Tag Archives: John Wesley

The Right Heart

     “Every wise man, therefore, will allow others the same liberty of thinking that he desires they        should allow him, and will no more insist on their embracing his opinions than he would              have them to insist on his embracing theirs. He is patient with those who differ from him,              and only asks him with whom he desires to unite in love that single question: “Is your heart          right, as my heart is with your heart?”

—-John Wesley from “Catholic Spirit”

         Jesus said: “But what comes out of the mouth proceeds from the heart, and this defiles a             person.”

 

The words of John Wesley ring loud and clear in this confusing and divisive time. Wise men allow others to differ from them without turning on them. The concept that we must all walk in step with one another or become enemies is destroying our churches and nation. Our political or theological stands are not the sum total of our being.. The heart reveals our true nature. We are people of good heart or bad heart. If we wish ill will and destruction with any who disagree with our opinions, then I would say that we are not of good heart. However, people of good heart and wisdom can embrace others even if they are not in full agreement with them.

People of good heart:

  • Look for areas of agreement
  • Attempt to find the greater good
  • Work for the greater good
  • Seek truth
  • Understand there is more than one right answer
  • Give up power

 “Is your heart right, as my heart is with your heart?”


The Wesleyan Covenant Prayer

I am no longer my own, but thine.Put me to what thou wilt, rank me with whom thou wilt.Put me to doing, put me to suffering.Let me be employed for thee or laid aside for thee,exalted for thee or brought low for thee.Let me be full, let me be empty.Let me have all things, let me have nothing.I freely and heartily yield all things to thy pleasure and disposal.And now, O glorious and blessed God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit,

thou art mine, and I am thine.

So be it.And the covenant which I have made on earth,let it be ratified in heaven.Amen.

 

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Fullness of Life

And the Lord as he seeks the one who will do his work among the throng of people to whom he makes that appeal, says again: Which of you wants to live to the full; who loves long life and the enjoyment of prosperity? And, if when you hear this you say, I do, God says to you: If you desire true and everlasting life, keep your tongue from evil and your lips from deceit, turn away from evil and do good; seek peace and pursue it. And when you have done these things my eyes will be upon you and before you call upon my name I shall say to you: Behold, I am here. What could be more delightful, dearest brothers, than the voice of our Lord’s invitation to us? In his loving kindness he reveals to us the way of life.

—-Benedict of Nursia


Today I share a few thoughts from The Rule of Benedict of Nursia, founder of the Benedictine monastery at Monte Cassino. Benedict’s main achievement is his “Rule of Saint Benedict” containing precepts for his monks. The Rule has a unique spirit of balance, moderation and reasonableness, and this persuaded most religious communities founded throughout the Middle Ages to adopt it. As a result, his Rule became one of the most influential religious rules in Western Christendom. For this reason, Benedict is often called the founder of western monasticism. Let me share a few thoughts from him about fullness of life.

Who wants to live a full life? The answer is everyone. The problem with fullness of life is where does it originate? Some would say that the key is to be rich or well educated, others would say it comes from being physically fit and strong.

Be honorable and truthful with your words.

Benedict admonishes us to be attentive God’s to call in order to keep our tongues from evil. An evil tongue constantly stirs trouble and wishes ill will to others. The evil tongue never stops looking for the negative in the lives of others. The evil tongue can be very truthful, but it uses truth as a sword to destroy rather than an instrument to build up. Such a tongue is dishonorable.

The second thought is to not be deceitful. In short, tell the truth and don’t make up tall tales to benefit yourself or bring down others. The truthful tongue builds you and all those you touch. Your words will outlive you and bless others.

Do Good

Doing good is the biggest challenge of our earthly existence. We are surrounded by schemes and schemers. The whole concept of Monasticism was to be free fJohn-Wesley-July-12rom the pressures of the world and grow closer to God. Good is first sought when we dedicate all that we have and that we are to God. John Wesley said, “Do all the good you can, by all the means you can, in all the ways you can, in all the places you can, at all the times you can, to all the people you can, as long as ever you can.” By putting Benedict and Wesley together we can broaden our hope for doing good in our lives. Doing good is a key element to any Christian journey, and I urge you to take some time to assess the good you do or can do.

Seek Peace and Practice It

Benedict said to “seek peace and pursue it.” I would assert that a person who seeks peace will find it and spend a life of peaceful practice. The first challenge is to dedicate our lives to finding peace. The ultimate peace is a sound relationship with God. Through that relationship all problems can be faced and many solved to our good. Without God we are on our own and fending for ourselves in a world that is far too complicated for us ever control. As we Jesus-july-12practice the peace of God we find that our problems far less complicated, our victories are sweeter and burdens lighter. Jesus said, ”Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” When we attach ourselves to the yoke of God we find His peace and that peace is one that we can practice with joy.

May we seek the life that God has laid up for us and pursue it with all our being.


Prayer

Lord instill in me the humility to seek you and the courage to find you. Allow me the strength to follow your lead and live a life that is beyond my imagination. I ask for the life that only you can provide. I ask for discernment this day and courage for each day that I follow you

Amen.

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Some Thoughts About Fasting

The season of Lent is always a time to think and prayer about the value of fasting. Today I will share some thought from a variety of people from diverse background about fasting.

 

“Prayer is reaching out after the unseen; fasting is letting go of all that is seen and temporal. Fasting helps express, deepen, confirm the resolution that we are ready to sacrifice anything, even ourselves to attain what we seek for the kingdom of God.”

– Andrew Murray

“Fasting helps express, deepens, confirms the resolution that we are ready to sacrifice anything, even ourselves, to attain what we seek for the kingdom of God.”

– Andrew Murray

“One way to begin to see how vastly indulgent we usually are is to fast. It is a long day that is not broken by the usual three meals. One finds out what an astonishing amount of time is spent in the planning, purchasing, preparing, eating, and cleaning up of meals.”

– Elisabeth Elliot

“If the solemnities of our fasting, though frequent, long, and severe, do not serve to put an edge upon devout affections, to quicken prayer, to increase Godly sorrow, and to alter the temper of our minds, and the course of our lives, for the better, they do not at all answer the intention, and God will not accept them as performed to Him.”

– Matthew Henry

“The greatest saint in the world is not he who prays most or fasts most; it is not he who gives alms, or is most eminent for temperance, chastity or justice. It is he who is most thankful to God.”

– William Law

“Fasting helps express, deepens, confirms the resolution that we are ready to sacrifice anything, even ourselves, to attain what we seek for the kingdom of God.”

– Andrew Murray

“By fasting, the body learns to obey the soul; by praying the soul learns to command the body.”

– William Secker

“Fasting helps express, deepens, confirms the resolution that we are ready to sacrifice anything, even ourselves, to attain what we seek for the kingdom of God.”

– Andrew Murray

“The purpose of fasting is to loosen to some degree the ties which bind us to the world of material things and our surroundings as a whole, in order that we may concentrate all our spiritual powers upon the unseen and eternal things.”

– Ole Hallesby

“This Man (Jesus) suddenly remarks one day, ‘No one need fast while I am here.’ Who is this Man who remarks that His mere presence suspends all normal rules?”

– C.S. Lewis

“The abstinence is not to be an end in itself but rather for the purpose of being separated to the Lord and to concentrate on godliness. This kind of fasting reduces the influence of our self-will and invites the Holy Spirit to do a more intense work in us.”

– William Thrasher

“Fasting in the biblical sense is choosing not to partake of food because your spiritual hunger is so deep, you determination in intercession so intense, or your spiritual warfare so demanding that you have temporarily set aside even fleshly needs to give yourself to prayer and meditation.”

– Wesley L. Duewel

“Fastings and vigils without a special object in view are time run to waste.”

– David Livingstone


My Lenten fast is the “John Wesley Fast.” You might want to do this as well.


Prayer

Lord help me this day to develop a Lenten discipline. Allow me to conquer the desires of my body for rest, comfort and ease so that I may offer myself to You. For it was in your discomfort and pain that you brought life to me. Let this Lenten season be a time that I remember your sacrifice as I make the spiritual journey to the cross.

Amen


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One with God

But until I am made one with God in my very essence, I will never have complete rest or true peace; that is to say, until I am so fastened to Him that there is absolutely no created thing between my God and me.

—Julian of Norwich

The desire to be one with God is the ultimate aim of all believers. If we are one with God, our struggles are lessened, our understanding is infinite, our compassion is beyond belief and our motivation is always pure. John Wesley gave up on that possibility of perfection in later life. The scripture tell us, “Indeed, there is no one on earth who is righteous, no one who does what is right and never sins.” The simple fact that we cannot achieve perfection on this earth begs the question, why should the Julian-Quote-1believer seek oneness with God? Let’s use Julian’s three concepts (rest, peace & closeness) to unpack this question.

WE SEEK REST

We exist in a tumultuous, ever spinning world, of God’s own making. Julian asks for complete rest. In my assessment this is probably never going happen for us. Perhaps there may be an extremely rare, one in a billion, who experience true rest this side of heaven, but it should not be the goal that makes or breaks our walk with God. As we seek oneness we can fine joyous times of rest as we worship, pray and experience God’s spirit in our faith communities. If we expect perfect rest, we are like the people who used to tell me that “…if all of the bible is not true then none of it is.” Such an attitude lacks understanding of the Christian journey of renewal and redemption that we all travel. Seek rest in all ways possible, and God will give you wonderful times of rest and soul renewal.

WE SEEK PEACE

In this journey of oneness we find peace even in our failures, because we live in the hope of the better future. One who seeks this goal is a “never give up person.” No matter how difficult, how discouraging or impossible life seems, God is always near. This concept stirs in us a holy restlessness that steers our lives as surely as the currents of the ocean steer ocean liners. Our peace may not be the ultimate peace, but is an abiding sense of being on the journey with God. Peace is available to those who seek it.

CLOSENESS

Julian says,”… so fastened to Him that there is absolutely no created thing between my God and me.” I am going to use the word closeness to flesh out this idea. We experience closeness in many facets of our lives. We are close to our spouses, partners, children, parents and some special friends. In each of these relationships there are filters in place that determine how much we will give, share and trust one another. As our relationship grows stronger, the filters become lessened and we become “as one.” That is the closeness Julian refers to when she says that no created thing would be between her and God. We all know that until death there will be created things between us and God. Such reality does not preclude a closeness to our Creator that borders on supernatural. After all, He is our supernatural creator. The point here is not to hold back from our Creator. We must let Him into our dark places. Just as closeness is never achieved on earth until our significant others see us at our worst, the same is true with God. Let Him in and the results will be remarkable.

Keep these three things in mind and you may get closer to God than you ever dreamed.

CS-Lewis-Quote-1


A Prayer for Closeness

Dear Lord, Life has handed me my share of problems and distractions, but I know that you have it under control. I know that you love me in spite of who I am because that is what you do. My greatest desire is to focus on you in all that I do and say. Please give me that strength and desire to do so. May we grow closer from day to day.

Amen

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Our Journey Toward God

 

Cloud-of-Unknowing-PIC-1The “Cloud of Unknowing” is an anonymous work of Christian mysticism written in the latter half of the 14th century. The text is a spiritual guide on contemplative prayer. The true message of this book is that the way to know God is to stop trying figure Him out and simply surrender yourself to the realm of “unknowing,” and then we begin to see a glimpse of God. The first chapter introduces four degrees that we all share in our journey to God. These are COMMON, SPECIAL, SINGULAR AND PERFECT. I would like to unpack some small truths about these degrees.

COMMON

The common degree is where we begin. In this degree we discover the joy of the creation of God. We see the love that he has surrounded us with in our friends, our activities and the things that make our lives worth living. Freely we acknowledge that we are created by Him from nothing and that He is the one who breathes life into us. When someone asks a “common” person if they believe in God, they answer with an enthusiastic, YES! They not only believe in God but comprehend His majesty.

SPECIAL

As our spiritual journey continues, a realization of the fall and sin of Adam comes into our lives. With this realization we can begin to see the suffering of the Savior as He redeems us of our sin with His marvelous grace. This degree brings us into a time when we realize that God sent Jesus to negate the sin of Adam and bring grace to all.

SINGULAR

By continued prayer and growth in faith we become extraordinary in our relationship with God. This relation begins to be natural and inbuilt into every aspect of life. We no longer “have” to pray but our lives become a prayer. This is a most challenging degree to reach. Most committed Christians fall in and out of this place.

PERFECT

Perfection is heavenly bliss. Such bliss is not attainable on this earth but must wait until we are joined to God in the heavenly state. John Wesley spent a great deal of his life looking to achieve this state but realized in his old age that it would not come this side of heaven. In spite of that he still reminds Methodists that they are marching on to perfection.

This path suggested by the writer of “Cloud of Unknowing” can serve us well as we live out our Christian journeys.


Prayer
O God, all hearts are open to you.
You perceive my desire.
Nothing is hidden from you.
Purify the thoughts of my heart
with the gift of your Spirit, that I may love you with a
perfect love and give you the praise you deserve.
Amen

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Surrender to God

Then the eyes of the blind shall be opened, and the ears of the deaf unstopped; then the lame shall leap like a deer, and the tongue of the speechless sing for joy.

The prophecies in Isaiah seem to be fulfilled in this man Jesus, whose actions live out the prophet’s promise. God is here, and God’s presence among us is manifested in healing. This is a wonderful vision. And we may feel very comfortable in looking forward to this. Who wouldn’t? Everybody wants to say; “I’m a good person,” . What a super possibility—a world where things would really be good. Imagine a world with only good. That is God’s world and He invites us to consider the possibility.”

This is how Mr. Wesley puts it::
“The most dry and barren places shall be made moist and fruitful; which is principally meant of the plentiful effusion of God’s grace upon such persons and nations, as had been wholly destitute of it.”

John Wesley

  • Do you daily turn your troubles over to the Lord?
  • Do you ask God to help you prosper?
  • How often do you bring your troubles to the Lord?

As you worship consider how much different your life could be if you surrendered your all to God.

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A Treasure Hid from this World

20140727-182925-66565063.jpg“The kingdom of God within us is a treasure indeed, but a treasure hid from the world, and from the most wise and prudent in it. He that finds this treasure, (perhaps when he thought it far from him,) hides it deep in his heart, and gives up all other happiness for it.”

——-John Wesley, Wesley’s Notes

‘The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field, which someone found and hid; then in his joy he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field.
——Jesus of Nazareth

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Wesley’s Covenant Prayer

In his covenant prayer, which he offered every year at midnight on New Year’s Eve, John Wesley prayed:PrayerEvent1

I am no longer my own but Thine, put me to what thou wilt, rank me with whom thou wilt, put me to doing, put me to suffering, let me be employed for thee or laid aside for thee, exalted for thee or brought low for thee; let me be full, let me be empty; let me have all things, let me have nothing; I freely and heartily yield all things to thy pleasure and disposal.

As fully devoted followers of Jesus Christ, Wesley’s reminds us that we are not “free agents’ who go about doing whatever pleases us, but are part of something special. Our calling is to make a covenant with God and each other  that carries out the mission of Christ. How do you express your covenant relationship with God and others?

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Catching Fire

 

John Wesley said: “Catch on fire with enthusiasm and people will come for miles to watch you burn.”

If the church needs anything, it needs enthusiasm. Remember when people use to regularly knelt at the altar of the church? Such actions stir the soul to go forth with the message of Christ to the world. There are so many people in our world who are searching for something that gives them reason to soar. Mr. Wesley knew long ago that people are drawn to enthusiasm. Our challenge is to be enthusiastic people who just naturally lead people to want to know about the Christian journey.

Remember the words of the writer of Hebrews. “This Melchizedek was king of the city of Salem and also a priest of God Most High. When Abraham was returning home after winning a great battle against the kings, Melchizedek met him and blessed him.”

Enthusiasm is a state of mind that cannot be hidden. It defines who we are and how we act. It brings a smile to our face and kind words to our lips. Practice enthusiasm and it will be as infectious as the flu. We are followers of the “MOST HIGH GOD” – what could be more exciting?

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Wesley on Baptism

BaptismBaptism is the rite of adoption. We are all children of God by Creation, and Christ alone is Gods Son by natural and eternal generation. Galatians 4:4-5; Romans 8:15-16 state, “Ye received not the spirit of bondage again unto fear; but ye received the spirit of adoption whereby we cry, Abba Father. The Spirit Himself beareth witness with our spirits, that we are the children of God; and if children, then heirs; heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer with Him, that we may be also glorified with Him. Paul infers this through the rite of Baptism when he states in Galatians 3:26-27, “Ye are all sons of God through faith in Jesus Christ. For as many of you as were baptized into Christ did put on Christ.”

So the rite of Baptism is a sign to the world of our regeneration through a new birth, and whereby we are engrafted into the Church. Through this act the Holy Spirit visibly signs and seals the promise of the forgiveness of sin and our adoption as sons of God. John says I was told that I would recognize the Son. Upon whom the Spirit would descend in baptism that would be the Messiah. So the Holy Spirit through Baptism declares that we have received Him and are therefore now, also, the sons of God.

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