Thursday, March 23, 2006

Weekly Bresee Article

'Ekstasis' and 'Kenosis' are words attributed to God. God is the one who's being is a complete and utter giving and emptying of himself. He is this as he is the myserty of the trinity. In the Spirit, the Father wholly gives himself in the Son who, in return, obeys the will of the Father. It is difficult for us to comprehend the notion that light consumes darkness. We understand it when we turn a light on in a room because there is no longer any darkness. Viola! But when we talk about Jesus, who is the light (life), entering darkness (death), we are talking about mystey (or, crazy talk). True light has proceeded from the Father, has come in the flesh, has been put to death, and has killed death. Enjoy the article!

From My Heart
By Rick Savage

Jesus said people love darkness rather than light. I guess there is something in the human heart that longs to embrace its own lusts and fantasies; something that demands self-expression and self-exaltation and self- sufficiency. Jesus called it darkness and said that people love darkness and choose it.

This makes the incarnation all the more breathtaking to me. Can you imagine being God knowing totally and fully what you were getting yourself into and then choosing to come anyway into a world that loves darkness rather than light? That's a huge thing don't you think? And, three years into His ministry sure enough the darkness had had enough of Him and nailed the light to a cross.

It is a sobering thought to think that God "emptied Himself of all but love, and bled for Adam's helpless race." And, it is a sobering thought to think, as horrific as it sounds, you and I were children of the darkness no less guilty than the people who physically carried out His crucifixion.

Thankfully, the light of God was so light that the darkness could not put it out, and even though darkness took Jesus to the cross it could not keep Him there. Yes, it took His life but on the third day He rose up again to conquer sin and death. In His very dying He overcame darkness, and today His love woos us into the arms of God where we discover life and meaning we never thought possible in this world.

Today, the Church is present to be the light of Jesus. It's pretty dark at times, isn't it, but not so dark as to overpower the love of God. The power that raised Jesus up from the dead is the power at work in our lives. May God help us to let His light shine through our lives.

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

"This is the first and principal benefit caused by this arid and dark night of contemplation: the knowledge of oneself and of one's misery. For, besides the fact that all the favours which God grants to the soul are habitually granted to them enwrapped in this knowledge, these aridities and this emptiness of the faculties, compared with the abundance which the soul experienced aforetime and the difficulty which it finds in good works, make it recognize its own lowliness and misery, which in the time of its prosperity it was unable to see" (From The Dark Night of the Soul, XII).

Friday, March 17, 2006

There is often a tendency for some in the church to be very much aware of what St. John of the Cross calls "spiritual gluttony." Such is a misunderstanding of penace so that the person finds something joyful in and of the act itself, not in moving toward God. The hymn from Wesley was written to be sung at the Lord's Supper, a fitting place to receive the true gift of Christ and offer it in excahnge to others. Hopefully, penance will be seen in light of the table.

"WITH respect to the fourth sin, which is spiritual gluttony, there is much to be said, for there is scarce one of these beginners who, however satisfactory his progress, falls not into some of the many imperfections which come to these beginners with respect to this sin, on account of the sweetness which they find at first in spiritual exercises. For many of these, lured by the sweetness and pleasure which they find in such exercises, strive more after spiritual sweetness than after spiritual purity and discretion, which is that which God regards and accepts throughout the spiritual journey.[40] Therefore, besides the imperfections into which the seeking for sweetness of this kind makes them fall, the gluttony which they now have makes them continually go to extremes, so that they pass beyond the limits of moderation within which the virtues are acquired and wherein they have their being. For some of these persons, attracted by the pleasure which they find therein, kill themselves with penances, and others weaken themselves with fasts, by performing more than their frailty can bear, without the order or advice of any, but rather endeavouring to avoid those whom they should obey in these matters; some, indeed, dare to do these things even though the contrary has been commanded them" (From Dark Nighk of the Soul, XI).

"My Savior, how shall I proclaim, How pay the mighty debt I owe?
Let all I have and all I am Ceaseless to all Thy glory show.
Too much to Thee I cannot give; Too much I cannot do for Thee;
Let all Thy love and all Thy greif Grav'n on my heart for ever be"
(from Wesley's Hymns, No. 149."

Thursday, March 16, 2006

Weekly Bresee Article

I want to draw your attention to a specific line from the third paragraph.

"When Jesus calls us to be alognside Him in His Father's redemptive involvement He calls us to be salt and light."

It is very true that the church continues the work of Jesus in a redemptive involvement. Too often it seems that the church is reluctant to recognize their lives as participating in God. Most are content with a superimposed grace-from-beyond that leaves their lives the same. They wait for another time while remaining bound to the powers of this age. The Kingdom of God is irrupting in space and time. We have only to receive it and reflect it. This is our redemptive involvement.

From My Heart
By Rick Savage

In all of our efforts to be faithful to Jesus and to reach people for Jesus and His Church there is one overwhelming truth to which we must ever cling. It is this: Christ planned to attract people to himself through the transformed lives of his people.

I fear that too often the Church has turned being church into a glorified sales-pitch for God, laying out the bait, setting the hook and reeling in the fish. Isn't that just about the most demeaning thing you can imagine? And, it is very far from what Jesus had in mind when He said, "Follow me, and I will make you become fishers of men" (Mark 1:17).

When Jesus calls us to be alongside Him in His Father's redemptive involvement He calls us to be light and salt. He calls us to be a fragrant aroma of Christ. By a wondrous and marvelous grace He calls us to Himself and transforms our lives by the impact of His grace in us. Then, He calls us to go forth and to live transformed.

Long before people know what we believe, hopefully they are seeing how we live. In fact, they are seeing how we life -- good or bad. Let's make it good.

If we talk about being transformed but don't live transformed our words are empty and do more harm than good. Long before people come to know what we think they experience who we are, and if who we are is less than our talk, we build insurmountable obstacles over which people most likely will not climb in their search for God.

If it is true that Christ planned to attract people to Himself through me, I must ask how appealing or attractive my life really is. Do I make God look good or do I embarrass Him? May God help us all to live the grace we have received. Let's live so as to make God look good.

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

"For when the spirit and the sense are pleased, every part of a man is moved by that pleasure[34] to delight according to its proportion and nature. For then the spirit, which is the higher part, is moved to pleasure[35] and delight in God; and the sensual nature, which is the lower part, is moved to pleasure and delight of the senses, because it cannot possess and lay hold upon aught else, and it therefore lays hold upon that which comes nearest to itself, which is the impure and sensual. Thus it comes to pass that the soul is in deep prayer with God according to the spirit, and, on the other hand, according to sense it is passively conscious, not without great displeasure, of rebellions and motions and acts of the senses, which often happens in Communion, for when the soul receives joy and comfort in this act of love, because this Lord bestows it (since it is to that end that He gives Himself), the sensual nature takes that which is its own likewise, as we have said, after its manner" (From Dark Night of the Soul, IV.2).

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

This morning is cold. I can't get out of my mind the people on the street who had no rest last night. I am reminded of a scene from Schindler's List. In one of the last scenes, Schindler is with a group of people whom survived the holocaust through his efforts. Overwhelmed at the situation he loses control and starts wranting about what else he could have sold or done to save one more person.

I don't know what to do with scenes like this. I am grieved by my moral deficiency. Thank God for the church that carries on the Incarnation of his Son in the world by the Spirit.

"They are too much embarrassed to confess their sins nakedly, lest their confessors should think less of them, so they palliate them and make them appear less evil, and thus it is to excuse themselves rather than to accuse themselves that they go to confession" (From Dark Night of the Soul, II.4).

Monday, March 13, 2006

My Lenten Jounrey

I'm procrastinating a little bit tonight so I thought I would put up a post. School has been consuming my time. I hope to write a summary of what I have been studying and where this semester is (has)taking me. I also hope to write a few words about the Wesleyan Theological Society that meet a couple weeks ago out here at Nazarene Theological Seminary.

During the season of Lent I will be posting quotes from St. John of Cross' Dark Night of the Soul so continue on.

"INTO this dark night souls begin to enter when God draws them forth from the state of beginners—which is the state of those that meditate on the spiritual road—and begins to set them in the state of progressives—which is that of those who are already contemplatives—to the end that, after passing through it, they may arrive at the state of the perfect, which is that of the Divine union of the soul with God" (From Dark Night of the Soul, I.1)