Intelligent Mysticism

Good morning. It is Sunday, June 28, 2015.

Today’s word of the day, from Merriam-Webster, is cybrarian. You might be able to guess this one. It’s a noun, meaning, “a person whose job is to find, collect, and manage information that is available on the World Wide Web.” Personally, I think it’s an impossible job. Maybe not, though, considering that it did not say, “manage all the information that is available . . .” Still, I believe it to be quite the daunting task.

Today is Log Cabin Day, encouraging us to step back and get away from modern convenience for a bit, and just relax. Sadly, we have too much to do today to even think about that. But it does remind me of our stays at Paluxy River Bed Cabins, in Glen Rose.

This morning, we’re going to Southlake to look at a trombone! It looks like a good one, and appears to be, based on the serial number given by the seller, about ten years old. From the pictures, it looks to be in pretty good condition, as well. The seller agreed to take $1700 for it, down a little from the asking price on the ad. It’s a Bach 42, and appears to be a “TG,” with a Thayer valve. I’m rather anxious to check it out.

After that, we have to pick up Christi’s car, which is at the tire shop, as she needed four new tires before we could even think about getting the car inspected. The inspection isn’t due for a while, but she experienced some frightening driving conditions during our monsoon season. After that, we have to get the groceries for us and Christi’s mom and step-dad, and then Tessie, the dog, has a 1:30 appointment for her regular checkup at PetSmart (Banfield Pet Clinic). I think that’s all. Maybe.

Next weekend promises to be great fun. I will be playing with the Southlake Community Band on Friday evening, at Southlake Town Square, for their July 4th festivities. I’m not sure why they chose to do it on Friday, but I’m glad they did, because our church is having a July 4th picnic on Saturday at 5:00 PM, in place of our regular gatherings. The really cool thing is that we have invited my mother to come to these, offering to go pick her up in Mineral Wells on Friday morning, and maybe have her stay a couple of nights with us. I’m really excited about the weekend.

On this date in 1846, the saxophone was patented in Paris, France, by Adolphe Sax. Huh. I had no idea it was actually named after the inventor. In 1881, there was a secret treaty between Austria and Serbia. Must not have been very “secret.” On this date in 1894, Labor Day became an official U.S. Holiday. On this date in 1914, Franz Ferdinance, the Archduke of Austria, and his wife Sophie, were assassinated in Sarajevo by Gavrilo Princip, a young Serbian nationalist. Thus began what we know as World War I. Exactly five years later to the day, the Treaty of Versailles was signed, formally ending World War I. Exactly three years later, the Irish Civil War began. And on this date in 1997, Mike Tyson was disqualified in a heavyweight boxing match, for biting off a piece of Evander Holyfield’s ear.

Today’s birthdays include John Wesley (English founder of Methodism), Richard Rodgers (American composer), Mel Brooks (American filmmaker), Pat Morita (American actor), Chuck Howley (American football player), Ron Luciano (American baseball umpire), Tom Magliozzi (American radio personality, Car Talk), John Byner (American comedian), Gilda Radner (American comedienne), Kathy Bates (American actress), John Elway (American football player), Mary Stuart Masterson (American actress), John Cusack (American actor), Gil Bellows (American actor), Felicia Day (American actress), and Kellie Pickler (American singer).


A Psalm of Asaph.
O God, the nations have come into your inheritance; they have defiled your holy temple; they have laid Jerusalem in ruins.
They have given the bodies of your servants to the birds of the heavens for food, the flesh of your faithful to the beasts of the earth.
They have poured out their blood like water all around Jerusalem, and there was no one to bury them.
We have become a taunt to our neighbors, mocked and derided by those around us.
How long, O LORD? Will you be angry forever? Will your jealousy burn like fire?
Pour out your anger on the nations that do not know you, and on the kingdoms that do not call upon your name!

Psalm 79:1-6

(If my posting of the Psalms passages seems random, it actually is not. I’m following the Psalms readings from Heart Aflame, devotions from John Calvin’s commentaries on the Psalms, edited by Sinclair B. Ferguson.)

(From Prayer: Experiencing Awe and Intimacy with God)

Timothy Keller speaks of the path clearing a bit for him as he preached through Romans 8.

For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, “Abba! Father!” The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God.
(verses 15-16)

It is the Spirit who assures us that the Father loves us. It is the Spirit who enables us to approach the Father. It is also the Spirit who joins forces with our own spirit “and adds a more direct testimony.” Many modern biblical scholars see this as “a religious experience that is ineffable,” and consider this assurance of God’s love to be “mystical in the best sense of the word.” We simply cannot afford to underestimate the emotional aspect of our experience.

As Keller was inspired to go back to writers he had read in seminary, Martin Luther, John Calvin, and John Owen, he discovered that these did not attempt to separate spirit and truth, doctrine and experience.

So as Timothy pursued his deeper prayer life, he “chose a counterintuitive course.” He avoided new books on prayer, completely. He returned to historical texts of theology that had been instrumental in his initial formation. Now he could read those with questions in mind regarding prayer and experience. He found that he had missed much in his initial readings. “I found guidance on the inward life of prayer and spiritual experience that took me beyond the dangerous currents and eddies of the contemporary spirituality debates and movements.”

John Murray, a Scottish theologian, wrote that we must recognize that there is “an intelligent mysticism” to the life of faith. He quotes Peter’s first epistle. Though you have not seen him, you love him. Though you do not now see him, you believe in him and rejoice with joy that is inexpressible and filled with glory. (1:8) In this, Peter assumes “that an experience of sometimes overwhelming joy in prayer was normal.”

“Intelligent mysticism” means “an encounter with God that involves not only the affections of the heart but also the convictions of the mind. We are not called to choose between a Christian life based on truth and doctrine or a life filled with spiritual power and experience. They go together.”

Father, I pray that you help me discover this intelligent mysticism in my own prayer life as I go forward and attempt to learn more about communing with you in my daily life.

I pray for this day, that we may be able to get everything accomplished that needs to be done, and then have time to rest this evening. Give us wisdom as we make a decision about this trombone, this morning.

Your grace is sufficient.

I love the idea presented in today’s section of the book, the idea of “intelligent mysticism.” I think too many people run in fear at the mere mention of “mysticism.” Yet, I firmly believe that there is a place for it in our prayer lives.

Grace and peace, friends.