By Gordon T. Smith
“One of the primary indicators and fruits of faith is joy in midst of a confusing and broken world….[Joy] arises from a life lived in wisdom, with a vision and passion for good work and with a resolve and capacity to love as we have been loved….[Joy is] the fruit of or the evidence of our union with Christ” (p. 154).
“What defines the church and the Christian, intellectually and emotionally, is the deep awareness that all will be well. This means we will get angry; we will fear and we will get discouraged. And we will mourn the deep losses of life. And yet sorrow is not our true home. We were designed to live in joy” (p. 157).
“[Holy] people are happy people. They know how to dance….They are not happy all the time, of course. It is important to stress that holy people feel keenly the fragmentation of the world. They sorrow with those who sorrow; they know how to be angry without sinning. They know what it is to be profoundly discouraged without allowing their discouragement to go to seed so that they are nothing but cynics. They know the pain and sorrow of mourning; they have experienced loss and they have walked with others who have experienced loss. And yet what defines them is an emotional center, an emotional resilience, an emotional maturity that is perhaps most evident in deep and abiding joy” (p. 158).
By John Ortberg
“The decision to sin always includes the thought that I cannot really trust God to watch out for my well-being” (p. 69).
“There is nothing more winsome or attractive than a person who is secure enough in being loved by God that he or she lives with a spirit of openness and transparency and without guile” (p. 76).
“Some people use their intelligence as a veil. Others use ignorance. Some veil themselves in busyness, in their work, in their vast competence and success….Ironically, many people in the church veil themselves in spirituality” (p. 79).
“Acceptance is an act of the heart. To accept someone is to affirm to them that you think it’s a very good thing they are alive. We communicate this in a hundred ways, but the most powerful way is to listen with patience and compassion as they reveal their dark secrets” (p. 101).
“[Generally] people who don’t read others well aren’t aware that they don’t” (p 108).
“[There] is a direct correlation between the number of words you say and the number of sins you commit” (p. 111).
“Every human being you know is making a request of their friends, though it often goes unspoken. Here is what they ask: ‘Motivate me. Call out the best in me. Believe in me. Encourage me when I’m tempted to quit. Speak truth to me and remind me of my deepest values. Help me achieve my greatest potential. Tell me again what God called me to be, what I might yet become” (p. 121).
Conflict and Confront
“To be alive means to be in conflict” (p. 131).
“Avoidance kills community. Avoidance causes resentment to fester inside you” (p. 132).
“Scott Peck says that most of the time we live in what he calls pseudocommunity. Its hallmark is the avoidance of conflict. In pseudocommunity we keep things safe; we speak in generalities, we say things that those around us will agree with. We tell little white lies to make sure no one’s feelings get hurt, no one gets tense. We keep relationships pleasant and well-oiled. Conversations are carefully filtered to make sure no one gets offended; if we feel hurt or irritated, we are careful to hide it. Pseudocommunity is agreeable and polite and gentle and stagnant — and ultimately fatal” (p. 180).
Forgiveness is not:
- Reconciling. Reconciling “requires the rebuilding of trust, and that means good faith on the part of both parties” (p. 158).
- “[When] we decide to stop trying to get even….
- A new way of seeing and feeling….[When] we discover the humanity of the one who hurt us….
- [When] you find yourself wishing the other person well” (pp. 159, 160).
“There are few joys in life like being wanted, chosen, embraced. There are few pains like being excluded, rejected, left out. At the core of Christian community is a choice, in the words of Miroslav Volf’s great book on the subject, between exclusion and embrace….It is part of our fallenness that makes us want to be in not just any group but an exclusive group….We exclude others because of pride or fear or ignorance or the desire to feel superior” (p. 186).
“The desire to make it into the Inner Ring is by its nature insatiable. You will never succeed. However, when it comes to the choice to include people, you can hardly fail. They may refuse you, of course. But the mere effort will expand your heart and bring joy to God” (p. 192).
“Bonding activities might involve people in the same ethnic group or economic status. Bridging connections, by definition, are ‘outward looking and encompass people across diverge social cleavages” (p. 195).s
“The ability to assign value is one of the rarest and most precious gifts in the world. People who live deeply in community learn to discern and express the value of other human beings. They are masters of expressing love in word and gesture. They assign high worth, value, and importance to others by viewing them as precious gifts…In a word, what they give is called honor” (p. 205). They are grateful for God and others.