History of the Chapel:
“In the year 1506, the famous Italian Renaissance Michelangelo Buonarroti was approached by Pope Julius the Second and offered the commission to the paint the Pope’s private chapel, the Sistine Chapel. For four years, 1508 through 1512, Michelangelo worked on 65 foot scaffolding, painting what would eventually become the greatest work of art in the Western world. When it was revealed, the world was inspired and shocked. Nearly five hundred years after it’s completion, the ceiling was once again forced into the spotlight.
In 1980, the Vatican announced it’s plans to launch a massive cleaning and restoration project on the Sistine Chapel’s ceiling frescoes. This intensive civic project cost the Vatican millions of dollars and twelve years. The results were phenomenal. The ceiling was revealed as a vibrantly vivid and passionate work of art. ”
At Boyer Writes, we have looked at the Pieta and learned something of the life of Michelangelo in previous blogs, but today I would like to share with you an inter-active view of the Sistine Chapel.
You will be able to see the tiniest details that even the tourists that visit by the thousands each year do not see. This is how you view through an inter-active method. A pointer or arrow will be on your screen. Use your mouse to click…hold and pull this arrow around. On the lower left of the screen is a “zoom out or in” button. Use this to zoom toward any part of the chapel. You will soon see how it works. Turn on your sound for music. See all the paintings in their full, up-close glory!
May you be blessed this Sunday morning.
Recently, I saw an unusual sticker on a car. It said “Asian Women are never spoken of in History”. It was not clear to me what the owner of this car was trying to say, but it led me to thinking about the stories that I had heard in Mongolia about the famous women who made tremendous contributions to this Asian society.
Doing a little research and sending emails to my Mongolian students about this, I thought it might be educational for all of us to learn more about the women who lived in the 13th century in Mongolia. It may be good also to clarify that outer Mongolia is part of China and the country of Mongolia is north between China and Russian Siberia for those who may not be clear on this.
In my previous blog, I wrote about the changes that have happened in Mongolia since I was there in the 90’s. The Mongolians today continue to honor their most famous ancestor, Chinggis Khan. We know that in reality he was probably the most vicious warrior in human history. Nevertheless, he had a mother who contributed to some of his better aspects of character. She sought for him an understanding of languages, religion, and politics. Other women of his era were also influential Asian women. Below is something of what I found concerning notable Asian women.
These edited notes were taken from a lecture by Morris Rossabi, presented as part of the lecture series in conjunction with Mongolia: The Legacy of Chinggis Khan, an exhibition at the Denver Art Museum.
How did women play a role in Mongol invasions and expansion?
” In a nomadic society each member of the society was critical to the survival of the group. Another explanation for Mongol success is that women played a very important role in the economy, they took care of the animals if need be. The Mongols had total male mobility for warfare. This made the Mongols a more daunting force than they might have been. Women also played a role in the military. Many women who actually took part in battle were mentioned in Mongol, Chinese, and Persian chronicles. Women were trained for the military. Mongol women had rights and privileges that were not accorded to most East Asian women. Mongol women had the right to own property and to divorce. Although we don’t know about ordinary Mongol women, we do know about prominent Mongol women among the elite. They were mentioned repeatedly in Mongol, Chinese, and European chronicles of the 13th century. (Below are short summaries of a few.)
Probably the most famous of these women was Kublai Khan’s mother, Chinggis Khan’s daughter-in-law, Sorghaghtani Beki. She is mentioned in so many sources as one of the great figures of the 13th century that we are assured that she was as remarkable as she is portrayed. European missionaries who visited the Mongols in the middle of the 13th century remarked that she was the most renowned of the Mongols. Persians wrote about her. A Middle Eastern physician wrote that “...if I were to see among the race of women another who is so remarkable a woman as this, I would say that the race of women is superior to the race of men.
She set the stage for all four of her sons to become khans. Although she herself was illiterate, she recognized that her sons had to be educated. Each one learned a different language that the Mongols needed in administering the vast domain that they had conquered.
Sorghaghtami Beki was a Nestorian Christian (Nestorianism taught that the human and divine essences of Christ are separate and that there are two persons, the man Jesus Christ and the divine Logos, which dwelt in the man. This concept was rejected by the Church of Ephesus. Christ was considered divine in both areas.)
She recognized, however, that if the Mongols were to administer this vast empire that they had subjugated, that one of the ways of doing so was to ingratiate themselves to the clergy of these various religions. So she and her sons protected and provided support for each of the religions within the Mongol domains. She supported Muslims, Buddhists, and Confucianists. (Today we would call this Freedom of Religion)
She introduced her son Kublai to the ideas of Confucian scholars to help him understand and be prepared to rule China. Her third contribution to Mongol rule was that she recognized that pure exploitation of subjected people would make no sense. Ravaging the economy of the conquered territories would ultimately be self-defeating. Instead of turning China into one big pastureland, she supported the Chinese peasantry. If the Mongols bolstered the local economy, eventually that would lead to increased production and increased tax collections.( Perhaps the modern-day world has something to learn from this 13th century woman.)
Each of her sons followed the same philosophy. Religious toleration, support of the religions, support of the indigenous economy, and literacy–all proved crucial to her son Kublai, the man who really bridged the transition from nomadic steppe conquest to governance of the domains the Mongols had conquered.
Kublai identified with the Chinese. He realized he would have to make concessions to the Chinese in order to rule China. There was no way for the Mongols to succeed on their own. 100 million people can’t be ruled with a couple of tens of thousands Mongols. (Readers may also be interested in the fact that while China ruled for limited children in a family, the Mongolians support multiple children because of the fewer numbers in population of Mongolia to the Chinese.)
In all of these efforts Kublai Khan was helped by his wife Chabi who played as important a rule as his mother had done. Chabi supported Tibetan monks who began converting the Mongol elite to Tibetan Buddhism. When Kublai conquered southern China, Chabi was influential in preventing revenge. She took measures to maintain the Song imperial family, to provide them with funds and a palace, not to enslave them or kill them. She too played a critical role in Mongol rule. (It should be noted that during Mongolian history, that a message was sent out to the ruling Pope in Rome to send Christian missionaries to Mongolia to help the people understand the message of Christ. Only two priests started the long journey to Mongolia and finally returned to Rome before reaching Mongolia. This was when Mongolians turned to Tibet who did send missionaries and the people were converted to Buddhism.)
One other extraordinary woman in Kublai Khan’s era was Kublai’s niece Khutulun. She relished the military life and loved combat. She even impressed Marco Polo who described her as so strong and brave that in all of her father’s army no man could out do her in feats of strength.
Her parents were a little concerned when she didn’t marry by the age of 22 or 23. They were constantly beseeching her to enter into a marriage arrangement. She said she would only consent if a prospective suitor bested her in a contest of physical strength. She agreed to accept any challenge as long as the young man gambled 100 horses for the chance to beat her. Within a short time she accumulated about 10,000 horses. (Quite the business woman!)
Finally a very handsome, confident, skillful young prince arrived at the court to challenge her. He was so confident of victory that he gambled a thousand horses rather than just the 100 she demanded. He bet he could beat her in a wrestling match. The night before the contest, Khutulun’s parents implored their daughter to let herself be vanquished. (or allow herself to be defeated) But she would have none of that. She said that if she were vanquished in a fair contest, she would gladly be his wife but otherwise she wouldn’t do it.
So on the day of the wrestling match, the contestants appeared pretty evenly matched. The combatants grappled for quite a time. Then in a sudden movement, she flipped the prince over and won the contest. The prince took off and left the 1000 horses behind. She actually never did marry. She accompanied her father on all of his campaigns.
While some of the stories may be hyperbolic, what they are telling us is that women in the elite were confident, were not about to be bowled over by men, and played an important role in Mongol society. There is so much emphasis on women playing military, political, and economic roles in this period that we’re fairly sure this stretched beyond the elite woman. It trickled down to the ordinary women as well.
Interestingly enough by the 14th century, there are no more Mongol women playing roles as leaders. They become increasingly acculturated. In the next generation after Kublai Khan, the daughters and granddaughter of Kublai Khan are no longer as prominent. They began accepting some of the restraints imposed on Chinese women. In that sense, in that sense alone, the Mongols were very much influenced by China.” (This may show us that where women…or men…are especially effective in one generation, it may not continue to the next. We, in modern times, have called a previous generation “The Greatest Generation”….and we may wonder as there has been a shift from the home to the work place, how our succeeding generations are doing?)
One of the stories that was told to me while I was in Mongolia was about a female champion wrestler. Wrestling in Mongolia is considered one of the manly sports. The others are archery and horseback riding. This woman wanted to enter the competition so she disguised herself as a man. She won and when it was discovered that she was female, the men changed the uniform of the wrestlers. You will notice from the picture below of a present day Mongolian wrestler that he may have sleeves, but nothing in the front. Even though traditionally, women in Mongolia found an honorable place, the men were determined that only this sport would remain manly.
To the woman who had the sign on her car about Asian women not making history, I hope she will be referred to this blog. Asian women everywhere should be proud.
I was impressed by a video and several news articles that I saw during the Christmas holidays. I think they speak for themselves. Leadership is extremely important to a nation and to the world. Political correctness has mired us down in the lack of ability to speak in faith and in truth.
Christmas was not a happy place for those who walked to church in Nigeria …only to worship, not to be murdered. In this place that was supposed to be a place of peace came the ugly reality of those who would wipe out peace. Christians around the world are under attack. This is the truth of persecution that has always been a part of the Christian faith throughout history. Taking up one’s cross is exactly that. It was never expected to be easy. However, one needs to call it what it is and be unafraid to speak for faith and truth.
Christmas Day in Nigeria …..Five Christian Churches bombed
“A string of bombs struck churches in five Nigerian cities Sunday, leaving dozens dead and wounded on the holiday, authorities and witnesses said.
The blasts mark the second holiday season that bombs have hit Christian houses of worship in the west African nation. In a statement issued late Tuesday, Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan called the bombings “a dastardly act that must attract the rebuke of all peace-loving Nigerians.”
(The following news article on leadership to protect a nation)
“Nigeria lacks competent leaders to tackle its security problems”, a former military ruler said on Monday, following Christmas Day bomb attacks on churches by Islamist militants that killed more than two dozen people.
Muhammadu Buhari, a northerner who lost the last presidential election in April to incumbent Goodluck Jonathan, said in a statement in a Nigerian daily that the government was slow to respond and had shown indifference to the bombings.
The Boko Haram Islamist sect, which aims to impose sharia law across Africa’s most populous country, claimed responsibility for three church bombings, the second Christmas in a row it has caused carnage at Christian houses of worship.
Security forces also blamed the sect for two explosions in the north and fear is growing that Boko Haram is trying to ignite a sectarian civil war in a country split evenly between Christians and Muslims who for the most part co-exist in peace.
“How on earth would the Vatican and the British authorities speak before the Nigerian government on attacks within Nigeria that have led to the deaths of our citizens?” Buhari said in the statement published by Punch newspaper.
“This is clearly a failure of leadership at a time the government needs to assure the people of the capacity to guarantee the safety of lives and property,” Buhari said.”
Yes, leadership is most important. Perhaps we all need to listen again to an inspirational message from a former President of the United States.
We pulled this inter-active Christmas card from the 2010 writings. Hope you enjoy it again this year. Compliments of Ashland University in Oregon. Merry Christmas!
Click on the link and follow directions:
When we talk about character traits that we hope for in ourselves or in our children, one does not often hear the word character mentioned. Perhaps this is because character is a somewhat elusive achievement. In fact, “Character” has many meanings. A few of these are:
- In computers: any symbol, as a number, letter, punctuation mark, etc., that represents data
- one of a set of basic symbols that singly or in a series of two or more represents data and, when encoded, is usable in a computer.
- In printing … a symbol as used in a writing system, as a letter of the alphabet.
- In literature or the theater… the character or role representing a personality type (Sometimes we say a person is out of character)
The Moral and Ethical Uses of the word Character
- A moral or ethical quality (person of fine, honorable character)
- Qualities of courage, integrity (It takes character to face up to the challenge)
- A reputation ( as a stain on one’s character)
- Behavior ( as a suspicious character or an unusual character)
- An odd, eccentric or unusual person ( He is quite the character)
None of the above achieves character, but are simply a definition of a usage of the word. When it comes to the Moral and Ethical uses of the word character, it becomes a bit elusive, whether good or bad? Can character be changed? Is to have worthy character or reputation something to be sought after in a life time? Does it matter?
Is it possible that everything we allow into our character is like an engraving tool…chiseling away or stamping into our very souls who we are becoming?
It is quite complex as character is also individuality. It is personality which makes up the sum of the characteristics possessed by a person. It refers to ethical standards, moral qualities, and principles of a person. We often say a person has a sterling character.
We are differentiated from others by our individuality. From the day we are born, we are acquiring these differences from one another. However, personality is greatly different from character. Thomas Paine once said ” Reputation is what men and women think of us, but character is what God and angels know of us.”
Character is the soul of the matter. Perhaps character is also made up of the experiences we have encountered in life. For instance, I read this in the Holy Scriptures ( Romans 5):
“Since we are justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through Whom we have obtained access to this grace in which we stand…knowing that suffering produces endurance and endurance produces character, and character produces hope and hope does not disappoint us……because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit that has been given to us.”
According to this reading, whatever we may be going through in life, we should, with God’s help, stay the course of endurance. Through this endurance, we then begin to develop the character that God wants in us…and perhaps others may see in us. I do not think that most admired people are aware of the character that they possess. It is simply a part of them. The beauty in the endurance is that it produces something positive….hope. All of us need hope. The ultimate promise is that the hope we are given will not disappoint us.
SUFFERING-ENDURANCE-CHARACTER-HOPE THAT WILL NOT DISAPPOINT
- The world needs men and women. . .
- who cannot be bought; whose word is their bond;
who put character above wealth; who are larger than their vocations;
- who do not hesitate to take risks; who will be as honest in small affairs as in greater; who will make no compromise with wrong;
- whose ambitions are not confined to their own selfish desires;
- who are true to their friends through good and bad, in adversity as well as in prosperity; who are not ashamed or afraid to stand for truth when it is unpopular. (source unknown)
- You may say that you are not a great Apostle of Christ or a Mother Theresa who had great character and purpose in life. Character is like cream in the milk. It rises to the top. These persons did not set out to be known for their character. They set out to be God’s servant and to do His will in their lives just one step at a time…and toward one person at a time. It is the character development that only God can give as we surrender our lives to Him.
The sounds of water!
Thirst quenching waters.
Jesus said, ” Whosoever drinks of this water shall thirst again…but whosoever drinks of the water that I shall give him, shall be in him a well of water springing up into everlasting life.”
The Holy Scriptures John 4:13
John the Baptist was a man crying in the wilderness, “Make straight the coming of the Lord”. He called for repentance.
He baptized; saying, ” “I baptize you with water, but after me One mightier than I is coming, the latchet of Whose shoes I am not worthy to unloose;”
As John met Jesus at the River Jordan, the Holy Spirit descended upon Jesus and a voice called from heaven, “This is my beloved Son in Whom I am well pleased.”
Jesus, in His coming, would be the Way, the Truth, and the Life. He would be the “Bridge over Troubled Waters” for those who looked to Him as Savior and Lord.
How many of us have needed this Savior, this Messiah to gently take us by the hand and lead us over those waters of life? At this Advent, we remember John the Baptist who was not fearful to speak out; who knew his mission in life was to go before the One to Come. He had a message: God was sending His Son to save mankind.
John’s life was one of obedience. A life that was finally cut short by those who would have his head severed from his body. Yet, even in this…God has made his voice heard throughout the centuries and throughout the world. ” …One will come after me…”
CLICK HERE and then click again, as directed, enlarging the screen for best viewing.
At Advent we think of the coming of Christ. The men from the East began the journey to the Christ child as they were guided by the stars…and one in particular. Christ is called the “Bright and Morning Star.” When we consider the heavens and the power of the Universe, we are amazed at the majesty. The Advent of Christ is also a look forward to His second coming. We are told we will see him coming in the sky with His angels.
Advent Prayer Thank you, Father, for the coming of Your Son. As we think of your vast universe, we give you thanks for the mysteries that are beyond our vision or knowledge. We ask for Your peace this day.
Below is a video to consider quietly.
Behold is born to you this day, A Saviour, Christ the King! Out of the root of Jessie…out of the line of David….Jesus, the Messiah came.
Isaiah 7, verse 14: Al right then, the Lord Himself will choose the sign. Look. The virgin will conceive a child. She will give birth to a son and will call him Immanuel (God with us).
THE PROPHECY FULFILLED
Today the Russian Chuch serves not only the Russian community but also Bulgarians, Serbs, Coptic Christians and other Orthodox worshippers who do not have their own church in Geneva.
The Beautiful Music of the Russian Orthodox Christian Church ( Click below and then to the men’s chorus shown next.)
Wonderful Male Choral Voices
The word “blasphemy” sounds old-fashioned to the western ear. It is defined in the dictionary as :
- Profane or contemptuous speech, writing, or action concerning God or anything held as divine
- Any remark or action held to be irreverent or disrespectful
So much of the world speaks in irreverent or disrespectful tones and words. It does not justify it, but most people do not feel that they have to defend their God.
Today in a world that values the freedom of speech and the freedom to write and advertise, could people actually be put to death for what is considered blasphemy? At this holiday season, a man who represents an atheist organization has contracted a large billboard on which depicts the three wise men riding toward the Christmas star. The bold words proclaim it a myth. His purpose, is to “educate, and to bring the closet atheists” out in the open. He obviously relies on and approves of freedom of speech to express his view-point. However, if he lived in certain parts of the world, he would be arrested for blasphemy. In fact, he denounced the three major religions openly. Perhaps he should watch his back. We think he has the right to say what he likes…to proclaim his unbelief…but others do not.
A little history:
“Blasphemy against God and the Church was a crime punishable by death in much of the world, and remains punishable by death in some parts to this day. Britain’s last blasphemy execution was 18-year-old Thomas Aikenhead. He was executed for the crime in 1667 for saying on a cold night, “I wish I were in that place Ezra calls hell so I could warm myself.”
George Rosie wrote in the newspaper The Scotsman, “The killing of Thomas Aikenhead, like the hounding of Salman Rushdi for the same ‘offence,’ was a disgrace. . . a prime example of a God-fixated state killing a man in an attempt to stop the spread of an idea.”
In the 1600’s, the church ruled. Personal freedoms of thought were not a privilege. We are now in the 21st century and still such harshness in religious faith exists. I have often wondered why anyone, of any faith, would feel that he had to kill a person in defense of his God? Could God not strike a person dead if He so chose? Perhaps He is waiting until He comes in Great Judgment. Perhaps He understands the frailty of his creation and has mercy. Just perhaps.
“Stopping an idea” Do people believe they have the right to stop an idea? It appears so.
One woman who had a dispute with other women is now fighting for her life. Unless pardoned by a court, she will die in Pakistan by hanging….yes, in this 21st century.
Blasphemy is still a word that is alive and well in certain areas. It is more than taking God’s name in vain…as many do. How often do we hear a person exclaim “Jesus Christ!” when something goes wrong. This name of the one we love and whose name we honor and celebrate at this Christmas time is on the lips of those who would blaspheme….not honor. Yet, we leave this condemnation to God. We do not rush out to kill. That may be because we realize that we were guilty already for the sins in our lives and Christ came to take that sin. Disapproval may be in order, but how dare we set ourselves up as a judge against others. God is powerful enough and ready to defend His Own Name. Click to view: Video
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John Wesley, whose home we visited in England, never left the Anglican Church of England (Episcopal), although he is credited as being the founder of the Methodist Church as we know it today. His small prayer room is still used by people searching for God’s guidance in their lives. We were told while visiting this small apartment that he prayed in the early morning for hours. The room was not bigger than our modern-day walk-in closets. Yet, there was great presence felt and those who visit are often allowed to actually handle the original books that he read. (of course,with gloves)
‘In the evening I went very unwillingly to a society in Aldersgate Street, where one was reading Luther’s (Martin Luther)_ preface to the Epistle to the Romans. About a quarter before nine, while he was describing the change which God works in the heart through faith in Christ, I felt my heart strangely warmed. I felt I did trust in Christ, Christ alone, for salvation: and an assurance was given me, that He had taken away my sins, even mine, and saved me from the law of sin and death.’
Does God read our hearts and meet us at our need no matter where we are in life? I think the answer is a definite “Yes”! It really does not matter the label we have placed on ourselves: Anglican, Methodist, Baptist, (or any denomination) Catholic, Jewish, Muslim,Hindu, Buddhist, Atheist etc . If we are truly searching for God and call on the name of Christ, He will most definitely answer. It may not be an audible voice, but the heart will be “strangely warmed” and assurance that we have salvation in Christ will be there. It may not be explainable, but neither are many things of life…we just simply know.
Dean Kevin Martin is an Episcopal priest. He had completed seminary; gone through all the rituals, but he, too, found his heart “strangely warmed” years later. This is the experience of a priest who reached out to Christ after seminary and truly found faith in Christ many years ago. Dean Kevin was not bound by labels of the gospel, but a desire to understand and experience his own faith within the church where he worships and serves. Here is an excerpt of what he said of his experience:
“On a cold January evening in 1975, I knelt in the darkened living room of the Rectory of Emmanuel Church in Stamford, Connecticut and made a total surrender of my life to Jesus Christ. This surrender came in response to an overwhelming sense of God’s presence as I spoke out the desperation and despair that I felt. The details of what happened are not important here because I am writing on the feast day of John and Charles Wesley to share what I learned from John Wesley after my conversion…
The problem was that I was already an ordained priest. It was some time later that I would learn that I shared with Wesley a post theological education conversion to Christ. I say “conversion to Christ” because that is what it was for me. I had felt called to the ministry, and, before seminary at least, I had believed in the Trinity and the creeds of the Church. What happened to me that night was that I experienced a personal sense of forgiveness and total acceptance by a living and real Christ. Jesus Christ became alive for me in a new way.
The most immediate result of this was expressed by what I did that night. I took the sermon that I had written that week and burned it in the fire-place. I was determined to speak now of the love of Christ I knew personally, and not the ideas about God that I had learned in seminary…
None of these teachers (speaking of seminary)ever spoke of a personal relationship with Christ as something to be desired, and most down played any sense of conversion. Conversion, if it existed at all, was a gradual process of growth. Consequently, I look back a bit jaded at my seminary experience…”
Like Dean Kevin,years ago my husband followed the call of God to study in seminary. Afterwards he spent 37 years in Christian ministry ,which also includes his 20 years as a United States Navy chaplain. He was ordained as a Methodist pastor. When he stood in John Wesley’s pulpit in England, he did not know that he, too, would be part of the Episcopal Church which Wesley had served so fervently. One might call it” coming full circle”. In fact, at one point the clergy of Wesley’s time asked him not to speak in his church because of his fervor for his faith. Was serving Christ to be without furor? (There is never a time when churches and the ranking clergy do not have their problems with expectations. ) This did not stop Wesley. He simply went to his father’s grave and stood on it; preaching the gospel of Christ to those passing by. These personal experiences leads one to believe that faith often comes at unlikely times. We only need a ready heart. After the resurrection, Christ promised that we would receive the Holy Spirit and He would teach us all things. God will meet us where we are. Has your heart been strangely warmed?
Here are a few of the things Dean Kevin learned from John Wesley:
- All the head knowledge in the world cannot substitute for “knowing Christ Jesus in the power of his resurrection.”
- True conversion leads to passionate love for the poor and to concrete steps to alleviate their poverty.
- Holiness of life is the goal of all disciples — we don’t want to be people who do good things — we want to become people who are Christ-like.
- Simplicity of life is a Christian virtue
- Christian leaders who hold power often work to suppress Christian experience ,even those who once claimed a conversion experience.
- Innovation for the sake of mission and evangelism is Apostolic and needed in every age.
- People have free will and it is obvious that we have to cooperate with the Holy Spirit in ministry and growth.
- In Christ, women are equal to men and can be effective agents of ministry.
About John Wesley: The English evangelical clergyman, preacher, and writer John Wesley (1703-1791) was the founder of Methodism. One of England‘s greatest spiritual leaders, he played a major role in the revival of religion in 18th-century English life. The 18th century found the Church of England out of touch with both the religious and social problems of the day. Its leadership was constituted largely by political appointees, its clergy were riddled with ignorance, and churchmen of genuine concern were rare. The influence of rationalism and deism even among dedicated clergymen caused the Anglican Church to be unaware of the spiritual needs of the masses. John Wesley’s great achievement was to recognize the necessity of bringing religion (Christ)to this wide and neglected audience. Wesley was born in Epworth, Lincolnshire, on June 17, 1703. He was the fifteenth of the 19 children of Samuel and Suzanne Wesley, an Anglican minister who took his pastoral duties seriously and instilled this idea in his son. John’s mother, a woman of great spiritual intensity, molded her children through a code of strict and uncompromising Christian morality, instilling in John a firm conception of religious piety, concern, and duty.In 1714 Wesley entered Charterhouse School, and in 1720 he became a student at Christ Church, Oxford. Receiving his bachelor of arts degree in 1724, he was ordained a deacon in the Church of England in 1725 and was elected a fellow of Lincoln College, Oxford, in 1726. He became curate to his father in the following year and was ordained a priest in 1728. Returning to Oxford in 1729, Wesley, in addition to the duties of his fellowship at Lincoln, became active in a religious club to which his younger brother Charles belonged. The Holy Club, nicknamed “Methodists” (because of their methodical form of study) by its critics, met frequently for discussion. Its members engaged in prayer, attended church services, visited prisoners, and gave donations to the needy. The Holy Club was one of Wesley’s formative influences, and he soon became its acknowledged leader. Taken from the Encyclopedia of World Biography | 2004 |
As the Christians of the world begin a time of reflection before observing the death and resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ, we will take a look at Christians in Ukraine. The Ukrainian people lost religious freedom after WWII. It was buried in the ashes of a crippled nation; but rose to gain faith again. Christ and His Church has once again found a place in the lives of the Ukrainian people. Having spent a part of a summer with the people of Kiev and Donetsk in Ukraine, I know first hand of their love and dedication to their Saviour.
20th Century History: This was a difficult and painful period. Western Ukraine was absorbed by Poland after the break-up of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. This lasted until World War II when there were a number of changes in the country’s regimes. Russia invaded Ukraine and then the Germans occupied it from 1941–1944. Historians have written it like this:
“After the war, Ukraine became a part of the Soviet Union, which was the beginning of cruel persecution. Christianity was declared illegal….It is the tragedy of the 20th Century, the epoch of terror and violence, which has most affected the development of religious life in contemporary Ukraine. Approximately 17 million people are estimated to have died a violent death in Ukraine in that century…The war on religion was the ideology of the Communist regime and no effort was spared.
Church buildings were ruined, burnt down, profaned; priests and faithful, Orthodox, Catholic and representatives of other religions were shot, arrested and deported to the Siberian gulag; church communities were persecuted, confined to underground activities or entirely destroyed. Both the Ukrainian Autocephalous Orthodox Church at the beginning of the 1930s and the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church in 1946 in Halychyna and in 1949 in Transcarpathia were liquidated. The Roman Catholic Church and Protestant churches survived in only a handful of carefully monitored churches. Even the activities of the Russian Orthodox Church (which functioned as a state church) were limited and it furthermore suffered from infiltration by Soviet security organs. There was a progressive spiritual vacuum and a deepening demoralization of society.”
The Underground Church: In the 1980s, persecution of Churches ceased. The Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church emerged from the underground and communities of the Ukrainian Autocephalous Orthodox Church became active in 1989. The declaration of Ukrainian independence from Russia in 1991 paved the way for a new religious freedom in Ukraine. The blood of the martyrs have soaked the land, but the people of Ukraine now know and love the freedom to worship. As they look at new elections in the government and the Russian influence within the country, they must decide if these freedoms are precious and worth preserving…or will they fall back into the bondage from which they have freed themselves?
The video below gives a history of some of the Martyrs of Ukraine’s Christian church. ( For best viewing and reading enlarge to full screen and turn on sound.)
Proverbs 3:6 The Holy Bible
“Trust in the Lord with all your heart and do not rely on your own insight. In all your ways acknowledge Him and He will make straight your paths.”
The beauty of Holy Trinity Episcopal Church in Port-au-Prince, Haiti is shown in the photo above. At left is the rubble of Holy Trinity after the earthquake. Prayers are needed for Bishop Jean-Zache Duracin who has now gathered about 1,000 survivors in a make-shift dwelling near the church. An impossible task…but nothing is impossible with God. Fr. Duracin is making a difference.
We do so many things by faith. Simply breathing takes a certain amount of faith. One does not worry that the next breath will come or the next heart beat. Sometimes when I fly, my heart seems to skip a beat, but when I stepped on the plane, I was literally saying, ” I believe that you know how to fly this plane and I have faith in your abilities!”
What about spiritual faith? I can remember when I first talked to God. I was in a boarding school, far from home. Sometimes I would walk around the playground fence and talk to Him, whoever He was. Perhaps that is the childlike faith we hear about, for I simply believed He was there and He knew I was also.
Later, when I was a young adult, I think my first real faith experience happened. I was asked a very serious question: “If you were to die tonight, do you know that you will be with God?” Well, the answer was definitely a maybe….if I had been good enough…but this was not faith. I think I really did not know what faith was all about. I certainly did not know what Jesus Christ had done for me. He had taken my punishment for sin; making me free of guilt and a new life was waiting for me. When this was made clear, I found a faith that I did not know I had. The God I had talked to as a child had brought me a message of redemption. I wondered why it took Him so long? Maybe I was not ready for faith in my life until this time. I am glad He found me because I really was not seeking Him.
As life had its trials, I found that my faith was what gave me hope. It was also what kept me going when I had to care for several small children by myself. Faith is quiet thing. It seems to just be there; going nowhere, but always there. It’s a comforting thing. Maybe that is what Christ meant when he said he would send a Comforter. Not only is it the Holy Spirit, but Faith.
I often tell people that my best place to talk to God is in the shower. It is a place to get out the tears and only He knows. More recently, in my travels, I have also found that Faith is everywhere. When I was in Mongolia, faith was there. In the jungles of Guatemala, faith was down under the volcano and in the corn fields. I also saw in the great cathedrals of Europe the faith that made people build great structures to the glory of God. (I am sharing some of this with you in my slide show to follow.)
My challenge to you is to draw upon the faith that you have, whether great or small. Enter your shower with all that you carry in life and find that God will meet you there. Jesus said to only seek…and you will find. It will be a LEAP OF FAITH that you will not regret.
BoyerWrites by N.W. Boyer (See slides below)
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