Working on a Sunday School class for the 12th; thoughts from this morning: Our challenges help us to remember our helplessness and need for the Rock of Israel (Deut. 32). God pinches us awake. We are to live per Hebrews 12. Instead of forgetting our God, we are eagerly pursuing God, not merely remembering him so we can be thankful. If our lives are preoccupied with this world, we will pursue finite goals for this life, and eventually God will fade from importance and even from mind. If we remember what we are about, who we are, why we are here, what story we are in, where everything is headed, then we keep the spell of the world broken. We stay alive and awake. We live in fellowship with the Spirit, pursuing the glory and vindication of our Lord, warring a good warfare - not settling down as if this were our home. We will also be thankful for the honour and privilege of it all. We will hate idolatry with a vengeance! [Image: public domain.]
FYI, I've just sent off an article for the blog of the Anglican Diocese of the South (ACNA) about dealing with grief - should be posted in a week or so. I'll provide the link here. I have also just sent off an article for Good News Magazine on particular sins we need to examine during lent (it's the December issue) related to our divisions in our country today. You'll be able to find it on their website when the December issue comes out: link is here . I've written several for them in the past.
Today is Oct 31, celebrated by Protestants as Reformation Day. It is the anniversary of the day that Martin Luther posted his 95 theses on the door of Wittenburg Church. That event is said to be the start of the Protestant Reformation. Luther, however, was not trying to start a movement in the Church. He did not intend for his action to lead to the events that followed. He was actually following a common practice. If a professor at the university where he taught had a subject he wanted debated, he would go and post a set of theses on the subject for debate. It's just that by that time, there was a lot debate throughout Germany going on about the subjects he covered, and there was the printing press. Someone removed his 95 these, printed them, and one thing lead to another. The Reformation was, of course, a very complicated event that spread over many years. The result was a split in Western Christendom between the Roman Catholics and those called Protestants, of which ther
You will recall from last week's gospel reading and sermon, that Jesus is walking to Jerusalem with his disciples to face his death. He is already suffering the emotional stress of what he is to undergo, so much that he is walking ahead of everyone, which was unusual for him, causing them to be anxious about what is going on. Because of the route he has taken, he is headed for Jericho, so he can approach Jerusalem from the East along the Jericho road. However many disciples may have been with him, by the time they get to Jericho, a crowd is gathering to go up to the city, for it is time for the Passover. As was probably his custom, a poor blind man - according to Mark's rendition - was sitting along their route and as he heard the crowd coming, he overheard the mention of the name of Jesus, and he started to wonder if maybe Jesus was part of the crowd passing. He would have heard of Jesus and his miraculous healing - even to the point of healing a man who had been born bl
When it comes to our Gospel reading this morning and our ongoing observation of how Jesus is training the future apostles, those of us who are familiar with this story and with sermons on this story easily remember lessons about personal ambition, jealousy, and about how we should follow Jesus' example and live a life of service, in contrast to seeking people to serve us instead. And all that is very valuable, very appropriate for this passage, and I'll touch on some of that. However, this morning, you'll forgive me if I want to zero in on a particular situation that we all can face at some point in our lives: getting along with people we are trying to help, such as aging relatives in your family, or other people you can run into as a care-giver. Trying to help people can sometimes be a huge challenge. I suspect some of you immediately hearken back to your own experience in a situation like this and how difficult it can be. Let's take a few minutes to look at
Working on my sermon this Sunday: So, while Jesus is already sensing the stress, the anxiety, that he would express in the garden of Gethsemane, the disciples were completely out of touch. The clash is dramatic! The clash itself is scary: Lord, is there any way I’m as out of touch with you as that? How can I walk with you, if I can be so out of touch? Yet he deigned to walk with them. He is so longsuffering. To take the position of willingness to recognize that I can be so out of touch is key; it’s the place of humility. He’s willing to walk with us, even if we don’t know what we should know, as long as we are humble - like he is.
The Bible is full of instruction about wealth and riches and it often warns about the special power they seem to have to turn us into idolators. Jesus speaks of it in his important Sermon on the Mount: 19 “Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, 20 but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, ... 21 For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. ... 24 ... You cannot serve God and money. The story of the rich young ruler is a real-life parable of this truth. Here is a young man who is conscious of the fact that he lacks something in his heart; that somehow, even though he's been trying to be righteous, yet he knows he still has a spiritual need and that he is not assured of having eternal life. And he feels this need so sharply, that he throws aside all social restraints of his class and religious standing, and falls down before Jesus, this man that all his peers disdain. And he does so, s
From Austin Farrar's book, A Faith of Our Own (1960): It is by these desolating experiences that God teaches us to trust him, not ourselves. The more emptied out we are, the more hope there is of our learning to be Christians. Now is the very moment - there will never be a better - for us to put our trust in the God who makes something from nothing, who raises the dead. (p. 114, img source: The Next C.S. Lewis? A Note on Austin Farrer » Transpositions )
From John Henry Newman's Idea of the University (3, Section 2): The object of all science is truth;—the pure sciences proceed to their enunciations from principles which the intellect discerns by a natural light, and by a process recognized by natural reason; and the experimental sciences investigate facts by methods of analysis or by ingenious expedients, ultimately resolvable into instruments of thought equally native to the human mind. If then we may assume that there is an objective truth, and that the constitution of the human mind is in correspondence with it, and acts truly when it acts according to its own laws; if we may assume that God made us, and that what He made is good, and that no action from and according to nature can in itself be evil; it will follow that, so long as it is man who is the geometrician, or natural philosopher, or mechanic, or critic, no matter what man he be, Hindoo, Mahometan, or infidel, his conclusions within his own science, according to the
On Mark 10:2-16. Bible quotes are ESV. We have a very important passage of scripture in our gospel today, to which we must pay attention. It's important, on the surface at least, for 2 good reasons. First of all, Jesus gets angry with his disciples! That hardly ever happens! We would do well to note why he was angry with them. And the other reason is that Jesus affirms the biblical doctrine of holy matrimony and the ideal of the Christian family, which is so much under attack today, and has been for a long time. While the world, under the influence of the prince of the power of the air, continues to do all it can to make peoples' lives at home miserable, we, the disciples of Jesus, who listen to what he teaches us here, need to celebrate, enjoy, and decidedly affirm the blessing of biblical marriage and family life, so we may fulfill our mission to be the salt and light of this world. So let's look at this passage. Why does the subject of marriage come up? It com
Mark 9:37 “Whoever receives one such child in my name receives me, and whoever receives me, receives not me but him who sent me.” Psalm 138:6 Though the Lord be high, yet hath he respect unto the lowly: but the proud he knoweth afar off. "receives me"; the receiver, receives in Jesus' name. He is identified with Jesus, humble, willing to serve the least for his sake, in his name. With that attitude, he receives the least and, guess what? He receives Jesus himself, for Jesus is with those who really are the least. There are those who take the position of least to serve, and those who really are least in a society - Jesus is with them. But he's also with those who humble themselves in service, for they get to receive him, and in turn, receive God in their lives and work. God the Father is even there with that child as well. God tends to esteem the least - those we do not regard; they are more likely to be poor in spirit and humble, which God likes. Plus, he is
Generally, I would say, it seems politicians that are not pro life won't think anything about leaving you or any other American stranded somewhere. They don't care. "What difference does it make?" (Hillary Clinton about leaving Americans to die in Bengazi). They don't really care about your health, either. It's all about what keeps them rich and in office. There is a Day of Judgment.
"My heart is like wax; it is melted in the midst of my bowels." Psalm 22:14 Our blessed Lord experienced a terrible sinking and melting of soul. "The spirit of a man will sustain his infirmity, but a wounded spirit who can bear?" Deep depression of spirit is the most grievous of all trials; all besides is as nothing. Well might the suffering Saviour cry to his God, "Be not far from me," for above all other seasons a man needs his God when his heart is melted within him because of heaviness. Believer, come near the cross this morning, and humbly adore the King of glory as having once been brought far lower, in mental distress and inward anguish, than any one among us; and mark his fitness to become a faithful High Priest, who can be touched with a feeling of our infirmities. Especially let those of us whose sadness springs directly from the withdrawal of a present sense of our Father's love, enter into near and intimate communion with Jesus. Let us no
A recent lesson on two of the Cardinal Sins after an Evening Prayer service at our church. I start the lesson about 15 minutes into the video. You'll have to click on the youtube link to view it. If you fast-forward, the sound may not be in sync with the video.
From St. Thomas's commentary on St. John, chapter 21, Lecture 6: 2656 Now John states that his Gospel is true, and he speaks in the person of the entire Church which received it: "My mouth will utter truth" (Prv 8:7). We should note that although many have written about Catholic truth, there is a difference among them: those who wrote the canonical scriptures, such as the evangelists and apostles and the like, so constantly and firmly affirm this truth that it cannot be doubted. Thus John says, we know that his testimony is true: "If any one is preaching to you a gospel contrary to that which you received, let him be accursed" (Gal 1:9). The reason for this is that only the canonical scriptures are the standard of faith. The others have set forth this truth but in such a way that they do not want to be believed except in those things in which they say what is true.
[I'm still working on this:] The assumptions and practice of Critical Race Theory are a purposeful attempt to undermine traditional American culture (think Christendom). That's not good. But, there's something worse. Nations will come and go anyway. The worst thing about CRT is that it is a violation of the Golden Rule. Therefore it is sinful and perilous to an eternal soul. To promote CRT - or to enforce it, as the case may be - is to promote the transgression of God's law, which is worse than violating our sympathy for traditional American institutions or way of life, for these things are temporal. Hell is eternal. As Christians, our mission is to call all to repentance, whatever the sin may be, and point them to the Saviour. We should certainly be concerned for justice in our society - CRT promotes injustice - but our main concern is that which is eternal. Therefore, our conversation with anyone who is in favour of CRT must be to point them to the law of
I recently preached this sermon at the funeral of my brother-in-law, designated herein as "V." I've taken out a lot of personal stuff. The text is that famous first periocope in Ecclesiastes 3. Many of us here remember the ‘60’s – how can we forget them! What a time! As we read the first lesson from Ecclesiastes, I’m sure many if not all of us were reminded of the Bob Dylan song made famous by The Byrds, “Turn, Turn, Turn”…. As the passage says, we live in seasons, and all our seasons have a purpose, and every purpose is under heaven. God sees it all, he knows about it all, and he is ultimately seeking our good in it all – as hard as that may be to believe at times. It’s easy enough to see how our birth was good, but death is not a good thing: it’s a curse brought upon us by the sin of Adam and Eve. But, however or whenever our death comes, God is still good and He is still watching over his purpose under heaven…. But let’s focus for a few minutes
William Thackeray published essays on each of the first four King Georges. While describing King George III, he spoke positively of how he tried to make use of what gifts were given him. Speaking of his courage, he reflected on what was grand about it, though I think he is being sarcastic. It was grand in that he exercised it in a grand way against all who opposed him. "The battle of the King with his aristocracy remains yet to be told by the historian who shall view the reign of George more justly ... It was he, with the people to back him, who made the war with America; it was he and the people who refused justice to the Roman Catholics; and on both questions he beat the patricians. He bribed: he bullied: he darkly dissembled on occasion: he exercised a slippery perseverance, and a vindictive resolution, which one almost admires as one thinks his character over. His courage was never to be beat. It trampled North under foot; it beat the stiff neck of younger Pitt: even h
I'm noting a personal experience here. More than once, I have had an unusually encouraging and prosperous day, only to find out that my bishop has prayed for me on that day. What of that? First, it certainly makes me have greater respect for my bishop! God hears his prayers - and they make a difference! I trust they are doing the same for my fellow clergy as well. Second, I note the kind of encouragement that comes to me on those days. If this is God answering someone's prayers for me, then surely the kinds of things I'm encouraged about are things that the Lord wants me doing. Such encouragements are important for me, for it's easy for me to feel lost about my life vocationally. There are several reasons for that, of course, but it's a life-long affliction, actually. But what I'm considering today is that these answers to my bishop's prayers are perhaps a way that God is whispering behind me, "this is the way, walk therein (Isaiah 30:21).&quo
It was one of those wild, clear, winter nights when the stars are like clouds covering the sky. The air was crisp and the moon was yet to rise. Silhouetted upon the church tower stood a very large man. His hair was long and rather unkempt. He wore a coat of fur and held a staff in his hand. His head was upturned to the sky. Then on the horizon, like a red jewel, was Mars, twinkling like a fire, peering down upon the earth with its martial gaze. The great man looked upon it and sighed - not with the sigh of despair, but with the sigh of determination. Dire times were at hand. The flicker of Mars brought to his mind the flicker of fire - fire consuming British villages and churches; a fire set upon the land by Saxon hands. He briefly closed his eyes and tried to shake the vision from his mind. He crossed himself, and turned to descend the tower. As he did so, the moon began to rise and a prayer formed in his heart: a prayer for Logres, for the school, for the King that would l
Some thoughts after recently watching - again - the 2017 movie "Darkest Hour": We must, as God fearing people, survive the coming tragedy in our country. We may no longer have a geographic territory to preserve for the freedom-loving people of the world, but we can keep the ideal of godly liberty alive, until such a time as God deems it best that such a territory arise again for the hope of an oppressed and suffering mankind. We must fight for the Gospel and the good of men, as best we can. The forces arrayed against the Church and all god-fearers here, led by mad and lawless people, are, humanly speaking, very dangerous and powerful. But free people have been in this situation before. Nothing good can be achieved by compromise or surrender. We must stick by the Great Commission and the example of our Captain and never give up. Greater is He that is in us than he that is in the world. In the end, our Lord will prevail - one way or another - as he so wisely sees fit.
A lovely meditation upon the Lord's Supper from a traditional, Prayer Book perspective, by Francis Ridley Havergal: "As for Mephibosheth, said the King, he shall eat at my table, as one of the king's sons." In every thought connected with the King's table we see Jesus only. He prepares the feast, - 'Thou preparest a table before me.' He gives the invitation - 'Come thou over with me, and I will feed thee with me.' He gives the qualifying position of adoption, receiving as 'the King's sons.' He brings us into 'His banqueting-house.' He bids us partake, saying, 'Eat, O friends; drink, yea, drink abundantly, O beloved.' He is with us at the feast, for 'the King sitted at His table.' He Himself is the heavenly food, the bread and the meat of His table; for He says, 'The bread that I will give is my flesh,' and 'My flesh is meat indeed.' He Himself! Nothing less if offered to us, for nothing
From Time to Build , by Yuval Levin (ISBN: 9781541699274), p. 135-136. [This is why I've limited my social media use:] "...there is no denying that the social media platforms have undercut our social lives. They plainly encourage the vices most dangerous to a free society. They drive us to speak without listening, to approach others confrontationally rather than graciously, to spread conspiracies and rumors, to dismiss and ignore what we would rather not hear, to make the private public, to oversimplify a complex world, to react to one another much too quickly and curtly. They eat away at our capacity for patient toleration, our decorum, our forbearance, our restraint. They leave us open to manipulation - by merchants, algorithms, even real-life Russian agents [and I would add Chinese agents]. They cause us to mistake expression for reflection, affirmation for respect, and reaction for responsibility. They grind down our democratic soul." [It's more meaningful,