Y

You called?

People choose a career based on the pay. They stick with a job they don’t like because of the attached status. Others become jealous because a friend has a fancy house and car (and boat…).

But in the end, doing what you were meant to do gives a deep peace, no matter what the related trappings may be, big or small.

All our daughters make far more money than I ever did. I am honestly pleased for them, but I do not regret what I did. God, for divine reasons, called me to a work life that was close to hellish at times. It also had moments when I was honoured beyond words for being able to be where I was, doing what I needed to do. The summary is, I did (usually, I’m sure I fell short at times) what I was called of God to be.

In eternity I would rather know I was faithful to the Saviour than successful according to social culture.

Now time is not the end; forever is the goal. “This is what I do: I don’t look back, I lengthen my stride, and I run straight toward the goal to win the prize that God’s heavenly call offers in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 3:14 God’s Word Translation©).

Just Do Good

“Do good things everywhere you go. After a while the good you do will return to help you” (Ecclesiastes 11:1 International Children’s Bible)

Be Encouraged

Does the Bible Need Our Help?

It is rarely noticed how cultural expectations and theological interpretations form a large part of Christian religious teaching.

Consider these 2 things:

  1. “Application – application – application” was not used or advised by Jesus. Jesus used parables which touched the listeners in different ways, imposing on them the responsibility to face the implications of the teaching and obey the Spirit in how that would be lived out in the life of the one “who had ears to hear”. Paul, Peter, John taught what Jesus taught (Matthew 28:20), but never said, “Now the application of this teaching of Jesus means this…”
    True, the parable of the Samaritan ends with “Which of these three do you think was a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of robbers?”
    “The expert in the law replied, “The one who had mercy on him.”
    Jesus told him, “Go and do like likewise”
    (Luke 10:37 NIV) which might be considered an application, but the statement does not interpret or add to the story a layer of human insight, but is rather a call to obedience.
    What is a preacher to do, then, in Biblical terms? “So Christ himself gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the pastors and teachers, to equip his people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up” (Ephesians 4:11-12 NIV).
    This idea of advising the congregation to interpret and understand a Bible story or passage in one specific way does not come from the Bible, because a person with the spiritual gift of helps would need to practice a given teaching in a different way than would a teacher or healer. It requires all the body of Christ to apply the Bible because it speaks of heavenly, infinite things to earthly finite people. Consider 1 Corinthians 12, which of course leads into Chapter 13.
    According to John 16:13 the job of leading people into truth is the work of The Spirit, not the preacher.
  2. Another common tool used by religious teachers/preachers is to invite listeners to imagine themselves in the situation described in a Bible story, or to put themselves in the place of one or other of the characters in that event. Since Jesus never suggested the disciples should put themselves in the place of Abraham, or Moses, or any other of the spiritual ancestors, this cannot be considered an appropriate teaching technique. People will “feel” they have learned something, but they have imposed on the Bible story their own modern, cultural, biased interpretations of the event, without getting any insight from the Bible itself, trading that for their own emotional thinking or memories.
    This human imagination is not needed to grasp the Bible truths. After all, “the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart” (Hebrews 4:12 NIV). The Bible doesn’t need our imperfect imagination to make it “come alive”. Any exercise which calls people to use their imperfect knowledge or finite intelligence or cultural context limits God’s Spirit rather than opening us to the leading of that very Spirit.

In the end, the “word that goes out from [God’s] mouth will not return to [God] empty, but will accomplish what I [God] desire and achieve the purpose for which I [God] sent it” (Isaiah 55:11 NIV). Trust that God will do that without any human editorial additions or imaginations of the flesh.

The Arrogance of Ignorance

A fool starts out by talking foolishness and ends up saying crazy things that are dangerous” (Ecclesiastes 10:13 God’s Word Translation©).

While reading “Rationality” by Steven Pinker (2021) this truism haunts me:

It seems the most opinionated people are the ones who know the least about the topic being discussed.

They:
Are too lazy to study and research;
Willfully dismiss any information which challenges their opinion;
Base conclusions on their ideology instead of the facts;
Swallow conspiracy theories which tickle their ears;
Blindly follow anyone who inflates their egos;
Are awed by teaching which is complicated and full of special elite knowledge;
Are loyal to those who condemn others and justify this immoral and anti-social behaviour.

I turned my attention to study, to explore, and to seek out wisdom and the reason for things. I learned that wickedness is stupid and foolishness is madness” (Ecclesiastes 7:25 God’s Word Translation©).

Example

Make your speech, behavior, love, faith, and purity an example” (1 Timothy 4:12).

I Don’t Look Back

“The things that I once considered valuable, I now consider worthless for Christ” (Philippians 3:7 God’s Word Translation©). In my lifetime I have accomplished many things. With that I have also suffered much, almost to death.

Last night at the fire pit this became physically real. The moon rose. The stars twinkled. Mars glowed brightly high in the sky. Unnecessary records ascended to them as smoke.

Another step was taken on the road toward the Celestial City as all that personal history finally became “history”. “Brothers and sisters, I can’t consider myself a winner yet. This is what I do: I don’t look back, I lengthen my stride, and I run straight toward the goal to win the prize that God’s heavenly call offers in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 3:13-14 God’s Word Translation©).

The achievements, the pain and persecution, can distract a person from the truly vital things that are eternal. Therefore, what I did, or didn’t do, what I have or lack, or what was done to me has become “worthless because I’m much better off knowing Christ Jesus my Lord” (Philippians 3:8 God’s Word Translation©).

Living in the moment is more radical than I had considered. In the moment there is no past to grieve, no future for anxious anticipation. Instead, “Faith knows the power that [Jesus’] coming back to life gives and what it means to share his suffering” (Philippians 3:10 God’s Word Translation©).

Jesus is the Eternal Moment Who is “the way, the truth, and the life” (John 14:6 God’s Word Translation©). Souls are eternal; not possessions, and the prideful and painful parts of the past.

Every Morning

“Certainly the faithful love of the Lord hasn’t ended; certainly God’s compassion isn’t through! They are renewed every morning. Great is your faithfulness.” Lamentations 3:22-23 CEB

Gift Given Not Gained

You have eternal life and peace on earth by what God does, not by what any human does; it is God’s gift [not a badge you earn].” Ephesians 2:8 (my paraphrase)

A Good Model

Painting of Saint Anthony, a part of The Visitation with Saint Nicholas and Saint Anthony Abbot by Piero di Cosimo, c. 1480, Wikipedia

“Antony [c. 12 January 251 – 17 January 356] gathered the best traits from others. He copied…

self-restraint…

cheerfulness…

gentleness…

night devotions.

Antony remembered the love he observed, pondering it and attempting to imitate the best virtues of each person he met. People called him ‘God’s friend’ ”
August 3, By Way of the Desert, Bernard Bangley (Editor), 2007