Quotations for December, 2021
Wednesday, December 1, 2021
Commemoration of Charles de Foucauld, Hermit, Servant of the Poor, 1916
We cannot pass our responsibility on to politicians, diplomats, economists, technicians, scientists, and secular ideologists. We ourselves are obliged to think about the problems of the form of responsible society and of our own contribution to its creation. Let us avoid the impression that this responsible society will be identical with Christian society. There has been, is, and will be no Christian society, just as there is no Christian state, Christian economy, or Christian civilization. The new earth and the new heaven which we expect in faith will not be the work of human hands, but a creation of God’s mercy and justice. And these are essentially eschatological concepts. Christian civilization is an illusion, and every attempt to fight in its name against so-called un-Christian efforts—social and political ideas—is a self-deception and a grave danger to the church itself.
... J. L. Hromadka (1889-1969), The Church and Theology in Today’s Troubled Times, Prague: Ecumenical Council of Churches in Czechoslovakia, 1956, p. 80-81
(see the book; see also Jer. 50:6-7; Dan. 7:13-14; Hos. 4:17-18; Matt. 15:12-14; John 18:36; Acts 14:16-17; Eph. 4:17-19; 2 Thess. 2:11-12; 2 Pet. 3:13; more at Church, Danger, Faith, God, Justice, Mercy, Responsibility, Social, Thought)
Thursday, December 2, 2021
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)
Friday, December 3, 2021
Commemoration of Francis Xavier, Apostle of the Indies, Missionary, 1552
The injection of the Word into our lives provides individual or corporate direction in all we do and say.
... Ted W. Engstrom (1916-2006), former president, World Vision US, in a private communication from World Vision
(see also Isa. 59:21; Luke 11:28; John 1:14; Rom. 10:17; Heb. 4:12; Rev. 19:13; more at Direction, Instruction, Obedience, Scripture)
Saturday, December 4, 2021
Commemoration of Nicholas Ferrar, Deacon, Founder of the Little Gidding Community, 1637
Advent is a time of waiting. Our whole life, however, is Advent—that is, a time of waiting for the ultimate, for the time when there will be a new heaven and a new earth, when all people are brothers and sisters and one rejoices in the words of the angels: “On earth peace to those on whom God’s favor rests.” Learn to wait, because he has promised to come. “I stand at the door...” We however call to him: “Yes, come soon, Lord Jesus!”
... Dietrich Bonhoeffer (1906-1945), A Testament to Freedom: the essential writings of Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Geffrey B. Kelly, F. Burton Nelson, eds., HarperCollins, 1995, p. 186
(see the book; see also Ps. 37:7; Hab. 2:3; Luke 2:14,25-35; Heb. 9:27-28; 2 Pet. 3:10; Rev. 3:11,20; 22:20; more at Christmas, Earth, Heaven, Jesus, Peace, Promise, Time)
Sunday, December 5, 2021
History is to be understood as the patient wrestling of God with a stupid, deluded, and rebellious people—stupid and rebellious precisely because they insist on seeing themselves as the center of the story.
... Lesslie Newbigin (1909-1998), Truth and Authority in Modernity, Gracewing Publishing, 1996, p. 38-39
(see the book; see also Ex. 32:7-9; Deut. 9:6; Ps. 95:7-11; Acts 7:51-53; Heb. 3:15-19; more at God, Historical, Patience, People, Selfish)
Monday, December 6, 2021
Feast of Nicholas, Bishop of Myra, c.326
If therefore we desire to live unto God, it is necessary to bring our whole life under this law, to make His glory the sole rule and measure of our acting in every employment of life. For there is no other true devotion, but this of living devoted to God in the common business of our lives.
... William Law (1686-1761), A Serious Call to a Devout and Holy Life , London: Methuen, 1899, p. 59
(see the book; see also Matt. 16:24; Mark 10:21; Luke 9:59-62; more at Devotion, Glory, God, Law, Life, Rule)
Tuesday, December 7, 2021
Feast of Ambrose, Bishop of Milan, Teacher, 397
True repentance is to cease from sin.
... St. Ambrose of Milan (Aurelius Ambrosius) (339-397), attributed
(see also Matt. 9:13; Mark 2:17; Rom. 2:3-4; 6:21; Jas. 4:8-10; more at Perfection, Repentance, Sin)
Wednesday, December 8, 2021
The blessed son of God onlyIn a crib full poor did lie;With our poor flesh and our poor bloodWas clothed that everlasting good
The Lord Christ Jesu, God’s son dear,Was a guest and a stranger here;Us for to bring from misery,That we might live eternally.
All this did he for us freely,For to declare his great mercy;All Christendom be merry therefore,And give him thanks for evermore.
... Miles Coverdale (ca.1488-1568), Ancient English Christmas Carols, 1400-1700, Edith Rickert, New York: Duffield & Co., 1915, p. 192-193
(see the book; see also Ps. 85:10; Matt. 8:20; Luke 2:6-14; more at Christ, Christmas, Everlasting, God, Jesus, Mercy, Poverty, Son, Thanksgiving)
Thursday, December 9, 2021
The Church ought to be a “pilot plant” where men can see in our congregations and missions a substantial healing of all the divisions, the alienations which man’s rebellion has produced.
... Francis A. Schaeffer (1912-1984), Pollution and the Death of Man , reprint, Good News Publishers, 1992, p. 80
(see the book; see also John 10:16; 13:34; 1 Cor. 1:10-13; Rev. 22:2; more at Church, Congregation, Man, Mission, Reconciliation)
Friday, December 10, 2021
Commemoration of Thomas Merton, Monk, Spiritual Writer, 1968
Do not be too quick to condemn the man who no longer believes in God: for it is perhaps your own coldness and avarice and mediocrity and materialism and sensuality and selfishness that have killed his faith.
... Thomas Merton (1915-1968), Seeds of Contemplation, London: Hollis & Carter, 1949, New Directions. 1949, p. 105
(see the book; see also Prov. 18:19; Zech. 7:5,6; Luke 6:32-34; more at Attitudes, Belief, Condemnation, Faith, Selfish)
Saturday, December 11, 2021
O Jesus Christ, babe, man, eternal son,Take pity! we are poor where thou art rich:Our hearts are small; and yet there is not oneIn all thy father’s noisy nursery which,Merry, or mourning in its narrow niche,Needs not thy father’s heart, this very now,With all his being’s being, even as thou!
... George MacDonald (1824-1905), The Poetical Works of George MacDonald, v. 2, London: Chatto & Windus, 1893, p. 336
(see the book; see also Luke 1:50; Tit. 3:4-7; 1 Pet. 1:3-4; 2:10; 2 Pet. 3:9; more at Christ, Everlasting, Father, Heart, Jesus, Man, Need, Son)
Sunday, December 12, 2021
I love poverty because He loved it. I love riches because they afford me the means of helping the very poor. I keep faith with everybody; I do not render evil to those who wrong me, but I wish them a situation like mine, in which I receive neither good nor evil from men. I try to be just, true, sincere, and faithful to all men; I have a tender heart for those to whom God has more closely united me; and whether I am alone, or seen by people, I do all my actions in the sight of God, who must judge them, and to whom I have consecrated them all.These are my sentiments; and every day of my life, I bless my Redeemer, who has implanted them in me, and who, out of a man full of weakness, of miseries, of lust, of pride, and of ambition, has made a man free from all these evils by the power of His grace, to which all the glory of it is due, as of myself I have only misery and error.
... Blaise Pascal (1623-1662), Pensées (Thoughts) , P.F. Collier & Son, 1910, #550, p. 178
(see the book; see also Job 29:11-16; Matt. 5:3; Luke 6:30; 11:41; 14:12-14; Gal. 6:10; Jas. 2:5; more at Ambition, Blessing, Error, Faith, Jesus, Love, Poverty, Pride, Sincerity, Weakness, Wealth)
Monday, December 13, 2021
Feast of Lucy, Martyr at Syracuse, 304
Commemoration of Samuel Johnson, Writer, Moralist, 1784
O Lord, grant unto me that am now about to return to the common comforts and business of the world, such moderation in all enjoyments, such diligence in honest labour, and such purity of mind, that, amidst the changes, miseries, or pleasures of life, I may keep my mind fixed upon Thee, and improve every day in grace, till I shall be received into thy kingdom of eternal happiness.
... Samuel Johnson (1709-1784), Prayers and Meditations, London: Vernor, Hood, and Sharpe, 1806, p. 29
(see the book; see also John 1:29; 6:40; Heb.12:1-3; more at Discipline, Everlasting, Grace, Happiness, Kingdom, Life, Mind, Prayers, Purity)
Tuesday, December 14, 2021
Feast of John of the Cross, Mystic, Poet, Teacher, 1591
However high be your endeavours, unless you renounce and subjugate your own will—unless you forget yourself and all that pertains to yourself—not one step will you advance on the road to perfection.
... St. John of the Cross (1542-1591), quoted in The Light of Christ, Evelyn Underhill, New York: Longmans, Green, 1949, p. 100
(see the book; see also Rom. 6:13,19; 7:5-6; 1 Cor. 6:15; more at Endeavor, Obedience, Perfection, Renunciation, Self-sacrifice)
Wednesday, December 15, 2021
Divine forgiveness is absolutely unconditional. We are not forgiven because we are not very bad. We are not forgiven because we are trying to be good. We are not forgiven because we are sorry for our sins. We are not forgiven because we have suffered; as the iniquity of Jerusalem was pardoned because she had received from the Lord’s hand double for all her sins. In the Old Testament forgiveness is always conditioned upon the repentance and suffering of the sinner; in the New Testament repentance grows out of forgiveness. We are forgiven because we are sinners. Forgiveness is the form God’s love takes when it rests upon sin.
... Edward Judson (1844-1914), The Outlook, v. XCVII, Lyman Abbott, ed., Outlook Co., 1911, p. 748
(see the book; see also Isa. 40:1-2; Dan. 9:24; Matt. 1:20-21; 6:14-15; 11:28; Luke 24:46-47; Acts 2:38; more at Bible, Forgiveness, God, Love, Repentance, Sin, Sinner, Suffer)
Thursday, December 16, 2021
For everything that Christ taught, everything that makes the New Testament new, and better than the Old, everything that is distinctly Christian as opposed to merely Jewish, is summed up in the knowledge of the Fatherhood of God. ‘Father’ is the Christian name for God.
... James I. Packer (1926-2020), Knowing God, London: Hodder and Stoughton, 1973, p. 182
(see the book; see also Matt. 6:9; Rom. 3:22-26; 5:1-2; 8:28-30; 1 Cor. 1:9; 2 Cor. 5:18-19; Gal. 4:6-7; Eph. 1:3-14; more at Christ, Father, God, Knowledge, Teach, Trinity)
Friday, December 17, 2021
Commemoration of Dorothy Sayers, Teacher and Spiritual Writer, 1957
Commemoration of Eglantyne Jebb, Social Reformer, Founder of ‘Save the Children’, 1928
Hard it is, very hard,To travel up the slow and stony roadTo Calvary, to redeem mankind; far betterTo make but one resplendent miracle,Lean through the cloud, lift the right hand of powerAnd with a sudden lightning smite the world perfect.Yet this was not God’s way, Who had the power,But set it by, choosing the cross, the thorn,The sorrowful wounds. Something there is, perhaps,That power destroys in passing, something supreme,To whose great value in the eyes of GodThat cross, that thorn, and those five wounds bear witness.
... Dorothy Leigh Sayers (1893-1957), The Devil to Pay, V. Gollancz, ltd., 1939, p. 68
(see the book; see also John 19:16-18; more at Calvary, Cross, Passion of Christ, Perfection, Power, Way)
Saturday, December 18, 2021
Given, not lent,And not withdrawn—once sent,This Infant of mankind, this One,Is still the little welcome Son.
New every year,New born and newly dear,He comes with tidings and a song,The ages long, the ages long.
Even as the coldKeen winter grows not old,As childhood is so fresh, foreseen,And spring in the familiar green.
Sudden as sweetCome the expected feet.All joy is young, and new all art,And He, too, Whom we have by heart.
... Alice Meynell (1847-1922), Collected Poems of Alice Meynell, London: Burns & Oates, 1913, p. 32
(see the book; see also John 3:16; Luke 2:8-14; more at Christmas, Heart, Infancy, Son)
Sunday, December 19, 2021
What gives peace to the conscience is, that by faith our sins are no more ours but Christ’s, on whom God hath laid them all; and that, on the other hand, all Christ’s righteousness is ours, to whom God hath given it. Christ lays his hand upon us, and we are healed; he casts his mantle on us, and we are clothed; he is the glorious Saviour, blessed for ever.
... Martin Luther (1483-1546), remarks on Thesis 37, Resolutiones et Responsiones, 1518, in History of the Great Reformation of the Sixteenth Century in Germany, Jean Henri Merle d’Aubigné, London: Walther, 1838, p. 380
(see the book; see also Isa. 53:4-6; Rom. 2:14-15; 3:21-22; Heb. 9:14; more at Blessing, Christ, Conscience, Faith, God, Righteousness, Sin)
Monday, December 20, 2021
Little things come daily, hourly, within our reach, and they are not less calculated to set forward our growth in holiness, than are the greater occasions which occur but rarely;—in some ways we may turn them to more profit, inasmuch as they do not war against humility, or tend to feed self-conceit. Moreover, fidelity in trifles, and an earnest seeking to please God in little matters, is a test of real devotion and love... Let your aim be to please our dear Lord perfectly in little things, and to attain a spirit of childlike simplicity and dependence.
... Jean Nicolas Grou (1731-1803), The Hidden Life of the Soul, London: Rivingtons, 1870, p. 2-3
(see the book; see also Zech. 4:10; Matt. 11:25; Luke 18:16-17; Phil. 2:3; 2 Cor. 1:12; more at Child, Devotion, Faith, Humility, Pride)
Tuesday, December 21, 2021
In our Ashrams of East and West, places of spiritual retreat, we begin with what we call “The Morning of the Open Heart,” in which we tell our needs... We give four or five hours to this catharsis. The reaction of one member, who listened to it for the first time, was: “Good gracious, have we all the disrupted people in the country here?” My reply was: “No, you have a cross section of the church life honestly revealed.” In the ordinary church, it is suppressed by respectability, by a desire to appear better than we really are.
... E. Stanley Jones (1884-1973), Conversion, New York: Abingdon Press, 1959, p. 10-11
(see the book; see also Mark 2:15; John 15:1-8; 2 Cor. 4:1,2; 5:11,12; Tit. 1:15,16; Jas. 1:8,22-27;4:8; 1 John 1:10; more at Beginning, Church, Hypocrisy, Listening, Morning, Need, People)
Wednesday, December 22, 2021
A prison cell, in which one waits, hopes, does various unessential things, and is completely dependent on the fact that the door of freedom has to be opened from the outside, is not a bad picture of Advent.
... Dietrich Bonhoeffer (1906-1945), in a letter, November 21, 1943, A Testament to Freedom: the essential writings of Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Geffrey B. Kelly, F. Burton Nelson, eds., HarperCollins, 1995, p. 490
(see the book; see also Isa. 61:1; Luke 4:18-19; John 8:31-36; Rom. 8:20-21; Gal. 5:1; Col. 3:11; more at Christmas, Door, Freedom, Hope, Prison)
Thursday, December 23, 2021
Bright portals of the sky,Emboss’d with sparkling stars,Doors of eternity,With diamantine bars,Your arras rich uphold,Loose all your bolts and springs,Ope wide your leaves of gold,That in your roofs may come the King of Kings.
O well-spring of this All!Thy Father’s image vive;Word, that from nought did callWhat is, doth reason, live;The soul’s eternal food,Earth’s joy, delight of heaven;All truth, love, beauty, good:To thee, to thee be praises ever given!
O glory of the heaven!O sole delight of earth!To thee all power be given,God’s uncreated birth!Of mankind lover true,Indearer of his wrong,Who doth the world renew,Still be thou our salvation and our song!
... William Drummond (1585-1649), The Poems of William Drummond of Hawthornden, v. II, London: Lawrence and Bullen, 1894, p. 21-24
(see the book; see also Ps. 19:1; Luke 2:8-14; John 14:2-3; Heb. 11:16; Rev. 4:11; more at Christmas, Eternity, Glory, Love, Salvation, Song, Star)
Friday, December 24, 2021
To be always relevant, you have to say things which are eternal.
... Simone Weil (1909-1943), Simone Weil: Utopian Pessimist, David McLellan, Macmillan, 1989, p. 2
(see the book; see also Ps. 30:12; Matt. 24:34-35; more at Church, Eternal life, Everlasting, Preach)
Saturday, December 25, 2021
Come let us join our cheerful songs,With angels round the throne;Ten thousand thousand are their tongues,But all their joys are one.
Worthy the Lamb that died, they cry,To be exalted thus:Worthy the Lamb, our lips reply,For he was slain for us.
Jesus is worthy to receiveHonour and pow’r divine;And blessings, more than we can give,Be, Lord, for ever thine.
Let all who dwell above the sky,And air, and earth, and seas,Conspire to lift thy glories high,And speak thine endless praise.
The whole creation join in one,To bless the sacred name,Of him who sits upon the throne,And to adore the Lamb.
... Isaac Watts (1674-1748), Hymns and Spiritual Songs , in Psalms, Hymns, and Spiritual Songs, ed. Samuel Melanchthon Worcester, Boston: Crocker & Brewster, 1834, book I, hymn 62, p. 321
(see the book; see also Job 38:4-7; Ps. 148:3; Rev. 5:11-13; more at Angel, Blessing, Christmas, Glory, Honor, Jesus, Joy, Lamb, Praise, Song)
Sunday, December 26, 2021
Feast of Stephen, Deacon, First Martyr
Some relate ... that the eagle tries the eyes of her young by turning them to the sun; which if they cannot look steadily on, she rejects them as spurious. We may truly try our faith by immediate intuitions of the Sun of Righteousness. Direct faith to act itself immediately and directly on the incarnation of Christ and His mediation; and if it be not the right kind and race it will turn its eyes aside to anything else.
... John Owen (1616-1683), A Discourse Concerning Holy Spirit, bk. VI-IX , in Works of John Owen, v. IV, London: Johnson & Hunter, 1852, p. 323
(see the book; see also Ps. 66:10-12; Isa. 48:10; Heb. 6:13-15; Jas. 1:2-4,12; 1 Pet. 1:7; 4:12-13; more at Christ, Faith, Incarnation, Knowing God, Righteousness)
Monday, December 27, 2021
Feast of John, Apostle & Evangelist
It is vitally important to recognize that philosophical pluralism has exerted a dramatic “softening” influence on many people who would disavow radical religious pluralism. It is hard, for instance, to deny the influence of pluralism on evangelical preachers who increasingly reconstruct the “gospel” along the lines of felt needs, knowing that such a presentation will be far better appreciated than one that articulates truth with hard edges (i.e., that insists that certain contrary things are false), or that warns of the wrath to come. How far can such reconstruction go before what is preached is no longer the gospel in any historical or biblical sense?
... D. A. Carson (b. 1946), The Gagging of God: Christianity Confronts Pluralism , Zondervan, 2002, p. 30
(see the book; see also John 8:42-45; 2 Cor. 11:12-15; Gal. 4:16-18; Col. 2:4; 2 Tim. 4:3; 2 Pet. 2:1-3; more at Attitudes, Gospel, Historical, Influence, Philosophy, Preach, Truth)
Tuesday, December 28, 2021
Feast of the Holy Innocents
A happy, happy Christmas,And a happy, happy year!Oh, we have not deserved it,And yet we need not fear.For Jesus has deserved it,And so for Jesus’ sake,This cup of joy and blessingWith grateful hand we take.
... Frances Ridley Havergal (1836-1879), The Poetical Works of Frances Ridley Havergal, New York: E.P. Dutton & Co., 1888, p. 168
(see the book; see also Matt. 1:18-25; Luke 1:39-42; 2:4-18; John 1:14; more at Blessing, Christmas, Fear, Gratitude, Happiness, Jesus, Joy, Year)
Wednesday, December 29, 2021
Feast of Thomas Becket, Archbishop of Canterbury, Martyr, 1170
For when we see those, who before his appearance stood secure and firm, so astonished and affrighted at the manifestation of his glory, as to faint and almost expire through fear,—we must infer that man is never sufficiently affected with a knowledge of his own meanness, till he has compared himself with the Divine Majesty.
... John Calvin (1509-1564), The Institutes of the Christian Religion, v. I , tr. John Allen, Presbyterian Board of Publication and Sabbath-School Work, 1921, I.i.3, p. 48
(see the book; see also Gen. 18:27; Judg. 6:22-23; 13:22; 1 Kings 19:11-13; Ps. 19:9; 99:1-2; Isa. 6:5; more at Fear, Glory, God, Knowledge, Man)
Thursday, December 30, 2021
Let the Gospels speak. Of what I have learnt from these documents in the course of my long task, I will say nothing now. Only this, that they bear the seal of the Son of Man and God, they are the Magna Charta of the human spirit. Were we to devote to their comprehension a little of the selfless enthusiasm that is now expended on the riddle of our physical surroundings, we would cease to say that Christianity is coming to an end—we might even feel that it had only just begun.
... E. V. Rieu (1887-1972), The Four Gospels, London: Penguin Books, 1952, p. xxxiii
(see the book; see also Jer. 31:33-34; Mark 1:1; Acts 5:29-40; Phil. 1:27-28; more at Bearing, Beginning, Bible, Devotion, Man, Son)
Friday, December 31, 2021
Commemoration of John Wycliffe, Reformer, 1384
Thus by the authority of the law of God men should speak her words as God’s law speaketh, and strange not in speech from understanding of the people, and always beware that the people understand well, and so use common speech in their own person; and if they speak in Christ’s person [the] words of his law, look that they declare him, for dread of privy errors.And scorn we the arguments that fools make here, that by the same power should we speak thus, for God speaks thus the words of his law. Such apes likeness passes beast’s folly, for they would bring by this that each man were God. And so have we leave to speak as him liketh, [though] we speak not aye so by the same authority; these words that God speaketh should we always grant, and declare to him true understanding.
... John Wycliffe (1320?-1384), Select English Works of John Wyclif, v. 1, Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1869, p. 78-79
(see the book; see also Ps. 119:46-47; 1 Pet. 3:15-16; Matt. 10:18-20; Luke 21:14-15; Col. 3:11; 4:6; 2 Tim. 2:23-26; 1 Pet. 3:15-16; more at Error, God, Law, Truth, Understanding)
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