“Mystical” Experience

This is a difficult subject to discuss considering my Reformed leanings, I mean, really…mystical experiences? These experiences started more than 15 years ago when I was young in the faith. I would spend every spare minute pouring over the scriptures, following scripture chains, reading tracts, short Bible studies, etc. always attended with repentance and prayer, sometimes even tears of sorrow over sin, or joy for the forgiveness I have in Christ. Over the years these experiences would happen after intense periods of prayer or intense studying of the sacred scriptures and theological works, but not always, that’s enough of an introduction.

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Here goes…

I’ll jump right in by explaining the very first experience I had over 15 years ago. At the time I had a job which allowed me to read throughout the day so I brought my Bible to work every shift and spent the majority of the day reading it. At the end of each day, after family time and everyone settled in, I would set time aside for prayer. Nothing crazy, just 30 minutes to pray and meditate. The first “mystical” experience I had took place after a time of fervent prayer. I wouldn’t say I did anything different, it was just time aside, a pattern I had been using for a few months at this point. I finished praying, and took the dog for her last walk of the day, this was my usual routine. As we walked our accustomed path I noticed a warmth or radiance to my surroundings. It was a pleasant fall evening, the sky was full of stars and I felt as if I was touching or apart of all that surrounded me including the stars above. It wasn’t trace like – just an experience.

When I looked up into the night sky it was as if I was united with all of creation and I lost my sense of time or space, just a deep connected-ness to God and creation. It’s difficult to describe or place into words, but it was similar to what you experience when you swim to the bottom of a pool and feel the water surrounding you, the water touching every part of your body. That night I felt as if I was rooted to the world with God and creation touching every part of my being. Throughout the experience I was overwhelmed with thankfulness to Jesus Christ. It was as if I was standing before my Lord, that I had entered the Holy of Holies and found myself complete in Him, in union with Jesus. The unity I felt with my Lord Jesus was humbling and overpowering. It’s difficult to say with any certainty how long this experience lasted, but it was a very happy, pleasing experience that really encouraged me fall deeper in love with Christ. After a time the experience faded somewhat. I wasn’t let down or disappointed when the experience was over, but I was further convinced of my need for Jesus Christ.

The experience I had that night stayed with me for a few days, the feeling of connected-ness, unity with God and creation through Jesus Christ, it all remained with me. Being somewhat of a bookworm I started to read up on mystical experience and found some confirmation of what had taken place in the writings of the Saints, especially the strangely beautiful experiences of God’s presence revealed to us in scripture. This mystical communion with Christ happened early in my Christian walk, I didn’t try to recreate the experience or avoid them. At the time I believed it was best to just let things happen, trusting in God. My reading and prayer routine continued and the experiences would continue to take place – often taking me by surprise. It could be during my walk home from work or while performing a daily task like getting the kids ready for bed. The feeling of thankfulness to Christ and unity with my surroundings would flood in and fill my soul with a sense of love that both lifted me up spiritually and humbled me at the same time.

A few years passed by and, as any good theology nerd, I read B.B. Warfield’s work “Mysticism and Christianity.” I was already leaning in the Reformed direction due to a plain reading of Romans 9 (among other passages), so I decided to shun all things mystical, convinced by Warfield’s good logical sense. Warfield wrote that a mystic was mute because they have feelings and not concepts. Fair enough. But I can’t help believing I understand better what it means to, “Serve the LORD with fear, and rejoice with trembling” or to, “Kiss the Son, lest he be angry, and ye perish from the way…” The concept of, “Blessed are all they that put their trust in him” is more real to me because of the experiential knowledge of these concepts Jesus Christ has granted me. I am convinced He supplies both head knowledge and heart knowledge!

For the past 15 or more years these mystical experiences have continue to take place and I am now thankful for them. After all, experiencing the risen Christ has deepen my love for Him, the scriptures and frequent participation in the Lord’s Supper. It sets me on my knees in a state of deeper repentance and prayer. If this makes me heterodox and I’m not convinced it does, or even that I am unique, may God have mercy upon me. May He guide me back to the narrow way. I’m not convinced I’m my experiences place me outside of the pale of Christian orthodoxy and so I’m ready to explore these experiences further. This confession may lead to more posts that many may consider heterodox, but please know that I still consider myself Reformed just not one that can walk in tight unanimity on the issue of my experiences of God.  May God forgive me where I error.

Yours in the Lord Jesus Christ who saves to the uttermost,

jm

PS: If you have any comments or thoughts on my post please leave them below.

PPS: No I have never done acid or any other illegal drugs. lol

PPPS: I’m hold on to some details – I’m not ready to share them yet.

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Short Prayers

Wiki:Jacob-Böhme

Jakob Böhme (/ˈbməˈb-/;[2] 1575 – 17 November 1624) was a German Christian mystic and theologian. He was considered an original thinker by many of his contemporaries[3] within the Lutheran tradition, and his first book, commonly known as Aurora, caused a great scandal. In contemporary English, his name may be spelled Jacob Boehme; in seventeenth-century England it was also spelled Behmen, approximating the contemporary English pronunciation of the German Böhme.

Re-blog:

A Short Form of Prayer Before the Eyes of God

O great, unsearchable, holy God, Lord of all being, who in Christ Jesus, out of pure love for us, revealed your holy being in our humanity, I, a poor, unworthy, sinful man, come before your revealed face, in the humanity of Jesus Christ, even though I am unworthy to raise my eyes to You, and I implore You, and confess to You that I have been faithless and disloyal to Your great love and grace that You have given us.  I have forsaken the covenant that You, out of pure grace, made with me in baptism, in which You took me as a child and heir of eternal life.  I have led my desire into the vanity of this world, and defiled my soul thereby, and made it completely bestial and earthly, so that, because of the mire of the sin, my soul does not know itself, and sees itself wholly as a strange child before Your sight, unworthy to desire Your grace.  I lie as deep as my soul’s lips in the mire of sin and in the vanity of my corrupted flesh, and have only a small spark of breath in me that seeks Your grace.  In vanity I have thus become dead to myself so that, in this vanity, I dare not raise my eyes to You.

O God in Christ Jesus, who for the sake of poor sinners became man so that You could help them, to You I cry; I still have a spark of refuge for You in my soul.  I have not regarded Your purchased inheritance that through Your bitter death You purchased for us, and I have shared the inheritance of vanity in Your Father’s wrath, in the curse of the Earth, and am trapped by sin and half dead to Your kingdom.  I lie in weakness before your power, and angry death waits for me.  The devil has poisoned me so that I do not recognize my Savior.  I have become a wild shoot in Your tree and have devoured my inheritance from You with with the devil’s pits.  What shall I say before You, I who am not worthy of Your grace?  I lie in the sleep of death that has trapped me, and I am bound fast with three strong chains.  O help me, You Breaker of death.  I can and am able to do nothing.  I have become dead to myself and have no power before you, and dare not lift my eyes to you because of my great shame.  I am a defiled swineherd and have spent my inheritance with the false adulterous whore of vanity, wasting it in the lusts of the flesh.  In my own lust I have sought myself and not You.  Now I have become a fool in myself and am naked and bare; my shame stands before my eyes; I cannot hide it.  Your judgment waits for me.  What am I to say to You, You who are the judge of the world?  I have nothing more that I can bring to You.  Here I stand before You naked and bare, and fall down before Your face, and complain to You of my misery, and cry for Your great mercy.  Although I am not worthy, take me into Your death and let me die Your death in my death.  Strike down my assumed “I” and destroy by Your death my “I,” so that I no longer live, since in myself I only sin.  Kill the evil beast full of false cunning and self-desire, and redeem the poor soul from its heavy bondage.

O merciful God, it is because of Your love and patience that I am not already lying in hell.  I give myself up with my whole will, thought, and mind to Your grace, and ask for Your mercy.  By Your death I call out of the small spark of my life surrounded by death and hell, which open their jaws to me, and seek to swallow me up in death.  You have promised You will not put out the glimmering wick.  I have no other road by which to come to You than by Your suffering and death, because You have made our death life by means of Your humanity and have broken the chains of death.  Therefore I sink my soul’s desire into Your death, into the broken gates of Your death.

O great Fountain of the love of God, let me die to my vanity and sin in the death of my Redeemer Jesus Christ.

O Breath of the great love of God, revive my weak breath in me so that it may begin to hunger and thirst after You.  O Jesus, sweet power, in Your fountains of grace give my soul to drink the sweet water of eternal life so that it may wake from death and thirst after You.  O how it has become completely exhausted in Your power.  O merciful God, convert me; I cannot.  O Conqueror of death, help me to strive since the enemy holds me with his three chains and will not let my soul’s desire come before You.  Come, and take my soul’s desire into You.  Be my pull to the Father, and redeem me from the devil’s bonds.  Do not look upon my deformity, that I stand naked before You, and have lost my cloak.  Clothe my breath that lives in me and desires Your grace and let me once again see Your salvation.

O deepest Love of all, take my soul’s desire into You, and, by Your death, lead it into You out of death’s bonds through Your death into Your resurrection.  Revive me in Your power so that my desire and will begin to grow anew.  O Conqueror of death and God’s wrath, conquer my “I” in me.  Break its will, and crush my soul so that it is in fear before You, continually falling on the ground before You, and make it ashamed of its own will before Your judgment so that it may become an instrument obedient to You.  Bend it in death’s bonds; remove its power so that it wills nothing without You.

O God, Holy Spirit, my Savior in Christ, teach me what I ought to do so that I might turn to You.  Redirect my will in me to You.  Draw me, in Christ, to the Father, and help me so that from now on I might leave sin and vanity and nevermore enter into them.  Awake true sorrow for past sins in me.  Keep me in Your bonds, and do not let me loose from deaths.  Enlighten my spirit so that I may see the divine way, and continually walk in it.  Take me from myself and give me completely to Yourself alone.  Do not let me begin, will, think, nor do anything without You.  O how long, Lord, will I not be worthy of what I desire of You?  Let my soul’s desire dwell merely in the doorways of Your outer room.  Make it a servant to Your servants.  Preserve it from the horrible pit in which there is no solace or refreshment.

O God in Christ Jesus, I am blind to myself.  I do not know myself because of vanity.  In my blindness You are hidden from me, You who are yet close by me.  Yet Your anger that my own desire has ignited has made me dark.  Take the breath of my soul’s desire to Yourself.  Test it, Lord, and shatter it, so that my soul may reach Your beam of sweet grace.

I lie before You as a dead man whose life, like a small spark, hovers at his lips.  Ignite it, Lord.  Direct my soul’s breath to You.  Lord, I wait on Your promise, for You have said, As I truly live, I have no desire in the death of the sinner, but that he turn and live, (Ezekiel 33:11).  I sink myself into the death of my Savior Jesus Christ, and wait on You, Your word is truth and life.

Amen.

CALVIN ON POSTURE IN WORSHIP

Source: The Calvinist International

SITTING ON THE PROMISES? Portrait of John Calvin

Two of the more common gestural accompaniments of prayer and worship in Scripture are kneeling and the lifting of one’s hands.

In several places in the Institutes and his commentaries, John Calvin reflects on the usefulness of such practices for Christian prayer and sketches an outline of what it is that God intends them to do; or, rather, what God intends to do by them (and the notion of instrumentality will emerge as clearly having been of great significance for Calvin).

We tend, I think, in the Reformed world particularly, to assume that posture has very little to do with prayer, for a variety of reasons (e.g., an allergy to certain traditions with which we’d rather not be associated; an intellectualizing and cerebral impulse in worship that has as a frequent corollary, though not as a necessary consequence, a perhaps too easy alliance with forms that fall within our collective comfort zones; 1etc.). Others perhaps move in the opposition direction, believing that certain actions must be done at certain times, and that a failure to perform these actions makes prayer less, well, prayerful.

For Calvin, both positions are errors because both misjudge the nature of externals and their relation to the worship of the heart–the former too easily dispensing with them and therefore too quickly leaving them to one side, the latter giving them more weight than is due to them. Worship of God without the heart is useless; but, at the same time, what we do with our bodies is closely bound up with what we do with our hearts, and not in a symbolic way merely. The posture of the body ought to be emblematic of the posture of the heart, yes. But, ideally, the posture of the body serves to form the posture of the heart as well: posture, that is, has what we might call, in syntactical terms, both an indicative and a hortatory function. Kneeling is not just a sign of submission; kneeling aids in producing submission.

To approach more closely to what should be involved in thinking about this issue, let us look at some excerpts from Calvin, beginning with the Institutes. (END QUOTE)

For the rest of the article please visit The Calvinist International

Yours in the Lord,

jm

Divine Examination

The Soul Submitting to Divine Examination
the Sincerity of its Repentance and Faith.

Philip Doddridge, 

“Lord God! thou searchest all hearts and triest the reins of the children of men! (Jer. 17:10). Search me, O Lord, and know my heart; try me, and know my thoughts; and see if there be any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting, (Ps. 139:23-24). Doth not conscience, Lord! testify in thy presence, that my repentance and faith are such as have been described, or at least that it is my earnest prayer that they may be so? Come, therefore, O thou blessed Spirit! who art the author of all grace and consolation, and work this temper more fully in my soul. O represent sin to mine eyes in all its most odious colors, that I may feel a mortal and irreconcilable hatred to it! O represent the majesty and mercy of the blessed God in such a manner that my heart may be alarmed, and that it may be melted! Smite the rock, that the waters may flow, (Ps. 78:20): waters of genuine, undissembled, and filial repentance! Convince me, O thou blessed Spirit! of sin, of righteousness, and of judgment! (John 16:8). Show me that I have undone myself; but that my help is found in God alone, (Hosea 13:9), in God through Christ, in whom alone he will extend compassion and help to me! According to thy peculiar office, take of Christ and show it unto me, (John 16:15). Show me his power to save! Show me his willingness to exert that power I teach my faith to behold him as extended on the cross, with open arms, with a pierced, bleeding side; and so telling me, in the most forcible language, what room there is in his very heart for me! May I know what it is to have my whole heart subdued by love; so subdued as to be crucified with him, (Rom. 6:6); to be dead to sin and dead to the world, but alive unto God through Jesus Christ, (Rom. 6:11). In his power and love may I confide! To him may I without any reserve commit my spirit! His image may I bear! His laws may I observe! His service may I pursue! And may I remain, through time and eternity, a monument of the efficacy or his Gospel, and a trophy of his victorious grace!

“O blessed God! if there be any thing wanting towards constituting me a sincere Christian, discover it to me, and work it in me! Beat down, I beseech thee, every false and presumptuous hope, how costly soever that building may have been which it thus laid in ruins, and how proud soever I may have been of its vain ornaments! Let me know the worst of my case, be that knowledge edge ever so distressing; and if there be remaining danger, O let my heart be fully sensible of it, sensible while yet there is a remedy!

“If there be any secret sin yet lurking in my soul, which I have not sincerely renounced, discover it to me, and rend it out of my heart, though it may have shot its roots ever so deep, and have wrapped them all around it, so that every nerve shall be pained by the separation! Tear it away, O Lord, by a hand graciously severe! And by degrees, yea, Lord, by speedy advances, go on, I beseech thee, to perfect what is still lacking in my faith, (l Thess. 3:10). Accomplish in me all the good pleasure of thy goodness, (2 Thess. 1:11). Enrich me, O Heavenly Father, with all the graces of thy Spirit; form me to the complete image of thy dear Son; and then, for his sake, come unto me, and manifest thy gracious presence in my soul, (John, 14:21, 28), till it is ripened for that state of glory for which all these operations are intended to prepare it Amen.” – The Rise and Progress of Religion in the Soul

Commune With God

Psalm 4:4 “Stand in awe, and sin not: commune with your own heart upon your bed, and be still. Selah.”

Psalm 63:6 “When I remember thee upon my bed, and meditate on thee in the night watches.”

Psalm 16:7 “I will bless the Lord, who hath given me counsel: my reins also instruct me in the night seasons.”

Psalm 119:147 “I prevented the dawning of the morning, and cried: I hoped in thy word.”

Occasional Meditation

Thomas Manton:manton

There is that which we call Occasional Meditation, which is an Act by which the Soul Spiritualizeth every Object, about which it is Conversant. A Gracious Heart is like an Alymbeck, it can distil Useful Meditations out of all things it meeteth with. Look as it seeth all things in God, so it seeth God in all things. Our Lord at the Well discourseth of the water of life, Iohn 21.10. At the Supper of the Pharisee one discourseth of eating bread in the kingdom of God, Luke 14.15. There is a Chemistry and Holy Art that a Christian hath, to turn Water into Wine, Brass into Gold, to make Earthly Occasions and Objects to minister Spiritual and Heavenly Thoughts. God trained up the Old Church by Types and Ceremonies, that upon a Common Object they might Ascend to Spiritual Thoughts; and Our Lord in the New Testament taught by Parables and Similitude taken from Ordinary Functions and Offices among Men, that in every Trade and Calling we might be employed in our Worldly Business with an Heavenly Mind, that whether in the Shop, or at the Loom, or in the Field, we might still think of Christ and Heaven. There is a Parable of Merchant-Men, a Parable of the Sower, a Parable of a Man calling his Servants to an Account; in all these similitudes Christ would teach us, that we should still think of God and Heaven. So small a matter as a grain of Mustard-seed may yield many Spiritual Applications. Sermons on Genesis