1938 - 1942 Rev. Cecil H Rose
Ministers of Hucclecote Methodist Church
Oxford Group Book
When a Man Listens
(this book is for sale from Princeton books for $677 )
here free downloadable PDF Copy
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When man Listens, by Cecil Rose, hard cover, 74 pages, very
good condition. First published in 1936, was Published thru 1956 . This is an
Oxford Group Classic and one of the best spiritual books I have read.
When man listens, God Speaks, When man obeys, God works. from the title
This book is also available on Google books
Cecil Rose When Man Listens on Google Books
dick b aa historian writes:
Group writings used (as does the A.A. Big Book) the imagery of a
businessman’s taking an inventory--checking the financial position by
having "taken stock"
(Benson, The Eight Points of
the Oxford Group, pp. 44, 162, 18, 7) and
getting involved in "this business of looking into the books" with a
pencil and paper and notes (Cecil Rose, When Man
Listens, pp. 17-19).
In The Preface Cecil Rose
Meeting the Oxford Group has meant for me not only a new release and power in
my own life; but the birth in me of a new hope for the world. Ideals which
seemed to recede further with every year, are being brought within reach
through men and women who have faced such a personal revolution that God is,
through them, bringing about a revolution in society.
1939 - 1945 - The War Years
During the 1939 - 45 war, when stray bombs and attack debris tended to fall in the area,
the church was fortunate to remain relatively unscathed.
It was during the early years of the 1939-45 War that Rev. Cecil Rose took over the ministry
at Hucclecote on the untimely death of his friend, Rev. Horace Atkins, and led an enthusiastic
local campaign on behalf of the Oxford Group Movement, which undoubtedly had a profound
influence on certain members of the congregation. Cecil, as he preferred to be called, was a
gentle scholarly man, frequently contributing to "The Methodist Recorder", and other religious
publications of that period, more at home in a house group, or college seminar, than the
physically more demanding task of an itinerant ministry.
"Peace, direction, power - the fullness of life - await the complete surrender of ourselves to God for His
purposes. This is the Great experiment that is waiting to be made - giving God control. How do we begin the
experiment? To put it very simply, God cannot take over my life unless I am WILLING. Willingness is not a
matter of feeling. It is not a vague desire that God should change me. It is not an impulsive resolve to obey
God in future. It is a very practical thing. "If a man is bankrupt and consents to his chief creditor reorganizing
and running the business, the first thing he must do is to produce the books - all of them. The difficulty with so
many debtors is that they conceal some of their debts, or fail to mention some particularly foolish blunder or
some doubtful transaction to which fear prompted them…If, then, I want God to take control of my life, the
first thing I must do is to produce the books. I must be willing to look with God at everything…It may be
useful at this point if I get a pencil and paper, and make some notes." (When Man Listens - Cecil Rose -1937).
Even the Steps have been outlined in different ways in some of the aforementioned books. In a book by Cecil Rose, he talks about how one changes their life. He outlines the way one does this. He states that among other
things, the fifth step is where you admit your sins, one to another. This also was a common theme in the
Oxford Group literature and the Scripture
"This initial surrender, if it is thorough and honest, is met at once from God's side. When we hand over, God takes charge, and things begin to happen. A world of strain falls from us. The business of running life is off our hands. We find that we get through more work, because it is ordered better. We meet people we were afraid
of, and discover that fear has gone. A habit that always beat us seems to have lost its power. Someone we
could not bear appears to us in a new light, and we love them. We come through the ordeal and know that it is
not in our own strength." (When Man Listens).
WHEN MAN LISTENS By Cecil Rose c 1936
It has also failed to reach the need of vast numbers of men and women who are at war with themselves and in great want of peace, freedom from fear, and the power to deal with life victoriously.
There is a widespread notion that a Christian is a man who tries to live up to certain ideals. That is to miss the most important fact about him. A Christian is not a man who is trying to do something. He is a man who has received something. He is a man raised to a new level of power.
‘Life to the full’ must mean a life set free from the haunting sense of failure, victorious over temptation, released from fears, with a new mastery over moods, impulses, and habits, a clear purpose, and a power which makes possible the effective use of the whole personality.
p. 17 - 22
Our fundamental need is for Him to be in charge. Our fundamental sin is that we have not allowed Him to be. We may have referred some of our difficulties and questions to Him. We may have accepted portions of His programme for us – selected according to taste – but we have not given Him complete command. The self- run life has been our trouble.
Peace, direction, power – the fullness of lifeawait the complete surrender of ourselves to God for His purposes. This is the great experiment that is waiting to be madegiving God control.
How do we begin the experiment?
To put it very simply, God cannot take over my life unless I am willing. Willingness is not a matter of feeling. It is not a vague desire that God should change me. It is not an impulsive resolve to obey God in future. It is a very practical thing.
If a man is bankrupt and consents to his chief creditor reorganizing and running the business, the first thing he must do is to produce the booksall of them. The difficulty with so many debtors is that they conceal some of their debts, of fail to mention some particularly foolish blunder or some doubtful transaction to which fear prompted them. A satisfactory re-organization is impossible if there is only a partial disclosure. If, then, I want God to take control of my life, the first thing I must do is to produce the books. I must be willing to look with God at everything I know about myself, and at everything He can show me when I honestly test my life by what I see of His will in Christ.
A good way to begin this examination of the books is to test my life beside the Sermon on the Mount. A convenient and pointed summary of its teaching has been made under four headsAbsolute Honesty, Absolute Purity, Absolute Unselfishness, and Absolute Love.
It is very necessary to keep that word ‘Absolute’ in mind. It is like a clear white light searching into all sorts of hidden corners. It makes sure that I shall not overlook the places where I was content with a second best or excused myself for a compromise. Honestly? Well, that is not too bad. I do not rob the till, or make fraudulent returns to the Inspector of Taxes. (Or do I?) But Absolute Honesty? That looks different. Do I make elaborate excuses over something that I have simply forgotten to do? Do I waste my employer’s time by lateness or slackness? Am I living in the open with my family?
Absolute Purity? What would my thought-life look like on the screen?
Absolute Unselfishness? Why do I get touchy and defensive when people criticize me? Am I only thinking of them, or is it my own feelings and reputation for which I still care? And what would my family say about my absolute unselfishness?
Absolute Love? Yes, I know that I did not begin the trouble, and as far as I know, have done nothing to keep it going, but what have I done to end it? And what about my likes and dislikes?
It may be useful at this point if I get a pencil and paper, and make some notes. This business of looking into the books is taking me further than I expected, but I must see it through.
My life is many-sided. How far am I allowing God to take control over its various interests and activities? There is my business. Is He managing director? There is my money. Does He spend it? My time. Does He dispose of it? There are my friendships, my home, my career, my leisure. How far is God in absolute control of these? Willingness for Him to take charge will mean an honest and thorough scrutiny of every area of my life. It will bring to light all sorts of things that I have not been willing for God to alterhabits, indulgences, wrong relationships, personal ambition, opinions, and sheer self-will. Sin will take on a deeper meaning for me. Anything that I am not willing to submit to God is sin.
The next practical result of my ‘willingness’ will be that I shall take any steps which God shows me, to put right the wrong I have done. There may be a broken relationship to be healed, an apology to be offered, a sin to be confessed to the person most concerned, reparation to be made for some dishonestly. For one man the step of honesty with God and with his fellows meant offering to go back to the country he had left and face his trial for breach of trust. For another it meant admitting to his University that he had received a diploma on the basis of a false statement. Others have had to disillusion altogether misled families about the kind of persons they really are.
These first steps of restitution are absolutely necessary if I am to start the new life clear with God and other people. There will be a great many things I can never put right now. Even the restitution I can make will seem altogether inadequate. I must simply accept the wonder of God’s forgiveness, but I dare not take it unless I am prepared to do everything which can honestly and usefully be done to put wrong right.
I must be just as practical in making effective the new quality of life that God is leading me to see. If I realize my indiscipline, I must pin myself down to some definite stepperhaps getting up earlier, replying to letters, or promptness in keeping my appointments. If I find myself tied up by shyness, it may mean going out among people, or speaking in front of them until the fear is broken. If God speaks to me about unselfishness, it may involve some simple, but costly step at home. If my treatment of my employees, or my attitude to my business rivals has been unloving, there will be immediate steps to take in establishing new relationships. Vague resolutions and dreams of what I might be, never lead to God-control. I must let God pin me down to the next thing to be done.
These, then, are the first elements in a surrender of life to Godhonest and thorough facing of myself with God, restitution to others, and practical steps of new obedience. They are best talked through with another person. It is so easy to deceive myself, to escape the real shame and humiliation of sin, or to evade the necessary steps. To face a completely honest talk with someone I can trust makes me see myself as I could never do in any other way. It may bring to light much that I have missed. It will certainly make it harder for me to go back or postpone carrying out my resolutions. This is one of the purposes for which God has given us fellowship. It is dangerous to neglect it.
Surrender goes on. It is not simply an initial act. It is a process carried deeper every day. We find out more of ourselves to give to God. We find out more of what God can do with us. But it must begin, and it is possible for us now to give all we know of ourselves to all we know of God.
This initial surrender, if it is thorough and honest, is met at once from God’s side. When we hand over, God takes charge, and things begin to happen. A world of strain falls from us. The business of running life is off our hands. We find that we get through more work, because it is being ordered better. We meet people we were afraid of, and discover that fear has gone. A habit that always beat us seems to have lost its power. Someone we could not bear appears to us in a new light, and we love them. We come through an ordeal and know that it was not in our own strength.
The fascinating experience of getting ‘re-made’ has begun. The interest grows, because the process does not end with us. Other people notice the difference, and God begins to work in them. An area of life around us begins to change.
But how are we to be sure that this will happen? We want good reasons before we take such a plunge.
There is only one way to be sureby trying. That is true of all life. It is a tremendous experiment. We only know how the water can bear us up when we get our feet off the bottom. We only find what marriage is like by getting married. We test a remedy by taking it. That is what faith means. It does not mean being quite confident beforehandworking up one’s feelings into a state of certainty. It means making the experiment.
There are grounds for the venture. First of all, our need. Life as we have run it ourselves, has not been the kind of success of which we can be proud. It is worth while giving God the chance to run it better. Then there is all that other people say they have found. We take big steps in life on far less recommendation than is available for this step. Beyond all, there is Christ Himself. He lived this life. He lived it on the basis of absolute obedience to and trust in God. He invited us to make the experiment and prove the willingness of God.
We have to start from the place where we happen to be. Sometimes all that we can say, is, ‘O God, if there is a God, take charge of my life.’ If we mean it, God does take control.
That means a new approach to God for many of us. Our attitude when we have prayed has been, ‘Listen, Lord, for Thy servant speaketh.’ Our prayer has been what Canon Streeter classifies as ‘pagan’ prayerthe attempt to bend God to our desires and make Him the servant of our needs. We have made our plans and decisions first, and then sought God’s blessing and assistance. Prayer, when it consists of this one-sided address by us to God, becomes increasingly unreal and is eventually dropped or only formally retained. Christian prayer begins with the desire to know God’s will for us and be brought under His control.
It is useless to seek His guidance in one area of life when we are not prepared for Him to talk to us about a certain other area with which He needs to deal first. If we want guidance about our family, we may have to listen to some things God has to tell us about ourselves, our character and habits. If it is personal problems, worries, or health for which we need direction, we may have to face what God has to say about the way we run our business, or about our attitude to money. It is all or nothing. Before you begin to listen to God, you must get rid of any known reservations.
What can we expect as we grow more experienced in this listening to God? Probably the first thing we realize will be that the whole level of our thinking has been altered. We shall see that what we took for sound reasoning before was just our human thinking, dictated by self-will, prejudice, fear, or limited by the fact that we were leaving God our of the reckoning.
Selfishness, fear, resentment, pride, do not live in the air. They live in men.
The most frequent reason for our isolation is fear. It is fear which makes us hide.
We are afraid of many things. We fear the loss of reputation. We think that if other people saw what we are really like, they would laugh at our mistakes and despise us for our failures. So we cover up our mistakes and failures with silence or self-excuse. We pose as confident, when we are nothing of the kind. The face we present to the world is really a mask.
We are afraid in business. We are expecting the other man to steal a march on us. So we work in the dark. We are not going to give him the chance to get in first. We disguise our intentions. And thus we help to create the atmosphere of suspicion and mistrust in which the world lives.
We are afraid of being found out and compelled to let go some of our practices or some of our relationships. If our family only knewif our business associates or employers only knewthere would have to be a change. We do not want to change. We should hate to change. And so those little reticences and petty deceptions begin and grow until we are living two livesthe one other people see and the one we hope they do not see!
Frankness, trust, understanding, free and happy co- operation cannot exist between people who are hiding from each other.
These are real people, from a growing company of men and women who are breaking down barriers and creating new relationships by their simple honesty about themselves. They are prepared to pocket their pride, risk their reputation, hazard their material interest, for the sake of living in the open with their fellows.
You cannot work with other men satisfactorily unless you trust them and they trust you. You will not trust them while you suspect that they have an axe of their own to grind. They will not trust you while you are holding on to anything which you are not willing to yield up for the common good.
Sharing can be defined as being honest with other people about yourself. It means being willing (for God’s purposes) to give the whole of yourself to anyone. It does not mean telling everything about yourself to everybody you meet. It does mean being willing to tell anything to anyoneif God shows you that your sharing can be useful in establishing a new and deeper relationship, or in helping another person to find God.
Real sharing can be very costly. If some of us are to restore the right relationship with those round usperhaps a husband, a wife, a child; perhaps those who work with or for us; perhaps someone who attends the same Churchit will mean facing crucifixion. To let them see what we are really like will cost no less. And if we are going to let God take us right into the lives of other people, with the love that pours itself out to them, it will mean the Cross again. To share Himself with the world meant that for Christ. The price of redeeming relationships with men and women is always the Cross.
Sharing has to be learnt. We cannot really make ourselves known to others until we have been introduced to ourselves, and one of the serious effects of our reserve and spiritual isolation is that we have become strangers to our own souls. God has to bring us right out into the light, where we can see ourselves stripped of self-deception and face the naked truth about our actions, our thoughts and our motives.
One of God’s most effective ways of introducing us to ourselves is to send us to another person, whom we can trust, to tell them the whole truth about our lives as far as we know it. Quite apart from the fact that it is a healthy and liberating thing to unburden ourselves, the necessity of putting into words to another person the hard facts about our sin makes us see it more clearly and hate it more thoroughly. Besides which, the other person will probably see things in us to which we are blind, and will help us to see them. God has given us this invaluable gift of fellowship as one of the most effective means to real self-knowledge, penitence, and new life and we lose something vital if we shrink from the humiliating but liberating experience.
If we are to go on being honest with others we must go on being honest with ourselves. Life moves ahead and fresh discoveries about ourselves have to be made, fresh difficulties faced, or sins confessed. That is why we must seek frequent fellowship of the kind in which we can talk over these discoveries without reserve. If we cannot find this quality of fellowship with several people, we can begin with one, so long as we do not remain content with one.
Sharing of this kind is thoroughly wholesome if it is seen as a means of keeping spiritually fit and free for God’s use, and if it issues in practical steps to put right what is wrong. It keeps the system free from any accumulation of poisons.
It is as we learn in this way to be honest with ourselves and others, to take off the mask and drop the pose, to step out from behind our reserve and pride, that we become citizens of God ’s new world men and women around whom a new honesty and trust begins to grow.
When we learn to share, each of us becomes a living cell in that new world.
Life-changing is simply normal Christian living. It is doing Christ ’s work. If our aim falls below that level we are failing Him.
Sometimes the process is long. But whether the process is long or short, if we try to break in without friendship, attempt to put the other persons right and tell them what they should believe or do, we shall find the door of their inner life slammed in our face. If we are to work at this deep level, then we must reckon with the fact of sex. There are confidences which can only rightly be shared between man and man, and woman and woman. To ignore this condition would mean either a superficial job, or a wrong relationship.
It is when we have made friends that we begin to see the other man more clearly. That is essential. The first step in life-changing is to introduce a man to himself. We have to help him to look behind his actions and his feelings and see their roots, or perhaps face things in his life he has been hiding so long that now he cannot see them. That is a task which requires the insight of real love. The difficulty he brings to us first may be (and very often is) a mere blind. Again and again people will put forward their intellectual difficulties when their real trouble is moral; or they will tell you a lot of things of which they are afraid, while keeping back the deepest fear of their lives. Sin deceives a man about himself, and our first work is to help in breaking through that self-deception. It is here that we can so easily fail those we are trying to help. We can fail through carelessness because we simply have not taken the trouble to watch and learn the other man as far as we possibly can.
The outcome of this work of helping a man to become acquainted with himself should be his own willing confession of all he has so far seen.
The next stage will test our restraint. Our human impulse is to give advice, to point out the steps that other persons ought to take, to rearrange their life ourselves. Actually the only thing we can rightly do is to help them to listen, not to us, but to God. Somewhere at the base of their life God is speaking to them, conviction them about the past and insistently pointing the new way. It is tremendously important that they should discover this themselves. If they listen to us instead of to God, they will depend on us instead of Him. That is fatal. We must do no more at this stage than help them to listen for the deepest voices in their own souls, until they know that God is speaking and make their first response in trust and obedience to Him alone.
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