance) tends to make up for the loss of income and unemployment. But the unemployment is not merely a deficiency of income that can be made up through transfers by the state…it is also a source of far-reaching debilitating effects on individual freedom, initiative, and skills. Among its manifold effects, unemployment contributes to the “social exclusion” of some groups, and it leads to losses of self-reliance, self-confidence and psychological and physical health. Indeed it is hard to escape a sense of manifold incongruity in contemporary European attempts to move to a more self-help social climate without devising adequate policies for reducing the massive and intolerable levels of unemployment that make such self-help extremely difficult” – very true! Taken from the development guru Amartya Sen in “Development as Freedom” page 21
The concluding note on how to live your life: (see A Binary, Over-simplified Model of the Consequences of my Choices – previous 3 blog posts)
Perhaps by dichotomising this issue I have made it seem overly simple. Either you choose option A or you choose option B for your life. This is not the case. The world is not a binary system of ones and zeroes but an infinitely complex set of multivariate, interconnected relationships. We try and model the world by making assumptions (economists!) or by over-simplifying complex issues (as above). When we model in this way, we risk losing the usefulness of the model, quite simply because it no longer represents reality. It is too far removed and abstracted from the real, complex system that the jump from the model to the real world is too large. I hope that my model (a binary, over-simplified model of the consequences of my choices) still has some usefulness, even after the oversimplification.
Very few people are entirely hedonistic, without a shred of redeeming character, and even less live completely godly lives. We are all some combination of these two options. The one advantage of the binary representation, I think, is that it symbolises that we cannot or rather that we should not dabble in one (the hedonistic option for me) every now and then and live mostly in the other, but should live wholly in one of these – either hot or cold, not some perverted mixture of the two (salt-water and fresh water, grapes and thorn bushes, figs and thistles for example). Wherever you find yourself, I think it is imperative that we are honest with ourselves – something I am trying to do.
It’s all good and well to know what we should do, but how can we actually do this? This is where my little model fails – it is descriptive and not prescriptive. I highly doubt that a prescriptive model of that complexity could be represented dichotomously, and my initial speculation is that we already have that prescriptive model…we just don’t follow its prescriptions….just a thought 🙂
The second of two options on how to live your life: (see A Binary, Over-simplified Model of the Consequences of my Choices – see 2 previous blog posts)
- Word of God Option
- For lack of a better description I shall call this option the W.O.G. Option. It encompasses seeing things from God’s perspective. Acknowledging that the Bible is God’s manual for life and outlines the best way to live. The directives and exhortations outlined in the Bible are not suggestions on a ‘good’ way to live, they outline the only way that leads to life.
- You are more productive. You are more focused. You care about doing your best. You are able to work for longer periods of time.
- You have to be more disciplined if you are to choose this option. You cannot act on every whim, fulfil every desire or say anything that comes to your mind. You act like a rational human that thinks, contemplates and considers things before doing them. Not like an animal that does whatever it wants to. There is thought for the long term and not only the here-and-now.
- You are confident inside yourself. “The righteous are as bold as a lion” – you know this is also true. This confidence manifests itself in numerous ways; willingness to challenge anyone if they are acting unjustly and the ability to act courageously when needed.
- Your moods are much more stable and you are more able to brush off your irritability. You are a nicer person to be around; you are more stable and joyful.
- You are more organised, probably a bi-product of living a more disciplined life.
- You are less materialistic. You understand better that people are what is important and spend your time accordingly. (Although there are numerous elements relating to Biblical directives this is one of the most pertinent for me). Some of these other directives are: to care for the poor, to share God’s love with people, to fellowship with believers etc)
- Another directive is to study the Bible and to know God more. In this option you devote more time to theology and understanding the Bible.
The first of two options on how to live your life: (see A Binary, Over-simplified Model of the Consequences of my Choices – previous blog post)
- Hedonistic Option
- Feels very good (let’s not kid ourselves) when you are doing it but afterwards you feel guilty and dirty. If you indulge in this option enough the guilt might start to lessen and the dirty feeling might stop feeling dirty in the same way that people who live by a rubbish dump don’t smell the stench.
- You are not as productive as you can be since you are distracted by every whim and pleasure that might cross your mind.
- There is very little discipline involved in this option and this spills over into other areas of your life.
- Inside yourself you are less confident even though this isn’t necessarily reflected in your outward composure. “The wicked flee though no one pursues them” – you know this is true. You are less confident to withstand confrontation by righteous people.
- This option is ‘common’. It takes little effort, skill, determination, humility, growth and all the virtues of life.
- You live by the seat-of-your-pants and take the world as it comes, with little thought for the future. As a result, you have to deal with the consequences arising from your actions (often this brings pain and much unnecessary, wasted effort).
- This option is encouraged by mass media, perhaps as a result of corporate evolution and the profit motive (combined). It makes sense to want consumers that act on impulse, buy when they feel like it (or more realistically when prompted by advertising) and live ‘in the moment’ with little thought for the future (particularly to discount your future physical, emotional and financial health).
- Probably as a result of the lack of discipline, your moods are erratic and you are easily irritated by some people. There isn’t much constancy and stability.