One thing essential to growth in grace is diligence in the use of private means of grace. By this I understand such means as a man must use by himself alone, and no one can use for him. I include under this heading private prayer, private reading of the Scriptures, and private meditation and self examination. The man who does not take pains about these three things must never expect to grow. Here are the roots of true Christianity. Wrong here, a man is wrong all the way through! Here is the whole reason that many professing Christians never seem to get on. They are careless and slovenly about their private prayers. They read their Bibles but little, and with very little heartiness of spirit. They give themselves no time for self inquiry and quiet thought about the state of their souls.
Remember that if the mighty ones of this world are honored with noisy eulogies and public fanfare, I am honored by the silent and attentive heart, by a delicate sacrifice known to no one, by a secret surrender, a tender inner glance.
~from He And I by Gabrielle Bossis
You only truly believe that which moves you to action.
Followers want change only when they aren’t happy and usually when it doesn’t require much risk or sacrifice on their part. A leader seldom marshals troops who are willing to sweat, let alone die. One can speak of vision and mission, calling and opportunity until the cows come home, but when the day ends, most people want nothing more demanding than some television and a few uncomplicated laughs.
Don’t miss this: leadership that mimics Jesus will not be normal. It will be neither expected nor, in most cases, preferred. It will be disruptive and anomalous, and it will demand one’s body and soul, fortune, reputation, and all the other small gods that keep our lives safe and satisfied. Here is God’s leadership model: he chooses fools to live foolishly in order to reveal the economy of heaven, which reverses and inverts the wisdom of this world. He calls us to brokenness, not performance; to relationships, not commotion; to grace, not success.
Reading furnishes the mind only with materials of knowledge; it is thinking that makes what we read ours.
The way to liberation and rest lies through a decision and a practice.
The decision is to release the world and your fate, including your reputation and “success,” into the hands of God. This is not a decision to not act at all, though in some situations it may come to that. It is, rather, a decision concerning how you will act: you will act in dependence on God. You will not take charge of outcomes. You will do your part, of course, but your part will always be chastened by a sense of who God is–not you!
A decision to release the world and our fate to God runs contrary to everything within and around us. We have been had by a system of behavior that was here before we were and seeps into every pore of our being. “Sin,” Paul tells us, “was in the world,” even before the law came. It forms us internally and pressures us externally. Hence we must learn to choose things that meet with God’s actions of grace to break us out of the system. These things are the disciplines of life in the Spirit, well known from Christian history but much avoided and misunderstood. For those who do not understand our desperate situation, these disciplines look strange or even harmful. But they are absolutely necessary for those who would find rest for their soul in God and not live the distracted existence Pascal so accurately portrays.
But if God is so good as you represent Him, and if He knows all that we need, and better far than we do ourselves, why should it be necessary to ask Him for anything?
I answer, What if He knows Prayer to be the thing we need first and most? What if the main object in God’s idea of prayer be the supplying of our great, our endless need–the need of Himself? Hunger may drive the runaway child home, and he may or may not be fed at once, but he needs his mother more than his dinner. Communion with God is the one need of the soul beyond all other need: prayer is the beginning of that communion, and some need is the motive of that prayer. So begins a communion, a talking with God, a coming-to-one with Him, which is the sole end of prayer.
If you are distressed by anything external, the pain is not due to the thing itself, but to your estimate of it; and this you have the power to revoke at any moment.
The aim of God in history is the creation of an all-inclusive community of loving persons with God Himself at the very center of this community as its prime Sustainer and most glorious Inhabitant.