Tag Archives: cross of Christ

Straying from God’s Commands

Matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers – Tuesday, February 13, 2018

Psa 119-21 scroll

Straying from God’s Commands

We come to the abbreviated end of Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s meditations on Psalm 119. Verse 21 was the last of these short comments into Psalm 119, the longest psalm in the Bible. I wish Bonhoeffer had been able to write more, because I get such insight from him. (both into his heart as well as into the psalm) Bonhoeffer truly loved the Word of God. With this acrostic psalm praising and lifting up God’s Word in every verse, it is little wonder that Bonhoeffer should have been drawn to it.

This verse 21 is a bit of a downer—more than a bit, actually. Let’s take a look at it:

You have rebuked the insolent;

Cursed are they who stray from Your commandments!

God hates the insolent, Bonhoeffer says. The self-satisfied, puffed-up ones. Even more, those “who care nothing for justice and mercy, who despise the Word of God and the faithful.” [1]

I get the feeling that Pastor Bonhoeffer really has distaste for these people. People who despise the God he loves and follows with all his heart, and who despise the Word of God and those who are faithful to that God, too. Bonhoeffer pins these self-satisfied people to the wall with a direct blow: “The cross of Jesus Christ, which shows that God is with the weak and the humble, is God’s rebuke to the insolent.” [2]

What a way to deliver an uppercut to the jaw. (Theoretically and metaphorically, of course.) Bonhoeffer truly believes that the cross of Christ is the remedy and the antidote to the insolent of this earth, humanity puffed up with pride and self-importance.

Of course, you and I know that oftentimes the innocent, the weak, the downtrodden are stepped upon by the powerful. These humble ones are wrongfully accused, oppressed, and abused. We see “the visible judgments of God remain hidden and obscure even for the faithful.” [3]

Yet…and yet…are these words only for others? Or, are the words of this verse for ourselves, too? Are you and I insolent, at times? Do you or I feel self-satisfied or proud? Do we stray from God’s commands—sometimes? I see myself in this mirror. Sometimes. Ah, Pastor Bonhoeffer, you have hit home. I bow my head, humbly asking God for forgiveness.

These words are so appropriate for this Shrove Tuesday, with Ash Wednesday tomorrow. God’s blessings to all as we start our Lenten journey to the cross, alongside of our Savior and Friend the Lord Jesus.



Like what you read? Disagree? Share your thoughts with your loved ones and continue the conversation.

Why not visit my companion blogs, “the best of” A Year of Being Kind.  #PursuePEACE. My Facebook page, Pursuing Peace – Thanks! And, read my sermons from Pastor, Preacher Pray-er

[1] Meditating on the Word, Dietrich Bonhöffer, edited by David McI. Gracie. (Cambridge, Massachusetts: Cowley Publications, 2000, 133.

[2] Ibid.

[3] Ibid.

Praying Vengeance in Psalm 58

Matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers – Saturday, August 26, 2017

Psa 58-10 vengeance

Praying Vengeance in Psalm 58

More evil. And, even more evil. That’s how much vengeance-praying King David is doing in this psalm. I know it is an “imprecatory psalm.” [1] But, I did not realize how many horrible things David was praying in this psalm.

Yes, I know King David faced some awful situations in his life. However, I also thought the Lord told God’s people to forgive, and to pardon, and to confess their sins. And, especially “forgive us our sins as we forgive those who sin against us.”

“The righteous will be glad when they see the vengeance; they will bathe their feet in the blood of the wicked.” Seriously? Lord, are You serious? I need to look closely at Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s explanation of this. He says, “Once more we shudder as we read this psalm….My dear congregation, if we avoid this we have understood nothing. This concerns God and His righteousness only….Whoever shrinks from this joy in the vengeance of God and in the blood of the wicked does not yet know what took place on the cross of Christ.” [2]

I need to sit back and take a long breath. God, I am reminded again that Your righteousness has been fulfilled by the cross of Christ. And, it is only through His death on the cross that I can even lift my head above the ground in anything less that abject guilt and shame.

Yes, I am still horrified by such bloodthirsty talk on David’s part. However, I also need to consider those last words of our Lord Jesus on the cross. He prays, “Father, forgive them, for they don’t know what they are doing.” And then, truly, I can say with Bonhoeffer, “When we behold Him, the crucified one, we realize God’s wrath against us wicked ones. And in the same moment we experience His deliverance from this wrath.” [3]

It is then I experience what Isaiah experienced in the temple, in the sixth chapter of his book. The angel flies to me with the coal of holy fire and burns my sin away, too. Lord, here am I.

Yes, there is judgment at the cross of Christ. Yet, there is pardon, too. “There, my burdened soul found liberty—at Calvary!”



Like what you read? Disagree? Share your thoughts with your loved ones and continue the conversation.

Why not visit my companion blogs, “the best of” A Year of Being Kind.  #PursuePEACE. My Facebook page, Pursuing Peace – Thanks! And, read my sermons from Pastor, Preacher Pray-er

[1] https://www.biblegateway.com/resources/asbury-bible-commentary/Imprecatory-Psalms

[2] Meditating on the Word, Dietrich Bonhöffer, edited by David McI. Gracie. (Cambridge, Massachusetts: Cowley Publications, 2000, 82.

[3] Ibid, 83.

Pray As I Consider Sin—and Peace

Matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers – Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Psa 51-2 wash me, cleanse me

Pray As I Consider Sin—and Peace

Ash Wednesday. I prepared ashes for the congregation. I taught bible study this morning—on peace. And, I finished the sermon (shorter meditation, really) for this evening. Sermon on Psalm 51. On iniquity, transgression, and sin. On God’s forgiveness and mercy.

As I mentioned in my meditation, understanding our sin (and sinfulness) prepares us to receive the forgiveness that comes through Jesus Christ. And, yes. Each person in the service this evening who wished received the cross of ashes on their forehead.

I have also been thinking about the Pursuing PEACE Project. My personal journey around the Chicago area, asking people about their individual definition of peace. I am honing the information I will present. I want to be open to the individual stories, listening with an open heart.

Listen. Share. Pursue PEACE. (I will begin posting photos tomorrow. Stay tuned!)

However, the concepts of peace, forgiveness and mercy are becoming combined in my mind. If you like, what young people might call a mash-up. Sprinkle with honesty and openness. Season with genuineness and willingness to understand. That is what I am going to try to do in this Lenten season.

Yes, I still have the cross of ashes on my forehead. Yes, I thank God that I have peace with God through Jesus Christ. And, yes, I very much wish to see what other people have in their minds and hearts concerning peace.

I will close this penitential blog post with a prayer from my blogging friend, Rev. Bosco Peters (http://liturgy.co.nz). Through the cross of Christ, God have mercy on you, pardon you and set you free. Know that you are forgiven and be at PEACE. God strengthen you in all goodness and keep you in life eternal. Amen.


Like what you read? Disagree? Share your thoughts with your loved ones and continue the conversation.

Why not visit my sister blogs, “the best of” A Year of Being Kind.   @chaplaineliza And, read my sermons from Pastor, Preacher Pray-er

Way of Prayer? Try Lectio Divina

Matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers – February 2, 2015

lectio divina path through woods

Way of Prayer? Try Lectio Divina

I have about 17 days until Lent begins, with Ash Wednesday. So—what to do? How should I pray each day, in these last days of the Epiphany season?

I turn to a book that holds one of my preferred ways of looking at the world—the Myers-Briggs type indicator (MBTI). This is a personality type and preference indicator, measuring both the way I view myself and the interior life, and the way I view others and the exterior life. This book is called Prayer and Temperament, by Chester Michael and Marie Norrisey. It does a good job of showing the close connection and preference for different types of prayer, according to the Myers-Briggs preference classifications.

Unfamiliar with the MBTI? Don’t be too concerned. This particular way of praying, called Lectio Divina, is an ancient method. Different types of people prefer different ways of praying. Using the MBTI, the authors try to show how variations in methods of prayer can be more effective with, say, an introverted person who likes to focus on thinking and intellectual pursuits, as opposed to an extrovert who loves to express feelings freely.

Let’s look at Lectio Divina, first. A Benedictine method of prayer, it’s been in existence since at least the fourth or fifth centuries. It has four steps: lectio (reading using the senses), meditatio (thinking/the intellect), oratio (feeling/personalization) and contemplation (quiet listening/ intuition). I’m going to concentrate on Galatians 6:14.

In step one, I am drawn to the phrase “the world has been crucified to me.” With step two, I ruminate about this phrase—even word—from the verse. Focus, and try to pick it apart. Oratio? I try to find how it is applicable to me. Hmm. My understanding is that the world (or, things sinful and not pleasing to God) is supposed to have little effect on me. I must be boastful and prideful in _only_ the cross of Christ, since I put my faith in it. Fourth, I contemplate. The cross separates me from things of this world, things that can separate me from God, and orients me toward Christ. Toward how the seductive world can be just a dream, even a nightmare.

So—I will be following the four simple steps of Lectio Divina for the next two weeks, until Ash Wednesday arrives. With a reminder, the results of the Myers-Briggs test are fascinating, and enlightening. This book shows how these versatile methods in prayer can be best used, no matter what way the mind functions, no matter which type is my preference.

Ready for an indepth look at God’s word? In prayer?

Like what you read? Disagree? Share your thoughts with your loved ones and continue the conversation.

Why not visit my sister blog, “the best of” A Year of Being Kind.