Tuesday, June 30, 2009
Saturday, June 27, 2009
Thursday, June 25, 2009
Wednesday, June 17, 2009
“Temperance is, unfortunately, one of those words that has changed its meaning. It now usually means teetotalism. But in the days when the second Cardinal virtue was christened ‘Temperance’, it meant nothing of the sort. Temperance referred, not specially to drink, but to all pleasures; and it meant not abstaining, but going the right length and no further. It is a mistake to think that Christians ought all to be teetotallers; Mohammedanism, not Christianity, is the teetotal religion.” C.S. Lewis’ Mere Christianity.
"…as St. Paul points out, Christ never meant that we are to remain children in intelligence: on the contrary. He told us to be not only 'as harmless as doves', but also "as wise as serpents'. He wants a child's heart, but a grown-up's head. He wants us to be simple, single-minded, affectionate, and teachable, as good children are; but He also wants every bit of intelligence we have to be alert at its job, and in first-class fighting trim… The fact that what you are thinking about God Himself (for example, when you are praying) does not mean that you can be content with the same babyish ideas which you had when you were a five-year-old. It is, of course, quite true that God will not love you any less, or have less use for you, if you happen to have been born with a very second-rate brain. He has room for people with very little sense, but He every one to use what sense they have…God is no fonder of intellectual slackers than of any other slackers. If you are thinking of becoming a Christian, I warn you, you are on something which is going to take the whole of you, brains and all.” Quoted from C.S. Lewis’ Mere Christianity.
Sunday, June 14, 2009
If Christianity were something we were making up, of course we could make it easier, but it is not. We can not compete in simplicity with people who are inventing religions. How could we? We are dealing with fact; of course anyone can be simple if he has no facts to bother about. C.S. Lewis
The Bible is not a simple book, and the Christian faith is, in some ways a very complicated one. Our understanding of God is more complicated than many people can abide by. We believe in one God, and yet we believe that God is a unity of being. He is one and he is three, Father, Son and Holy Spirit.
This idea of God offends many. They insist that God must be one, a simple unity. Or, they insist that we admit that we actually believe in three gods. But the Scriptures teach God is a unity and a plurality in one God, He is a trinity. That is not a simple view of God and it is here that numerous individuals and groups have broken with the Christian faith.
We Christians believe that Jesus is wholly man and we also believe that he is wholly and fully the eternal God incarnated in human flesh. This too is a difficult teaching that offends many. They are willing to accept Jesus as a prophet or a great moral teacher. They are willing to accept that Jesus was filled with God’s spirit, but they frown at the doctrine that he can be fully God and fully man at one and the same time. This is teaching of Scripture is not simple or easy.
Christians believe that God took on human flesh and humanity by being conceived in the womb of a young virgin. This again is a teaching that many reject as preposterous nonsense. They don’t, so much, mind God appearing in human flesh, but the idea that he was born of a virgin, that a helpless infant was fully God is beyond what many can accept as reasonable. Unitarians reject the virgin birth.
The cross of Christ is also offensive to many who disbelieve the Christian faith. The God/man being punished for the sins of others is another concept that is not in all aspects a simple one. Why do we have to believe in a blood sacrifice? It is not a simple teaching and is despised by many.
The simplest statement of the Christian Faith is the Apostles Creed.
I BELIEVE in God the Father Almighty,
Maker of heaven and earth:
And in Jesus Christ his only Son our Lord,
Who was conceived by the Holy Ghost,
Born of the Virgin Mary,
Suffered under Pontius Pilate,
Was crucified, dead, and buried:
He descended into hell;
The third day he rose again from the dead;
He ascended into heaven,
And sitteth on the right hand of God the Father Almighty;
From thence he shall come to judge the quick and the dead.
I believe in the Holy Ghost;
The holy Catholic Church;
The Communion of Saints;
The Forgiveness of sins;
The Resurrection of the body,
And the Life everlasting.
The Christian Faith is a faith based on events that took place in history. The Bible is mostly a divine history of the fall man and God’s work of redeeming work in history to save man and the bring in a new heavens and a new earth.
The teaching the Bible about God and His Christ are not simple, but they are truth.
Saturday, June 13, 2009
I have to confess that I do not read the Bible as I should. I have, at times, had very long periods when I consistently read the Bible everyday. There have also been times when I did in depth studies on certain books or themes in Scripture. The opposite has also been true. At times, I've seriously neglected the Word of God and I've found such neglect has harmed my Christian walk as well as my prayer life. I am always in need of prodding to be better at reading and studying the Scriptures as I should.
With all that said, I want to say a little about a segment of the Bible that I have found most practical and useful. I believe the WHOLE of Scripture to be the Word of God. It is the medium which God has chosen to communicate to us and “All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work.” (II Tim. 3:16, 17)
Now back to that section of the Bible that I have found most practical in my daily life. It is found in the fourth chapter of St. Paul’s epistle to the church at Philippi and it reads thus, “Rejoice in the Lord always. Again I will say, rejoice! Let your gentleness be known to all men. The Lord is at hand. Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus. Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy--meditate on these things. The things which you learned and received and heard and saw in me, these do, and the God of peace will be with you.”
These words always affect me, because they have been so important to my own life. These words are, to me, some the most wonderful, practical words of advice that I have ever received. I have, often failing, tried to live by this advice.
As a child and as a young man, I was fairly a negative person. I was a pessimistic person. My dad preached to me about being positive all the time I was growing up and I am thankful to my dad for his encouragement and persistence in this, but it is when I read these words in Scripture and began to try and practice them that things began to turn around in my outlook on life.
My dad used to call me a “worry wart” because I was, but here Paul said, “Be anxious for nothing” and gave me advice on how to deal with my worry. He wrote. “In everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God” and he assured me that “and the peace of God” would overtake me.
I did not stop worrying all at once (and Lisa can tell you that I still worry from time to time) but I have worked at it and I found, over time, that I worried less and less. I also found that I had more and more peace.
Through the Apostle Paul, the Lord tells us how to think about things, again by very practical advice. He says think about “true, noble and just” things. This is good because if your thinking about items like these than you are not thinking about pessimistic things. This is not magic it takes practice and work on our part, but is doable
Paul is not done yet. He continues and says that we are to think about “whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report.” How can you be a pessimist and think about what is pure, lovely and of good report? You can’t do it. Thinking about these types of things warms the heart and brings joy to the soul.
Still St. Paul knew that not all things were such, so he now he goes a little further and says, “if” because some times good things are not the first thing you see. He writes, “if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy--meditate on these things.” Even in the direst of circumstances there will be something of virtue in the situation that you can dwell on and push out those non-virtues thoughts. It is clear in his advice, the praiseworthy may not be immediately obvious but we are to seek it out and then meditate on those things that are virtues and praiseworthy.
I know this advice is sound. It has made me to be a far better and happier man than I ever could have been without it. The Bible is full of very sound, practical advice like what we find in Philippians 4: 4-8.