“Friendship is born at that moment when one person says to another, ‘What! You too? I thought I was the only one!’” —C.S. Lewis
“Friendship is precious, not only in the shade, but in the sunshine of life, and thanks to a benevolent arrangement the greater part of life is sunshine.” —Thomas Jefferson
“Friendship is a single soul dwelling in two bodies.” —Aristotle
“Friendship is not a way of accomplishing something but a way of being with another in which we become more authentically ourselves.” —Eugene Peterson
“The glory of friendship is not the outstretched hand, not the kindly smile, nor the joy of companionship; it is the spiritual inspiration that comes to one when you discover that someone else believes in you and is willing to trust you with a friendship.” —Emerson
“If the first law of friendship is that it has to be cultivated, the second law is to be indulgent when the first has been neglected.” —Voltaire
“Friendship is agreement with kindliness and affection about things human and divine.” —Cicero
“The light of friendship is seen plainest when all around is dark.” —Grace Noll Crowell
“For spiritual friendship, which is what we mean by true friendship, should be desired not with a view to any worldly good, nor for any reason extrinsic to itself, but from the worthiness of its own nature, and the feeling of the human heart, so that it offers no advantage or reward other than itself. … For in this true friendship one makes progress by bettering oneself, and one bears fruit by experiencing the enjoyment of this increasing degree of perfection. And so spiritual friendship is born among good people through the similarity of their characters, goals, and habits in life.” —Aelred of Rievaulx
“The quickest way to initiate friendship is to give people freedom to be themselves.” —Andy Braner
“Criticism is something you can avoid easily—by saying nothing, doing nothing and being nothing.” —Aristotle
“The Lord uses critics to show us our own hearts, even if what they say is not fully true, informed, or even fair. There is almost always a germ of truth in what our critics (in their own pain and disappointment) shout at us. The wise leader will humble himself and look for the truth embedded in every oppositional interaction.” —Dick Brogden [see 2 Samuel 16:5-12]
“Feedback is the breakfast of champions.” —Ken Blanchard
“Criticism can be received as a gift from God. It is an opportunity to pray, search Scripture, evaluate your own heart, and offer grace to others. The right response to criticism should not be retaliation or pride (which just perpetuates hurt), but rather humility.” —Jeremy Carr
“There is a growing trend to attack, criticize, and resent anyone who has talent or achievements that sets them apart from others. This tendency extends to those who resent the efforts of leaders who challenge the status quo. Opponents of change initiatives often attempt to marginalize leaders by attacking their character and questioning their motives. If the messenger is flawed, then the message and vision they offer cannot be trusted. As disappointing as it is, these challenges come with the territory of leadership.” —Dr. J. Lee Whittington
“If I were to attempt to answer all the criticisms and complaints I receive, I would have no time for any other business. From day to day I do the best I can and will continue to do so till the end. If in the end I come out all right, then the complaints and criticisms and what is said against me will make no difference. But, if the end brings me out wrong, then ten angels coming down from heaven to swear I was right would still make no difference.” —Abraham Lincoln
“If a ministry is God-anointed, it doesn’t matter who criticizes it. If it’s not anointed, it doesn’t matter who praises it.” —Rick Warren
“Your critics have information that your friends are withholding.” —John Maxwell
“God never gives us discernment so that we may criticize, but that we may intercede.” —Oswald Chambers
“No leader is exempt from criticism and his humility will nowhere be seen more clearly than in the manner in which he accepts and reacts to it.” —J. Oswald Sanders
“Criticism may not be agreeable, but it is necessary. It fulfills the same function as pain in the human body: It calls attention to an unhealthy state of things.” —Winston Churchill
“Every man needs a blind eye and a deaf ear, so when people applaud, you’ll only hear half of it, and when people salute, you’ll only see part of it. Believe only half the praise and half the criticism.” —C.H. Spurgeon
“Any fool can criticize, condemn and complain—and most fools do. But it takes character and self-control to be understanding and forgiving.” —Dale Carnegie
“A mark of a godly leader is one so focused on God’s plan that he pays no attention to his critics or enemies.” —Craig T. Owens
“Never be afraid of honest criticism. If the critic is wrong, you can help him; and if you’re wrong, he can help you. Either way, somebody’s helped.” —A.W. Tozer
“It’s so much easier to teach correct principles than it is to know and love a person. It’s so much easier to give brilliant advice than to empathize and be open. It’s so much easier to live independently than to live interdependently. It’s so much easier to be a judge than to be a light. It’s so much easier to be a critic than to be a model.” —Stephen Covey
“When is it inappropriate to praise a critical person? One: When you are being criticized for outright sin, and the criticism is accurate. If what is said is true, the tension you feel will be relieved only one way: confession. Two: when you are falsely accused of sin. Sin is a serious charge, obviously more serious than those ‘against you’ realize or they would have done their homework.” —Blaine Allen
“Don’t let an arrow of criticism pierce your heart unless it first passes through the filter of Scripture.” —Mark Batterson
“There is no better antidote for unjust criticism than a clear conscience before God.” —James Hernando
“It is not the critic who counts; nor the many who point out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood, who strives valiantly… who knows the great enthusiasms, the great devotions, who spends himself in a worthy cause, who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who have never known neither victory nor defeat.” —Teddy Roosevelt
In seven essays expressly shared to get the reader to think in terms of eternity, C.S. Lewis masterfully practices his craft. Check out my full book review of The World’s Last Night by clicking here. Below is just a small sampling of a few of the outstanding quotes in this book.
“Simply to say prayers is not to pray; otherwise a team of properly trained parrots would serve as well as men.”
“Prayer is not a machine. It is not magic. It is not advice offered to God. Our act, when we pray, must not, any more than all our other acts, be separated from the continuous act of God Himself, in which alone all finite causes operate.”
“Scientists are mainly concerned not with believing things but with finding things out. And no one, to the best of my knowledge, uses the word believe about things he has found out. The doctor says he ‘believes’ a man was poisoned before he has examined the body; after the examination, he says the man was poisoned. No one says that he believes the multiplication table. No one who catches a thief red-handed says he believes that man was stealing. The scientist, when at work, that is, when he is a scientist, is labouring to escape from belief and unbelief into knowledge. Of course he uses hypotheses or supposals. I do not think these are beliefs.”
“Since most men, as Aristotle observed, do not like to be merely equal with all other men, we find all sorts of people building themselves into groups within which they can feel superior to the mass.”
“‘Good works’ in the plural is an expression much more familiar to modern Christendom than ‘good work.’ Good works are chiefly alms-giving or ‘helping’ in the parish. They are quite separate from one’s ‘work.’ And good works need not be good work, as anyone can see by inspecting some of the objects made to be sold at bazaars for charitable purposes. This is not according to our example. When our Lord provided a poor wedding party with an extra glass of wine all round, He was doing good works. But also good work; it was a wine really worth drinking.”
“Christ died for men precisely because men are not worth dying for; to make them worth it.”
“It would be difficult, and, to me, repellent, to suppose that Jesus never asked a genuine question, that is, a question to which He did not know the answer. That would make of His humanity something so unlike ours as scarcely to deserve the name. I find it easier to believe that when He said ‘Who touched Me?’ (Luke 7:45) He really wanted to know.”
“For what comes [after Christ’s Second Coming] is Judgment: happy are those whom it finds labouring in their vocations, whether they were merely going out to feed the pigs or laying good plans to deliver humanity a hundred years hence from some great evil. The curtain has indeed now fallen. Those pigs will never in fact be fed, the great campaign against White Slavery or Governmental Tyranny will never in fact proceed to victory. No matter; you were at your post when the Inspection came.”
My wife asked me what book I was reading, and I told her, “The Bad Habits Of Jesus by Leonard Sweet.” Her quick reply was, “Oh, He didn’t have any!” Her gut reaction to this book’s title is probably the gut reaction of most Christians. But to think of Jesus that way is to completely misconstrue how much of a revolutionary Jesus was!
Sweet gives us 15 bad habits Jesus demonstrated while He lived and ministered in first-century Israel. They were “bad habits” because they went against the grain of all that polite, religious society had ingrained in the culture.
To give you an idea, let me list just one of Jesus Christ’s bad habits: He enjoyed the company of women. I know today many people would say, “Yeah, so what’s the big deal.”
The big deal is that women were called “misbegotten” by Aristotle. They were persona non grata if they weren’t in the company of their fathers or husbands. They could be mistreated or divorced solely because their husbands wanted to. And women could never—ever!—be a student of a rabbi.
And yet Jesus not only taught women, but He treated them with a dignity and respect that was unheard of in His culture. He allowed them to have key roles in supporting His ministry, and He elevated their value in society. Leonard Sweet points out, “Jesus is the first Person in recorded history, in fact, to critique the ‘male gaze,’ saying that ‘Anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart.’ Jesus took the proverb ‘As he thinks in his heart, so is he’ seriously but went beyond ‘Don’t do it’ to ‘Don’t even think about it!’” Jesus protected women like they had never been protected before.
This is truly an innovative, paradigm-busting, eye-opening book, and in the process, my understanding of what Jesus taught and demonstrated in the Gospels was expanded as well. The Bad Habits Of Jesus is written in such an engaging style that you will have a hard time putting it down.
I love getting counsel from been-there-done-that people, because I’m always looking for ways to grow and improve. I was reading these quotes for myself, but I thought my fellow pastors might enjoy them as well.
“A sermon is not like a Chinese firecracker to be fired off for the noise which it makes. It is the hunter’s gun, and at every discharge he should look to see his game fall.” ―Henry Ward Beecher
“That is not the best sermon which makes the hearers go away talking to one another, and praising the speaker, but which makes them go away thoughtful and serious, and hastening to be alone.” ―Gilbert Burnet
“Great sermons lead the people to praise the preacher. Good preaching leads to people to praise the Savior.” ―Charles G. Finney
“The priests have so disfigured the simple religion of Jesus that no one who reads the sophistications they have engrafted on it, with the jargon of Plato, or Aristotle, and other mystics, would conceive these could have been fathered on the sublime Preacher of the Sermon on the Mount.” ―Thomas Jefferson
“The sermon edifies, the example destroys. Practice what you preach.” ―Abbé de Villiers
“Once in seven years I burn all my sermons; for it is a shame if I cannot write better sermons now than I did seven years ago.” ―John Wesley, in his journal
“It is a poor sermon that gives no offense; that neither makes the hearer displeased with himself nor with the preacher.” ―George Whitefield
I love the way Brennan Manning writes! It’s so gut-level real. His words both convict me and encourage me to go deeper into God’s love. You can read my full book review of The Furious Longing Of God by clicking here. Below are some of the quotes I especially appreciated.
“The God I’ve come to know by sheer grace, the Jesus I met in the grounds of my own self, has furiously loved me regardless of my state—grace or disgrace. And why? For His love is never, never, never based on our performance, never conditioned by our moods—of elation or depression. The furious love of God knows no shadow of alteration or change. It is reliable. And always tender.”
“The foundation of the furious longing of God is the Father who is the originating Lover, the Son who is the full self-expression of that Love, and the Spirit who is the original and inexhaustible activity of that Love, drawing the created universe into itself.”
“Pagan philosophers such as Aristotle arrived at the existence of God via human reason and referred to Him in vague, impersonal terms: the uncaused cause, the immovable mover. The prophets of Israel revealed the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob in a warmer, more compassionate manner. But only Jesus revealed to an astonished Jewish community that God is truly Father.”
“The degree of Abba’s love for me is in direct proportion to His love for Jesus. For example, I can love the mailman with twenty percent and my best friend with ninety percent. But with God, there is no division, no more and no less. God loves me as much as He loves Jesus. Wow!”
“First, if we continue to picture God as a small-minded bookkeeper, a niggling customs officer rifling through our moral suitcase, as a policeman with a club who is going to bat us over the head every time we stumble and fall, or as a whimsical, capricious, and cantankerous thief who delights in raining on our parade and stealing our joy, we flatly deny what John writes in his first letter (4:16)—‘God is love.’ In human beings, love is a quality, a high-prized virtue; in God, love is His identity. Secondly, if we continue to view ourselves as moral lepers and spiritual failures, if our lives are shadowed by low self-esteem, shame, remorse, unhealthy guilt, and self-hatred, we reject the teaching of Jesus and cling to our negative self-image.”
“Healing becomes the opportunity to pass off to another human being what I have received from the Lord Jesus; namely His unconditional acceptance of me as I am, not as I should be. He loves me whether in a state of grace or disgrace, whether I live up to the lofty expectations of His gospel or I don’t. He comes to me where I live and loves me as I am.”
“To affirm a person is to see the good in them that they cannot see in themselves and to repeat it in spite of appearances to the contrary.”
“Jesus said the world is going to recognize you as His by only one sign: the way you are with one another on the street every day. You are going to leave people feeling a little better or a little worse. You’re going to affirm them or deprive them, but there’ll be no neutral exchange.”
“The question is not can we heal? The question, the only question, is will we let the healing power of the risen Jesus flow through us to reach and touch others, so that they may dream and fight and bear and run where the brave dare not go?”
“How is it then that we’ve come to imagine that Christianity consists primarily in what we do for God? How has this come to be the good news of Jesus? Is the kingdom that He proclaimed to be nothing more than a community of men and women who go to church on Sunday, take an annual spiritual retreat, read their Bibles every now and then, vigorously oppose abortion, don’t watch x-rated movies, never use vulgar language, smile a lot, hold doors open for people, root for the favorite team, and get along with everybody? Is that why Jesus went through the bleak and bloody horror of Calvary? Is that why He emerged in shattering glory from the tomb? Is that why He poured out His Holy Spirit on the church? To make nicer men and women with better morals? The gospel is absurd and the life of Jesus is meaningless unless we believe that He lived, died, and rose again with but one purpose in mind: to make brand-new creations. Not to make people with better morals, but to create a community of prophets and professional lovers, men and women who would surrender to the mystery of the fire of the Spirit that burns within, who would live in ever greater fidelity to the omnipresent Word of God, who would enter into the center of it all, the very heart and mystery of Christ, into the center of the flame that consumes, purifies, and sets everything aglow with peace, joy, boldness, and extravagant, furious love.”
As I said in my book review of Anthony Flew’s There Is A God, the real value of this book is in the arguments which contributed to Flew’s shift from atheism to theism. You can read my full book review by clicking here.
Frankly, it’s hard to share a lot of the quotes because the context of the full argument would be lacking, but I’ve been sharing a few of them over several posts. To wrap up this series, here are several other noteworthy quotes from this thought-provoking book.
“I would have liked to convince my father that I had found what he had been looking for, the ineffable something he had longed for all his life. I would have liked to persuade him that the search for God does not have to be in vain. But it was hopeless. He had known too many blind Christians, bleak moralists who sucked the joy from life and persuaded their opponents; he would never have been able to see the truth they were hiding.” —Katherine Tait, daughter of Bertrand Russell
“Nothing can penetrate the loneliness of the human heart except the highest intensity of the sort of love the religious teachers have preached.” —Bertrand Russell
“In sum, to the Being who he considered to be the explanation of the world and its broad form, Aristotle ascribed the following attributes: immutability, immateriality, omnipotence, omniscience, oneness or indivisibility, perfect goodness and necessary existence. There is an impressive correspondence between this set of attributes and those traditionally ascribed to God within the Judaeo-Christian tradition. It is one that fully justifies us in viewing Aristotle as having had the same Divine Being in mind as the cause of the world that is the object of worship of these two religions.” —David Conway
“There can never be any real opposition between religion and science; for the one is the complement of the other. … Religion and natural science are fighting the joint battle in an incessant, never relaxing crusade against skepticism and against dogmatism, against unbelief and superstition … and therefore ‘On to God!’” —Max Planck
“God is a mathematician of a very high order and He used advanced mathematics in constructing the universe.” —Paul A.M. Dirac
“Reason tells me of the extreme difficulty or rather impossibility of conceiving this immense and wonderful universe, including man with his capability of looking far backwards and far into the futurity, as a result of blind chance or necessity. When thus reflecting I feel compelled to look to a First Cause having an intelligent mind in some degree analogous to that of mine; and I deserve to be called a Theist.” —Charles Darwin
“Science can proceed only if the scientist adopts an essentially theological worldview. … Even the most atheistic scientist accepts as an act of faith the existence of a lawlike order in nature that is at least in part comprehensible to us.” —Paul Davies, Templeton Prize winner
“It is crazy to postulate a trillion (casually unconnected) universes to explain the features of one universe, when postulating one entity (God) will do the job.” —Richard Swinburne
“The problem of how meaningful or semantic information can emerge spontaneously from a collection of mindless molecules subject to blind and purposeless forces percents a deep conceptual challenge.” —Paul Davies
“One feature of life, though, remains certain: Life could not have evolved without a genetic mechanism—one able to store, replicate, and transmit to its progeny information that can change with time. … Precisely how the first genetic machinery involved also persists as an unresolved issue.” —Antonia Lazcano
“The world is rational. The order of the world reflects the order of the supreme mind governing it.” —Kurt Gödel
“The reality of rationality cannot be evaded with any appeal to natural selection. Natural selection presupposes the existence of physical entities that interact according to specific laws and of a code that manages the processes of life. And to talk of natural selection is to assume that there is some logic to what is happening in nature (adaptation) and that we are capable of understanding this logic.” —Roy Abraham Varghese
You can read some direct quotes from Anthony Flew by clicking here.
David J. Bobb has a title/subtitle combination that almost sounds paradoxical—Humility: An Unlikely Biography Of America’s Greatest Virtue. After all, when many think of America they are more likely to use the terms “confidant” or even “brash,” but not usually “humble.” But in this seeming paradox is a great truth.
The Greek philosophers often described a virtue as the golden mean between two extremes. Indeed, David Bobb uses such philosophers as Socrates and Aristotle, alongside Augustine and even more modern thinkers like Benjamin Franklin, to explore how America could be virtuous because of its humility.
Or more precisely, how America could be virtuous because of humble Americans. Dr. Bobb explores the biographies of notable Americans like George Washington, James Madison, Abigail Adams, Abraham Lincoln and Frederick Douglass to give us an intriguing description of what true humility looks like. Although in their time many thought of these people as proud or even glory-seekers, Dr. Bobb shows us how it was their profound, often hard-won humility that made them examples worth emulating.
And we do need these examples. In the epilogue, Dr. Bobb quotes Oliver Wendell Holmes, “Humility is the first of the virtues for other people.” How true! The question is: Will Americans re-learn the virtuous power and strength of humility, or will humility continue to erode, mistaken by many as a weakness?
For both history enthusiasts, leaders, leaders-in-training, and those who love a good biography, Humility is a very enjoyable and educational book.
These are links to articles and quotes I found interesting today.
“It is not hard for the Lord to turn night into day. He that sends the clouds can as easily clear the skies. Let us be of good cheer. It is better on before. Let us sing hallelujah by anticipation.” —Charles Spurgeon
“A holy life is not an aesthetic, or gloomy, or solitary life, but a life regulated by divine truth and faithful in Christian duty.” —Tyron Edwards
“The greatest miracle that God can do today is to take an unholy man out of an unholy world, and make that man holy and put him back into that unholy world and keep him holy in it.” —Leonard Ravenhill
“If you see church as being just your local fellowship, then you still have not found the true Church. The God-blessed, righteous Church starts where you live.” —David Wilkerson
“As long as Christians split hairs, Christians will split churches.” —Max Lucado
“The Christian church is the body of Christ, Jesus Himself being the Headship of that body. Every true Christian, no matter where he or she lives, is a part of that body, and the Holy Spirit is to the church what our own souls are to our physical bodies.” —A.W. Tozer
“Miracle” is directly mentioned so 30 times in Scripture, but the Bible never explicitly defines miracle. Lewis gives this definition: “I use the word Miracle to mean an interference with Nature by supernatural power.” He then proceeds to explain what philosophers such as Socrates, Plato and Aristotle meant by “nature” and “super-nature” and how those understandings have been dismissed, adapted or corrupted throughout history.
Lewis moves through several chapters without admitting miracles are probable (or even possible) and without ascribing any possible miracles to God. When he finally reveals that there is a God, he states, “From the admission that God exists and is the author of Nature, it by no means follows that miracles must, or even can, occur.” He then moves to the Scripture to show how God could—and indeed, does—work miraculously.
Even after all of Lewis’ brilliant arguments, I appreciate one of his final admissions in this book: “If you find that [these ideas] so distract you, think of them no more. I most fully allow that it is of more importance for you or me today to refrain from one sneer or to extend one charitable thought to an enemy than to know all that angels and archangels know about the mysteries of the New Creation.”
Even for those who accept his arguments, Lewis offers this counsel: “My work ends here. If, after reading it, you now turn to study the historical evidence for yourself, begin with the New Testament and not with the books about it.” Ultimately I recommend this book for this one reason—Miracles creates a hunger to study God’s Word more.