Quotations for February, 2009
Sunday, February 1, 2009
Commemoration of Brigid, Abbess of Kildare, c.525
Who belongs to the Church? Who is my true brother? We cannot always tell whether or not a man believes in Christ; but we can always ask—Christianity is not a secret society. And if a man says he loves the Lord, why should I not treat him as my brother? If I should happen to welcome one who is only a professing Christian, who has not given his heart to Christ, what harm has it done? I will have offered the love of God to one who rejects it, and I will have given a few hours of my life to an enemy—but our Father holds out His hands all day long to a rebellious people, and our Savior gave His life for me when I was His enemy.
... Robert MacColl Adams (1913-1985), “Receiving One Another”
(see the book; see also Rom. 5:8; Eph. 5:18-20; 1 John 3:14; more at Church)
Monday, February 2, 2009
THE PRESENTATION OF CHRIST IN THE TEMPLE
We are very shy nowadays of even mentioning Heaven. We are afraid of the jeer about “pie in the sky,” and of being told that we are trying to “escape” from the duty of making a happy world here and now, into dreams of a happy world elsewhere. But either there is “pie in the sky” or there is not. If there is not, then Christianity is false, for this doctrine is woven into its whole fabric. If there is, then this truth, like any other, must be faced, whether it is useful at political meetings or no.
... C. S. Lewis (1898-1963), The Problem of Pain, New York: Macmillan, 1944, p. 132-133
(see the book; see also Heb. 9:15; more at Heaven and Hell)
Tuesday, February 3, 2009
Feast of Anskar, Archbishop of Hamburg, Missionary to Denmark and Sweden, 865
Only by critical questioning can I tell whether I am reading into the text, not only my own presuppositions and questions, but also those of my own generation and even those of my own church and religious tradition. Evangelicals have been too afraid of the word “criticism,” when only by critical questioning can I sufficiently disengage myself from my own worldly or religious (even evangelical) tradition to ask: Is this what the Bible is really saying?
... Tony Thiselton (b. 1937), “Understanding God’s Word Today”, in The Lord Christ , John Stott, ed., vol. 1 of Obeying Christ in a Changing World, John Stott, gen. ed., 3 vol., London: Fountain, 1977, p. 104
(see the book; see also Deut. 8:3; more at Bible)
Wednesday, February 4, 2009
Commemoration of Gilbert of Sempringham, Founder of the Gilbertine Order, 1189
I am quite prepared to promise the secularists secular education if they on their side will promise not to have moral instruction. Secular education seems to me intellectually clean and comprehensible. Moral instruction seems to me unclean, intolerable; I would destroy it with fire. Teaching the Old Testament by itself means teaching ancient Hebrew ethics, which are simple, barbaric, rudimentary, and, to a Christian, unsatisfying. Teaching moral instruction means teaching modern London, Birmingham and Boston ethics, which are not barbaric and rudimentary, but are corrupt, hysterical, and crawling with worms, and which are to a Christian, not unsatisfying but detestable. The old Jew who says that you must fight only for your tribe is inadequate; but the modern prig who says you must not ever fight for anything is substantially and specifically immoral. I know quite well, of course, that the non-religious ethics suggested for modern schools do not verbally assert such things; they only talk about peaceful reform, true Christianity, and the importance of Count Tolstoy. It is all a matter of tone and implication; but then, so is all teaching. Education is implication. It is not the things you say which children respect; when you say things, they very commonly laugh and do the opposite. It is the things you assume that really sink into them. It is the things you forget even to teach that they learn.
... Gilbert Keith Chesterton (1874-1936), in the Illustrated London News (1907), The Collected Works of G. K. Chesterton, v. XXVII, Ignatius Press, 1986, p. 382-383
(see the book; see also 3 John 1:11; more at Social)
Thursday, February 5, 2009
Commemoration of Martyrs of Japan, 1597
The love I bear Christ is but a faint and feeble spark, but it is an emanation from Himself: He kindled it and He keeps it alive; and because it is His work, I trust many waters shall not quench it.
... John Newton (1725-1807), in a letter, 1776, The Works of the Rev. John Newton, v. I, New York: Williams and Whiting, 1810, p. 606
(see the book; see also Son. 8:7; more at Christ, Holy Spirit, Love, Trust, Work)
Friday, February 6, 2009
Seven principles for eradicating selfish ambition in the fellowship:1. The ministry of holding one’s tongue Often we combat our evil thoughts most effectively if we absolutely refuse to allow them to be expressed in words... Thus it must be a decisive rule of every Christian fellowship that each individual is prohibited from saying much that occurs to him. This prohibition does not include the personal word of advice and guidance... But to speak about a brother is forbidden, even under the cloak of help and goodwill; for it is precisely in this guise that the spirit of hatred among brothers creeps in when it is seeking to create mischief.
... Dietrich Bonhoeffer (1906-1945), Life Together , tr. Daniel W. Bloesch & James H. Burtness, Fortress Press, 2004, p. 94
(see the book; see also Luke 6:45; more at Ambition, Church, Evil, Fellowship, Hatred, Minister, Selfish, Thought)
Saturday, February 7, 2009
Seven principles for eradicating selfish ambition in the fellowship:2. The ministry of meekness He who would learn to serve must first learn to think little of himself...Only he who lives by the forgiveness of his sin in Jesus Christ will rightly think little of himself. He will know that his own wisdom reached the end of its tether when Jesus forgave him... He will know that it is good for his own will to be broken in the encounter with his neighbour...But not only my neighbour’s will, but also his honor is more important than mine... The desire for one’s own honor hinders faith. One who seeks his own honor is no longer seeking God and his neighbour. What does it matter if I suffer injustice? Would I not have deserved even worse punishment from God, if He had not dealt with me according to His mercy?
... Dietrich Bonhoeffer (1906-1945), Life Together , tr. Daniel W. Bloesch & James H. Burtness, Fortress Press, 2004, p. 96-97
(see the book; see also 1 Corinthians 9:19; more at Ambition, Church, Fellowship, Forgiveness, Honor, Meekness, Mercy, Minister, Neighbor, Selfish, Service, Sin, Suffer)
Sunday, February 8, 2009
Seven principles for eradicating selfish ambition in the fellowship:3. The ministry of listening The first service that one owes to others in the fellowship consists in listening to them. Just as love to God begins with listening to His Word, so the beginning of love for the brethren is learning to listen to them... Listening can be a greater service than speaking...One who cannot listen long and patiently will presently be talking beside the point and be never really speaking to others... Anyone who thinks his time is too valuable to spend keeping quiet will eventually have no time for God and his brother, but only for himself and for his own follies...We should listen with the ears of God that we may speak the Word of God.
... Dietrich Bonhoeffer (1906-1945), Life Together , tr. Daniel W. Bloesch & James H. Burtness, Fortress Press, 2004, p. 98
(see the book; see also Matt. 11:15; more at Ambition, Church, Fellowship, Listening, Love, Minister, Patience, Selfish, Time)
Monday, February 9, 2009
Seven principles for eradicating selfish ambition in the fellowship:4. The ministry of helpfulness Active helpfulness means, initially, simple assistance in trifling, external matters. There is a multitude of these things wherever people live together. Nobody is too good for the meanest service...We must be ready to allow ourselves to be interrupted by God. God will be constantly crossing our paths and canceling our plans by sending us people with claims and petitions. We may pass them by, preoccupied with our more important tasks, as the priest passed by the man who had fallen among thieves, perhaps—reading the Bible. When we do that, we pass by the visible sign of the Cross raised athwart our path to show us that not our way, but God’s way must be done.
... Dietrich Bonhoeffer (1906-1945), Life Together , tr. Daniel W. Bloesch & James H. Burtness, Fortress Press, 2004, p. 99
(see the book; see also Matt. 5:40-42; more at Ambition, Church, Cross, Fellowship, Helpfulness, Minister, Selfish, Service)
Tuesday, February 10, 2009
Commemoration of Scholastica, Abbess of Plombariola, c.543
Seven principles for eradicating selfish ambition in the fellowship:5. The ministry of bearing “Bear ye one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ” (Gal. 6:2). Thus the law of Christ is a law of bearing. Bearing means forbearing and sustaining...The Christian must suffer and endure the brother. It is only when he is a burden that another person is really a brother and not merely an object to be manipulated...It is, first of all, the freedom of the other person that is a burden to the Christian... The freedom of the other person includes all that we mean by a person’s nature, individuality, endowment. It also includes his weaknesses and oddities, which are such a trial to our patience, everything that produces frictions, conflicts, and collisions among us...Then, there is the abuse of that freedom that becomes a burden for the Christian. In sin, fellowship with God and with his brother are broken... To cherish no contempt for the sinner but rather to prize the privilege of bearing him means not to have to give him up as lost, to be able to accept him, to preserve fellowship with him through forgiveness...The service of forgiveness is rendered by one to the others daily. It occurs, without words, in the intercessions for one another,,. He who is bearing others knows that he himself is being borne.
... Dietrich Bonhoeffer (1906-1945), Life Together , tr. Daniel W. Bloesch & James H. Burtness, Fortress Press, 2004, p. 100-101
(see the book; see also Gal. 6:2; more at Ambition, Bearing, Burden, Christ, Church, Fellowship, Forebear, Forgiveness, Intercession, Law, Minister, Prayer, Selfish, Service, Sinner, Suffer, Weakness)
Wednesday, February 11, 2009
Seven principles for eradicating selfish ambition in the fellowship:6. The ministry of proclaiming Where Christians live together the time must ultimately come when in some crisis one person will have to declare God’s Word and will to another. It is inconceivable that the things that are of utmost importance to each individual should not be spoken by one to another. It is unchristian consciously to deprive another of the one decisive service we can render to him...The more we learn to allow others to speak the Word to us, to accept humbly and gratefully even severe reproaches and admonitions, the more free and objective will we be in speaking ourselves... The humble person will stick to truth and love. He will stick to the Word of God and let it lead him to his brother...Reproof is unavoidable. God’s Word demands it when a brother falls into open sin. Where defection from God’s Word in doctrine or life imperils the fellowship... the word of admonition and rebuke must be ventured. Nothing can be more cruel than the tenderness that consigns another to his sin. Nothing can be more compassionate than the severe rebuke that calls a brother back from the path of sin. It is a ministry of mercy, an ultimate offer of genuine fellowship, when we allow nothing but God’s Word to stand between us, judging and succoring.
... Dietrich Bonhoeffer (1906-1945), Life Together , tr. Daniel W. Bloesch & James H. Burtness, Fortress Press, 2004, p. 104-107
(see the book; see also Gal. 6:1; more at Ambition, Church, Criticism, Fellowship, Gratitude, Humility, Judgment, Love, Mercy, Minister, Preach, Selfish, Truth)
Thursday, February 12, 2009
Seven principles for eradicating selfish ambition in the fellowship:7. The ministry of authority Jesus made authority in the fellowship dependent upon brotherly service (Mark 10:43). Genuine spiritual authority is to be found only where the ministry of hearing, helping, bearing, and proclaiming is carried out. Every cult of personality that emphasizes the distinguished qualities, virtues, and talents of another person, even though these be of an altogether spiritual nature, is worldly and has no place in the Christian community; indeed, it poisons the Christian community...Genuine authority realizes that it can exist only in the service of Him who alone has authority... The Church does not need brilliant personalities but faithful servants of Jesus and the brethren...Pastoral authority can be attained only by the servant of Jesus who seeks no power of his own, who himself is a brother among brothers submitted to the authority of the Word.
... Dietrich Bonhoeffer (1906-1945), Life Together , tr. Daniel W. Bloesch & James H. Burtness, Fortress Press, 2004, p. 108-109
(see the book; see also Mark 10:42-44; more at Ambition, Church, Fellowship, Jesus, Minister, Selfish, Service)
Friday, February 13, 2009
Turn your eyes full upon yourselves, and see if you cannot discover the same fault [that you would judge in another] in yourselves, either in times past or now-a-days. And, if you find it, remember how that it is God’s appointing that you shall now behold this sin in another, in order that you may be brought to acknowledge and repent of it; and amend your ways and pray for your brother, that God may grant him repentance and amendment according to His Divine Will. Thus a good heart draws amendment from the sins of others, and is guarded from all harsh judgment and wrath, and preserves an even temper, while an evil heart puts the worst interpretation on all that it sees, and turns it to its own hurt.
... Johannes Tauler (ca. 1300-1361), “Sermon for St. Peter’s Day,” in The History and Life of the Reverend Doctor John Tauler of Strasbourg, Charles Kingsley, pref. & Susanna Winkworth, tr., New York: Wiley & Halsted, 1858, p. 462
(see the book; see also 2 Tim. 4:2; more at Repentance)
Saturday, February 14, 2009
Feast of Cyril & Methodius, Missionaries to the Slavs, 869 & 885
Commemoration of Valentine, Martyr at Rome, c.269
As we get older, we know what we need most from forgiveness is not suspension of punishment, but assurance that love is unbroken even when we are separated... We must realize that God is against us when we are sinning; yet we dare trust that His gracious love reaches to us across the chasm which separates us from Him. When we understand His loving attitude and accept His Grace, He releases His love in us. By that love we are able to begin to keep His commands for us—to love Him with heart, mind, soul and strength, and to love our neighbors as we love ourselves.
... K. Morgan Edwards, Hoping to be Somebody, K. Morgan Edwards, Nashville: Abingdon Press, 1959, p. 69,74-75
(see the book; see also Rom. 8:38,39; more at Forgiveness)
Sunday, February 15, 2009
Commemoration of Thomas Bray, Priest, Founder of SPCK, 1730
The Hebrew religion was an unfinished religion. That is one of the best proofs of its divine inspiration. The prophets had the forward look. Great things were yet to come. As one of the most daring expressed it, the old and hallowed covenant, made by God at the Exodus, would be superseded by a new and higher relation; God would write his law into the hearts of the people; the old drill in outward statutes would disappear, for all men would know God by an inward experience of forgiveness and love.
... Walter Rauschenbusch (1861-1918), The Social Principles of Jesus, New York: Association Press, 1916, p. 87-88
(see the book; see also Jer. 31:33,34; more at Forgiveness)
Monday, February 16, 2009
When on my day of life the night is falling,And, in the winds from unsunned spaces blown,I hear far voices out of darkness callingMy feet to paths unknown, Thou who hast made my home of life so pleasantLeave not its tenant when its walls decay;O Love Divine, O Helper ever present,Be Thou my strength and stay! Be near me when all else is from me drifting;Earth, sky, home’s pictures, days of shade and shine,And kindly faces to my own upliftingThe love that answers mine. I have but Thee, my Father! let Thy spiritBe with me then to comfort and uphold;No gate of pearl, no branch of palm I merit,Nor street of shining gold. Suffice it if—my good and ill unreckoned,And both forgiven through Thy abounding grace—I find myself by hands familiar beckonedUnto my fitting place.
... John Greenleaf Whittier (1807-1892), The Complete Poetical Works of Whittier, Boston: Houghton, Mifflin, 1894, p. 463
(see the book; see also Rom. 6:14; more at Forgiveness)
Tuesday, February 17, 2009
Feast of Janani Luwum, Archbishop of Uganda, Martyr, 1977
As the veil of the temple was, at the death of the Saviour, rent asunder, in the same way our communion with the Crucified puts aside all the curtains separating us artificially from the rest of the world, and removes all sense of privilege and exclusiveness. It is this explanation of justification by faith only which leads us to the true depth of what the Gospel has contributed to this world. To live by grace and to die by grace, to live in forgiveness every day, every hour and every moment, means to identify oneself with those who do not share our faith, and to realize all the debts we owe them. Let us not be afraid that this will reduce the Gospel to relativism. Its depth is in proportion to its breadth. The deeper it is, the broader and fuller it becomes.
... J. L. Hromadka (1889-1969), The Church and Theology in Today’s Troubled Times, Prague: Ecumenical Council of Churches in Czechoslovakia, 1956, p. 10
(see the book; see also Matt. 27:50,51; more at Forgiveness)
Wednesday, February 18, 2009
“The law of Jehovah is perfect, restoring the soul” (Ps. 19:7). Most laws condemn the soul and pronounce sentence. The result of the law of my God is perfect. It condemns but forgives... It restores—more than abundantly—what it takes away.
... Jim Elliot (1927-1956), The Journals of Jim Elliot, ed. Elisabeth Elliot, Revell, 1990, p. 125
(see the book; see also Ps. 19:7; more at Forgiveness)
Thursday, February 19, 2009
With this sweet hope of ultimate acceptance with God, I have always enjoyed much cheerfulness before men; but I have at the same time laboured incessantly to cultivate the deepest humiliation before God. I have never thought that the circumstance of God’s having forgiven me was any reason why I should forgive myself; on the contrary, I have always judged it better to loathe myself the more, in proportion as I was assured that God was pacified towards me.
... Charles Simeon (1759-1836), Memoirs of the Life of the Rev. Charles Simeon, Pittsburgh: R. Carter, 1847, p. 303
(see the book; see also Ezek. 16:62,63; more at Forgiveness)
Friday, February 20, 2009
Commemoration of Cecile Isherwood, Founder of the Community of the Resurrection, Grahamstown, South Africa, 1906
He who has not forgiven an enemy has not yet tasted one of the most sublime enjoyments of life.
... Johann K. Lavater (1741-1801), Aphorisms on Man, London: J. Johnson, 1789, p. 172
(see the book; see also Matt. 5:43,44; more at Forgiveness)
Saturday, February 21, 2009
Tout comprendre, c’est tout pardonner. (“To know all is to forgive all.”) No commonplace is more untrue. Behavior, whether conditioned by an individual neurosis or by society, can be understood, that is to say, one knows exactly why such and such an individual behaves as he does. But a personal action or deed is always mysterious. When we really act, precisely because it is a matter of free choice, we can never say exactly why we do this rather than that. But it is only deeds that we are required to forgive. If someone does me an injury, the question of forgiveness only arises if I am convinced (a) that the injury he did me was a free act on his part and therefore no less mysterious to him than to me, and (b) that it was me personally whom he meant to injure. Christ does not forgive the soldiers who are nailing him to the Cross; he asks the Father to forgive them. He knows as well as they do why they are doing this—they are a squad, detailed to execute a criminal. They do not know what they are doing, because it is not their business, as executioners, to know whom they are crucifying.If the person who does me an injury does not know what he is doing, then it is as ridiculous for me to talk about forgiving him as it would be for me to “forgive” a tile which falls on my head in a gale.
... W. H. Auden (1907-1973), A Certain World, London: Faber and Faber, 1971, p. 167-168
(see the book; see also Luke 23:34; more at Commonplace, Forgiveness)
Sunday, February 22, 2009
To live of love, it is to dry Thy tears,To seek for pardon for each sinful soul,To strive to save all men from doubts and fears,And bring them home to Thy benign control.Comes to my ear sin’s wild and blasphemous roar;So, to efface each day, that burning shame,I cry: “O Jesus Christ! I Thee adore.I love Thy Name!”
... Thérèse of Lisieux (1873-1897), Poems of St. Teresa, Carmelite of Lisieux, Boston, Angel Guardian Press, 1907, “To Live of Love”, n. 11
(see the book; see also Rom. 5:20,21; more at Forgiveness)
Monday, February 23, 2009
Feast of Polycarp, Bishop of Smyrna, Martyr, c.155
To worship effectively is to enable men to become free.
... Bruce Reed
(see also Gal. 5:1; more at Freedom, Man, Worship)
Tuesday, February 24, 2009
All Christians believe in divine sovereignty, but some are not aware that they do, and mistakenly imagine and insist that they reject it. What causes this odd state of affairs? The root cause is the same as in most cases of error in the Church—the intruding of rationalistic speculations, the passion for systematic consistency, a reluctance to recognize the existence of mystery and to let God be wiser than men, and a consequent subjecting of Scripture to the supposed demands of human logic. People see that the Bible teaches man’s responsibility for his actions; they do not see how this is consistent with the sovereign Lordship of God over those actions. They are not content to let the two truths live side by side, as they do in the Scriptures, but jump to the conclusion that, in order to uphold the biblical truth of human responsibility, they are bound to reject the equally biblical and equally true doctrine of divine sovereignty, and to explain away the great number of texts that teach it. The desire to over-simplify the Bible by cutting out the mysteries is natural to our perverse minds, and it is not surprising, that even good men should fall victim to it.
... James I. Packer (b. 1926), Evangelism and the Sovereignty of God , Downers Grove, IL: Inter-Varsity Fellowship, 1991, p. 16-17
(see the book; see also Rom. 9:15,16; 1 Cor. 3:13-15; more at Providence)
Wednesday, February 25, 2009
It is impossible that God should ever be the end, if He is not the beginning. We lift our eyes on high, but lean upon the sand; and the earth will dissolve, and we shall fall while looking at the heavens.
... Blaise Pascal (1623-1662), Pensées (Thoughts) , P.F. Collier & Son, 1910, #488, p. 163-164
(see the book; see also Rev. 1:8; 21:6; more at Providence)
Thursday, February 26, 2009
The Lord gets his best soldiers out of the highlands of affliction.
... Charles Haddon Spurgeon (1834-1892), Gleanings Among the Sheaves, New York: Sheldon, 1869, p. 7
(see the book; see also Ps. 126:5,6; 2 Tim. 2:11-13; Heb. 12:6,7; 1 Pet. 5:10; more at Affliction, God, Obedience)
Friday, February 27, 2009
Feast of George Herbert, Priest, Poet, 1633
It’s true we cannot reach Christ’s forti’th dayYet to go part of that religious wayIs better than to rest:We cannot reach our Savior’s purity;Yet we are bid, ‘Be holy ev’n as He’:In both let’s do our best. Who goeth in the way which Christ hath goneIs much more sure to meet with Him than oneThat traveleth by-ways;Perhaps my God, though He be far before,May turn, and take me by the hand, and more,May strengthen my decays. Yet, Lord, instruct us to improve our fastBy starving sin, and taking such repastAs may our faults control;That ev’ry man may revel at his door,Not in his parlor; banqueting the poor,And among those, his soul.
... George Herbert (1593-1633), The Poetical Works of George Herbert, New York: D. Appleton, 1857, p. 109-110
(see the book; see also Isa. 35:8; Mark 1:12,13; 1 Pet. 1:15,16; Heb. 9:8-14; more at Repentance)
Saturday, February 28, 2009
Every man thinketh he is rich enough in grace, till he take out his purse, and... then he findeth it but poor and light in the day of a heavy trial. I found I had not enough to bear my expenses, and I should have fainted, if want and penury had not chased me to the store-house of all.
... Samuel Rutherford (1600-1664), Letters of Samuel Rutherford, Edinburgh: William Whyte & Co., 1848, letter, Feb. 20, 1637, p. 193
(see the book; see also Eph. 2:4-5; more at Grace, Poverty, Trial, Weakness)
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