Holy Club

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Holy Holy Holy…Lord God Almighty…

 

When John Wesley was a student at Christ Church in Oxford he longed for a group with whom he could share his spiritual growth. As a student, he never quite found what he was looking for.

When his brother Charles arrived in Oxford to study at Christ Church, John may have hoped that being in the same town would give them opportunity to support one another in their discipleship. Their mom Susanna had instilled in her children a routine of spiritual accountability from an early age.

It didn’t work out right away…Charles was slow to pick up the spiritual zeal, John went on to study to become ordained a priest in the Church of England at Lincoln College–a short walk from Christ Church College, and after graduation, at the request of his father, the Rev. Samuel Wesley, rector, of St. Andrew’s Church in Epworth, John went home to serve as the associate pastor in the congregation in which he and his brothers and sisters were raised.

One day, John received a letter from Charles. “I … awoke out of my lethargy,” his younger brother wrote of his renewed desire to focus on his spiritual growth. He also asked for tips on keeping a spiritual journal, a practice John found helpful.

John returned to Oxford to visit his brother.  Reunited in Oxford, the brothers periodically met with Charles’ friend William Morgan for prayer, Bible study, and conversation. They also received the Lord’s Supper at least once a week, earning them the nickname “Sacramentarians.”

Slowly, more Oxford students joined the group. They visited the poor and elderly, taught children..visited the imprisoned.  

Other students noticed them, and did not understand them.  They gave them names like:  Supererogation Men , Methodists, HOLY CLUB…BUT they kept meeting even with with the mocking and name calling.  The labels were meant to be discouraging to the men.  

John Wesley never liked the name ‘Methodist’, but it stuck.

The Holy Club, the slang name for their group around Oxford, was adopting a holistic approach to their Christian formation. They studied the Bible, prayed, and worshiped together and served others in need.

Even though the names were given as a form of mockery, the members made significant contributions to generations of the faithful.  (John Clayton, George Whitefield, John Wesley, Charles Wesley, Thomas Brougham, John Gambold, James Hervey, Benjamin Ignham)

Never let your faith be shaken when you know you stand on HOLY ground…are you part of a Holy Club 2017?  Who do you share your faith journey with and who holds you accountable?  At home?  At work?  In the middle?  

 

Next Week: John Wesley’s Three Rules

Prayer:

IMG_5880Lord, let me “take time to be holy”…as it says in the old hymn, to speak often with you.  

Lord, let me “take time to be holy”…to read your word, and feed on your word.

Lord, let me “take time to be holy”…to make friends with your children, and help those who are weak.

Lord, let me “take time to be holy”…and be calm in my soul, led by your Spirit, for your purpose today.  

 

 

Mr. and Mrs. Worldly

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“Nope…you are wrong”, says the world.

 

 “Going to church on Sunday is just old fashioned and weird.  The people you meet there are judgmental and stodgy…most are old and move slowly. Reading the Bible is for those who are in a rut and can’t push all the right buttons on their computer for Netflix.  God’s word is outdated.  It is WAY too rigid.  You must be tolerant of behaviors that make one feel good about themselves.  God understands.  It is YOU that has a problem…maybe it is YOU that needs counseling and to look inward.”, say Mr. and Mrs. Worldly.   

 

My question to Mr. and Mrs. Worldly,  “May I have a value system, and if so, is it appropriate to demonstrate?”  

 

Mrs. Worldly whispers back, “Oh, yes, you may, but the value system is flawed.  So flawed.  And Mr. Worldly says that he sees everyone not following “the rules.”  You Christians are all a bunch of losers.”

 

Christians have always been “not cool.”  The Way –has always been “out of the way.”  

We don’t have rules…we have commandments.  We sin, we confess, we are forgiven.  

 

We have a Savior.  We have Grace.  We have Mercy and Love.  

Our value system is not flawed, we are.  

 

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You better believe in God’s word! 

 

  (Allie age 6–David chipping golf balls before the dance recital)  

Prayer: Lord, let us trust in you, not the world.  We hear so much rumbling from the outside.  We let our eyes be deceived, and our hearts pulled by negative thoughts and words.

Help us today be STRONG at work. Use our words to prosper your agenda.  

Help us today be LOVING at home.  Use our hearts to see what others need.  

Help us today be KIND in the world.  Use us as ambassadors of the Way.  

AMEN.

“Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.” Philippians 4:8

WOW GOD

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Went to Vacation Bible School.  Yes, even at my age, you can learn and make new friends in an alternative way.  I was in the Middle School class.  These kids were:

     

                                      Vibrant, energetic, dynamic.  Great week.

 

We had a curriculum that provided a one line theme each day.  If the one-liner was said–for example– “GOD IS ALWAYS WITH YOU”,   you would shout–   “WOW GOD!”  The older kids thought it was a little funky

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Hearts and Tissues! 

 at first, but it caught on by the middle of the week.  They were really into it by Friday….

So here I am with this WOW GOD stuck in my head.  Everything I see that is amazing or not-so-amazing I say, “WOW GOD!”  

 

For the entire time Jesus was on earth, there are only two recorded instances of Jesus being amazed!

One was because of  incredible unbelief, the other was because of incredible belief.  

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“And because of their unbelief, he couldn’t do any mighty miracles among them except to place His hands on a few sick people and heal them. And He was amazed at their unbelief”. –Mark 6:5-6

“When Jesus heard this, he was amazed at him, and turning to the crowd following him, he said, “I tell you, I have not found such great faith even in Israel.” –Luke 7:9 (the centurion who believes in Jesus’ authoritative word)

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Even Jesus had “Wow God” moments.  He was amazed.  Jesus acknowledged belief and

unbelief.  He knew who He came from:

“I and the Father are one.” , and he had the emotion of amazement.   

Some things cannot be taught.  They are caught.  

WOW GOD!

This phrase caught me.

Prayer:

WOW GOD, I believe–yes, I do!  Help me to cast away my unbelief.  Thank you for all of your gifts in creation and undergird me today with strength, wisdom, and vision in my work and home.  AMEN

 

 

Lord’s Supper Table Talk

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Thought I had covered the 10 commandments.  Knew them and said, “I can handle staying between the lines on these ten.”  Then I read these questions to consider….and understood their enormity.  I must come empty and remember….

Ten Commandments List

  1. You shall have no other gods before Me.
  2. You shall make no idols.
  3. You shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain.
  4. Keep the Sabbath day holy.
  5. Honor your father and your mother.
  6. You shall not murder.
  7. You shall not commit adultery.
  8. You shall not steal.
  9. You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor
  10. You shall not covet

 

The following taken from David S. Schrock 9/16/2014 “Preparing Your Heart for the Lord’s Supper”  see Twitter @Davidschrock

 

What follows are a few questions you can ask yourself as you prepare for the Lord’s Supper. They are derived from the Decalogue (Exodus 20), and aim to search your heart for idols, pockets of sin, and other issues of life that may hinder your walk with God.

Is there anyone or anything you’re worshiping above God? What’s first in your life? Family? Money? Ease? Or God? Does your passion for ______________ exceed your passion for God? If so, why?

  1. Are there wrong ways you have thought about God this week? Are there harsh thoughts towards God in your heart? Do you worship God based upon the way he has revealed himself in Scripture and the Son? Or do worship God based upon personal experience or the influence of other books or teachers?
  2. Does your life reflect the Lord? Are you walking in a IMG_4642manner worthy of Christ and his gospel? Would you be ashamed to speak of Christ to others because your life doesn’t match your profession?
  3. Are you resting in the Lord and what Christ did on Calvary? Or are finding your identification in your labors? Is there anxiety gripping your heart? If so, why? What are resting in?
  4. Are you honoring your parents? Are you loving your children? Are hobbies coming before family? Are you neglecting the ones in your family that you should be caring for?
  5. Are you murdering anyone in your heart? Are you withholding forgiveness? What unchecked desire has prompted anger? Are you blaming others for your anger? If so, read James 4:1–2.
  6. Are you walking in purity? Are there relationships that are compromising your sexual integrity? Are you loving your wife as Christ loved the church? Or are you lovingly submitting to and respecting your husband, as the church does Christ? If single, are you using your freedom to serve the Lord?
  7. Are you trusting God for your daily bread? Are you working in order to share with others? Are you generous? Or are you stingy with your resources?
  8. Do your words reflect the truth of God? Do you intentionally hide behind vague words? Are your words building up or tearing down others? What does the overflow of your speech reveal about your heart?
  9. Are you guarding your heart from discontentment? Can you say that God is enough? What idol are your coveting? What step can you take to grow in contentment with the Lord?

As these questions expose sin, confess them to the Lord and look to the cross. The Law of God is never meant to leave us in our guilt. The law, when used lawfully (1 Tim 1:8–11), leads us to the gospel. It heightens our need for grace and by consequence it prepares us for the Lord’s Supper.

Therefore, as you read these questions, pray for God’s Spirit to prompt conviction and then look again to Christ. Trust in him. Flee from sin. Make peace with others. Get help if needed. And give thanks for the Christ of Communion.

LOVE...so amazing, so divine, demands…and at least my attention during The Lord’s Supper.   

 

Power to the Faint

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Albert Morris ca.1950

I look to Isaiah for wings when I need strength.  Perhaps this is where my grandfather looked also:  

May 9: “He gives power to the faint; and to them that have no might He increases strength.”  Isaiah 40:29  

 

Pray:

Morning Prayer: O, God of might, who upholds all things in earth and sky and sea, help us that we may faithfully and constantly discharge our daily duties, both to Thee, and our fellow-men.  Help us to appreciate the strength and wisdom which Thou does provide, and may we use it to Thy glory, for Christ’s sake. Amen

 

(from Day by Day, Short Prayers for Daily Use, 1916 Central Publishing House/Cleveland OH   This book was given to my grandfather, Albert Morris, by his grandfather, Jacob Flick in 1918.)

Away We Glow

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We “go” to work each day.  Even if you work from home, there is a work position…in front of a computer, on the phone, and our physical body is part of the work process.  There is a visceral response to work.  

 

I am planning a  “Spiritual Formation” guide in our church–and I have found that it requires the human spirit (inner being) AND it involves the body because that’s where we live and what we live from.  Transformation of the whole person/spiritual formation is never merely inward.

 

Think about how you position yourself today at work–physically.  

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Smiling with Allison…

Does it reflect your Spirit?  

 

What message do your physical responses send?  

 

If someone were to describe your countenance–what words would they use?  How are you different than someone who does not know God?  

 

                                                       …………AWAY WE GLOW…….

 

Prayer:

“All that is to be, now is!


The reign of God is now with us.

Return to God’s way,

And LIVE out the Good News.

Amen.”

–from, A Guide to Prayer for all Who Seek God, Upper Room Books

Journal

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A tattered overstuffed journal sits on my desk. I have had this prayer friend for ten years or so.  I go its pages and confide — recording the desires of my heart, laments, thanksgivings, and musings.  I will fasten an occasional picture on a page…or clipping from a note. Doodles and thoughts are scrawled on some pages. My children’s momentos. There are large chronological gaps.  Then there are some pages with daily thoughts.  

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It is by prayer that we couple the power of heaven to our helplessness and make the impossible–possible.” — O. Hallesby   (This  quote from September 9, 2014.  I combined  with Colossians 4:2  “Continue earnestly in prayer, being vigilant in it with thanksgiving.”)

 

The next page had an item I shared with a Bible Study Leader partner –just a story.  Then an old picture was taped to following page: my home that I grew up in…another page are prayers for work colleagues at the pharmacy, several years ago.  Seems so long ago….

 

The book is very personal, not private.  Anyone could read it.  It would let you know what my heart is “thinking.” Favorite Bible verses…who I am praying for…what gives me great joy….and peace…illnesses, hurts,….what I see…what inspires me, God’s refining hand in my life… encouragements.

As I look back through the pages (just ten years!) it provides me with a trustworthy PERSONAL account of God’s unfailing love. He hears my prayers.  I have forgotten many of the writings and requests–but God does not. I visualize that God has read each one of these pages…and knows each of my requests.  

 

I see the picture of my childhood home–and know He has hovered over me always…even before my “book.”  

 

I can’t wait for the next ten years…why don’t you try it with me?  

 

Prayer:

God’s word goes out with power and always achieves His goal…allows me to go out with joy and be led forth in peace.  May we know that God created the stars and calls them by name and because of His great power and mighty strength not one of them is missing!(prayer by Gail Dugan from thoughts on Isaiah, Journal, June 2011)

Smarts

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Luke 23:46-47 NIV

And when Jesus had cried with a loud voice, he said, Father, into your hands I commit my spirit. When he said this, he breathed his last.

The centurion, seeing what had happened, praised God and said,
Surely this was a righteous man.”

 

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Being savvy in the business world takes training.  Sometimes it comes from experience, sometimes it comes from years of education; most well-equipped business men and women have both.  

 

It is often called:Book smart/Street smart.  

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Having more of these “smarts”– heaped upon/heaped upon– a person you would surmise would bring great results.

 

Book smart is not just obtaining knowledge.  Street smart is not  just being astute to the surroundings.  Wisdom is often confused as “book smart.”  Far from it.  Read Ecclesiastes.  Street smart some would call a gang leader.  Chicago ended 2016 with 762 gang related deaths.

 

Book smart/Street smart.  Jesus wrote a book from the cross.  A book, in the form of “Seven last words”.  From the street, the centurion heard it:

 

Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.  

Truly, I say to you, today you will be with me in Paradise.

Woman, behold your son!…Behold your mother!

My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?

I thirst.

It is finished

Father, into thy hands I commend my spirit!

 

Are you ready to evaluate yourself today?  The post Easter transformed person?  Are you using your new Book smart (Scripture laden Easter self) person combined with the tough Street smart (I would have been at the foot of the cross and declared Jesus righteous too!) centurion attitude in all you do?  

Yes, the centurion–a Roman guard–who was cagey, cold, experienced, –dusty, dirty, armed, authoritative man–transformed his thinking and professed his CHANGED thinking about this man on the cross, during his working day.    

 

Book Smart/Street Smart?

 

What are you doing today in your work that looks different than 6 weeks ago?  Has your experience made you wise and your conduct reflect this double edge Book smarts/Street smarts?  

 

Use BOTH.  Business requires it.

 

The Centurion did.

Pray:

Thank you for the centurion’s faith.  May I profess with the same confidence that you are righteous. . Each day, may I reflect this Roman’s boldness in my daily work.  T
hank you for being the Savior of the world.

 

HOLY Week

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H-ave your mind on the Lord wherever you go, and God will clear the way for you.

— Proverbs 3:5  

 

O-, God, you are my God: early will I seek you, for my soul thirsts for you.

— Psalm 63:1

 

Lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world.

— Matthew 28:28  

 

You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden.

— Matthew 5:14

 

Pray: Thy will be done…amen

 

Spirit and Soul

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I tend to things I see. Or at least that I will feel a sense of accomplishment when it is “tended.”   It is easy to evaluate my hairstyle or if my house is clean.  Is my laundry basket empty or full?  Human nature leans towards activities that we can count or analyze–make a graph or even gamble on.  

 

Why do you think that there is not a waiting list for Bible Study classes at church?  The spirit and soul are not high priority for western culture.  

 

The spirit and soul are portions of our being that we cannot see.  Do you tend your spirit? Let’s get deeper—-  Do you bless the spirit?

 

“Spirit (pneuma) is the element in man which gives him the ability to think of God.  It is man’s vertical window, while the soul (psuche) is man’s horizontal window making him conscious of this environment.”  –from The Complete Word Study New Testament with Parallel Greek, S. Zodhiates, 1992 p.931IMG_4017

 

The soul depends on the functioning of our heart, brain, and blood circulating to express itself.  The spirit has a separate existence.  

 

From Scripture, there is a difference between spirit and soul.

 

Hebrews 4:12  “For the word of God is living and active.  Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.”

 

The spirit will continue –even when the body ceases to exist.  From the stories of people who have died in surgery, we can say that the spirit seems to stand apart from anesthesia.  They report that their spirit left the body and perhaps went to an upper part of the room and watched the commotion.  It may have an encounter with a loved one or God.  It sees a light, and does not want to come back.  Later the soul can report what the spirit experienced.  

 

Jesus affirmed this as he raised the dead daughter of Jairus.  “He took [the girl] by the hand and said, ‘My child, get up!” Her spirit returned, and at once she stood up.  Then Jesus told them to give her something to eat.  Her parents were astonished.”  Luke 8:54-56  

 

When our spirit is centered in the fruit of his Spirit and is larger than our soul, it takes care of a lot of things–it will push out the worldly harms and agreeing with the enemy’s lies (examples: addictions, discouragement, depression, unforgiveness, rejection)

 

God’s pattern is spirit, soul, body.  “May God himself, the God of peace, sanctify you through and through.  May your whole spirit, soul, and body be kept blameless at the coming of the Lord Jesus Christ.  The one who calls you is faithful and he will do it.” 1  1 1 1 Thes 5:23-24

 

Prayer:

God’s design is that we respond to him and live out of our spirits led by his Spirit.  

Bless your spirit today. Join with me and stand quietly and ponder these blessings–for you and for those you are praying for:

 

To God Our Father Who Blesses:

 

The LORD said to Moses, “Tell Aaron and his sons, ‘This is how you are to bless the Israelites.  Say to them:

The LORD bless you and keep you;

The LORD make his face shine upon you and be gracious t
o you;

  The LORD turn his face toward you and give you peace.  Numbers 6:22-26  

 

And to all who are blessed in his names and nature:

“As it is written: ‘No eye has seen no ear has heard no mind has conceived what God has prepared for those who love him–but God has revealed it to us by his Spirit.  The Spirit searches all things even the deep thing of God.  For who among men know the thoughts of a man except the man’s spirit within him?  In the same way no one knows the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God.  We have not received the spirit of the world but the Spirit who is from God, that we may understand what God has freely given us.”  1 Cor 2: 9-12