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Sunday, March 23, 2014

I Was Just Wondering

I Was Just WonderingI Was Just Wondering by Philip Yancey

My rating: 3 of 5 stars


Philip Yancey more than any other author makes me think and challenges me with his words. This book presents a structured adaptation of some of Yancey's best columns from the magazine, Christianity Today, for which he writes. These forty-five essays were taken over a five year period. As you will see from the quotes below it is a book worth the read.

“God’s voice thunders in marvelous ways,” said Elihu to Job. ~Job 37:5 (NIV)

We should feel dissonance; we are, after all, immortals trapped in mortal surroundings. We lack unity because long ago a gap fissured open between our mortal and immortal parts; theologians trace the fault line back to the Fall. ~Philip Yancey

The discomfiture we feel may be our most accurate human sensation; reminding us we are not quite “at home” here. ~C.S. Lewis

Jesus announced a great reversal of values in His Sermon on the Mount, elevating not the rich or attractive, but rather the poor, the persecuted, and those who mourn. ~Philip Yancey

And perhaps, exhibiting the fruit of the Spirit may be our very best defense against a materialist view of mankind here on earth. ~Philip Yancey

I have more appreciation for why the Bible avoids fuzzy psychologisms and says simply to the stealer, “Steal no more,” and to the tempted, “Flee temptation.” The Bible challenges us to look upward, not inward, for counsel at moments of crisis. ~Philip Yancey

That story [Ecclesiastes] of decadence by the richest, wisest, and most talented person in the world serves as a perfect allegory for what can happen when we lose sight of the Giver whose good gifts we enjoy. ~Philip Yancey

As Ecclesiastes tells it, a wholesale devotion to pleasure will, paradoxically, lead to a state of utter despair. ~Philip Yancey

I came away from the “midnight church” impressed, but also wondering why AA meets needs in a way that the local church does not – or at least did not, for my friend. I asked him to name the one quality missing in the local church that AA had somehow provided. He stared at his cup of coffee for a long time, watching it go cold. I expected to hear a word like love or acceptance or, knowing him, perhaps anti-institutionalism. Instead, he sais softly one word: dependency. “None of us can make it on our own – isn’t that why Jesus came?” he explained. “Yet most church people give off a self-satisfied air of piety or superiority. I don’t sense them consciously leaning on God or each other.” ~Philip Yancey

Like Job’s friends, we can too easily come across as cranky or smug, not prophetic. Judgment without love makes enemies, not converts. ~Philip Yancey

Do you think that these Galileans were worse sinners than all the other Galileans because they suffered this way? I tell you, no! But unless you repent, you too will all perish. Or those eighteen who died when the tower in Siloam fell on them – do you think they were more guilty than all the others living in Jerusalem? I tell you, no! But unless you repent, you too will all perish. ~Luke 13:1-5 He (Jesus) seems to imply that we “bystanders” of catastrophe have as much to learn from the event as do the sufferers themselves. What should a plague teach us? Humility, for one thing. And gratitude that God has so far withheld the judgment all of us deserve. And compassion, the compassion that Jesus displayed to all who mourn and suffer. Finally, catastrophe joins together victim and bystander in a common call to repentance, by abruptly reminding us of the brevity of life. It warns us to make ourselves ready in case we are the next victim of a falling tower – or an AIDS virus. ~Philip Yancey

I have yet to find any support in the Bible for an attitude of smugness: Ah, they deserve their punishment; watch them squirm. ~Philip Yancey

Curiously, the righteous Pharisees had little historical impact, save for a brief time in a remote corner of the Roman Empire. But Jesus’ disciples – an ornery, undependable, and hopelessly flawed group of men – became drunk with the power of a gospel that offered free forgiveness to the worst sinners and traitors. Those men managed to change the world. ~Philip Yancey

A child kicks his legs rhythmically through excess, not absence of life. 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

As I read the Bible, it seems clear that God satisfies his “eternal appetite” by loving individual human beings. I imagine He views each halting step forward in my spiritual “walk” with the eagerness of a parent watching a child take the very first step. ~Philip Yancey

To be commanded to love God at all, let alone in the wilderness, is like being commanded to be well when we are sick, to sing for joy when we are dying of thirst, to run when our legs are broken. But this is the first and great commandment nonetheless. Even in the wilderness – especially in the wilderness – you shall love Him. ~Frederick Buechner




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