A *FANTASTIC* Devotional blog: The King’s English

March 7, 2012

Ok, I confess.  I’m weird.  Many people GIVE UP blogging and the internet for Lent, and yet, I’m the opposite.  After 12 – 18 months of pretty much total blogging abstinence (with the occasional exception of a skim through TitusOneNine & Stand Firm, and rare comments at those blogs), I’ve been enjoying a bit more computer time this Lent as I’ve searched various blogs and websites for encouraging and edifying devotional material to post here for Lent.

It’s been a blessing and fruitful in my own life, and it’s also given me some good resources to share with some colleagues and friends as well.

One of the blogs I’ve most enjoyed reading during Lent is the King’s English, one of the blogs that is included in Stand Firm’s “Around the Web” section.

I will probably have to cut way back again on blog reading post-Easter, but I think the King’s English will stay on my “frequent reading” list.  The devotionals that Glen posts on well known phrases from the King James Bible, are just so beautifully written and rich in their imagery and the way they bring such common phrases alive and point to Christ in His beauty and glory.

For Lenten reading, I especially recommend his recent series on the Ten Commandments.

Thou Shalt

Graven images

I am a Jealous God

Taking the Lord’s name in vain

Remember the Sabbath Day

Honour thy father and thy mother

Thou shalt not covet

Here is one of my favorite sections of his post Thou Shalt Not Covet:

We begin with “thou shalt have no other gods before My Presence” and we finish with “thou shalt not covet.” That’s because the question throughout is: ‘Where will you look for life?  Will you look to the Presence of the unseen LORD, the Son of the Most High God?  Or will you look to the things of this world, your neighbour’s house, wife, job, car, things?’  The Good Life is about setting our hearts upon the LORD before everything else.

Martin Luther, in his Large Catechism, gives a brilliant exposition of the law’s expectation for our hearts.  He’s commenting on the first commandment and says:

“What does it mean to have a god? or, what is God? Answer: A god means that from which we are to expect all good and to which we are to take refuge in all distress, so that to have a God is nothing else than to trust and believe Him from the whole heart… That now, I say, upon which you set your heart and put your trust is properly your god.

“Therefore it is the intent of this commandment to require true faith and trust of the heart which settles upon the only true God, and clings to Him alone. That is as much as to say: “See to it that you let Me alone be your God, and never seek another,” i.e.: Whatever you lack of good things, expect it of Me, and look to Me for it, and whenever you suffer misfortune and distress, creep and cling to Me. I, yes, I, will give you enough and help you out of every need; only let not your heart cleave to or rest in any other.”

As Luther will go on to say, every breaking of the other commandments is first a breaking of this one.  First, our hearts stray from Christ. However we travel from there, it will end badly.  The tenth commandment is simply the flip-side of this truth.  It describes the “other gods” which we’re tempted to love.

Read the rest of this entry »

A Lenten Sermon – Surrendering to the Divine Physician

March 7, 2012

WOW!  Creedal Christian’s (The Rev. Bryan Owen) sermon for the Second Sunday in Lent is excellent!  Hie thee hence and read it.

Here’s my favorite section:

It’s hard to imagine a clearer example of how it’s possible to say all the right words about Jesus and yet still miss what it means to be his follower. And just to clarify what discipleship entails, Jesus says: “If you want to be my disciple, then you’ve got to deny yourself and take up your cross. Then and only then are you ready to follow me.”

“Deny yourself and take up your cross.”

That doesn’t sound like fun, does it? It sounds difficult. It sounds painful.

It would be so much easier if I could have my own personal Jesus! My personal Jesus would not only love me unconditionally; He would also insure that I’m happy, prosperous, and well-liked. My personal Jesus would always conform to my expectations and never ask me to do anything difficult. He would affirm that sin isn’t really a problem in my life so there’s no need to repent and, with God’s help, live a life of holiness and righteousness. I’m fine just as I am!

Today’s Gospel reading confronts me with the fact that I tend to want a Christianity without sacrifice, discipleship without cost, and a faith that not only affirms all of my yearnings and desires, but that also reflects my values without ever challenging me to change. But the real Jesus we encounter in the pages of the New Testament will have none of it! He continues to say to me and to everyone attracted to him: “If you want to be my disciple, then you must deny yourself, take up your cross, and follow me.”

So where is the Good News in that?

There’s a prayer in The Book of Common Prayer appointed for Fridays in which we ask God to “mercifully grant that we, walking in the way of the cross, may find it none other than the way of life and peace” (BCP, p. 99). That’s an important prayer, because our knee-jerk response to Jesus’ words about self-denial and carrying our cross may be to run for cover. We may fail to see the Good News that the way of the cross is not about punishment, shame, and guilt. The way of the cross is Divine Medicine.

If, as Christianity claims, the right diagnosis of the human condition is that we are infected by the predisposition to seek our own wills rather than God’s will, then the way of the cross is the antidote. Taking concrete form in practices such as self-examination and repentance, prayer and fasting, giving to the poor and needy, and meditating on Holy Scripture, the way of the cross is the path of healing that leads to new life beyond our wildest dreams. But receiving that new life requires completely surrendering ourselves to the care of Jesus the Physician of our souls.

Go read the full thing!

I’m glad our internet connection has recovered enough today, and I’ve made enough progress in some important work such that I’ve been able to catch up on a few days of blog entries, and that I didn’t miss this sermon… it’s one of the best expositions I can remember about how self denial and taking up our cross IS truly GOOD NEWS.  Thanks be to God.

A Reminder to Pray for Anglican1000 Church Planting Summit

March 7, 2012

The Anglican1000 Church Planting summit continues today and tomorrow in Texas.

You can read more about it and read blog entries which summarize the presentations of key speakers here.

Please keep this gathering in prayer!

The Jesus Tree: A Lenten Journey Through the Gospels

March 7, 2012

Our previous posts on a “Lent cross” or a “Lenten Jesse tree” have been some of the most popular entries among all of the nearly 5000 posts at Lent & Beyond.

See here, and here for these previous posts.

A “Lent Tree” is basically a Lenten version of a Jesse tree with daily ornaments / symbols and devotional readings for each day of Lent

Last week I came across some new resources for a Lent Tree. Perhaps it’s too late for 2012, but I wanted to post information on what look to be very useful resources for the future. I have not checked these out personally, but they look like they might be worth exploring.

Here’s a blog post recommending this book and activity kit.
Amanda is also very helpfully blogging her daily reflections as she does this “Jesus tree” activity with her family. What a great resource!

Here is information on purchasing the book and activity kit.

Mark 4:1-9

March 7, 2012

And again he began to teach by the sea. And a great multitude was gathered to him, so that he got into a boat and sat in it on the sea; and the whole multitude was on the land facing the sea. Then he taught them many things by parables, and said to them in his teaching: “Listen! Behold, a sower went out to sow. And it happened, as he sowed, that some seed fell by the wayside; and the birds of the air came and devoured it. Some fell on stony ground, where it did not have much earth; and immediately it sprang up because it had no depth of earth. But when the sun was up it was scorched, and because it had no root it withered away. And some seed fell among thorns; and the thorns grew up and choked it, and it yielded no crop. But other seed fell on good ground and yielded a crop that sprang up, increased and produced: some thirtyfold, some sixty, and some a hundred.” And he said to them, “He who has ears to hear, let him hear!” (Mark 4:1-9)
      Jesus, give us hearts and wills to be sowers of the seed of your word. Lord, you scattered your seeds broadcast — some fell on good soil and produced an abundant crop and others did not. Help us keep our eyes on you as we go forth to sow the seed — to rejoice when the seed brings forth an abundant harvest and not be discouraged by the seed that bears no lasting fruit.

      Father, the harvest fields belong to you. You from the beginning gave man the task of tending the garden and keeping it (Genesis 2:15). Help us to be steady in this work you have given us from the beginning, from before the Fall of man.

      Holy Spirit, we ask for your living water to come upon the seeds we sow and make the produce an abundant harvest. Give us your joy in sharing the good news of what Jesus has done for us. Thank you.

      Holy Trinity, one God, give us ears to hear what you are saying to us.

Blessed by God! (Psalm 68:35b) A word received: Bless me and all that I AM doing.

Wednesday: 72 * 119:73-96; Gen. 42:18-28: 1 Cor. 5:9-6:8: Mark 4:1-20
Thursday: [70], 71 * 74; Gen. 42:29-38: 1 Cor. 6:12-20: Mark 4:21-34

      Notes from the Front Line

***** Start now reading and reflecting on the lessons for Sunday so that you can receive all that God has for you (John 2:13-22; Romans 7:13-25; Exodus 20:1-17; Psalm 19:7-14).

***** Date: Mon, 05 Mar 2012
From: Nigel Mumford
Subject: Daily Quote…
       Let the Son of God “in” to sort you “out.”

Albany Intercessor

Lent Quotes: Andrew Murray – “Prayer needs fasting for its full growth”

March 7, 2012

Prayer needs fasting for its full growth. Prayer is the one hand with which we grasp the invisible. Fasting is the other hand, the one with which we let go of the visible. In nothing is man more closely connected with the world of sense than in this need for, and enjoyment of, food. It was the fruit with which man was tempted and fell in Paradise. It was with bread that Jesus was tempted in the wilderness. But He triumphed in fasting.

. . . The body has been redeemed to be a temple of the Holy Spirit. In body as well as spirit, Scripture says, we are to glorify God in eating and drinking. There are many Christians to whom this eating for the glory of God has not yet become a spiritual reality. The first thought suggested by Jesus’ words in regard to fasting and prayer is that only in a life of moderation and self-denial will there be sufficient heart and strength to pray much.

. . . Fasting helps to express, to deepen, and to confirm the resolution that we are ready to sacrifice anything, even ourselves, to attain the Kingdom of God. And Jesus, Who Himself fasted and sacrificed, knows to value, accept, and reward with spiritual power the soul that is thus ready to give up everything for Him and His Kingdom. (emphasis added)

ANDREW MURRAY (South African pastor and missionary, 1828-1916), WITH CHRIST IN THE SCHOOL OF PRAYER (Springdale, PA: Whitaker House, 1981), pp. 100-101.

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