The Christian faith is apocalyptic. That means the message of Christianity announces both the intention of the whole of existence AND it’s ultimate conclusion. Most folks forget that and reduce the faith to what some have called “moralistic therapeutic deism.” I’m not sure what all that means, but it sounds really cool! Seriously, this simply means that, for many, the Christian faith (in fact, all religions) is merely one cultural expression of a moral code that is meant to make us “happy.”
It’s iconic! The little kitty hanging from the pipe with the inspirational message! As a teen, growing up in the ’70’s these posters were everywhere. And it seemed to spawn a million other inspirational posters from the “Footprints” poster with it’s beach metaphor to countless posters quoting a Kurt Vonnegut speech. It seems every office, every dorm room, and every Sunday School class had some inspirational poster all trying to get us to “hang tough”“keep going” or “get back up.”
I love Oliver Twist. It’s a great story about confronting a system that had grown inhuman because of an attempt to reduce persons to mere cogs in a machine. Ah the joys of the Industrial Revolution. Our hero, Oliver, does what he wasn’t “suppose” to do; he asks for “more” and that one request starts us off down the path of revealed hearts, weak morals, and true repentance.
But, just like the our hero in Oliver Twist and his inconvenient request for “more please”, sometimes asking inconvenient questions reveals something very important.
Today we see the Lord confront an all too human temptation to reduce life to mere rote repetition. He heals a woman on the Sabbath and that uncovers the unloving hearts of those around Him. He takes this opportunity to teach and remind them of their own kindness to their own animals and doesn’t one created in God’s image deserve at least a much? Today, let us always stay able to see…
This Saturday, our guest blog comes to us from the wonderful site On Behalf of All, and its a great and timely post about Santa. Click the link below to read the whole post, and share it with your friends.
“Every year, as Christmas approaches, the discussions begin in parenting circles: How do you deal with Santa Claus?
Some embrace the myth wholeheartedly, complete with the recent addition of the Elf on the Shelf, Santa’s faithful spy (since, apparently, kids these days are less open to the idea of an omniscient Santa than previous generations). Others reject it completely, fearing that perpetrating even so innocent a deception will damage their children’s trust in them, especially as regards things invisible and miraculous.”
P.S. Don’t forget that we air a new Faith Encouraged LIVE program Sunday, December 14th at 8 PM and the title of the show is “His Kingdom Will Have NO End.” That’s Sunday December 14th at 8 PM on AncientFaith.com!
“Therefore, don’t despair when you fall, but get up eagerly and do a metanoia saying, “Forgive me, my dear Christ. I am human and weak.” The Lord has not abandoned you. But since you still have a great deal of worldly pride, a great deal of vainglory, our Christ lets you make mistakes and fall, so that you perceive and come to know your weakness every day, so that you become patient with others who make mistakes, and so that you do not judge the brethren when they make mistakes, but rather put up with them.” + Elder Joseph the Heychest
I can’t read that without remembering that someone else once said “You cannot live as a Christian; you can only die as a Christian.”
If you’ve hung around these parts for a while, you know already what I’m going to say: Spiritual maturity is a particular emphasis for me. And the reason for that is because it is precisely what I lack and what I long to have. The reason why I lack it is because my will is still sufficiently weak and unskilled as to fully embrace and practice the spiritual disciplines necessary to achieve this aim, and the reason I desire it is because I have at least been stirred toward this goal by God’s grace and the example of others who are leading me. Plus, I’m tired of spiritual kindergarten!
Let’s face it, we humans have a problem with authority, especially we Americans. We don’t like. We don’t trust it. And we are suspicious of it’s motives. We want our freedom. The battle cry of our revolution that started this country was “Give me liberty or give me death!” Pretty radical, but at the heart of our nation’s founding.
“Uh, excuse me, but I was hoping for the ‘meek and lowly’ Jesus!” I bet that was the thoughts of the men the day the Lord walked into a section of the outer courts of the Temple in Jerusalem and started turning over the tables and sending the “men of commerce” running. “This isn’t the Man we heard about who sits little children on His lap! What’s He so upset about?”
He corrected even my prayer that I said at the beginning of our homiletics class! He was my homiletics professor during my college years and he was known as the toughest professor at the school, and somehow he became fixated on me. It seemed I could do nothing right in his class, and it also seemed he was intent on scrutinizing every move and word I made in the preaching class. He would say things like “Mr. Powell, words are your tools. Would you trust a mechanic that just tossed his tools around his shop as if they meant little to him? Words are your tools, Mr. Powell. If you aren’t going to use them well, you are an unfaithful steward of the gift God gives you!” Needless to say, I walked into his class for two years straight a bit nervous!