Christ, our Light

Quotations for February, 1999

Monday, February 1, 1999
Commemoration of Brigid, Abbess of Kildare, c.525

People who think that, if God rules the world, He should lead His church from success to success have not understood the secret of Calvary yet. God does not lead His children around hardship, but leads them straight through hardship. But He leads! And amidst the hardship, He is nearer to them than ever before.
... Otto Dibelius (1880-1967), from a sermon (see the book; see also Acts 14:21-22; Matt. 16:24; Luke 24:26; John 12:25-26; 16:33; Rom. 8:17; 2 Tim. 1:8-9; 3:12-13; 1 Pet. 4:12-16; more at Affliction, Body of Christ, God, Leader, Weakness)

Tuesday, February 2, 1999

He was too great for his disciples. And in view of what he plainly said, is it any wonder that all who were rich and prosperous felt a horror of strange things, a swimming of their world at his teaching? Perhaps the priests and the rich men understood him better than his followers. He was dragging out all the little private reservations they had made from social service into the light of a universal religious life. He was like some terrible moral huntsman digging mankind out of the snug burrows in which they had lived hitherto. In the white blaze of this kingdom of his there was to be no property, no privilege, no pride and precedence; no motive indeed and no reward but love. Is it any wonder that men were dazzled and blinded and cried out against him? Even his disciples cried out when he would not spare them the light. Is it any wonder that the priests realized that between this man and themselves there was no choice but that he or priestcraft should perish? Is it any wonder that the Roman soldiers, confronted and amazed by something soaring over their comprehension and threatening all their discipline, should take refuge in wild laughter, and crown him with thorns and robe him in purple and make a mock Caesar of him? For to take him seriously was to enter upon a strange and alarming life, to abandon habits, to control instincts and impulses, to essay an incredible happiness... Is it any wonder that to this day this Galilean is too much for our small hearts?
... H. G. Wells (1866-1946), The Outline of History, v. II [1920], The Review of Reviews Co., 1922, p. 598-599 (see the book; see also Matt. 19:24; Mark 10:21; Luke 6:24-25; 12:15; John 7:7; 1 Tim. 6:17-19; more at Greatness, Historical, Jesus)

Wednesday, February 3, 1999
Feast of Anskar, Archbishop of Hamburg, Missionary to Denmark and Sweden, 865

Let a man but separate himself from all contingencies and from all works, and there will come over him in this state of emptiness a peace which is very great, lovely, and agreeable, and which is in itself no sin since it is part of our human nature. But when it is taken for a veritable possessing of God, or unity with God, then it is a sin; for it is in reality nothing else than a state of thorough passivity and apathy untouched by the power from on high, which any man can attain without special grace of God. It is a purely negative state from which (if one in arrogance calls it divine) nothing follows but blindness, failure of understanding, and a disinclination to be governed by the rules of ordinary righteousness.
... Johannes Tauler (ca. 1300-1361), quoted in The Meaning of God in Human Experience: a philosophic study of religion, William Ernest Hocking, Yale University Press, 1912, p. 576 (see the book; see also Matt. 23:8-12; Deut. 15:7-8; Isa. 58:7; Luke 3:11; 1 John 1:6; 2:10-11; 3:17; more at Arrogance, Authenticity, Blindness, Emptiness, Failure, God, Nature, Peace, Sin, Unity, Work)

Thursday, February 4, 1999
Commemoration of Gilbert of Sempringham, Founder of the Gilbertine Order, 1189

The minister is the servant of his people, who has to help them discern for themselves the will of God for their real work in the real world. It will often be his duty, therefore, to establish a certain economy in the internal life of the Church, so that people are released to give time and energy to fulfilment of their Christian duty in the worlds of industry or politics or business or professional life, where their most determinative decisions have to be taken. A new puritanism is urgently needed in most churches, which cuts away ruthlessly from their life all organizations and activities which prevent their members from grappling with their real task.
... Daniel Jenkins (1914-2002), The Protestant Ministry, London: Faber & Faber, 1958 (see the book; see also Acts 20:33-35; Jer. 4:3; Matt. 6:24-25; 13:18-23; Luke 12:29-30; 21:34; 1 John 2:15-16; more at Church, Duty, Life, Minister, Task, Time, Will of God, Work, World)

Friday, February 5, 1999
Commemoration of Martyrs of Japan, 1597

He that sees the beauty of holiness, or true moral good, sees the greatest and most important thing in the world... Unless this is seen, nothing is seen that is worth seeing; for there is no other true excellence or beauty.
... Jonathan Edwards (1703-1758), Treatise concerning Religious Affections [1746], in The Works of Jonathan Edwards, A.M., v. I, London: William Ball., 1839, p. 284 (see the book; see also 1 Pet. 1:14-16; Lev. 19:2; Matt. 5:48; 2 Cor. 7:1; Eph. 5:1-2; Phil. 1:27; 2:14-16; Heb. 12:14; more at Beauty, Goodness, Holiness, Morality, Sight, Truth)

Saturday, February 6, 1999

The deepest need of men is not food and clothing and shelter, important as they are. It is God. We have mistaken the nature of poverty, and thought it was economic poverty. No, it is poverty of soul, deprivation of God’s recreating, loving peace. Peer into poverty and see if we are really getting down to the deepest needs, in our economic salvation schemes. These are important. But they lie farther along the road, secondary steps toward world reconstruction. The primary step is a holy life, transformed and radiant in the glory of God.
... Thomas R. Kelly (1893-1941), A Testament of Devotion, London: Quaker Home Service, 1941, reprint Harper, Collins, 1996, p. 123 (see the book; see also Prov. 16:8; Hag. 2:8; Matt. 6:19-21; Col. 2:1-3; more at Authenticity, Glory of God, God, Holiness, Love, Man, Need, Peace, Poverty, Soul)

Sunday, February 7, 1999

Where every day is not the Lord’s, the Sunday is his least of all. There may be a sickening unreality even where there is no conscious hypocrisy.
... George MacDonald (1824-1905), Donal Grant, London: George Routledge and Sons, 1883, p. 73 (see the book; see also Rom. 14:5; Matt. 12:1-13; Luke 11:39-41; 1 Cor. 10:23,31; Tit. 1:15-16; more at Day, God, Hypocrisy, Legalism, Sunday)

Monday, February 8, 1999

If the Christian penitent dares to ask that his many departures from the Christian norm, his impatience, gloom, self-occupation, unloving prejudices, reckless tongue, feverish desires, with all the damage they have caused to Christ’s Body, ... be set aside, because—in spite of all—he longs for God and Eternal Life; then he too must set aside and forgive all that the impatience, selfishness, bitter and foolish speech, [and] sudden yieldings to base impulse in others have caused him to endure. Hardness is the one impossible thing. Harshness to others in those who ask and need the mercy of God sets up a conflict at the very heart of personality and shuts the door upon grace.
... Evelyn Underhill (1875-1941), Abba, New York: Longmans, Green, 1940, p. 64-65 (see the book; see also Heb. 3:7-13; 2 Chr. 30:8; Pr. 29:1; Matt. 13:15; Rom. 2:5-6; Eph. 4:32; more at Body of Christ, Folly, Forgiveness, Gloom, Grace, Mercy, Penitence, Selfish)

Tuesday, February 9, 1999

To the Christian, love is the works of love. To say that love is a feeling or anything of the kind is really an un-Christian conception of love. That is the aesthetic definition and therefore fits the erotic and everything of that nature. But to the Christian, love is the works of love. Christ’s love was not an inner feeling, a full heart and what-not: it was the work of love which was his life.
... Søren Kierkegaard (1813-1855), Journals, ed. Alexander Dru, Oxford University Press, 1959, p. 317 (see the book; see also Luke 10:30-37; Matt. 20:26-28; John 3:16; 10:14-15; 15:13; Rom. 5:8; Eph. 5:1-2; 1 John 3:16; 4:9-10; more at Christ, Heart, Kindness, Love, Work)

Wednesday, February 10, 1999
Commemoration of Scholastica, Abbess of Plombariola, c.543

There are many people like us, who speak to God in prayer, but hardly ever listen to Him, or else listen to Him only vaguely.
... Paul Tournier (1898-1986), The Meaning of Persons, New York: Harper, 1957, p. 168 (see the book; see also Matt. 13:9; Ex. 15:26; Deut. 6:4-5; Ps. 85:8; Hab. 2:1; Heb. 12:25; Rev. 2:7,11,17,29; more at God, Listening, Prayer)

Thursday, February 11, 1999

All God’s revelations are sealed until they are opened to us by obedience. You will never get them open by philosophy or thinking. Immediately you obey, a flash of light comes. Let God’s truth work in you by soaking in it, not by worrying into it... Obey God in the thing He shows you, and instantly the next thing is opened up. One reads tomes on the work of the Holy Spirit when... five minutes of drastic obedience would make things clear as a sunbeam. [We say,] “I suppose I shall understand these things some day.” You can understand them now: it is not study that does it, but obedience. The tiniest fragment of obedience, and heaven opens up and the profoundest truths of God are yours straight away. God will never reveal more truth about Himself until you have obeyed what you know already. Beware of being “wise and prudent.”
... Oswald Chambers (1874-1917), My Utmost for His Highest, Leicester: F.A. Thorpe, 1927, p. 284 (see the book; see also John 9:4; Ps. 119:100; Matt. 7:21-25; 11:25; 12:50; Luke 11:28; John 13:17; Acts 6:7; Jas. 1:22; 1 John 2:3; more at God, Heaven, Holy Spirit, Obedience, Philosophy, Revelation, Thought, Truth, Wisdom)

Friday, February 12, 1999
Commemoration of Brother Lawrence of the Resurrection (Nicolas Herman), spiritual writer, 1691

You have... the Gospel written upon vellum; it deserv’d to be set with diamonds, except that the heart of a man were a fitter repository for it.
... Desiderius Erasmus (1466?-1536), The Colloquies of Erasmus, v. I, tr. N. Bailey & ed. E. Johnson, London: Reeves & Turner, 1878, p. 197 (see the book; see also Jer. 31:33; Deut. 30:6; Ps. 40:8; Eze. 11:19; 36:26; Rom. 2:15; 2 Cor. 3:3; Heb. 8:10; 10:16; more at Bible, Gospel, Heart, Man)

Saturday, February 13, 1999

Faith is the source of energy in the struggle of life, but life still remains a battle which is continually renewed upon ever new fronts. For every threatening abyss that is closed, another yawning gulf appears. The truth is—and this is the conclusion of the whole matter—the Kingdom of God is within us. But we must let our light shine before men in confident and untiring labour that they may see our good works and praise our Father in Heaven. The final ends of all humanity are hidden within His hands.
... Ernst Troeltsch (1865-1923), The Social Teaching of the Christian Churches, New York: Harper, 1960, v. II, p. 1013 (see the book; see also Luke 17:20-21; Matt. 5:16; Rom. 14:17-18; Col. 1:27; 1 John 1:5-7; more at Faith, God, Kingdom, Labor, Life, Light, Praise, Sight, Struggle)

Sunday, February 14, 1999
Feast of Cyril & Methodius, Missionaries to the Slavs, 869 & 885
Commemoration of Valentine, Martyr at Rome, c.269

I see the wrong that round me lies,
I feel the guilt within;
I hear, with groan and travail-cries,
The world confess its sin.
Yet, in the maddening maze of things,
And tossed by storm and flood,
To one fixed trust my spirit clings;
I know that God is good!
... John Greenleaf Whittier (1807-1892), The Complete Poetical Works of Whittier, Boston: Houghton, Mifflin, 1894, p. 442 (see the book; see also Ps. 34:8; 36:10; 52:1; 84:12; 1 John 4:7-10; more at Confession, God, Goodness, Guilt, Knowledge, Trust, Wrong)

Monday, February 15, 1999
Commemoration of Thomas Bray, Priest, Founder of SPCK, 1730

It is sufficient to know in the general that our employment [in Paradise] shall be our unspeakable pleasure, and every way suitable to the glory and happiness of that state, and as much above the noblest and most delightful employments of this world, as the perfection of our bodies, and the power of our souls, shall then be above what they now are in this world.
For there is no doubt that he who made us, and endued our souls with a desire of immortality, and so large a capacity of happiness, does understand very well by what ways and means to make us happy, and hath in readiness proper exercises and employments for that state, and every way more fitted to make us happy, than any condition or employment in this world is suitable to a temporal happiness.
... John Tillotson (1630-1694), Works of Dr. John Tillotson, v. VII, London: J. F. Dove, for R. Priestley, 1820, Sermon CLXV, p. 392 (see the book; see also Rev. 22:1-5; Luke 20:34-36; John 3:36; 5:24; 6:53-58; Rom. 6:21-22; 1 John 3:1-2; more at Glory, Happiness, Immortality, Paradise, Perfection, Pleasure, Power, Providence)

Tuesday, February 16, 1999

Justification is withdrawn from works, not that no good works may be done, or that what is done may be denied to be good, but that we may not rely upon them, glory in them, or ascribe salvation to them.
... John Calvin (1509-1564), The Institutes of the Christian Religion, v. II, tr. John Allen, Presbyterian Board of Publication and Sabbath-School Work, 1921, III.xvii.1, p. 34 (see the book; see also Eph. 2:8-9; Rom. 3:20-24,28; Gal. 2:15-16; 3:11,24; more at Faith, Glory, Good works, Justification, Salvation)

Wednesday, February 17, 1999
Ash Wednesday
Feast of Janani Luwum, Archbishop of Uganda, Martyr, 1977

Men must not content themselves with the lawfulness of their employments, but must consider whether they use them, as they are to use everything, as strangers and pilgrims, that are baptised into the resurrection of Jesus Christ, that are to follow him in a wise and heavenly course of life, in the mortification of all worldly desires, and in purifying and preparing their souls for the blessed enjoyment of God.
For to be vain, or proud, or covetous, or ambitious in the common course of our business, is as contrary to these holy tempers of Christianity, as cheating and dishonesty.
If a glutton were to say in excuse of his gluttony, that he only eats such things as it is lawful to eat, he would make as good an excuse for himself as the greedy, covetous, ambitious tradesman, that should say, he only deals in lawful business. For, as a Christian is not only required to be honest, but to be of a Christian spirit, and make his life an exercise of humility, repentance and heavenly affection, so all tempers that are contrary to these, are as contrary to Christianity, as cheating is contrary to honesty.
... William Law (1686-1761), A Serious Call to a Devout and Holy Life [1728], London: Methuen, 1899, p. 59-60 (see the book; see also Phil. 3:20-21; more at Attitudes)

Thursday, February 18, 1999

The radical failure in so-called religion is that its way is from man to God. Starting with man, it seeks to rise to God; and there is no road that way.
... J. Arundel Chapman (1885-1934), The Theology of Karl Barth, London: Epworth Press, 1931, p. 20 (see the book; see also Isa. 40:1-5; Matt. 3:3; Mark 1:2-3; Luke 3:4-6; John 1:23; 10:9; 14:4-6; Acts 4:12; Rom. 5:1-2; Eph. 2:1-2; 1 Pet. 1:21; more at Failure, God, Man, Religion, Way)

Friday, February 19, 1999

To the rich man, Lazarus was part of the landscape. If ever he did notice him, it never struck him that Lazarus had anything to do with him. He was simply unaware of his presence, or, if he was aware of it, he had no sense of responsibility for it... A man may well be condemned, not for doing something, but for doing nothing.
... William Barclay (1907-1978), Ethics in a Permissive Society, New York: Harper & Row, 1971, Fontana, 1971, p. 157 (see the book; see also Luke 16:19-23; more at Awareness, Condemnation, Judgment, Providence, Responsibility)

Saturday, February 20, 1999
Commemoration of Cecile Isherwood, Founder of the Community of the Resurrection, Grahamstown, South Africa, 1906

Local churches which are respected and even attended by “the public”—interpreted as people who under different circumstances would not feel obliged to attend church at all—are often found to be those where, on a Christian judgment, the gospel seems to be most faithfully preached. Such churches may invite and suffer temporary periods of unpopularity—by standing up for West Indian immigrants, say, or refusing indiscriminate baptism. But on the whole, the storms are weathered by churches, and ministers, whose interest in the community and presentation of the faith [are] alert and genuine. Even so, the Church has every excuse for getting itself disliked: none at all for escaping notice.
... Christopher Driver (1932-1997), A Future for the Free Churches?, London: SCM Press, 1962, p. 19-20 (see the book; see also Acts 4:19-20; Jer. 1:17-19; Mic. 3:8; Luke 2:10; Acts 7:52-54; 17:16-17; 18:5; 1 Cor. 9:16-17; 2 Cor. 6:4-10; more at Church, Faith, Gospel, Preach, Suffer)

Sunday, February 21, 1999

There is never any peace for those who resist God.
... François Fénelon (1651-1715), Spiritual Letters of Archbishop Fénelon. Letters to men, London: Rivingtons, 1877, p. 340 (see the book; see also Isa. 57:18-21; 48:22; Rom. 3:15-17; more at God, Peace, Providence)

Monday, February 22, 1999

The New Testament is an intensely personal document. It is not the effort of a group of men who are out to prove something to us by the force of their rational arguments. But it is the testimony, or testament, of a group of witnesses... who are bent on simply reporting to us the experience of a love that overtook them and overwhelmed them, a peace that passed all their understanding, and a peace that they in turn would pass on to us.
... Robert L. Short (1932-2009), The Parables of Peanuts [1968], New York: HarperCollins, 2002, p. 249 (see the book; see also Rom. 15:13; John 21:24; Acts 14:15-17; Phil. 4:7; 1 Cor. 2:1-2; 1 John 5:11; more at Bible, Experience, Love, Peace, Proof, Reason, Witness)

Tuesday, February 23, 1999
Feast of Polycarp, Bishop of Smyrna, Martyr, c.155

We may search so far, and reason so long of faith and grace, as that we may lose not only them, but even our reason too, and sooner become mad than good. Not that we are bound to believe anything against reason, that is, to believe, we know not why. It is but a slack opinion, it is not Belief, that is not grounded upon Reason... It is true, we have not a Demonstration; not such an Evidence as that one and two are three, to prove these to be Scriptures of God; God hath not proceeded in that manner, to drive our reason into a pound, and to force it by a peremptory necessity to accept these for Scriptures, for then, here had been no exercise of our will, and our assent, if we could not have resisted.
... John Donne (1573-1631), Works of John Donne, vol. V, London: John W. Parker, 1839, Sermon CXVII, p. 55-57 (see the book; see also Acts 24:24-26; Matt. 21:32; Luke 22:67-69; 24:36-43; John 3:12; 5:37-40,46-47; 7:5; 10:25-26; Rom. 3:1-2; 2 Tim. 3:16; more at Belief, Bible, Faith, God, Grace, Knowledge, Proof, Reason, Scripture, Truth)

Wednesday, February 24, 1999

Christianity is not a religion but a relationship of love expressed toward God and men. The church is committed by its Founder to reach out in love to every movement that upbuilds character and integrity in men, and every gesture that aims to resolve the differences that estrange human beings from each other. The Gospel in its free course goes hand-in-hand with the cup of cold water.
... Sherwood Eliot Wirt (1911-2008), The Social Conscience of the Evangelical, New York: Harper & Row, 1968, p. 150 (see the book; see also Mark 9:41; Matt. 5:9; 10:42; 25:40; Mark 12:42-43; 2 Cor. 8:12; Jas. 3:18; more at Church, Cup, God, Gospel, Love, Man, Reconciliation, Religion, Water)

Thursday, February 25, 1999

The rejection as unhistorical of all passages which narrate miracles is sensible if we start by knowing that the miraculous... never occurs. Now I do not want here to discuss whether the miraculous is possible: I only want to point out that this is a purely philosophical question. Scholars, as scholars, speak on it with no more authority than anyone else. The canon, “If miraculous, unhistorical,” is one they bring to their study of the texts, not one they have learned from it. If one is speaking of authority, the united authority of all the Biblical critics in the world counts for nothing. On this they speak simply as men—men obviously influenced by, and perhaps insufficiently critical of, the spirit of the age they grew up in.
... C. S. Lewis (1898-1963), Fern-seed and Elephants, Walter Hooper, Fontana, 1975, p. 113 (see the book; see also Luke 16:30-31; Amos 4:6-11; Matt. 13:58; Luke 13:3; Rom. 1:20; Rev. 16:9-11; more at Bible, Criticism, Historical, Man, Miracle, Philosophy, Question)

Friday, February 26, 1999

I sought Him where my logic led.
“This friend is always sure and right;
His lantern is sufficient light.
I need no Star,” I said.
I sought Him in the city square.
Logic and I went up and down
The marketplace of many a town,
But He was never there.
I tracked Him to the mind’s far rim.
The valiant intellect went forth
To east and west and south and north,
But found no trace of Him.
We walked the world from sun to sun,
Logic and I, with Little Faith,
But never came to Nazareth,
Nor met the Holy One.
We sought in vain. And finally,
Back to the heart’s small house I crept,
And fell upon my knees, and wept;
And Lo! He came to me!
... Sara Henderson Hay (1906-1987), A Footing on this Earth: Poems, Doubleday, 1966, p. 214 (see the book; see also Gal. 4:6-7; Ps. 27:8; 69:32; Pr. 8:17; Matt. 6:33; 7:7-8; John 5:39-40; Acts 2:21; Rom. 2:7; Heb. 11:6; 1 John 4:19; more at Faith, Heart, Knowing God, Light, Logic, Need)

Saturday, February 27, 1999
Feast of George Herbert, Priest, Poet, 1633

Come, my Way, my Truth, my Life:
Such a Way, as gives us breath:
Such a Truth, as ends all strife:
Such a Life, as killeth death.
Come, my Light, my Feast, my Strength:
Such a Light, as shows a feast:
Such a Feast, as mends in length:
Such a Strength, as makes his guest.
Come, my Joy, my Love, my Heart:
Such a Joy, as none can move:
Such a Love, as none can part:
Such a Heart, as joyes in love.
... George Herbert (1593-1633), The Poetical Works of George Herbert, New York: D. Appleton, 1857, p. 199 (see the book; see also John 14:6; 10:10; 1 Cor. 2:9-10; 15:54-57; Eph. 3:20-21; 1 Tim. 1:14; more at Death, Heart, Jesus, Joy, Life, Light, Love, Strength, Truth, Way)

Sunday, February 28, 1999

The view of evil which regards it as the by-product of circumstances, which circumstances can, therefore, alter and even eliminate, has come to seem to me intolerably shallow, and the contrary view of it as endemic in man, more particularly in its Christian form, the doctrine of original sin, to express a deep and essential insight into human nature.
... C. E. M. Joad (1891-1953), The Recovery of Belief, London: Faber and Faber, 1952, p. 63 (see the book; see also Jas. 1:14-15; Ps. 51:5; 58:3; Rom. 5:12-17; 7:21-23; Eph. 2:3; more at Evil, Insight, Man, Nature, Sin)


Christ, our Light

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