Saturday, November 23, 2013

Here I Am, Purposefully Blogging

I am supposed to be writing a post for another blog, but as I worked on it, it turned into a post about the purpose of my blog.

Saturday, November 16, 2013

"that vehicle of ethereal fire"

I came across the essay below while searching Wesley's works for examples of his advocacy literature.  The essay is on another one of my research interests, Wesley's theory of the soul.  In this brief commentary on 1 Thes. 5:23, Wesley used the image of clothing to explain the relationship between the body, soul, and spirit.  The spirit puts on soul-clothing, and the soul puts on body-clothing.  The body-clothing is made out of matter.  The soul-clothing is made out of electricity, which is the purest form of matter (or so the theory went in Wesley's time).  The spirit is immaterial.  These remarks illustrate Wesley's use of the science of his day to explain a theological concept.  What analogy do you use, and is it a theory of the soul or a theory of the mind?

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

John Wesley's advocacy publications

I thought this would be a straight-forward list to compile, but as I worked I found that I had to decide what I meant by "advocacy publication."  I settled on the following definition-- a pamphlet (rather than a collection of sermons, hymns, or letters) on a political or social issue other than the mistreatment of Methodists.

This left me with a list of fifteen publications.  Twelve of the pamphlets defend the British position in the Revolutionary War, one supports the British government, one advocates for the abolishment of slavery, and one analyzes economic policies that oppress the poor.

The list is in chronological order; the first pamphlet on the list was produced in 1770, the last in 1781.  The list does not include the dates of reprints.

Thursday, October 31, 2013

If no one is beaten, is it still a victory?

A mental nagging that required research and writing in order to think it through.

Friday, October 25, 2013

Paper or Paperless, what's your preference?

Scientific American reported on a study on e-readers and comprehension, which I read last week.  Today I learned that the Kindle version of my book is out.  I'll be interested to hear how my book "reads" over a device, especially on a smartphone.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

United Nations Sunday Litany

I found it difficult to access this litany on the web, so in case others are experiencing similar frustrations, I've copied the litany below. Thanks to the General Board of Church and Society for publicizing the availability of this resource from the Detroit Renaissance District Peace Center!


Monday, October 7, 2013

An Urbanizing Planet

Clip about the Spiky World and the need for sustainable urban development.

Thursday, October 3, 2013

“It is in that divine space that God’s Spirit prays in us.”

“It is in that divine space that God’s Spirit prays in us.”  (Henri J.M. Nouwen, Making all things new, page 90.)

The Holy Spirit praying in us.  Thank you, Father Nouwen, for this image.

Nouwen did not cite scripture or tradition as proof for this image.  He stated it as a truth.

God’s Spirit is praying in you in that divine space, and is praying for . . . what?  Nouwen wanted us to learn to listen, as individuals and as communities, and discern what God wants.

I’ve been thinking about the prayer experience I blogged about on Sept. 23 as “coming to attention.”  Yes I know, a military image so maybe not a positive association for some of you.  A divine drill sergeant barks, “A-ten-tion!” and the ranks of the enlisted go rigid in response.

Not the image of yourself or of God that you favor?  How about this-- a dog closely watches a trainer waiting for the next command.  The dog trusts the trainer, enjoys the tasks it is given to do, and loves the rewards it earns.  Anticipation of the joy to come is evident in the way the animal cocks its head, looks on with intelligent, eager eyes, and tenses its muscles preparing to obey.

Attend.  Anticipate.  Obey.  Repeat.

I think Attention and Anticipation are the best terms for what I experience at times in prayer. Now to move on to the next phase Nouwen mentioned-- Discern and Obey. That would be tremendous. I'm not there yet (other than to know that Love of God and Neighbor is what God always wants).

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

E. Stanley Jones contrasts eros and agape

You fortunate ones with easy access to Kittel's Theological Dictionary of the New Testament, help out an independent scholar.  Below is a table with a side-by-side comparison of E. Stanley Jones' definitions of eros and agape.  I'd like to know if this is a scholarly conclusion or a preacherly convention.  Thanks for the assist!  (I specify Kittel because it's the only lexical aid I don't have access to.)

Saturday, September 21, 2013

ACTS prayer

I was taught a version of the ACTS prayer as a college student.  Many years have passed since then, but I have not outgrown this form of prayer.  I still find it a useful framework for organizing my prayer.  The acronym stands for:
Below are some examples of these different ways of praying.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Drop in life expectancy of rural Nebraska women

This chart comes from a report published in the journal Health Affairs.  Those of you who minister in the counties with worsening mortality rates among women, does this reflect your experience?  Have you noticed a decline in the health of women in your community?  Have you had more funerals for women in their sixties (or even younger) than in the past?  This is a map of our mission field, and it is evidence of the social changes that are impacting United Methodist congregations in rural US counties.

Friday, September 6, 2013

Missouri River District 2013 Fall Update

I will be using the definition of clergy effectiveness shown below when I present at the 2013 Fall Update for the UM pastors of the Missouri River District, Nebraska Annual Conference.  The definition comes out of the research of Dr. Richard P. DeShon, Professor of Organizational Psychology at Michigan State University and GBHEM consultant.

More on DeShon's research can be found at this link and this link.

Sunday, September 1, 2013

Wesleyan Stages of Faith

Same chart but this time I used Facebook to post to the blog

Degrees of Faith chart animation option two

This version is getting closer to what I had in mind when I first tried to create a chart to diagram Wesley's teachings regarding the maturation of faith in degrees. I made it using powerpoint.  Unfortunately the resolution is not the best.  The labels on each section of the cylinder read (in order) Asleep, Almost, Awake, Abiding, Altogether.  Maybe this could go in the ebook version of Form and Power?

Monday, August 26, 2013

Degrees of Faith chart

I included charts in my book The Form and Power of Religion: John Wesley on Methodist Vitality to help illustrate the relationship between the form of religion and the power of religion.  I tried to show the interplay between the two through changes in shading, but in my mind's eye what I really saw was a moving chart.  By grace through faith, individuals transition from less mature degrees of faith to more mature degrees of faith.  Thanks to my father-in-law, I'm learning how to animate my charts.  Here's the first version.  It's not there yet but it's a step in the right direction.  Any of you who work with animation, please share your advice.

Monday, August 19, 2013

never bored

Here you go preachers; a little inspiration as you get ready for next Sunday.  From E. Stanley Jones, The Word Became Flesh--
For sixty years I've thought of one subject, have spoken about that one subject, and have written about that one subject-- that one subject, a Person, Jesus Christ.  After thinking and talking about one subject for sixty years, one should be bored and should want a moral holiday, want to get away and think of something else.  On the contrary, I was never so excited, so exhilarated, so full of surprise as now.  Something new breaks out from Him every day, a surprise around every corner, horizons cracking, life popping with novelty and meaning-- and value.  The Truth is making me free-- free to find more Truth and yet more Truth.  And so on forever and forever.
-Week 5--Thursday

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

The Church works it out

The individualism I heard in Paul’s exhortation to “Work out your own salvation in fear and trembling” (Philippians 2:12) rendered this verse unavailable as a foundational text for an ecclesiology. Wesley’s interpretation of this passage, both in his Notes (“Work out your own salvation - Herein let every man aim at his own things.”) and in his Sermon on Phil 2:12, 13, only reinforced my impression.

That is, it was my impression until I started learning Greek. Paul’s command reads-- τὴν ἑαυτῶν σωτηρίαν κατεργάζεσθε. The verb ending is second person plural, “you all work out.” The reflexive pronoun also has a plural ending, and this particular Greek pronoun does triple duty for first, second, and third person plural reflexive pronouns.

 The verb used here suggest intense effort according to HELPS Word-Studies--
katergázomai (from 2596 /katá, "down, exactly according to," intensifying 2038 /ergázomai, "work, accomplish") – literally, "work down to the end-point," i.e. to an exact, definite conclusion (note the prefix, 2596/katá); bring to decisive finality (end-conclusion). 
So, rather than reading this verse as Paul’s instructions to individual Philippians to work out his or her own salvation as a private struggle, it should be interpreted as a collective endeavor that Paul placed upon the group as a whole-- “thoroughly work out the salvation of all of you.” (Paul explained how to accomplish this goal in his Letter to the Philippians, but I’ll save that for another post.)

Salvation by grace through faith as a group process. The work of every church member for every church member as empowered by grace. Members supporting, encouraging, and challenging one another to pursue the goal that Paul identified in Phil 2:5-- to become Christ-like. The implications of this new creation worked into every facet of every member’s life. (Which sounds a lot like Wesley’s goal for his classes and bands.) That’s how I read Phil 2: 12 now.  Is this understanding of discipleship evident in your church's ministry?

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Jesus the Indicative

"Jesus was a revealer of the laws which underlie the universe.  He seldom used the imperative, almost never the subjunctive, almost entirely the indicative."  -E. Stanley Jones, The Word Became Flesh, p. 37.

Can anyone confirm the accuracy of this statement?  Has anyone counted up the number of times Jesus used the indicative in comparison to the subjunctive and imperative?  Is this a meaningful difference?

The imperative is a command (You do this!)  The subjunctive can be an exhortation in some forms (Let us do this!)  The subjunctive also expresses deliberation (should I do this?) and probability (he might possibly do this.)  

If Jesus seldom commanded, then it would make those occasions when he did all the more striking.  When and about which subjects was Jesus less than emphatic, and what does that tell us about his ministry and teachings?

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Brother Lawrence's confession of sin

Found a little gem regarding Brother Lawrence's method for confessing his sins.  It’s in Wesley’s Christian Library, v. 23, from CONVERSATION 2: Sept. 28, 1666.--
“That when he had failed in his duty, he only confessed his fault, saying to God, 'I shall never do otherwise, if thou leave me to myself; it is thou must hinder my falling, and mend what is amiss.' That after this, he soon found. himself in peace.”

“That he was very sensible of his faults, but he was not discouraged by them; that he confessed them to GOD, and when he had so done, he peaceably resumed his usual practice of love and adoration.”
I looked for a similar quick move from contrition to consolation in Wesley’s other publications.  The closest example I found is a Charles poem on Luke 13:3--
“Except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish.”—[Luke] 13:3.
1 O what a life is mine!
Backward I cast mine eye,
And trembling own the truth divine,
“I must repent, or die!”
But him, who tells me so,
Highly extolled I see
The godly sorrow to bestow,
The godly love on me.
2 Saviour, and Prince, appear
To break this stubborn heart,
And then to bid my guilty fear
And unbelief depart;
While at thy feet I grieve,
From all my sins release,
The sense of thy salvation give,
The kingdom of thy peace.

I find Brother Lawrence’s confession delightful.  He is mindful of his sins, however he is not preoccupied with his helplessness.  He is preoccupied with love for God and trust in God’s power and grace.  

John did discuss the feeling of helplessness in Sermon 14, "The Repentance of Believers," but given that this sermon is not about the sense of peace that follows godly sorrow, it is no surprise that the sermon does not contain a lengthy discussion of assurance of forgiveness.  

Better to keep the two (guilt and assurance) in mind for the reader, I think.  This way a balance is maintained, and the reader avoids emphasizing one and ignoring the other.  Lawrence and Charles did a better job of maintaining this balance in comparison to John.

Sunday, July 7, 2013

Communal Living in the Wesleyan tradition

Forming a Christian community that pooled material resources into a common fund was an ideal Wesley expressed in writing but did not implement throughout the Methodist Connexion.  Randy Maddox's article provides a summary of Wesley's argument that the first church described in the book of Acts was the ideal every Christian going on to perfection should strive to emulate.  This perspective is found in his doctrinal Notes for Acts 4:32--
And the multitude of them that believed - Every individual person were of one heart and one soul - Their love, their hopes, their passions joined: and not so much as one - In so great a multitude: this was a necessary consequence of that union of heart; said that aught of the things which he had was his own - It is impossible any one should, while all were of one soul. So long as that truly Christian love continued, they could not but have all things common.
I've discovered an intentional community in Todd, NC founded by a UMC--  The website doesn't indicate whether or not Wesleyan theology is an organizing principle for their life together.  Are you aware of any other intentional UM communities?

What besides holding all things in common would mark a community as distinctively Wesleyan?  Frequent communion would have to be on the list.  A commitment to loving God and Neighbor and using the means of grace to mature in a faith that works by love is another given.  Class meetings.  Meals together, a common house, community garden?

In your opinion, is there any interest in fulfilling this part of Wesley's vision for the Methodists?

Monday, July 1, 2013

Reproving Sinners as a Means of Grace.

Discourses 3 and 6 on the Sermon on the Mount list activities that Wesley considered works of mercy:

Giving alms, feeding the hungry, clothing the naked, assisting the stranger, visiting those that are sick or in prison, comforting the afflicted, instructing the ignorant, reproving the wicked,  exhorting and encouraging the well-doer.

Unlike Discourse 6, doing good to others’ bodies and souls is not explicitly designated as a means of grace in Discourse 3, however the following statement does imply that when we engage in works of mercy, God’s grace is working through us—
This power [to do good to the soul], indeed, belongeth unto God. It is He only that changes the heart, without which every other change is lighter than vanity. Nevertheless, it pleases Him who worketh all in all, to help man chiefly by man; to convey his own power, and blessing, and love, through one man to another.

Wesley’s Notes for Ephesians 5:13 also implicitly identify reproving sin as a means of grace. Paul’s statement is intriguing—
τὰ δὲ πάντα ἐλεγχόμενα ὑπὸ τοῦ φωτὸς φανεροῦται,              
            all        exposed     by           light     is lit up  
πᾶν γὰρ τὸ φανερούμενον φῶς ἐστιν    
all            that lights up         light     is
(John 3: 20 and 21 contain similar themes of exposure by an illuminating light.  In the case of the gospel, Jesus is identified as the light that can expose the nature of human deeds.)

In Wesley’s opinion when Christians reprove sin, heavenly light is working through them.  This is not an explicit biblical precedent for Wesley’s claim that reproving sin is a means of grace, but it comes close.

Saturday, June 8, 2013

ἐκβάλλω in Mark

Okay Greek scholars, I'm going to need your help with this one.  The verb ἐκβάλλω and its conjugations appears 18 times in the Gospel of Mark.  Most of the time ἐκβάλλω is used in reference to casting out demons (1:34, 39; 3: 15, 22, 23; 6:13; 7:26; 9:18, 28, 38; 16:9, 17).  The verb shows up once in the parable of the wicked tenants (the tenants kill the owner's son and cast his dead body out of the vineyard, 12:8).  Jesus casts out moneychangers (11:15), mocking mourners (5:40), and a healed leper (1:43).  Jesus tells his disciples to cast out their eye if it causes them to stumble (9:47).

However, the first time ἐκβάλλω is used the occasion is not a demon exorcism or a rebuking of sinful behavior.  Instead, immediately after his baptism the Spirit ἐκβάλλει Jesus into the wilderness.  Matthew and Luke use versions of the verb ἄγω, which means that the Spirit led Jesus into the wilderness, a much milder version of this episode.

At the beginning of chapter one, the Spirit treats the newly baptized Jesus the same way that Jesus treats the newly healed leper at the end of chapter one.

1: 12-- εὐθὺς τὸ πνεῦμα αὐτὸν ἐκβάλλει
1: 43-- εὐθὺς ἐξέβαλεν αὐτὸν

Jesus as the newly healed who can't be completely trust and so the Spirit cast Jesus out of his old life and into the wilderness for further purifying?  Is that what's going on here?  The newly healed leper is not trustworthy; he is cast out and then disobeys Jesus' warning.  Jesus is trustworthy; he is cast out and then resists temptation.  

Jesus knows what it feels like to have the Spirit turn on him.  I think that's the idea that's got me doubting my interpretation and its implications. 

Sunday, May 19, 2013

The End of Suffering

Revelation 21: 4 Observations

Wesley's Notes-- "Under the former heaven, and upon the former earth, there was death and sorrow, crying and pain; all which occasioned many tears: but now pain and sorrow are fled away, and the saints have everlasting life and joy."

What comforts you when you are suffering?  Got a favorite comfort food that you reach for when you’re stressed?  A muffin; that’s my comfort food.  

Eating provides us with some relief from suffering because certain foods have the right combination of salt, sugar, and fat, a combination which triggers the release of hormones that make us feel good . . .  for a few minutes.  To keep feeling good we have to keep eating that combination of salt, sugar, and fat.  And eating.  And eating.  And eating.

The inability of my favorite comfort food to truly provide comfort serves as a reminder that nothing in this world puts an end to suffering.  We can numb ourselves.  Distract ourselves, but the things that bring tears to our eyes remain.

“God will wipe every tear from their eyes.  There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.”  That’s how the end of the world is described in the Book of Revelation.  The heavenly Father will comfort the faithful and put a stop to all of the things that bring a tear to their eyes.

The night before he was killed, Jesus promised his disciples that his death would not leave them spiritually orphaned.  Jesus would send a Comforter to them.  The Holy Spirit that fell upon Christians at Pentecost is the fulfillment of that promise.  

The Holy Spirit didn’t end suffering on Earth, however.  Jesus final words to his disciples included the acknowledgment that in this world they would suffer persecution, but they were to take heart because he had overcome the world. 

The next time you are crying, outwardly or inwardly, don’t reach for the food, reach for the Holy Spirit.  This is the form of prayer that helps me reach for the Spirit--
Spirit of Christ (arms raised up above my head), 
Fall on us (arms lowered and then spread wide).  
Spirit of Christ (reach to the right and then to the left), 
Fill me (brings hand to the chest).
I think the Holy Spirit is a comfort because it comes to us with a reminder that death, grief, and pain have an expiration date.  We shouldn’t be satisfied with anything less.  We shouldn’t be content with the numbing effects of food, drink. or drugs.  We shouldn’t settle for the distracting effects of such things as TV, books, or shopping.  Instead of numbing out or dropping out of life, we should seek the One with the power to end suffering.

Monday, May 6, 2013

This is your mind on God

Romans 12: 2--

μὴ συσχηματίζεσθε τῷ αἰῶνι τούτῳ, ἀλλὰ μεταμορφοῦσθε τῇ ἀνακαινώσει τοῦ νοὸς

Does the second word look familiar?  Here’s the transliteration:  syschēmatizesthe
Looks like schematize, right?

How about the seventh word?  Transliteration:  metamorphousthe
Metamorphosis anyone?

So Paul’s command to the Romans is something along the lines of “Do not be schematized into this age, but be “metamorphosis-ized” by the renewal of the mind.”

ἀνακαινώσει is a lovely noun with connotations of uplifting, refreshing, rejuvenating while νοὸς refers to the mind’s ability to think, reason, and analyze.

This passage of scripture suggests to me that a line of thought can be a means of grace.  God can use our thought process as a channel through which grace can flow.  However, not just any thought process can serve this function.  Some lines of thought simply follow and conform to a worldly order.  

Has an idea or line of argument ever transformed you?  What mental exercises leave you feeling renewed or uplifted?

There was an example of a new thought transforming someone in the Upper Room devotional for Sunday, May 5, 2013

Monday, April 8, 2013

Advocacy as a Means of Grace

John Wesley did not mention advocacy in his lists of the means of grace. He was an advocate against the slave trade and war, so Methodist advocates can point to Wesley's lived example as precedent. However, his doctrinal writings do not suggest that activism against social injustice can serve as a channel that communicates grace to the soul. I am considering advocacy as a prudential means of grace.  Wesley's examples of prudential means are all methods of exercising stewardship, and advocacy certainly fits in that category.

Monday, March 25, 2013

Compassion for self as love for self

New Testament Greek has different verb conjugations for indicative, command, and hypothetical "moods" (among others).  In Matthew 22: 37-39 the verb "to love" is in the indicative mood, future tense:  Ἀγαπήσεις-- You will love God.  You will love neighbor.  Jesus is not commanding you to love.  He is not speculating on the probability that you will love.  Jesus is claiming that this is what the future holds for you.  This sermon looks at love for self as the foundation for love of neighbor through the lens of positive psychology.

Monday, March 18, 2013

Love Celebrates

Positive Psychology is giving me a vocabulary for talking about "going on to perfection" without using the P word, which makes so many people think of perfectionism and dismiss the doctrine as unrealistic.  Love 2.0 includes exercises that have been found to be effective at increasing people's awareness of micro-moments of positivity (positive social connections).  I adapt one of Dr. Fredrickson's exercises in the sermon below in hope that it will be a contemporary way for my parishioners to pursue perfection.

Monday, March 4, 2013

Positive Psychology and Methodist Doctrine

I read Dr. Barbara Fredrickson's new book Love 2.0 with great interest. No surprise that I related Methodist Doctrine to her definition of love. I plan to preach a sermon series this month on love based on her findings. Anyone else discovered an affinity between positive psychology and Wesley's definition of salvation?

Monday, February 25, 2013

Spiritual exercises of rejection and acceptance

Reflecting on the Book of Daniel led to this explanation and description of two spiritual exercises.  I shared it with my congregation in a worship service structured around the hymn "Amazing Grace," the call to worship was based on 1 Corinthians 1:26-31 (MSG), and the scripture lessons were Daniel 1: 3-5; John 1: 45-51.

Monday, February 18, 2013

Monday, February 4, 2013

Gluttony-- the first temptation?

I've started jotting down notes on the topic of gluttony.  My purpose here is to try to take seriously the notion that gluttony is the first temptation that is usually confronted when a person initially sets out to follow a more disciplined spirituality.  The first encountered and the first that must be overcome in order to progress.  Wesley certainly emphasized the need be practice self-denial when it came to food and drink.  This principle is no longer considered to be integral to United Methodist identity.  Do you consider this to be an advancement over Wesley, a loss of something vital to faith development, or something in between?

Monday, January 28, 2013

your facebook page a place of peace or gossip? a Lenten challenge

I was inspired by Jesus' actions after the death of John the Baptist in the Gospel of Mark version, and it let to this challenge.

Monday, January 21, 2013

These are such good times-- 1 Kings 19

My reflections on 1 Kings 19:1-21 are influenced by Wesley's sermon "Of Former Times" and his identification of rebuking sin as a means of grace.  Lovingly confronting sinners with their sinful behavior is a work of mercy, according to Wesley.  This means of grace does good to a person's soul and can be a means of communicating God's grace to the rebuker and the rebuked.

In Sermon 102 Wesley rebuked the tendency to glorify the past and denigrate the present.  He repeated his definition of religion ("By religion I mean the love of God and man filling the heart and governing the life. The sure effect of this is, the uniform practice of justice, mercy, and truth. This is the very essence of it; the height and depth of religion, detached from this or that opinion, and from all particular modes of worship.") and pointed out the ways in which his Methodist movement was presently promoting the revival of this expression of Christianity.

Saturday, January 19, 2013

The Spiky World and The Great Plains-- reflections on the Joint Clergy Session

Creative economy, mega-region in North AmericaThe Spiky World
It is a Spiky World.  The spikes are made more obvious by the Great Plains that separate them.  A Spike grows where wealth, innovation, and political power coalesce. People who are unwilling or unable to relocate to one of the world's Spikes will increasingly find themselves living in a Great Plains of limited government services.  

In the plenary sessions, Diana Butler Bass described church life in the Spike of Washington DC—tolerant, pluralistic, and inclusive.  In our small group we described church life on the Great Plains—sorrowful, stressed-out, and abandoned.

The Great Plains
The compassion evident in the members of my small group as they spoke about the collective grief experience of Nebraskans and Kansans living in small towns is my strongest takeaway from our discussions.
School and Post Office closings, business failures, property devaluations . . . such occurrences weigh down the spirits of folks on both sides of the State line.

A commitment to minister to these failing towns was expressed by everyone around the table.  A common realization that church must take a different form was also acknowledged.  The deployment of pastors to these depopulated spaces on the Great Plains will look more like the sending of missionaries whose ministry is subsidized by other churches.

Preferred Futures
Great Churches, Great Leaders, Great Disciples-- some in the Spiky World, some on the Great Plains.  We will need an organizational plan for the new conference that keeps churches in the Spikes connected to churches on the Great Plains.  Economic realities will require a sharing of resources; the wealth and political power of the Spikes serving the needs of the Great Plains without requiring those churches to adopt spiky innovations that do not fit their ministry.

The Church can not create a Transformed World of equal opportunity, however they can advocate for government policies that address everyone's needs and respect everyone's rights while the free market system produces higher Spikes and broader Plains.

Friday, January 11, 2013

Sabbath Rest

Chapter 13 of The Story is about Solomon’s rise and fall.  In my sermon I contrasted the temple-builder with the 12-year-old Jesus visiting the temple.  A phrase from Hymn 358 influenced the final theme of the sermon, Sabbath Rest.  I tried to express what the term means to me—“relationship with God,” “spiritual life,” “an interior life,” “A regular practice of time spent alone in the presence of the true God,” “to rest their souls in the Lord of the Sabbath,” “a new inward relationship with God and it’s changing his outward behavior,” “to feel connected to that which is sacred,” “reach out to the Holy.”

Wesley used phrases such as “spiritual respiration” and “the life of God in the soul of man” (from the book of that title by Henry Scougal).  What term(s) do you use?  Do your conversation partners always understand what you are talking about or do you sometimes get blank expressions?