Posts tagged ‘discipline’

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©).

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)

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

On Your Knees

Again today I heard a preacher talk about how hard it is during this pandemic. With the Stay at Home Order, people are becoming impatient, staring at the four walls.

Then we listened to our own Pastor who asked when was the last time anyone was so awestruck by God that they fell on their face in humility and fear and adoration.

God wants to bring the Church to its knees in humble obedience, but instead Christians are standing tall and shaking their fists at government, police, bylaw officers, even bishops and other leaders who encourage we live out care for our community and help to stop the spread of the virus that is killing people. And, yes, at God for not magically taking all this away because we told the Almighty Creator to do so – pronto!

I cannot be the only one who sees God at work in mighty ways, and making it possible for believers to grow (and to name only a tiny few examples:

  1. I am making a worship video every week, and that was not even on my radar before all this happened;
  2. tiny congregations streaming onto the internet and people around the world being touched;
  3. in our own congregational online worship we had a couple from another city lead one of the songs, unheard of when things were “normal”.

I do not want a return to “normal”! I want us to have learned about getting out into the world, of sharing in ways that most Christians hadn’t even considered.

This pandemic didn’t happen “accidentally”. The western Church, especially, has become lukewarm, at best. Where is our obsession with Good News, servant heart, humble community and practice of the deep, God-like love shown by Jesus?

To those who are praying that the “suffering” stop now, learn from it, let The Spirit teach us wondrous things, let us once again become beacons of light in a world deep in the shadows of despair.

“We also brag when we are suffering. We know that suffering creates endurance, endurance creates character, and character creates confidence. We’re not ashamed to have this confidence, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us” (Romans 5:3-5 God’s Word Translation©).

Sure, there are things I would like to do, like visit with family, but why should my selfish desire be the focus of my waking hours. Enough self-centred self-pity, demand to be in control human thinking.

I choose to delight in knowing God is at work, that I can protect people around me by following public health orders, that I have more time to pray for others than ever before, that I can encourage others.

As a family we are in deep grief, and that is just the time to show my love for others. I will not act like a devil in brazen disregard for others and with a lust for personal satisfaction above all social responsibilities.

I will never bring glory to God, show the love of Jesus or live by the wise counsel of The Spirit if all I want is what I want.

God inspires faith. I will trust God.
God gives hope. I will live in hope.
God is love. I will love others more than myself.
“And the greatest of these is love” (1 Corinthians 13:13).

Who Has Bewitched You?

Since our assembling has been cancelled for awhile all over the world, I decided to write out some notes for the adult Bible study I teach which was to happen this Sunday morning. Then I felt led to share it with you. May God bless you through The Spirit, whether or not I live up to expectations.

“You foolish Galatians, who has bewitched you…? (Galatians 3:1).

Paul writes to believers. Clearly believers can be deceived and led away. (Read Pilgrim’s Progress for an extended study on this issue.)

An important spiritual discipline is discernment. Consider 1 John 3:1-3, for example. (“…test the spirits to see whether they are from God; because many false prophets have gone out into the world…”)

Why do we fall for deceptions?

We are tempted when anyone teaches we will be rewarded for what we do. FALSE (Grace means God rewards us because that is what God does.)

We are tempted when anyone teaches we need to help God get things done. FALSE (Grace means God works through us, all glory to God.)

We are tempted when anyone teaches that God is incomplete, evolving, reacting to our needs. (Grace means God is complete and reliable, Who knows our ‘needs’ before we even ask, and so God is already filling our ‘needs’ and is not surprised by our intercessions or requests.)

We are tempted when anyone teaches that we can figure things out, like arithmetic to calculate our bank account, or systematic theology which describes what God is really like in human terms. (Grace means God’s ways are not our ways. “Greeks [secular thinkers, in our terms] demand knowledge and Jews [spiritual practitioners, in our terms] demands signs [and wonders]. But we preach Jesus crucified and risen, a joke to the philosophers and a blasphemy to the religious people.”

If all you focus on is Jesus and the cross, if the Bible is your only filter to read religious writings, and if The Spirit is the only unquestionable guide on your journey, you are situated to resist the deceivers.

Something Worth Living For

God does not offer us salvation to make us feel good, either emotionally or physically. Read more…

Die To Live

I’m alive so I get to die one more day. Read more…

Lent Work

“A person may think their own ways are right, but the LORD weighs the heart” Proverbs 21:2 Read more…

Exceeding the Pharisee

The plague of the Pharisees is an easy trap to fall into as Christians if we are not watchful, and the very reason we were told to be careful of their leaven. A little leaven over time can leaven the whole lump leaving us thinking we are moving in the right direction. Read more…