Saturday, April 18, 2015

Old Erich Proverb - Juggle

You can please God or you can please people; no one can juggle both.

Friday, April 17, 2015

A Voice from the Past - Patrick

For even though I am ignorant in all things, nevertheless I attempted to safeguard some and myself also. And I gave back again to my Christian brethren and the virgins of Christ and the holy women the small unasked for gifts that they used to give me or some of their ornaments which they used to throw on the altar. And they would be offended with me because I did this. But in the hope of eternity, I safeguarded myself carefully in all things, so that they might not cheat me of my office of service on any pretext of dishonesty, and so that I should not in the smallest way provide any occasion for defamation or disparagement on the part of unbelievers.

Patrick, 390-461 AD, Confession, 49 (Christian Classics Ethereal Library, p. 17)

How careful should a leader in the Christian church be over the question of money? What precautions should be taken?

Thursday, April 16, 2015

A Devotional Time

Scripture never says to have a quiet time. What it does say is that we need to bring our requests to God (Philippians 4::6,7; Ephesians 6:18; Matthew 6:5-13). It also says that we need to know, understand, and follow God's Word (Colossians 3:16; Psalms 1:1,2; 2 Timothy 2:15). To do these things regularly requires consistency and planning. Having a regular time set aside for them can be one way to do this. But it also can become a legalistic ritual. And we can get caught up in the details, like evening versus morning. (I am an evening person myself). I have also found it can limit prayer and the consideration of God's word to that period of time. But not scheduling it may mean we will never get to it.

All of us have different personalities. We need to decide what works for us. But we need to focus on the purpose. If we have the idea that Scripture is God's message to us, it will motivate us to want to know what He has to say to us (Psalms 19:7-11;119:9-16; 2 Timothy 3:16,17). It also helps if we see God as a loving Father who has saved us from sin, rather than as a tyrant who is just waiting to punish us if we get out of line (Romans 8:31-39; John  3:14-18; Galatians 4:4-7). And if we recognize that God is the One who provides for our needs (Matthew 6:25-34; Philippians 4:19; Ephesians 3:20). That He is the One in control of our lives to work things together for good (Romans 8:28; Ephesians 2:10; 1:11). Then we can see why it makes sense to come to Him with our requests and thanksgiving.

But we need to face facts. We are undisciplined people, and we may need to plan if we want to accomplish these purposes. And one way to do this may be set aside a specific time for prayer and meditation on Scripture. But if we make it into just one more spiritual duty, we have missed the point. For it is only as we see beyond the outward requirement to the real purpose that doing this makes a difference (John 4:24; Malachi 1:10; Matthew 6:1). But the important thing is not to try to force everybody into one unbending paradigm. It is to see that the purposes of God are accomplished in our lives (Hebrews 5:13,14; Matthew 28:18-20; Colossians 2:19).

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Maintaining Perspective

It is easy to stare too long and too hard at Satan and his minions and their activities, so that you lose perspective. We are told we should be aware and be on our guard (Ephesians 6:10-13; 1 Peter 5:8-10; 2 Corinthians 11:1-3). But we are also told that Christ is the Victor over these enemies (Colossians 2:15; 1 John 4:4; Hebrews 2:14,15). We can spend so much time staring at Satan and not at Christ that it can make us paranoid. I am convinced I have the gift of discernment of spirits. And when I first began to take that gift seriously, I felt I had crossed over into the Twilight Zone. I think this may be a normal reaction to taking demonic influence seriously. But we need to beware of being so swept along by this feeling that we let it control us. And we need to focus our attention on Christ, who is the true Ruler (Romans 8:37-39; Colossians 1:13-20; Revelation 5:11-14).

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Patrick - The Evangelist

I did not realize until it was too late that it would have made sense to talk about Patrick near his day. So here I am, about a month late.

Patrick is one of those interesting people in church history. An initially obscure person who came to make a big difference. He lived at the time when the Roman Empire was falling apart. He also lived at the time when much of Roman Christianity was becoming nominal and would soon be overwhelmed  by a flood of paganism and Arianism (which denied the deity of Christ). Patrick, who was from Britain, which was part of the Roman empire, gives the clear impression that he himself was a fairly nominal Christian when he was taken prisoner and enslaved by the Irish, who were neither Roman or Christian. While he was out taking care of his master's sheep, he became serious about his faith in God. He tells how God led him through a hard process, with the help of answered prayers, to freedom. Then he dreamed that God wanted him to go back to the people who had enslaved him and tell them about Christ. This was a dangerous thing to do. It would have also have been a difficult thing to do. But Patrick, who had lived among the Irish, was an obvious choice, and he ultimately obeyed.

As a result of this, many Irish came to profess Christ. They in turn sent out Columba  and others to reach the Scots, who were descendents of the Irish who had settled in the area of Scotland. From there they reached out to the Picts, the original inhabitants of the area. The Irish ended up helping in the conversion of the Anglo-Saxons (the pagans who conquered the British) and in sending missionaries to Germany, where many of the invading peoples had come from. They also sent men like Columbano to the nominally Christian people on the continent. The fall of the Roman Empire was a dark and difficult time. A time of chaos and one when much of the nominally Roman empire was conquered by those of differing viewpoints. It was into this situation that the Irish and their spiritual descendents brought spiritual help. I do not believe they were alone in this; there were others, who I will get to, who also played their parts. I do not believe the Irish saved civilization or saved Christianity, but they made their serious contribution to the cause. All because one man was willing to go back to a people who had kidnapped and enslaved him, to preach the truth of God. I am sure that I could not agree with everything that was taught by this movement, but I see the hand of God here. I also see God's ability to deal with apparent spiritual catastrophe. When everything seemed black, God brought help from an unexpected source. He never fails to renew His people in ways not foreseen.

Monday, April 13, 2015

A Touch of Humor - Science

Does science prove there are no miracles? Why or why not?

Saturday, April 11, 2015

Old Erich Proverb - Funeral

The funeral of Christianity has been announced  many times, but the coffin is always empty.