Monday, November 30, 2009

Counterfeit Gods: The Empty Promises of Money, Sex, and Power, and the Only Hope That Matters - by Timothy Keller

"There is a difference between sorrow and despair. Sorrow is pain for which there are sources of consolation. Sorrow comes from losing one good thing among others, so that, if you experience a career reversal, you can find comfort in your family to get you through it. Despair, however, is inconsolable, because it comes from losing an ultimate thing." (pg. x)

"What is an idol? It is anything more important to you than God, anything that absorbs your heart and imagination more than God, anything you seek to give you what only God can give." (pg. xvii)

"People who have never suffered in life have less empathy for others, little knowledge of their own shortcomings and limitations, no endurance in the face of hardship, and unrealistic expectations for life. As the New Testament book of Hebrews tells us, anyone God loves experiences hardship (Hebrews 12:1-8)." (pg. 15)

"Jesus warns people far more often about greed than about sex, yet almost no one thinks they are guilty of it." (pg. 53)

"Faith in the gospel restructures our motivations, our self-understanding and identity, our view of the world. Behavioral compliance to rules without a complete change of heart will be superficial and fleeting." (pg. 68)

"More than other idols, personal success and achievement lead to a sense that we ourselves are god, that our security and value rest in our own wisdom, strength, and performance. To be the very best at what you do, to be at the top of the heap, means no one is like you. You are supreme." (pg. 75)

"The idol of success cannot be just expelled, it must be replaced. The human heart's desire for a particular valuable object may be conquered, but its need to have some such object is unconquerable." (pg. 93)

"An ideology, like an idol, is a limited, partial account of reality that is raised to the level of the final word on things. Ideologues believe that their school or party has the real and complete answer to society's problems. Above all, ideologies hide from their adherents their dependence on God." (pg. 104)

"What we learn here is that theology matters, that much of our addiction to power and control is due to false conceptions of God. Gods of our own making may allow us to be 'masters of our fate.' Sociologist Christian Smith gave the name 'moralistic, therapeutic, deism' to the dominant understanding of God he discovered among younger Americans." (pg. 115)

"Because of the self-justifying nature of the human heart, it is natural to see our own culture or class characteristics as superior to everyone else's. But this natural tendency is arrested by the gospel." (pg. 139)

"There is no way to challenge idols without doing cultural criticism, and there is no way to do cultural criticism without discerning and challenging idols." (pg. 167)

"Jesus must become more beautiful to your imagination, more attractive to your heart, than your idol. That is what will replace your counterfeit gods. If you uproot the idol and fail to 'plant' the love of Christ in its place, the idol will grow back." (pg. 172)

Timothy Keller, Counterfeit Gods: The Empty Promises of Money, Sex, and Power, and the Only Hope That Matters (New York, NY: Dutton, 2009)

Saturday, November 21, 2009

The Conversations of Jesus: Learning From His Encounters - by Simon J. Kistemaker

"We should remember that God is never indebted to us when we show our love to him and to our neighbor. We cannot claim any reward or merit for performing a good deed. Instead, we humbly confess that all our deeds are incomplete and imperfect in his sight. His blessings, then, are not in response to our good works but stem from his grace and goodness to us in Christ Jesus." (pg. 42)

"Jesus wants us to express our thankfulness to him by living our lives in harmony with God's will. This is a matter not merely of politeness but of worship. As God's children, we should daily thank our heavenly Father for his goodness and provision." (pg. 99)

"None of us are able to write the script of our lives. Yet when we look back, we see the hand of God leading, guiding, and preparing us. We must confess that God in his providence has prepared us for productive service in his church and kingdom. And we thank him for his abundant blessings." (pg. 161)

"The air in a room may appear to be dust-free, but when a beam of sunlight illumines the air, it reveals a multitude of floating particles. Though you know you are a sinner, it is not until the Holy Spirit, through the Word of God, enlightens your soul that your sin shows up. When your conscience convicts you, confess your sin to Jesus and he'll forgive you." (pg. 192)

Simon J. Kistemaker, The Conversations of Jesus: Learning From His Encounters (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books, 2004)