Quotations for May, 2006
Monday, May 1, 2006
Feast of Philip & James, Apostles
What was God to do in the face of the dehumanizing of mankind—this universal hiding of the knowledge of Himself? ... So burdened were men with their wickedness that they seemed rather to be brute beasts than reasonable men, reflecting the very likeness of the Word... What, then, was God to do? What else could He possibly do, being God, but renew His Image in mankind, so that through it men might once more come to know Him? And how could this be done save by the coming of the very Image Himself, our Savior Jesus Christ? ... Men had turned from the contemplation of God above, and were looking for Him in two opposite directions, down among created things, and things of sense. The Savior of us all, the Word of God, in His great love took to Himself a body and moved as Man among men, meeting their senses, so to speak, half-way. He became Himself an object for the senses, so that those who were seeking God in sensible things might apprehend the Father through the works which He, the Word of God, did in the body. [Continued tomorrow]
... St. Athanasius (293?-373), The Incarnation of the Word of God [4th century], St Vladimir’s Seminary Press, 1996, XIII-XV, p. 40,41,43
(see the book; see also Gen. 6:5; 1:26-27; 3:17; Matt. 4:24; John 1:14; Rom. 1:18-23; 8:3-4; Gal. 3:16; Phil. 2:5-8; Col. 1:15; Heb. 2:9; 1 John 1:1-3; more at Christ, Father, Incarnation, Jesus, Knowing God, Man, Savior)
Tuesday, May 2, 2006
Feast of St. Athanasius, Bishop of Alexandria, Teacher, 373
[Continued from yesterday]Human and human-minded as men were, therefore, to whichever side they looked in the sensible world, they found themselves taught the truth. Were they awe-stricken by creation? They beheld it confessing Christ as Lord. Did their minds tend to regard men as gods? The uniqueness of the Savior’s works marked Him, alone of men, as Son of God. Were they drawn to evil spirits? They saw them driven out by the Lord, and learned that the Word of God alone was God and that the evil spirits were not gods at all. Were they inclined to hero-worship and the cult of the dead? Then the fact that the Savior had risen from the dead showed them how false these other deities were, and that the Word of the Father is the one true Lord, the Lord even of death. For this reason was He both born and manifested as Man, for this He died and rose, in order that, eclipsing by His works all other human deeds, He might recall man from all the paths of error to know the Father. As He says Himself, “I came to seek and to save that which was lost.”
... St. Athanasius (293?-373), The Incarnation of the Word of God [4th century], St Vladimir’s Seminary Press, 1996, XV, p. 43-44
(see the book; see also Luke 19:10; Matt. 9:12-13; 18:11; Luke 5:31-32; John 6:46; 14:7-9; Rom. 5:6; 1 Tim. 1:15; Heb. 7:25; 1 John 4:9; more at Christ, Confession, Creation, Death, Error, Evil, Incarnation, Jesus, Resurrection, Salvation, Truth)
Wednesday, May 3, 2006
He is not a good Christian, that is not heartily sorry for the faults even of his greatest enemies; and, if he will be so, he will [lay them bare] no further than is necessary to some good end.
... John Tillotson (1630-1694), Works of Dr. John Tillotson, v. III, London: J. F. Dove, for R. Priestley, 1820, Sermon XLII, p. 268
(see the book; see also Luke 6:27; Tit. 3:2; more at Sin)
Thursday, May 4, 2006
Feast of English Saints & Martyrs of the Reformation
If it be the earnest desire, and longing of your heart, to be merciful as he is merciful; to be full of his unwearied patience, to dwell in his unalterable meekness; if you long to be like him in universal, impartial love; if you desire to communicate every good, to every creature that you are able; if you love and practice everything that is good, righteous, and lovely, for its own sake, because it is good, righteous, and lovely; and resist no evil, but with goodness; then you have the utmost certainty, that the Spirit of God liveth, dwelleth, and governeth in you.
... William Law (1686-1761), The Spirit of Prayer , London: E. Justins for Ogles, Duncan, and Cochran, 1816, p. 169-170
(see the book; see also Matt. 5:7; Luke 6:36; Rom. 12:21; Eph. 4:1-3; 1 Tim. 6:11,12; Jas. 1:4; more at Love)
Friday, May 5, 2006
Among Christians so much prominence has been given to the disciplinary effects of sorrow, affliction, bereavement, that they have been in danger of overlooking the other and more obvious side: that by every joy, by every favor, by every sign of prosperity—yea, and by these chiefly—God designs to educate and discipline His children. This one-sided view of the truth has made many morbid, gloomy Christians, who look for God’s hand only in the lightning and never think of seeing it in the sunlight.
... F. E. Clark (1851-1927), included in Leaves of Gold, Evan S. Coslett & Clyde Francis Lytle, ed. , Honesdale, Pa.: Coslett Publishing Company, 1938, p. 84
(see the book; see also Ps. 107:8; 145:9; Acts 14:17; more at Affliction, Bereavement, Child, Discipline, Gloom, Sorrow, Weakness)
Saturday, May 6, 2006
What is the relation of a secular, this-worldly unification of mankind to the biblical promise of the summing up of all things in Christ? Is it a total contradiction of it? Is it some sort of a reflection of it? or perhaps a devil’s parody of it? Or has it nothing to do with it at all? Perhaps there will be many Christians to whom it would not occur to pose the question whether the process of secularization has anything to do with the biblical understanding of the goal of history. The Bible, for them, belongs to a religious world which is not admitted to belong to the world of secular events—the world in which we are when we read the daily newspaper. But this is to read the Bible wrongly. Whatever else it may be, the Bible is a secular book dealing with the sort of events which a news editor accepts for publication in a daily newspaper; it is concerned with secular events, wars, revolutions, enslavements and liberations, migrants and refugees, famines and epidemics and all the rest. It deals with events which happened and tells a story which can be checked... We miss this because we do not sufficiently treat the Bible as a whole. When we do this, we see at once that the Bible—whatever be the variety of material which it contains: poetry, prayers, legislation, genealogy, and all the rest—is in its main design a universal history. It is an interpretation of human history as a whole, beginning with a saga of creation and ending with a vision of the gathering together of all the nations and the consummation of God’s purpose for mankind. The Bible is an outline of world history.
... Lesslie Newbigin (1909-1998), Honest Religion for Secular Man, London: SCM Press, 1966, p. 19-20
(see the book; see also Eph. 1:7-10; more at Bible)
Sunday, May 7, 2006
Devotion is neither more nor less than a prompt, fervent, loving service to God. And the difference between an ordinarily good man and one that is devout lies herein, that the first observes God’s commands without any special fervour or promptitude; whereas the latter not only keeps them, but does it willingly, earnestly, and resolutely
... François de Sales (1567-1622), A Selection from the Spiritual Letters of St. Francis de Sales , New York: E. P. Dutton, 1876, p. 16
(see the book; see also 2 Corinthians 11:2,3; more at Obedience)
Monday, May 8, 2006
Feast of Juliana of Norwich, Mystic, Teacher, c.1417
We of the churches often gather our robes away from contamination, and thank God that we are not as other men. We don’t despise God’s name; in fact, we call upon it constantly to justify ourselves... If we object to meat-eating, we declare that God is vegetarian; if we abhor war, we proclaim a pacifist Deity. He who turned water into wine to gladden a wedding is now accused by many of favouring that abominable fluid grape juice.There can hardly be a more evil way of taking God’s name in vain than this way of presuming to speak in it. For here is spiritual pride, the ultimate sin, in action—the sin of believing in one’s own righteousness. The true prophet says humbly, “To me, a sinful man, God spoke.” But the scribes and Pharisees declare, “When we speak, God agrees.” They feel no need of a special revelation, for they are always, in their own view, infallible. It is this self-righteousness of the pious that most breeds atheism, by inspiring all decent, ordinary men with loathing of the enormous lie.
... Joy Davidman (1915-1960), Smoke on the Mountain, London: Hodder & Stoughton, 1955, reprint, Westminster John Knox Press, 1985, p. 46
(see the book; see also Matt. 7:22,23; Luke 16:14,15; John 9:39-41; 2 Cor. 10:18; Gal. 6:3; Rev. 3:17,18; more at Atheism, Church, Humility, Legalism, Pharisaism, Pride, Prophet, Revelation, Self-righteousness)
Tuesday, May 9, 2006
But when once Christ has called him, Peter has no alternative—he must leave the ship and come to Him. In the end, the first step of obedience proves to be an act of faith in the word of Christ. But we should completely misunderstand the nature of grace if we were to suppose that there was no need to take the first step, because faith was already there. Against that, we must boldly assert that the step of obedience must be taken before faith can be possible. Unless he obeys, a man cannot believe.
... Dietrich Bonhoeffer (1906-1945), The Cost of Discipleship, Simon and Schuster, 1959, p. 66
(see the book; see also Mark 1:16-18; more at Action, Belief, Call, Christ, Faith, Grace, Obedience)
Wednesday, May 10, 2006
The more we fear crosses, the more reason we have to think that we stand in need of them: let us not be dejected when the hand of God layeth heavy ones upon us. We ought to judge of the violence of our disease by the violence of the remedies which our spiritual physician prescribes us. It is a great argument of our wretchedness and of God’s mercy, that, notwithstanding the difficulty of our recovery, He vouchsafes to undertake our cure.
... François Fénelon (1651-1715), Pious Reflections for Every Day in the Month, London: H. D. Symonds, 1800, p. 33-34
(see the book; see also Mark 2:9-11; more at Weakness)
Thursday, May 11, 2006
God wanted to redeem men and open the way of salvation to those who seek Him. But men make themselves so unworthy of it that it is only just that God should refuse to some because of the hardness of heart what He gives to others from a compassion that they do not deserve. If He had wanted to overcome the obstinacy of the most hardened, He could have done so by revealing Himself to them so obviously that they could not have doubted the truth of His Being—just as He will appear at the last day with such a clap of thunder and such an upheaval of nature that the dead will revive and the blindest will see.It is not in this way, however, that He willed to appear at His gentle coming: because so many men had made themselves unworthy of His mercy, He willed to leave them deprived of the good which they did not desire. And so it would not have been fair for Him to have appeared in an obviously divine manner, absolutely capable of convincing all men. But also it would not have been fair for Him to appear in a manner so hidden that even those who were sincerely seeking Him should not be able to recognize Him... So He has tempered His knowledge, by giving marks of Himself which were visible to those who seek Him, and not to those who seek Him not.
... Blaise Pascal (1623-1662), Pensées (Thoughts) , P.F. Collier & Son, 1910, #430, p. 143-144
(see the book; see also Mark 4:11-12; more at Apologetics)
Friday, May 12, 2006
Commemoration of Aiden Wilson Tozer, Spiritual Writer, 1963
It is not the mere existence of unusual criminals that has ravaged our world; for the arrangements of society (whether national or international) ought always to presume that some of these will be lurking somewhere. The gates have been opened to evil in part because of a terrible discrepancy between human ideals and actual possibilities—terrible heresies concerning the nature of man and the structure of the historical universe. Christianity, even if it cannot persuade men to rise to the contemplation of the spiritual things, embodies principles which may at least have the effect of bringing the dreamers down to earth. Because it confronts the problem of human sin, it can face our difficulties and dilemmas without evasions—without the fundamental evasiveness of those who believe that all would be well with the world if it were not for a few unspeakable criminals, always conveniently identified with the political enemy of the moment.
... Herbert Butterfield (1900-1979), Christianity, Diplomacy and War, London: Epworth Press, 1953, Abingdon-Cokesbury Press, 1953, p. 75
(see the book; see also Luke 18:9-14; more at Belief, Earth, Enemy, Evil, Heresy, Nation, Sin, Social, Spiritual life, World)
Saturday, May 13, 2006
A comprehended god is no god.
... St. John Chrysostom (345?-407)
(see the book; see also Job 37:5; more at Religion)
Sunday, May 14, 2006
Feast of Matthias the Apostle
God often takes a course for accomplishing His purposes directly contrary to what our narrow views would prescribe. He ... brings a death upon our feelings, wishes and prospects when He is about to give us the desire of our hearts.
... John Newton (1725-1807), in a letter, 1777, The Works of the Rev. John Newton, v. I, New York: Williams and Whiting, 1810, p. 593-594
(see the book; see also 2 Cor. 12:7-9; more at Providence)
Monday, May 15, 2006
Commemoration of Charles Williams, Spiritual Writer, 1945
It may be possible for each to think too much of his own potential glory hereafter; it is hardly possible for him to think too often or too deeply about that of his neighbour. The load, or weight, or burden, of my neighbour’s glory should be laid daily on my back, a load so heavy that only humility can carry it, and the backs of the proud will be broken. It is a serious thing to live in a society of possible gods and goddesses, to remember that the dullest and most uninteresting person you talk to may one day be a creature which, if you saw it now, you would be strongly tempted to worship—or else a horror and a corruption such as you now meet, if at all, only in a nightmare. All day long we are, in some degree, helping each other to one or other of these destinations. It is in the light of these overwhelming possibilities, it is with the awe and the circumspection proper to them, that we should conduct all our dealings with one another, all friendships, all loves, all play, all politics. There are no ordinary people.
... C. S. Lewis (1898-1963), The Weight of Glory, and other addresses, Macmillan Co., 1949, p. 14-15
(see the book; see also Rom. 8:18; 2 Cor. 4:17-18; more at Weakness)
Tuesday, May 16, 2006
Commemoration of Caroline Chisholm, Social Reformer, 1877
You and I drift on through the years dully enough, because we do not believe in God, not really, and so we have no expectation. But Jesus did believe in Him, was sure He is alive and abroad in the world; that, therefore, anything may happen any hour. And thus to Him any smallest incident was a magic casement opening upon who could tell what possibilities! A fisherman offers Him a crude, inchoate half-faith, and with that He is sure that He can found a world-wide Church that will defy the powers of evil, aye, and grind them into nothingness at last: a dying brigand, paying the just penalties of his crimes, gropes towards Him in the darkness with the vague hands of a blind man, and, founding upon that, Christ dies, quite sure that He has won: two or three Gentiles seek an interview with Him, and He sees a whole teeming world of men and women being saved.
... A. J. Gossip (1873-1954), The Galilean Accent, Edinburgh: T. & T. Clark, 1926, p. 111-112
(see the book; see also Matt. 16:15-18; John 12:20-32; more at Belief, Christ, Death, Faith, God, Jesus, Salvation)
Wednesday, May 17, 2006
I find the doing of the will of God leaves me with no time for disputing about His plans.
... George MacDonald (1824-1905), The Marquis of Lossie, Philadelphia: J. B. Lippincott & Co., 1879, p. 243
(see the book; see also John 4:31-34; more at Obedience)
Thursday, May 18, 2006
Whenever man decides that he is competent to do as he pleases he is soon enjoying Hell on earth, partly because much of what he pleases, except he know he must obey God, is low-down disgusting and partly because, even when he pleases to do something decent, he is mostly too weak-willed and too addle-pated to bring the same to good effect. Man must be redeemed by a power outside himself... I do not regard the overdetermined “optimists” as silly; they seem to me only the victims of a wishful thinking.
... Bernard Iddings Bell (1886-1958), God is Not Dead, New York: Harper & Brothers, 1945, p. xiv
(see the book; see also 1 Cor. 7:23-24; more at Sin)
Friday, May 19, 2006
Feast of Dunstan, Archbishop of Canterbury, 988
We must confess our sins in order to obtain pardon; but we must see our sins in order to confess. How few of those who think that they have confessed and been pardoned have ever seen their sin!
... Coventry Patmore (1823-1896), The Rod, the Root, and the Flower , London: G. Bell and Sons, 1907, p. 221
(see the book; see also 1 John 1:9-10; more at Repentance)
Saturday, May 20, 2006
Anybody with any maturity knows that an experienced Christian is more eager to have God use him than he is to use God for his own ends; but this does not mean that God is absent from the processes of business and livelihood, nor unconcerned about them, nor unable to reveal Himself through them. When we begin to look upon work, business, money, as potential sacraments through which God can work, we shall make better use of them.
... Samuel M. Shoemaker (1893-1963), The Experiment of Faith, New York: Harper, 1957, p. 29
(see the book; see also 1 Tim. 6:10-11; more at Attitudes, Experience, God, Money, Sacrament, Work)
Sunday, May 21, 2006
Feast of Commemoration of Helena, Protector of the Faith, 330
But how shall we rest in God? By giving ourselves wholly to Him. If you give yourself by halves, you cannot find full rest—there will ever be a lurking disquiet in that half which is withheld... All peace and happiness in this world depend upon unreserved self-oblation to God. If this be hearty and entire, the result will be an unfailing, ever-increasing happiness, which nothing can disturb. There is no real happiness in this life save that which is the result of a peaceful heart.
... Jean Nicolas Grou (1731-1803), The Hidden Life of the Soul, London: Rivingtons, 1870, p. 139-140,1-2
(see the book; see also Rom. 8:5-6; 12:1; more at Obedience)
Monday, May 22, 2006
Pray with your intelligence. Bring things to God that you have thought out and think them out again with Him. That is the secret of good judgment. Repeatedly place your pet opinions and prejudices before God. He will surprise you by showing you that the best of them need refining and some the purification of destruction.
... Charles H. Brent (1862-1929), With God in Prayer, London: Jacobs & Co., 1907, p. 16
(see the book; see also Amos 5:14,15; Phil. 4:8; more at Prayer)
Tuesday, May 23, 2006
Commemoration of Petroc, Abbot of Padstow, 6th century
From his baptism until his return to Galilee, Jesus lived in the company of the disciples of the Baptist. It was there that he received the first public witness of his Messianic role and found his first followers. The gospel was to be rooted in John’s teaching of asceticism and regeneration. But we see from the start that the gospel of Jesus was to be quite different. To the baptism of water would be added the baptism of the Spirit, and the new message was to be addressed to all. The widening of the circle of hearers and converts, which had preoccupied John, ... was to expand still further with the gospel of Jesus. Of the hundreds of thousands of Jews, the Essenes only regarded as saved a few thousand elect. Jesus was soon to offer the Covenant of God to all men.
... Jean Steinmann (1911-1963), Saint John the Baptist, New York: Harper, 1958, p. 90
(see the book; see also Luke 3:16; more at Baptism, Gospel, Holy Spirit, Jesus, Man, Offering, Regeneration, Salvation, Witness)
Wednesday, May 24, 2006
Feast of John and Charles Wesley, Priests, Poets, Teachers, 1791 & 1788
I know Thee, Saviour, Who Thou art,Jesus, the feeble sinner’s friend!Nor wilt Thou with the night depart,But stay, and love me to the end.Thy mercies never shall remove;Thy nature, and Thy name is Love.
... Charles Wesley (1707-1788), The Poetical Works of John and Charles Wesley, v. II, John Wesley, London: Wesleyan-Methodist Conference Office, 1869, p. 175
(see the book; see also Gen. 32:28; 1 John 4:7-8; more at Prayers)
Thursday, May 25, 2006
Feast of the Venerable Bede, Priest, Monk of Jarrow, Historian, 735
Commemoration of Aldhelm, Abbot of Mamsbury, Bishop of Sherborne, 709
Life is at its noblest and its best when our effort cooperates with God’s grace to produce the necessary loveliness.
... William Barclay (1907-1978), The Letters of James and Peter, Edinburgh: Saint Andrew Press, 1976, Westminster John Knox Press, 2003, p. 346
(see the book; see also 2 Peter 1:3-7; more at Attitudes, Grace, Life)
Friday, May 26, 2006
Feast of Augustine, first Archbishop of Canterbury, 605
Commemoration of Arthur John Gossip, spiritual writer, 1954
Christians must learn again what Christians have always known—how to live without immediate hopes in the world.
... T. R. Milford, quoted in Christian Missions and the Judgment of God, David M. Paton, London: SCM Press, 1953, p. 57
(see the book; see also 1 Peter 4:17-19; more at Affliction, Hope, Life, Sin, World)
Saturday, May 27, 2006
Commemoration of John Calvin, renewer of the Church, 1564
In that obedience which we have shown to be due the authority of rulers, we are always to make this exception, indeed, to observe it as primary, that such obedience is never to lead us away from obedience to him, to whose decrees all their commands ought to yield, to whose majesty their scepters ought to be submitted. And how absurd would it be that in satisfying men you should incur the displeasure of him for whose sake you obey men themselves! The Lord, therefore, is the King of Kings, who, when he has opened his sacred mouth, must alone be heard, before all and above all men; next to him we are subject to those men who are in authority over us, but only in him. If they command anything against him, let it go unesteemed.
... John Calvin (1509-1564), The Institutes of the Christian Religion, v. II, tr. John Allen, Presbyterian Board of Publication and Sabbath-School Work, 1921, IV.xx.32, p. 662
(see the book; see also Acts 5:29; more at Social)
Sunday, May 28, 2006
Commemoration of Lanfranc, Prior of Le Bec, Archbishop of Canterbury, 1089
The great danger facing all of us... is not that we shall make an absolute failure of life, nor that we shall fall into outright viciousness, nor that we shall be terribly unhappy, nor that we shall feel [that] life has no meaning at all—not these things. The danger is that we may fail to perceive life’s greatest meaning, fall short of its highest good, miss its deepest and most abiding happiness, be unable to tender the most needed service, be unconscious of life ablaze with the light of the Presence of God—and be content to have it so—that is the danger: that some day we may wake up and find that always we have been busy with husks and trappings of life and have really missed life itself. For life without God, to one who has known the richness and joy of life with Him, is unthinkable, impossible. That is what one prays one’s friends may be spared—satisfaction with a life that falls short of the best, that has in it no tingle or thrill that comes from a friendship with the Father.
... Phillips Brooks (1835-1893), Sermons, New York: E. P. Dutton, 1878
(see the book; see also Phil. 4:6-7; more at Danger, Failure, Father, Friend, Goodness, Happiness, Life, Meaning, Prayer, Presence of God, Satisfaction, Weakness)
Monday, May 29, 2006
One use of prayer is to maintain in us a higher standard and prevent our principles insensibly sinking to our practice, or to the practice of the world around us.
... Benjamin Jowett (1817-1893), Sermons on Faith and Doctrine, London: John Murray, 1901, p. 259
(see the book; see also Ps. 143:8; more at Prayer)
Tuesday, May 30, 2006
Feast of Josephine Butler, Social Reformer, 1906
Commemoration of Joan of Arc, Visionary, 1431
Commemoration of Apolo Kivebulaya, Priest, Evangelist, 1933
[Christ] tells us plainly, and without any qualifications, that we are involved in a war in which there is no room for neutrals. Yet people attempt to evade His statement.Generally speaking, these are the very people who are the quickest in laying the blame upon God for all the sorrow and sin in the world. They argue that He could prevent it. They excuse their own do-nothing attitude by making of evil’s apparent predominance a ground for doubt of His loving purpose. It never seems to occur to them to look for the cause in mankind.
... Hugh Redwood (1883-1963), Live Coals, New York: Fleming H. Revell, 1935, p. 120
(see the book; see also Matt. 10:41-42; 12:30; Mark 9:40-42; more at Attitudes)
Wednesday, May 31, 2006
[Jesus] frequently made claims which would have sounded outrageous and blasphemous to Jewish ears even from the lips of the greatest of prophets. He said that he was in existence before Abraham and that he was “lord” of the sabbath; he claimed to forgive sins; he continually identified himself, in his work, his person and his glory, with the one he termed his heavenly Father; he accepted men’s worship; and he said that he was to be the judge of men at the last day, and that their eternal destiny would depend on their attitude to him. Then he died. It seems inescapable, therefore, that his resurrection must be interpreted as God’s decisive vindication of these claims, while the alternative—the finality of the cross—would necessarily have implied the repudiation of his presumptuous and even blasphemous assertions.
... J. N. D. Anderson (1908-1994), Christianity: the Witness of History, Tyndale Press, 1969, p. 87
(see the book; see also Isa. 53:2-11; Luke 6:5; John 8:58; more at Cross, Death, Easter, Father, Judgment, Resurrection, Sabbath, Worship)
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