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Ponder. . .  What is a Church?

“Dynamic” is one response.

This may seem an elementary question, but the views people carry about the cares in their life, in no particular order — faith, family, jobs, friends, hobbies — matter.  We invest in the things we care about with our time, efforts, and money.  We bring energy and ideas to projects.

Obviously, there is more than one answer to this question, “What is a Church . . .?.”  Feel free to elaborate if you desire.  I thoroughly believe Christians should share their ideas and beliefs with one another.  Through my eyes this is what fellowship is mainly about:  Spiritual enlightenment.  Sharing with the faithful creates an environment for exchanging the concepts of our faith that help us to learn new views about our faith and, in so doing, sharpen our ability to share the faith to those who need to know more of God.  What better way to expand your own knowledge of God than to share with those made in God’s own image.  In Genesis, God makes humans in, “Our own image,” — which means you and each of those you worship with are somehow an “image of (the plurality of) God.”

“…this is what fellowship is mainly about: Spiritual enlightenment.”

We receive back in measure to how much we give, or in New Testament terms, “Reap what we sow.”  And as our knowledge increases about a subject we understand it better and tend to be more supportive towards it.  In this instance we are talking about ‘church’ and any of its aspects.  If the question seems awkward, rethink it a little.  Maybe “At church we…”  or “What I like is …”  So write us something…

Jeff

 

Put Others First

But can you truly, always put others ahead of yourself?

Philippians 2:3

This passage reveals a mindset we are to nurture: place other people higher than yourself.

An intriguing principle, and a virtue residing in the arena of a “matured” Faith, carrying a high degree of difficulty because to achieve God’s standard, you attach reigns to yourself.

But can you truly, always rank others ahead of yourself?

 

something more than cleansing rituals

Consider Hebrews 5:11 through 6:3.

The mature Christian Faith is defined as “beyond the cleaning rituals” used in preparing for a worship service.  And for that matter, this Faith surpasses ‘judgement for eternity’, ‘laying on hands’, and ‘defining what eternity will be like’.  So, true Faith, the way I envision it, is not the ceremonial aspects or traditions; but is rather the motivations behind our actions.  Why we do something, sometimes, might be of greater importance compared to what we do.  (I invite your comments about this).

But as is said a few verses later,

“We should have a life in the Spirit.”  

(There are several verses on this Spiritual Life sewn throughout the New Testament).  This “life within God’s Spirit” is the life Jesus “let out of the bag” to us.

The Spirit takes our hand leading us to a deeper relationship with God and, thus, a renewed relationship to humanity around us: seats us in relationship with God.  I emphasize “with God” specifically because, for example, we can talk to a person and not be talking with that person.  Talking with a person is a 2-way connection.  We talk to God and God talks to us.

After elaborating upon the above these passages, Hebrews 6:10 reassures us in that God is aware of our (your) deeds and amid the dreams, trials and accomplishments of this life, rewards you (and me).

Loving, Thanking, & Assuming

These 3 aspects of the Christian faith have been on my mind recently.  So I will help us to be mindful about all 3.

We need to check ourselves every now and then to make sure what we are saying and doing have perception as loving acts.  Sometimes in the way we treat other people we say things or do things and the other people don’t see, may not perceive this as a caring act.  We can mean well but they may not take it that way.

To be thankful for everything is an overwhelming aspect of the Christian Faith.  It’s difficult to be thankful when things are not going, or at least you perceive they’re not going well.  In this world we suffer losses and setbacks, heart aches and failures, but move your attitude to a place where thankfulness arises.

And the third item, this morning: assuming, can catch us off guard.  We know that other people think differently than I / we think: have different terminology, define words differently.  But it is fairly easy for me to go through my daily life thinking that other people, since they’re doing the same things — get out of bed, eat breakfast, go to work, buy groceries, meet with friends or family, go to church, watch a movie, read a book — are gathering the same ideas that I am gathering.  And as such, are forming the same opinions and attitudes as myself.  But there is a good chance they are shaped differently by these same experiences.

Be mindful.

-Jeff

Train New Leaders – Let Them Lead

Illation on Leaders 7, May 2019

Let someone else lead / train new leaders

Ephesians 4: 12  Leadership within the church:

  • shape and deepen theological understandings so leaders can act with Wisdom
  • listens to the voice of God within: the Holy Spirit
  • trains and encourages growth that will produce fruit
  • empowers individuals by creating leaders so they can accomplish “works of service”; either within or outside the church

In the modern North American church we ask leaders to make decisions and give us direction — that is our “marching orders” — defining what positions there will be (and how many) within the church, each of their descriptions, hours, and pay (if any).  Yet leading, within the context of Jesus’ teaching and Paul’s expressed views, means leaders are servants (Jesus to His disciples in Luke 22: 24-27 ) given the job of building up the Saints (Paul in Ephesians 4: 11-15).  Not seeking power or administrating through corporate structure as everyone’s boss.

∴∴∴∴∴∴∴∴∴∴∴∴

 Think of the Marriage Relationship as God’s example for inter-personal communication skills.  Plans are made but not always by one individual all the time.  Also, a marriage does not function well without God in a leadership role.  A triangular relationship.  Marriage is enriched by the influence of a knowledge of God’s ways, an attentiveness to prayer, in short the overview God gives to our position in life: He has created each of us uniquely to reflect and serve each other.

Train people to lead.  Let them do their God-given thing.

Evagrios the Solitary – On Passions and Thoughts #10

Evagrios the Solitary, also known as Evagrius of Pontus
Lived 346 – 399CE as an early ascetic pioneer
Texts on Discrimination in Respect of Passions and Thoughts
Number 10

Now what am I to say about the demon who makes the soul dull-minded? For I am afraid to write about him: how, at his approach, the soul departs from its own proper state and strips itself of reverence and the fear of God, no longer regarding sin as sin, or wickedness as wickedness; it looks on judgment and the eternal punishment of hell as mere words; it laughs at the fire which causes the earth to tremble; and, while supposedly confessing God, it has no understanding of His commandments. You may beat your breast as such a soul draws near to sin, but it takes no notice. You recite from the Scripture, yet it is wholly indifferent and will not hear. You point out its shame and disgrace among men, and it ignores you, like a pig that closes its eyes and charges through a fence. This demon gets into the soul by way of long-continuing thoughts of self-esteem; and unless ‘those days are shortened, no flesh will be saved’ (Matt. 24:22).

This is one of those demons that seldom approach brethren living in a community. The reason is clear: when people round us fall into misfortune, or are afflicted by illness, or are suffering in prison, or meet sudden death, this demon is driven out; for the soul has only to experience even a little compunction or compassion and the callousness caused by the demon is dissolved. We solitaries lack these things, because we live in the wilderness and sickness is rare among us. It was to banish this demon especially that the Lord enjoined us in the Gospels to call on the sick and visit those in prison. For ‘I was sick,’ He says, ‘and you visited Me'(Matt. 25:36).

 

But you should know this: if an anchorite falls in with this demon, yet does not admit unchaste thoughts or leave his cell out of lack of motivation, this means he has received the patience and self-restraint that come from heaven, and is blessed with good judgement. Those, on the other hand, who profess to practice godliness, yet choose to have dealings with people of the world, should be on their guard against this demon. I feel ashamed to say or write more about him.

 

Italics show my alterings
Translation from the Philokalia
found at:  Holybooks.com

At the Journey’s End We Will be Given Our Due

2 Corinthians 5:10

As our life closes and we see God to His face, we are called to some kind of reckoning for the life we have lived.

Talking on a positive note, as an individual you determine your outcome.  Like college.  At the end of the semester, the professor tallies the points you accrued and assigns the grade you earned.  More effort on your part towards higher test scores equals a higher grade.  Nice going!  Our society emphasizes higher grades.  But, God can see your whole life.  Maybe you did not study as much because the house 2 doors down the block caught fire, and you helped the displaced family the weekend before midterm.  Society looks at the grade; thank God, for seeing “the larger picture”; as well as our hearts.  (I do not imply students shirk good grades — do your best work.  Always try your hardest.)

As implied, this delving is enacted for individuals, not groups.  Each person is evaluated — not nations, cultures, denominations, religions, genders and such.  You are gifted for your credits, not for points earned by a group.