Tag Archives: Good News

Take Delight in God’s Decrees

Matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers – Tuesday, December 26, 2017

Psa 119-14 God's statutes, bible

Take Delight in God’s Decrees

I am amazed at how earnest the psalmist is, sometimes. Taking delight in God’s rules? Laws? Decrees? I know this psalmist really meant it, with all his heart.

Let’s read verse 119:14, as translated by Dietrich Bonhoeffer.

I have taken greater delight in the way of Your decrees

than in all manner of riches.

As Bonhoeffer said, “’Delight’ is the great word, without which there can be no walking in the way of God.” [1] He then mentions the Gospel of Matthew, where a man found a treasure hidden in a field, and then buys the whole field for the joy of it. Such exuberance. Such joy.

Sometimes, I cannot quite bring up the joy of the Lord from within me. I wonder why? Perhaps the day-to-day routine covers up that joy. Maybe the week-in, week-out rat race gets me down. Yes, I can read statements like Bonhoeffer’s, that “God’s word creates joy and delight in the one who receives it.” [2] Yes, it is delight about restored fellowship with God, and the ability to walk with God, sit with, cry with, even be angry with God.

But, I suspect it is much more than that. I am delivered from fear and separation and alienation from God. God’s Word – which is both the Bible and the Logos – is full of that joy. Especially at this time of year we hear about it. “There is the great proclamation of joy about the incarnation of the Word of God in Jesus Christ in Luke – ‘Behold, I bring you good news of a great joy which will come to all the people’ (Luke 2:10).” [3]

Even though people go through challenging times, or difficulties, or the valley of the shadow, or joy on the mountaintop, there is still joy. That good news of great joy is truly a delight. I can reach out and accept that gift of great joy. I can delight in that precious treasure. Thank You, Lord. Thank You for this matchless gift of the incarnation of the Word of God. Thank You.

@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, 119.

[2] Ibid.

[3] Ibid, 120.

In Which I Define Terms

Matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers – Wednesday, November 16, 2016

fish-ichthus

In Which I Define Terms

I am uncomfortable with the term “Evangelical.”

There. I have said it. There it is, in black and white. (At least, in black and white on the computer screen.)

Looking at my past, I do have some Evangelical street cred. Yes, I was active in a bible study group in high school and into college, which led me to a non-denominational bible church on the northwest side of Chicago. I learned Pietistic practices, which were oddly and wonderfully balanced by the liturgical learning and careful Lutheran catechism of the church where I was baptized and confirmed.

And, to crown all this bible learning, I received a bachelor’s degree from a non-denominational bible college in downtown Chicago, in the mid-1980’s. (In church music. I wasn’t allowed to take biblical Greek or study to become a pastor at the time, since I was a woman. Women weren’t permitted/allowed to serve freely or utilize their God-given gifts. At least, under that particular stream of Evangelicalism. But, I digress.)

Yes. I used to identify as an Evangelical. Over the years, how twisted that term has become. So much rule-keeping, modern-day Pharisaism/legalism, and—most frightening to me, bigotry and xenophobia. Arrogant, condescending, cultural baggage is also hung on that moniker, causing me to shrink from using the term for myself.

What particularly opened my eyes to the smallness and meanness of modern-day Evangelicalism was (in no particular order), seminary training, counseling training and on-the-job work as an addictions counselor, chaplain training, and on-the-job work as a chaplain in an urban setting.

I sometimes take refuge in the historical definition of Evangelical, as in one who freely and gladly shares the Good News of the Gospel. Period. I am more likely to align myself with that simple definition, which is sadly antiquated, nowadays.

And now, post-presidential election, I have absolutely NO idea what an Evangelical is, or isn’t, or stands for or against or anything else. I find myself running to the embrace of a God who is so much bigger than anything this world has for me. My Refuge and Strength, and a very present Help in times of trouble and need.

Dear Lord, in Your mercy, hear all of our prayers for our country, for our representatives, for the leadership. Lift up all of the diverse voices, and downtrodden and silenced groups across this land. Draw us together as the unified people we strive to be, and show us all the way to walk together with openness, genuineness, tolerance, and—yes—love. (Even towards Evangelicals. 😉 ) 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

PEACE: A Personal Relationship with God

Matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers – Sunday, August 14, 2016

 

rest in God, dove

PEACE: A Personal Relationship with God

A friend and I traveled to the Englewood neighborhood on the south side of Chicago again on Wednesday. We participated—again—in the nightly dinner outreach hosted by the Mothers Against Senseless Killing (MASK). This was a wonderful opportunity to reconnect with the good people in the Englewood neighborhood and show them that friends outside of their community care, and are concerned. Friends want to help them strengthen relationships, and bring peace into their streets. Their neighborhood. Their community.

My friend Laura had her face-painting kit, again, and the children loved it. They lined up to have all different kinds of face art painted on their faces. I made myself useful helping out by the serving table, making sure the bottled water was ready to be served, taking care of trash and checking to see that the area around the street corner was neat and tidy.

Yet, I remembered back two weeks, when Pleasant Green Missionary Baptist Church stopped by that same corner after dinner was cleaned up. The church folks set up a traveling outdoor worship service, just as they do each Wednesday night during the summer. As I finished my good-byes to Mama Knight and several other friends, I had the opportunity to talk with the Senior Pastor of that church, Rev. Walter Matthews.

A personable, earnest man, he was more than ready to share his view of peace. Pastor Matthews’ personal definition: “PEACE is having a personal relationship with God.”  

Just as the Mothers Against Senseless Killing wishes to strengthen relationships between friends in their Englewood neighborhood—on a horizontal plane, so Pastor Matthews wishes to strengthen relationships on a vertical plane—the personal relationship with God, our Redeemer and Friend. As I asked him to elaborate on his personal definition, he said, “I want everyone to have peace with God, so that we are able to have the peace of God.”

Amen! Pastor Matthews, thank you for those good words. May you and your church community have a nurturing, continuing relationship with your neighborhood. Dear God, please help Pleasant Green M.B. Church to continue to be faithful, spreading the Good News of a personal relationship with You. 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

Peace and Social Justice, Part Two

Matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers – Wednesday, June 15, 2016

act, do, walk

Peace and Social Justice, Part Two

Yesterday evening’s panel discussion at the Muslim Community Center in Morton Grove was a wonderful opportunity to gather together and share insights into different faith streams. Yet, five similar viewpoints on Social Justice. How each of these faith streams—forms of spirituality—religions—has an impact on society and the outworking of kindness, mercy and justice.

As someone invited to be the representative of the Christian point of view, I had specific understandings of Social Justice (from my faith stream). I was fascinated to see how much overlap there was between all five forms of spirituality.

This goes to show how much diverse people of different ethnicities, various cultures, and widely scattered nationalities all around the world have so much in common. All faiths seek to better society, whether in small ways or large, whether dealing with one person or many.

I do not mean to be political. Jesus did His best to steer clear of politics. I really strive to follow His excellent example. I quote from my remarks made yesterday. “Different rabbis or teachers had different opinions on what was the greatest of all commands. Some of these teachers wanted to know what Jesus considered the “most important” of the laws in the Mosaic law code, which was (and is) the official Jewish rule book.

“In the Gospel of Mark, chapter 12, Jesus does not name one of the “big 10,” the Ten Commandments. Instead, He responds with the Shema. “Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. 30 Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength,” from Deuteronomy 6:5-6.

“Jesus does not stop there! No, He makes another definitive statement. “31 The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no commandment greater than these.” Did you follow that? Jesus made “the greatest command” into a two-part command.

“Love God, love others. Two sides of the same coin.

“’When we hear these words, we know that we are close to the center of Christianity, that we are close to the heart of God. The cross of Christ, the most important symbol of the Christian faith, has two dimensions: a vertical love to God and a horizontal love towards our neighbors.” [1]

“The simplicity, truth and wisdom of love is at the heart of the Good News of God, the message of Social Justice. Think about it. If we truly love, what else is necessary?”

@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 Hinge, The Two Great Commandments,” Gospel Analysis, Sermons from Seattle, Pastor Edward F. Markquart, Grace Lutheran Church, Seattle, Washington.

This Prince of Peace

Matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers – Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Prince of Peace Jesus Isa 9-6

This Prince of Peace

The world today is not a peaceful place. Definitely not peaceful.

I live in the Chicago area. There is definitely a lack of peace here, too.

I crave peace. Calm. Gentleness, kindness, love, joy. Lord God, peace seems so out of reach, both corporally as well as individually. Yet, there is good news. Good news of great joy, which was given for all people.

God came to earth at Christmas. It was not only Love that came down at Christmas, but also the Prince of Peace came into this world. God reconciled the fallen, hateful world to Godself, in a vertical direction. One of the compilers of this book of December meditations writes, “Where God comes in love to human beings and unites with them, there peace is made between God and humankind and among people.” [1]

But, wait. That’s not all. God also overcame the enmity one person has with another. One group with another, one country with another. “Come and see how God, out of pure love, has become our brother and wants to reconcile us with each other.” [2]

Now there is the possibility of peace, love, and togetherness, instead of fear, hatred, and isolation. Prince of Peace, You entered into the world to show us love, in the most personal and vulnerable way possible. All that I can say is thank You, Jesus.

@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] God Is in the Manger: Reflections on Advent and Christmas, Dietrich Bonhoeffer, trans. O.C. Dean, Jr., compiled and edited, Jana Riess (Louisville, Kentucky: Westminster/John Knox Press, 2010), 74.

[2] Ibid.

Repent and Believe!

Matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers – Monday, July 20, 2015

Repent and believe the Good News Mark 1

Repent and Believe!

As I am here at the mission conference, I am hearing lots of bible verses each day. Every day, during the conference. Yes, I was moved by certain things each day. However, what I am consistently moved by are the words of the Gospel writer Mark.

I love Mark. If Mark had been born in the 20th century, I suspect he would have been a journalist. He has the attitude, “The facts. Just the facts, ma’am.” I know his Gospel was directed more towards a Roman audience. The Romans had a much more direct attitude and approach toward life, as well. Not with as much elaboration of description as Dr. Luke.

Have I mentioned how much I appreciate my book Praying the New Testament as Psalms? We,, I do appreciate it. I need to give this modern verse to the readers who read my blog.

“The time is fulfilled and the Kingdom of God has come near./Repent and believe the Good News.” [1] This is taken from the first chapter of Mark.

Lord, as I’m here at the conference, I regularly hear about people delivering the Good News. And, I am so glad! These words of Mark convict me, Lord. Convince me, encourage and empower me that I get involved, so that. I can tell others about Jesus. 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.   @chaplaineliza And, read my sermons from Pastor, Preacher Pray-er .

[1] Praying the New Testament as Psalms, Desmond O’Donnell, OMI, and Maureen Mohen, RSM, (United States of America: ACTA Publications, 2002.), 166.

I’ve Got That Joy, Joy, Joy, Joy

Matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers – Monday, July 13, 2015

JOY today I choose joy

I’ve Got That Joy, Joy, Joy, Joy

Joy is a fruit of the Holy Spirit. Joy is also the topic of today’s modern psalm from Praying the New Testament as Psalms.

I could have expected that this verse would have been included. Of course it was. The verse from Luke 2 has been adapted as follows: “Good news and great joy for all people:/—a Saviour, the Messiah is ours./I will never be afraid.” [1]

That good news was brought to the shepherds guarding their sheep outside Bethlehem, so long ago. The shepherds were on the periphery of Jewish society, from the “wrong side of the tracks.” Still, they were among the very first to receive the news. That good news of great joy.

Even though life in this world is uncertain, I still have joy. Even though life can be frightening sometimes, God brings good news. Even though I don’t know the future, I still have joy. Truly, the joy of knowing Messiah Jesus, knowing that He brings good news—that is good news for all people.

Praise God. Glory to God in the highest, and peace to all people.

@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] Praying the New Testament as Psalms, Desmond O’Donnell, OMI, and Maureen Mohen, RSM, (United States of America: ACTA Publications, 2002.), 114.