Friday, January 18, 2019

Quote of the Day

The more genuine and the deeper our community becomes, the more will everything else between us recede, the more clearly and purely will Jesus Christ and His work become the one and only thing that is vital between us. We have one another only through Christ, but through Christ we do have one another, wholly, and for all eternity.

That dismisses once and for all every clamorous desire for something more. One who wants more than what Christ has established does not want Christian brotherhood. He is looking for some extraordinary social experience which he has not found elsewhere; he is bringing muddled and impure desires into Christian brotherhood…..

Christian brotherhood is not an ideal which we must realize; it is rather a reality created by God in Christ in which we may participate. The more clearly we learn to recognize that the ground and strength and promise of all our fellowship in in Jesus Christ alone, the more serenely shall we think of our fellowship and pray and hope for it.

Dietrich Bonhoeffer
From his book: Life Together

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Wednesday, January 16, 2019

Quote of the Day

Human love has little regard for truth.  It makes the truth relative, since nothing, not even the truth, must come between it and the beloved person.  Human love desires the other person, his company, his answering love, but it does not serve him. On the contrary, it continues to desire even when it seems to be serving.  There are two marks, both of which are one and the same thing, that manifest the difference between spiritual and human love:  Human love cannot tolerate the dissolution of a fellowship that has become false for the sake of genuine fellowship, and human love cannot love an enemy, that is, one who seriously and stubbornly resists it.  Both spring from the same source:  human love is by its very nature desire - desire for human community.  So long as it can satisfy this desire in some way, it will not give it up, even for the sake of truth, even for the sake of genuine love for others.  But where it can no longer expect its desire to be fulfilled, there it stops short - namely, in the face of an enemy.  There it turns to hatred, contempt and calumny. 

Right here is the point where spiritual love begins.  This is why human love becomes personal hatred when it encounters genuine spiritual love, which does not desire but serves.  Human love makes itself an end in itself.  It creates of itself an end, an idol which it worships, to which it must subject everything.  It nurses and cultivates an ideal, it loves itself, and nothing else in the world.  Spiritual love, however, comes from Jesus Christ, it serves Him alone, it knows that it has no immediate access to other persons. 

Jesus Christ stands between the lover and others he loves.  I do not know in advance what love of others means in the basis of the general idea of love that grows out of my human desires- all this may be hatred and an insidious kind of selfishness in the eyes of Christ.  What love is, only Christ tells us in His Word.  Contrary to all my own opinions and convictions, Jesus Christ will tell me what love toward the brethren really is. Therefore, spiritual love is bound solely to the Word of Jesus Christ.  Where Christ bids me to maintain fellowship for the sake of love, I will maintain it.  Where his truth enjoins me to dissolve a fellowship for love's sake, there I will dissolve it, despite all the protests of my human love…… Human love can never understand spiritual love, for spiritual love is from above; it is something completely strange, new, and incomprehensible to all earthly love.

Dietrich Bonhoeffer
from his book: Life Together

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Tuesday, January 15, 2019

Quote of the Day

There is probably no Christian to whom God has not given the uplifting experience of genuine Christian community at least once in his life.  But in this world such experiences can be no more than a gracious extra beyond the daily bread of Christian community life.  We have no claim upon such experiences, and we do not live with other Christians for the sake of acquiring them.  It is not the experience of Christian brotherhood, but solid and certain faith in brotherhood that holds us together.  That God has acted and wants to act upon us all, this we see in faith as God's greatest gift, this makes us glad and happy, but it also makes us ready to forego all such experiences when God at times does not grant them.  We are bound together by faith, not by experience.

- Dietrich Bonhoffer
From his book Life Together

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Monday, January 14, 2019

Quote of the Day

Just as surely as God desires to lead us to a knowledge of genuine Christian fellowship, so surely must we be overwhelmed by a great disillusionment with others, with Christians in general, and, if we are fortunate, with ourselves. By sheer grace, God will not permit us to live even for a brief period in a dream world. He does not abandon us to those rapturous experiences and lofty moods that come over us like a dream. God is not a God of the emotions but the God of truth. Only that fellowship which faces such disillusionment, with all its unhappy and ugly aspects, begins to be what it should be in God's sight, begins to grasp in faith the promise that is given to it. The sooner this shock of disillusionment comes to an individual and to a community, the better for both. A community which cannot bear and cannot survive such a crisis, which insists upon keeping its illusion when it should be shattered, permanently loses in that moment the promise of Christian community. Sooner or later it will collapse. Every human wish dream that is injected into the Christian community is a hindrance to genuine community and must be banished if genuine community is to survive.

He who loves his dream of a community more that the Christian community itself becomes a destroyer of the latter, even though his personal intentions may be ever so honest and earnest and sacrificial. God hates visionary dreaming; it makes the dreamer proud and pretentious. The man who fashions a visionary ideal of community demands that it be realized by God, by others, and by himself. He enters the community of Christians with his demands, sets up his own laws, and judges the brethren and God himself accordingly. He stands adamant, a living reproach to all others in the circle of the brethren. He acts as if he is the creator of the Christian community, as if his dream binds men together.

When things do not go his way, he calls the effort a failure. When his ideal picture is destroyed, he sees the community going to smash. So he becomes, first an accuser of his brethren, then an accuser of God, and finally the despairing accuser of himself.Because God has already laid the only foundation of our fellowship, because God has bound us together in one body with other Christians in Jesus Christ, long before we entered into common life with them, we enter into that common life not as demanders but as thankful recipients. We thank God for giving us brethren who live by his call, by his forgiveness, and his promise. We do not complain of what God does not give us; we rather thank God for what he does give us daily.

And is not what has been given us enough: brothers, who will go on living with us through sin and need under the blessing of His grace? Is the divine gift of Christian fellowship anything less than this, any day, even the most difficult and distressing day? Even when sin and misunderstanding burden the communal life, is not the sinning brother still a brother, with whom I, too, stand under the Word of Christ? Will not his sin be a constant occasion for me to give thanks that both of us may live in the forgiving love of God in Christ Jesus? Thus, the very hour of disillusionment with my brother becomes incomparably salutary, because it so thoroughly teaches me that neither of us can ever live by our own words and deeds, but only by the one Word and Deed which really binds us together--the forgiveness of sins in Jesus Christ. When the morning mists of dreams vanish, then dawns the bright day of Christian fellowship . . .

If we do not give thanks daily for the Christian fellowship in which we have been placed, even where there is no great experience, no discoverable riches, but much weakness, small faith, and difficulty; if on the contrary, we only keep complaining to God that everything is so paltry and petty, so far from what we expected, then we hinder God from letting our fellowship grow according to the measure and riches which are there for us all in Jesus Christ.

-Dietrich Bonhoeffer

From his book Life Together

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Saturday, January 5, 2019

Susie: The life and legacy of Susannah Spurgeon - by Ray Rhodes Jr.

When I heard that there was a new biography coming out about Charles Spurgeon's wife, Susannah, I was quite interested, eager for it to come out.  I've read a short biography of Susannah before, but this one, Susie: The life and legacy of Susannah Spurgeon by Ray Rhodes Jr. Is a larger and  I thought it would be  neat to know more about her.  

The cover is beautiful looking, is hardcover (which to me is quite a plus), and it feels like very good quality. I read it out loud with my sister, thinking that we would enjoy it together…not so.  It dragged, and the timeline just seemed all over the place.  I was very disappointed with this biography. I am very sorry to have to sound harsh, but this is probably the worst written biography I've ever read. I don't think I've ever read one written like this before.  It just seemed like a book that recycles some facts over, and over, and over and over again.  Past events are repeatedly (not just once or twice) referred to, as though you forgot that they happened. And it just seemed to make it worse that IMMEDIATELY after some of the  quotations of Charles and Susie, the author would summarize what they said (which usually was very clear) and also requote sections in the summary itself. Often I like some repetition in biographies, but this is absurd.

We got about three quarters of the way through the book and just called it quits as it was so agonizing to plod through and it looked as though the rest would be the same way.   It is not better than the old book, and doesn't really seem to add anything new, it just seemed to use repetition to make the account longer. The smaller biography by Charles Ray is much, much better.  

I feel bad, I really wanted to like this biography, but simply couldn't.  

Thanks to Moody Publishers for sending me a free review copy of this book (My review did not have to be favorable).

My Rating: 1 out of 5 Stars
This book may be purchased at and