'New Testament Christianity',
Looking through my bookshelves, which are loaded with books inherited from all and sundry, I came upon one written in 1956 entitled 'New Testament Christianity', written by J.B.Phillips. The Phillips translation of the New Testament, in its time, opened up the scriptures to a new generation, and I still find it vivid and helpful, though there have been many 'new' translations since. Scanning through his book I was interested to read the thoughts of someone who for fourteen years had been in intimate contact with the words of Christ and the apostles, putting their thoughts into the language of ordinary English speaking people. The following passage, taken almost at random, is an example of his advice. After all, he did not only study God's Word, but sought to let his life be moulded by it.
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Aspects of Christian Living
"There are some essentials for the maintenance of real Christian living. The first essential need is for quiet... It is imperative that somehow or other we make for ourselves a period of quiet each day. I know how difficult this is for many people in busy households, and for some even the bedroom is not quiet and private enough. But if we see the utter necessity for this period of quiet, our ingenuity will find a way of securing it.....
"What we must do in the period of quiet is to open our lives to God - to perfect understanding, wisdom and love.... people need to be reminded that we must be completely natural and uninhibited in our approach to the God "in whom we live and move and have our being"..... He is our heavenly Father and common sense tells us that, though He respects our individuality and our privacy, yet everything about us is quite open to His eyes.... We are opening our hearts and minds to Love, and we need have no fears, no reticences, and no pretences. Strange as it undoubtedly is, He loves us as we are, and indeed we shall make no sort of progress unless we approach Him as we are.
"Prayer has many aspects... The first is the value of worship. For myself, I do not think worship can be forced, nor can I imagine that God wants it to be. But if we make a habit of associating all that is good, true, lovely and heart-warming in our ordinary experience of life and people with Him Who is the Source of every good and perfect gift; if without forcing ourselves to be grateful we quietly recount those things for which we can be truly thankful; if we allow our dreams and aspirations to lead us upward to the One from Whom they are in fact derived, we shall not infrequently find that the springs of worship begin to flow. Sometimes a consideration of the Character of Christ as revealed in the Gospels, sometimes a consideration of the whole vast Plan for man's redemption, and sometimes a consideration of the immense complexity and wisdom revealed in a dozen different departments by the researches of Science will move us to wonder, admiration, awe and worship.
"In our prayers we should not merely confess our sins and failures to God, but claim from Him the opposite virtue. If we stress again and again our own particular failings, we tend to accentuate and even to perpetuate them.... We need to draw upon the inexhaustible riches of Christ, not as though that were some poetic and metaphorical expression, but as though it were a fact. The Gospel is not Good News if it simply underlines our own sinfulness. That is either a foregone conclusion or it is Bad News! But the whole wonder and glory of the Gospel is that into people who have sinned and failed badly God can pour not only the healing of forgiveness but the positive reactivating power of goodness. It is not the mere overcoming of a fault that we should seek from God, but such an overflowing gift of the opposite virtue that we are transformed. I cannot believe that the miracles of personality-transformation which undoubtedly occurred in such places as Corinth or Ephesus nineteen centuries ago, are beyond the power of God's activity today.....
"I should like to stress the value of intercession for other people. I do not pretend to understand the mystery of intercession, though I am sure it is never an attempt to bend the will of a reluctant God to do something good in other people's lives. But somehow in the mysterious spiritual economy in which we live we are required to give love, sympathy and understanding in our prayers for others, and this releases God's power of love in ways and at depths which would otherwise prove beyond our reach. I confess I stand amazed at the power of intercessory prayer, and not least at what I can only call the "celestial ingenuity" of God. He does not, as a rule, directly intervene; He assaults no man's personality, and He never interferes with the free-will which He has given to men. Yet, working within these apparently paralysing limitations, God's love, wisdom and power are released and become operative in response to faithful intercessory prayer. It is all part of the high Purpose, and all true Christians are responsibly involved in such praying."
New Testament Christianity Hodder and Stoughton 1956 pp102-105