Romans 8:37

No, in all these things we are more than conquerors [hupernikomen] through him who loved us. Romans 8:37

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Grace in Pilgrim's Progress

“God's grace is the most incredible and insurmountable truth ever to be revealed to the human heart, which is why God has given us His Holy Spirit to superintend the process of more fully revealing the majesty of the work done on our behalf by our Savior. He teaches us to first cling to, and then enables us to adore with the faith He so graciously supplies, the mercy of God. This mercy has its cause and effect in the work of Jesus on the cross."

- John Bunyan: Pilgrim's Progress

Monday, August 8, 2016

Mary Sumner - Founder of the Mother's Union

The Mother's Union, which celebrates its 140th anniversary this year (2016), is well known in the UK and Africa. Its founder, Mary Sumner, is remembered in the Anglican Church's Festival Calendar on August 9th. Being an American, and unfamiliar with Mary Sumner, I decided to do a little research and found the following quotations that reminded me of Deuteronomy 6:4-9, 20, 21:

4 “Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. 5 You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. 6 And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. 7 You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise. 8 You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. 9 You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates. . . . 20 “When your son asks you in time to come, ‘What is the meaning of the testimonies and the statutes and the rules that the Lord our God has commanded you?’ 21 then you shall say to your son, ‘We were Pharaoh's slaves in Egypt. And the Lord brought us out of Egypt with a mighty hand. [ESV]

Mary Sumner's advice in the following excerpts is directed at mothers and assumes the father of the home is too busy working outside of the home to be involved overly much in the nurture and education of children. However, God's commandments to Moses in Deuteronomy are directed at fathers, as well, if not primarily.

Even so, Mary's advice is wise, biblical and worth recovering, especially at a time when God's role for fathers, mothers and the family are being redefined by a culture who does not know God and often rejects righteousness.

Message at Portsmouth 1885 (excerpts)

" Rich homes and poor homes — all alike — must be won for our God ! It is a call to every one of us to live in prayer, that His help, His blessing and His inspiration may rest upon our earnest efforts."

And again:

" Let us settle it in our hearts that the greatest work we can do for the nation is to strive to bring the Church into the Home; which means Christ Himself into hearts and homes; Christ must be in every home, if it is to be in any way a home of peace and love ....

" . . . . God's plans are better than our own, and He has ordained that the training-place for His human creatures should be the home: the training-place for parents as well as children ....

" . . . . Our task is to restore true family life — for it is God's own institution, and therefore a divine thing — and to convince all our members that there are these two Divine Institutions in the world — the Church and the Home. The Home is God's institution as truly as is the Church: let that be the truth that we proclaim ! "

Conference of November 1887 (excerpts on principles)

" The Principles upon which we would build our work are these: —

" That the prosperity of a nation springs from the family life of the homes.

" That family life is the greatest institution in the world for the formation of the character of children.

“ That the tone of family life depends in great measure upon the married life of the parents — their mutual love, loyalty and faithfulness the one to the other.

" That religion is the indispensable foundation of family life, and that the truths of the Christian faith should be taught definitely at home as well as at school.

" That parents are themselves responsible for the religious teaching of their children.

" That character is formed during the first ten years of life by the example and habits of Home.

" That example is stronger than precept, and parents there fore must be themselves what they wish their children to be.

" That the history of the world proves the divine power given by God to parents, and to Mothers especially, because children are placed in their arms from infancy, in a more intimate and closer relationship with the Mother than with the Father, and this moreover, during the time when character is formed.

" That the training of children is a profession.

" That it needs faith, love, patience, method, self-control, and some knowledge of the principles of character-training.

" That it is the duty of every Mother with her own lips to teach her child that he is God's child, consecrated body and soul in Holy Baptism to be our Lord Jesus Christ's soldier and servant unto his life's end.

" That every baptised child should be taught the Creed, the Lord's Prayer and the Ten Commandments .... and all other things which a Christian ought to know and believe to his soul's health."

Excerpts from here.

Mary Sumner's Prayer

O Lord, fill us with thy Holy Spirit, that we may firmly believe in Jesus Christ, and love him with all our hearts. Wash our souls with his precious blood. Make us hate sin and to be holy in thought, word and deed. Help us to be faithful wives and loving mothers. Bless us and all who belong to the Mothers' Union; unite us in love and prayer and teach us to train our children for heaven. Pour out the Holy Spirit on our husbands and children. Make our homes, homes of peace and love and, may we so live on earth, that we may live with thee for ever in heaven; for Jesus Christ's sake. Amen

From: A biographical companion to Common Worship, by John H. Darch and Stuart K. Burns

Tuesday, August 2, 2016

Blessed are the meek, or the weak?

Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.” - Jesus, Matthew 5:5

But the meek will inherit the land and enjoy great peace.” - Psalm 37:11

What does “meek” actually mean? It rhymes with weak and seems to fit in the sentence all right, if “weak” were substituted for “meek”. But the meaning is very different. Meekness has no companionship with weakness, whatsoever.

Russian Orthodox author, Jim Forest, in his book titled The Ladder of the Beatitudes, provides the pre-Christian or Classical Greek meaning of “meek,” which sheds some light on the New Testament understanding, “The Greek word translated as “meek,” praus, was used to describe a wild animal who had been tamed and made gentle: a horse that would accept a rider, a dog that would tend sheep.” Clearly, a horse can overpower its rider and the dog could terrorize the sheep. In fact, the dog’s natural desire might be to attack and kill the sheep. Neither the trained horse nor the dog respond the way they do, because of weakness. A professor of Greek once defined “meekness” as “power under control.”

Jim Forest continues by describing the context of “meekness” for Jews, “meekness is the essential quality of the human being in relationship to God. The equivalent Hebrew word, anaw, is often used in the psalms to describe the stance of a man or woman aligned with God.”

Jesus uses the term “meek” to describe himself in Matthew chapter 11, “Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle (praus) and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.” No one who knows even a brief account of the life of Jesus would make the mistake of thinking that Jesus was weak. What Jesus represents to us through his humility, is one who is subject to the will of the Father. In the Gospel of John (6:38), Jesus specifically said, “For I have come down from heaven not to do my will but the will of him who sent me.”

Jesus’ strength is in his relationship with the Father and with understanding God’s will and purposefully submitting to that Will. Paul told the Philippians (2:1-8) that they should, “Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves. Each of you should look not only unto your own interests, but also to the interests of others.” Likewise, we are told that our “attitude should be the same as Christ Jesus . . . [who] humbled himself and became obedient to death – even death on a cross!” Our Shepherd was so meek –so strong in his obedience, that he was not even distracted by death.

Meekness is not a desirable quality from an earthly perspective but “our citizenship is in heaven. And we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ, who, by the power that enables him to bring everything under his control, will transform our lowly bodies so that they will be like his glorious body” (Philippians 3:20-21).

Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.” - Philippians 3:4-7