Our most recent family pic with only Andrew missing

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Bickering about JW

Sun 31 Oct 1742: Several of the leaders desired to have an hour’s conversation with me. I found they were greatly perplexed about ‘want of management, ill husbandry, encouraging idleness, improper distribution of money’, ‘being imposed upon by fair pretences’, and ‘men who talked well, but had no grace in their hearts’. I asked who those men were. But that they could not tell. Who encouraged idleness? When and how? What money had been improperly distributed? By whom and to whom? In what instances I had been imposed on (as I presumed they meant me), and what were the particulars of that ill husbandry and mismanagement of which they complained? They stared at one another, as men in amaze. I began to be amazed too, not being able to imagine what was the matter, till one dropped a word, by which all came out. They had been talking with Mr. Hall, who had started so many objections against all I said or did that they were in the utmost consternation, till the fire thus broke out; which then at once vanished away.

The Collision between God-Seeking Person and Person-Seeking God

The Gospel reading is the Revised Common Lectionary (Year C) reading for Sunday 31st of October
Luke 19:1 to 10

Today we have before us the story of Zacchaeus and Jesus…. could it be the story of you or me… and Jesus?
Jesus went on into Jericho and was passing through.

It would seem that Jesus has no intention of hanging around, He is passing through. You see, the end of His ministry, and of His life, is in sight; He has set his eyes firmly on Jerusalem, and that is where He is now headed.
In a month or so we head for Johannesburg and once we leave, our eyes will be fixed on Johannesburg, so we will pass through many towns on the way, with no intention of hanging around in any of them.
Jesus eyes were now fixed on Jerusalem.

There was a chief tax collector there named Zacchaeus, who was rich.

This verse tells us so much. Zacchaeus isn't just a tax collector, he is the chief tax collector in an important town, a town with a great deal of priests and levites, religious people, lots of them, they lived in Jericho and served in the Temple in Jerusalem when it was their turn to do duty and then they would journey from Jericho to Jerusalem. Jesus once told a parable about a man who was robbed on this road, and left for dead and a priest and a Levite walk past….. it was a common thing for priests and Levites to journey on that road because they lived in Jericho and went to Jerusalem to work.
So we have a town with more than its fair share of religious people. We know from last week's reading what religious people thought of tax collectors..… do you remember the parable of the Pharisee and the tax collector? Tax collectors were Jews who undertook to collect taxes for the Roman rulers and they were the most despised people in the Jewish community. Not only were they serving the oppressors, but they found it easy to abuse the system so as to line their own pockets by exploiting their fellow Jews.

Zacchaeus was the chief tax collector, in other words, to religious people he was the chief of sinners (words that the apostle Paul uses to describe himself on one occasion) and, he was very rich. Why was he very rich? Because he ripped off his fellow Jews.
By this time in His ministry, Jesus has taught that it is very difficult for a rich person to enter into the Kingdom of God, more difficult than it is for a camel to go through the eye of a needle.

So we have a rich tax collector…. is there any hope for him at all?

The good news is…….. yes, there is hope for him, but……. let's not run away with ourselves but rather get back to our text.

He was trying to see who Jesus was, but he was a little man and could not see Jesus because of the crowd.

What stops Zacchaeus from seeing Jesus? If we read the verse carefully, it is not his shortness, rather, it is…… the crowd. It is sometimes the followers of Jesus, the people closest to Him, who keep people from getting to Him. Do you remember the disciples keeping the children away from Jesus? If we read on a little in Luke's gospel we see the people around Jesus telling a blind man called Bartimaeus to shut up because Jesus hasn't got time for him!

Sometimes it is the people around Jesus, you and I, who prevent others from approaching Jesus. Ask any gay person whether the people around Jesus, you and I in other words, have helped or hindered them from approaching the Lord. Ask the prostitutes, the street people, the child molesters, whether we help or hinder them in their search for the Jesus they might have heard is passing through.

But Zacchaeus won't be stopped….. today we would say, he is on a mission!

So he ran ahead of the crowd and climbed a sycamore tree to see Jesus, who was going to pass that way.

He runs ahead, knowing the route that Jesus will take, and he climbs a tree and waits. How does he know Jesus will go that way? Well, he's worked out that this religious man is on his way to Jerusalem like every other religious person who passes through Jericho…… and he knows the route through the town which people take when they're on their way to Jerusalem.

Do you know where to find Jesus in Parow this week, the route that He will take in our suburb? Jesus tells us in the Gospels, and of course He showed us in His life where He is more often to be found…… it is always with the poor, the hungry, the homeless, the sick, the prisoner, the foreigner, the outcast. Go to them and you know….. Jesus will pass by that way.

Jesus predictably passes under the sycamore tree on the main road through Jericho to Jerusalem.

When Jesus came to that place, he looked up and said to Zacchaeus, "Hurry down, Zacchaeus, because I must stay in your house today." Zacchaeus hurried down and welcomed him with great joy.

Who wouldn't welcome him with great joy?......... but….

All the people who saw it started grumbling, "This man has gone as a guest to the home of a sinner!"

These words of the grumbling people actually sum up the Gospel, don't they?
Jesus will go…… as a guest….. to the home…… of sinners.
That should put a smile on anybody's face, except……. those who don't know that they are sinners.

Zacchaeus stood up and said to the Lord, "Listen, sir! I will give half my belongings to the poor, and if I have cheated anyone, I will pay back four times as much."

There is obviously a bit of a jump in the story, because this verse implies that Zacchaeus stands up in his home, at his dinner table and says: “I will put things right”.

According to the Old Testament, in Leviticus, Exodus, Numbers and 1 Samuel, when a person confessed to fraud and made voluntary restitution, the Law required him to return the amount stolen, plus 20%.
An apprehended thief had to pay the victim double.
But a person stealing what was essential and showing no pity was required to pay back four times the amount. Zacchaeus, fully repentant, not only acknowledged the heartlessness and cruelty of his behaviour, but voluntarily imposed upon himself the whole restitution required by the Torah for such acts.
Oh that our corrupt politicians would do the same, but they are not here this morning…… you and I are….. what do you need to do today to put things right with others?

You and I can hear and experience today what Zacchaeus heard and experienced that day:

Jesus said to him, "Salvation has come to this house today, for this man, also, is a descendant of Abraham. The Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost."

What we see in this text is the record of the collision (clap hands here) between the God-seeking person (Zacchaeus) and the person-seeking God (Jesus).
The collision between the Shepherd looking for sheep, and the sheep looking for a Shepherd.
The collision between the person who is empty and the God who offers fullness.
The collision, friends, between you and God.
The collision which doesn't break you, but which rather makes you whole.
A collision which doesn't send you to prison, but rather sets you free.
You wouldn't mind such a collision today, would you?

Have you heard of the Hadron-collider in Europe? It's a huge thing…… kilometres wide….. a huge circle, it's also called a particle accelerator. Scientists have developed it in order to see what the very early universe looked like just after God said: “ Let there be light”. They know that that moment would have been incredibly hot and bright and the idea is to generate that heat, but on a smaller scale, and see what is revealed. So they accelerate to particles of the element Hadron in opposite directions in this big circle, spending them faster and faster until they are travelling at just under the speed of light…. and then they let them collide and in the collision the heat that was present at the beginning, when God said: “ Let there be light”, is generated, but on a very small scale, and they then use specialised machines to see and measure things that haven't been seen since the beginning of the universe.

The collision between the God-seeking person, and the person-seeking God (use hands) reveals things that have not been seen before.
The people of Jericho see things after that collision between Zacchaeus and Jesus that they've never seen before.
They see Zacchaeus as he was meant to be, because Zacchaeus, in that collision, has seen himself as he is meant to be and he decides to become what he is meant to be.

It might seem that Jesus invited himself into Zacchaeus's life, but we know that that is not how Jesus works. God does not invade the privacy of the human soul, but He does know where a welcome awaits Him. He knows that Zacchaeus is searching so He places himself where He can be found by Zacchaeus and He knocks.

From the sycamore tree, Zacchaeus looks into the eyes of Jesus and sees mirrored in Jesus’ eyes the face of Zacchaeus as he is meant to be.
And friends this is what can happen in the collision between the person who is seeking God, and God who is seeking the person, especially when God knows there is a welcoming heart awaiting Him.

So let me close with some of the sycamore trees we can climb which will place us in the path of Jesus, some places where we know Jesus is found: there are of course many, but I leave you with three.

One. Jesus is to be found in the Scriptures.
Encounter the Scriptures and you will encounter Jesus. In fact, as you look into the Scriptures with welcoming eyes and a heart of faith, you will not only see Jesus, but you will see a reflection of yourself as Jesus wants you to be.
Read the Bible.

Secondly, The Place of Prayer.
Talk to God, and…. this is important…. give Him time to talk to you and with you. So, pray with the welcoming ears and heart of faith.

Finally, Go to the Poor.
Remember, in as much as you go to the least among us here in Parow, you go to Jesus.
Go to the poor, with eyes, ears, hands, feet, of faith… and… with welcoming hearts,…. and you will see Jesus.
Chris and I have seen Jesus, sitting on a tin can in a doorway in Voortrekker Road.

In conclusion, go from here and climb some sycamore trees…. read your Bibles, pray, and go to the poor, and in the collision that takes place when you, the God-seeking person with a welcoming heart, meet the God who is seeking you, salvation will come to you in a wonderful new way and you will continue to grow in grace and in holiness, just as Jesus wants you to.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Ridiculously Colourful Bishops

In a bird hide in West Coast Nature Reserve on the lookout for some of South Africa's ridiculously colourful bishops

One so full of himself might turn Papist or Mahometan.

Sat 30 Oct 1756: I yielded to importunity and spent an hour with poor Mr. V——, who was awakened and found peace in attending our preaching and soon after turned Quaker. I did wonder at it once, but I do not now. One so full of himself might turn Papist or Mahometan.

A Prayer for Saturdays from the Book of Common Prayer

Almighty God, who after the creation of the world rested from all your works and sanctified a day of rest for all your creatures: Grant that we, putting away all earthly anxieties, may be duly prepared for the service of your sanctuary, and that our rest here upon earth may be a preparation for the eternal rest promised to your people in heaven; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Friday, October 29, 2010

More on Perfection and JW makes clear what he dislikes in a person

Fri Oct 29 1762: I left Bristol, and the next day came to London. Monday, NOVEMBER 1. I went down to Canterbury. Here I seriously reflected on some late occurrences; and, after weighing the matter thoroughly, wrote as follows:—
"WITHOUT any preface or ceremony, which is needless between you and me, I will simply and plainly tell what I dislike in your doctrine, spirit, or outward behaviour. When I say yours, I include brother Bell and Owen, and those who are most closely connected with them.
--I like your doctrine of Perfection, or pure love; love excluding sin; your insisting that it is merely by faith; that consequently it is instantaneous, (though preceded and followed by a gradual work,) and that it may be now, at this instant.
"But I dislike your supposing man may be as perfect as an angel; that he can be absolutely perfect; that he can be infallible, or above being tempted; or that the moment he is pure in heart, he cannot fall from it.
"I dislike the saying, this was not known or taught among us till within two or three years. I grant you did not know it. You have over and over denied instantaneous sanctification to me; but I have known and taught it (and so has my brother, as our writings show) above these twenty years.
"I dislike your directly or indirectly depreciating justification; saying, a justified person is not in Christ, is not born of God, is not a new creature, has not a new heart, is not sanctified, not a temple of the Holy Ghost; or that he cannot please God, or cannot grow in grace.
"I dislike your saying that one saved from sin needs nothing more than looking to Jesus; needs not to hear or think of any thing else; believe, believe, is enough; that he needs no self-examination, no times of private prayer; needs not mind little or outward things; and that he cannot be taught by any person who is not in the same state.
"I dislike your affirming that justified persons in general persecute them that are saved from sin; that they have persecuted you on this account; and that for two years past you have been more persecuted by the two brothers, than ever you was by the world in all your life.
--As to your spirit, I like your confidence in God, and your zeal for the salvation of souls.
"But I dislike something which has the appearance of pride, of overvaluing yourselves, and undervaluing others; particularly the Preachers; thinking not only that they are blind, and that they are not sent of God, but even that they are dead; dead to God, and walking in the way to hell; that they are going one way, you another; that they have no life in them. Your speaking of yourselves, as though you were the only men who knew and taught the Gospel; and as if, not only all the Clergy, but all the Methodists besides, were in utter darkness.
"I dislike something that has the appearance of enthusiasm, overvaluing feelings and inward impressions; mistaking the mere work of imagination for the voice of the Spirit; expecting the end without the means; and undervaluing reason, knowledge, and wisdom in general.
"I dislike something that has the appearance of Antinomianism, not magnifying the Law, and making it honourable; not enough valuing tenderness of conscience, and exact watchfulness in order thereto; using faith rather as contradistinguished from holiness, than as productive of it.
"But what I most of all dislike is, your littleness of love to your brethren, to your own society; your want of union of heart with them, and bowels of mercies toward them; your want of meekness, gentleness, longsuffering; your impatience of contradiction; your counting every man your enemy that reproves or admonishes you in love; your bigotry, and narrowness of spirit, loving in a manner only those that love you; your censoriousness, proneness to think hardly of all who do not exactly agree with you; in one word, your divisive spirit. Indeed I do not believe that any of you either design or desire a separation; but you do not enough fear, abhor, and detest it, shuddering at the very thought: And all the preceding tempers tend to it, and gradually prepare you for it. Observe, I tell you before. God grant you may immediately and affectionately take the warning!
--As to your outward behaviour, I like the general tenor of your life, devoted to God, and spent in doing good.
"But I dislike your slighting any, the very least Rules of the Bands or society; and your doing anything that tends to hinder others from exactly observing them. Therefore,
"I dislike your appointing such meetings as hinder others from attending either the public preaching, or their class or band; or any other meeting, which the Rules of the society, or their office requires them to attend.
"I dislike your spending so much time in several meetings, as many that attend can ill spare from the other duties of their calling, unless they omit either the preaching, or their class, or band. This naturally tends to dissolve our society, by cutting the sinews of it.
"As to your more public meetings, I like the praying fervently and largely for all the blessings of God; and I know much good has been done hereby, and hope much more will be done.
"But I dislike several things therein: 1. The singing, or speaking, or praying, of several at once: 2. The praying to the Son of God only, or more than to the Father: 3. The using improper expressions in prayer; sometimes too bold, if not irreverent; sometimes too pompous and magnificent, extolling yourselves rather than God, and telling him what you are, not what you want: 4. Using poor, flat, bald hymns: 5. The never kneeling at prayer: 6. Your using postures or gestures highly indecent: 7. Your screaming, even so as to make the words unintelligible: 8. Your affirming, people will be justified or sanctified just now: 9. The affirming they are, when they are not: 10. The bidding them say, 'I believe:’ 11. The bitterly condemning any that oppose, calling them wolves, &c.; and pronouncing them hypocrites, or not justified.
"Read this calmly and impartially before the Lord, in prayer: So shall the evil cease, and the good remain; and you will then be more than ever united to
Your affectionate brother,
"Canterbury, Nov. 2, 1762.

Prayer for Fridays from Book of Common Prayer

Lord Jesus Christ, by your death you took away the sting of death: Grant to us your servants so to follow in faith where you have led the way, that we may at length fall asleep peacefully in you and wake up in your likeness; for your tender mercies' sake. Amen.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Not only saved, but made perfect

Thu 28 Oct 1762: One who had adorned the Gospel in life and in death, having desired that I should preach her funeral sermon, I went with a few friends to the house, and sang before the body to the Room. I did this the rather, to show my approbation of that solemn custom, and to encourage others to follow it. As we walked, our company swiftly increased, so that we had a very numerous congregation at the Room. And who can tell, but some of these may bless God for it to all eternity?
Many years ago my brother frequently said, "Your day of Pentecost is not fully come; but I doubt not it will: And you will then hear of persons sanctified, as frequently as you do now of persons justified." Any unprejudiced reader may observe, that it was now fully come. And accordingly we did hear of persons sanctified, in London, and most other parts of England, and in Dublin, and many other parts of Ireland, as frequently as of persons justified; although instances of the latter were far more frequent than they had been for twenty years before. That many of these did not retain the gift of God, is no proof that it was not given them. That many do retain it to this day, is matter of praise and thanksgiving. And many of them are gone to Him whom they loved, praising him with their latest breath; just in the spirit of Ann Steed, the first witness in Bristol of the great salvation; who, being worn out with sickness and racking pain, after she had commended to God all that were round her, lifted up her eyes, cried aloud, "Glory! Hallelujah!" and died.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Methodist Itinerant Ministry, Monthly Shopping and Schnorrers

Chris, my wife, went monthly shopping today while I attended my Young Women's Auxiliary allocations meeting. We met at one of our favourite Cape Town coffee shops on completion of our respective tasks and reflected on the itinerant ministry.

Why? Because this will be our last monthly shopping Cape Town. Why? Because we are moving to Johannesburg. Why? Because we are (and have been for 17 years) itinerants.

Looking up itinerant on and yields the following results:

1. traveling from place to place, esp. on a circuit, as a minister, judge, or sales representative; itinerating; journeying.
2. characterized by such traveling: itinerant preaching.
3. working in one place for a comparatively short time and then moving on to work in another place, usually as a physical or outdoor laborer; characterized by alternating periods of working and wandering: an itinerant farm hand.
4. a person who alternates between working and wandering.
5. a person who travels from place to place, esp. for duty or business.

wandering, nomadic, migratory, unsettled, roving, roaming; peripatetic.

An itinerant is a person who travels from place to place with no fixed home.
Types of itinerants: Drifters (wanderers with no residence, no common means of support, and no obvious goal), Hunter-gatherers, Nomads, including gypsies, Perpetual travelers, including illegal aliens, Rogues, Vagabonds, Vagrants, Bums, Derelicts, Hobos, Squatters, Tramps, Displaced persons and refugees, Street people (street children, paupers, waifs, schnorrers, gutter punks)."

When, after 10 years of private dental practice, we entered full-time ministry in the Methodist Church of Southern Africa, our category of ministry was that of itinerant, meaning……. well, you get the picture from the above! We move around. The discipline we submit to is that we, as itinerant Methodist ministers, will go where we are sent by the Conference. The MCSA combines a measure of call into the stationing of its ministers in that we can, hopefully under God's guidance, respond to invitations which in turn ask the Conference to send. Ultimately, the Conference decides. We have never been let down by this system, but have been blessed in that this coming move will be only our third. After three years in Welkom (central South Africa) our first move was to Ballito (east coast of South Africa) and after 10 years there, our second move was to Cape Town (almost southern tip of South Africa and African continent). Now, after four years, we prepare for our third move, to Johannesburg to the Alberton Methodist Church. [ and]

Wherever we have been, our Lord has blessed us ‘out of our socks’! Our move to Johannesburg is in fact a return to Johannesburg, where Chris and I met as students (dental and nursing) in 1980, fell in love, married (Civic Centre Methodist Church) in 1981 and started our family in 1983.

Whether there is a more beautiful place in South Africa than Cape Town to minister, I doubt. From our home we look at Table Mountain, Cape Town harbour and the city bowl. We see and feel the weather and the seasons arriving on the African continent.

Now we prepare to move, with summer, to the hinterland, hence our last monthly shop and our reflection on itinerancy.

The call and subsequent sending to Alberton Methodist Church excites us. We are going to be stretched as never before but also sense that our whole life up to now has been to prepare and equip us for God's mission in place. And so we prepare to itinerate and I will be blogging over the next few months on what that means in our lives, in our ministry, in the life of our societies (Parow Wesley Methodist Church and Alberton Methodist Church) and so on. My next post will be ‘Itinerant Ministry and Ridiculously Colourful Bishops’.

The Lord has given us a theme song for this season-“Where You Go I Go”-by Brian and Jenn Johnson [ Integrity's Hosanna! Music 2008 CCLI#4562670]. I'll post the full lyrics later, but here is the chorus:
Where You go I go
What You say I say
And what You pray I pray
And what You pray I pray.

PS What on earth is a schnorrer

Prayer for the week from Book of Common Prayer

Almighty and everlasting God, increase in us the gifts of faith, hope, and charity; and, that we may obtain what you promise, make us love what you command; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

Last Will and Testament of John Wesley

In the name of God, Amen.
I, JOHN WESLEY, Clerk, some time Fellow of Lincoln College, Oxford, revoking all others, appoint this to be my last Will and Testament.
I give all my books, now on sale, and the copies of them, (only subject to a rent-charge of eighty-five pounds a year, to the widow and children of my brother,) to my faithful friends, John Horton, Merchant; George Wolff, Merchant; and William Marriott, Stock-Broker, all of London, in trust, for the general Fund of the Methodist Conference, in carrying on the work of God, by Itinerant Preachers; on condition that they permit the following Committee, Thomas Coke, James Creighton, Peard Dickenson, Thomas Rankin, George Whitfield, and the London Assistant, for the time being, still to superintend the printing-press, and to employ Hannah Paramore and George Paramore, as heretofore; unless four of the Committee judge a change to be needful.
I give the books, furniture, and whatever else belongs to me in the three houses at Kingswood, in trust, to Thomas Coke, Alexander Mather, and Henry Moore, to be still employed in teaching and maintaining the children of poor Travelling Preachers.
I give to Thomas Coke, Doctor John Whitehead, and Henry Moore, all the books which are in my study and bedchamber at London, and in my studies elsewhere, in trust, for the use of the Preachers who shall labour there from time to time.
I give the coins, and whatever else is found in the drawer of my bureau at London, to my dear grand-daughters, Mary and Jane Smith.
I give all my manuscripts to Thomas Coke, Doctor Whitehead, and Henry Moore, to be burned or published as they see good. I give whatever money remains in my bureau and pockets, at my decease, to be equally divided between Thomas Briscoe, William Collins, John Easton, and Isaac Brown.
I desire my gowns, cassocks, sashes, and bands, may remain in the chapel for the use of the Clergymen attending there.
I desire the London Assistant, for the time being, to divide the rest of my wearing apparel between those four of the Travelling Preachers that want it most; only my pelisse I give to the Rev. Mr. Creighton; my watch to my friend Joseph Bradford; my gold seal to Elizabeth Ritchie.
I give my chaise and horses to James Ward and Charles Wheeler, in trust, to be sold, and the money to be divided, one half to Hannah Abbott, and the other to the members of the select society.
Out of the first money which arises from the sale of books, I bequeath to my dear sister, Martha Hall, (if alive,) forty pounds; to Mr. Creighton aforesaid, forty pounds; and to the Rev. Mr. Heath, sixty pounds.
And whereas I am empowered, by a late Deed, to name the persons who are to preach in the new chapel, at London, (the Clergymen for a continuance,) and by another Deed, to name a Committee for appointing Preachers, in the new chapel, at Bath, I do hereby appoint John Richardson, Thomas Coke, James Creighton, Peard Dickenson, Clerks; Alexander Mather, William Thompson, Henry Moore, Andrew Blair, John Valton, Joseph Bradford, James Rogers, and William Myles, to preach in the new chapel at London, and to be the Committee for appointing Preachers in the new chapel at Bath.
I likewise appoint Henry Brooke, Painter; Arthur Keene, Gent.; and William Whitestone, Stationer, all of Dublin, to receive the annuity of five pounds, (English,) left to Kingswood School, by the late Roger Shiel, Esq.
I give six pounds to be divided among the six poor men, named by the Assistant, who shall carry my body to the grave; for I particularly desire there may be no hearse, no coach, no escutcheon, no pomp, except the tears of them that loved me, and are following me to Abraham’s bosom. I solemnly adjure my Executors, in the name of God, punctually to observe this.
Lastly, I give to each of those Travelling Preachers who shall remain in the Connexion six months after my decease, as a little token of my love, the eight volumes of sermons.
I appoint John Horton, George Wolff, and William Marriott, aforesaid, to be Executors of this my last Will and Testament; for which trouble they will receive no recompence till the resurrection of the just.
Witness my hand and seal, the 20th day of February, 1789.

Signed, sealed, and delivered, by the said Testator, as and for his last Will and Testament, in the presence of us,
Should there be any part of my personal estate undisposed of by this my last Will, I give the same unto my two nieces, E. Ellison, and S. Collet, equally.

Feb. 25, 1789
I give my types, printing-presses, and every thing pertaining thereto, to Mr. Thomas Rankin, and Mr. George Whitfield, in trust, for the use of the Conference.
To all to whom these Presents shall come, JOHN WESLEY, late of Lincoln College, Oxford, but now of the City-Road, London, Clerk, sendeth greeting:—
Whereas divers buildings, commonly called chapels, with a messuage and dwelling-house, or other appurtenances, to each of the same belonging, situate in various parts of Great Britain, have been given and conveyed, from time to time, by the said John Wesley, to certain persons and their heirs, in each of the said gifts and conveyances named; which are enrolled in His Majesty’s High Court of Chancery, upon the acknowledgment of the said John Wesley (pursuant to the Act of Parliament in that case made and provided); upon trust, that the Trustees in the said several Deeds respectively named, and the survivors of them, and their heirs and assigns, and the Trustees for the time being, to be elected as in the said Deeds is appointed, should permit and suffer the said John Wesley, and such other person and persons as he should for that purpose from time to time nominate and appoint, at all times during his life, at his will and pleasure to have and enjoy the free use and benefit of the said premises, that he the said John Wesley, and such person and persons as he should nominate and appoint, might therein preach and expound God's Holy Word; and upon further trust, that the said respective Trustees, and the survivors of them, and their heirs and assigns, and the Trustees for the time being, should permit and suffer Charles Wesley, brother of the said John Wesley, and such other person and persons as the said Charles Wesley should for that purpose from time to time nominate and appoint, in like manner during his life, to have, use, and enjoy the said premises respectively, for the like purposes as aforesaid; and after the decease of the survivor of them, the said John Wesley and Charles Wesley, then upon further trust, that the said respective Trustees, and the survivors of them, and their heirs and assigns, and the Trustees for the time being for ever, should permit and suffer such person and persons, and for such time and times, as should be appointed at the yearly Conference of the people called Methodists, in London, Bristol, or Leeds, and no others, to have and enjoy the said premises for the purposes aforesaid: And whereas divers persons have, in like manner, given or conveyed many chapels, with messuages and dwelling-houses, or other appurtenances, to the same belonging, situate in various parts of Great Britain, and also in Ireland, to certain Trustees, in each of the said gifts and conveyances respectively named, upon the like trusts, and for the same uses and purposes as aforesaid (except only that in some of the said gifts and conveyances, no life-estate or other interest is therein or thereby given and reserved to the said Charles Wesley): And whereas, for rendering effectual the trusts created by the said several gifts or conveyances, and that no doubt or litigation may arise with respect unto the same, or the interpretation and true meaning thereof, it has been thought expedient by the said John Wesley, on behalf of himself as donor of the several chapels, with the messuages, dwelling-houses, or appurtenances, before-mentioned, as of the donors of the said other chapels, with the messuages, dwelling-houses, or appurtenances, to the same belonging, given or conveyed to the like uses and trusts, to explain the words, "Yearly Conference of the people called Methodists," contained in all the said Trust Deeds, and to declare what persons are members of the said Conference, and how the succession and identity thereof is to be continued:—
How therefore these presents witness, that, for accomplishing the aforesaid purposes, the said John Wesley doth hereby declare, that the Conference of the people called Methodists, in London, Bristol, or Leeds, ever since there hath been any yearly Conference of the said people called Methodists in any of the said places, hath always heretofore consisted of the Preachers and Expounders of God’s Holy Word, commonly called Methodist Preachers in connexion with, and under the care of, the said John Wesley, whom he hath thought expedient year after year to summons to meet him, in one or other of the said places, of London, Bristol, or Leeds, to advise with them for the promotion of the Gospel of Christ, to appoint the said persons so summoned, and the other Preachers and Expounders of God's Holy Word, also in connexion with, and under the care of, the said John Wesley, not summoned to the said yearly Conference, to the use and enjoyment of the said chapels and premises so given and conveyed upon trust for the said John Wesley, and such other person and persons as he should appoint during his life as aforesaid, and for the expulsion of unworthy and admission of new persons under his care, and into his connexion, to be Preachers and Expounders as aforesaid, and also of other persons upon trial for the like purposes; the names of all which persons so summoned by the said John Wesley, the persons appointed, with the chapels and premises to which they were so appointed, together with the duration of such appointments, and of those expelled or admitted into connexion or upon trial, with all other matters transacted and done at the said yearly Conference, have, year by year, been printed and published under the title of "Minutes of Conference."
And these presents further witness, and the said John Wesley doth hereby avouch and further declare, that the several persons herein-after named, to wit, the said John Wesley and Charles Wesley; Thomas Coke, of the city of London, Doctor of Civil Law; James Creighton, of the same place, Clerk; Thomas Tennant, of the same place; Thomas Rankin, of the same place; Joshua Keighley, of Sevenoaks, in the county of Kent; James Wood, of Rochester, in the said county of Kent; John Booth, of Colchester; Thomas Cooper, of the same place; Richard Whatcoat, of Norwich; Jeremiah Brettel, of Lynn, in the county of Norfolk; Jonathan Parkin, of the same place; Joseph Pescod, of Bedford; Christopher Watkins, of Northampton; John Barber, of the same place; John Broadbent, of Oxford; Joseph Cole, of the same place; Jonathan Cousins, of the city of Gloucester; John Brettel, of the same place; John Mason, of Salisbury; George Story, of the same place; Francis Wrigley, of St. Austle, in the county of Cornwall; William Green, of the city of Bristol; John Moon, of Plymouth-Dock; James Hall, of the same place; James Thom, of St. Austle, aforesaid; Joseph Taylor, of Redruth, in the said county of Cornwall; William Hoskins, of Cardiff, Glamorganshire; John Leech, of Brecon; William Saunders, of the same place; Richard Rodda, of Birmingham; John Fenwick, of Burslem, Staffordshire; Thomas Hanby, of the same place; James Rogers, of Macclesfield; Samuel Bardsley, of the same place; John Murlin, of Manchester; William Percival, of the same place; Duncan Wright, of the city of Chester; John Goodwin, of the same place; Parson Greenwood, of Liverpool; Zechariah Udall, of the same place; Thomas Vasey, of the same place; Joseph Bradford, of Leicester; Jeremiah Robertshaw, of the same place; William Myles, of Nottingham; Thomas Longley, of Derby; Thomas Taylor, of Sheffield; William Simpson, of the same place; Thomas Carlill, of Grimsby, in the county of Lincoln; Robert Scott, of the same place; Joseph Harper, of the same place; Thomas Corbit, of Gainsborough, in the county of Lincoln; James Ray, of the same place; William Thompson, of Leeds, in the county of York; Robert Roberts, of the same place; Samuel Bradburn, of the same place; John Valton, of Birstal, in the said county; John Allen, of the same place; Isaac Brown, of the same place; Thomas Hanson, of Huddersfield, in the said county; John Shaw, of the same place; Alexander Mather, of Bradford, in the said county; Joseph Benson, of Halifax, in the said county; William Dufton, of the same place; Benjamin Rhodes, of Keighley, in the said county; John Easton, of Colne, in the county of Lancaster; Robert Costerdine, of the same place; Jasper Robinson, of the Isle of Man; George Button, of the same place; John Pawson, of the city of York; Edward Jackson, of Hull; Charles Atmore, of the said city of York; Lancelot Harrison, of Scarborough; George Shadford, of Hull, aforesaid; Barnabas Thomas, of the same place; Thomas Briscoe, of Yarm, in the said county of York; Christopher Peacock, of the same place; William Thom, of Whitby, in the said county of York; Robert Hopkins, of the same place; John Peacock, of Barnard Castle; William Collins, of Sunderland; Thomas Dixon, of Newcastle-upon-Tyne; Christopher Hopper, of the same place; William Boothby, of the same place; William Hunter, of Berwick-upon-Tweed; Joseph Saunderson, of Dundee, Scotland; William Warrener, of the same place; Duncan M’Allum, of Aberdeen, Scotland; Thomas Rutherford, of the city of Dublin, in the kingdom of Ireland; Daniel Jackson, of the same place; Henry Moore, of the city of Cork, Ireland; Andrew Blair, of the same place; Richard Watkinson, of Limerick, Ireland; Nehemiah Price, of Athlone, Ireland; Robert Lindsay, of Sligo, Ireland; George Brown, of Clones, Ireland; Thomas Barber, of Charlemont, Ireland; Henry Foster, of Belfast, Ireland; and John Crook, of Lisburne, Ireland, Gentlemen; being Preachers and Expounders of God's Holy Word, under the care and in connexion with the said John Wesley, have been, and now are, and do, on the day of the date hereof, constitute the members of the said Conference, according to the true intent and meaning of the said several gifts and conveyances wherein the words, Conference of the people called Methodists, are mentioned and contained; and that the said several persons before-named, and their successors for ever, to be chosen as hereafter mentioned, are and shall for ever be construed, taken, and be, the Conference of the people called Methodists. Nevertheless, upon the terms, and subject to the regulations herein-after prescribed; that is to say,
First, That the members of the said Conference, and their successors for the time being for ever, shall assemble once in every year, at London, Bristol, or Leeds, (except as after-mentioned,) for the purposes aforesaid; and the time and place of holding every subsequent Conference shall be appointed at the preceding one, save that the next Conference after the date hereof shall be holden at Leeds, in Yorkshire, the last Tuesday in July next.
Second, The act of the majority in number of the Conference assembled as aforesaid, shall be had, taken, and be the act of the whole Conference, to all intents, purposes, and constructions whatsoever.
Third, That after the Conference shall be assembled as aforesaid, they shall first proceed to fill up all the vacancies occasioned by death or absence, as after-mentioned.
Fourth, No act of the Conference assembled as aforesaid, shall be had, taken, or be the act of the Conference, until forty of the members thereof are assembled, unless reduced under that number by death since the prior Conference, or absence as after-mentioned; nor until all the vacancies occasioned by death or absence shall be filled up by the election of new members of the Conference, so as to make up the number one hundred, unless there be not a sufficient number of persons objects of such election; and during the assembly of the Conference, there shall always be forty members present at the doing of any act, save as aforesaid, or otherwise such act shall be void.
Fifth, The duration of the yearly assembly of the Conference shall not be less than five days, nor more than three weeks, and be concluded by the appointment of the Conference, if under twenty-one days; or otherwise the conclusion thereof shall follow of course at the end of the said twenty-one days; the whole of all which said time of the assembly of the Conference shall be had, taken, considered, and be the yearly Conference of the people called Methodists; and all acts of the Conference, during such yearly assembly thereof, shall be the acts of the Conference, and none other.
Sixth, Immediately after all the vacancies occasioned by death or absence are filled up by the election of new members as aforesaid, the Conference shall choose a President and Secretary of their assembly out of themselves, who shall continue such until the election of another President or Secretary in the next, or other subsequent Conference; and the said President shall have the privilege and power of two members in all acts of the Conference during his presidency, and such other powers, privileges, and authorities, as the Conference shall from time to time see fit to entrust into his hands.
Seventh, Any member of the Conference absenting himself from the yearly assembly thereof for two years successively, without the consent or dispensation of the Conference, and be not present on the first day of the third yearly assembly thereof, at the time and place appointed for the holding of the same, shall cease to be a member of the Conference from and after the said first day of the said third yearly assembly thereof, to all intents and purposes, as though he were naturally dead. But the Conference shall and may dispense with or consent to the absence of any member from any of the said yearly assemblies for any cause which the Conference may see fit or necessary; and such member, whose absence shall be so dispensed with or consented to by the Conference, shall not by such absence cease to be a member thereof.
Eighth, The Conference shall and may expel and put out from being a member thereof, or from being in connexion therewith, or from being upon trial, any person, member of the Conference, or admitted into connexion, or upon trial, for any cause which to the Conference may seem fit or necessary; and every member of the Conference so expelled and put out, shall cease to be a member thereof, to all intents and purposes, as though he was naturally dead. And the Conference, immediately after the expulsion of any member thereof as aforesaid, shall elect another person to be a member of the Conference, in the stead of such member so expelled.
Ninth, The Conference shall and may admit into connexion with them, or upon trial, any person or persons whom they shall approve, to be Preachers and Expounders of God’s Holy Word, under the care and direction of the Conference; the name of every such person or persons so admitted into connexion or upon trial as aforesaid, with the time and degrees of the admission, being entered in the Journals or Minutes of the Conference.
Tenth, No person shall be elected a member of the Conference, who hath not been admitted into connexion with the Conference, as a Preacher and Expounder of God's Holy Word, as aforesaid, for twelve months.
Eleventh, The Conference shall not, nor may, nominate or appoint any person to the use and enjoyment of, or to preach and expound God’s Holy Word in, any of the chapels and premises so given or conveyed, or which may be given or conveyed upon the trusts aforesaid, who is not either a member of the Conference, or admitted into connexion with the same, or upon trial as aforesaid; nor appoint any person for more than three years successively, to the use and enjoyment of any chapel and premises already given, or to be given or conveyed, upon the trusts aforesaid, except ordained Ministers of the Church of England.
Twelfth, That the Conference shall and may appoint the place of holding the yearly assembly thereof, at any other city, town, or place, than London, Bristol, or Leeds, when it shall seem expedient so to do.
Thirteenth, And for the convenience of the chapels and premises already, or which may hereafter be, given or conveyed upon the trusts aforesaid, situate in Ireland, or other parts out of the kingdom of Great Britain, the Conference shall and may, when and as often as it shall seem expedient, but not otherwise, appoint and delegate any member or members of the Conference, with all or any of the powers, privileges, and advantages, herein-before contained or vested in the Conference; and all and every the acts, admissions, expulsions, and appointments whatsoever of such member or members of the Conference, so appointed and delegated as aforesaid, the same being put into writing, and signed by such delegate or delegates, and entered in the Journals or Minutes of the Conference, and subscribed as after-mentioned, shall be deemed, taken, and be, the acts, admissions, expulsions, and appointments of the Conference, to all intents, constructions, and purposes whatsoever, from the respective times when the same shall be done by such delegate or delegates; notwithstanding anything herein contained to the contrary.
Fourteenth, All resolutions and orders touching elections, admissions, expulsions, consents, dispensations, delegations, or appointments and acts whatsoever of the Conference, shall be entered and written in the Journals or Minutes of the Conference, which shall be kept for that purpose, publicly read, and then subscribed by the President and Secretary thereof for the time being, during the time such Conference shall be assembled; and when so entered and subscribed, shall be had, taken, received, and be, the acts of the Conference, and such entry and subscription as aforesaid shall be had, taken, received, and be, evidence of all and every such acts of the said Conference, and of their said delegates, without the aid of any other proof; and whatever shall not be so entered and subscribed as aforesaid, shall not be had, taken, received, or be, the act of the Conference: And the said President and Secretary are hereby required and obliged to enter and subscribe, as aforesaid, every act whatever of the Conference.
Lastly, Whenever the said Conference shall be reduced under the number of forty members, and continue so reduced for three yearly assemblies thereof successively, or whenever the members thereof shall decline or neglect to meet together annually for the purposes aforesaid, during the space of three years, that then, and in either of the said events, the Conference of the people called Methodists shall be extinguished, and all the aforesaid powers, privileges, and advantages shall cease, and the said chapels and premises, and all other chapels and premises, which now are, or hereafter may be, settled, given, or conveyed, upon the trusts aforesaid, shall vest in the Trustees for the time being of the said chapels and premises respectively, and their successors for ever; UPON TRUST that they, and the survivors of them, and the Trustees for the time being, do, shall, and may appoint such person and persons to preach and expound God's Holy Word therein, and to have the use and enjoyment thereof, for such time, and in such manner, as to them shall seem proper.
Provided always, that nothing herein contained shall extend, or be construed to extend, to extinguish, lessen, or abridge the life-estate of the said John Wesley and Charles Wesley, or either of them, of and in any of the said chapels and premises, or any other chapels and premises, wherein they the said John Wesley and Charles Wesley, or either of them, now have, or may have, any estate or interest, power or authority whatsoever.
In witness whereof, the said John Wesley hath hereunto set his hand and seal, the twenty-eighth day of February, in the twenty-fourth year of the reign of our Sovereign Lord George the Third, by the grace of God of Great Britain, France, and Ireland, King, Defender of the Faith, and so forth, and in the year of our Lord one thousand seven hundred and eighty-four.
Sealed and delivered (being first duly stamped) in the presence of
>WILLIAM CLULOW, Quality Court, Chancery-Lane, London.
RICHARD YOUNG, Clerk to the said William Clulow.
Taken and acknowledged by the Rev. John Wesley, party hereto, this 28th of February, 1784, at the Public Office, before me,
The above is a true Copy of the original Deed, (which is enrolled in Chancery,) and was therewith examined by us,
Dated Feb. 28th, 1784.
The Rev. John Wesley’s Declaration and Appointment of the Conference of the people called Methodists, enrolled in His Majesty's High Court of Chancery, the ninth day of March, in the year of our Lord 1784, being first duly stamped according to the tenor of the Statutes, made for that purpose.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

50th Anniversary Sermon

A Sermon Preached at a Service of Commemoration Marking the 50th Anniversary of the ' New ' Church Building at Parow Wesley Methodist Church, Cape Town.

The readings were from the Revised Common Lectionary for 26 September 2010 and in keeping with the celebratory nature of the service, it was preached in three parts, with singing between each reading and its exposition.

Jeremiah 32:1-15

In this reading Jeremiah is asked by his cousin to buy the family land. But it is the timing that makes this request so important for us: Jerusalem is about to fall to Neduchadnezzar. It's the same as someone going to a cousin at the start of World War II in France when Germany had overrun almost the entire nation, and saying to them “buy my land near the German border”. Or, closer to home, it is like a farmer in Zimbabwe a few years ago when the land grabs were at their peak, going to his cousin and saying to him: “Buy my farm.”

Jeremiah buys the land and in so doing we see a huge act of faith on his part in God for which his descendants were no doubt very thankful.

We're thankful today that about 110 years ago people planted this church, and then 50 years ago as a sign of faith in God, built this much bigger church building. They had faith in God that the Methodist work would continue and that through the Methodist people God would provide. We give thanks today for their faithfulness.

Let's sing together: “Give thanks with a grateful heart.”

Well, we've given thanks. I wonder what they, the people who built this building, would say to us, especially as we've just sang: Give thanks…. let the poor say I am rich… let the weak say I am strong… etc? Let's read our epistle reading for today.

1 Timothy 6:6-19

I asked what they would say to us and I'm sure from the reading for this Sunday they would highlight a few verses:
“Strive for righteousness, godliness, faith, love, endurance, and gentleness.
Run your best in the race of faith, and win eternal life for yourself;
Command those who are rich in the things of this life not to be proud, but to place their hope, not in such an uncertain thing as riches, but in God, who generously gives us everything for our enjoyment.”
Command them to do good, to be rich in good works, to be generous and ready to share with others.
In this way they will store up for themselves treasure which will be a solid foundation for the future. And then they will be able to win the life which is true life.

Surely they would remind us that we exist to encourage and teach people how to be righteous, godly and faithful.
Surely they would encourage us to be rich in good works. This is, after all, is why we exist isn't it? Remember, it is by God's grace that we have been saved through faith in order to do good works which he has already prepared for us to do.
We exist in order to do good works. And I think Jesus would remind us of this as well today, but before we get to the set gospel reading for this Sunday, let's ask the Master to speak to us as we sing together: Master speak thy servant heareth.

Luke 16:19-31

As we read the Gospel reading, we ask ourselves: what would the Master say to us today as we celebrate 50 years of hearing the gospel preached in the building? Surely He would say the same as He has always said: “those who have must share with those who don't have.” This is the sign that the Kingdom of God is truly coming in our midst, when those who have share with those who don't have.
This is the beginning and the end of the righteousness, godliness, love and gentleness that was spoken of in our reading from Timothy. Do you remember how it ended?
“Command them to do good, to be rich in good works, to be generous and ready to share with others.”

Our relationship with the poor is a good measure of our relationship with God. Our relationship with the poor is a good sign of our faith in God and our love for Him. Jesus said if you love me you'll love those I love. He said: “in as much as you do these things for the least of these, you do them for me” and do you remember what those things were? They were simple things like giving the hungry something to eat, the thirsty something to drink, giving clothes to those who need them, visiting the sick and those in prison and welcoming strangers.

We Methodists exist for the poor, did you know that? And as someone has said, we go to the poor, not because they need us, but because we need them.

Ruben P Job in a Wesleyan Spiritual Reader says:
“One of the few things John Wesley feared was the accumulation of wealth. As a Biblical scholar and a practical theologian he was convinced that to follow Jesus Christ meant involvement with, and ministry among and to, the poor. This conviction led him to live on a modest income even when his writing was producing significant return. His solution was to give away all but the money he needed to buy the essentials.
“This understanding of the relationship between following Christ and involvement with the poor led him to some unusual practices. It was not uncommon for him to beg in order to raise money for the poor….
“Not only did he beg on behalf of the poor, he preached to them and found ways to be with them. His journal is filled with entries that describe his experiences of visiting the poor, the prisoner, the sorrowing and the suffering. The false stereotypes of the day were shattered as he came to work with and to know the poor and the needy of the world. Had he ignored God’s calling to ministry with the poor he would have missed a large segment of the population that turned toward Christ through the Methodist movement. He would also have missed living and witnessing to a balanced faith that emphasised love for God and love from neighbour in very simple and practical ways.”

The rich man in our Gospel reading calls out to Abraham across the big divide between heaven and hell and says….send someone to go and tell my brothers and sisters that they must serve the poor.
But Abraham says that they have the Bible to tell them that. And the rich man in hell says: no, if someone were to rise from the dead and tell them, then they would believe ministry to the poor is very, very important.
But Abraham says that if they don't believe the Bible, they won't believe a dead person who comes alive again.

Do you believe the dead person who came alive again, who says: Care for the poor and by doing this build up riches for yourself in heaven….. Care for the poor and know that in doing this you are reaching out to, and caring for, me, Jesus.

As we celebrate 50 years of gospel preaching in this building, and look forward hopefully to many more, let us give thanks for those who have gone before us, and let us remember those who are around us, and let us commit ourselves to being Jesus in this place that God has called us to be His witnesses.

Mr. Pike’s Philosophia Sacra

Tue 26 Oct 1756: I began reading over with the preachers that were in town Mr. Pike’s Philosophia Sacra. It contains the marrow of Mr. Hutchinson’s philosophy clearly and modestly proposed. But upon a close examination I found the proofs were grievously defective. I shall never receive Mr. Hutchinson’s creed, unless ipse dixit pass for evidence.

JW's Notes on RCL Gospel reading for Sunday 31st

Sun 31 Oct Luke 19:1-10
Luk 19:1 He passed through Jericho - So that Zaccheus must have lived near the end of the town: the tree was in the town itself. And he was rich - These words seem to refer to the discourse in the last chapter, Luk_18:24-27, particularly to Luk_18:27. Zaccheus is a proof, that it is possible by the power of God for even a rich man to enter into the kingdom of heaven.
Luk 19:2 The chief of the publicans - What we would term, commissioner of the customs. A very honourable as well as profitable place.
Luk 19:4 And running before - With great earnestness. He climbed up - Notwithstanding his quality: desire conquering honour and shame.
Luk 19:5 Jesus said, Zaccheus, make haste and come down - What a strange mixture of passions must Zaccheus have now felt, hearing one speak, as knowing both his name and his heart!
Luk 19:7 They all murmured - All who were near: though most of them rather out of surprise than indignation.
Luk 19:8 And Zaccheus stood - Showing by his posture, his deliberate, purpose and ready mind, and said, Behold, Lord, I give - I determine to do it immediately.
Luk 19:9 He also is a son of Abraham - A Jew born, and as such has a right to the first offer of salvation.

Monday, October 25, 2010

I hope she meant all the kindness she professed

Mon 25 Oct 1773: I went to Shoreham, and spent two days both agreeably and profitably. The work of God, which broke out here two or three years ago, is still continually increasing. I preached near Bromley on Thursday, and on Friday, 29, had the satisfaction of dining with an old friend. I hope she meant all the kindness she professed. If she did not, it was her own loss.

Praying for a Blessing

Sinners, your hearts lift up,
Partakers of your hope!
This the Day of Pentecost; (Acts 2:1)
Ask, and ye shall all receive; (Matt. 7:7;)
Surely now the Holy Ghost, (Luke 11:13)
God to all that ask shall give.

Ye all may freely take (Rev. 22:17)
The grace for Jesu's sake;
He for every man hath died,
He for all hath rose again;
Jesus now is glorified, (Acts 3:13)
Gifts he hath received for men. (Ps. 68:18)

He sends them from the skies
On all his enemies;
By his cross he now hath led
Captive our captivity; (Ps. 68:18)
We shall all be free indeed,
Christ the Son shall make us free. (John 8:32)

Blessings on all he pours,
In never-ceasing showers; (Ezek. 34:26)
All he waters from above,
Offers all his joy and peace,
Settled comfort, perfect love,
Everlasting righteousness.

All may from him receive (John 1:16)
A power to turn and live; (Ezek. 33:11)
Grace for every soul is free,
All may hear th'effectual call;
All the light of life may see,
All may feel he died for all.

Drop down in showers of love, (Isa. 45:8)
Ye heavens, from above!
Righteousness, ye skies, pour down;
Open, earth, and take it in!
Claim the Spirit for your own,
Sinners, and be saved from sin!

Father, behold we claim
The gift in Jesu's name
Him the promised Comforter (John 14:16)
Into all our spirits pour;
Let him fix his mansion here,
Come, and never leave us more!

Sunday, October 24, 2010

JW’s Last Journal Entry

Sun 24 Oct 1790: I explained, to a numerous congregation in Spitalfields church, "the whole armour of God." St. Paul's, Shadwell, was still more crowded in the afternoon, while I enforced that important truth, "One thing is needful;" and I hope many, even then, resolved to choose the better part.

In the Right with God......or not.

In the Right with God.
Based on the Revised Common Lectionary Gospel reading for Sunday 24 October 2010.
Luke 18:9-14

We have before us this morning one of Jesus’ parables. I don't want to give it a title, because Jesus didn't, and sometimes a title can pre-condition us to receive a story in a certain way. We have read the story, and it's about two people who go to pray. By the end of their prayers, only one of them is in the right with God. I think it's reasonable to suggest that most of us, surely all of us, who go to the trouble of praying, would like to be in the right with God by the time we've finished praying. Is this parable suggesting that half the people who bother praying can actually be worse off by the end of it? Certainly in our story, it seems it would have been better if one of those chaps hadn't prayed at all….. he's in a worse position with God because of his prayer.

There is a right and a wrong way to pray, there is a right and a wrong way for you and me to be before God, particularly when we come before God in prayer. Let's see what we can learn from this story. As my text I have chosen verse 14 and I am quoting from the Good News Version of the Bible:

"I tell you," said Jesus, "the tax collector, and not the Pharisee, was in the right with God when he went home.”

But let's start at the beginning:

Verse 9: Jesus also told this parable to people who were sure of their own goodness and despised everybody else.

Being in the right with God begins with asking ourselves: “am I sure of my own goodness… and… do I despise everybody else?” Or, to go deeper, “do I think I'm a good person (whatever that may mean)… and… are there people that I despise?”

You see, if this verse describes you or me in some way, then this parable is for you and for me. If this verse doesn't describe you, then you can leave now. If the verse said, "Jesus told this parable to people who could fly aeroplanes, or to people who could speak Swahili", most of us would correctly say.... oh well, this story isn't for me.

Jesus told this parable to people who were sure of their own goodness and despised everybody else and the fact that no one has got up and left (including the preacher) seems to indicate that we recognise that we are sometimes sure of our own goodness, and that each of us has some kind of people that we despise.

And I want to say that that is good, because the acknowledgement of that truth about ourselves is the beginning of being in the right with God.

Verse 10: "Once there were two men who went up to the Temple to pray: one was a pharisee, the other a tax collector.”

Jesus chooses two people at opposite ends of the social scale of the day, two who would be considered at opposite ends of the moral scale. A pharisee… and a tax collector.

Today He might have said “a nun and a prostitute went to the temple to pray” and many would immediately place these two at opposite ends -- one a respectable person, the other a disgraceful person……
or He might have said “a bank manager and a pickpocket went to the temple to pray” and again we would place one at one end and the other at the other end of our respectability or morality or goodness scales.

The problem we have is that we have read the whole parable and we know that it is the tax collector, the prostitute, the pickpocket, that leaves in the right with God and if that doesn't leave you and me a bit uncomfortable, then I don't think we are listening.

It seems we can learn from the least among us, just what it means to be in the right with God.

Verse 11 & 12: The pharisee stood apart by himself and prayed, 'I thank you, God, that I am not greedy, dishonest, or an adulterer, like everybody else. I thank you that I am not like that tax collector over there. I fast two days a week, and I give you one tenth of all my income.'

The pharisee lists his merits: he first mentions vices from which he abstains -- I'm not greedy, dishonest, or an adulterer.
Then he lists what he does do -- he fasts twice a week and he gives a tenth of all his income. He is, by all measures, a righteous person, a good person (whatever that may mean), someone we might be tempted to think we’d like to have in our congregation.

Verse 13: But the tax collector stood at a distance and would not even raise his face to heaven, but beat on his breast and said, 'God, have pity on me, a sinner!'

Both his actions and his words tell us what we already know about him, and about prostitutes and pickpockets -- they are unworthy. What can we possibly learn from them that will help us to be in the right with God?

Just this: they know they are unworthy. You and I don't let them forget it. Ever.

They know they are unworthy.

How about you? Is unworthy the word that comes to your mind when you begin to think of yourself prayerfully before God?

The tax collector confesses his unworthiness and pleads for God's mercy.

I was talking to someone this week about forgiveness, and she said to me: “You know, that person ripped my heart out by what he did to me!” And I was stung by that choice of words, it made me realise what our sin does, did, to Jesus. It rips his heart out, it breaks his heart, it leaves him broken. And I think the tax collector has this awareness, that his sin rips God's heart out, and that causes him to plead for mercy, and all this seems to explain why he is the one who leaves there in the right with God.

Verse 14: I tell you," said Jesus, "the tax collector, and not the Pharisee, was in the right with God when he went home. For those who make themselves great will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be made great."

Now, let's make it quite clear. Not all pharisees were like the pharisee in the story, and not all tax collectors were like the tax collector in the story. Many a pharisee was humble, and many a tax collector was unrepentant.

As always, it is what is going on at the heart level that is important. Each of them describes himself, and neither of them lied about himself.
Each of them told what he thought of himself and it would seem that how we think of ourselves determines whether we are, or can be, in the right with God.

What do you think of yourself, who are you in this parable?

I find that I could be either man in this parable, and maybe we all feel this way. Sometimes we honestly believe we are better than others who call themselves Christians, sometimes we pat ourselves on the back -- I feed the poor, I tithe, I try to help others who need help. Notice how often the pharisee uses the word "I". The pharisee is the one who is at the centre of his existence, not God. Much as we might struggle to admit it, there is often pharisee in us, isn't there?

Hopefully there's also tax collector in me. If I'm honest with myself, as Paul is with himself (and the whole world) in chapter 7 of his Letter to the Romans, sometimes I do things I really do not want to do. A selfish part deep at my core hurts the people I love the most. Hopefully then, like the tax collector, I cannot even look to heaven, and all I can do is whisper “God have mercy on me, a sinner.” That is when transformation can begin, that is when God can begin and continue the work of transforming sinner into saint. That is when I can be in the right with God.

Are you…in the right with God?

“I tell you," said Jesus, "the tax collector, and not the Pharisee, was in the right with God when he went home.”

How will you and I go home today?

Let us be still and if, like the pharisee and the tax collector, we feel like praying, then pray, and may our prayers, today and always, be prayers that have us going home in the right with God.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

A Prayer for Saturdays from the Book of Common Prayer

Almighty God, who after the creation of the world rested from all your works and sanctified a day of rest for all your creatures: Grant that we, putting away all earthly anxieties, may be duly prepared for the service of your sanctuary, and that our rest here upon earth may be a preparation for the eternal rest promised to your people in heaven; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Miss A. of Ewhurst

Mon 18 to Sat 23 Oct 1779: I set out for Sussex and, after visiting the societies there, returned to London on Saturday the 23rd. I was in hopes, by bringing her with me, to save the life of Miss A. of Ewhurst, far gone in a consumption. But she was too far gone; so that though that journey helped her for awhile, yet she quickly relapsed and, soon after, died in peace.

Prayer for Fridays from Book of Common Prayer

Lord Jesus Christ, by your death you took away the sting of death: Grant to us your servants so to follow in faith where you have led the way, that we may at length fall asleep peacefully in you and wake up in your likeness; for your tender mercies' sake. Amen.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Feared offending the Bishop

Wed 20 and Thu 21 Oct 1790: I had appointed to preach at Diss; a town near Scoleton; but the difficulty was, where I could preach. The Minister was willing I should preach in the church, but feared offending the Bishop, who, going up to London, was within a few miles of the town. But a gentleman asking the Bishop whether he had any objection to it, was answered, "None at all." I think this church is one of the largest in this county. I suppose it has not been so filled these hundred years. This evening and the next I preached at Bury, to a deeply attentive congregation, many of whom know in whom they have believed. So that here we have not lost all our labour.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Prayer for the week from Book of Common Prayer

Pentecost Proper 24
Almighty and everlasting God, in Christ you have revealed your glory among the nations: Preserve the works of your mercy, that your Church throughout the world may persevere with steadfast faith in the confession of your Name; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

Clean off the Graffiti

Wed 20 Oct 1756: I received the following letter:
Rev. Sir,
The glory of God and the good of mankind are the motives that induce me to write the following . . . .
As it is our duty to do all we can to make all around us happy, I think there is one thing which may be done to promote so blessed an end, which will at the same time be very advantageous to them that practise it, namely, to efface all the obscene words which are written on houses, doors, or walls, by evil-minded men. This which I recommend to others, I constantly practise myself, and if ever I omit doing it I am severely checked unless I can produce some good reason for that omission. I do it with a sponge which for that purpose I carry in my pocket. The advantages I reap from hence are: (1) Peace of conscience in doing my duty. (2) It helps me to conquer the fear of man, which is one of my greatest trials. (3) It is matter of joy that I can do any, the least, service to anyone. And as all persons, especially the young, are liable to temptations to impurity, I can’t do too much to remove such temptations, either from myself or others. Perhaps too, when the unhappy writers pass by and see their bad labours soon effaced, they may be discouraged from pursuing so shameful a work, yea, and brought to a better mind.
Perhaps in some places it might not be amiss in the room of what is effaced to write some serious sentence or short text of Scripture. And wherever we do this, would it not be well to lift up our heart to God in behalf of those sinners, in this or the like manner, ‘Lord, lay not this sin to their charge’; ‘Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do’?

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Most of the Town is for the Methodists

Tue 19 Oct 1790: In the evening all the Clergymen in the town [Lynn], except one who was lame, were present at the preaching. They are all prejudiced in favour of the Methodists; as indeed are most of the townsmen; who give a fair proof by contributing so much to our Sunday-schools; so that there is near twenty pounds in hand.

JW's Notes on RCL Gospel reading for Sunday 24th

Sun 24 Oct Luke 18:9-14
Luk 18:9 He spake this parable - Not to hypocrites; the Pharisee here mentioned was no hypocrite, no more than an outward adulterer: but he sincerely trusted in himself that he was righteous, and accordingly told God so, in the prayer which none but God heard.
Luk 18:12 I fast twice in the week - So did all the strict Pharisees: every Monday and Thursday. I give tithes of all that I possess - Many of them gave one full tenth of their income in tithes, and another tenth in alms. the sum of this plea is, I do no harm: I use all the means of grace: I do all the good I can.
Luk 18:13 The publican standing afar off - From the holy of holies, would not so much as lift up his eyes to heaven - Touched with shame, which is more ingenuous than fear.
Luk 18:14 This man went down - From the hill on which the temple stood, justified rather than the other - That is, and not the other.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Reaching out to the Germans

Mon 18 Oct 1736: Finding there were several Germans at Frederica who, not understanding the English tongue, could not join in our public service, I desired them to meet at noon in my house; which they did every day at noon from thenceforward. We first sung a German hymn, then I read a chapter in the New Testament, then explained it to them as well as I could. After another hymn we concluded with prayer.

Prayer of the Day: Teresa of Avila, Nun, 1526 from Fri 15

O God, by your Holy Spirit you moved Teresa of Avila to manifest to your Church the way of perfection: Grant us, we pray, to be nourished by her excellent teaching, and enkindle within us a keen and unquenchable longing for true holiness; through Jesus Christ, the joy of loving hearts, who with you and the Holy Spirit lives and reigns, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

Praying for a Blessing

Come, O thou all-victorious Lord,
Thy power to us make known;
Strike with the hammer of thy word, (Jer. 23:29)
And break these hearts of stone.

O that we all might now begin
Our foolishness to mourn,
And turn at once from every sin, (Ezek. 18:30)
And to our Saviour turn.

Give us ourselves and thee to know
In this our gracious day;
Repentance unto life bestow, (Acts 11:18)
And take our sins away.

Conclude us first in unbelief, (Rom. 11:32)
And freely then release;
Fill every soul with sacred grief,
And then with sacred peace.

Impoverish, Lord, and then relieve, (1 Sam. 2:7)
And then enrich the poor;
The knowledge of our sickness give,
The knowledge of our cure.

That blessed sense of guilt impart,
And then remove the load;
Trouble, and wash the troubled heart (John 5:4)
In the atoning blood.

Our desperate state through sin declare,
And speak our sins forgiven; (Matt. 9:2)
By perfect holiness prepare,
And take us up to heaven.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

A Prayer for Sundays from the Book of Common Prayer

O God, you make us glad with the weekly remembrance of the glorious resurrection of your Son our Lord: Give us this day such blessing through our worship of you, that the week to come may be spent in your favor; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

He will revive his work here also.

Sun 17 Oct 1790: At seven I administered the Lord’s Supper to about one hundred and fifty persons, near twice as many as we had last year. I take knowledge that the last year's Preachers were in earnest. Afterwards we went to our own parish church; although there was no sermon there, nor at any of the thirty-six churches in the town, save the cathedral and St. Peter’s. I preached at two. When I had done, Mr. Horne called upon me, who preached at the cathedral in the morning; an agreeable man, both in temper and person; and, I believe, much alive to God. At half an hour after five I preached again, to as many as the House would contain; and even those that could not get in stayed more quiet and silent than ever I saw them before. Indeed they all seemed to know that God was there; and I have no doubt but he will revive his work here also.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

A Prayer for Saturdays from the Book of Common Prayer

Almighty God, who after the creation of the world rested from all your works and sanctified a day of rest for all your creatures: Grant that we, putting away all earthly anxieties, may be duly prepared for the service of your sanctuary, and that our rest here upon earth may be a preparation for the eternal rest promised to your people in heaven; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

The Ordinance of Baptism

Sat 16 Oct 1756: I baptized Hannah C——, late a Quaker. God, as usual, bore witness to his ordinance. A solemn awe spread over the whole congregation, and many could not refrain from tears.

Friday, October 15, 2010

They neither increase nor decrease in number

Fri 15 Oct 1790: I went to Lowestoft, to a steady, loving, well-united society. The more strange it is, that they neither increase nor decrease in number. Saturday, 16. I preached at Loddon about one; and at six in Norwich.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

The power of God fell upon us

Thu 14 Oct 1790: I went to Yarmouth; and, at length, found a society in peace, and much united together. In the evening the congregation was too large to get into the preaching-house; yet they were far less noisy than usual. After supper a little company went to prayer, and the power of God fell upon us; especially when a young woman broke out into prayer, to the surprise and comfort of us all.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Prayer for the week from Book of Common Prayer

Pentecost Proper 23
Lord, we pray that your grace may always precede and follow us, that we may continually be given to good works; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

JW’s Strong Feelings about Gardens

Wed 13 Oct 1779: Having so lately seen Stourhead and Cobham gardens, I was now desired to take a view of the much more celebrated gardens at Stowe. The first thing I observed was the beautiful water which runs through the gardens to the front of the house. The tufts of trees, placed on each side of this, are wonderfully pleasant. And so are many of the walks and glades through the woods, which are disposed with a fine variety. The large pieces of water interspersed give a fresh beauty to the whole. Yet there are several things which must give disgust to any person of common sense: (1) the buildings called temples are most miserable, many of them both within and without. Sir John Vanbrugh’s is an ugly, clumsy lump, hardly fit for a gentleman’s stable; (2) the temples of Venus and Bacchus, though large, have nothing elegant in the structure. And the paintings in the former, representing a lewd story, are neither well designed nor executed; those in the latter are quite faded, and most of the inscriptions vanished away; (3) the statues are full as coarse as the paintings; particularly those of Apollo and the Muses—whom a person not otherwise informed might take to be nine cook-maids; (4) most of the water in the ponds is dirty and thick as puddle; (5) it is childish affectation to call things here by Greek or Latin names, as Styx and the Elysian Fields; (6) it was ominous for my lord to entertain himself and his noble company in a grotto built on the bank of Styx, that is, on the brink of hell; (7) the river on which it stands is a black, filthy puddle, exactly resembling a common sewer; (8) one of the stateliest monuments is taken down, the Egyptian Pyramid. And no wonder, considering the two inscriptions, which are still legible: the one,
Linquenda tellus, et domus, et placens
Uxor: neque harum, quas colis, arborum
Te praeter invisas cupressos,
Ulla brevem dominum sequetur!
the other,
Lusisti satis, edisti satis, atque bibisti:
Tempus abire tibi est: ne potum largius aequo
Rideat, et pulset lasciva decentius aetas.
Upon the whole, I cannot but prefer Cobham gardens to those at Stowe, for (1) the river at Cobham shames all the ponds at Stowe; (2) there is nothing at Stowe comparable to the walk near the wheel, which runs up the side of a steep hill, quite grotesque and wild; (3) nothing in Stowe gardens is to be compared to the large temple, the pavilion, the antique temple, the grotto, or the building at the head of the garden, nor to the neatness which runs through the whole.
But there is nothing even at Cobham to be compared, (1) to the beautiful cross at the entrance of Stourhead gardens; (2) to the vast body of water; (3) the rock-work grotto; (4) the temple of the sun; (5) the Hermitage. Here too everything is nicely clean, as well as in full preservation. Add to this that all the gardens hang on the sides of a semicircular mountain. And there is nothing, either at Cobham or Stowe, which can balance the advantage of such a situation.
On this and the two following evenings, I preached at Whittlebury, Towcester, and Northampton. On Saturday, I returned to London.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

The poor people of Frederica

Tue 12 October1736: We considered if anything could yet be done for the poor people of Frederica. And I submitted to the judgment of my friends, which was, that I should take another journey thither; Mr. Ingham undertaking to supply my place at Savannah for the time I should stay there. I came thither on Saturday the 16th, and found few things better than I expected. The morning and evening prayers, which were read for a while after my leaving the place, had been long discontinued, and from that time everything grew worse and worse; not many retaining any more of the form than of the power of godliness.
I was at first a little discouraged, but soon remembered the word which cannot fail: ‘Greater is he that is in you than he that is in the world.’ I cried to God to ‘arise and maintain his own cause’, and after the evening prayers were ended invited a few to my house (as I did every night while I stayed in Frederica). I read to them one of the exhortations of Ephraem Syrus, the most awakening writer (I think) of all the ancients. We concluded our reading and conversation with a psalm, and, I trust, our God gave us his blessing.

JW's Notes on RCL Gospel reading for Sunday 17th

Sun 17 Oct Luke 18:1-8
Luk 18:1 He spake a parable to them - This and the following parable warn us against two fatal extremes, with regard to prayer: the former against faintness and weariness, the latter against self confidence.
Luk 18:7 And shall not God - The most just Judge, vindicate his own elect - Preserve the Christians from all their adversaries, and in particular save them out of the general destruction, and avenge them of the Jews? Though he bear long with them - Though he does not immediately put an end, either to the wrongs of the wicked, or the sufferings of good men.
Luk 18:8 Yet when the Son of man cometh, will he find faith upon earth - Yet notwithstanding all the instances both of his long suffering and of his justice, whenever he shall remarkably appear, against their enemies in this age or in after ages, how few true believers will be found upon earth!

Monday, October 11, 2010

“French is the poorest, meanest language in Europe”

Mon 11 Oct 1756: I went to Leigh. Where we dined a poor woman came to the door, with two little children. They seemed to be half starved, as well as their mother, who was also shivering with an ague. She was extremely thankful for a little food, and still more so for a few pills, which seldom fail to cure that disorder.
In this little journey I read over a curiosity indeed, a French heroic poem—Voltaire’s Henriade. He is a very lively writer, of a fine imagination, and allowed, I suppose by all competent judges, to be a perfect master of the French language. And by him I was more than ever convinced that the French is the poorest, meanest language in Europe; that it is no more comparable to the German or Spanish than a bagpipe is to an organ; and that with regard to poetry in particular, considering the incorrigible uncouthness of their measure and their always writing in rhyme (to say nothing of their vile double rhymes, nay, and frequent false rhymes), it is as impossible to write a fine poem in French as to make fine music upon a Jew’s harp.

Saved from Robbers by God’s Grace

Mon 11 Oct1742: I had designed to leave London. But Mr. Richards being taken ill, I put off my journey. He was much better on Tuesday; so I set out the next morning, and before seven in the evening reached the half-way house, four miles short of Hungerford.
I now found it was well I did not set out on Monday, in order to be at Bristol on Tuesday night as usual. For all the travellers who went that way on Tuesday were robbed. But on Thursday the road was clear, so that I came safe to Kingswood in the afternoon, and in the evening preached at Bristol.
My chief business now was to examine thoroughly the society in Kingswood. This found me full employment for several days. On Wednesday 27, having finished my work, I set out very early, and (though my horse fell lame) on Thursday evening came to London.

Praying for a Blessing

Thou Son of God, whose flaming eyes (Rev. 1:14)
Our inmost thoughts perceive,
Accept the evening sacrifice (Ps. 141:2)
Which now to thee we give.

We bow before thy gracious throne
And think ourselves sincere;
But show us, Lord, is every one
Thy real worshipper?

Is here a soul that knows thee not,
Nor feels his want of thee?
A stranger to the blood which bought
His pardon on the tree?

Convince him now of unbelief, (John 16:9)
His desperate state explain,
And fill his heart with sacred grief,
And penitential pain.

Speak with that voice which wakes the dead (Eph. 5:14)
And bid the sleeper rise;
And bid his guilty conscience dread
The death that never dies.

Extort the cry, What must be done (Acts 16:30)
To save a wretch like me?
How shall a trembling sinner shun
That endless misery?

I must this instant now begin
Out of my sleep to wake,
And turn to God, and every sin
Continually forsake.

I must for faith incessant cry,
And wrestle, Lord, with thee;
I must be born again, or die (John 3:7)
To all eternity.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Prayer for Sundays from BCP

O God, you make us glad with the weekly remembrance of the glorious resurrection of your Son our Lord: Give us this day such blessing through our worship of you, that the week to come may be spent in your favor; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Nothing as useful as field preaching

Sun 10 Oct 1756: I preached to an huge multitude in Moorfields, on ‘Why will ye die, O house of Israel’ It is field preaching which does the execution still. For usefulness there is none comparable to it.

What Does God Expect of Me

What Does God Expect of Me
2 Timothy 2:8-15 (RCL for 10 October 2010)

Do your best to present yourself to God, as one approved, a workman who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly handles the word of truth. (2 Timothy 2:15)

Timothy is someone who Paul describes as his closest co-worker. He received two of Paul's 13 letters in the New Testament and is mentioned in eight others, as well as in the Letter to the Hebrews, whose author we don't really know. While Paul has much advice for Timothy in the two letters that he writes to him, and because these letters have been included in Scripture they become letters to us, therefore advice for us,…. for me it is 2 Timothy 2:15 which is almost a summary of Paul's advice to Timothy and thus to us we would do well to heed this advice.

Do your best to present yourself to God, as one approved, a workman who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly handles the word of truth.

Do your best

Here is advice for every area of life,….. from school, to work, to sport, to marriage, to service in the kingdom of God….. do your best. Don't try and do better than everyone around you, don't turn every area of life into a competition…..just do your best. While Scripture does sometimes speak of the Christian life as a race, the emphasis is not on winning, it is on running a good race and on finishing.

A person with two good, strong, normal legs will run differently to a person with one leg much shorter than the other. They both do as well as each other if they both do their best, regardless of whether one comes 10th and the other 88th.

Are you doing your best…… at home, at school, in the workplace, in the kingdom of God?

Do your best to present yourself to God

Who, ultimately, do you feel you are accountable to…… again, with regard to your homework, your work in the office, your work in the church, in your marriage, and in the way you bring up your children. Who do you present your work too? Who is in the back of your mind as you do your work….. your boss or your God? As you wash the dishes, who is in the back of your mind…… yourself if you live alone, your spouse if you are married, or…… your God?

In all things, Paul suggests that we present ourselves, our work,.. to God, before we present it to anyone else.

Do your best to present yourself to God, as one approved, a workman who does not need to be ashamed

I don't know whether you will agree with me, so let me stress this is a personal opinion. My opinion is that we live in a culture which is satisfied with mediocrity. We put up with the mediocre, the average…….. as long as the service isn't too bad, or we don't wait too long, or the sermon isn't too boring, we put up with it. We don't demand excellence and so we put up with average, from the highest office in the land…. or the church… to things like the post office and even our cellphone providers… ' Oh dear; there's no signal here, let me try somewhere else. ' We put up with mediocrity.

Against this way of the world, Paul suggests for us a different way…. do your best to present yourself, your work, to God…… be concerned with the approval of God in everything, rather than with the approval of people.

It never ceases to amaze me how many smokers, for some reason don't want “the minister” to know that they smoke…….. nevermind that God knows!

And so Paul says, and I suggest this morning that he says these words into every situation in your life and mine, he says:

Do your best to present yourself to God, as one approved, a workman who does not need to be ashamed

I think there are two things to lift from this: firstly, the train driver, the brain surgeon, the schoolteacher, the State President, the preacher, the door steward, the mother, the father……… we all have this in common…..we are workers!

Secondly, Paul says “do your work”, your unique work in such a way that there is no need to be ashamed. When is it necessary for me to be ashamed of my work? I only need to be ashamed of my work when I haven't done my best. And note that my best won't always be the same, because circumstances change. So I don't compete even with myself, just as I said earlier we don't compete with others.

Let's say Derek, our organist, caught his hand in his car door this morning. God doesn't expect him to be upset because he can't play as well as he did last week, God only wants him to be upset if he doesn't play as well as he can.... today.

So, do your best to present yourself to God, as one approved, a workman who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly handles the word of truth.

As we have seen in the series I recently preached on ' How Does God Guide Us ' there is a word of truth (usually to be discerned from our study of the Scriptures) about everything…… a word of truth regarding the speed limit, a word of truth regarding tik (for those of you who don't know, this is a highly addictive form of methamphetamine which has a huge number of addicts in Cape Town) a word of truth regarding our offering, a word of truth regarding tax returns, and so on and so on.

And Paul says handle the word of truth correctly.
Let me point out a few common ways of handling the word of truth incorrectly, which will in turn help us understand what it means to handle the word of truth correctly.

To neglect the word of God and to treat it casually,….. is to handle the word of truth incorrectly
To seek comfort in God's word, but to ignore its challenges,…… is to handle the word of truth incorrectly
To try to make the word of God say what we want to hear rather than be receptive to God's message, …….is to handle the word of truth incorrectly
To deceive ourselves into believing that to hear or read the Word of God is the same as obeying it,….. is to handle the word of truth incorrectly.

Handle the word of truth correctly.

So, Paul says to Timothy nearly 2000 years ago, and says to us today, to you and to me:
Do your best to present yourself to God, as one approved, a workman who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly handles the word of truth.

In the name of the Father, and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, Amen.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

The largest elm I ever saw

11 Oct 1773: I took a little tour through Bedfordshire and Northamptonshire. Between Northampton and Towcester we met with a great natural curiosity, the largest elm I ever saw; it was twenty-eight feet in circumference; six feet more than that which was some years ago in Magdalen-College walks at Oxford.

Friday, October 8, 2010

Prayer for Fridays from Book of Common Prayer

Lord Jesus Christ, by your death you took away the sting of death: Grant to us your servants so to follow in faith where you have led the way, that we may at length fall asleep peacefully in you and wake up in your likeness; for your tender mercies' sake. Amen.

Beautiful Gardens

Fri 8 Oct 1779: We took chaise as usual, at two, and about eleven came to Cobham. Having a little leisure, I thought I could not employ it better than in taking a walk through the gardens. They are said to take up four hundred acres and are admirable well laid out. They far exceed the celebrated gardens at Stowe, and that in several respects: (1) in situation, lying on a much higher hill and having a finer prospect from the house; (2) in having a natural river, clear as crystal, running beneath and through them; (3) in the buildings therein, which are fewer indeed, but far more elegant—yea, and far better kept, being nicely clean, which is sadly wanting at Stowe; and lastly, in the rock-work, to which nothing of the kind at Stowe is to be compared.
This night I lodged in the new house at London. How many more nights have I to spend there?

Thursday, October 7, 2010

English soldiers of this age have nothing to do with God

Thu 7 Oct 1779: I took a view of the camp adjoining to the town [Portsmouth Common] and wondered to find it as clean and neat as a gentleman’s garden. But there was no chaplain! The English soldiers of this age have nothing to do with God!

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Prayer for the week from Book of Common Prayer

John Wesley read prayers from the BCP every day of his ordained ministry
[Pentecost Proper 22]
Almighty and everlasting God, you are always more ready to hear than we to pray, and to give more than we either desire or deserve: Pour upon us the abundance of your mercy, forgiving us those things of which our conscience is afraid, and giving us those good things for which we are not worthy to ask, except through the merits and mediation of Jesus Christ our Savior; who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

Treat prisoners well

Wed 6 Oct 1779: At eleven, I preached in Winchester, where there are four thousand five hundred French prisoners. I was glad to find they have plenty of wholesome food and are treated in all respects with great humanity.
In the evening, I preached at Portsmouth Common.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Drop the Controversy

Tue 5 Oct 1756: I wrote a second letter to the authors of the Monthly Review—ingenious men, but no friends to the Godhead of Christ. Yet upon farther consideration I judged it best to drop the controversy. It is enough that I have delivered my own soul: ‘if they scorn, they alone shall bear it.’

JW's Notes on RCL Gospel reading for Sunday 10th

JW has no comments on Luke 17:11-19

Monday, October 4, 2010

The state of my accounts

Mon 4 Oct 1773: I went, by Shepton-Mallet, to Shaftesbury, and on Tuesday to Salisbury. Wednesday, 6. Taking chaise at two in the morning, in the evening I came well to London. The rest of the week I made what inquiry I could into the state of my accounts. Some confusion had arisen from the sudden death of my book-keeper; but it was less than might have been expected.

Praying for a Blessing

Shepherd of souls, with pitying eye (1 Pet. 2:25)
The thousands of our Israel see; (Num. 10:36)
To thee in their behalf we cry,
Ourselves but newly found in thee.

See where o'er desert wastes they err,
And neither food nor feeder have,
Nor fold, nor place of refuge near,
For no man cares their souls to save. (Ps. 142:4)

Still let the publicans draw near; (Luke 15:1)
Open the door of faith and heaven, (Rev. 3:7)
And grant their hearts thy word to hear,
And witness all their sins forgiven.