Maybe you’ve had a similar experience. When I encounter the same message from different people at different times in different contexts, I pay attention. I expect that God is trying to tell me something. In recent weeks I’ve read a couple of articles about holiness and a related Scripture passage that had me thinking, “What is God saying to me?” The first encounter I had with the topic of holiness is an article by Cheryl Bridges Johns in the Church of God Evangel. Johns laments that many Christians today see no need for holiness, and that unfortunately, these “profane Christians . . . hinder the message that Jesus came to save, heal, and deliver all creation from the bondage of sin” (p. 13). While there is hope, it begins with the “death of self” and requires that we purge ourselves of self-seeking behaviors. Another discussion is found in the recent entry by Antipas Harris on Renewal Dynamics. Harris reminds us that although we live in this world we are not supposed to live like the world. In particular, “we must remain in tune with the enduring nature of God’s character — holiness to which all believers are called.” As I contemplated Harris’ blog and, in particular the readers’ comments, which seemed to suggest an uncertainty over what holiness is, I happened to read a passage in Col. 3:1-25, in which Paul refers to unholy versus holy behaviors and characteristics. In reflecting on the potential importance of these encounters, I recalled a song from the early 90s that says, “Lord, I hunger for holiness, and I thirst for the righteousness that’s yours.” The song reflects on the relationship of holiness, the desire for God, and the life and death battles (at least spiritually) we must fight in order to be victorious. I wonder, has anyone else been thinking about holiness lately?
Archive for the ‘Spiritual Health’ Category
Centuries of social, political, cultural, and religious diversity weigh heavily on expressions of Christianity. Party politics, greed, personality driven ministries, ministry as business, and denominational and non-denominational church struggles over members seem to be the order of the day. These influences have moved Christians further and further away from divine principles to which Christians are called to live out before a world that is far from God. The Church is called to be holy; so Christians must pursue holiness amidst an unholy world. The world does not know God so the world cannot lead in holiness. The best way to win the world to faith in Christ is by bearing witness to Christ through the Christian’s lifestyle of holiness – a life that is indifferent of the world—and expressed love towards those who are not living that life. Miller argues that a careful revisit of historical developments that have altered Christianity from its biblical form of indifference might be a meaningful way for the Church to regain its fervor in representing Christ in the world—a world that God expects for Christians to be in but not of. Read the rest of this entry »
The most rewarding part of traveling for me is the time to return home. No matter how visually stimulating the sights or how interesting the people I meet, usually around day seven something clicks, like an internal homing device, and I begin to yearn for the wonderfully familiar sights, sounds, and structures of home. While others may crave the excitement of the novel, I crave the ordinary. To hear the loud sounds of my children, whether they be the joys of laughter, the tears of pain, or the bursts of anger–these to me are full of life. More than that, they are the very ingredients of life, providing its texture and flavor. Read the rest of this entry »
As I write this, I’m looking at the “lottery ticket” lying next to my laptop. It’s not an actual lottery ticket, mind you, but rather a scratch & win ticket from The Great Grocery Giveaway. Some local grocery stores give them out to customers at the checkout line. For some reason, the checkout gal at Food Lion handed me a stack of 47 of them the other day. So I brought the stack home, handed my kids a few coins and ordered them to start stratchin’ so we could start winnin’.
The goal of the scratcher is to pick three of the nine circles to scratch off—and if all three match, you get whatever is revealed in the prize box at the bottom. After my kids unsuccessfully scratched through half the stack, I grabbed one and, using my fingernail, scratched off three circles really fast and, lo and behold, all three matched! My kids thought I was superman and immediately exclaimed, “Daddy, scratch the prize box to see if we’re rich!” All of a sudden, the possibility of winning up to $250,000 warmed my soul and placed a spark in my eye. I was experiencing hope for a better life as I thought, “I could be rich and things could get real good real fast.” Amid the brewing excitement in my mind, however, I paused long enough to observe what was going in within me…
I said in the previous post that I was going to offer a follow up blog entry related to the pastoral implications of the Gnostic temptation. In brief, the Gnostic temptation is…
the attraction of an otherworldly kind of existence when faced with the genuine risk of forming unhealthy bonds with aspects of creation that can lead to addictive and destructive behavior that enslaves.
I now want to discuss some of the pastoral issues surrounding the Gnostic temptation. The purpose is to suggest discipleship practices need to be formulated in such a way as to help individuals avoid this temptation. Believers must
- Learn to love creation rightly
- Learn to love their bodies rightly
- Learn the difference between creation and “the world”
A resurgence of interest in spiritual formation has prompted many voices to offer perspectives about what it means to be transformed into the image of Jesus. Several contemporary authors have written on Christian spiritual formation including Dallas Willard, Richard Foster, Robert Mulholland, Ruth Haley Barton, James Houston, and Simon Chan. Others have developed theories that attempt to capture moral and character development such as Lawrence Kohlberg in his theory of moral development and James Fowler in his theory of faith development. Neither of these theories is without critique nor addresses the inner dynamics and mystery of formation. Read the rest of this entry »