Christ, our Light

Quotations for December, 1997

Monday, December 1, 1997
Commemoration of Charles de Foucauld, Hermit, Servant of the Poor, 1916

Whoever loves much, does much.
... Thomas à Kempis (1380-1471), Of the Imitation of Christ [1418], Leipzig: Bernhard Tauchnitz, 1877, I.xv.2, p. 51 (see the book; see also John 21:15-17; Ps. 78:70-72; John 14:15; Acts 20:28; 2 Cor. 5:14-15; Gal. 5:6; 1 Pet. 5:1-4; 1 John 4:19; more at Action, Affection, Love, Service)

Tuesday, December 2, 1997

It does not make a very great difference what side of Christ’s work attracts us and appeals to us most. Doubtless Christ has many ways of drawing men to Himself. One side of Christ’s work will appeal most to one mind, another to another. The mistake that is often made by those who speak most about Christian experience is that they are so apt to insist upon everyone else’s experience—on penalty of its utter worthlessness—being exactly the same as their own. The great thing is that we should be attracted by Christ in some way, that we should come to God in that spirit of penitence which Christ taught was the one condition of acceptance with Him, and with that steady purpose of amendment which is, as he always taught, a part of true penitence.
... James Hastings Rashdall (1858-1924), Principles and Precepts, Oxford: B. Blackwell, 1927, p. 126-127 (see the book; see also 1 Cor. 12:14-27; Joel 2:13; Jonah 3:9-10; Matt. 3:8; 4:17; Mark 6:12; Luke 18:10-14; Acts 8:22; 17:30; 2 Tim. 2:25-26; Jas. 4:8; more at Christ, Experience, God, Penitence, Repentance)

Wednesday, December 3, 1997
Commemoration of Francis Xavier, Apostle of the Indies, Missionary, 1552

As long as I see any thing to be done for God, life is worth having: but O how vain and unworthy it is, to live for any lower end!
... David Brainerd (1718-1747), Memoirs of the Rev. David Brainerd, New Haven: S. Converse, 1822, p. 424 (see the book; see also Job 13:14-15; Ps. 39:4-7; 94:11; 119:81; Isa. 47:8-9; Luke 8:14; 12:16-21; Rom. 15:13; Heb. 11:24-26; more at God, Life, Obedience, Vanity)

Thursday, December 4, 1997
Commemoration of Nicholas Ferrar, Deacon, Founder of the Little Gidding Community, 1637

There is a pride of faith, more unforgivable and dangerous than the pride of the intellect. It reveals a split personality in which faith is “observed” and appraised, thus negating that unity born of a dying-unto-self, which is the definition of faith. To “value” faith is to turn it into a metaphysical magic, the advantages of which ought to be reserved for a spiritual elite.
... Dag Hammarskjöld (1905-1961), Markings, tr. Leif Sjöberg & W. H. Auden, (q.v.), New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1964 (post.), p. 106 (see the book; see also Rom. 6:5-7; Mic. 6:8; Matt. 7:1-5; 2 Cor. 4:10; Gal. 2:20; 5:24; Phil. 3:8; Col. 2:13; more at Danger, Faith, Pride, Self-sacrifice, Unity)

Friday, December 5, 1997

The purifying worth of prayer consists in the increasing contrast which it sets up between the holy God and the creature; subordinating that creature’s fugitive activities and desires to the standard set by this solemn apprehension of Reality.
... Evelyn Underhill (1875-1941), The Golden Sequence, Dutton, 1933, p. 104 (see the book; see also 2 Cor. 5:18-21; more at God, Holiness, Prayer, Purity, Sight)

Saturday, December 6, 1997
Feast of Nicholas, Bishop of Myra, c.326

We cannot understand the depth of the Christian doctrine of sin if we give to it only a moral connotation. To break the basic laws of justice and decency is sin indeed. Man’s freedom to honor principles is the moral dimension in his nature, and sin often appears as lawlessness. But sin has its roots in something which is more than the will to break the law. The core of sin is our making ourselves the center of life, rather than accepting the holy God as the center. Lack of trust, self-love, pride, these are three ways in which Christians have expressed the real meaning of sin. But what sin does is to make the struggle with evil meaningless. When we refuse to hold our freedom in trust and reverence for God’s will, there is nothing which can make the risk of life worth the pain of it.
... Daniel Day Williams (1910-1973), Interpreting Theology, 1918-1952, Daniel Day Williams, London: SCM Press, 1953, ed. 3, under alternative title, New York: Harper, 1959, p. 23 (see the book; see also Rom. 12:3; 7:7; Eph. 4:7; Jas. 5:15; 1 John 3:4,8-9; more at Antinomianism, Holiness, Justice, Law, Pride, Sin)

Sunday, December 7, 1997
Feast of Ambrose, Bishop of Milan, Teacher, 397

Moreover, you are not to ask what each man’s deserts are. Mercy is not ordinarily held to consist in pronouncing judgment on another man’s deserts, but in relieving his necessities; in giving aid to the poor, not in inquiring how good they are.
... St. Ambrose of Milan (Aurelius Ambrosius) (339-397), De Nabuthe Jezraelite [ca.395], in Journal of the History of Ideas, v. III, Johns Hopkins University Press, 1942, VIII.40, p. 462 (see the book; see also Matt. 7:1-2; Ps. 41:1; 113:7-8; Zeph. 3:12; Matt. 11:4-6; Luke 4:18-19; 6:20; Rom. 2:1; 2 Cor. 8:9; Gal. 2:10; Jas. 1:9-10; more at Giving, Goodness, Judgment, Mercy, Obedience, Poverty)

Monday, December 8, 1997

There is a manifest want of spiritual influence on the ministry of the present day. I feel it in my own case, and I see it in that of others. I am afraid that there is too much of a low, managing, contriving, maneuvering temper of mind among us. We are laying ourselves out, more than is expedient, to meet one man’s taste, and another man’s prejudices. The ministry is a grand and holy affair; and it should find in us a simple habit of spirit, and a holy but humble indifference to all consequences.
The leading defect in Christian ministers is want of a devotional habit.
... Richard Cecil (1748-1810), The Works of the Rev. Richard Cecil, v. III, Boston: Crocker and Brewster, 1825, p. 308-309 (see the book; see also Tit. 1:7-9; Pr. 28:1; 1 Cor. 16:13; Phil. 1:27-28; 2 Tim. 1:7; 1 Pet. 4:10-11; more at Church, Devotion, Holiness, Holy Spirit, Humility, Minister, Prejudice)

Tuesday, December 9, 1997

The uncertainty... lies always in the intellectual region, never in the practical. What Paul cares about is plain enough to the true heart, however far from plain to the man whose desire to understand goes ahead of his obedience.
... George MacDonald (1824-1905), “The Mirrors of the Lord”, in Unspoken Sermons, Third Series, London: Longmans, Green, 1889, p. 43 (see the book; see also Luke 11:28; 2 Cor. 3:18; Ps. 119:100; Pr. 3:5; Matt. 9:13; Jas. 1:22; more at Heart, Knowledge, Man, Obedience, Uncertainty)

Wednesday, December 10, 1997
Commemoration of Thomas Merton, Monk, Spiritual Writer, 1968

Every other creature in nature is simply itself, without this discord which is our constant lot. That is why we can study everything else in nature much more surely than we can study ourselves. With ourselves, all we have to go on is an occasional glimpse of some small part of the truth, and we must be content with that, knowing that we are truly known by Him who alone knows us.
... Paul Tournier (1898-1986), The Meaning of Persons, New York: Harper, 1957, p. 83 (see the book; see also Pr. 1:7; Ps. 71:6; 111:10; Pr. 9:10; Isa. 49:5; Jer. 1:5; Gal. 1:15-17; more at Contentment, Discord, Faith, Knowing God, Nature, Truth)

Thursday, December 11, 1997

The doctrine of justification by faith—a Biblical truth, and a blessed relief from sterile legalism and unavailing self-effort—has in our times fallen into evil company and has been interpreted by many in such a manner as actually to bar men from the knowledge of God. The whole transaction of religious conversion has been made mechanical and spiritless. Faith may now be exercised without a jar to the moral life and without embarrassment to the Adamic ego. Christ may be “received” without creating any special love for Him in the soul of the receiver. The man is “saved,” but he is not hungry or thirsty after God. In fact, he is specifically taught to be satisfied and encouraged to be content with little.
The modern scientist has lost God amid the wonders of His world; we Christians are in real danger of losing God amid the wonders of His Word.
... A. W. Tozer (1897-1963), The Pursuit of God [1948], Christian Publications, 1982, p. 12 (see the book; see also Matt. 5:6; 7:9,10; Rom. 3:20; more at Christ, Conversion, Faith, Justification, Knowing God, Legalism, Morality, Search, Wonder)

Friday, December 12, 1997

Poor souls are apt to think that all those whom they read of or hear of to be gone to heaven, went thither because they were so good and so holy... Yet not one of them, not any one that is now in heaven, Jesus Christ alone excepted, did ever come thither any other way but by forgiveness of sin; and that will also bring us thither, though we come short of many of them in holiness and grace.
... John Owen (1616-1683), An Exposition upon Psalm CXXX [1668], in Works of John Owen, v. VI, New York: R. Carter & Bros., 1851, p. 447 (see the book; see also Rom. 5:20; Ps. 25:11; 130:1-4; Isa. 1:18; Mic. 7:18; Matt. 9:13; Luke 23:39-43; 1 Tim. 1:15-16; Rev. 1:5; more at Forgiveness, Goodness, Grace, Heaven, Holiness, Jesus, Sin)

Saturday, December 13, 1997
Feast of Lucy, Martyr at Syracuse, 304
Commemoration of Samuel Johnson, Writer, Moralist, 1784

A student may easily exhaust his life in comparing divines and moralists without any practical regard to morals and religion; he may be learning not to live but to reason... while the chief use of his volumes is unthought of, his mind is unaffected, and his life is unreformed.
... Samuel Johnson (1709-1784), The Works of Samuel Johnson, L. L. D., v. V, New York: William Durell, 1811, p. 109 (see the book; see also John 5:39-40; Ps. 119:11; Isa. 6:9-10; Jer. 8:9; Matt. 23:37; Mark 12:10-11; John 1:11; 3:19; 5:46; Rom. 3:1-4; 2 Pet. 1:20-21; more at Authenticity, Life, Mind, Morality, Reason, Religion)

Sunday, December 14, 1997
Feast of John of the Cross, Mystic, Poet, Teacher, 1591

God does not reserve such a lofty vocation [as that of contemplation] to certain souls only; on the contrary, He is willing that all should embrace it. But He finds few who permit such divine things in them. Most shrink from the labour instead of submitting, as they must, with endless patience.
... St. John of the Cross (1542-1591), quoted in The Perennial Philosophy [1945], Aldous Huxley, New York: HarperCollins, 2004 (see the book; see also Ps. 1:1,2; 119:11; 139:17,18; Phil. 4:8; more at Contemplation, God, Labor, Patience, Prayer, Submission)

Monday, December 15, 1997

I will not judge a person to be spiritually dead whom I have judged formerly to have had spiritual life, though I see him at present in a swoon as to all evidences of the spiritual life. And the reason why I will not judge him so is this,—because if you judge a person dead, you neglect him, you leave him; but if you judge him in a swoon, though never so dangerous, you use all means for the retrieving of his life.
... John Owen (1616-1683), “Several Practical Cases of Conscience Resolved” [1721], in Works of John Owen, v. IX, New York: R. Carter, 1851, Discourse IX, p. 388 (see the book; see also Mark 4:9; 1 John 2:15; more at Danger, Death, Judgment, Life, Neglect, Spiritual life, Weakness)

Tuesday, December 16, 1997

Martin Luther described the doctrine of justification by faith as ... the article of faith that decides whether the church is standing or falling. By this he meant that when this doctrine is understood, believed, and preached, as it was in New Testament times, the church stands in the grace of God and is alive; but where it is neglected, overlaid, or denied, ... the church falls from grace and its life drains away, leaving it in a state of darkness and death.
... James I. Packer (1926-2020), introductory essay to The Doctrine of Justification [1867], James Buchanan, London: Banner of Truth Trust, 1961, p. vii (see the book; see also Gal. 3:8; Gen. 18:18; 22:18; 16:4; 28:14; Rom. 1:16-17; 3:21-24,29-30; 9:30; Gal. 3:16; more at Belief, Church, Darkness, Death, Faith, Grace, Justification, Neglect)

Wednesday, December 17, 1997
Commemoration of Dorothy Sayers, Teacher and Spiritual Writer, 1957
Commemoration of Eglantyne Jebb, Social Reformer, Founder of ‘Save the Children’, 1928

Let a clergyman but intend to please God in all his actions, as the happiest and best thing in the world, and then he will know, that there is nothing noble in a clergyman but a burning zeal for the salvation of souls; nor anything poorer in his profession [than] idleness and a worldly spirit.
... William Law (1686-1761), A Serious Call to a Devout and Holy Life [1728], London: Methuen, 1899, p. 19 (see the book; see also Matt. 12:35-37; Jas. 5:19,20; more at Church, Enlighten, Minister, Salvation, Worldly)

Thursday, December 18, 1997

[Dietrich Bonhoeffer] challenged the church to rethink its own mission in the radically secular world of the twentieth century... The nonbelieving brave men he met in the anti-Nazi underground, the stark realities of prison life, and his disappointment in the professional churchmen of Germany, all may have influenced Bonhoeffer to see real Christianity as “non-religious” and “worldly.”.. The opposition between sacred and secular, supernatural and natural, seemed unreal to him—the apparent opposites are united in Jesus Christ.
... John D. Godsey (1922-2010), The Theology of Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Philadelphia: Westminster Press, 1960, p. 17 (see the book; see also 1 Cor. 7:29-31; Ps. 39:6; 73:20; Isa. 40:6-8; Jas. 1:10-11; 4:14; 1 John 2:17; more at Church, Disappointment, Historical, Jesus, Mission, Prison, Unity)

Friday, December 19, 1997

[He said] that it was a great delusion to think that the times of prayer ought to differ from other times; that we are as strictly obliged to adhere to God by action in the time of action as by prayer in the season of prayer.
That his prayer was nothing else but a sense of the Presence of God, his soul being at that time insensible to everything but Divine Love; and that when the appointed times of prayer were past, he found no difference, because he still continued with God, praising and blessing Him with all his might, so that he passed his life in continual joy; yet hoped that God would give him somewhat to suffer when he should have grown stronger.
... Brother Lawrence (c.1605-1691), The Practice of the Presence of God, New York, Revell, 1895, Fourth Conversation, p. 16-17 (see the book; see also Lev. 24:4; Luke 24:53; 1 Thess. 5:17; Heb. 13:15; Rev. 5:8; more at Blessing, God, Joy, Love, Praise, Prayer, Presence of God, Soul, Strength, Suffer)

Saturday, December 20, 1997

If Christians are ever to be united, they must be united in Christ, their living head and the source of their spiritual life.
... Philip Schaff (1819-1893), The Life of Philip Schaff: in part autobiographical, David Schley Schaff, New York: C. Scribner’s Sons, 1897, p. 473 (see the book; see also Heb. 4:15; John 17:22-23; 2 Cor. 5:17; Eph. 1:9-10,22-23; 4:15; Col. 1:18-20,24; more at Christ, Church, Leader, Spiritual life, Unity)

Sunday, December 21, 1997

Did you ever stop to ask what a yoke is really for? Is it to be a burden to the animal which wears it? It is just the opposite. It is to make its burden light. Attached to the oxen in any other way than by a yoke, the plow would be intolerable. Worked by means of a yoke, it is light. A yoke is not an instrument of torture; it is an instrument of mercy. It is not a malicious contrivance for making work hard; it is a gentle device to make hard labor light... [Christ] knew the difference between a smooth yoke and a rough one, a bad fit and a good one... The rough yoke galled, and the burden was heavy; the smooth yoke caused no pain, and the burden was lightly drawn. The badly fitted harness was a misery; the well fitted collar was “easy.”
And what was the “burden”? It was not some special burden laid upon the Christian, some unique infliction that they alone must bear. It was what all men bear. It was simply life, human life itself, the general burden of life which all must carry with them from the cradle to the grave. Christ saw that men took life painfully. To some it was a weariness, to others failure, to many a tragedy, to all a struggle and a pain. How to carry this burden of life had been the whole world’s problem. And here is Christ’s solution: “Carry it as I do. Take life as I take it. Look at it from My point of view. Interpret it upon my principles. Take my yoke and learn of me, and you will find it easy. For my yoke is easy, works easily, sits right upon the shoulders, and therefore my burden is light.”
... Henry Drummond (1851-1897), Pax Vobiscum, in Addresses, H. Altemus, 1891, p. 124,127-129 (see the book; see also Matt. 11:29-30; 7:24; 17:5; John 14:21; 15:10-14; 2 Cor. 10:5; Heb. 5:8-10; more at Bible, Burden, Christ, Failure, Life, Mercy, Pain, Struggle, Tragedy, Work)

Monday, December 22, 1997

Let us not forget the humanity of the Lord Jesus Christ. Let us not think of it vaguely, and fall into the heretical fancy that the Son of God became man merely to transact certain things which were necessary to secure the salvation of men, and that after this object was achieved His human nature recedes into the background and impenetrable obscurity. No, it is not so; all-important as His work on earth was—the only foundation of our hope and blessedness—let us adore the revealed mystery that God gave us His Son, never to recall Him, as it were, and take Him away from us; He spared Him not and gave Him to us, allowing Him to become man, exalting Him as the Son of Man, enthroning Him because of his obedience unto death, and giving unto Him as the Son of Man all power in heaven and earth.
... Adolph Saphir (1831-1891), Christ and Israel, London: Morgan and Scott, 1911, p. 145-146 (see the book; see also Phil. 2:5-11; Ps. 22:1-5; Isa. 53:10; Matt. 4:1-2; 11:29; 28:18-20; Luke 24:41-43; John 1:14; 3:16-17; Rom. 5:8; 8:32; 2 Cor. 5:21; 1 Tim. 3:16; Heb. 12:2; 1 John 1:2-3; 4:2-3,10; more at Christ, God, Jesus, Man, Power, Salvation, Son)

Tuesday, December 23, 1997

Christmas turns things tail end foremost. The day and the spirit of Christmas rearrange the world parade. As the world arranges it, usually there come first in importance—leading the parade with a big blare of a band—the Big Shots. Frequently they are also the Stuffed Shirts. That’s the first of the parade. Then at the tail end, as of little importance, trudge the weary, the poor, the lame, the halt, and the blind. But in the Christmas spirit, the procession is turned around. Those at the tail end are put first in the arrangement of the Child of Christmas.
... Halford E. Luccock (1885-1960), “Whoops! It’s Christmas”, in the Halford Luccock Treasury, New York: Abingdon, 1963, p. 381-382 (see the book; see also Matt. 19:30; 20:16; Mark 9:35-37; 10:31; Luke 13:30; more at Blindness, Christmas, Poverty, Spirit, Weary, World)

Wednesday, December 24, 1997
Christmas Eve

They were all looking for a king
To slay their foes, and lift them high;
Thou cam’st, a little baby thing
That made a woman cry.
... George MacDonald (1824-1905), The Poetical Works of George MacDonald, v. 2, London: Chatto & Windus, 1893, p. 323 (see the book; see also Luke 2:6-7; Matt. 2:6; 26:52-54; Luke 22:37; 24:25-26; John 1:10-11; more at Christmas, Foe, King, Woman)

Thursday, December 25, 1997

Jesus came!—and came for me.
Simple words! and yet expressing
Depths of holy mystery,
Depths of wondrous love and blessing.
Holy Spirit, make me see
All His coming means for me;
Take the things of Christ, I pray,
Show them to my heart today.
... Frances Ridley Havergal (1836-1879), The Poetical Works of Frances Ridley Havergal, New York: E.P. Dutton & Co., 1888, p. 167 (see the book; see also Luke 5:31-32; Matt. 9:10; Mark 2:17; John 3:16; Rom. 5:8; 1 Tim. 1:15; 2 Tim. 1:10; Tit. 2:12-14; 3:4-7; Heb. 9:26; more at Blessing, Christ, Christmas, Heart, Holy Spirit, Jesus, Love)

Friday, December 26, 1997
Feast of Stephen, Deacon, First Martyr

Lord of all pots and pans and things, since I’ve no time to be
A saint by doing lovely things, or watching late with Thee,
Or dreaming in the dawn-light, or storming Heaven’s gates,
Make me a saint by getting meals and washing up the plates.
Although I must have Martha’s hands, I have a Mary mind,
And when I black the boots and shoes, Thy sandals, Lord, I find.
I think of how they trod the earth, what time I scrub the floor:
Accept this meditation, Lord, I haven’t time for more.
Warm all the kitchen with Thy love, and light it with Thy peace;
Forgive me all my worrying, and make my grumbling cease.
Thou who didst love to give men food, in room or by the sea,
Accept this service that I do—I do it unto Thee.
... Cecily Hallack (1898-1938), attributed, in The Missionary Review of the World, v. LIII, Missionary Review Publishing Co., Inc., 1930, p. 771 (see the book; see also Luke 10:38-42; more at Obedience)

Saturday, December 27, 1997
Feast of John, Apostle & Evangelist

In several striking cases of conversion I have studied, those in need were inspired and affected, not merely by the kindness of an individual... but by the love and sympathy of the Church as a whole... Examples could be multiplied. This type of service is a great witness to the reality of Christian life and faith; but it presupposes a spirit of fellowship within the Church, a spirit which is all too rare. It means that there is mutual respect and trust between the minister and the members of his Church; and a spirit of fellowship which is outward-looking and which issues in service.
... Owen Brandon, The Battle for the Soul: Aspects of Religious Conversion, Philadelphia, Westminster Press, 1959, p. 45-46 (see the book; see also Phil. 2:1,2; more at Church, Conversion, Faith, Fellowship, Inspiration, Kindness, Love, Need, Service, Spirit, Sympathy, Witness)

Sunday, December 28, 1997
Feast of the Holy Innocents

The whole being of any Christian is Faith and Love... Faith brings the man to God, love brings him to men.
... Martin Luther (1483-1546) (see also Gal. 5:6; 1 Thes. 1:3; 1 Pet. 1:8; 1 John 3:16; 4:18-21; more at Faith, God, Love, Man)

Monday, December 29, 1997
Feast of Thomas Becket, Archbishop of Canterbury, Martyr, 1170

Belief in God through Christ is the most important of all aids to the following of Christ, but (let us never forget) the following is the great thing. To those who, by whatever means they are attracted to Him, really seek to do God’s will as He revealed it, Christ will prove a Saviour—a Saviour from sin, a Saviour from the power of sin here, and from the misery which sin brings with it here and hereafter.
... James Hastings Rashdall (1858-1924), Principles and Precepts, Oxford: B. Blackwell, 1927, p. 127 (see the book; see also Matt. 4:19; 1:21; 8:19-23; 16:24; 19:21; Mark 1:17; 8:34; 10:21; Luke 5:27-28; 9:23,57-62; 14:27; 18:22; John 1:43; 10:3-4,27; 1 Cor. 11:1; more at Belief, Christ, Conversion, Disciple, God, Power, Savior, Sin, Will of God)

Tuesday, December 30, 1997

The renewal of our natures is a work of great importance. It is not to be done in a day. We have not only a new house to build up, but an old one to pull down.
... George Whitefield (1714-1770), in a letter, 1735, in The Works of the Reverend George Whitefield, M.A., v. I, London: Edward and Charles Dilly, 1771, p. 8 (see the book; see also 1 Cor. 3:9-17; Ps. 51:10; Rom. 12:1-2; 13:14; 1 Cor. 6:19; Eph. 4:22-24; Col. 3:9-10; more at Builder, Conversion, Renewal, Temple)

Wednesday, December 31, 1997
Commemoration of John Wycliffe, Reformer, 1384

All the blessings we enjoy are Divine deposits, committed to our trust on this condition, that they should be dispensed for the benefit of our neighbours.
... 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.5, p. 623 (see the book; see also 2 Cor. 1:21-22; Gal. 2:9-10; 1 Pet. 3:15-16; more at Blessing, Commitment, Stewardship, Trust)


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