A blog by Celia Jolley, a daily devotion with scripture of the day applied to a woman's life, with quotes, poetry, and stories about savoring the beauty of life, family, and how to worship the Lord. Occasional original short stories sneak in now and then, just for fun fiction.
Wednesday, October 28, 2015
Here are excerpts from some of John Wesley's letters and writings
"What has exceedingly hurt you past...is want of reading...
By neglecting it, you have lost the taste for it."
Again, 'Any believer who would not read, could not be a thorough Christian."
Once again, "Read the most useful books, and that regularly and constantly."
"Bring...the books, especially the parchments."
II Timothy 4:13
One of the books that John Wesley recommended was the biography of David Brainerd (1718-1747).
He was a man devoted to prayer and to reaching the Native Americans. (Remember John Wesley himself tried to be a missionary to the Indians and failed.) I am glad to say that I did read this years ago, very inspirational. It has not gone out of print yet.
John Wesley was such an avid reader that he would read while traveling on horseback.
Packhorse Librarians? Who knew!
FDR's WPA was responsible for
"Bringing outside news and learning
to the nooks and hollows" of Kentucky
during the Depression.
"The Sound of Silence" was one of my favorite songs by Simon and Garfunkle in my teen years. Now I fill the sound of silence with words, lots of words. It's called reading. I must admit that much of what I read besides the Bible is Christian fiction, not heavy duty stuff. Yet, I have often been found to have my office (the couch) full of Adam Clarke's 5 inch thick volume of the commentary of the Bible, a dictionary, a book on New Testament times, "The History of Christianity" by Justo Gonzales, and the Bible with other devotional books splayed out across the cushions. My life gets messy like that. It's just that I'm a curious person and tend to go off on learning tangents: "Oh, look, a rabbit trail; let's go down that one."
Quotes by Wesley from the selections in "Walking With Wesley," by Nick Harrison
that when you are called to give an account of your stewardship,
He may say, 'Well done, good and faithful servant...
enter into the joy of the Lord.'"
It struck me as I reread Matthew 25:23 that though this passage is almost entirely used when thinking in the future tense of entering into the joy of the Lord, it can also begin in the present tense, now! I like how John Wesley put it into the context of being faithful with the many gifts of God we have stewardship over. We should be not just holding our breath for the final "Well done," but perhaps enjoying a little more of the "joy of the Lord" in serving in the here and now. "Enter into the joy of the Lord"!
Quotes are selections from "Walking With Wesley," by Nick Harrison
As a lady of a certain age, I find that all the doctors are such young things nowadays. Back when I was young, the doctors were mostly old. Hmm, I'm looking at life from the flip side now. It makes you want to pat them on the back and say, ain't your mama proud of you, sugar! I guess I'm in the fall years of my life, with more snow on the top all the time.
"Does this purse make me look fat?"
Always take your shoes off and set your fifty pound purse down
before being weighed at the doctors.
Yep, it was a good day at the doctor's. My blood pressure numbers were good, as usual, and I had carved off three more pounds. Yeah! At my age, it's nothing short of a miracle (especially since I have been eating gf chocolate cake for breakfast this week.) The numbers that my nephrologist was watching had not worsened: good deal Lucille! My specialist said some of my other numbers were high though. He looked sympathetically at me, but I almost wanted to high-five him. It's kinda silly since it was just proof of my autoimmune disease, a disease that has been in evidence since I have been living with its symptoms for these many years; yet, it doesn't often show up in easy diagnostics as something to write home about in black and white. There's a lot of guess work involved. But I finally made it on the big charts from my blood tests. Yes! It's not very easy to prove what ya got since sometimes when one autoimmune disease moves in, it invites its relatives too. The specialist came as close as anyone ever has to proving I'm sick, as if I didn't know it. If you've ever had the medical profession tell you that it is in your head, you might get the jist of my joy. I've been blessed with kind, compassionate doctors over the years, for the most part. The other ones we won't talk about. Now I have to brace myself for the upcoming "kaleidoscope" test. Growing old is not for the feeble.
I'm not a spring chicken,
But, the old gray mare.
Is that really fair?
Is that what the Farmer in the Dell
Said to his aging wife?
Did thus say Old MacDonald?
Did it cause strife?
I've earned the silver in my hair,
I've worked hard for these happy golden years,
Growing old ain't for sissies,
But, I don't have any fears.
So I'll strut around the barnyard,
And kick up in the stall
Cluck like an old biddy,
Neigh, I'll have a ball!
"Count it all joy, my brethren (sisters too),
when you encounter various trials,
knowing that the testing of your faith
I have a fascination with the sonnet by John Donne (1572-1631).
Holy Sonnets: Batter My Heart, Three-Person'd God
"Batter my hear, three-person'd God, for you
As yet but knock, breathe, shine, and seek to mend;
That I may rise and stand, o'er throw me, and bend
Your force to break, blow, burn and make me new.
I, like a usurp'd town to another due,
Labor to admit you, but oh, to no end;
Reason, your viceroy in me, one should defend,
But is captiv'd, and proves weak and untrue.
Yet dearly I love you, and would be lov'd fain
But am betroth'd unto your enemy;
Divorce me, untie or break that knot again,
Take me to you, imprison me, for I,
Except you enthrall me, never shall be free,
Nor ever chaste, except you ravish'd me!
I did not come across this poem until recently, not even in English literature in college. It was tucked away partially quoted in a novel's pages when I discovered it. But though I love it in its mystery, I could not begin to lay it on the table and begin to dissect it. Why it is a beautiful, breathing thing, not dead though hundreds of years old! I will only say that I believe the sonnet is a picture of the passion in giving one's heart to God, the struggle, the desire, the helpless longing for deliverance, to be taken, redeemed from being "betroth'd to your enemy," and ravish'd by God's love. It's a rather racy 16th century religious poem, but it reminds me of the lines of my favorite hymn by Charles Wesley,
"And Can It Be"...
"Long my imprisoned spirit lay
Fast bound in sin and nature's night;
Thine eye diffused a quickening ray,
I woke, the dungeon filled with light;
My chains fell off, my heart was free;
I rose, went forth and followed Thee
Sometimes Jesus knocks on the door of our heart as a gentleman.
Sometimes He comes as a warrior to break down the walls, the prison doors
that separate us from His love to take us unto Himself alone.
Have you ever been tempted to turn in your dance card rather choosing to be a wall flower in this life? Those of us who are more comfortable in our own company than with others have to fight this unsociability. I can see a hermit's life from here. Did I ever tell you that even in junior high my most compelling desire for a future was to be in a forest lookout tower, to be alone with nature, observing, watching for danger.
Recently we roomies got together, ladies who have been roommates through many a ladies' retreat. We had a joyful time of laughing and sharing once again. But there was a need expressed to return to being together around the Word. I have been betwixt and between. They too have been uncomfortable or are getting comfortable in different church homes. Life is carrying us onward, but in one sense, we are in the same boat needing fellowship in that flowing stream. My role in life has narrowed due to health and other changes, yet, I woke up the next morning feeling perhaps I was being called to help lead these women in a Bible study. Hmm. When did that get out of my comfort zone? It will be a stretch to commit, yet I believe it will be good, if it is His will. Can I say, "I delight to do Your will?" We'll see where God leads.
"Then I said, 'Behold, I come;
In the scroll of the book it is written of me.
I delight to do your will, O my God;
Your Law is within my heart.'
I have proclaimed glad tidings
of righteousness in the great congregation;
Behold, I will not restrain my lips,
O Lord, You know.
I have not hidden Your righteousness within my heart;
I have spoken of Your faithfulness and Your salvation;
I have not concealed Your lovingkindness
and Your truth from the great congregation..."
What a sense of humor God has. I take this personally, "Behold, I will not restrain my lips." That's me, unrestrained lips, lips that cannot be silent.
"The true proficiency of the soul consists not so much in deep thinking, or eloquent speaking, or beautiful writing; as in much and warm loving. Now, if you ask me in what way this much warm and love may be acquired, I answer,--By resolving to do the will of God, and by watching to do His will as often as occasion offers. Those who truly love God love all good wherever they find it. They seek all good to all men. They commend all good, they always acknowledge and defend all good. They have no quarrels. They bear no envy. O Lord, give me more of this blessed love!"
St. Teresa (of old)
"That their hearts might be comforted,
being knitted together in love."
I am not ready to take up knitting yet (and probably never will), but I am ready to keep being knitted together in love with my sisters in Christ. "I delight to do your will, O my God..." His will is in the great congregation, the congregation of believers without borders.
Yet beauty's visitation affects us and invites us into its rhythm.
It calls us to feel, think and act beautifully in the world,
To create and live a life that awakens the Beautiful...
A life without delight is only a half a life."
John O'Donohue, an Irish writer
The Westminster Catechism says,
"The chief end of man is to glorify God
and enjoy Him forever."
"In your presence there is fullness of joy.
At your right hand are pleasures forevermore."
Doesn't that verse just take the starch our of your image of a stern God? God, the Creator, is all about beauty, joy. "Pleasures forevermore" must be those which are eternal: beauty is eternal, though now we see only the fleeting glimpses of what we find here manacled by the principal of decay.
It does not linger, as the writer said;
it only calls us to keep looking
and searching for the Beautiful.
We are made to enjoy God, to glorify Him.
How do we enjoy Him, glorify Him?
We must recognize His footprints left in the beauty of the world
and follow Him, not losing delight.
Isn't that the best characteristic of a child, delight?
Fall is a perfect example of beauty which does not linger.
Do you find delight in it?
"The whole of nature is a sacrament
pointing to a reality beyond itself."
A quote from the sidebar of this blog by Susannah Wesley,
"I am content to fill a little space if God be glorified." Find joy in even the small things,
even if you feel you lead a small life: find the beauty and glorify God.
I'm getting cold feet. This is the pivotal week, fall's tipping point when I change from wearing flip flop sandals to wearing my Minnetonka moccasins. I've even dusted off my boots to wear to church. Next would be holding my feet to the fire: flipping the switch to enjoy the gas fireplace. We're not quite there yet, but it won't be long even though it's a two quilt night now at our house. Fall is in full bloom.
Speaking of cold feet, did you hear of the jilted bride recently in Sacramento? The groom got cold feet and backed out a week before the expensive wedding. So, her gracious family donated the wedding supper to the homeless. It reminded me of the parable Jesus told of the wedding feast when the invited guest gave excuses not to come. It made me want to search it out...
"The kingdom of heaven may be compared to a king who gave a wedding feast for his son. And he sent out his slaves to call those who had been invited to the wedding feast and they were unwilling to come. Again he sent out other slaves saying, 'Tell those who have been invited, 'Behold, I have prepared my dinner; my oxen and my fattened livestock are all butchered and everything is ready; come to the wedding feast.' But they paid no attention and went their way, one to his own farm, another to his business, and the rest seized his slaves and mistreated them and killed them. But the king was enraged, and he sent his armies and destroyed those murderers and set their city on fire."
"Then he said to his slaves, 'The wedding is ready, but those who were invited were not worthy. Go therefore to the main highways, and as many as you find there, invite to the wedding feast.' Those slaves went out into the streets and gathered together all they found, both evil and good; and the wedding hall was filled with dinner guests.
"But when the king came in to look over the dinner guests, he saw a man there who was not dressed in wedding clothes, and he said to him, 'Friend, how did you come in here without wedding clothes?' And the man was speechless. Then the king said to the servants, 'Bind him hand and foot, and throw him into the outer darkness; in that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth,' For many are called but few are chosen.'" Matthew 22:1-14 is the parable in its entirety.
Trying to trap Jesus, the Pharisees and other enemies were angered when his answer was to tell a little story. The meaning was quite obvious. Earlier in the end of the previous chapter it says, "When the chief priests and Pharisees heard His parables, they understood that He was speaking of them."
Be careful who you are messing with.
God is the king; Jesus, the son. It is obvious. The Jews were the invited guests: it's getting uncomfortable. Some murdered the king's messengers: the disciples and the prophets and even Jesus Himself (Jesus is speaking prophetically here about what is to come. Even in 70A.D. the temple was razed, the city destroyed as in the parable.) Whether they simply ignored the invitation by going about their business or inexplicably were enraged to be invited to a feast, either way, they missed the wedding feast.
"Go therefore to the main highways, and as many as you find there, invite to the wedding feast." Some say this is the obvious meaning, inviting the poor and homeless, those who stand with their hand out. Adam Clark also says that it was a tradition for a rich Jewish man at that time when he held a feast to go invite all destitute travelers to come join him. Yep, that about describes us, "traveling through this world of woe." "Gathered together all they found, both evil and good."
I don't know about you, but I'm more comfortable sitting in church hanging around good people, not evil. Yet, God invited them all to His house.
"But when the king came..." The king is coming. He prepared wedding clothes, white robes as was the custom, but he found one not wearing these wedding clothes. The wedding feast is "The communion of the graces of the gospel in this life...Now as without holiness no man can see the Lord,
we may at once perceive what our Lord means by the wedding garment--it is holiness of heart and life." (Adam Clark)
"He said unto him, Friend, how did you come in here without the wedding clothes?" As this man represent the state of the person in the visible Church who neglects to come unto the Master of the feast for a marriage garment, for the salvation which Christ has procured. "Cast him into outer darkness." "The Jewish marriages were performed in the night season and the hall where the feast was made was superbly illuminated. The outer darkness means, therefore, the darkness on the outside of this festal hall, rendered more gloomy to the person who was suddenly thrust out into it from a profusion of light." (Adam Clark)
God's gracious invitation is given. In the parable, this was ignored, spurned, and hated so much that the messengers were murdered. These were not worthy. None of us are without accepting the invitation, and putting on the pure white wedding garments of holiness. It doesn't matter where we came from, how poor, destitute or even as a foreign traveler passing through, just accept His invitation already: salvation! Only one more thing. Put on the pure white robe of holiness. There is more than just acceptance of the invitation, salvation, it is accepting the holiness the king offers. Finally, there is an outer darkness. You don't want to go there.
Back to our jilted bride. It is always better, no matter how painful, to find out before the ceremony that one has cold feet, rather than after a marriage has been entered into. This happened to a dear friend of ours as the concerned family and members of the wedding party convinced the groom--after the wedding rehearsal dinner and before the ceremony--that it would be a big mistake to go on with a wedding he did not really want. However, our groom is perfect for us. He is perfect love. He will not jilt us though some have run away from the altar rejecting Him. Come to the feast. The invitation is still offered.