Lessons for the Lenten season: How shall we then pray?

In my observance of the Lenten season as a time of meditating on the sufferings of Christ that led up to the last week, I have also been focused on the the whole question of Adam’s race in rebellion that necessitated it all. This of course leads me into confessing my own participation in the rebellion which is universal. Learning to pray from this platform is taking me into some interesting requests, not the least of which has to do with renewing my own covenantal vows of the Christian Faith.

Recently I’ve been re-reading a classic book by one of my favorite Puritan writers, John Owen, on beholding the glory of Christ. I mentioned this last year in a post and suggested this is what we are supposed to do in living the Christian life. It can be considered our “reasonable worship” as redeemed people of the New Covenant. In the last few days I ran across a post quoting from this book which I found especially helpful in knowing more specifically how to pray from this same perspective.

“Renewed repentance is seen in fervent prayer. ‘Take words with you. Say to him…’ We must know what we are to pray for. We are to pray for pardon of all iniquity. ‘Take away all iniquity.’ Not one sin must be left to be indulged. We are to pray that God will graciously receive us. ‘Receive us graciously.’ Confession must be made of the sins that caused our backslidings. ‘Assyria will not save us. Nor will we say any more to the work of our hands, “You are our gods.” Fleshly confidence and false worship were the two sins that ruined the people, and of these sins God expects a full and free confession so that we may be healed.

“Believers must renew their covenant with God, renouncing all other hopes and expectations, and put their trust and confidence only and wholly in him, for only in God do the fatherless find mercy (14:3). The result of such repentance is praise and thanksgiving: ‘We will offer the sacrifice or our lips’ (14:2). When God heals our backslidings he will communicate his grace to us, to the praise of his own glory…”  (John Owen)

To read the entire post over at ‘Cultivating Epiphanies’ go here.

The Gospel of Christ Crucified

Readings from Saint Paul’s Writings

After one week of  meditating on chapters from Saint Paul’s epistles, I am having a very profitable Lenten observance. I have put a live link on the chapter to be read each day and if you move your mouse over the link you will see it takes you to that chapter over at the ESVersion of Holy Scripture. If you click on it you can read the chapter on-line or click on the listen option and it will be read for you. I find listening to God’s Word read very helpful.

I found at least one local church that has incorporated the observance of the “Year of Saint Paul” into their church calendar, Saint Paul Episcopal Church. I really like their introduction:

“It is impossible to overstate the effect and impact of Saint Paul the Apostle on the early Christian Church. His bold proclamation of the Gospel, his challenge to paul-called established thought, and his unwavering commitment to Jesus Christ changed the early Church and enabled it to spread to every part of the known world.

Our world today needs more Christians to act like Saint Paul. Our world, so filled with hatred, prejudice, violence, injustice, needs the Gospel of Jesus Christ. If we don’t become a Saint Paul for our world – who will?

Our Year of Saint Paul will celebrate Saint Paul the man – his power; his accomplishments; his writings; his mission; and his ministry. We will stand ‘boldy before the Throne of God’ and take pride that our parish family is named in honor of this great Saint of an undivided church.”

Week Two:

Wednesday – I Thess. 4  Taught by God

Thursday – I Thess. 5  Preserved blameless

Friday – Rom 2  The Coming Judgment of God

Saturday – II Thess 2   Mystery of Lawlessness

Sunday – I Tim 4  Why Godliness matters

Monday –  Titus 2  Adorning the Gospel

Tuesday – I Tim 6  Lay hold of eternal life                                         

WHAT is it? And WHO gets to define it ?

Ah, there’s the rub, as they say!

Orthodoxy means different things to different people. Orthodoxy as quoted in the previous piece by Michael Horton means a specific form of Calvinism, for that is basically what The Alliance of Confessing Evangelicals and those who produce Modern Reformation are all about: Reforming the American Church by calling us all back to that historical version of the Christian faith. There is a great deal of excellent fuel for the fire that we all desire in the form of true God-sent reformation and revival of the churches, in this tradition, their pastors and theologians.

E4 Unity advocates for this very thing, that is a God-sent healing and wholesomeness of His churches. I have said that this will bring the greatest blessing to this old world of ours and untold power in dealing with the terrible plights of humankind today; healthy, churches full of mature believers living not in the flesh of Adam, but in newness of the Life which is in Christ. But my conviction of what Orthodoxy is differs radically from Horton’s. It may look very much the same to the untrained eye. I only mention it here because it involves a fundamental element of our dis-unity and one that absolutely must be addressed in God’s time in order for the churches to celebrate the reality of their unity in God’s new creation. My personal view of Orthodoxy is not worth defending here, at least not for now.

Just to show you how grateful to God I am for all the traditions of Christianity, and the esteem I have especially for the Puritan tradition I want to tell you about an incredible resource that you would do well to bookmark for later reading and consideration. Sinclair Ferguson has been an authority on the Puritans and has written a book on the theology/orthodoxy of one of the most influential, John Owen. It is exactly in keeping with Horton’s original post, an orthodoxy that is thoroughly lived out in every way. The book is called John Owen on the Christian Life.   But you don’t have to buy the book to taste and enjoy a sample of the rich Puritan spirituality that it is filled with. There is an article by Ferguson on-line for you to look through his trained eyes at Owen’s treatment of the Holy Spirit in the Life of Christ. 

I have read this article several times over the last several years and I highly recommend it to every friend of e4Unity. And oh yes, I can’t pass up this opportunity to ask a timely question: Do you think the American press has any idea of how different these evangelicals are from all others they lump together in a certain voting block- say from those associated with Sarah Palin?