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Monday, 16 January 2017

Meaningful Rites

(journaled May 9, 2016)

From "The Order of Confirmation" in the Anglican prayer book:

"Almighty and everlasting God, who hast vouchsafed to regenerate these thy servants by Water and the Holy Ghost, and hast given unto them forgiveness of all their sins: Strengthen them, we beseech thee, O Lord, with the Holy Ghost the Comforter, and daily increase in them thy manifold gifts of grace; the spirit of wisdom and understanding; the spirit of counsel and ghostly strength; the spirit of knowledge and true godliness; and fill them, O Lord, with the spirit of thy holy fear, now and forever. Amen.

... that in the end they may obtain everlasting life; through our Lord Jesus Christ....

... we beseech thee, to direct, sanctify, and govern both our hearts and bodies, in the ways of thy laws, and in the works of thy commandments; that through thy most mighty protection, both here and ever, we may be preserved in body and soul; through our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. Amen."

Maybe if the church (non-liturgical churches) had at least a few meaningful rites to bring new believers into the body, and prayers that explained and assured the new believers, there wouldn't be so many that end up going out the back door soon after they arrive?

Thursday, 8 December 2016

Only God Never Fails

(journaled April 16, 2016)

"...on any venture of faith ... Nothing will fall out as you expect. Your guide will keep to no beaten path. He will lead you by a way such as you never dreamed your eyes would look upon. He knows no fears, and He expects you to fear nothing while He is with you." (Streams in the Desert, April 16)

I have not been able to "summon up" feelings of faith. I often have not been able to overcome my "reasoning," whether that means to believe in promises or to accept troubles or whatever. I have often been unable to "just stand on the promises of the Word of God."

But even in my darkest moments, I have known God is real, He's with me, and along the way, I realized He really does love me. I can trust Him to do what He knows is best--and let Him go ahead because I have finally learned (most of the time), that all my best reasonings and feelings and actions are short-sighted and based on narrow vision and erred perceptions, while He sees all and knows all and loves perfectly. I can trust Him. Period.

Sometimes (too often) it does seem to me that His "promises" fail ... but that's what comes of "standing on the promises" instead of standing on Him. He knows all. In the end, His promises do not fail. But in the short term, with my limited vision, they "appear" to have failed. He sees all and fits all together into His perfect will.

Oh, and thank goodness He doesn't always "answer my prayers" or respond to my "claims upon His promises" in the way I had hoped--because I am so often wrong. Yes, hindsight is 20-20, and I've lived long enough to understand how wrong I can be, even as I think I am "standing on the Word" or whatever. Only God never fails. Only He is perfect love, judge, light, bread--and yes, reason.

Thursday, 1 December 2016

Trials are the Food of Faith

(journaled April 15, 2016)

"Trials are the food of faith. O let us leave ourselves in the hands of our Heavenly Father! It is the joy of His heart to do good to all His children.
There is [also] the reading of the Scriptures, that we may by them acquaint ourselves with God as He has revealed Himself in His Word.
Now the nearer we come to this in our inmost souls, the more ready we are to leave ourselves in His hands, satisfied with all His dealings with us." --George Mueller

I find myself more and more willing (though I have very far to go) to "leave myself in God's hands"--to the point that in my prayers I don't want to specifically ask Him anything but "Your will be done." Even when I pray for others, it comes down to "Your will be done." I'm even getting to that point when it comes to the potential of getting dementia. Thank You, Lord, for increasing my faith (And thank You for the troubles that have got me here).

But on the other hand, for some little things I kind of panic and ask something specific, something I think would be the best way for things to go. But even so, I don't often panic the way I used to. Because when it comes down to it, I've become quite convinced--and comfortable and accepting--that God does love us and does know what He's doing, no matter how it looks to us.

I am more concerned about people who don't know Him well enough to feel that way themselves, because I've been there, and I know how doubts, and even anger, can build and come between a person and God.

But on the other hand, maybe that's good because it pushes away false expectations and does open the possibility of seeing God as He is rather than what we have pictured or wished Him to be. The new picture is far more complex and mysterious and hard to grasp, but oh, I have far more rest (faith) in Him now. Thank You, Lord.

Thursday, 24 November 2016

Resplendent

(journaled April 12, 2016)

"Extraordinary afflictions are ... sometimes the trial of extraordinary graces .... for the polishing of His jewels; and those He especially loves and means to make the most resplendent, He hath oftenest His tools upon." --Archbishop Leighton

I agree with the first half--up to "jewels"--but is it true God loves some more than others, and wants to make some more "resplendent" than others? I don't think so. I think He loves all his children, and indeed loves and longs and grieves for those who do not accept him as their Father. And I think he wants to make all his children resplendent, each in his or her own unique way as he has lovingly created them and guided them, to be a part of his body. Even, as the scripture says, we are to give extra honour to those parts that are hidden from sight. Every part has a vital role to play to keep the whole body united and healthy, and in God's plan and sight, all God's children are thus to be equally resplendent. If there is a dimming of resplendency, it is our own choice, not God's. And we are called to equally honour both those who are resplendent in the perspective of earthly viewpoints and also those who seem "less" in earthly terms. Each one has an equal seat of honour in the sight of God--and an equal portion of humility too: the least shall be greatest and the greatest shall be least.

Tuesday, 22 November 2016

Perfect Passivity

(journaled April 7, 2016)

"There is a perfect passivity which is ... a living stillness born of trust. Quiet tension is not trust. It is simply compressed anxiety." (Streams in the Desert, April 7)

I have experienced both. Sometimes it is hard for me to tell which state I am in. I think, though, that over the past few years since my "great depression" You've been moving me out of the "compressed anxiety" which I forced upon myself to preserve myself, into the "living stillness" which is only from resting in You. A stillness which I cannot "psyche myself" into but which comes only from You as I finally start to "lay my burdens down" and "rest in You" and trust You. Bit by bit, moment by moment: it surely hasn't been an instantaneous experience for me. And I doubt it is really for anyone. I worry about stories where people say they "laid it all at the foot of the cross" and their burdens rolled away and everything has been lovely ever since. Maybe that happens for a few people, but is that really how we get to the depths--by one glorious momentary experience? I am pretty sure it's a journey....

Even after death, and resurrection to our new eternal life with God, will we know it all instantly, know Him totally in a moment, or will we be growing in Him for all eternity? God is so great, and we are only creatures. I think there'll still be so much growing into knowing Him to do. Forever. Well, that's what it seems like to me, anyway. Lord?

Tuesday, 15 November 2016

Comfortable Words

(journaled April 7, 2016)

"Hear what comfortable words our Saviour Christ saith unto all that truly turn to him."

I have to admit I love the old-fashioned words and expressions in the old Anglican Common Prayer book. "Comfortable!" It does mean "comforting" but it's more than that--it has the sense of being with a beloved family member you are totally comfortable with and totally trust. And it even has a shade of meaning similar to how I feel about the cozy old blue chair ("my" chair!) that I'm curled up in right now, where I feel safe and warm, and have spent many happy hours reading and writing and visiting.

Anyway, some of Jesus' comfortable words: (and they truly are!):

"Come unto me all that travail and are heavy laden, and I will refresh you." Matthew 11:25

"So God loved the world, that he gave his only-begotten Son, to the end that all that believe in him should not perish, but have everlasting life." John 3:16

And Paul's words:
"This is a true saying, and worthy of all men to be received, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am chief." I Tim 1:15 (My grandpa's favourite verse)

And John's words:
"If any man sin, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous; and he is the propitiation for our sins." 1 John 2:1

Comfortable words indeed!

Monday, 24 October 2016

Disappointed Prayer

(journaled April 6, 2016)

"There is no waiting on God for help, and there is no help from God, without watchful expectation on our part." -- C.H. Spurgeon

I know I don't "expect" enough: a lot of the time I don't really expect anything at all, do I?

So many prayers "unanswered" it seems--especially prayers for and by my children. It is not so hard for me to accept "later" or "no" or "different" (which I know from experience means "better") for my own prayers and needs ... but oh, Lord ... It has been hard to see my children disappointed in their prayers and trust in You.

And in their trust in me--so much so that I stopped, as much as possible, "making promises," knowing how little control I have over life's circumstances, not to mention my own weaknesses and forgetfulness and all. But I guess I assumed that when little children come to You, in faith, You would always take care of them, and answer "yes," simply and clearly and lovingly and all. "God answers prayers made in child-like faith." But I'm coming to realize that You don't always answer "yes" even to little children ... because You do love them, and You know what is best--just like I, as a mother, don't always answer "yes," because I know some things are not good for them.

And yes, I am glad that I can say, "Your will be done," because I've learned that my will is usually off track to some degree, no matter how "right" my thoughts seem to me. Though there are some people who say that praying "Your will be done" is a cop-out because I should be "storming heaven's gates" and "claiming God's promises to deliver on prayer requests" and such. But I do want Your will!

Lord, please overcome my children's disappointments (and yes, mine too), and help them learn to trust in You again. Help them to understand that You do know best. Please help them. And me.