Tag Archives: grace

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.

Celebrate with Pierre Teilhard de Chardin

Matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers – Wednesday, May 17, 2017

 

bridegroom-silhouette-sketch-hand-drawing

Celebrate with Pierre Teilhard de Chardin

Such a fascinating, multi-faceted man the editors bring to us today. Pierre Teilhard de Chardin was born a devout Catholic and entered the Jesuits in 1899. He met two paleontologists and was so struck by this discipline that he chose to study it at the Sorbonne.

De Chardin was a prolific scientist and writer. Richard Foster notes his varied writing was of two sorts: scientific and spiritual treatises. De Chardin also brought the sacred into his scientific writing (which strikes me as a fascinating premise).

However, this excerpt is not scientific, but celebratory—and spiritual. De Chardin writes for a wedding, a sermon for the joining of a couple who have been raised a continent apart—in France and in Asia. He gives some background for both the groom and bride, in terms of both place and family.

“And it was then, Mademoiselle, in that very habitation of souls in which it seemed impossible that two beings should find one another, that you, like the princess in a fairy story, quite naturally appeared. That, among some thousands of human beings, the eyes of two individuals should meet is in itself a remarkable and precious coincidence what, then, can we say when it is two minds that meet?” [1]

Ah! Such remarkable writing! De Chardin is able to weave together a tapestry of words that seem so fair, so fine. He goes on to talk of the wonders, the glories of the universe, and describes all of these in such glowing language. Truly, sparkling words and phrases.

And, then—“If you want, if both of you want, to answer the summons (or respond to the grace, for that is the better word) which comes to you today from God-animated life, then take your stand confidently and unhesitatingly on tangible matter; take that as an indispensable bulwark—but, through and above that matter, put your faith in the bulwark of the intangible.” [2] And, finally, “At this very moment can you not feel this spirit, to which I am urging you, concentrating upon you; can you not feel its mantle spread over you?” [3]

Yes, my marriage was performed by a dear former pastor of mine. His word craft was good, certainly, but not one quarter as fine as de Chardin’s words! These words make me think of a good plain doughnut (my former pastor) versus an exquisite French pastry (de Chardin).

God’s blessings on all brides and grooms to be married in these next weeks. May they receive abundant blessings like those of de Chardin’s.

@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), 322.

[2] Ibid, 323.

[3] Ibid, 324.

Miss Sayers, Law, and Grace

Matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers – Friday, April 14, 2017

grace and mercy crssing

Miss Sayers, Law, and Grace

Dorothy L. Sayers is one of my favorite authors—hands down. I found her mystery books when I was a teen, and saw the BBC adaptations shortly after. Marvelous characters, witty dialogue, and impeccable writing. (And, that was just her mystery novels.) However, she was much, much more than “only” a mystery writer. A medieval scholar, essayist and literary critic, she was well able to accomplish any literary task that came to hand—with brilliance. Daughter of an Anglican clergyman, she dove into the study of theology.

This excerpt comes from her theological essay called “Creed or Chaos.” Here Miss Sayers discusses societal sinfulness. She understands her own sinfulness well.

“…An intelligent understanding about sin is necessary to preserve the world from putting an unjustified confidence in the efficacy of the moral law taken by itself.” [1] Miss Sayers is quite firm: as she said, law is “always prohibitive, negative, and corrupted by the interior contradictions of man’s divided nature.” [2] She has a decided view of humanity as sinful and depraved.

Looking at myself, for instance. I also have a decided view of my depraved human nature, in my sinful self/Self. I realize that moral law AND God’s law both would condemn me to an eternity separated from God.

Yet, there is grace. Miss Sayers is equally firm about God’s grace. “The law must be rightly understood, or it is not possible to make the world understand the meaning of grace.” [3] Grace. Amazing grace. (As I also think, mercy plays a large role in this drama, too. Otherwise, there is little reason to keep on keeping on.)

Dear Lord, gracious God, what a marvelous reading for a Good Friday night. When I was already considering my sinfulness tonight, discovering Miss Sayers’s article was a gracious, helpful and loving thing. Thank You for her deep insight. Thank You for Your grace and 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

[1] Spiritual Classics, edited by Richard J. Foster and Emilie Griffin. (San Francisco, California: HarperSanFrancisco, 2000), 236.

[2] Ibid.

[3] Ibid.

Cardinal Newman Describes a Fast

Matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers – Friday, March 9, 2017

fasting - empty plate

 

Cardinal Newman Describes a Fast

Originally an Anglican priest, Cardinal Newman found comfort in many spiritual disciplines—including fasting. As Richard Foster writes in his definition, Newman is intimately engaged with scripture. It shows, too.

I was struck by the following excerpt from his writing: “Even now, Angels are especially sent to those who thus seek God. Not Daniel only, but Elijah too, was, during his fast, strengthened by an Angel; an Angel appeared to Cornelius, while he was fasting, and in prayer.” [1] I can’t fast like I used to, years ago. (Sorry about that, Lord.) But—was God watching over me when I fasted? What a point to ponder.

Jesus seems to imply that prayer is somehow augmented by fasting, too. When someone prays AND fasts, is there an additional layer of strength and blessing granted to the one who does both of these things? Fasts and prays? It certainly seems so. I am intrigued to think of the Devil getting scared of people who fast! Amazing thought.

Gracious God, thank You for giving us the discipline of fasting, as well as the scriptures that talk about fasting. What an idea, that someone can fast from different things, not only from food. Show me how to fast like this, Lord. Grant us faithfulness and grace in order to fast.

@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), 63.

PEACE: An Inside Job

Matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers – Tuesday, April 5, 2016

PEACE: An Inside Job

IMG_0284

Another day to present two young people from St. Viator’s High School in Arlington Heights. Another day to see what kinds of impactful thoughts these high schoolers have.

Today, I noticed companion actions in both of the personal definitions of PEACE: ways of acting towards other people. Let’s see what else our two young people have to say.

Maggie’s personal definition: “PEACE is accepting others regardless of differences.”

What an excellent relational practice. (Believe me, Maggie, this is really difficult to do, as someone who has been trying to do this for a long time.) When I asked her to explain this statement, she readily said, “People should be more tolerant. Tolerance is a positive thing in order to have peace.”

Maeve’s personal definition: “PEACE is being kind to everyone.”

IMG_0286

I wanted Maeve to give me further information, and she did. “Peace is helped by being kind to every one and every thing. Then, peace will come.”

These young people have the right idea. Peace is one of the things where a portion of peace depends on the inside job. It depends on how individuals act and react, as well as their inner sense of grace, love and especially forgiveness. That is the soil in which peace is planted.

Dear God, thank You for giving teenagers such wonderful ideas. Help us all to remember these thoughts. In Jesus’s risen name we pray, 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

God, Grant Me Acceptance—Serenity

Matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers – Friday, October 16, 2015

serenity prayer small

God, Grant Me Acceptance—Serenity

The Serenity Prayer?

Today’s prayer is about Acceptance. This prayer is attributed to Reinhold Niebuhr (1892-1971). It comes under the section “As It Is in Heaven” (Prayer 301, page 96) from The Oxford Book of Prayer. [1] Pastor Niebuhr finally claimed this prayer a few years after it was first written and distributed. He included it in a wartime prayer book, and also in a sermon in 1943.

“God, give me grace to accept with serenity the things that cannot be changed, courage to change the things which should be changed, and the wisdom to distinguish the one from the other.”

This is but a part of the entire, longer form of the prayer now known as the Serenity Prayer. This brief petition and prayer asking for acceptance and wisdom serves countless people today, and has since its first distribution. Bill W., one of the founders of the program of Alcoholics Anonymous, brought the Serenity Prayer (slightly adapted) to the attention of those in the early 12 Step program. It caught on quickly, and soon became an integral part of the program of Recovery.

O Lord, give me grace. Give me acceptance. Give me serenity. I could ask You to give them all to me right now! But, that would be both impatient and childish of me. (I’m thinking of Veruca Salt from Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.)

God, I want to have courage. No, I don’t want it quite as badly as the Cowardly Lion in the Wizard of Oz, but I still feel the need of it. Courage would help me in changing the things that need changing.

And, what about wisdom? I feel like Winnie the Pooh most of the time. (A Bear of Very Little Brain.) However, I know as I continue to walk with God and do the next right thing, the next loving thing, wisdom will come. My contact with God’s wisdom will grow.

Thy will, not mine, be done, O 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

[1] The Oxford Book of Prayer, edited by George Appleton. (New York: Oxford University Press, reissued 2009), 96.

Center on Lord of Lords—Forever and Ever.

Matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers – Monday, September 21, 2015

LORD OF LORDS Handel's hallelujah-chorus

Center on Lord of Lords—Forever and Ever.

“And He shall reign forever and ever. King of Kings, and Lord of Lords.”

That’s where I started with this Name of God. My word—Name of God for today is Lord of Lords. As soon as I began to center, I heard George Frederic Handel’s “Hallelujah Chorus” playing in my head. Not for too long. Only for a few minutes, but what a stirring beginning!

I transitioned into reflecting on the Name of God I chose. I almost chose “Lord.” Simply “Lord.” However, I know that “Lord” is not a name exclusive to God. It is also used in the Bible for people of a higher rank, or to whom people would like to show deference or even reverence. (Like God.) I wanted to choose a name that was used solely for God. That’s why I picked “Lord of Lords” for my Centering Prayer today.

Revelation 19:16 is the verse that is used for a portion of the “Hallelujah Chorus.” ‘On his robe and on his thigh he has a name inscribed, “King of kings and Lord of lords.”’ I was able to focus on “Lord of Lords,” and rest in that Name of God. Sporadically. My thoughts were still active, and still bounced around a bit from thing to thing. But all in all, I concentrated on—rested in the Name of God I chose for today.

Dear God, Lord of Lords, thank You for a good time of prayer. Thank You for Your kindness and grace towards me.

@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