The Heroes in Hebrews Were not Always Heroic

Hebrews 11, often dubbed “The Hall of Heroes,” is filled with people who – according to the stories themselves – were not always heroic.  The writer of Hebrews uses these examples to build a cumulative case that it was by faith – faith in Christ – that they held fast to God’s promise and thereby overcame the world’s assaults.  The more sordid the scenes of their biography were just as essential to highlight in order to focus on this very point.

– Horton, Michael, Ordinary: Sustainable Faith in a Radical, Restless World; Zondervan; copyright 214; Kindle Edition; page 153

Is the Bible Like Aesop’s Fables?

We tend to turn the Bible’s stories into something like Aesop’s Fables or the saccharine “Christian novels” that make these biblical narratives far less interesting – and true to life – than they actually are.  Even when such figures foreshadow Christ, they soon fall short and remind us why they need a Savior as much as the rest of us.

– Horton, Michael, Ordinary: Sustainable Faith in a Radical, Restless World; Zondervan; copyright 214; Kindle Edition; page 152

It Is the Lord’s to Give and to Take Away

Contentment is the virtue that contrasts with restlessness, ambition, avarice.  It means realizing, once again, that we are not our own – as pastors or parishoners, parents or children, employers or employees.  It is the Lord’s to give and to take away.  He is building his church.  It is his ministry that is saving and building up his body.  even our common callings in the world are not really our own, but they are God’s work of supplying others – including ourselves – with what the whole society needs.  There is a lot of work to be done, but it is his work that he is doing through us in daily and mostly ordinary ways.

– Horton, Michael, Ordinary: Sustainable Faith in a Radical, Restless World; Zondervan; copyright 214; Kindle Edition; page 150-151

How Do You Regard the Spirit of God?

If we regard the Spirit of God as the sole fountain of truth, we shall neither reject the truth itself, nor despise it wherever it shall appear, unless we wish to dishonor the Spirit of God.  For by holding the gifts of the Spirit in such slight esteem, we condemn and reproach the Spirit himself.

John Calvin

as quoted by Horton, Michael, Ordinary: Sustainable Faith in a Radical, Restless World; Zondervan; copyright 214; Kindle Edition; page142-143

Appreciating Our Own Specific Call to Love and Serve

Once we recover a greater sense of God’s ordinary vocation as the site of his faithfulness, we will begin to appreciate our own calling to love and serve others in his name everyday ways that make a real difference in people’s lives.

– Horton, Michael, Ordinary: Sustainable Faith in a Radical, Restless World; Zondervan; copyright 214; Kindle Edition; page 142

Looking for Grace in all the Wrong Places

The problem today is that many Christians are not looking for God’s miraculous activity where he has promised it, namely, through his ordinary means of grace.  Through these means, he has pledged to raise us from spiritual death, to forgive sins, to assure us of God’s favor, and to conform us to Christ’s image.

– Horton, Michael, Ordinary: Sustainable Faith in a Radical, Restless World; Zondervan; copyright 214; Kindle Edition; page 139-140

Contentment There and Here

Contentment is actually easier for those who leave the comforts of hearth and home to serve the disadvantaged in Africa than it is for those who live near the mall.  If God has given you temporal wealth and position, use it for his glory and your neighbor’s good.

– Horton, Michael, Ordinary: Sustainable Faith in a Radical, Restless World; Zondervan; copyright 214; Kindle Edition; page 139

The Call to Contentment is a Summons to Something Much More

All of this means that the call to contentment is a summons to realize and accept our place in Christ and his body – and, more broadly, our place in the gift exchange in society through common grace.  This cuts off at the root the discontentment – ambition – to change our station in life not only in the direction of prosperity, but also in a self-imposed poverty (Philippians 4:12-13).

– Horton, Michael, Ordinary: Sustainable Faith in a Radical, Restless World; Zondervan; copyright 214; Kindle Edition; page 138-139

So What Does It Mean to be Content with God’s Provision?

So what does it mean to be content with God’s provision?  It means that when you and I are safely hidden with Christ in God through faith in his gospel, we are opened up to the others around us – first fellow saints, and then our other neighbors.  Instead of being threats, they are fellow guests of God at his table.  No longer competitors for commodities in a world of scare resources, they are cosharers with us in the circulation of gifts that flows outward from its source without running out.  After all, that source is the triune God: from the father, in the Son, by the Spirit.

– Horton, Michael, Ordinary: Sustainable Faith in a Radical, Restless World; Zondervan; copyright 214; Kindle Edition; page135

What Measurement Matters?

We crave approval, but we do not even know what the real measurement is even though we sense that we have fallen short of it.  Suppressing our awareness of God, we shift the source of our validation to other people.  Even many Christians today rarely asks, “Am I really measuring up to God’s holy law?”  Rather, they wonder whether they’re measuring up to the expectations of other Christians – or society at large.  We mask our “discrepancies” (i.e. sins) with the rhetoric of being high achievers.

– Horton, Michael, Ordinary: Sustainable Faith in a Radical, Restless World; Zondervan; copyright 214; Kindle Edition; page 130