Posts from the ‘Living It’ Category

Don’t Say Hearsay Here

The story is told that a desert brother told Abba Poemen (Egypt approximately AD340-450) he had heard something distressing about one of the others. Poemen asked, “Is it true?”

Poemen the Great, Egyptian monk – about 340-450BC. Photo from Wikipedia

The brother answered that the source was trustworthy. The Abba did not agree. “The one who told you is not reliable. If he were, he would never have passed it on to you. When God heard cries from Sodom, he did not believe it until he had gone down and seen it with his own eyes.”

Then the brother confirmed that he had seen it with his own eyes also, to which Poemen referred to a parable Jesus told.

Macarius the Great. Photo from Wikipedia

“Stop judging so that you will not be judged. Otherwise, you will be judged by the same standard you use to judge others. The standards you use for others will be applied to you. So why do you see the piece of sawdust in another believer’s eye and not notice the wooden beam in your own eye? How can you say to another believer, ‘Let me take the piece of sawdust out of your eye,’ when you have a beam in your own eye? You hypocrite! First remove the beam from your own eye. Then you will see clearly to remove the piece of sawdust from another believer’s eye” (Matthew 7:1-5 God’s Word Translation©).

Abba Macarius (Egypt AD300-390) lived by the mercy of God with such integrity that he ignored the faults of others as though blind and was deaf when someone slandered another.

Defamation is obviously delicious to swallow, but it rots the hearer from the inside out. So the example of these two great teachers should show us to zip our lips when anyone would cast aspersions and refuse to swallow slander or talk about tittle-tattle.

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©).

Example

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

Today

Today too many people are living for the great “I” instead of The Great “I AM”.

Dig Down, Don’t Run

Do It

The Bible is not merely human words. Vast amounts of the Bible are quotes from the mouth of God. Much of the Gospel of Matthew is teachings from the mouth of Jesus. Much of the writing of the prophets is made of quotes from God to them, or the record of the visions/dreams that God gave them. The last book of the Bible, Revelation, is “the revelation of Jesus Christ…to his servant John”, and consists of dreams.

Despite that, a number of years ago a group of “scholars” decided what Jesus was really like, and anything in the Gospels that did not fit their intellectual assumptions was discounted as mere human words.

Paul challenges this kind of academic exercise, teaching Timothy that the Bible has value beyond human thinking because “From infancy you have known the Holy Scriptures. They have the power to give you wisdom so that you can be saved through faith in Christ Jesus. Every Scripture passage is inspired by God. All of them are useful for teaching, pointing out errors, correcting people, and training them for a life that has God’s approval. They equip God’s servants so that they are completely prepared to do good things” (2 Timothy 3:15-17 GW©).

So stop giving interpretations of The Bible; stop “making applications to today’s world” and stop picking verses to prove the doctrine to which you are already committed. The Bible points out this error. It corrects such human thinking. It trains you for the life prepared “to do good things”.

The Bible is not a textbook of mere knowledge, but an open channel with God for action on the front-line of life.

Do it; don’t think about it!

Opinion Is Killing You

Be Content

During our morning devotions today this came into my mind:

I am not spiritually weak because of this pandemic, and I am not obsessed with gathering in person with others who name Jesus as Saviour to get back to “normal”. God has not left me during this time, nor left me without an abundant supply of spiritual food. Indeed, I have never felt alone nor unattached to the people of faith in my life. A strong binding has kept my spiritual comrades close to my heart, in my mind’s eye and in thoughts and prayers.

And then this thought entered the process, one which has both intrigued me and encouraged me for 17 years:

In the Ojibwe language there is no word for “good-bye”! Whether someone is physically present or not, the connection remains intact over time and distance because being face-to-face does not determine the depth of affection and attachment to the people in our life.

The Words of God in the Bible are even more lively and penetrating (Hebrews 4:12) than ever before as I am given a clearer vision of the heavenly realm and reign of Christ on earth.

“So, brothers and sisters, I love you and miss you. You are my joy and my crown. Therefore, dear friends, keep your relationship with the Lord firm!…Always be joyful in the Lord! I’ll say it again: Be joyful!…The Lord is near. Never worry about anything. But in every situation let God know what you need in prayers and requests while giving thanks. Then God’s peace, which goes beyond anything we can imagine, will guard your thoughts and emotions through Christ Jesus. Finally, brothers and sisters, keep your thoughts on whatever is right or deserves praise: things that are true, honorable, fair, pure, acceptable, or commendable…I’ve learned to be content in whatever situation I’m in. I know how to live in poverty or prosperity. No matter what the situation, I’ve learned the secret of how to live when I’m full or when I’m hungry, when I have too much or when I have too little. I can do everything through Christ who strengthens me” (Philippians 4:1-13 God’s Word Translation©, selected).

We do not need others in order to live with Christ, but we need The Spirit free in us to live with others!

German Police Smash Darknet…

I just read this in Tanzania news:

https://www.thecitizen.co.tz/tanzania/news/international/german-police-smash-darknet-child-porn-network-with-400-000-members–3385874

Faith in a Worldly Culture

People underestimate how they are manipulated and controlled by culture. I am not talking conspiracy theories here. I refer to the habits and customs that surround us and which we follow without thinking about even when they turn us into an anti-Christ. This cannot be overstated.

I will speak only of the Canadian culture here (though it is part of what is termed the “western culture”). We have the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. This particular cultural institution has become the foundational motivation for congregations that refuse to follow public health orders during the pandemic. Their claim is that they have freedom of religion in this document which means they are exempt from any law which they interpret to persecute their customary practice of religion. Notice that culture plays a double role in this fiasco.

The congregations are enveloped in a subculture that defines worship as meeting in a certain place at a certain time, and they define this further to be the primary definition of their identity. As prisoners of the wider culture of “rights” they use the secular laws to demand their religious laws as having priority over their responsibility for each other, inside and outside their circle.

This use of rights is entirely selfish. They refuse to see this because that would mean reviewing their subculture of privilege, that their right to act their way is superior to all other “rights”.

Jesus had the right to a fair trial, a right which was denied to the Christ. So did Jesus appeal the kangaroo court? Did Jesus whine on the cross about personal innocence and the injustice foisted upon the “Sinless One”?

No, because secular rights, won or argued in secular courts (or even religious courts) betrays an attitude of mastery or control instead of servanthood.

Here is the extreme example to verify the stand of the Bible (Matthew 5:40-41). Jesus taught that if someone sues you for your shirt, give them your coat also. If you are compelled by a military or civic power to carry a load for one mile, then carry it for two. “Love your enemies” (Matthew 5:44).

If a public health order suspends the “right” of congregations to meet en masse in their precious edifice, then the congregation should not only obey it, but over-obey it somehow.

Instead we have self-righteous religious fanatics demanding their “human” rights to reject the teaching of Jesus, deny their community responsibilities, publicly declare that they have superior rights to others in the culture and forfeit the role of serving in their arena of operation.

What is their justification to abandon what identifies people as followers of Jesus instead of self and culture? They are heroes (self-appointed, alas) who are fighting for the human rights of all religious and spiritual people! I don’t need that. “If God is for us, who can be against us” (Romans 8:31b).