The name of Jesus is not only light but food. It is oil without which food for the soul is dry and salt without which it is insipid. It is honey in the mouth, melody in the ear and joy in the heart. It has healing power. Every discussion where his name is not heard is pointless. (St. Bernard of Clairvaux)
Wait on the Lord. As I pointed out in my last blog post, we are reminded frequently to wait on the Lord. We first run across this admonition in the Psalter in Psalm 27.14.
Wait for the Lord; be strong, and let your heart take courage; wait for the Lord! – Psalm 27.14
If only I had practiced this all throughout my life I would have saved myself from a lot of trouble! Many times it’s easy for me to run ahead of God or by acting in haste, moving forward without asking God what His will is.
We are called to wait but not to passively wait. Instead, we continue to pray to God for his direction and wisdom. We remind ourselves of who God is – that He is our help and our shield. (Psalm 33.20).
So, yes, let us wait on the Lord. Let us not act in haste but instead, pray and ask for His guidance and wisdom. After all, what a great witness it is when we can patiently wait on our Lord to act when life proves difficult.
>I’ve been noticing something lately as I’ve been praying the Psalms each day. It’s the theme of waiting. More than once the Psalmist calls us to wait on the Lord. I’m good at a lot of things but waiting has never been my strong suit. I don’t like to wait at stoplights. I don’t like to wait in line. I don’t like to wait for my food in a restaurant. I don’t like to wait on my spouse while she shops. I simply do not like to wait.
However, we’re called to wait on the Lord over and over and over. Take a look.
Wait for the Lord; be strong, and let your heart take courage; wait for the Lord!
Be strong, and let your heart take courage, all you who wait for the Lord!
Our soul waits for the Lord; he is our help and our shield.
Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for him; fret not yourself over the one who prospers in his way, over the man who carries out evil devices!
For the evildoers shall be cut off, but those who wait for the Lord shall inherit the land.
Wait for the Lord and keep his way, and he will exalt you to inherit the land; you will look on when the wicked are cut off.
I waited patiently for the Lord; he inclined to me and heard my cry.
I wait for the Lord, my soul waits, and in his word I hope;
my soul waits for the Lord more than watchmen for the morning, more than watchmen for the morning.
Wait. Wait for the Lord. Wait. Wait for the Lord.
So, why does God call us to wait? That’s a good question. I’ll try to answer that in my next blog post.
In the mean time, why do you think we’re reminded all throughout Scripture to wait on the Lord?
Many people know the name Eric Metaxas these days since the release of Metaxas' award winning book, Bonhoeffer: Pastor, Martyr, Prophet, Spy. What you may not be familiar with is Metaxas' own personal testimony of how he came to be a Christian. Check out this video and listen as he explains how he came to faith.
I couldn't pass up this Henri Nouwen quote.
When we honestly ask ourselves which person in our lives mean the most to us, we often find that it is those who, instead of giving advice, solutions, or cures, have chosen rather to share our pain and touch our wounds with a warm and tender hand. The friend who can be silent with us in a moment of despair or confusion, who can stay with us in an hour of grief and bereavement, who can tolerate not knowing, not curing, not healing and face with us the reality of our powerlessness, that is a friend who cares.
― Henri J.M. Nouwen, The Road to Daybreak: A Spiritual Journey
Such are we in the sight of God the Father as is the very Son of God himself. Let it be counted as folly or frenzy or fury whatsoever; it is our comfort and our wisdom and I care for no knowledge in the world but this: that man has sinned but God has suffered, and that God has made himself the sin of man and that men now are made the righteousness of God. (Richard Hooker)
All worship begins in the wilderness. (Michael Card)
I had the privilege of watching a series of YouTube videos featuring Michael Card teaching about lament. As he explains, the biggest category of worship literature in the Bible is lament yet much of our modern worship music contains very little of it. I don't know about you but my life isn't always "happy clappy." I need to understand more about lament and how God's people deal with difficulty.
Do yourself a favor and watch these videos and learn how lamenting is worship.
Yeah, I've been away for a few months. I'm back now. And I'm in a blogging mood again. So, watch out for new posts!
I love the Book of Common Prayer. Canon Theologican Ashley Null speaks with the Bishop of London about the value of the BCP. It's a wonderful interview. Check it out. (HT Fr. Peter Matthews)
[8:1] O LORD, our Lord,
how majestic is your name in all the earth!
You have set your glory above the heavens.
 Out of the mouth of babies and infants,
you have established strength because of your foes,
to still the enemy and the avenger.
 When I look at your heavens, the work of your fingers,
the moon and the stars, which you have set in place,
 what is man that you are mindful of him,
and the son of man that you care for him?
 Yet you have made him a little lower than the heavenly beings
and crowned him with glory and honor.
 You have given him dominion over the works of your hands;
you have put all things under his feet,
 all sheep and oxen,
and also the beasts of the field,
 the birds of the heavens, and the fish of the sea,
whatever passes along the paths of the seas.
 O LORD, our Lord,
how majestic is your name in all the earth!
(Psalm 8 ESV)
Psalm 8 seems to be a good medicine for combatting melancholy. I was listening to a sermon this week by John Piper on Spiritual Depression and he recommended regularly reading/praying Psalm 8 as a sort of antidote for melancholy. In other words, many of us do a lot of "self talk" whether we realize it or not. We think about how terrible things are going to be or how this bad thing is going to happen or how terrible our life circumstances are or ______ (you fill in the blank). Instead of dwelling on those things, why not be reminded of God's goodness?
I like Psalm 8 as a way to combat melancholy. Here are a few reasons.
It takes the focus off of me and places it back on God. Look at the first verse.
O LORD, our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth! You have set your glory above the heavens.
Psalm 8:1 (ESV)
. . . how majestic is YOUR name . . . YOU have set YOUR glory . . .
Over and over we are rightly reminded of God. It's His name that's majestic. It's His glory. It's He who created the heavens.
It reminds me of man's place in the created order. Verse 3 reminds me that God not only created mankind but He is mindful of mankind. In other words, He cares for all of humanity--even me! Not only is does He care for us, He gave us dominion over all the earth.
It begins and ends with praise.
O LORD, our Lord,
how majestic is your name in all the earth!
You have set your glory above the heavens.
(Psalm 8:1 ESV)
Right away, my mind is turned to the Lord and His majesty and His glory. That's a good way to begin and end a time of meditation!
So, the next time you're feeling a bit blue try meditating on Psalm 8. Even better, memorize it. It's only 9 verses long and yet it's a great reminder of God's majesty, power, and love.
O Lord, mercifully receive the prayers of your people who call upon you, and grant that they may know and understand what things they ought to do, and also may have grace and power faithfully to accomplish them; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen. (Book of Common Prayer, 1979 ed.)
O LORD, we beseech thee mercifully to receive the prayers of thy people who call upon thee; and grant that they may both perceive and know what things they ought to do, and also may have grace and power faithfully to fulfil the same; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen. (Book of Common Prayer, 1928 ed.)
LORDE we beseche the mercyfullye to receive the praiers of thy people which cal upon thee; and graunt that they maie both perceave and knowe what thinges they ought to do, and also have grace and power faithfully to fulfill the same. (Book of Common Prayer, 1549 ed.)
Today's collect was originally included in the 1549 Book of Common Prayer and was the collect appointed for the First Sunday after the Epiphany. It survives today in the 1979 Book of Common Prayer and is appointed as today's collect (Proper 10). It's an ancient collect. As C. Frederick Barbee reminds us, "this Collect was appointed in the Gregorian Sacramentary and was included in the Book of Common Prayer through its use at Salisbury Cathedral."1
Barbee also tells us that this collect was loosely based on the following passages of Scripture:
And that servant who knew his master’s will but did not get ready or act according to his will, will receive a severe beating. Luke 12:47 (ESV)
If you know these things, blessed are you if you do them. John 13:17 (ESV)
So whoever knows the right thing to do and fails to do it, for him it is sin. James 4:17 (ESV)
If you're like you me, you often need to pray for guidance. This prayer is a prayer for a person seeking what he/she ought to do. It's a vertical prayer - a prayer between the pray-er and God. So, today, as you pray those words, remember you are not alone. We join the saints of the past in seeking God's will and asking for the grace and power to not only understand it but to do it.
1C. Frederick Barbee. The Collects of Thomas Cranmer (Kindle Location 247). Kindle Edition.
I've been interested in seeing what appears to be a renewed interests in hymns. It's becoming somewhat common to see musicians take the text of the hymn and write a new tune to it. I think there are a lot of reasons why singing hymns during worship is a good and helpful thing and I plan on writing on that in a separate blog post.
Today is the Feast of St. Benedict. For us Benedictines it’s a good time to stop and reflect on why we’re Benedictines and to take a spiritual inventory of sorts, to see how this way of life is being used by the Spirit to bring change to our lives.
I started down the path toward the lay monastic life about eight years ago. It started with a visit to the Abbey of Gethsemani in Bardstown, KY. That retreat was a pivotal event for me. I didn’t know what it meant at the time but I knew there was something there . . . something in the way the monks lived out their days that was calling to me. Of course, for a happily married Protestant, this calling was a bit confusing at first. With a little bit of research, I soon discovered that there were lay people all over the world who also had confirmed a similar calling to lay monasticism in the Benedictine tradition.
What does this mean eight years later? Here are a few of things I appreciate about the Benedictine Way.
Monasticism is ancient. Monasticism isn’t some modern day invention although there are modern day expressions of it. It’s been around for a very long time. Like any tradition, there have been reforms along the way but no matter how you look at it, it’s been around in some form or fashion since the earliest days of the church. One of the things that continues to draw me to this way of life is the very fact that it’s ancient. It’s not some passing fad. It’s a time-tested way of loving Christ through prayer, work, and community life.
Monasticism is daily. Daily may be one of the best words that I can think of to describe the monastic life. For the monk in the monastery, a strict schedule is followed. There are set times to pray and work each day; specific times to eat and to sleep. Most every moment of the day is committed to something in the monastic life. Day in and day out. Week after week. Month after month. Year after year. Very little changes in the daily life of the monk. I wouldn’t call this life “exciting.” Eight years later, I too find myself doing the same things each day. I do my best to pray the offices, spend time in the Word (lectio divina) and of course, go to work. I think once the “newness” and intrigue wears off, many people abandon this way of living. It’s not exciting enough. It’s not constantly changing and for some, they see that as a problem. However, I’ve found the opposite to be true. It’s in the “dailyness” of it that I find myself feeling more rooted. It’s in praying these psalms over and over that I become familiar with them like nothing else. It’s in regularly reading the Rule of St. Benedict that I make it more and more a part of who I am and the way I live.
I could write more about my experience but I’m interested in hearing about others who have experience living the monastic life. If you were to describe monasticism, how would you go about it? Share your thoughts in the comments below.
I just can't stop listening to this old hymn!
I've been wondering about this for years. Take a listen.
Oh, that you and I might get into the very heart of the Word of God, and get that Word into ourselves! As I have seen the silkworm eat into the leaf, and consume it, so ought we to do with the Word of the Lord—not crawl over its surface, but eat right into it till we have taken it into our inmost parts. It is idle merely to let the eye glance over the words, or to recollect the poetical expressions, or the historic facts; but it is blessed to eat into the very soul of the Bible until, at last, you come to talk in Scriptural language, and your very style is fashioned upon Scripture models, and, what is better still, your spirit is flavored with the words of the Lord.
I would quote John Bunyan as an instance of what I mean. Read anything of his, and you will see that it is almost like the reading the Bible itself. He had read it till his very soul was saturated with Scripture; and, though his writings are charmingly full of poetry, yet he cannot give us his Pilgrim’s Progress—that sweetest of all prose poems — without continually making us feel and say, “Why, this man is a living Bible!” Prick him anywhere—his blood is Bibline, the very essence of the Bible flows from him. He cannot speak without quoting a text, for his very soul is full of the Word of God. I commend his example to you, beloved.
—”Mr. Spurgeon as a Literary Man,” in The Autobiography of Charles H. Spurgeon, Compiled from His Letters, Diaries, and Records by His Wife and Private Secretary, vol. 4, 1878-1892 (Curtis & Jennings, 1900), p. 268.
HT to Justin Taylor for this quote.
O God, who on this day taught the hearts of your faithful people by sending to them the light of your Holy Spirit: Grant us by the same Spirit to have a right judgment in all things, and evermore to rejoice in his holy comfort; through Jesus Christ your Son our Lord, who lives and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.