Paul Madson

THOUGHTS, QUOTES & REFLECTIONS

Month: October 2019

Top 10 Quotes from Mere Christianity by C.S. Lewis

One of the most influential authors in my life has been C.S. Lewis. The first Lewis book that I read back in high school was The Screwtape Letters. The second (not long after) was Mere Christianity. Over the years I have returned often to this small, yet incredibly profound book.

We live in a world where fewer and fewer people read books. We read articles, clips, “quotes” 😉 and other small snippets of thought here and there. But we rarely (if ever) immerse and submerse ourselves in a really good, thought-provoking book.

Here are a few articles that talk about the importance of reading books:

“Why (More Than Ever Before) You Need to Read Deeply” by Greg Bailey

“How to Read 100 Books in a Year” by Srinivas Rao

“Why Some People Become Lifelong Readers” by Joe Pinsker

My hope is that sharing these quotes will “whet your appetite” to read the whole book – with pen or highlighter in hand – marking up words and sentences and paragraphs that stimulate your mind and arrest your heart.

On a side note, the reading of Scripture should be first and foremost in all of our lives (as I wrote about here a few weeks ago).

In the meantime, reading these “top 10 quotes” from Mere Christianity will take you less than five minutes. Enjoy.


“Humility is not thinking less of yourself but thinking of yourself less.”

“No man knows how bad he is till he has tried very hard to be good.”

“God cannot give us a happiness and peace apart from Himself, because it is not there. There is no such thing.”

“Everyone says forgiveness is a lovely idea, until they have something to forgive.”

“A proud man is always looking down on things and people; and, of course, as long as you are looking down, you cannot see something that is above you.”

“If a man thinks he is not conceited, he is very conceited indeed.”

“Each day we are becoming a creature of splendid glory or one of unthinkable horror.”

“Do not waste time bothering whether you ‘love’ your neighbor; act as if you did. As soon as we do this, we find one of the great secrets. When you are behaving as if you loved someone, you will presently come to love him.”


And finally, two longer (but truly “classic” quotes):

“The Christian says, ‘Creatures are not born with desires unless satisfaction for those desires exists.’ A baby feels hunger: well, there is such a thing as food. A duckling wants to swim: well, there is such a thing as water. Men feel sexual desire: well, there is such a thing as sex.

If I find in myself a desire which no experience in this world can satisfy, the most probable explanation is that I was made for another world. If none of my earthly pleasures satisfy it, that does not prove that the universe is a fraud. Probably earthly pleasures were never meant to satisfy it, but only to arouse it, to suggest the real thing. If that is so, I must take care, on the one hand, never to despise, or to be unthankful for, these earthly blessings, and on the other, never to mistake them for the something else of which they are only a kind of copy, or echo, or mirage.

I must keep alive in myself the desire for my true country, which I shall not find till after death; I must never let it get snowed under or turned aside; I must make it the main object of life to press on to that country and to help others to do the same.”


“I am trying here to prevent anyone saying the really foolish thing that people often say about Him: I’m ready to accept Jesus as a great moral teacher, but I don’t accept his claim to be God. That is the one thing we must not say.

A man who was merely a man and said the sort of things Jesus said would not be a great moral teacher. He would either be a lunatic — on the level with the man who says he is a poached egg — or else he would be the Devil of Hell. You must make your choice. Either this man was, and is, the Son of God, or else a madman or something worse. You can shut him up for a fool, you can spit at him and kill him as a demon or you can fall at his feet and call him Lord and God, but let us not come with any patronizing nonsense about his being a great human teacher. He has not left that open to us. He did not intend to.”


And one more quote from Lewis’ book, The Weight of Glory:

“It would seem that our Lord finds our desires not too strong, but too weak. We are half-hearted creatures, fooling about with drink and sex and ambition when infinite joy is offered us, like an ignorant child who wants to go on making mud pies in a slum because he cannot imagine what is meant by the offer of a holiday at the sea. We are far too easily pleased.”

*underlined portions mine

Marriage Thoughts

Our engagement and wedding photos, circa 1980.

We were just kids.

I was just a few weeks shy of turning 20 and Lisa turning 19. In October of 1980, I was a junior in Bible College and a youth pastor. She was a freshman in college.

This past week, we celebrated our 39th wedding anniversary. 40 years ago, we met… and within weeks I knew I wanted to marry this girl.

We dated for six months, got engaged and were married six months later.

One of the many “graces” God gifted us with was advice we received from some wiser, older saints who told us…

“Good marriages don’t just ‘happen.’ They are the product of preparation, work, sacrifice, attentiveness and commitment. Prepare now so you will have deep roots later… and deep roots have the ability to produce beautiful fruit.”

So, at ages 18 & 19 we together read six or seven great books on marriage and discussed them during our engagement. We were reading things we didn’t even fully understand, and had no idea that we would ever need them.

But they were wise words that laid a foundation for what life would bring our way in the years and decades to come.

I always tell couples,

“It’s never too late to start preparing for a better marriage tomorrow.”

When Lisa and I do pre-marriage counseling with young couples, the book we have used most recently is Tim and Kathy Keller’s excellent work, The Meaning of Marriage: Facing the Complexities of Commitment with the Wisdom of God.

Here are a few meaningful quotes from their book. I pray you are encouraged and blessed by them…


“Within this Christian vision of marriage, here’s what it means to fall in love. It is to look at another person and get a glimpse of what God is creating, and to say, ‘I see who God is making you, and it excites me! I want to be part of that. I want to partner with you and God in the journey you are taking to his throne. And when we get there, I will look at your magnificence and say, ‘I always knew you could be like this. I got glimpses of it on earth, but now look at you!”


“When over the years someone has seen you at your worst, and knows you with all your strengths and flaws, yet commits him – or herself to you wholly, it is a consummate experience. To be loved but not known is comforting but superficial. To be known and not loved is our greatest fear. But to be fully known and truly loved is, well, a lot like being loved by God. It is what we need more than anything. It liberates us from pretense, humbles us out of our self-righteousness, and fortifies us for any difficulty life can throw at us.”


“In any relationship, there will be frightening spells in which your feelings of love dry up. And when that happens you must remember that the essence of marriage is that it is a covenant, a commitment, a promise of future love. So, what do you do? You do the acts of love, despite your lack of feeling. You may not feel tender, sympathetic, and eager to please, but in your actions, you must be tender, understanding, forgiving and helpful. And, if you do that, as time goes on you will not only get through the dry spells, but they will become less frequent and deep, and you will become more constant in your feelings. This is what can happen if you decide to love.”

“Our culture says that feelings of love are the basis for actions of love. And of course, that can be true. But it is truer to say that actions of love can lead consistently to feelings of love.”


“You can only afford to be generous if you actually have some money in the bank to give. In the same way, if your only source of love and meaning is your spouse, then anytime he or she fails you, it will not just cause grief but a psychological cataclysm. If, however, you know something of the work of the Spirit in your life, you have enough love ‘in the bank’ to be generous to your spouse even when you are not getting much affection or kindness at the moment.”


“Sociologists argue that in contemporary Western society the marketplace has become so dominant that the consumer model increasingly characterizes most relationships that historically were covenantal, including marriage. Today we stay connected to people only as long as they are meeting our particular needs at an acceptable cost to us. When we cease to make a profit – that is, when the relationship appears to require more love and affirmation from us than we are getting back – then we ‘cut our losses’ and drop the relationship. This has also been called ‘commodification,’ a process by which social relationships are reduced to economic exchange relationships, and so the very idea of ‘covenant’ is disappearing in our culture. Covenant is therefore a concept increasingly foreign to us, and yet the Bible says it is the essence of marriage.” 


“An excellent wife who can find? She is far more precious than jewels. The heart of her husband trusts in her, and he will have no lack of gain. She does him good, and not harm, all the days of her life.”

(Proverbs 31:10-12 – ESV)

Quotes to Note – October Edition

Here are 10 new quotes to ponder this week…

“A good sign of how secure you are is what it takes to offend you. The more secure we are, the less we take offense.” (Henry Cloud)

“If the grass looks greener somewhere else, it’s time to water your own yard.”

“When I want to know someone’s theology – their actual theology, not just professed theology – I look at how they treat other people. How we treat others is a living, breathing creed of what we believe God to be like.” (Dane Ortlund)

“Impatience with God tends to lead to impatience with God’s people . . . . If we start using the sickles on each other, we will miss the harvest.” (Warren Wiersbe)

“The pain of our shattered plans is for the purpose of God’s scattered grace.” (John Piper)

“Preach the gospel; if necessary use words” is like saying “Feed the hungry; if necessary use food.” (Matt Smethurst)

“The term ‘Christian’ is used 3 times in the New Testament. The term ‘Disciple’ is used 238 times in the Gospels and 269 in the New Testament. You don’t become a Christian and then choose to be a Disciple. Christian = Disciple.” (Robby Gallaty)

“Raise a daughter with a fully loaded heart and mind so that a fully loaded shotgun isn’t necessary. She shouldn’t need you to scare off weak suitors. Let her strength and dignity do the job.” (Jen Wilken)

“Lord, give me firmness without hardness, steadfastness without dogmatism, love without weakness.” (Jim Elliot)

“Be more concerned with your character than your reputation, because your character is what you really are, while your reputation is merely what others think you are.” (John Wooden)

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