Tag Archives: God’s Word

More on the Word of God and Meditation

Matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers – Friday, June 30, 2017

Bible, OT scrolls

More on the Word of God and Meditation

This particular letter was so fascinating, and had so much in it, that I just had to take another day to reflect upon it. I’m referring to a letter from Dietrich Bonhoeffer to his brother-in-law and good friend Rudiger Schleicher. (The two men had many interests in common, including theology.)

I was struck by what Bonhoeffer said about the Bible. “This is how I read the Bible now. I ask of each passage: What is God saying to us here? And I ask God that he would help us hear what he wants to say.” [1] Bonhoeffer does not read the Bible as someone preparing for a sermon, or doing bible study, with an eye to commentaries and delving deeper behind the words and meanings of the text. No. This is not the point for Bonhoeffer.

Instead, he particularly refers to what he saw as God’s central purpose for the Word: “…God’s Word begins by showing us the cross. And it is to the cross, to death and judgment before God, that our ways and thoughts (even the ‘eternal’ ones) all lead.” [2]

I think Bonhoeffer is saying that the cross is the apex of all things, the crux of God’s purpose and meaning. I almost hesitate to say this, but I understand it to be God’s be-all and end-all. The main point, the one-and-only. (Those phrases sound so trite, compared to God Almighty, creator of heaven and earth.)

Sure, there are lots of things that are still hidden from common understanding, or puzzling, or downright confusing. However, Bonhoeffer freely admits that he “does not yet understand this or that passage in Scripture, but is certain that even they will be revealed one day as God’s own Word.” [3]

If someone as spiritually and theologically brilliant as Dietrich Bonhoeffer freely admits that, I suppose I ought to feel no shame and embarrassment at admitting the same thing. Yet, just as Pastor Bonhoeffer did, I need to keep reading, keep meditating, and keep studying. If I do this, God willing, I will add to my knowledge, understanding and wisdom about the Word of God. I hope my readers do, as well. Dear 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 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), 36.

[2] Ibid, 37.

[3] Ibid.

Meet Christ in the Word

Matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers – Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Bible, drawing

Meet Christ in the Word

How to meditate, and why? Dietrich Bonhoeffer wrote several recommendations for the Finkenwalde seminarians on how to meditate.

As I have said before, Bonhoeffer was adept at meditation and prayer. What an instructor to have for spiritual direction. He suggests that people ought to rise up from meditation “in a different state from when we sat down. We want to meet Christ in His Word.” [1]

Bonhoeffer had such a high view of scripture. Scripture was where he came to receive what God would like to give to him. Through reading the Bible on a regular basis, each day he gathered information and understanding from God’s Word.

He suggested meeting the Lord each day in the morning. Truthfully, this is difficult for me. I am not a “morning person.” Perhaps, someone of Bonhoeffer’s insight was excited to meet God as early as possible. One of his recommendations is to “lay upon Him everything that preoccupies you and weighs you down, before new burdens are laid upon you.” [2]

This is similar to one of the recommendations of the Twelve Steps, to reflect upon one’s day at day’s end and to set up a virtual ledger, weighing good deeds and bad, and then leaving things with God. (Or, the Higher Power.) As someone with a certificate in Alcohol and Drug Counseling, I have spoken with alcoholics, addicts and their loved ones about the wisdom of making mental accounts. Every day we do at least one thing “right” or pleasing in God’s eyes. That is to be celebrated.

“His fellowship, his help, his guidance for the day through his Word—that is the goal.” [3] What an insight into how to meditate! God willing, I might be able to do the same thing.

@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), 24.

[2] Ibid.

[3] Ibid.

Why Meditation?

Matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers – Sunday, June 11, 2017

woman in prayer, sanctuary

Why Meditation?

Dietrich Bonhoeffer must have been wonderful at meditation and prayer. He was quite devoted to it. Why did he meditate? He explained, “Because I am a Christian. Therefore, every day in which I do not penetrate more deeply into the knowledge of God’s Word in Holy Scripture is a lost day for me.” [1]

In Bonhoeffer’s mind, meditation and prayer were closely intertwined with the Word of God, the Bible. Bonhoeffer felt his calling as a minister of the Word very strongly, too. Because he was a preacher of the Word, he said, “I cannot expound the Scripture for others if I do not let it speak daily to me.” [2] Yes, meditation and introspection were tied closely to rightly dividing the Word, for Bonhoeffer. “The pastor must pray more than others, and has more to pray about.” [3]

This whole conception of Bonhoeffer’s touches me deeply. I agree with him. The Bible has amazing things to say to regular, ordinary people. I’ve felt that way for years. I have been involved with meditation and prayer (off and on) since my twenties. However, Bonhoeffer was so much more faithful than I. Every single day, and several times a day.

I wish I could be as faithful in prayer and meditation as several of my friends. I consider them real pray-ers, in the major leagues, for example. I’m only a bush league pray-er. It’s true that I am also a pastor. Bonhoeffer’s words convict me strongly. God help me, they do.

Dear Lord, thank You for Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s words and example of prayer and meditation. Help me to be more faithful. Guide me in praying regularly. Thank You for hearing my prayers and filling me with Your peace. Dear Lord, in Your mercy, hear my prayer.

@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), 22.

[2] Ibid, 23.

[3] Ibid.

J.B. Phillips’s Take on Study

Matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers – Thursday, March 16, 2017

bible studies, bible

 

J.B. Phillips’s Take on Study

I love J.B. Phillips’s modern translation of the New Testament.

He was an Anglican clergyman in wartime London who was concerned about young people, and how they could not relate to the antiquated language of the Bible. So, he translated a few letters of the New Testament into contemporary language. Encouraged by the reactions to his translations, he went on the translate the entire New Testament. [1]

I was particularly interested in Rev. Phillips’s personal appreciation for the translation process. Having done a bit of translation myself (from the Greek), I’ve gotten a taste for how exciting and enlightening it can be! Translation led him on “a personal journey of discovery…[he was] delighted to get in closer touch with first-century Christians. He also [was] glad that he can bring his readers closer to Jesus Christ.” [2]

I’d like to highlight one “serendipity” that J.B. Phillips lifts up, in his personal testimony. On translating 1 John 1:20, Rev. Phillips found himself needing to step back. “…there may be many factors in our lives for which we are not really to blame at all. We did not choose our heredity; we did not choose the bad, indifferent, or excellent way in which we were brought up….It is almost as if John is saying, ‘If God loves us, who are we to be so high and mighty as to refuse to love ourselves?’” [3]

What a striking insight. This really causes me to thank God yet again that I am His follower. Not a blind follower, heedlessly following, lurching along, but following God using my intellect, my senses, and my insights. (Also, using others’ insights, gleaned from decades of study.)

How amazing is God’s Word. Thank You, God, for the awesome majesty of Your Word, the Bible. Help us read, chew, ruminate, digest, and comprehend Your word. In Your name 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] Spiritual Classics, edited by Richard J. Foster and Emilie Griffin. (San Francisco, California: HarperSanFrancisco, 2000), 93.

[2] Ibid.

[3] Ibid, 95.

God’s Word Brings Peace.

Matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers – Thursday, September 8, 2016

god-brings-peace

God’s Word Brings Peace.

Psalm 119 is one of my favorite psalms. Hands down. I love so many things about it. First off, every one of its 176 verses mentions God’s word. Or, statutes, or God’s law. In a multitude of ways, this chapter of the Hebrew Scriptures acknowledges the awesomeness of God’s Word, the Bible.

I’d like to focus on one verse: Psalm 119:165. “Great peace have those who love your law; nothing can make them stumble.”

This verse comes at the tail end of the psalm. You’d think, after dozens and dozens of verses of description, of how amazing God’s Word is—but, no. The unknown author powers through to the end, extolling the wonders of the Bible.

Back to verse 165. This verse talks about peace. As in, shalom. Not only the cessation of conflict and war, not to mention violence. But, the harmony and wholeness of shalom. How the Bible—and the regular, intentional reading of it—provides peace.

Now, the author does not say, but I see this verse as talking about the inside attitude. The attitude of people who regularly read the Bible and study it.

I am sure the author knows about the various uncertain situations here in this world, because he uses descriptive language concerning the uneasy, unpleasant world in other verses.  I know the author wants to show that God’s Word can help overcome, no matter what the adversary, no matter how unpleasant the situation. Plus, in this particular verse, the author affirms that God’s Word brings peace. God’s Word helps the reader to maintain a firm footing, a firm grip on their road or their way. I don’t know about you, but I sure need that!

Let’s pray. Gracious God, thank You for all of the many varieties of help, encouragement and support we may find in God’s Word—the Bible. Especially, thank You for the certainty the author has in this verse: those who love Your Word will not stumble, and peace will come into their hearts. Not only passing peace, peace on the surface, but great peace. I need great peace right now. Thank You for this good promise. Amen.

@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.  #PursuePEACE. My Facebook page, Pursuing Peace – Thanks! And, read my sermons from Pastor, Preacher Pray-er

Praying, Pursuing Peace

Matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers – Saturday, September 3, 2016

Lord teach us to pray

Praying, Pursuing Peace (Psalm 34:11, 14)

A psalm of confusion, of gratitude, thanksgiving, and praise. This song of David’s features prominently in the “thanks, God!” section of the book of Psalms.

11 Come, O children, listen to me; I will teach you the fear of the Lord.
14 Depart from evil, and do good; seek peace, and pursue it.

This psalm was written remembering when David was in a really tight spot. Surrounded by enemy warriors, he feigned madness. Had spittle coming down his beard. Probably disheveled clothes and hair, too. Wild eyes, jerky motions. I can just see him in my imagination. (David must have been a fabulous actor.)

Cut to the end of the story: King Abimelech kicked David out of his walled city. David must have been greatly, greatly relieved.

At this time in David’s life, when he was on the run from King Saul, he did not have much opportunity to pursue peace. He probably wanted peace above all things! In verse 14, above, he mentions the craving for peace. His deep desire for peace. Pursue it! Run after it, full bore! Added to that, he advises his readers to depart from evil. (David must know human nature pretty well, with that kind of insight.)

What about me? Do I fear the Lord? Do I listen to God’s words and God’s people? Do I always flee evil? What about doing good? Am I in the habit of seeking—much less, pursuing peace? What about you? Can you answer these questions I just asked myself?

Good questions, God. Thanks for bringing me up close and personal with these serious questions. I still haven’t figured out all the answers, but I know that’s okay with You. As long as we are thinking about the answers, and striving to do the very best job we can. Thanks, God.

@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.  #PursuePEACE. My Facebook page, Pursuing Peace – Thanks! And, read my sermons from Pastor, Preacher Pray-er

In Which I Am Made in the Image of God

Matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers – Friday, January 29, 2016

image of God

In Which I Am Made in the Image of God

Another birthday is drawing near. Another year older, and another day of reflection. (I find that’s what I tend to do on my birthdays now.)

Also, another day to remember how it was. Remember back to when I was a child, and then an adolescent. I was terribly self-conscious. I had low self-esteem. The youngest in my family, I was on my own pretty much, once I got into school. So, once again on the familiar hamster wheel of self-doubt, second-guessing, and all the uncertainty of adolescence.

I reached out for the life preserver that God provided. (Thanks, God!) That helped a great deal, but I still was self-conscious. Still had low self-esteem. (They didn’t go away, although they were lessened.) Thank God, they are still diminishing.

I have come to learn that—just as with each other person on the face of the earth—I am created in the image of God. Even though I might be looking at a mirror, I can see the reflection of the glory of God! And, my reflected self in the silvery mirror’s face shines brighter with Your image. Your Word says so. I’m not imagining it.

Yes, I do get disheartened from time to time. Yes, I still can beat myself up, internally, forgetting I am made in Your image. Dear Lord, forgive me. I can get paralyzed with anxiety and fear, too, even though I know—intellectually—that You know me thoroughly. You know me inside and out, and You still love me. You know me far better than I know myself. As the psalmist says, such knowledge is far too wonderful for me.

All I can say is, thank You, Lord.

@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