Christ, our Light

Quotations for February, 2013

Friday, February 1, 2013
Commemoration of Brigid, Abbess of Kildare, c.525

Our problem is that we assume prayer is something to master the way we master algebra or auto mechanics. That puts us in the “on-top” position, where we are competent and in control. But when praying, we come “underneath,” where we calmly and deliberately surrender control and become incompetent.
... Richard J. Foster (b. 1942), Prayer: Finding the Heart’s True Home, HarperCollins, 1992, p. 7-8 (see the book; see also Matt. 6:5-6; Ps. 19:14; Matt. 6:31-32; Luke 11:1; Rom. 8:26-27; 1 Cor. 2:9-10 Jas. 4:2-3; Jude 1:20; more at Humility, Prayer, Submission)

Saturday, February 2, 2013

Some Christians long for a world well-stocked with miracles and spectacular signs of God’s presence. I hear wistful sermons on the parting of the Red Sea and the ten plagues and the daily manna in the wilderness, as if the speakers yearn for God to unleash his power like that today. But the follow-the-dots journey of the Israelites should give us pause. Would a burst of miracles nourish faith? Not the kind of faith God seems interested in, evidently. The Israelites give ample proof that signs may only addict us to signs, not to God.
... Philip Yancey (b. 1949), Disappointment with God: Three Questions No One Asks Aloud, p. 36 (see the book; see also Luke 11:29-30; Ex. 16:3-4; 17:1-7; Matt. 12:38-39; 16:4; Mark 8:11-12; John 2:18-21; 4:48; 1 Cor. 1:22-24; more at Faith, God, Journey, Miracle, Power, Sermon)

Sunday, February 3, 2013
Feast of Anskar, Archbishop of Hamburg, Missionary to Denmark and Sweden, 865

The church is unique in that it is so able to cut across age boundaries and social-status boundaries. When one loves the Lord Jesus Christ and sincerely seeks to follow Him, then one quite by surprise comes upon a community that he did not know existed, a community that is experienced within the heart; and when this community is found, nothing is ever quite the same again.
... Gerald J. Jud (1919-2019), “Ministry in Colonies and Retreats”, in Spiritual Renewal through Personal Groups, John L. Casteel, ed., NY: Association Press, 1957, p. 102 (see the book; see also Rom. 10:12-13; Isa. 56:3-8; Acts 10:34-35; 15:7-9; Gal. 3:28-29; Eph. 2:13; 3:6; Phil. 3:3; Col. 1:3-6; 3:11; more at Church, Community, Experience, Heart, Jesus, Love)

Monday, February 4, 2013
Commemoration of Gilbert of Sempringham, Founder of the Gilbertine Order, 1189

One of the worst things sin did for man was to make him selfish, for selfishness cannot love.
... Andrew Murray (1828-1917), Absolute Surrender, Bible Institute Colportage Association, 1897, p. 23 (see the book; see also Jas. 3:14-16; Eccl. 4:4; Rom. 2:7-8; Gal. 5:15,19-23,26; Phil. 2:3; Tit. 3:3; more at Love, Man, Selfish, Sin)

Tuesday, February 5, 2013
Commemoration of Martyrs of Japan, 1597

Browning ... tells us that what won him for Christ was this, that while others tried to soothe his angry conscience, and kept urging that, really, things were not nearly so bad as he was making out, Christ looked him in the eyes and told him bluntly that he was a desperate sinner, worse, much worse, even than he realized. And that, queerly enough as you might think, the man was not discomfited but heartened. Here at last, he felt, is one who understands and knows the facts. And since His desperate diagnosis is so accurate, may not His optimism also justify itself even in me. Well does He know what is in human nature, and yet, knowing the worst, He has still confident hope.
... A. J. Gossip (1873-1954), The Galilean Accent, Edinburgh: T. & T. Clark, 1926, p. 90-91 (see the book; see also John 2:25; Jer. 17:9; Matt. 18:11; John 5:41-42; 6:64; Gal. 5:5; Tit. 3:4-7; Heb. 4:13; 1 Pet. 1:3-5; 3:15-16; more at Christ, Confidence, Conscience, Historical, Hope, Knowledge, Optimism, Sinner)

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Of all the things that are needed by man, and needed in such a way that he can receive them only from God, there is one great gift. And to all the true and legitimate requests that are directed necessarily to God, there is one great answer. This one divine gift and answer is Jesus Christ.
... Karl Barth (1886-1968), Church Dogmatics, v. III, part 3, London: T & T Clark, 2010, p. 270 (see the book; see also John 4:10; Isa. 9:6; John 3:16; Rom. 5:14-17; 6:23; 1 Cor. 1:30; 2 Cor. 9:15; Eph. 2:8-9; more at Gifts, God, Jesus, Man, Truth)

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Those talents which God has bestowed upon us are not our own goods but the free gifts of God; and any persons who become proud of them show their ungratefulness.
... John Calvin (1509-1564), The Institutes of the Christian Religion, v. I [1559], tr. John Allen, Presbyterian Board of Publication and Sabbath-School Work, 1921, III.vii.4, p. 622 (see the book; see also 1 Cor. 4:7; Deut. 8:11-14; 1 Chr. 29:11-14; Pr. 2:6; Hos. 13:6; John 1:11,16; Jas. 1:17; more at Gifts, God, People, Pride, Thanksgiving)

Friday, February 8, 2013

Any suggestion that the world is sinful cannot be limited to “moralistic” claims about our petty crimes. The Christian story trains us to see that in most of our life we act as if this is not God’s world and therein lies our fundamental sin. Moreover, when we so act, we find that our actions have far-reaching consequences, since in effect we distort our own and the world’s nature. Therefore sin implies not just a claim about human behavior but a claim about the way things are.
... Stanley Hauerwas (b. 1940), The Peaceable Kingdom, University of Notre Dame Press, 1983, p. 30 (see the book; see also Ps. 24:1-4; Deut. 10:14; Josh. 7:12; Isa. 59:2; Mic. 3:4; John 19:10-11; Acts 17:24-26; 1 Tim. 6:13-16; Heb. 1:3; more at Crime, God, Life, Morality, Nature, Sin, World)

Saturday, February 9, 2013

That no [obedience] but a perfect one will satisfy God, I hold with all my heart and strength; but that there is none else He cares for, is one of the lies of the enemy. What father is not pleased with the first tottering attempt of his little one to walk? What father would be satisfied with anything but the manly step of the full-grown son?
... George MacDonald (1824-1905), “The Way”, in Unspoken Sermons, Second Series, London: Longmans, Green, 1886, p. 10 (see the book; see also Mark 9:41; Gen. 17:1; Ps. 111:10; Matt. 10:42; 19:17-21; Mark 12:41-44; 2 Cor. 8:11-12; Eph. 4:11-14; Phil. 2:12-13; more at Enemy, Father, God, Obedience, Perfection, Pleasure, Satisfaction, Son)

Sunday, February 10, 2013
Commemoration of Scholastica, Abbess of Plombariola, c.543

Many have learned how to offer the other cheek, but do not know how to love him by whom they are struck.
... St. Augustine of Hippo (354-430), from “Our Lord’s Sermon on the Mount,” in A Select Library of the Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers of the Christian Church, v. VI, Philip Schaff, ed., New York: Christian Literature Company, 1888, I.58, p. 26 (see the book; see also Luke 6:29,35; Ex. 23:4-5; Ps. 57:7; Pr. 25:21-22; Lam. 3:30; Matt. 5:39,44-45; Rom. 12:14,20-21; 1 Cor. 4:12-13; 1 Pet. 2:20-23; 3:9; more at Enemy, Legalism, Love, Practical Christianity)

Monday, February 11, 2013

I look upon all the world as my parish; thus far I mean, that, in whatever part of it I am, I judge it meet, right, and my bounden duty, to declare unto all that are willing to hear, the glad tidings of salvation.
... John Wesley (1703-1791), a letter in the entry for June 11, 1739, Journal of the Rev. John Wesley, v. I, London: J. Kershaw, 1827, p. 193 (see the book; see also Matt. 28:19-20; Ps. 40:9; Isa. 60:1; Matt. 5:13-14; 10:27; Luke 12:8; Acts 10:37-38; Phil. 2:14-16; Col. 4:6; Rev. 22:17; more at Duty, Gospel, Historical, Salvation, Tidings, World)

Tuesday, February 12, 2013
Commemoration of Brother Lawrence of the Resurrection (Nicolas Herman), spiritual writer, 1691

The call to follow Christ always means a call to share the work of forgiving men their sins. Forgiveness is the Christlike suffering which it is the Christian’s duty to bear.
... Dietrich Bonhoeffer (1906-1945), The Cost of Discipleship, Simon and Schuster, 1959, p. 90 (see the book; see also Matt. 18:21-22; 5:7; 6:12-15; 26:28; Mark 11:25; Luke 11:4; 17:3-4; 23:34; Eph. 4:32; Col. 3:13; more at Call, Christ, Christlikeness, Duty, Forgiveness, Practical Christianity, Share, Suffer, Work)

Wednesday, February 13, 2013
Ash Wednesday

Hard were the nails and cruel,
To pierce that form of grace;
But now they hold the compass
Of heaven in its place:
The hope of Adam’s children
flows from that awful hour,
When earth beheld its Maker
Abused by human power.
... William Williams (1717-1791), in Sweet Singers of Wales: a story of Welsh hymns and their authors, Howell Elvet Lewis, London: Religious Tract Society, 1889, p. 50 (see the book; see also Matt. 27:21-23; Job 42:5-6; Ps. 33:22; 119:81; Joel 2:25; Matt. 12:21; 1 Cor. 1:18; Tit. 2:11-13; more at Abasement, Cross, Grace, Heaven, Sin)

Thursday, February 14, 2013
Feast of Cyril & Methodius, Missionaries to the Slavs, 869 & 885
Commemoration of Valentine, Martyr at Rome, c.269

Some of us know what it is to love, and we know that could we only have our way, our beloved ones would be overwhelmed with blessings. All that is good, and sweet, and lovely in life would be poured out upon them from our lavish hands, had we but the power to carry out our will for them. And if this is the way of love with us, how much more must it be so with our God who is Love itself.
... Hannah Whitall Smith (1832-1911), Christian’s Secret of a Happy Life, London: F. E. Longley, 1876, p. 43 (see the book; see also 1 John 3:1; Ps. 86:5,15; 136; Jer. 31:3; Mic. 7:18; Rom. 9:22-23; 2 Cor. 13:11; Eph. 1:7-8; 2:4-5; Tit. 3:4-7; 1 John 4:8; more at Blessing, God, Goodness, Knowledge, Love, Way)

Friday, February 15, 2013
Commemoration of Thomas Bray, Priest, Founder of SPCK, 1730

When a man is not troubled it is not hard for him to be fervent and devout, but if he bears up patiently in time of adversity, there is hope for great progress.
... Thomas à Kempis (1380-1471), Of the Imitation of Christ [1418], Leipzig: Bernhard Tauchnitz, 1877, I.xiii.8, p. 49 (see the book; see also Rom. 5:3-4; Matt. 5:11-12; Luke 6:22-23; Acts 5:41; Rom. 8:28; 15:3-4; 1 Cor. 10:13; 2 Cor. 4:8-10,17; Phil. 1:27-28; Jas. 1:2-3; 2 Pet. 1:4-8; more at Adversity, Devotion, Patience, Progress, Trouble, Zeal)

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Blessed are those who have realized their own utter helplessness, and who have put their whole trust in God. If people have realized their own utter helplessness, and have put their whole trust in God, there will enter into their lives two things.... They will become completely detached from material things, for they will know that things do not have the power to bring happiness or security; and they will become completely attached to God, for they will know that God alone can bring them help, hope, and strength. Those who are poor in spirit are men and women who have realized that things mean nothing, and that God means everything.
... William Barclay (1907-1978), The Gospel of Matthew, v. 2, Edinburgh: Saint Andrew, 1958, p. 105-106 (see the book; see also Matt. 5:3; Ps. 51:17; Pr. 16:19; Isa. 57:15; Mic. 6:8; Matt. 6:19-20; Luke 12:16-21; Titus 2:11-12; Heb. 11:24-26; 1 John 2:15-17; more at Blessing, God, Helplessness, Knowledge, Material things, Security, Trust)

Sunday, February 17, 2013
Feast of Janani Luwum, Archbishop of Uganda, Martyr, 1977

Our small progress deprives us of all natural encouragement. For our minds must be thoroughly saturated with supernatural principles, always to realize that one evil thought repelled, one angry humour smartly chastised, one base envy well warred down, one thorough Deo gratias [God be thanked] in a piece of ill-luck, may be really hundreds of leagues of progress; and each of them worth more than the whole world to us, as something which pleases God, and which God alone has enabled us to do.
... Frederick William Faber (1814-1863), Growth in Holiness, London: Thomas Richardson & Son, 1860, third edition, p. 123 (see the book; see also Rev. 19:7-8; Ps. 4:4; Mic. 6:8; Matt. 5:48; Rom. 12:1-2; Gal. 5:22-23; Phil. 1:9-11; 2:14-16; 4:8; Col. 3:12-13; 1 Thes. 4:7; Heb. 12:1; Jas. 3:17-18; 2 Pet. 1:4-8; 1 John 2:5; more at Encouragement, Envy, God, Nature, Pleasure, Progress, World)

Monday, February 18, 2013

Finally, the Devil showed Christ all the kingdoms of the world in a moment of time, and said: All this power will I give thee, and the glory of them: for that is delivered unto me; and to whomsoever I will I give it. All Christ had to do in return was to worship the donor instead of God—which, of course, he could not do. How interesting, though, that power should be at the Devil’s disposal, and only attainable through an understanding with him! Many have thought otherwise, and sought power in the belief that by its exercise they could lead men to brotherhood and happiness and peace, invariably with disastrous consequences. Always in the end the bargain with the Devil has to be fulfilled—as any Stalin or Napoleon or Cromwell must testify. I am the light of the world, Christ said; power belongs to darkness.
... Malcolm Muggeridge (1903-1990), Jesus Rediscovered, Garden City, N.Y.: Doubleday, 1969, p. 9 (see the book; see also Matt. 4:8-10; Deut. 6:13-14; Matt. 16:26; John 7:7; 13:3; 1 John 2:15-16; more at Belief, Brotherhood, Christ, Devil, Fulfillment, Happiness, Light, Peace, Power, World)

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

If [it] yields to the drift of the age and surrenders its hold of the awful but glorious individualism of the Christian salvation,... the Church itself will not be much enriched by an accession of panic-stricken fugitives from a Personal God. And many unhappy young people are discovering now that Church membership is not the equivalent of being reconciled to God, and a kind of Confirmation is not a substitute for Conversion.
... William Russell Maltby (1866-1951), Obiter Scripta, London: Epworth Press, 1952, p. 117-118 (see the book; see also Eph. 1:11-12; Luke 19:2-10; Acts 8:30-36; 13:48; Rom. 5:11; 8:29-30; 2 Cor. 5:17-19; Eph. 1:4-6; Philemon 1:10; 1 Pet. 2:9; more at Authenticity, Church, Conversion, Discovery, God, Reconciliation, Salvation)

Wednesday, February 20, 2013
Commemoration of Cecile Isherwood, Founder of the Community of the Resurrection, Grahamstown, South Africa, 1906

Seen from below, from a human perspective, there is an enormous distinction between good times and bad, between sorrow and joy. But from above, in the eyes of God, sorrow and joy are never separated. Where there is pain, there is also healing. Where there is mourning, there is dancing. Where there is poverty, there is the kingdom.
... Henri J. M. Nouwen (1932-1996), Spiritual Direction: Wisdom for the Long Walk of Faith, Forward Movement, 1981, p. 134-135 (see the book; see also Luke 6:20; Isa. 64:8; Matt. 5:4; 11:4-6; 2 Cor. 6:4-10; 8:1-2; Heb. 12:5-6; Jas. 2:5; Rev. 22:1-2; more at God, Health, Joy, Kingdom, Mourning, Pain, Poverty, Sorrow)

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Let nothing be to you an occasion of unbelief. If thou considerest the stones, even they contain proof of the power of their Maker; and so does the ant, the gnat, the bee. In smallest things the wisdom of the Creator is oftentimes displayed. He who stretched out the heavens, and poured forth the mighty volume of the sea, He it is who hollowed the minute sting of the bee to shed its virus through. You must not say that anything was done by chance. But His judgments are like the great deep.
... St. Basil the Great (330?-379), Homily on Ps. XXXII.5, quoted in Saint Basil the Great, Richard T. Smith, London: Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge, 1879, p. 111 (see the book; see also Job 39:1-2; Gen. 18:10-14; Job 12:7-9; 38-41; Ps. 19:1-6,9; 32:5; 146:5-6; Eccl. 11:5; Jer. 10:12; Matt. 6:28-30; Rom. 1:20; more at Apologetics, Creation, Judgment, Power, Proof, Unbelief, Wisdom)

Friday, February 22, 2013

To put it shortly, the Church forgets that Christianity is not an attitude of mind, but a type of life: a man’s spirit is not known by his opinion (creeds etc.) but by his action and general conduct.
... William Temple (1881-1944), William Temple, Archbishop of Canterbury: his life and letters, Frederic Athelwold Iremonger, Oxford University Press, 1948, p. 99 (see the book; see also 1 Sam. 2:3; Ps. 62:11-12; 94:4; Matt. 5:16; 7:24; 16:27; 25:34-46; Gal. 5:6; 6:7-8; Col. 4:6; Jas. 1:22; 1 John 3:23-24; more at Action, Attitudes, Church, Conduct, Life, Man)

Saturday, February 23, 2013
Feast of Polycarp, Bishop of Smyrna, Martyr, c.155

The conversion of souls is the working of the divine, not the human voice... It is from him alone that we must hope for results. We must ask him for it, so that our voice may be in harmony with the voice of majesty. May I suggest then that you prick up the ears of your heart in order to hear this inner voice and that you make an effort to hear God speaking within rather than the man speaking without... Nor do we have much difficulty in hearing this voice; the difficulty is rather in stopping our ears from hearing it. For that voice offers itself, presents itself, and never ceases to knock at the door of each one of us.
... Bernard of Clairvaux (1091-1153), Honey and Salt: selected spiritual writings of Saint Bernard of Clairvaux, Random House Digital, Inc., 2007, p. 247-248 (see the book; see also Acts 13:47-48; Ps. 29:3-9; Isa. 6:9-10; Zech. 7:11-12; Matt. 11:15; 13:16; John 1:12-13; 8:47; Acts 2:4,38-39; 7:55-58; Rev. 3:20; more at Conversion, Door, Harmony, Heart, Holy Spirit, Offering, Perseverance)

Sunday, February 24, 2013

The very question “Does prayer work?” puts us in the wrong frame of mind from the onset. “Work”: as if it were magic or a machine—something that functions automatically. Prayer is either a sheer illusion or a personal contact between embryonic, incomplete persons (ourselves) and the utterly concrete Person. Prayer in the sense of petition, asking for things, is a small part of it; confession and penitence are its threshold, adoration its sanctuary, the presence and vision and enjoyment of God its bread and wine. In it God shows Himself to us. That He answers prayer is a corollary—not necessarily the most important one—from that revelation. What He does is learned from what He is.
... C. S. Lewis (1898-1963), “The Efficacy of Prayer” in The World’s Last Night [1960], Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2002, p. 8 (see the book; see also Eph. 3:20-21; Ps. 106:1; 139:7-10; Matt. 6:9-13; Rom. 14:11; Eph. 2:18; Phil. 4:6; Col. 4:2; Jas. 4:8-10; 1 John 1:9; Rev. 4:9-11; more at Confession, God, Penitence, Praise, Prayer, Question, Revelation, Vision)

Monday, February 25, 2013

The question is not whether the things that happen to you are chance things or God’s things because, of course, they are both at once. There is no chance thing through which God cannot speak—even the walk from the house to the garage that you have walked ten thousand times before, even the moments when you cannot believe that there is a God who speaks at all anywhere. He speaks, I believe, and the words he speaks are incarnate in the flesh and blood of our selves and of our own footsore and sacred journeys.
... Frederick Buechner (1926-2022), Listening to Your Life, HarperCollins, 1992, p. 4 (see the book; see also Pr. 16:33; Ex. 3:1-5; 1 Kings 19:11-13; Luke 10:30-32; Acts 1:26; Rom. 8:28; Jas. 4:13-15; more at Belief, God, Incarnation, Journey, Self)

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

A man will confess sins in general; but those sins which he would not have his neighbor know for his right hand, which bow him down with shame like a wind-stricken bulrush, those he passes over in his prayer. Men are willing to be thought sinful in disposition; but in special acts they are disposed to praise themselves. They therefore confess their depravity and defend their conduct. They are wrong in general, but right in particular.
... Henry Ward Beecher (1813-1887), Life Thoughts: gathered from the extemporaneous discourses of Henry Ward Beecher, Edna Dean Proctor, ed., Sheldon, 1860, p. 23 (see the book; see also John 9:39-41; Ps. 19:12; 139:23-24; Lam. 3:40; Hag. 1:5; Matt. 7:1-2; Rom. 10:3; 11:19-21; 1 Cor. 11:31; Gal. 6:3-5; Jas. 1:26; more at Conduct, Confession, Depravity, Neighbor, Praise, Prayer, Shame, Sin)

Wednesday, February 27, 2013
Feast of George Herbert, Priest, Poet, 1633

Yet, Lord, restore thine image, hear my call:
And though my hard heart scarce to thee can groan,
Remember that thou once didst write in stone.
... George Herbert (1593-1633), The Poetical Works of George Herbert, New York: D. Appleton, 1857, p. 44 (see the book; see also Ex. 32:15-16; Gen. 1:26-27; 5:1; Ex. 24:12; 31:18; Eze. 36:26; Mark 10:5; Rom. 8:29; 2 Cor. 3:3,18; Eph. 4:22-24; Col. 3:9-10; 1 John 3:2; more at Call, Heart, Remembrance, Renewal)

Thursday, February 28, 2013

Does not Christ set more value upon importunity than on submission? “Knock, and it shall be opened.” I would refer also not only to the parable of the unjust judge, but to the incident of the Syrophenician woman, where her wit, faith, and importunity together did actually change our Lord’s intention and break His custom. There is Paul beseeching the Lord thrice for a boon; and urging us to be instant, insistent, continual in prayer. We have Jacob wrestling. We have Abraham pleading, yea, haggling, with God for Sodom. We have Moses interceding for Israel and asking God to blot his name out of the book of life, if that were needful to save Israel. We have Job facing God, withstanding Him, almost bearding Him, and extracting revelation. And we have Christ’s own struggle with the Father in Gethsemane.
It is a wrestle on the greatest scale—all manhood taxed as in some great war, or some great negotiation of State. And the effect is exhaustion often. No, the result of true prayer is not always peace.
... P. T. Forsyth (1848-1921), The Soul of Prayer [1916], Regent College Publishing, 2002, p. 101-102 (see the book; see also Matt. 7:7-8; Gen. 18:20-33; 32:24-29; Ex. 32:31-34; Deut. 1:45; Matt. 10:34; 26:36-44; Mark 7:25-30; Luke 2:36-38; 11:5-8; 18:1-8; 2 Cor. 12:7-9; more at Christ, Faith, Intention, Judgment, Peace, Perseverance, Prayer, Revelation, Struggle, Submission, Woman)


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