Flatlander Faith

Apologetics from an Anabaptist perspective

Discord among brethren

Many people today, including some Christians, are seeking salvation of the body to the detriment of both their spiritual and physical health. They are drawn to Seers who have been gifted with special enlightenment about medical problems. Armed with such knowledge, which is only granted to a select few, these people believe they see things more clearly than the medical professionals.

Granted, the medical professionals are not infallible, they sometimes make mistakes. But it is an even greater mistake to seek an infallible healer, for there are many impostors ready to make such a claim.

When we believe that there are medical truths that are hidden from the medical professionals, or which the medical professionals are hiding from the public, we become unable to fully trust anyone who does not share our vision of reality. The result is discord, in families, between friends, in congregations. That discord should be recognized as a warning signal.

What has happened to “Seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness, and all these things shall be added unto you”?

Let’s make our spiritual health our primary concern. Let us “seek peace and ensue it.” That brings us into harmony with God and with all others who truly seek peace. A mind in turmoil is hazardous to both our spiritual and physical health. If our hope is fixed on heavenly things, our life will be better, even if our physical health does not improve.

What’s wrong with the world?

A few years before the First World War a British newspaper published an article bearing the above title. Shortly thereafter the following letter to the editor appeared:

“Dear Sir: Regarding your article ‘What’s Wrong with the World?’ I am. Yours truly,” ― G.K. Chesterton

Chesterton later expanded on that thought, saying:

“In one sense, and that the eternal sense, the thing is plain. The answer to the question, ‘What is wrong?’ is, or should be, ‘I am wrong’. Until a man can give that answer his idealism is only a hobby!”

Now, I may see clearly, or believe I do, that other people are what is wrong with the world. In which case, all my attempts to fix what is wrong with the world will end in futility and frustration. But if I am able to honestly answer, as Chesterton did, that I am what is wrong with the world, then there is something I can do, and need to do. And then there is hope.

Remedy for election fever

There is an election in Canada today; I will not vote. I am a citizen, I am qualified to vote, but I am also a citizen of the Kingdom of God and that citizenship is much more precious to me.

There has been a lot of anger, a lot of divisive emotions stirred by this election campaign. Those emotions should not be allowed entrance into the peaceful kingdom of Christ.

I will continue to pray for the government of our land, no matter who is elected. I will continue to strive to be a good citizen, a good neighbour.

There is much evil taking place around us and most people like to talk about it. But we cannot promote what is good by focusing our attention on what is wrong. There are also many acts of goodness and kindness happening around us. I will strive to be one who notices and talks about the good, and not the evil.

But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you. Matthew 6:33

And seek the peace of the city whither I have caused you to be carried away captives, and pray unto the LORD for it: for in the peace thereof shall ye have peace. Jeremiah 22:7

They’ll know we are Christians by our love

Flatlander Faith

We are one in the Spirit
We are one in the Lord
. . .
We will work with each other
We will work side by side
. . .
And they’ll know we are Christians by our love.

-Peter Scholtes, © 1966 F.E.L. Publications Ltd.

For the young folk out there who might not recognize these words, they are from the song that best captured the aspirations of the Jesus People movement that began in the late sixties and extended through the seventies. “They’ll Know We Are Christians By Our Love” was sung in churches, around campfires, in coffee houses and wherever Christian young people gathered.

The Jesus People movement was in some respects a rejection of both the hippie, or “flower power” movement of the sixties and the Christian church establishment. In many ways the movement was a genuine moving of the Holy Spirit and many young people…

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A Christian admonition from 600 years ago

[Barbe means beard. It came to be applied to the person wearing the beard, becoming a term of affection for an uncle and then became the term which Anabaptists in France and Italy used for their ministers. Pragela, a valley in the Alps west of Turin and near the French border was home to a large number of Waldensians.]

An Epistle of the Barbe Bartolemi Tertian to the Evangelical churches of Pragela, circa 1420 AD.

Jesus be with us.

To all our faithful and beloved brethren in Jesus Christ.  I greet you all.  Amen.

This Epistle is to alert your brotherhood, acquitting myself of that trust which is committed to me by God concerning you for the salvation of your souls, according to the light of truth given to us by the Most High.  May every one of you maintain, increase and cherish to your utmost and by no means weaken or diminish those good principles, forms and customs given by those who have gone before us, of which we are not worthy.

For it would be but a very small and poor advantage for us to have been renewed by the fatherly persuasions and the light given to us by God, if we should now give ourselves up to a worldly, diabolical and fleshly conversation, forsaking the principal good, which is God, and the salvation of our souls for a short temporal life.  For the Lord has said in the gospel, What will it profit a man to gain the whole world, and lose his own soul?  And, It were better never to have known the way of righteousness, than having once known it, to walk contrary to it.

Yea, we shall be altogether inexcusable before the righteousness of God, and our condemnation more severe.  For more torment will be inflicted upon those who have had the greatest knowledge.  Wherefore I beseech you by the love of God not to diminish but to increase the love, fear and obedience which is due unto God, and to one another, and also to keep the good customs which you have seen and heard of God, by us and others.  And that you will purge out from among you all those faults and failings which disturb your peace, love and concord, and all that obstructs your liberty in the service of God, and your own salvation and the administration of truth, if you desire that God would prosper you in the temporal and spiritual goods.  For you can do nothing without Him.

If you desire to be heirs of His glory, do as He tells you, If you would enter into life, keep my commandments.  Moreover, let there be among you no vain sports, gluttony, whoredoms, balls or other debaucheries, nor questions, fraud, usury, envy or discord.  Neither support or uphold among you any persons of an evil life who could become a stumbling block or evil example to you.  Rather let love and faithfulness reign among you and all good examples, doing one to another as every one would that it should be done to him.  For otherwise it is not possible that any can be saved, or find grace and favour with God and man in this world, or glory in that which is to come.

And it is necessary that the leaders and those who govern among you see to maintaining these things.  For when the head is sick all the members suffer.  Wherefore, if you hope and desire to possess eternal life and to be held in esteem and favour and to prosper in the world in both spiritual and temporal things, cleanse yourselves from every disorderly way among you so that God may always be with you, Who never forsakes those who put their trust in Him.  But know for certain that God does not answer or dwell with sinners, nor with the soul who desire evil, nor with the man that is a slave to sin.  Wherefore let every one cleanse the way of his own heart and flee from dangers if he would not perish in them.  I shall not say more for the present, except that ye do all these things and the God of Peace be with you all.  Join with us in true, humble and devout prayer.  Greetings to all the faithful and beloved of Christ.  Amen

I am wholly yours, Bartholomeus Tertianus, ready to serve you in all things in our power, according to the will of God.

The race of life

Image by StockSnap from Pixabay 

Jesus said: “but he that endureth to the end shall be saved.” Matthew 10:22

Something in me would like to think that He meant:
All you have to do is sit tight
And everything will turn out right.

But I believe what He really meant was:
Keep on running with all your might
Until you cross the finish line.

The kingdom of God

The kingdom of God is a spiritual kingdom with spiritual citizens and a spiritual king. When a person repents of living in the ways of the world and is born again by the power of the Holy Spirit, that person becomes part of the kingdom of God.

Such a person, though still living in this physical world and needing to use the infrastructure of the physical world, is no longer governed by the spirit that prevails among the citizens of the physical world. He now owes his allegiance to the lord of lords and king of kings, Jesus Christ.

Emotions and impulses that are characteristic of the physical world: jealousy, envy, hatred, lust, fear, pride and malice, have no value in the spiritual kingdom. The Holy Spirit empowers people to love, to forgive, to be patient, to be peaceful and to rejoice in the little things that bless each day of their lives.

Citizens of the heavenly kingdom differ from one another in many ways. They are male and female, rich and poor, speak different languages, have different physical appearances. It is the presence of the Holy Spirit in their hearts, unseen to the natural eye, that causes them to feel an affinity with one another.

All earthly kingdoms are ruled by the same unseen lord: the old serpent, called the devil and Satan. He shows himself as an angel of light, promising an earthly paradise. Yet he is always working to divide people from one another. He leads people to mistrust one another, within a country, a home, and even in a church. Wherever one finds a spirit of division, that is the work of this enemy.

Citizens of the heavenly kingdom need to be aware of this undercover warfare and beware when thoughts of distrust, fear and anger present themselves. This way leads to spiritual death. We must choose to trust our sovereign Lord, to walk in peace and love. We must choose life.

Crowns

Image by talpeanu from Pixabay 

My crown is in my heart, not on my head;
Not deck’d with diamonds, and Indian stone;
Nor to be seen; my crown is called content;
A crown it is that seldom kings enjoy.

William Shakespeare, Henry VI, part III

Smoked sinus syndrome

British Columbia is having a very bad year for forest fires. People have lost homes and property, a whole town is gone, several lives have been lost. Thousands more have had to flee their homes and businesses as the flames advance, not knowing if anything will be left when the fires are out.

Image by WikiImages from Pixabay 

My woes are not on that scale, they hardly bear mentioning at all in the face of such tragedy. Yet the smoke from those fires are having an effect on people a thousand kilometres east of the fires. The smoke has hung in the air for weeks, we have breathed the resinous smoke of burning conifers and it does carry health risks for those who are allergy prone, elderly or immune impaired.

There have been frequent air quality warnings. I’m sure many people are more seriously affected than I am; all I have is some allergic reaction in my sinuses and my eyes. That is treatable, yet those effects will persist as long as the smoke does.

Are forest fires preventable? No. Sixty percent of forest fires are caused by lightning, others by activities that would not be problematic in ideal circumstances and only a small percentage by outright carelessness.

Lets not fall into the trap of trying to find someone to blame for forest fires. Wood burns. If we enjoy the beautiful side of forests we need to accept that occasionally there will be an ugly side. Can the effects of forest fires be mitigated by better forest management and increased safety measures? Certainly greater efforts can be, and no doubt will be, made in these areas.

“Finders keepers” would have been the wrong choice

[First posted November 14, 2013]

Noah Muroff, an Orthodox Jewish Rabbi, and his wife Esther went shopping online for a desk for the study in their home and found a cherry wood executive desk that they were able to buy for $150.  When they got it home, they found it would not fit through the door of the study.  The only option seemed to be to take it apart and then reassemble it inside the study.

Image by kalhh from Pixabay 

When Rabbi Muroff pulled out the file drawer, he noticed a plastic shopping bag had fallen behind it.  Inside the bag was $98,000 in US $100 bills.  When they bought the desk the middle-aged woman they bought it from said she had bought it at Staples and assembled it herself, so there was no doubt where the money had come from.

The Muroffs say they didn’t need any time to discuss what they were going to do.  Although it was 11:30 at night, they called the woman right away.  She was shocked by their honesty.  She told them that if they had decided to keep the money she would have been none the wiser.

The money was an inheritance from her parents who had died, one shortly after the other.  She had been too overwhelmed to make any decisions about the money at the time and had simply stuffed it away in a safe place.  Later she had looked in the desk and it was not there.  She reasoned that it must be somewhere else in the house and put the desk up for sale, not realizing the bag had fallen behind the file drawer.

The next day the Muroffs returned the money, taking their children along to show what to do when one finds something that does not belong to him.  The woman gave them $3,500 for their honesty and also returned the $150 they had paid for the desk.

Rabbi Muroff is 28, a Torah teacher at the Yeshiva high school in New Haven, Connecticut.  He and his wife have four children.  The oldest is six.  The Yeshiva cannot afford to pay a big salary and the family is used to careful budgeting.  Still, the money they found in the bag was not even tempting.  “If God wants us to have the $98,000,” Esther said to her husband, “He’ll make sure He gets it to us in some other way.  God is not limited.”

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