Thursday, August 17, 2017

"Wesley and the Anglicans" - An Interview on Anglican Radio

Readers of this blog will be interested in a new interview on Anglican Radio (a site that I am just now discovering and look forward to exploring more thoroughly!).  The interviewer is Michael Porter. Michael is the President of Anglican Radio.  The interviewee is the Rev'd. Dr. Ryan N. Danker.  Dr. Danker is a United Methodist who serves as Assistant Professor of the History of Christianity and Methodist Studies at Wesley Theological Seminary in Washington, DC.

The topic of the interview is Dr. Danker's recent book, Wesley and the Anglicans: Political Division
in Early Evangelicalism.

I picked this book up, recently, but I have not yet had the opportunity to read it.  Everything that I have heard, so far, makes it sound like an important read.  In fact, Dr. Ted Campbell says that it is "a must-read for serious students of the Wesleys and Methodist origins" (cf., Promo comment in the front of Danker's book). 

I invite you to take a listen to the interview and consider picking up the book, yourself!

(A special thanks to the Rev'd. Dr. James Gibson for sharing the link to this interview with me!)

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

At the Hour of Prayer . . . the Power of God at Work

The liturgical tradition is often characterized by those in the more "free church" tradition, and especially in the Pentecostal or Charismatic traditions, as being lifeless.  They may even quote St. Paul's second letter to Timothy where he refers to those who hold "to the outward form of godliness" but who deny its power.

Now, if I'm honest (and I hope to be!), there is some justification for this characterization in some situations (maybe in many situations).  I recall a parishioner during a former pastorate who came to our church having spent a little time in a local Episcopal Church.  Her response to that church was, "There is so much power in the liturgy!"  - I agree!  After all, I'm Wesleyan-ANGLICAN!  -  "But," she said, "they just don't seem to get it!"  -  I've been there and seen that.  I know exactly what she was talking about. 

Yet, this need not be the case!  In fact, that is a big part of what being a Wesleyan-Anglican is all about.  It is recognizing and promoting the fact that these two aspects are not mutually exclusive.  And in my Scripture reading during Morning Prayer, today, I read a passage that illustrates this quite well.  It is a passage that demonstrates that the Early, New Testament Church was steeped in liturgy as well as filled with the power of God.

The passage comes from Acts 3:1-7 (it continues on, but I'm only going to quote these seven verses):

     One day Peter and John were going up to the temple at the hour of prayer, at three o'clock
     in the afternoon.  And a man lame from birth was being carried in.  People would lay him
     daily at the gate of the temple called the Beautiful Gate so that he could ask for alms from
     those entering the temple.  When he saw Peter and John about to go into the temple, he
     asked them for alms.  Peter looked intently at him, as did John, and said, "Look at us." 
     And he fixed his attention on them, expecting to receive something from them.  But Peter
     said, "I have no silver or gold, but what I have I give you; in the name of Jesus Christ of
     Nazareth, stand up and walk."  And he took him by the right hand and raised him
     up; and immediately his feet and ankles were made strong (NRSV).

Obviously, this passage could be pointed to as an example of the miraculous power of God at work in and through the apostles.  Certainly, Peter and John would not be counted among those who would deny the power of God.  And, of course, we know that God shows no partiality (cf. Acts 10:34).  The truth is, God can still bring miraculous healing, today.  This is not to deny that God sometimes brings healing through the means of medical Science or that God sometimes chooses to wait until a person sees God face to face.  But these latter instances ought not deny that God can heal instantaneously, as well.

However, a point that is sometimes overlooked is that all of this takes place in the context of verse one.  There, again, we read that Peter and John were headed to the temple "at the hour of prayer, at three o'clock in the afternoon."  This was actually one of the three set hours for prayer.  What is important to note is that this "hour of prayer," was not simply about a gathering for individual or extemporaneous prayer.  Rather, these times of prayer included the recital or chanting of psalms, the reading of passages from the Old Testament and the use of canticles.  In other words, these times of prayer included set forms of prayer.  And in fact, it was these hours of prayer that led to what we in the Anglican tradition refer to as the Daily office of Morning and Evening Prayer.

All of this to say, formal, liturgical, corporate forms of prayer are NOT antithetical to the miraculous power of God at work in and through the people of God.  In fact, it can be argued that, contrary to what we often see in the Church of our day, both the form and the power of godliness should go hand in hand.

Thursday, May 11, 2017

Depth of Mercy! / Jesus, the Sinner's Friend

Two powerful Charles Wesley hymns:
Depth of Mercy!
Depth of mercy! can there be
Mercy still reserved for me?
Can my God His wrath forbear -
Me, the chief of sinners, spare?
I have long withstood His grace,
Long provoked Him to His face,
Would not hearken to His calls,
grieved Him by a thousand falls.
Now incline me to repent;
Let me now my sins lament;
Now my foul revolt deplore,
Weep, believe, and sin no more.
There for me the Saviour stands,
Holding forth His wounded hands;
God is love! I know, I feel,
Jesus weeps and loves me still.

Jesus, the Sinner's Friend
Jesus, the sinner's Friend, to thee,
Lost and undone, for aid I flee,
Weary of earth, myself, and sin:
Open Thine arms, and take me in.
Pity and heal my sinsick soul;
'Tis Thou alone canst make me whole:
Dark, till in me Thine image shine,
And lost, I am, till Thou art mine.
At last I own it cannot be
That I should fit myself for Thee;
Here, then, to Thee I all resign;
Thine is the work, and only Thine.
What shall I say Thy grace to move?
Lord, I am sin, but Thou art love:
I give up every plea beside -
Lord, I am lost, but Thou hast died.

Friday, May 5, 2017

But, O, Thyself Reveal!

I just finished singing through "The Eucharistic Hymns of John and Charles Wesley" during Evening Prayer, last night.  (Some really good stuff there!  I'll have to blog about the Eucharist as a sacrifice, somewhere down the road.)   

This morning, I began singing through "Hymn Poems of Charles Wesley For Reading and Singing."  The second hymn is "Jesus, We Look to Thee."  The last verse of the hymn encapsulates what many of us in the Wesleyan-holiness tradition often long for during our services of worship.  On the one hand, it expresses a conviction of the objective presence of  God with us in worship.  On the other hand, it cries out for the "manifest presence" of the Lord in the midst of the worshipping people of God.

I invite you to sing this, my prayer for Sunday, paying special attention to the final verse:

Jesus, we look to Thee,
Thy promised presence claim;
Thou in the midst of us shalt be,
Assembled in Thy Name:
Thy Name salvation is,
Which here we come to prove;
Thy Name is life, and health, and peace,
And everlasting love.
We meet, the grace to take
Which Thou hast freely given;
We meet on earth for Thy dear sake
That we may meet in heaven.
Present we know Thou art;
But, O, Thyself reveal!
Now, Lord, let ev'ry waiting heart
The mighty comfort feel.

Saturday, March 11, 2017

The VP & the ACNA

It seems that the former Governor of my state, the current Vice President of the United States, has been attending a parish in the Anglican Church in North America.  I knew that one of the President's formal rivals was Anglican (in the ACNA), but I did not know that the Vice President had an Anglican connection.  -  Frankly, I am encouraged to hear this news.

It is my prayer that the ACNA might be used by God to help shape Mr. Pence's life in Christlikeness, as well as to help shape his thinking in ways that are consistent with the historic Church and with the New Testament. 

The article can be found at Virtue Online, here.

Friday, March 10, 2017

Perfect People Welcome!

I'm sure that many of you have heard the slogan, just as I have.  In fact, just the other day, again, I was looking at a church that we were thinking about attending during our upcoming vacation, and there it was; that slogan:  "No Perfect People Allowed."

Well, a few weeks ago, I was preaching from Jesus' Sermon on the Mount in Matthew 5:39-48.  And in this sermon, I take issue with that slogan.  You see, it's not a slogan that fits with the good news of the Gospel, and it certainly ought not be found in any Wesleyan/Methodist Church.

Since, I'm just discovering how to move one of our sermon videos from the Heartland Church to my blog (I'm not very tech savvy!), I thought this would be a good place to start.  -  In the future, I may try to post my weekly sermons, and perhaps even go back to include some that I have preached in the recent past.  (Perhaps the one on Baptism of the Lord Sunday would fit this blog's emphasis, well.)  -  In any case, I hope that this sermon ministers to you!  -  "Perfect People Welcome!"

Thursday, March 9, 2017

Taking Up the Daily Office for Lent

The Constitution of the Wesleyan-Anglican Society encourages members of the Society to pray the Daily Office of Morning and Evening Prayer, as well as to pray the Litany on Wednesdays and Fridays. 

I have made this a habit for years and find it to be an important part of my spiritual life.  Though there have been occasions when I have been able to pray the Daily Office in a group, usually this is something that I do alone.  -  And yet, I am keenly aware that I am not alone.  Rather, I am joined by sisters and brothers around the world and throughout time, from various traditions within the one, holy, catholic, and apostolic Church. 

Over the years, I have prayed using various versions of the Book of Common Prayer including the 1662, the 1928, the 1979, the ACNA version, and Wesley's The Sunday Service.  This latter one is the version that I have most often used.  -  A link to each of these BCP versions can be found on the sidebar of this blog.

We are now in the beginning days of Lent.  If the praying of the Daily Office is not a current practice for you, I want to encourage you to take it up during this Lenten season.  -  Perhaps you will find it to be as spiritually profitable as I have, as you join in the prayers of the People of God around the world and throughout history!

More Eucharistic Hymns

Earlier this week, all three of the hymns that I sang during my time praying the Daily Office were really good and quite singable.  Allow me to share them with you.  (From The Eucharistic Hymns of John and Charles Wesley by J. Ernest Rattenbury).

1. Draw near, ye blood-besprinkled race,
And take what God vouchsafes to give;
The outward sign of inward grace,
Ordain'd by Christ Himself, receive:
The sign transmits the signified,
The grace is by the means applied.
2.  Sure pledges of His dying love,
Receive the sacramental meat,
And feel the virtue from above,
The mystic flesh of Jesus eat,
Drink with the wine His healing blood,
And feast on th' Incarnate God.
3. Gross misconceit be far away!
Through faith we on His body feed
Faith only cloth the Spirit convey,
And fills our souls with living bread,
Th' effects of Jesu's death imparts,
And pours HIs blood into our hearts.


1. Come, Holy Ghost, Thine influence shed,
And realize the sign;
Thy life infuse into the bread;
Thy power into the wine.

2. Effectual let the tokens prove,
And made, by heavenly art,
Fit channels to convey Thy love
To every faithful heart.


1. Is not the cup of blessing, blest
By us, the sacred means t' impart
Our Saviour's blood, with power imprest
And pardon to the faithful heart?

2. Is not the hallow'd broken bread
A sure communicating sign,
An instrument ordain'd to feed
Our souls with mystic flesh Divine?

3. Th' effects of His atoning blood,
His body offer'd on the tree,
Are with the awful types bestow'd
On me, the pardon'd rebel, me;

4. On all who at His word draw near,
In faith the outward veil look through:
Sinners, believe, and find Him here;
Believe, and feel He died for you.

5. In memory of your dying God,
The symbols faithfully receive,
And eat the flesh and drink the blood
Of Jesus, and for ever live.

Saturday, February 25, 2017

Wesleyan Worship Workshop Recording

Some of you may know that I recently presented my workshop on Authentic Wesleyan Worship during the Wesley Conference at Northwest Nazarene University.  -  Dr. Brent Peterson has announced, "I am pleased to share about 20 mp3 workshop recordings and 8 videos from our NNU Wesley Center Conference on Worship."  -  I am pleased to have my workshop among those recorded and available at the NNU website.  You can find all of the recordings here.

Thursday, February 23, 2017

Welseyan Eucharistic Hymns

As some of you may recall, I make it a practice to include singing three hymns in the midst of my personal devotion when praying the offices of Morning and Evening Prayer.  -  For the first time, I have been singing (I have previously read) through the Eucharistic hymns of John and Charles Wesley as found in J. Ernest Rattenbury's book by the same name.  Below, I have printed copies of three of those hymns which have stood out to me in my recent singing.  They provide wonderful expressions of Wesleyan Eucharistic theology and spiritual practice.

The first one is listed as number 42.  I sang this one a few days ago.  It is actually a hymn that we have used a number of times in the various churches where I have served.  It is a great explication of the Eucharist as the chief means of grace.  I love it!

1. Glory to Him who freely spent
His blood, that we might live,
And through this choicest instrument
Doth all His blessings give.
2.  Fasting He doth, and hearing bless,
And prayer can much avail,
Good vessels all to draw the grace
Out of salvation's well.
3.  But none, like this mysterious rite
Which dying mercy gave,
Can draw forth all His promised might
And all His will to save.
4.  This is the richest legacy
Thou hast on man bestow'd:
Here chiefly, Lord, we feed on Thee,
And drink Thy precious blood.
5.  Here all Thy blessings we receive,
Here all Thy gifts are given,
To those that would in Thee believe,
Pardon, and grace, and heaven.

6.  Thus may we still in Thee be blest,
Till all from earth remove,
And share with Thee the marriage feast,
And drink the wine above.
Hymn 54 is not one that I have ever used during worship with the congregation, but it is a very good hymn.
1.  Why did my dying Lord ordain
This dear memorial of His love?
Might we not all by faith obtain,
By faith the mountain sin remove,
Enjoy the sense of sins forgiven,
And holiness, the taste of heaven?
2.  It seem'd to my Redeemer good
That faith should here His coming wait
Should here receive immortal food,
Grow up in Him Divinely great,
And, fill'd with holy violence, seize
The glorious crown of righteousness.
3.  Saviour, Thou didst the mystery give
That I Thy nature might partake
Thou bidd'st me outward signs receive,
One with Thyself my soul to make;
My body, soul, and spirit to join
Inseparably one with Thine.
4.  The prayer, the fast, the word conveys,
When mix'd with faith, Thy life to me;
In all the channels of Thy grace
I still have fellowship with Thee:
But chiefly here my soul is fed
With fullness of immortal bread.
5.  Communion closer far I feel
And deeper drink the' atoning blood;
The joy is more unspeakable,
And yields me large draughts of God,
Till nature faints beneath the power,
And faith fill'd up can hold no more.
The final hymn that I'm going to share in this post is actually in the United Methodist Hymnal, as well.  In fact, we just sang it this past Sunday at the United Methodist Church where I serve.  In the Eucharistic hymns it is number 57.
1.  O the depth of love Divine,
Th' unfathomable grace!
Who shall say how bread and wine
God into man conveys!
How the bread His flesh impart,
How the wine transmits His blood,
Fills His faithful people's hearts
With all the life of God!
2.  Let the wisest mortal show
How we the grace receive,
Feeble elements bestow
A power not theirs to give.
Who explains the wondrous way,
How through these the virtue came?
These the virtue did convey,
Yet still remain the same.
3.  How can heavenly spirits rise,
By earthly matter fed,
Drink herewith Divine supplies,
And eat immortal bread?
Ask the Father's Wisdom how;
Him that did the means ordain!
Angels round our altars bow
To search it out in vain.
4.  Sure and real is the grace,
The manner be unknown;
Only meet us in Thy ways,
And perfect us in one.
Let us taste the heavenly powers;
Lord, we ask for nothing more:
Thine to bless, 'tis only ours
To wonder and adore.

I trust that these hymns have been both a blessing and a great, poetic explanation of the Eucharist in the Wesleyan understanding.  -  And they are singable! 
Though there is no music printed with these, above, one can easily find music that fits.  If one counts out the syllables in each line of the verse, this forms the metric.  Many hymnals include a metrical index.  The UM Hymnal and the Nazarene hymnal (Sing to the Lord), both contain a metrical index.  Just go to that index, match the metric with a hymn tune that is familiar, and you can sing it!  This, by the way, can also be used for hymns that you like, but you or your congregation are unfamiliar with the given tune.  You can often find an alternative tune that is familiar.  (There are, of course, a few of these hymns for which there may not be a metric listed in the index, or the tune listed may not be familiar.)

My prayer is that these hymns might be used in such a way as to enrich the observance of the Lord's Supper in your church!

Lent and Prayer & Fasting Bookmarks

Lent is nearly upon us! One thing I have done as a part of the Lenten observance over the years is to provide for my congregations the Prayer & Fasting bookmarks provided by World Methodist Evangelism.

These bookmarks include an explanation and challenge on one side.  On the other, there are prayers for Thursday Evening, Morning Prayer, Mealtime Prayer, and a Prayer for Breaking Fast.  The bookmarks call on us to join with other Wesleyan/Methodist Christians in more than 130 countries who practice the same weekly fast which John Wesley observed most of his life. The Friday fasts are focused in prayer on the vision that we would be empowered to become channels for the transformative power of the Holy Spirit. 

As an elder in a WMC denomination, serving in another WMC denomination; as a representative on the WMC, itself, and a member of the Order of the FLAME through World Methodist Evangelism, I heartily commend these bookmarks to you and to your congregation!  -  Further, if you are a member of the Wesleyan-Anglican Society, I would remind you that, in our "Special Rules," we encourage Society members to seek to "follow the Wesleyan Pattern of Prayer and Fasting" as encouraged by the World Methodist Council.

You can purchase the book marks (unfortunately, they are no longer free), by making contact with folks from World Methodist Evangelism.  


The meeting of the Wesleyan Theological Society is close approaching (March 3-4).  Along with that meeting comes all of the affiliate Society meetings (March 2).  Among them is the meeting of the newly formed Wesleyan Liturgical Society.

The Wesleyan Liturgical Society had its first meeting last year when WTS met  at Point Loma Nazarene University in California.  Our keynote speaker during that meeting was my doctoral professor and mentor, Dr. Lester Ruth.  During that meeting, an oversight committee was formed to plan for this year's meeting.  I was honored to be a part of that three person committee (plus one, Dr. Brent Peterson, who has really been the moving force behind the organization of the WLS).

This year, the WLS will be meeting in affiliation with the WTS at Asbury Theological Seminary in Wilmore, Kentucky.  (Asbury is where I did my D.Min).  In this meeting we are planning to set the broad range covered by Wesleyan worship.  We will have Dr. Steven Hoskins (Trevecca Nazarene University) who will be talking to us about Cane Ridge and the camp meeting.  On the other end of the spectrum will be Dr. Winfield Bevin's (Asbury Theological Seminary) presentation on Eucharist and Mission, presenting the "Anglican side" of Wesleyan worship.  In the middle will be a presentation by our keynote speaker (and we are really thrilled to have her), Dr. Karen Westerfield Tucker (Boston University School of Theology).

These presentations are intended to provide "book ends," if you will; setting the scope of what fits under the broad tent of "Wesleyan Liturgy."  -  With this set, there will be an actual call for papers for the 2018 meeting.

One of the exciting things for me is that the Wesleyan-Anglican Society will have an actual presence at the meeting.  The WAS will lead a service of Evening Prayer following Dr. Bevin's presentation.  It is a WLS event, but it will be led by the WAS!

In addition, though it is not an official WAS event, I have been asked to lead the opening Eucharistic service for the Wesleyan Theological Society, the next day.  So, by extension, the WAS will be present (though not "officially") at the WTS meeting.

I would ask for your prayers for both of these services.  It's a lot to put together, especially since it falls on the Thursday and Friday following Ash Wednesday!
If you have not made plans to attend the WTS meeting, you can still do so by following the link, here. 

(And, if you will be attending, and are a member of the Wesleyan-Anglican Society, comment, below, so I will be able to make contact with you, there.  -  If you are not a member of the WAS, check us out on Facebook or at our website!) 

I hope to see you at Asbury!