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“Do it again” by G.K. Chesterton

“All the towering materialism which dominates the modern mind rests ultimately upon one assumption; a false assumption. It is supposed that if a thing goes on repeating itself it is probably dead; a piece of clockwork.

People feel that if the universe was personal it would vary; if the sun were alive it would dance. This is a fallacy even in relation to known fact.

For the variation in human affairs is generally brought into them, not by life, but by death; by the dying down or breaking off of their strength or desire.

A man varies his movements because of some slight element of failure or fatigue. He gets into an omnibus because he is tired of walking; or he walks because he is tired of sitting still.

But if his life and joy were so gigantic that he never tired of going to Islington, he might go to Islington as regularly as the Thames goes to Sheerness.

The very speed and ecstasy of his life would have the stillness of death. The sun rises every morning. I do not rise every morning; but the variation is due not to my activity, but to my inaction.

Now, to put the matter in a popular phrase, it might be true that the sun rises regularly because he never gets tired of rising. His routine might be due, not to a lifelessness, but to a rush of life.

The thing I mean can be seen, for instance, in children, when they find some game or joke that they specially enjoy. 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.

The repetition in Nature may not be a mere recurrence; it may be a theatrical ENCORE.”

–G.K. Chesterton, “The Ethics of Elfland,” Orthodoxy (The Christian Heritage Series; Moscow, ID: Canon Press, 1908/2020), 61.

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“Come into the pulpit as one who feels the weight of eternal things” by Lemuel Haynes

“The pious preacher will endeavor to adapt his discourses to the understanding of his hearers. He will not be ambitious of saying fine things to win applause, but of saying useful things to win souls.

He will consider that he has the weak as well as the strong, children as well as adults to speak to, and that he must be accountable for the blood of their souls if they perish through his neglect. This will influence him to study plainness more than politeness.

Also he will labor to accommodate his sermons to the different states or circumstances of his hearers. He will have comforting and encouraging lessons to set before the children of God, while the terrors of the law are to be proclaimed in the ears of the impenitent.

He will strive to preach distinguishingly so that every hearer may have his portion. The awful scenes of approaching judgment will have an influence on the Christian preacher with respect to the manner in which he will deliver himself.

Such a preacher will not come into the pulpit as an actor comes to the stage to personate a feigned character or to display his talents, but as one who feels the weight of eternal things. He will not address his hearers as though judgment was a mere empty sound.

But he will address his hearers viewing eternity just before him and a congregation on the frontiers of it, whose eternal state depends upon a few uncertain moments.

Oh! With what zeal and fervor will he speak! How will death, judgment, and eternity appear as it were in every feature, and every word! Out of the abundance of his heart, his mouth will speak.

His hearers will easily perceive that the preacher is one who expects to give an account. He will study and preach with reference to a judgment to come, and deliver every sermon in some respects, as if it were his last, not knowing when his Lord will call him or his hearers to account.”

–Lemuel Haynes, “The Character and Work of a Spiritual Watchman Described,” in Black Preacher to White America: The Collected Writings of Lemuel Haynes, 1774-1833, Ed. Richard Newman (Brooklyn, NY: Carlson Publishing, 1990), 50-51.

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“Life is primarily about losing” by Lee Congdon

“Even the greatest teams, such as the ’53 Dodgers, fail to win championships more of than they win them. In their best years, the greatest hitters—Rogers Hornsby, Ted Williams—failed to hit safely 60 percent of the time. The thrill of victory, the agony of defeat, the cliche has it, but my guess, is that for those who have undergone both, the memory of defeat in sports is stronger and sharper.

This is true, and for good reason. Life too is primarily about losing: losing parents and other loved ones, losing friends, losing jobs, losing health, losing memory—losing life itself.

Such losses are painful, but like losses in sports, they teach the valuable lesson of human limitation and shed light on the meaning of life and the paradoxical words of Christ (St. Matthew 16:25): ‘For whoever will save his life shall lose it: and whoever will lose his life for My sake shall find it.'”

–Lee Congdon, Baseball and Memory: Winning, Losing, and the Remembrance of Things Past (South Bend, IN: St. Augustine’s Press, 2011), 73.

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“That greater reality” by C. J. Mahaney

“All Christian marriages are intended ultimately to point to that greater reality. The final, glorious purpose of Christian marriage is to witness to the relationship between Christ and the Church.”

–C. J. Mahaney, Sex, Romance, and the Glory of God (Wheaton, Ill.: Crossway, 2004), 25.

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“The furnace of our own earnestness” by Charles H. Spurgeon

“We must be earnest in the pulpit for our own sakes, for we shall not long be able to maintain our position as leaders in the church of God if we are dull. Moreover, for the sake of our church members, and converted people, we must be energetic, for if we are not zealous, neither will they be.

It is not in the order of nature that rivers should run uphill, and it does not often happen that zeal rises from the pew to the pulpit. It is natural that is should flow down from us to our hearers; the pulpit must therefore stand at a high level of ardour, if we are, under God, to make and to keep our people fervent.

Those who attend our ministry have a great deal to do during the week. Many of them have family trials, and heavy personal burdens to carry, and they frequently come into the assembly cold and listless, with thoughts wandering hither and thither; it is ours to take those thoughts and thrust them into the furnace of our own earnestness, melt them by a holy contemplation and by intense appeal, and pour them out into the mould of the truth.”

–Charles H. Spurgeon, Lectures to My Students (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1954), 306.

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“The greatest mystery of all” by P.D. James

“The greatest mystery of all is the human heart, and that is the mystery with which all good novelists are concerned.”

–P.D. James, quoted in “Murder in the Vicarage” by Ralph C. Wood, First Things, (No. 167, November 2006), p. 41.

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“The Pulley” by George Herbert

“The Pulley”
By George Herbert (1593–1632)

When God at first made Man,
Having a glass of blessings standing by—
Let us (said He) pour on him all we can;
Let the world’s riches, which dispersèd lie,
Contract into a span.

So strength first made a way,
Then beauty flow’d, then wisdom, honour, pleasure:
When almost all was out, God made a stay,
Perceiving that, alone of all His treasure,
Rest in the bottom lay.

For if I should (said He)
Bestow this jewel also on My creature,
He would adore My gifts instead of Me,
And rest in Nature, not the God of Nature:
So both should losers be.

Yet let him keep the rest,
But keep them with repining restlessness;
Let him be rich and weary, that at least,
If goodness lead him not, yet weariness
May toss him to My breast.

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“Our Wedding Vows” by Nick and Allison

“Our Wedding Vows”
By Nick and Allison
October 5, 2003

I, Nick, receive you, Allison as my wife. Having been chosen by God to be your husband, I commit to love you faithfully, passionately, and self-sacrificially just as Christ has loved us, with all humility and tenderness. I resolve to be a man of God’s word with holy affections, and to devote myself to prayer and fasting on your behalf. I dedicate my life to leading us under the lordship of Christ, in a manner worthy of the calling we have received.

I promise to be your best friend. I promise to be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to anger. I promise to laugh with you in times of joy. I promise to comfort you, hold you, and dry your tears when trials come. I promise to protect you in times of peril. I promise to provide for you from the bounty the Lord has graciously given to us. I promise to wear you proudly as the beautiful crown that you are all the days of my life.

It is the desire of my heart to glorify God and enjoy Him forever. May our marriage bring honor and fame to His name. I pledge my whole self – my spirit, soul, mind and body – to you this day, until we hear the trumpet sound and see King Jesus face to face.

I, Allison, receive you, Nick, as my husband. Having been chosen by God to be your wife, I commit to love you faithfully and passionately just as Christ has loved us, with all humility and tenderness. I dedicate my life to following your lead under the lordship of Christ, in a manner worthy of the calling we have received.

I promise to be your best friend. I promise to walk beside you faithfully in all seasons of life together. I promise to laugh with you in times of rejoicing. I promise to encourage and support you daily. I promise to grieve with you in times of sorrow. I promise to serve alongside you always.

I promise to remind you that the steadfast love of the Lord is better than life. I promise to raise our family lovingly by being a woman undergirded in prayer, anchored in the Word and led by the Spirit. I promise to hold you in the highest esteem, striving always to be clothed in strength and dignity that I may be a godly wife and mother.

May our marriage bring honor and fame to His name. I pledge my whole self – my spirit, soul, mind and body – to you this day, until we hear the trumpet sound and see King Jesus face to face.

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