Tag Archives: forgiveness

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.

@chaplaineliza

 

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.

Problems of Meditation?

Matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers – Monday, June 19, 2017

11039153_10207108882579476_6811544607611580785_n

Problems of Meditation?

Ah, now we come to the main point of difficulty. At least, my main point of difficulty. Yes, I have prayed regularly for years, and prayed sometimes for extended periods of time. (Not half as much as I should have, for which I ask great forgiveness, Lord.) And, I have had problems with prayer and meditation for years. For decades.

Dietrich Bonhoeffer understood about problems with meditation. He was writing to seminarians, remember; a goodly portion of them probably complained and moaned when Pastor Bonhoeffer told them how long each day he expected them to pray and meditate. The first recommendation he had, when encountering great difficulties in meditation? Practice, practice, practice. Practice earnestly and for a long time.

His second recommendation applies to me, quite well. My thoughts often flit around like insects—sometimes fluttering like butterflies, but other times zooming like quite another kind of unpleasant bug. Bonhoeffer says, “If your thoughts keep wandering, there is no need for you to hold on to them compulsively.” (Thank God.) “There is nothing wrong with letting them roam where they will; but then incorporate in your prayers the place or person to which they have gone.” [1]

Yes. I’ve known that my thoughts do fly all around, for years. And, I have asked God to send my thoughts to people or situations that need prayer. That’s one way I’ve been praying, for years.

Thank God for Bonhoeffer’s suggestion! Otherwise, I would feel really guilty about my thoughts flying around all over the place, even when I sincerely try to pray and meditate.

I admit that I have the Myers-Briggs preferences of ENFP. I have read the 16 different prayers for the 16 different personality preferences, and I can relate to the one for ENFP: “God, help me to keep my mind—look! A bird!—on one thing at a time.” So, yes. I appreciate Bonhoeffer’s understanding and patience with his students. I also appreciate my God’s understanding and patience with me. (Thank You, God!)

@chaplaineliza

 

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), 26.

God’s Law and Meditation

Matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers – Saturday, June 3, 2017

Exod 20 ten commandments word cloud

God’s Law and Meditation

Dietrich Bonhoeffer had some fascinating words to say about the Ten Commandments. Just two paragraphs are quoted in this chapter of Meditating on the Word, but they give us a glimpse of what Bonhoeffer was thinking. “It is grace to know God’s commands,” he said.  Knowing God’s commands—God’s laws—helps us to understand conflict. What is more, God’s laws help to set us free from “self-made plans.”  Intriguing!

Of great important is the beginning of the commandments, for we are messing up that relationship in Exodus 20. “I am the LORD your God.” According to Bonhoeffer, the “I” of the commandments is the Almighty God, and we are called into intimate relationship with God.

When we break one (or more) of God’s commands, the rules are not just of human origin. Bonhoeffer reminds us that we transgress against God. We break God’s commands in our disobedience, not mere human ones, and it is serious, indeed.

If we add to the law God is certainly in charge of, we see Bonhoeffer’s amazement; God dispenses grace through the Ten Commandments, as well. The Ten Commandments ”are not detachable, as if we could  somehow separate God’s will from God Himself.” [1]

God’s grace comes to us from God’s word. This—Exodus 20—as   is as surely God’s revelation as punitive sections of the Mosaic Law as well as many of the Prophets and their writings. God is revealed with mighty power throughout this interaction.

Dear Lord, help me to understand Your abundant grace. Even in the midst of diversity. Dear God, thank You for being on our side, with grace, with love, and with Your open arms of compassion and forgiveness. In Your mercy, hear us as we pray.

@chaplaineliza

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), 13.

John Wesley and New Birth

Matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers – Monday, May 22, 2017

John Wesley statue

John Wesley and New Birth

John Wesley and his brother Charles were instrumental in leading one of the great revivals of recent centuries.

When John was in his teens and a student at Oxford University, he and his brother Charles began to follow Christ with great enthusiasm. Although ordained as an Anglican minister, John began to preach to large crowds out of doors. He continued this itinerant preaching ministry “to large assemblies of poor, working-class people throughout the British Isles. His preaching tours took him (chiefly on horseback) more than a quarter of a million miles; he delivered forty thousand sermons.” [1]

That was a lot of miles traveled, and a lot of sermons preached. Talk about an itinerant minister, a circuit-riding preacher! This excerpt comes from a sermon titled “The New Birth.” After showing some examples of various kinds of sins, John Wesley takes the next step: “It is fitting that we try to draw some practical inferences from all this.” [2] Wesley highlights Romans 8:33: “Who will be the accuser of God’s chosen ones? It is God who pronounces acquittal; then who can condemn?”

Wesley’s words pack a punch, indeed: “All the sins you have committed from your childhood right up to the moment when you were accepted as his sons through Jesus Christ” (Eph. 1:5) are driven away as chaff. They are gone. They are lost. They are swallowed up. They are remembered no more. You are now “born” from spirit (John 3:6).” [3]

He closes with “Just love God who loves you. That is sufficient. The more deeply you love, the stronger you will feel.” [4]

Yes, some will quibble with Wesley’s statement of forgiveness, grace, mercy and love. Some might say, “There is great danger in becoming overconfident about our salvation!” However, as we pour out our hearts before God, God will understand us completely. God knows there is no perfection in this life, only progress towards becoming more and more like our Lord.

Dear God, please help us leave behind the sin that so persistently clings to us. Thank You for Your mercy, grace and forgiveness. May we follow Your ways in all of our lives, every day a new day, a fresh day. In the risen Christ’s name we ask these things, amen.

 

@chaplaineliza

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] Spiritual Classics, edited by Richard J. Foster and Emilie Griffin. (San Francisco, California: HarperSanFrancisco, 2000, 337.

[2] Ibid, 340.

[3] Ibid.

[4] Ibid, 342.

A Prayerful Day: Yom Kippur

Matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers – Tuesday, October 11, 2016

yom_kippur-stained-glass

A Prayerful Day: Yom Kippur

This is the end of the High Holidays: the Day of Atonement, or Yom Kippur. A full day of asking Ha Shem to forgive us the sins we have committed against Ha Shem. What is more, those observing Yom Kippur need to ask all those whom we have wronged to forgive us. All of this is done while fasting, too.

Yes, I understand why we are to ask G-d for forgiveness for our sins. The Jewish concept of sin includes the idea of missing the mark, like an archer missing the target. What a concept. Instead of a nebulous intellectual thought going through my head, this is a concrete image.

I connect strongly to mental images.  I needed a vivid image for me to hold on to. This idea of missing the target hits me right in the heart. Really and truly.

Then, after those observing Yom Kippur stop to ask forgiveness of G-d (vertically), they turn to ask forgiveness of others, near and far (horizontally). And, sometimes even those who have died.

Some people don’t care for this practice. “Why do I have to forgive that person? He/she doesn’t even feel sorry for what they did to me.” With arms folded across the chest, lower lip protruding. (Can you say “grudge?”) Some people hold grudges against another. Sometimes, against more than one or two persons.

There is a saying: “Holding a grudge is letting someone live rent-free in your head.” If we let go of grudges and allow any anger, fear and resentment we hold in our heart to dissipate, we are evicting those people from our heads. We are sweeping our side of the street, and clearing away the debris of our life. Others’ lives, too.

What a way for me to feel the mercy of G-d. Wonderful, rejuvenating, life-giving mercy. I urge anyone–everyone to consider this practice. Cleansing to the heart and soul.

May my friends who observe Yom Kippur have an easy fast. May we all feel G-d’s abundant mercy.

@chaplaineliza

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

Pray to Receive Forgiveness (Repost)

This repost is especially for the Facebook page Pursuing Peace. The giving and receiving of forgiveness can be an integral part of pursuing peace.

FORGIVE forgiveness a lovely idea

Matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers – Saturday, February 6, 2016

 

Pray to Receive Forgiveness

That prolific author Anonymous penned tonight’s prayer. The prayer was powerful and moving, regardless. Somehow, I wish I knew who wrote such a masterful prayer. Although, it’s not necessary, since I was deeply moved by such a prayer.

This prayer from The Oxford Book of Prayer uses striking language, it is true. However, I was stunned by several phrases, including the first: “grant us grace and courage to give and to receive courage.” [1] Which is followed by the second: “the forgiveness which alone can heal today’s wounds.” [2]

Lord, what moving words. How can I even consider this when …

Dear God, help me to learn from the mistakes of the past. I rejoice that we have so many choices laid out before us. Lord, guide my steps as I walk with this intention. Guide my heart to love You, regardless of vaccilating preferences and so much to take my mind off You. Please, God, in Your mercy, hear all of our prayers.

 

@chaplaineliza

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

[1] The Oxford Book of Prayer, edited by George Appleton. (New York: Oxford University Press, reissued 2009), 79.

[2] Ibid.

PEACE: Forgiveness and Equality

Matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers – Thursday, April14, 2016

IMG_0325

PEACE: Forgiveness and Equality

Today, I am sharing two more special personal definitions of PEACE. These definitions came from an opportunity to visit the Muslim Community Center some days ago.

The president of the Sunday school reminded the gathered crowd that I was there to ask the simple question “What is PEACE, to you?”

I did not get a chance to talk with each person who made out a definition. I feel so sad, because I very much wish I could have spoken with both of these people. Both definitions are thought provoking, and I would have liked to find out more about each one.

Maryam’s personal definition: “PEACE is forgiveness.”

Rohail’s personal definition: “PEACE is equality.”

IMG_0322

Both of these descriptions caused me to think deeply. Our country seems filled with animosity, anger, fighting—and in need of PEACE. In need of equality, too.

The lack of PEACE and equality concern many people today. I have heard from a number of people that these insidious attitudes have heightened fear, anxiety, and defensiveness for many. I think a large part of the answer comes from definitions like these—this positive point of view about PEACE.

What we can do about it? What action can we take? Thank goodness a number of individuals have ideas about how to lessen the anxiety between people. We can go one step further, and practice forgiveness. And, practice treating people equally—and equitably. Then, instead of anger and resentment because of unforgiveness and unequal treatment, we can spread harmony and positive feelings.

Gracious, merciful God, thank You for providing hopeful answers and positive change. Help all of us to act in ways that promote forgiveness and equality. Lord, in Your mercy, hear all of our prayers.

@chaplaineliza

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

(Thanks to everyone at the Muslim Community Center in Morton Grove, for making this week of personal definitions of PEACE possible.)