January 25, 2021

A Few of the Many Quotes that Shape My Life

A Few of the Many Quotes that Shape My Life

• • •

All Spirituality is Living and Local

So—spiritual theology, lived theology—not just studied, or discussed, or written about; not “God” as an abstraction but God in a participating relationship; not God as a truth to be argued; not God as a weapon to be wielded in the culture wars. Rather, the conviction that everything of God that is revealed to us is to be lived relationally in the dailiness of our human lives on this local ground on which we have been placed. Nothing disembodied, nothing impersonal, nothing in general.

• Eugene Peterson

To Be Post-Evangelical

To be post-evangelical is to reject evangelical culture in favor of a more catholic, diverse and ancient expression of the Christian faith, while adhering to evangelical doctrine without becoming part of any team or faction operating under the illusion of superiority to others and a closure of the Christian conversation.

• Michael Spencer

The Work of the Church (vs. Church Work)

Think of it this way. The program of our church is everything all the members are doing between Sundays. The church keeps house, goes to school, teaches, practices law, medicine and dentistry, runs business and industry, farms, works on construction jobs, researches in many fields, sits on school boards, city councils, county councils, state legislatures and congress. Between Sundays the church is involved in everything productive and constructive that is happening in our community. And it does so as a witness to Christ, to the glory of God, in His love and in the power of the Holy Spirit, sensitive to its accountability to Christ.

And what of the church work which is done in and for the church organization? Its purpose is to equip each member to do the work for the church Monday through Saturday. All the programs within the church are for the purpose of enabling the church to do the work of ministry between Sundays when she is invisible as a congregation.

• Richard Halverson

The Masks of God

All our work in the field, in the garden, in the city, in the home, in struggle, in government — to what does it all amount before God except child’s play, by means of which God is pleased to give his gifts in the field, at home, and everywhere? These are the masks of our Lord God, behind which he wants to be hidden and to do all things.

• Martin Luther

Drawn to the Religionless

I often ask myself why a “Christian instinct” often draws me more to the religionless people than to the religious, by which I don’t in the least mean with any evangelizing intention, but, I might almost say, “in brotherhood.”

• Dietrich Bonhoeffer

Kindness is Key

What is desirable in a man is his kindness…

• Proverbs 19:22, NASB

I Have No Idea Where I Am Going

My Lord God,
I have no idea where I am going.
I do not see the road ahead of me.
I cannot know for certain where it will end.
nor do I really know myself,
and the fact that I think I am following your will
does not mean that I am actually doing so.
But I believe that the desire to please you
does in fact please you.
And I hope I have that desire in all that I am doing.
I hope that I will never do anything apart from that desire.
And I know that if I do this you will lead me by the right road,
though I may know nothing about it.
Therefore will I trust you always though
I may seem to be lost and in the shadow of death.
I will not fear, for you are ever with me,
and you will never leave me to face my perils alone.

• Thomas Merton

A Darker Hope

To hope, therefore, in love as tomorrow’s guarantor, as even more creative and enduring than the great destructiveness of lovelessness, is itself to banish shallow optimism for the future of the world. Hope itself embraces the proposition that evil may increase, death have its day of triumph, and history be terminated. Certainly any sunny supposition that the world cannot be lost, nor death be finally victorious, that evil at worst is inept and its success provisional and passing, is cancelled by a darker hope, grounded in Easter Saturday, which confesses that the only victory in life is won by going beyond, not by thwarting or reducing, the expansive magnitude of death and the surd reality of its ascendancy. Faith’s assurance of the final consummation of the cosmos does not preclude but makes space of fearsome amplitude for the future loss of history, just as the Son of God’s third-day resurrection did not forestall ahead of time, nor cancel retroactively, the end of himself and of the world on the second day.

• Alan E. Lewis

I Am With You

Here is the world. Beautiful and terrible things will happen. Don’t be afraid. I am with you. Nothing can ever separate us. It’s for you I created the universe. I love you.

• Frederick Buechner

When There’s No Baseball

People ask me what I do in winter when there’s no baseball. I’ll tell you what I do. I stare out the window and wait for spring.

• Rogers Hornsby


  1. Regards Eugene Peterson I am still confused on his real thoughts on same sex marriage. The dust up on his interview in July 2017 created an uproar. As I recall Peterson “retracted” his interview comments within a day and came out against same sex marriage. I only bring this up as when he writes “not God to be used as a weapon in the culture wars” what are we to surmise about his position based on this own words and thoughts given in what seemed a measured , thoughtful way and then reversed. Did he believe the truth of God’s word on homosexuality to be truth or that the truth had been revealed with new insight apart from historical Christian beliefs. Is the RCC wrong as well as almost every conservative Protestant religion with their support of traditional marriage per the Bible or are they engaged in a culture war? So when a skilled wordsmith writes good sounding, well intentioned, insightful and to me general terms what really is the true message of the author? That God is the giver of every day of our lives and we are to honor God and heed his word in our daily life does need to be reinforced but if I were seeking guidance I would ask, so what constitutes the culture war, Rev. Peterson? Are Christians who follow the Bible and teaching of Christianity provoking the culture war when they oppose abortion or are they to only enforce/observe their moral beliefs within their own faith community apart from secular society?

  2. Good quotes, especially by Mr. Hornsby. 😉

    • Adam Tauno Williams says

      Except that he forgot about Hockey! 🙂

      • –> “Except that he forgot about Hockey!”

        Mr. Hornsby, or Chaplain Mike? 😉

        Maybe there’s a Rogers Hornsby quote out there somewhere, “I may have been a career .358 hitter, but it’s hockey that I love.”

  3. One quote that is shaping my life now:

    “Now that I am older, I want more than anything else to be a Christian. To live simply, to love generously, to speak truthfully, to serve faithfully, and to leave everything else to God.” Fred Craddock

  4. the snow falls and melts
    all in the space of a day
    such is life and death

  5. Susan Dumbrell says

    longing for the past
    frozen tears run down my cheeks
    summer sun melts them

  6. Burro [Mule] says

    How about we let our betters speak:

    “Gradually it was disclosed to me that the line separating good and evil passes not through states, nor between classes, nor between political parties either — but right through every human heart — and through all human hearts. This line shifts. Inside us, it oscillates with the years. And even within hearts overwhelmed by evil, one small bridgehead of good is retained. And even in the best of all hearts, there remains … an unuprooted small corner of evil. ”
    Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn

    ““Frodo: I wish the Ring had never come to me. I wish none of this had happened.

    Gandalf: So do all who live to see such times, but that is not for them to decide. All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given to us.” JRR Tolkien

    “The City is simultaneously hierarchical and republican.” Charles Williams

    “The strongest of all warriors are these two — Time and Patience.”
    “There is no greatness where simplicity, goodness, and truth are absent” Lev Tolstoy

  7. Thank you for these CM. These are treasures. The Bonhoeffer quote is intriguing, in particular.

  8. Comradeship and serious joy are not interludes in our travel; but… rather our travels are interludes in comradeship and joy, which through God shall endure for ever. The inn does not point to the road; the road points to the inn. And all roads point at last to an ultimate inn, where we shall meet Dickens and all his characters; and when we drink again it shall be from the great flagons in the tavern at the end of the world. – G.K. Chesterton

  9. As a lifelong nerd my gut-level view, until recently, was the drab flatland of the Newtonian universe. This from Peterson encourages and reminds me to meditate on narrative and the relational as the fundamental basis of reality.

  10. Every artist is a cannibal, every poet is a thief/
    All kill their inspiration then sing about the grief.

    – The Fly

  11. Burro [Mule] says

    As an aside, the link “America for the Immaculata” points to a previous article about photography.

  12. senecagriggs says

    Seriously – after reading I-monk for a few years; I see “post evangelical” as assuming the belief ethos of “Sportin’ Life” from Porgy and Bess.

    “It’s ain’t necessarily so, it ain’t necessarily so the things that you liable to read in the Bible, well it ain’t necessarily so.”

    Then those who are “post evangelical” are extremely frustrated with those of us who think Holy Scripture is actually God Word to mankind and what it says is pretty easy to understand and should be followed closely.
    Scripture is not to be interpreted thru the culture, but the culture is to be viewed thru the lens of Scripture – which more often then not is pretty clear.
    ” Jesus shaped spirituality” simply appears to be a justification to do what you want in the name of Jesus.

    [ You did suspect I’d show up didn’t you. -:} ]

    • Actually, Jesus is the TRUE Word of God, not the Bible. Look it up.

      • senecagriggs says

        Jesus quoted 49 Old Testament verses that we know of. The Son of God constantly pointed towards Scripture as the source of truth and knowledge.

        • As “a” source of truth and knowledge, though even here, there was no set canon of scripture to which he was appealing. There was no “Bible” that people had, only various scrolls from which the rabbis read. The canon itself was still taking shape. Some have pointed out that they would probably have included many books we consider “apocryphal” in their body of “authoritative” and “sacred” teaching. He also pointed to the flowers of the field and the birds of the air as sources of teaching, told stories about Samaritans and other kinds of people and relationships, and spoke in riddles to religious leaders. This is not as black and white and simple as you make it, seneca.

    • Much of humanity throughout history (and many even today) didn’t have access to a printing press — that does not exclude them from knowing God and living in relation to Him. God communicates who He is not only through a temporary, finite book, but rather personally and through His creation as well. Yes, Scripture is true, but it is not the whole truth.

      Scripture is a means to an end; Jesus “is” the end.

      (On a side note, if Scripture was clear on most things, we probably wouldn’t have a kajillion different Christian denominations and theologies.)

      • Burro [Mule] says

        Scripture is clear.
        I am not.

        “Truly, this only I have found:
        That God made man upright,
        But they have sought out many byways.”

        • By it’s very nature Scripture is not clear since human language/communication is subjective and relative. The word “large” — what does that even mean? A car is “large” compared to an ant, a car is “small” compared to the Sun. When a particular command is given, what are the extenuating circumstances? To what degree should it be enforced? There are countless supplementary considerations in regards to even seemingly “simple” passages.

          John 21:25 even acknowledges that Scripture is not even close to being the whole picture: “Now there are also many other things that Jesus did. Were every one of them to be written, I suppose that the world itself could not contain the books that would be written.”

          To say the Scripture is perfectly clear on all things is also to restrict who God is to words on a few pieces of paper. Those issues aside, the point still remains and what you stated is semantics, since it is not always clear to “us”, which is what matters and what the discussion is about.

    • You didn’t read the quote did you?

    • “”Jesus shaped spirituality” simply appears to be a justification to do what you want in the name of Jesus.”

      “Love God and do as you please.” – St. Augustine (who was about as NOT post-evangelical as you can get)

    • Iain Lovejoy says

      “The Bible was composed in such a way that as beginners mature, its meaning grows with them.” – Augustine – Confessions
      “In matters that are obscure and far beyond our vision, even in such as we may find treated in holy scripture, different interpretations are sometimes possible without prejudice to the faith we have received.” Ibid- Genesis ad Litteram
      “For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face; now I know in part, but then I shall fully know, as I am known” 1 Corinthians 13:12

    • The Bible is always read through the lense of a culture. My gripe is with those who lift verses out of their context and don’t look to see what situation Paul was addressing. Sometimes, scripture is not quite as “clear” as they want, of couse, they reveal their hand when they use scripture to keep their hold on power and deny others.

  13. Mike,

    Where does the Halverson quote come from? book? sermon?

    I love it.

  14. I had a long comment typed out, but I can tell you are trying to evoke a response in bad faith. So in the spirit of Chaplain Mike’s wish to just focus on the quotes, I won’t engage.

    Happy Holidays, senecagriggs.

  15. Steve Newell says

    “Earn all you can, give all you can, save all you can” — John Wesley

    I love this quote along with Luther’s teachings with vocation as a guide on how to live a Christian life working in business.

  16. Speaking of Eugene Peterson…

    This might be cheating, but the quote that’s most shaped my life is his take on what Jesus said, in Matthew 11:28-30:

    “Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.”
    (The Message)

  17. “God has created me to do Him some definite service. He has committed some work to me which He has not committed to another. I have my mission. I may never know it in this life, but I shall be told it in the next. I am a link in a chain, a bond of connection between persons.

    He has not created me for naught. I shall do good; I shall do His work.

    I shall be an angel of peace, a preacher of truth in my own place,
    while not intending it if I do but keep His commandments.

    Therefore, I will trust Him, whatever I am, I can never be thrown away. If I am in sickness, my sickness may serve Him, in perplexity, my perplexity may serve Him. If I am in sorrow, my sorrow may serve Him. He does nothing in vain. He knows what He is about. He may take away my friends. He may throw me among strangers. He may make me feel desolate, make my spirits sink, hide my future from me. Still, He knows what He is about.”

  18. A quote from Cardinal Newman

  19. “Love is not a duty; it is our destiny.” – N.T. Wright

    “The cure for anything is salt water: sweat, tears, or the sea.” Isak Dinesen (Baroness Karen Blixen)


    • “…or the sea.”

      “And it is said by the Eldar that in water there lives yet the echo of the Music of the Ainur more than in any substance else that is in this Earth; and many of the Children of Ilúvatar hearken still unsated to the voices of the Sea, and yet know not for what they listen.” – J R R Tolkien, The Silmarillion

  20. “Jesus spoke of both personal and systemic, societal sins. And he spoke of nothing more frequently than the Kingdom, of God’s plan to achieve justice & righteousness on earth as it is in heaven.”

    – Rachel Held Evans

  21. for me, there is this quote that helps sometimes:

    “Le cœur a ses raisons, que la raison ne connaît point. On le sent en mille choses. C’est le cœur qui sent Dieu, et non la raison. Voilà ce que c’est que la foi parfaite, Dieu sensible au cœur.”

    (attributed to Blaise Pascal)

    especially lately . . . . I read into some blogs that I cannot understand very well some of the evangelical stridency and I respond in the ways that I know how, but I’m told I don’t make sense in connecting my responses up to the rationale of the posts . . . so I thought: I’m not responding logically, I guess; then HOW am I responding? I know I am. And I know the response I make does connect, but it must not be at a ‘rational level’, from the feedback which BTW I trust.


    So am I responding ‘from the heart’?
    I think I may be. I never had a battle in my heart, I’ve never
    faced one in my life, and I never thought I’d
    have to go through it, as I have these last several years. Nobody in this earth knew that
    was going on in my soul, but I came to the firm conclusion that I had to change. And this
    man who needs me, whoever he is, is my brother, and my hand is outstretched.

    I did find one story and one quote that affected me greatly on SBCtoday concerning a preacher who had lived most of his life as an ardent and open racist, but something happened to him . . . . and then this he writes which witnesses to me that a ‘heart-change’ may transcend what goes on in our ‘heads’ that seemed logical, but betrayed our consciences so grievously that there comes an ‘intervention’ that changes our lives irrevocably.
    These are the words of the formerly ardent racist W.A. Criswell:

    “I never had a battle in my heart, I’ve never faced one in my life, and I never thought I’d
    have to go through it, as I have these last several years. Nobody in this earth knew that
    was going on in my soul, but I came to the firm conclusion that I had to change. And this
    man who needs me, whoever he is, is my brother, and my hand is outstretched. ”

    I think ‘the heart’ may be what we lift up to God. And perhaps ‘the heart’ is where we really hear a response that changes us . . . . it makes sense, if you realize that we see things ‘through a glass darkly’ but our consciences are places where we meet alone with God and more clearly there is an encounter that touches us as inspiration or guilt.

    • sorry,,

      I misplaced W.A. Criswell’s quote here, and I wish I could remove it

      “So am I responding ‘from the heart’?
      I think I may be. I never had a battle in my heart, I’ve never
      faced one in my life, and I never thought I’d
      have to go through it, as I have these last several years. Nobody in this earth knew that
      was going on in my soul, but I came to the firm conclusion that I had to change. And this
      man who needs me, whoever he is, is my brother, and my hand is outstretched.

  22. Heather Angus says

    In pity for man’s darkening thought
    He walked that room and issued thence
    In Galilean turbulence;
    The Babylonian starlight brought
    A fabulous, formless darkness in;
    Odour of blood when Christ was slain
    Made all platonic tolerance vain
    And vain all Doric discipline.

    Everything that man esteems
    Endures a moment or a day.
    Love’s pleasure drives his love away,
    The painter’s brush consumes his dreams;
    The herald’s cry, the soldier’s tread
    Exhaust his glory and his might:
    Whatever flames upon the night
    Man’s own resinous heart has fed.

    W.B. Yeats, from Two Songs from a Play

  23. Love these quotes! Especially the one by the imonk himself. Anybody out there have some best of 2017 post evangelical book recommendations. Loving this!

  24. The Thomas Merton quote works for me.

    Thanks, Mike, and Merry Christmas to you and Gail.

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