CONVERSION & Sanctification is “the progressive, lifelong aspect of conversion” according to Willimon

wesley-willimon-quote-on-holistic-conversion-copy

William Willimon, Pastor: The theology and practice of ordained ministry (Nashville, TN: Abingdon Press, 2002, p. 363.

HISTORY & Why did the English once try to ban Christmas, just one generation before John Wesley’s birth?

Commentary by Dr. Whitesel: Why did the English parliamentarian Thomas Cromwell, along with some English Puritans, try to abolish Christmas as a secular holiday? Well, it wasn’t the average committed Puritan who sought this, but rather an extreme and small group that felt Christmas was being overshadowed by secular and often sinful celebration. Read this article for a brief background.

Did Oliver Cromwell really ban Christmas?

In June 1647 Parliament passed an Ordinance that abolished Christmas Day as a feast day and holiday

by Jonny Wilkes, BBC History Magazine, 12/22/15.

While Cromwell certainly supported the move, and subsequent laws imposing penalties for those who continued to enjoy Christmas, he does not seem to have played much of a role in leading the campaign.

Throughout the medieval period, Christmas Day had been marked by special church services, and by magnificent feasts accompanied by heavy drinking. The subsequent 12 Days of Christmas saw more special services along with sports, games and more eating and drinking.

By the early 17th Century Puritans and other firm Protestants were seeing the Christmas jollifications as unwelcome survivors of Catholicism as well as excuses for all manner of sins.

There was a widespread, though minority view, that Christmas should be a fast day devoted to sober religious contemplation. The defeat of King Charles I in the Civil War put the more extreme Protestants into power and so Parliament passed a series of measures to enforce this campaign on others…

Read more at … http://www.historyextra.com/feature/no-christmas-under-cromwell-puritan-assault-christmas-during-1640s-and-1650s

Wesley & the Poor: You cannot help only at a distance

“But is there need of visiting them in person?

May we not relieve them at a distance?

Does it not answer the same purpose if we send them help as if we carry it ourselves?’

… But this is not properly ‘visiting the sick’; it is another thing. The word which we render ‘visit’ in its literal acceptation means to ‘look upon’. And this, you well know, cannot be done unless you are present with them.

Wesley, J. (2013). “On Visiting the Sick,” in The sermons of John Wesley: A collection for the Christian journey. K.J. Collins & J.E. Vickers (Eds.). Nashville, TN: Abingdon Press, Kindle Edition.  (The above was cited by Barb R. in LEAD 600.  Good sleuthing Barb.)

WESLEY & A Comparison of His 3 Types of Existance

by Bob Whitesel D.Min., Ph.D., 12/5/15.

John Wesley noted that people generally existed in a journey through three waypoints (or stages): natural existence, legal existence and evangelical existence.  Put forth most famously in Wesley’s “The Spirit of Bondage and the Spirit of Adoption” (1746), Thomas Oden’s helpful introduction prepares the reader to understand these important waypoints in spiritual discovery.

These categories are not too dissimilar to my friend and colleague Ed Stetzer’s categories of “cultural Christians” (somewhere between Wesley’s natural-legal continuum) and “conversion Christians.”  In Stetzer’s typology, Wesley’s conversion took place at Aldersgate. But since in Wesley’s day “evangelical” did not have today’s negative media connotation (and hence perhaps Stetzer’s aversion to its use), I believe that if Wesley lived today, due to his emphasis upon conversion, he would embrace Stetzer’s designation of “conversion Christian.” Wesley certainly after his Aldersgate experience places conversion as the fulcrum upon which his methodology and theology would emerge.

Here is a screenshot of Oden’s helpful introduction to the idea:

oden-on-wesley-on-conversion

Buy the book at … https://books.google.com/books?id=8qqtss5N6cYC&pg=PA277&dq=John+wesley+natural+legal+evangelical&hl=en&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwipxrLx_MTJAhUF6CYKHSUsDTYQ6AEIHTAA#v=onepage&q=John%20wesley%20natural%20legal%20evangelical&f=false

Hear more about John Wesley’s conversion and his experience of the interplay of these three existences at …http://livestre.am/5fQ0e

WESLEY & Videos from the Manchester Wesley Research Centre

Commentary by Dr. Whitesel: Our seminary is a partner with the Manchester Wesley Research Centre (MWRC), a leading research center in Manchester, England which twice yearly sponsors live presentations on Wesley research.

Here are links to videos from the presentations:

http://original.livestream.com/ntcmanchester/video?clipId=pla_b83bc151-7d1a-46c2-a5c9-2466b331f160

http://livestre.am/5fQ0e

 

WESLEY & A Picture of His Last Letter (Which Was Against Slavery)

by Heather Hahn, Dec. 1, 2015, Madison, N.J. (United Methodist News Service).

Just six days before his death, John Wesley roused himself to write one last letter.

The United Methodist Commission on Archives and History shares its vaults with Drew University, which has John Wesley’s last letter as part of its collection. Photo by Fran Walsh, United Methodist Communications

(The United Methodist Commission on Archives and History shares its vaults with Drew University, which has John Wesley’s last letter as part of its collection. Photo by Fran Walsh, United Methodist Communications)

The 87-year-old’s goal: To encourage a fellow abolitionist to keep the faith in the fight against slavery.

“O be not weary of well doing!” Methodism’s founder wrote to William Wilberforce, the famed abolitionist in the British Parliament. “Go on, in the name of God and in the power of his might, till even American slavery (the vilest that ever saw the sun) shall vanish away before it.”

Wesley’s original letter is one of the treasures preserved in the vaults of the United Methodist Commission on Archives and History. The agency, housed at United Methodist-related Drew University, offers materials — like that letter — that connect church members with their Wesleyan heritage.

“We’re the family album of The United Methodist Church,” said the Rev. Alfred T. Day III, the top executive of Archives and History since 2014…

Read more at … http://www.umc.org/news-and-media/for-churchgoers-treasures-from-the-family-album.

WESLEY & Map of the London Site of the Foundry Preaching Hall #WesleyTour

Commentary by Dr. Whitesel: Those planning to travel with me to Wesley’s London in 2017 will have a chance to tour his home as well as the City Road Chapel. And, less than a block away is the site of the famous former cannonball Foundry turned preaching auditorium (see the map).  Travelers on this tour will actually get a chance to sit in the very seats on which people sat in the Foundry. Warning, though basic and uncomfortable they will give you a sense of the comfort people sacrificed to hear the Good News.

Foundry-Church-Map.jpgSee my colleague Al DeFilippo’s blog for more on The Foundry as well a map…
http://www.francisasburytriptych.com/john-wesleys-foundry-church/

WESLEY & Why Did Budweiser Put Him in a Newspaper Ad?

Commentary by Dr. Whitesel: A colleague sent me an unusual advertisement for beer that utilized Wesley’s comments. Printed at the height of the Temperance Movement, it apparently was an attempt to make Wesley an advocate for their beer. However as my colleague Al DeFilippo points out, it was quickly challenged as inaccurate. For more on this interesting debate, as well as insight into Wesley’s own personal habits see my colleague Al DeFilippo’s posts below:

John Wesley Budweiser Beer Ad

 

Check out Al DeFilippo’s … http://www.francisasburytriptych.com/author-bio-al-defilippo/

WESLEY & How he inspired a famous brewmaster toward generosity

Commentary by Dr. Whitesel: My daughter Corrie shared a story she heard in church today. Now, you’ve read on this wiki- about how John Wesley worked tirelessly to change English laws to provide poor people with bread. But, did you also know that he influenced wealthy business leaders to care for the poor too?  The story of Arthur Guinness and the generosity of this family to the poor might be traced to John Wesley’s visit to Dublin.

The Story of God and Guinness: How the faith of Arthur Guinness inspired the vision for his famous beer

Usually, this was done in moderation and all was well. Occasionally, though, excess set in and drunkenness plagued the land. This is what happened in the years just before Guinness was born, in the period historians call “The Gin Craze.” Parliament had forbidden the importation of liquor in 1689, so the people of Ireland and Britain began making their own. It was too much temptation. Drunkenness became the rage. Every sixth house in England was a “gin house,” many of which advertised, “Drunk for one penny, dead drunk for two pence, clean straw for nothing.” It was a terrible, poverty-ridden, crime-infested time.

To help heal their tortured society, some turned to brewing beer. It was lower in alcohol, it was safe—the process of brewing and the alcohol that resulted killed the germs that made water dangerous—and it was nutritious in ways scientists are only now beginning to understand. Monks brewed it, evangelicals brewed it and aspiring young entrepreneurs like Guinness brewed it. And they were respected and honored for their good works…

What makes this Sunday in Guinness’ life so important is who he is about to hear, because on this day John Wesley is in town. Wesley is the founder of the Methodist church, the man who started a small group at Oxford University from which a great revival grew. Wesley and his friends wanted simply to be good Christians—to “perfect holiness,” as they said—and so as they preached the Gospel, they gave to the poor and visited prisoners and raised money to serve the needy. Whole cities were changed by the preaching of John Wesley, his brother Charles and the famous George Whitefield. And now John Wesley had come to Dublin and was preaching at the soaring St. Patrick’s Cathedral. And Arthur Guinness was there.

We do not know exactly what Wesley preached, but we can know a few things. Wesley would have called the congregation at St. Patrick’s to God, of course, but he also would have had a special message for men like Guinness. It was something he taught wherever he went. “Earn all you can. Save all you can. Give all you can,” he would have insisted. “Your wealth is evidence of a calling from God, so use your abundance for the good of mankind.”

On this Sunday and on other occasions when he heard Wesley speak, Arthur Guinness got the message. He also got to work. Inspired by Wesley’s charge, Guinness poured himself in founding the first Sunday schools in Ireland. He gave vast amounts of money to the poor, sat on the board of a hospital designed to serve the needy and bravely challenged the material excesses of his own social class. He was nearly a one man army of reform.

If the Guinness story was only about Arthur Guinness, it would be a small footnote in the pages of history. But Arthur Guinness added to all his good works by teaching his children the values he learned. His children, then, built the Guinness corporation on the strength of their father’s vision and faith. This is what became the great legacy of the Guinness family…With the passing of decades, they became one of the most generous, life-changing employers the world had ever known…

Deeds like these fill the Guinness story and are almost as inspiring as the character of some of the Guinness family members themselves. One Guinness heir received 5 million pounds sterling for a wedding gift, but then moved his new bride into a poor neighborhood to draw attention to the blight of poverty in the land…

 

TRINITY & Wesley Quote on Understanding God

Regarding the Trinity, John Wesley said, “Bring me … a worm that can comprehend a man, and I will show you a man that can comprehend God.”

Quoted by Henry Moore in The Life Of Mrs. Mary Fletcher: Consort And Relict Of The Rev. John Fletcher, Vicar Of Madely (Published and sold by J. Kershaw, 1824), p. 239.

Wesley on Worms & Trinity copy

Available for free download at https://play.google.com/store/books/details?id=d5wHAAAAQAAJ&rdid=book-d5wHAAAAQAAJ&rdot=1

 

Save

QUOTES & John Wesley’s Quote of War (as evidence of original sin)

Commentary by Dr. Whitesel:  This is an ongoing series of quotes from the Wesleyan Movement with citations to the original sources.

Here are forty thousand men gathered together on this plain. What they going to do? See, there are thirty or forty thousand more at a great distance. And these are going to shoot them through the head or body, to stab them, or split their skulls, and send most of their souls into everlasting fire, as fast as they possibly can. Why so? What harm have they done to them? O, none at all! They do not so much as know them. But a man, who is king of France has a quarrel with another man, who is king of England. So these Frenchmen are to kill as many of these Englishmen as they can, to prove the king of France is in the right. Now, what an argument is this? What a method of proof? What an amazing way of deciding controversies! What must mankind be, before such a thing as war could ever be known or thought of upon earth? How shocking, how inconceivable a want must there have been of common understanding, as well as common humanity, before any two governors, or any two nations in the universe could once think of such a method of decision! If then, all nations, Pagan, Mohammedan, and Christian, do, in fact, make this their last resort, what farther proof of do we need of the utter degeneracy of all nations from the plainest principles of reason and virtue? Of the absolute want, both of common sense and common humanity, which runs through the whole race of mankind?

Works (Jackson) 9:221 The Doctrine of Original Sin (part 1)

For more such quotes see: The United Methodist Church General Board of Church & Society, http://www.kintera.org/site/c.frLJK2PKLqF/b.4452011/k.7E8E/Quotations_by_John_Wesley.htm

QUOTES & John Wesley’s Quote on Racism & the Legal System

Commentary by Dr. Whitesel:  This is an ongoing series of quotes from the Wesleyan Movement with citations to the original sources.

Reading this morning a tract wrote by a poor African, I was particularly struck by that circumstance that a man who has a black skin, being wronged or outraged by a white man, can have no redress; it being a “law’ in our colonies that the oath of a black against a white goes for nothing. What villainy is this?

Letter to William Wilberforce, February 24, 1791 (the last letter John Wesley ever wrote)

For more such quotes see: The United Methodist Church General Board of Church & Society, http://www.kintera.org/site/c.frLJK2PKLqF/b.4452011/k.7E8E/Quotations_by_John_Wesley.htm

QUOTES & John Wesley on Wealth, Inheritance and Luxury

Commentary by Dr. Whitesel:  This is an ongoing series of quotes from the Wesleyan Movement with citations to the original sources.

I am pained for you that are ‘rich in this world’. Do you give all you can? You who receive five hundred pounds a year, and spend only two hundred, do you give three hundred back to God? If not, you certainly rob God of that three hundred. You that receive two hundred, and spend but one, do you give God the other hundred? If not, you rob him of just so much. ‘Nay, may I not do what I will with my own?’ Here lies the ground of your mistake. It is not your own. In cannot be, unless you are Lord of heaven and earth. ‘However, I must provide for my children.’ Certainly. but how? By making them rich? Then you will probably make them heathens, as some of you have done already. “What shall I do, then?” Lord, speak to their hearts! Else the preacher speaks in vain. Leave them enough to live on, not in idleness and luxury, but by honest industry. And if you have not children, upon what scriptural or rational principles can you leave a groat behind you more than will bury you?

Sermon 131, “The Danger of Increasing Riches”, II. 17.

For more such quotes see: The United Methodist Church General Board of Church & Society, http://www.kintera.org/site/c.frLJK2PKLqF/b.4452011/k.7E8E/Quotations_by_John_Wesley.htm

QUOTES & John Wesley’s Quote on Women in Ministry

Commentary by Dr. Whitesel:  This is an ongoing series of quotes from the Wesleyan Movement with citations to the original sources.

“But may not women, as well as men, bear a part in this honourable service?” Undoubtedly they may; nay, they ought; it is meet, right, and their bounded duty. Herein there is no difference; “there is neither male nor female in Christ Jesus. “Indeed, it has long passed for a maxim with many, that “women are only to be seen, not heard.” And accordingly many of them are brought up in such a manner as if they were only designed for agreeable playthings. But is this doing honour to the sex? Or is it a real kindness to them? NO; it is the deepest unkindness; it is horrid cruelty; it is mere Turkish barbarity. And I know not how any woman of sense and spirit can submit to it. Let all you that have it in your power assert their right which the God of nature has given. You. yield not to the vile bondage any longer. You, as well as men, are rational creatures. You, like them, were made in the image of God; you are equally candidates for immortality; you too are called of God, as you have time, to “do good unto all men.” Be “not disobedient to the heavenly calling.” Whenever you have opportunity, do all the good you can, particularly to your poor, sick neighbour. And everyone of you likewise “Shall receive your own reward, according to your own labour.”

Sermon 98, “On Visiting the Sick”, III. 7.

For more such quotes see: The United Methodist Church General Board of Church & Society, http://www.kintera.org/site/c.frLJK2PKLqF/b.4452011/k.7E8E/Quotations_by_John_Wesley.htm

WESLEY & The Poor: “Put off the gentlewoman” & Experience First-hand the Poor

by Bob Whitesel, D.Min., Ph.D., 9/23/15.

An integral part of John Wesley’s “method” was to encourage wealthy people to first-hand experience the needs of the poor.  Here is his response to a wealthy woman who avoided the poor. Note the lessons (p. 782):

“I have found some of the uneducated poor who have exquisite taste and sentiment; and many, very many, of the rich who have scarcely any at all … the poorest of the poor, who, if they have not taste, have souls, which you may forward in their way to heaven.  And they have (many of them) faith, and the love of God, in a larger measure than any persons I know.”

He then exhorts the rich gentlewoman:

“Creep in among these, in spite of the dirt, and a hundred disgusting circumstances, and thus put off the gentlewoman.”

Then he concludes:

“Do not confine your conversation to genteel and elegant people.  I should like this well as you do: but I cannot discover a precedent of it in the life of our Lord, or any of his Apostles.  My dear friend, let you and I walk as he walked.”

Wesley was a firm believer in authentically and indigenously experiencing the poor in their surroundings.  He knew this would create a life-long solidarity with those in need.

Thus,

1) If you are one of my students or leading a team, ask yourself (and them): when is the last time you experienced first-hand the living conditions and spiritual sensitivity of the abject poor?

2) If you have not done so in the last four weeks, then plan to do so today!

3) And make this fellowship with the poor in their environments, a part of your spiritual formation (it was for followers of Wesley’s methods, who became know as “Wesleyans”).

John Wesley, “The Works of the Reverend John Wesley, A.M., New York: Emory and Wauch Publishers, 1831, p. 782

The full text of Wesley’s letter to Miss March, John Telford, ed., The Letters of John Wesley, A.M., 8 vols. (London: Epworth Press, 1931), 6:30-31 (retrieved from http://wesley.nnu.edu/john-wesley/the-letters-of-john-wesley/wesleys-letters-1776/)

Speaking hashtags: #BetterTogether


To Miss March

LONDON, February 7, 1776.

I have found some of the uneducated poor who have exquisite taste and sentiment; and many, very many, of the rich who have scarcely any at all. But I do not speak of this: I want you to converse more, abundantly more, with the poorest of the people, who, if they have not taste, have souls, which you may forward in their way to heaven. And they have (many of them) faith and the love of God in a larger measure than any persons I know. Creep in among these in spite of dirt and an hundred disgusting circumstances, and thus put off the gentlewoman. Do not confine your conversation to genteel and elegant people. I should like this as well as you do; but I cannot discover a precedent for it in the life of our Lord or any of His Apostles. My dear friend, let you and I walk as He walked.

I now understand you with regard to the Perronets; but I fear in this you are too delicate. It is certain their preaching is attended with the power of God to the hearts of many; and why not to yours Is it not owing to a want of simplicity ‘Are you going to hear Mr. Wesley’ said a friend to Mr. Blackwell. ‘ No,’ he answered, ‘ I am going to hear God: I listen to Him, whoever preaches; otherwise I lose all my labor.’

‘You will only be content to convert worlds. You shall hew wood or carry brick and mortar; and when you do this in obedience to the order of Providence, it shall be more profitable to your own soul than the other.’ You may remember Mr. De Renty’s other remark: ‘ I then saw that a well-instructed Christian is never hindered by any person or thing. For whatever prevents his doing good works gives him a fresh opportunity of submitting his will to the will of God; which at that time is more pleasing to God and more profitable to his soul than anything else which he could possibly do.’

Never let your expenses exceed your income. To servants I would give full as much as others give for the same service, and not more. It is impossible to lay down any general rules, as to ‘ saving all we can’ and ‘ giving all we can.’ In this, it seems, we must needs be directed from time to time by the unction of the Holy One. Evil spirits have undoubtedly abundance of work to do in an evil world; frequently in concurrence with wicked men, and frequently without them.

Speaking hashtags: #Kingwood2018 #DMin

WESLEY & An Answer to the Question: “Why did Wesley cast lots?”

by Bob Whitesel, 9/15/15.

This morning I had an engaging conversation with my colleague and a Wesley scholar Howard Snyder. Howard presently serves as the director of the Manchester Wesley Research Centre. I shared with him the reaction I often receive from several Baptist seminaries at which I have been invited to speak on Wesley’s leadership. It seems while my Baptist colleagues readily embrace Wesley’s methodology of need-meeting, conversion and small group discipleship, they often reject further influence because he “cast lots.” This was brought home to me by a national Baptist leader (a friend whose name I will omit) who said, “Why did Wesley cast lots to make a decision?”

I responded that this occurred early in Wesley’s ministry and during an ill-advised church planting in Savanah, Georgia.

Howard Snyder gave me more insight. Howard noted that yes, this was during Wesley’s early ministry. But, this penchant to cast lots to make a decision had two rationales.

First Wesley felt that God was actively involved in humankind’s daily lives, responding to prayer and subtly giving direction. Casting lots was a testimony to Wesley’s deep conviction that God cares and wants to in a robust communication with His offspring.

Wesley had been influenced by the quitetude and deep spirituality of the German pietistic (and fellow church revitalizers) Moravians. He had witnessed their peace and assurances mid the pandemonium when the ship they sailed to the new world almost sank. Subsequently in Savannah and when he returned to England, Wesley attended their prayer and study meetings. It was at one of these meetings held on Aldersgate Street in the house of John Bray, that John Wesley had experienced a spiritual breakthrough, which changed his life. Soon thereafter he had traveled to the Moravian retreat village of Herrnhut on the continent. There, Howard reminded me, was where Wesley was exposed to the practice of casting lots among these spiritually sensitive pietists.

Howard made me realize that such casting of lots was the outgrowth, albeit in a phenomena way, of a spiritually sensitive life

Suddenly this conversation with Howard Snyder reminded me that this was an uncommon, but understandable action that emerges out of a person deeply convinced that God loves His creation and longs to guide them and communicate with them

Secondly, Howard went on to say that in later years Wesley softened such actions such as casting lots, though he retained his deep spiritual sensitivity. Wesley was able to see that God’s way was somewhere in between extremes. It was not uncritical supernatural direction, but neither was it onot humanistic determination. Rather saw, as we must see again today, that it is about living, working and ministering in a world that God cares about deeply … and wants to guide.

SOCIAL HOLINESS & The Methodist Band Meeting: Confession Is For Protestants Too!

Commentary by Dr. Whitesel: Kevin Watson is a Wesley scholar and professor at Emory University that is indigenizing John Wesley’s method for emerging generations. I agree with him that people misapply Wesley’s phrase, ” The gospel of Christ knows of no religion but social; no holiness but social holiness” (John Wesley, 1739, “Preface” to “Hymns and Sacred Poems″). People usually apply this in a limited sense, e.g. to encourage social action, customarily through deeds of advocacy for the poor and disenfranchised. Yet Wesley saw social holiness as much more, meaning “communal holiness,” or in other words holiness bred in conferencing and intimacy between believers. Hence, Wesley encouraged participation in small groups (i.e. class meetings) and even smaller huddles (called bands) to foster this holy intimacy. Social holiness meant helping the needy as part of the task, but not as the complete task, because social holiness meant holiness bred of community and accountability. Read Dr. Watson’s helpful article for more on this.

The Methodist Band Meeting: Confession Is For Protestants Too!

by Kevin Watson, 1/21/15.

When was the last time that you confessed any known sins you had committed to another person, or group of people? When I discuss the value of confessing sin, people often seem uncomfortable with a practice that seems too “Roman Catholic.” Did you know that confessing sin was a very important practice that was at the heart of the early Methodist revival? Did you know the band meeting was the most concrete way Wesley put his understanding of sanctification and entire sanctification into practice?

Early Methodists were known for their organization and multiple layers of meetings and groups. In England, early Methodists gathered together in annual conferences, quarterly conferences, society meetings, class meetings, band meetings, love feasts, prayer meetings, select societies (or select bands), and even penitent bands. Historians have often noted the importance of conferencing for early Methodism.

Methodists gathered together because they were convinced that growth in holiness was most likely to happen in community, by “watching over one another in love.” Early on in his ministry, Wesley believed community was so important to the pursuit of holiness that he criticized the isolated individual’s pursuit of holiness as similar to pursuing holiness through the practice of idolatry. He wrote:

Directly opposite to this is the gospel of Christ. Solitary religion is not to be found there. ‘Holy solitaries’ is a phrase no more consistent with the gospel than holy adulterers. The gospel of Christ knows of no religion but social; no holiness but social holiness. (John Wesley, “Preface”; in “Hymns and Sacred Poems, 1739″)

This is the one passage where Wesley uses the phrase “social holiness,” which has so often been misused in contemporary Methodism. The best example of what Wesley meant by social holiness was the early Methodist band meeting.

In discussing the early Methodist approach to small group formation, people often confuse the class meeting and the band meeting. The class meeting was required for everyone who was Methodist and it often included women and men in one group. There were typically seven to 12 Methodists in a class meeting (though they were sometimes much larger). The basic question of the class meeting was: “How does your soul prosper?”

The band meeting was optional, though highly encouraged, for all Methodists who had experienced justification by faith and the new birth. Bands had about five people in them and were divided by gender and marital status. There were several prerequisites for joining a band meeting. Once you joined a group, five questions were asked at every weekly meeting:

1. What known sins have you committed since our last meeting?

2. What temptations have you met with?

3. How was you delivered?

4. What have you thought, said, or done, of which you doubt whether it be sin or not?

5. Have you nothing you desire to keep secret? (John Wesley, “Rules of the Band Societies”)

The band meeting was a place of deep vulnerability and intimacy. It was a place where Christians were completely honest with each other about the ways in which they knew they had fallen short of who God was calling and enabling them to be in Christ. When Methodists discussed the rules or organization of band meetings, they nearly always started by stating that they gathered together in bands in order to be faithful to James 5:16, which reads: “Therefore, confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective.”

The purpose of band meetings was not to shame one another or heap guilt and condemnation on one another. On the contrary, in telling each other the truth about their lives, particularly where they had fallen short, Methodists brought each other to the bottomless wells of God’s amazing grace. They sought to drench one another in God’s healing grace so that they could experience freedom from all that kept them from complete freedom in Christ.

Might this be a practice that God is calling members of the Wesleyan/Methodist family to retrieve? Confession of sin is a means of grace in multiple ways. Confession is a concrete act of repentance. As a result, it is a gracious act that paves the way for a new experience of one’s forgiveness and restoration as a beloved child of God. Confessing sin also expresses a belief in and desire for ongoing growth in holiness. One purges what is not of God to be freed from it, and in order to be further filled with the life of Christ in the power of the Holy Spirit.

In the past, revival and renewal within Methodist communities tended to be preceded by humble, forthright confession of sin. This practice is not common in many contemporary Wesleyan/Methodist communities. This fact may say more about the extent of our current desire to hide, to cover up, and to avoid deep intimacy with brothers and sisters in Christ than it says about the ongoing relevance of such a practice today.

May the Triune God enable contemporary Wesleyan/Methodist churches to boldly reclaim this practice. And in so doing, may we find genuine repentance for any sin that lingers in our lives, a new experience of the Father’s audacious and neverending love for us through what has already been accomplished for us in Christ, and a freedom and desire by the Holy Spirit to entirely love God and neighbor, to the exclusion of sin.

ETHICS & Implications of Wesley’s quote: I would not tell a lie to save the souls of the whole world.

by Bob Whitesel, D.Min., Ph.D., 9/2/10.

John Wesley famously said, “I would not tell a lie, no, not to save the souls of the whole world.” So, I ask my students to grapple with this.

One student remarked that according to a book he read (written by two of my close friends, Gary McIntosh and Charles “Chip” Arn) that “the goal of your financial investing should be to make the greatest number of disciples” (What Every Pastor Should Know).

Subsequently, the discussion turned to a discussion if finances could be used in an unethical way because more people would be saved as a result.  As I mentioned above, I know the authors of the book and this is of course not what they are saying.

But, this reminds us that outcomes can (but should they?) be used to justify the means.

According to John Wesley’s writings, it has to do with our understanding of God’s foundational action in love. Here are some questions that will help our understanding of ethical actions:

  • Would God have us do something unethical to make the greatest amount of disciples (This is part of the question in the story of the “plank of Carneades.”)
  • In other words, should we do something that furthers benefit to ourselves or even someone else’s soul … when that action is unethical?
  • And finally, would God require such action?

What are your thoughts?  If you are a student of mine, you can reply in the discussion forums to garner more points.  For all others, this is a good exercise to keep your leadership team sharp when considering ethical dilemmas.

WESLEY & His Top 10 Tips for a Healthy Life

Commentary by Dr. Whitesel: John Wesley was appalled at how doctors to the poor usually were medical quacks taking advantage of the poor. Subsequently, Wesley’s great intellect and scientific mind drew him to the study of medicinal remedies to help the average person. Below are some of Wesley’s suggestions for a healthy life. Particularly interesting is that he recommended, “Those who read or write much, should learn to do it standing; otherwise, it will impair their health.” This is something that has been proven to be critical for today’s office workers. (Excerpts below from John Wesley’s Primitive Physick).512KevGTI2L._SX355_BO1,204,203,200_

1. A due degree of exercise is indispensably necessary to health and long life.

2. Walking is the best exercise for those who are able to bear it; riding for those who are not. The open air, when the weather is fair, contributes much to the benefit of exercise.

3. We may strengthen any weak part of the body by constant exercise. Thus, the lungs may be strengthened by loud speaking, or walking up an easy ascent; the digestion and the nerves by riding; the arms and hams* by strong rubbing them daily.

4. The studious ought to have stated times for exercise, at least two or three hours a day; the one-half of this before dinner, the other before going to bed.

5. They should frequently shave, and frequently wash their feet.

6. Those who read or write much, should learn to do it standing; otherwise, it will impair their health.

7. The fewer clothes anyone uses by day or night, the hardier he will be.

8. Exercise first, should be always on an empty stomach secondly, should never be continued to weariness; thirdly, after it, we should take to cool by degrees, otherwise we shall catch cold.

9. The flesh-brush* is a most useful exercise, especially to strengthen any part that is weak.

10. Cold bathing is of great advantage to health; it prevents abundance of diseases. It promotes perspiration, helps the circulation of the blood; and prevents the danger of catching cold. Tender persons should pour pure water upon the head before they go in, and walk swiftly. To jump in with the head foremost is too great a shock to nature.)

Read more at … http://seedbed.com/feed/top-10-tips-for-a-healthy-life-excerpt-from-john-wesleys-primitive-physick/

CONVERSION & John Wesley’s view of Conversion #Podcast

http://www.missionaldiscipleship.com/?powerpress_embed=341-podcast&powerpress_player=mediaelement-audio

by @heathmullikin and @jeremysummers, GroundSwell, http://www.missionaldiscipleship.com.

Today’s conversation is with Dr. Bob Whitesel.  He is a founding professor of Wesley Seminary at Indiana Wesleyan University and current Professor of Missional Leadership.  He has two earned doctorates (D.Min. and Ph.D.) from Fuller Theological Seminary where he was awarded the Donald McGavran Award for “Outstanding Scholarship in Church Growth” by the faculty.  Dr. Whitesel is the  author of 11 books, including the award-winning series on evangelism titled, “Spiritual Waypoints: Helping Others Navigate the Journey”  He is married to his college sweetheart Rebecca and they have four daughters and four grandchildren.  Today, we talk with Dr. Whitesel about John Wesley’s view of conversion and discipleship. We would love your feedback by commenting on the blog, joining our Facebook group, or tweeting us @heathmullikin and @jeremysummers using the hashtag #groundswell. For more information on the Spiritual Formation Department of the Wesleyan Church click here.

Dr. Whitesel’s website at bobwhitesel.com.

Great church resources at churchhealthwiki.com.

Join Dr. Whitesel on wesleytours.com.