Jude — Ah-a-al-l-l-l-l-l of it
Jude is tucked away at the close of the New Testament, just in front of Revelation. When perusing through the Bible don’t blink or you’ll miss it. It is 1 chapter in length, sincerely compelling us to “contend for our Faith”. But the word “contend” is used in many translations. It is defined as an ongoing effort, a struggle — I think upwards or uphill against gravity like climbing a mountain, with thorn bushes and obstacles along the path — towards a goal. This goal is knowable, defined and is obtainable, reachable.
Jude’s unction for writing is to preserve a genuine Faith, the True Faith. Giving examples of how God rewards the faithful he then begins a laundry list of worldly ideas. Sometimes to know what it is we a talking about we take a look at what it is not. I wish we could do without this but to know the True Faith it is sometimes good to remind ourselves what to stay away from. This litany seems to drag on but verse 17 turns a corner.
In verse 20 you look to yourself and in prayer in the Holy Spirit you “strengthen” yourself. Do not turn aside but keep the goal in mind. Continue to tread towards the summit.
To carry this Faith you must know what the task is. And use the Faith you already possess. Could it be you are honing your Faith? Like a pilot of an airplane flying to a destination making course changes along the way. At takeoff the heading is established but nudges are needs to stay on course. The Faith is summed up pretty well in Matthew 5.
Another practical application in these Covid 19 times is to watch yourself and stay healthy. Watch how often you expose yourself to catching this disease or spread it to others. I live in New York State and Gov. Cuomo has become the herald for lowering the transmission of Covid. I applaud this attitude, others do not, which is their right to choose. But for you: you take responsibility for your health and the health of people around you.
The voids inside oneself from social distancing can become a time to deepen your relationship to God.
Evagrios the Solitary, also known as Evagrius of Pontus
Lived 346 – 399CE (disputable) as an early ascetic pioneer
Texts on Discrimination in Respect of Passions and Thoughts
Let us stand firm in the fear of God, rigorously practicing the virtues and not giving our conscience cause to stumble. In the fear of God let us keep our attention fixed within ourselves, until our conscience achieves its freedom. Then there will be a union between it [this freedom] and us, and thereafter it will be our guardian, showing us each thing that we must uproot. But if we do not obey our conscience, it will abandon us and we shall fall into the hands of our enemies, who will never let us go. This is what our Lord taught us when He said: ‘Come to an agreement with your adversary quickly while you are with him in the road, lest he hand you over to the judge, and the judge deliver you to the officer and you are cast into prison (Matt. 5:25). The conscience is called an ‘adversary’ because it opposes us when we wish to carry out the desires of our flesh; and if we do not listen to our conscience, it delivers us into the hands of our enemies.
Continue reading “Evagrios the Solitary – On Passions and Thoughts #3”
Philippians 2: 3-5
Can you see we are at war with the adversary tiny? The “unseen enemy” is upon us. Watch our flanks. No, the enemy is directly ahead. It’s within our ranks, one of us has succumbed. What are we to do now. Don’t let down your guard.
CONSTANT VIGILANCE!!! (Thank you, Professor Moody.)
But, maybe, the true fight is inside ourselves.
To be at peace with myself and God.
Continue reading “Covid Outbreak – We’re at War!”
“The true contemplative is not one who prepares his mind for a particular message. . .” Thomas Merton
Thomas Merton is portrayed as owning a great joy. In Dialogues With Silence, a book of Merton’s writings and drawings, Jonathan Montaldo, editor, embodies Merton’s thoughts. And captures the “joy” surrounding Merton with Merton’s own words:
(this is verbatim from pages xii and xiii)
. . .situated him among those rare human beings who love the life they are leading and who have found their own true place. He reflects his typical joy as a monk in this journal entry dated May 21, 1963: Continue reading “Thomas Merton’s Joy (by way of prayer)”
Matthew 14: 25-29
There are many aspects to Prayer. Examples: procuring items, plea for healing, calm your mind.
may be jumbled
Let’s look at Listening Prayer
When you place your thoughts in God
God places thoughts in you
If this seems daunting to you try a small amount. Begin with a minute. Set your timer if you want,
“Lord, if you want,
I will climb out of the boat”
“Come” Continue reading “Listening Prayer”
A verse to help us “cope and not loose hope” during this time “Covid 19”.
Prayer – there is more to prayer than God answering a list of wants and needs. Try listening to God and meditative prayer.
Watchful – The early church faced opponents of the New Faith on the block, yet they were preaching and teaching. How about us — be sensitive to the times — help stop the spread of Covid 19 and you may also meet someone who needs to see your Faith.
Thankful – take time to list, mentally or on paper, what you have to be grateful for.
1 Corinthians 7:31
[paraphrasing] This age will pass away but use the things of this world “lightly”, do not put your trust in them but trust God.
Advertising is meant to grab and hold the human attention; and usually works very well. Which is why advertisers continue, endlessly with their ads.
Buy this. Do that. You can’t live without this! Be happy, spend money.
Amongst many of the ‘worldly pulls,’ Christians are to live ‘apart’ from worldly things — Ideas, religions, philosophies, societal rituals. . . Holiday traditions, family traditions, and the notion, “When in Rome do as Romans do”. . . Cars, airplanes, other physical items too numerous to mention.
The things of this world help us in our daily living
And teach us realities of Heaven
Of God, and Christ and the Holy Spirit
But they are not Heaven
They are symbols, and are transient
The Jesus – God relationship is what our relationship (you and me) is to reflect.
Also Philippians 2:3
John 17, verses 11 and 22
Submission: one of the more difficult areas of Faith. Submit to a group, organization, individual person, God alone. What is God’s will? How is it qualified, quantified? Confusion and competition when so many people and organizations want our attention, obedience.
We need to focus on Christ.
I foster the personal side of our relationship with God; where God communicates with us (substitute the word “me” for “us”) directly, unencumbered, open, raw — a relationship available for believers and non-believers, on an individual level. (Admittedly, it would be hard for an unbeliever to have this personal thing going on while not believing).
I consider this relationship:
higher – it lives in Heaven above Earthly standards
more important – directly influencing
deeper – the most meaningful
our story – what we were meant for
further – wears better, like some old tattered jeans
more encompassing – a relationship without bounds
beyond – not held by Earthly bonds
Example: As a Christian Musician, an ability not mentioned very much in this blog, I run across songs and instrumentals, or let’s say, ‘some melodies with words attached’ and ‘melodies without words’. I am inspired by both! and I know both would be inspiring to Christians in the context of worship. Yet when meeting with church musicians and pastors, I usually discover a much different view of which piece of music is “inspiring”, with the vast majority are “melodies with words attached”. It causes me to wonder if we are losing the art of instrumental music in our worship services?
Do I listen to what I deem an “urging”, the call of the “Spirit within”, or not?
Continue reading “Submit to Each Other (Become One)”
But can you truly, always put others ahead of yourself?
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?
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.