The CSB Worldview Study Bible

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The Worldview CSB Study Bible is a newer translation called the Christian Standard Bible.  This translation is said to be more reader-friendly.  I did not really have a problem with the verses I checked against my ESV and will continue to utilize it in my studies since I like to use several translations.  There are approximately 100 essays located throughout the Bible written by different professors, theologians, Pastors, etc. that range in topics from how to use the study Bible to different religions and modern issues we as Christians are dealing with.  I did not really care for them to be scattered throughout the Bible I would have preferred to have them in the back as an appendix.  The study notes are located at the bottom of the text and any additional reference verses are located in the middle column.  In the New Testament, all Old Testament references in the text are in bold, and I find that I like that and wish all Bibles would do it.  Before I review the actual physical characteristics I want to put in a word of caution.  If ANY of the study notes raise a question, talk to your Pastor, Priest Spiritual Head or whatever they are referred to as; do not accept information that is contrary to your beliefs in any way.  That being said the notes that I review were on target with my theology, but of course, I did not read every study note.  There is a very nicely detailed concordance in the back along with colorful maps.

Physical Characteristics – It is a blue Leather touch with silver gilding on the page edges.  It comes in a sturdy book that if giving as a gift and mailing should do well.  There is a presentation page with the verse Revelations 22:6A Then He said to me, “These words are faithful and true” I liked that and felt it gave it a great touch.  There are 2 ribbon markers one for the Old Testament and one for the New Testament.

I give this Study Bible 4 out of 5 stars based on the information I read and would recommend it for purchase.

I was given a free copy in exchange for an honest review.

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Slow Me Down

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It’ been said that if the devil can’t make you bad, he’ll make you busy. We can’t become truly pious if we’re too busy to make time for God and for others.  I have a tendency to do this.  I become so caught up with expedient things, I lose track of the things that have eternal value.  I forget that even Jesus made time to get away and rest.  I miss bits of God’s grace and the people He wants me to serve. I forget to listen for his voice. This poem is a good reminder to slow down and pay attention.  I had a very hectic weekend, so I even if nobody else needs to hear this today, I do!

Slow me down Lord, I am going too fast:
I can’t see my brother when he’s walking past.
I miss a lot of good things day by day;
I don’t know a blessing when it comes my way.
Slow me down, Lord I want to see
More of the things that are good for me.
A little less of me and a little more of you,
I want the heavenly atmosphere to trickle through.
Let me help my brother when the going is rough:
When folks work together life isn’t so tough.
Slow me down, Lord so I can talk
With some of your angels.
Slow me down to a walk.
Brother John G. Ottis

Superheros Can’t Save You by Todd Miles–Book Review

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If you can get past the title, this is a great book.  Sorry, but I grew out of my fascination with comics at age eleven, and I think comparing historic heresies to superheros trivializes a serious topic.  However you really can’t judge a book by its’ cover! Author Todd Miles,  who is a teacher at Western Seminary in Oregon knows his topic.  He does an excellent job of covering seven major heresies and 2,000 years of church history in a manner that most laypeople will find clear and understandable.

Superheroes Can't Save You: Epic Examples of Historic Heresies by [Miles, Todd]

Each chapter starts with his explanation of a particular superhero and how this hero represents one of the “bad ideas about Jesus.”  (You can skip this part if you like.)  He goes on to explain the exact belief of each heresy, the historic background, and how the heresy is manifested today.  Finally he lays out what the Bible says that discredits the heresy, and why it is important that it be rejected.  The chapter ends with questions for personal reflection or group discussion and suggestions for further study.

Verdict:  This is a very readable book for those who want to learn more about the complex issues of the Trinity and Christology.  It could easily be used for a group study. It would also be a good addition to any church library as it answers questions about some difficult theological concepts.  I think any reader will come away with a deeper understanding of the person of Jesus.  I would give it four out of five stars only because I didn’t like the silly pop culture theme — otherwise, it would be a five.

If you would like to purchase this book, follow the link below:

https://www.bhbloggers.com/products/superheroescantsaveyou/

 

What is Via de Cristo?

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de-colores-cursillo-clipart-1I just recently came back from another wonderful Via de Cristo weekend.  Before I left for this weekend I did a little bit of internet research on Via de Cristo and other three-day renewal movement groups like Cursillo (Catholic, Episcopal and Presbyterian), Tres Dias and Walk to Emmaus just to name a few.  All of these three-day movements are basically the same.  Lay people, just plain, everyday people from the church that are not clergy, run them.  They are not run by a particular church, but follow the doctrines of mainstream churches like Lutheran, Methodist and, as stated above, Catholic, Episcopal and Presbyterian.  To keep this blog simple, I’m going to be writing about the Lutheran Via de Cristo.

During my research I came across some blogs and forums that really had some awful things to say about these movements.  We’re secretive, we’re a cult, we’re all crazy!! (really???), we’ll try to “convert” you; you can only go if you’re invited (goes with being secretive), we have all these “code” words, and on and on.  Now I have to say here that a three-day weekend isn’t for everyone.  Some stories about people who had a hard time when they attended a weekend really should not have gone in the first place.  Many felt they were pushed to go (some will say coerced).  No one should be forced to go on one of these weekends. In this blog, I’m going to talk about some of these issues.

To go to a Via de Cristo weekend, you have to be asked to go or be “sponsored”.  If you would really like to go and haven’t been asked you could talk with your pastor.  If others in your congregation have gone then he should know about it and someone would be happy to sponsor you.  Before asking anyone to attend a weekend, a sponsor should pray about and for that person.  The person who would get the most out of a Via de Cristo weekend is a person that already attends church regularly and may be searching for a deeper understanding of Christianity.  Perhaps someone who does not completely understand what living the life of a Christian is about. These are examples of the kind of people who may go, maybe with a few reservations, but they would be willing.

The weekend itself is three days of being away from the world.  We ask new participants to shut off their cell phones so they are not distracted.  This bothers some, that there is no contact during the weekend.  We want the new participants to concentrate on their spiritual selves during this time.  It is a retreat, and by the very definition of the term (the act or process of withdrawing…) you withdraw from the world.  If there is something going on and the participant needs to be in touch, then a word to the leader (or Rector/Rectora) will let us know that arrangements need to be made.

I’ll state here that there is a whole new vocabulary you learn when you participate in a weekend.  It is not a secret code.  Via de Cristo started in Spain many years ago and it has many of the Spanish names still in use, Rector/Rectora is only one of many.  The name Via de Cristo is Spanish for “Way of Christ”.  A song called “De Colores” is sung as a theme song of sorts.  This song was written years ago when the movement first started and is still sung today.  The word has also become a signal of sorts.  These movements are all over the world, so if someone who has gone on a weekend sees a “DeColores” sticker on your car, they will know you’ve been on a weekend as well.  De Colores means “in Color” in Spanish and there’s the thing with the Rooster.  You’ll have to hear the song to figure that one out.

During the three days you listen to fifteen talks, lay people give ten and pastors give five.  These talks outline the Christian way of life with an emphasis on Piety, Study, Apostolic Action and God’s Grace.  The pastor or spiritual directors give the talks on God’s Grace.  Surrounding these talks are others titled Ideal, Leaders, Christian Community in Action and others.  It can be very intense.  There is Chapel and communion offered at least once a day.  There is music, singing, food, fellowship and fun.  We do laugh quite a bit.  The cares of the world drop away and then as everyone relaxes the laughter starts.  It’s so healing.

If you’ve already been on a Via de Cristo weekend you then get the privilege of making one of these weekends happen for others.  You serve the participants by giving one of the ten talks, working in the chapel or the kitchen, cleaning up after everyone (we have several people who do this) or serving drinks and snacks in-between talks.

I look forward to serving on these weekends.  It is such a privilege to go and work for the Lord. I get a time to “unplug” from the world, serve the Lord and help others.  I really can’t see anything bad in that.

If you’ve heard anything bad about the Via de Cristo weekends, feel free to comment and we’ll try our best to answer any questions.

A Reformation Reading List

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You know I can’t let a month go by without recommending some reading.  I found this Reading List for Lutherans.  What could be more appropriate for our month on the Reformation.  Let us know if you plan to read some of these.

A Reading List for Lutherans Quality, Lay-Friendly Books That Will Stretch and Shape the Lutheran Mind Easy reading: *                    More challenging: **                    Really challenging, but worth it: *** prepared by Gene Edward Veith
BASIC LUTHERANISM Gene Veith. Spirituality of the Cross: The Way of the First Evangelicals.* I wrote this one. It’s the book that I wish I had found before I became a Lutheran. It explains the Lutheran distinctives and the richness of Lutheran spirituality in what I hope is a lucid and engaging way. Scot A. Kinnaman, ed. Lutheranism 101.* A comprehensive, easy-to-read guide to Lutheranism, written in form of short articles, sound-bites, sidebars and illustrations. J. T. Mueller. Christian Dogmatics.** A systematic survey of Lutheran doctrine, as understood by The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod, with Bible verses to back up every point. This is a summary of Francis Pieper’s fourvolume Christian Dogmatics. Steven D. Paulson. Lutheran Theology.*** Some may think Lutheranism is staid and respectable, but this book shows just how radical and mind-blowing Lutheranism — with its teachings about the Law and Gospel, the Word and Sacraments — really is.
THE CONFESSIONS The Book of Concord. As the definitive authority in all things Lutheran, this book is in a category by itself. The creeds and the catechisms*; the Lutheran Confessions of faith (Augsburg, Smalcald Articles, Formula of Concord, Treatise on the Primacy of the Pope)**; the extended defenses of those Confessions (the Apology of the Augsburg Confession and the Thorough Declaration of the Formula of Concord***.
LUTHERAN CLASSICS C. F. W. Walther. Law & Gospel. ** The founder of the Lutheran Church Missouri Synod explains to 19th-century seminary students how to properly distinguish the Law and the Gospel and how to preach them so as to bring sinners to Christ. This book offers both stimulating theology as it lays out the distinctive Lutheran approach to Scripture and comforting devotional reading as it plumbs the depths of what Christ has done for us. Bo Giertz. The Hammer of God.* This is a novel by a Swedish bishop, depicting three generations of Lutheran pastors, who each have to deal with the religious fads of their day — pietism, rationalism, liberalism — ultimately finding in their ministries the strength of Lutheran orthodoxy. Martin Chemnitz. The Two Natures in Christ.*** Chemnitz is second only to Luther among the great Lutheran theologians. His brilliant work on Christology — dealing with the incarnation, whereby Christ who is truly God and truly man atones for our sins and the “communication of the attributes,” whereby Christ’s body and blood are truly present in Holy Communion — is a hallmark of Lutheran theology. Charles Porterfield Krauth. The Conservative Reformation.** Written in 1871 by an American Lutheran scholar, this book is a masterpiece of historical theology, showing the differences between the conservative Reformation of the Lutherans and the more radical Reformation of the Calvinists and Anabaptists. Moreover, it shows how those differences remain important today.
WORKS BY MARTIN LUTHER The Freedom of the Christian.** This early work by the Reformer proclaims the freedom we have in the Gospel. It also lays the groundwork for Luther’s doctrine of vocation. This treatise sets forth the classic paradox of the Christian life: “A Christian is a perfectly free lord of all, subject to none. A Christian is a perfectly dutiful servant of all, subject to all.” And it teaches how we are to be “little Christs to each other.” Sermons.* Luther is among the most pastoral of theologians, and his many published sermons show him as a vivid expositor of God’s Word and, for all of the polemical fury that sometimes breaks out, as a compassionate minister to troubled souls. In his sermons, we often see Luther’s humor as well as his wisdom as he applies God’s Word to the ordinary people of his time.
Letters of Spiritual Counsel.* Here we see Luther’s pastoral heart, as he offers spiritual counsel to ordinary Christians of his day who struggle with some of the same issues that we do today. Commentaries.** Luther’s theology is drawn from the Bible, so his Bible commentaries are some of his profoundest works. Two good places to start are his Commentary on Galatians, which is a sustained critique of works righteousness, and his Commentary on Romans, whose explanation of justification by grace through faith led to the conversion of John Bunyan and John Wesley. His commentaries on the Psalms make rich devotional reading and his multi-volume Commentary on Genesis contains, among other things, a thorough treatment of vocation and the Christian’s life in the world. Bondage of the Will.*** This full-throated argument against the humanism of the Renaissance genius Erasmus is considered some of Luther’s greatest theological writing, but it is not for the faint of heart.
BIOGRAPHIES OF MARTIN LUTHER Roland Bainton. Here I Stand: A Life of Martin Luther.* This is an acknowledged masterpiece of the art of biography — compelling, easy-to-read and insightful into Luther’s tumultuous life and times. Martin Brecht. Martin Luther. 3 vols.** This exhaustive multi-volume treatment is the definitive scholarly biography of Luther. Heiko Oberman. Luther: Man Between God and the Devil.*** A deep psychological and spiritual treatment of Luther.
LUTHERAN THEOLOGY Hermann Sasse. We Confess Anthology.** This German theologian defied Adolf Hitler and his attempts to Nazify the Christian Church. He later emigrated to Australia, where he served as a seminary professor and as a major influence on confessional Lutheranism around the world. This book collects a number of Sasse’s works on Christ, the Sacraments and contemporary theological issues. See also the two volume collection of Sasse’s letters and essays, The Lonely Way. Francis Pieper, Church Dogmatics. 4 vols.** The definitive systematic theology for The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod, sketching out each topic in detail with full Scriptural evidence. Confessional Lutheran Dogmatics.** An ongoing series of volumes — six so far with more to come — by different authors, updating Pieper’s work and addressing contemporary theological issues. Oswald Bayer. Martin Luther’s Theology: A Contemporary Interpretation.*** A distinguished contemporary theologian shows how Luther’s theology addresses modern and postmodern thought in a sophisticated way. Robert Kolb and Charles Arand. The Genius of Luther’s Theology: A Wittenberg Way of Theology for the Contemporary Church.* Two major LCMS scholars of the Lutheran Confessions show their relevance and that of Luther to contemporary issues in the Church.
VOCATION Gene Veith. God at Work: Your Christian Vocation in All of Life.* My book explores Luther’s doctrine of vocation on a popular level. Paul Althaus. Ethics of Martin Luther.** An important theological scholar explores Luther’s teachings about life in the world, including both Luther’s doctrine of vocation and his doctrine of the Two Kingdoms. Gustav Wingren. Luther on Vocation.*** The key book on vocation with paradigm-shifting insights on every page.
THEOLOGY OF THE CROSS Richard C. Eyer. Pastoral Care under the Cross: God in the Midst of Suffering.* A hospital chaplain tells about how he applies Luther’s theology of the cross — as opposed to the more common “theology of glory” — as he ministers to the sick, the suffering and the dying. Alister E. McGrath. Luther’s Theology of the Cross: Martin Luther’s Theological Breakthrough.** A prominent British theologian explores the centrality of the theology of the cross in Luther’s life and thought. Gerhard Forde. On Being a Theologian of the Cross: Reflections on Luther’s Heidelberg Disputation, 1518.*** A sometimes controversial theologian, an advocate of what he called “radical Lutheranism” explores some of Luther’s most radical ideas. In addition to Forde’s commentary, the book includes an edition of Luther’s Heidelberg Theses, in which the reformer outlined his teachings about how God comes to us in suffering and weakness, rather than in success

What Does Piety Look Like #2

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Years ago I found this description of what piety looks like in a book called The Christian’s Secret to a Happy Life by Hannah Whitall Smith.  Hannah was raised as a Quaker and was later influenced by the Holiness movement (John Wesley, founder of the Methodists). I don’t know all there is to know about Hannah’s theological beliefs, so I can’t recommend all of her writings, but I find her comments below helpful in defining what it means to be authentically pious.

“When a consecrated believer follows the Lord faithfully several evidences appear sooner or later.  Meekness and quietness of spirit become, in time, the characteristics of daily life.  Other outward signs are:

  1. Grateful acceptance of the will of God as it comes in the hourly events of each day

  2. Pliability in the hands of God to do or bear whatever He assigns

  3. A sweet disposition, even under provocation

  4. Calmness in the midst of turmoil and confusion

  5. Willingness to let others have their way

  6. Refusal to notice slights and affronts

  7. Absence of worry, anxiety and fear

The Christian's Secret to a Happy Life - Hannah Whitall Smith by [Smith, Hannah Whitall]

Sometimes I read through these qualities as a way to examine my conscience, in other words to measure my own progress in piety. Knowing our weaknesses is the starting point for change.  I admit to having trouble with all of these, but find #3 and #7 particularly difficult.  You may fall short in different areas. I notice that although these attributes are manifested outwardly, they all spring from an inner desire to trust and obey God, and they’re not easy to fake.  It’s not about following the rules, it’s about following Jesus.

Do you find Hannah’s list thought provoking? How might you use it?  Let the Lutheran Ladies know what you think.

Practicing Piety

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After a Via de Cristo weekend, participants are encouraged to form or join an accountability group.  In this group, we meet on a regular basis to discuss our plans for growing in God’s grace.  Since a balanced Christian life includes piety, study and action, group members take turns talking about how they are doing in each of these areas.  To mature as a Christian, we must practice spiritual disciplines.  Disciplines that increase our piety include:

  1. Congregational worship and communion
  2. Morning offering/evening thanks
  3. Devotions, meditation and prayer
  4. Examination of conscience
  5. Altar or chapel visits
  6. Family prayer
  7. Blessings before meals
  8. Spiritual direction

Maybe you’re not even sure what some of these mean.  I didn’t before my weekend.  (That may be the topic for another post).  Maybe you think it sounds a little mechanical, or even legalistic (Those are dangers, for sure.  It is possible to become a “routine Rita” simply doing Christian things without really thinking about what they mean).  However, like any other support group, banding together with others who want to go in the same direction helps us keep on track.  Knowing I have to “weigh in” next week encourages me to complete the task/s I’ve assigned myself.  It is also an opportunity to hear what works for others, and it’s helpful to learn all the creative ways my friends have learned to pray, to get recommendations for devotionals and just be held up in prayer.

At the end of the piety section there is a question to answer:  “What was the moment you felt closest to Christ?”  Maybe it was during a worship service;  maybe it was listening to a favorite hymn or song;  maybe it was an insight that seemed God-sent during prayer;  maybe it was a simple feeling of gratitude for time with family.  Sometimes I wonder if I would even notice these moments of grace if I didn’t have my reunion group meeting to make me think about them each month.

You don’t have to go on a Via de Cristo weekend to practice piety.  You do need others, though.  It’s too hard to go it alone.  Find a friend or friends.  Pray together;  study together;  talk about our Christian walk;  laugh and cry and vent when you need to;  do ministry together.  You won’t regret it, and you’ll look back years later to see where all that practice has led.  It will be higher ground.

God loves you and so do I!

The CSB Study Bible for Women – Book Review

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This is the Christian Standard Bible translation offered by Holman.  The exterior of this Bible has a hardback light turquoise with a cream bookend.  It comes with a very pretty flowered paper jacket.  The appearance of this Bible is feminine and the only thing I would like to see changed is that the flower jacket covered the entire exterior.

The interior has a lot of features to review, starting with the wife and husband family trees located in the very front of the book.  It then lists the Ketubah, which is a Jewish marriage contract, I found the information about this interesting and it also gives space for your own personal contract to be written.  Next comes the listing of family milestones and spiritual mothers.  Since there are events and people in our lives that shape us, this is a great way to honor them.

The introduction to the Study Bible had some very relevant suggestions and ideas that were written by Dorothy Kelley Patterson (professor at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary).  There is also a section on how to actually study the Bible.  There are essays from various women throughout the Bible and also different charts and maps to help.

One of the many items I liked were the word studies located throughout.  Each one picks a single word and gives a more detailed breakdown; origin, different locations in the Bible, etc.)  The concordance is the back has many different features including related terms, color coding for old, new or both.

Now to the meat of the review.  I checked the translation against my ESV, NIV, and NLT and found them to be similar.  I like the format of the study notes and how much information is provided.  The essays and study notes were extensive and I did not read all of them, but the ones I did were in line with the Lutheran doctrine.

However, if anyone should have questions about any notes in a study Bible, I would suggest a discussion with your Pastor in case the notes are not conducive to your doctrine.

That being said I would purchase this Study Bible and give it 3 out of 4 stars.

You may purchase it at:  https://www.lifeway.com/en/product/the-csb-study-bible-for-women-light-turquoise-sand-hardcover-P005787303

 

Piety Part 2 – by Jim Edgel

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Here is the second installment in the series on Piety from Jim Edgel:

 

Authentic or true piety comes from a dynamic, personal relationship with God that is conscious, growing and shared.  Piety is living a life that responds to God’s amazing gift of grace in His son Jesus.  Conscious of the personal value of God’s grace and consciously choosing a life with Him.  This life in Christ must be continually growing.  We either grow or decline.  We cannot remain still.  As we live this life of grace, we must share it with others and be willing to accept people where they are, listen to them and share our most precious gift – our time.  As we become more self-giving, we grow in our potential as human beings and understand we are God’s channel of grace to others and ourselves…  Christ must remain at the center of all aspects of our life, every action, every decision we make. We can’t say I love Jesus but this is business, work or vacation; or I am having a difficult time right now, I must take care of myself.  God’s word tells us to “seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness and all these things will be added unto you” … What is Authentic or true piety? Authentic piety is directing our whole life to God.   When we leave God out of certain areas of our life, we leave a huge space for Satan to slip in.  Directing our whole life to God is not about a long list of things we are forbidden to do.  It is about consciously sharing a growing Christ-centered life, which comes from the response of a grateful heart.  When we give our life over to God and have a willingness to be changed by the Holy Spirit, we begin to discover the true purpose and plan God has created us for.  We start the most amazing adventure we could ever imagine… For our whole life to be directed to God;

The three elements of every act – ones knowing, wanting and doing have to be directed to God.  We should know God and know what He teaches.  When our knowledge centers on God, God directs our knowing.  Wanting is the emotions that drive our actions.  Wanting becomes loving when our love for God drives our actions.  We strive to act according to God’s will.  Piety is directing our whole life to God by knowing who God is and what He taught.  Loving God with our whole heart and striving to carry out His will is the full response to the gift of grace.

Piety is an Ideal.  Living in a relationship with God is the Christian Ideal.  This is a lifelong process that brings us to a personal relationship with God.  And is nurtured in the same way as other intimate relationships we pursue in life.

With God at the center of our life, the Holy Spirit will help us maintain the goal of emulating the character of Jesus and His approach to dealing with people and problems.  All of us, no matter how capable we become in our Christian walk, will make mistakes.  I personally make many mistakes and at times need correction.  None of us ever get it all right … Except for Jesus, of course.  One of the greatest marks of maturity as human beings and to reveal the level of our spiritual maturity is the ability to receive correction.  Other things that reveal our level of spiritual maturity are:

Characteristics of authentic piety.  Courage,  Naturalness, and  Vibrant and joyful life.  Courage is not foolishness; it is the mark of one who will do what is right because it is the right thing to do.  It takes courage to step out of our “comfort zone” and accept new challenges that God may bring into our life.  It also takes courage to forgive someone who has hurt us.  Remember, we can do all things through Him who strengthens us … It is vital that everything we do as Christians be natural.  Our actions should be a natural response to a grateful heart.  People living a life of authentic piety should stand out only because of the love they have for God and others.  Jesus said “By this all people will know you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”  An ordinary life lived to the fullest is not dull, it is exciting and rich.  As our faith deepens, we sense a new meaning to each part of life.  We grasp new potential and realize new talents that God has created in us.  As we direct our whole life to God our personal relationship with Him impacts every area of our lives.   The practices of piety are those things we do that nourish our relationship with God.  Practices of piety are not piety in themselves; they are our concrete, visible responses to God’s love for us.  Practices of piety such as worship, prayer and Christian service to others flow out of our relationship with God and nourish it.  Life must be approached from the perspective that all we do is part of our response to God’s call.  Some may only know who God is by being around Christians.  The outcome of authentic piety is the peace of God.  As we are directing our whole life to God, we are conscious of being in a relationship with the Triune God.  We are:  Children of the Father, brothers of Christ and temples of the Holy Spirit.

 

To be continued…

Piety Part 1- by Jim Edgel

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The following are excerpts from a talk on Piety given by Jim Edgel – They have been reprinted with his permission:

Piety is a word we rarely use and may think of it in a negative way such as the “pious” ways of the Pharisees.  But authentic Christian piety is a very good thing.  In fact, if we explain the life Jesus led, it was a life of true piety.  Brothers, as we become filled with the Holy Spirit, God calls each one of us to a new life, and this involves a radical change from within.  This change alters our relationship with:  Our self, with God, with other people, and with the world, we live in together.  We see ourselves differently, knowing that no matter how broken we may be, we are forgiven and very valuable to God.  We have a new direction for our lives as children of God, full of marvelous capabilities.  We begin to see other people through God’s eyes, loving them as brothers and sisters who were created with the same potential that God has given to us.  And as we continue to transform; we see our world, as messed up as it may be, as God’s gift to us, given for our enjoyment and care.  When we speak of piety, we are speaking of a full response in all areas of our life to God’s amazing love and grace. We must seek a personal relationship with God, not just knowing about God … But knowing who God is.  Being Christian, not just doing Christian things.  How can we discover our God-given potential and be the complete person that God calls us to be as we live a life of grace?  This consists of balancing three key dimensions of our lives.  All three are equally important and it takes all three, working together, giving equal stability and balance in order to support us as we live in a close relationship with God.  To better understand the importance of Piety in our daily walks as Christians; which includes taking the Good News of Jesus Christ and Him crucified for you and me to the world, we must understand the difference between authentic piety and false piety. Authentic piety is an intimate, revitalizing deepening relationship with God. Jesus explains this to us.  You may remember reading in the Gospel of Matthew when the Pharisees gathered to question Jesus and one of the group asked Him which was the greatest commandment in the law.  And Jesus using His words with great precision, as always, not only answers their question, He explains authentic piety and sums up all the commandments in three sentences.  22nd chapter of Matthew verses 37, 38, 39 – And Jesus said to him “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.  This is the great and first commandment.  And a second is like it:  You shall love your neighbor as yourself.”False piety is a superficial, inaccurate or deceptive practice that appears to be Christian.  False piety is destructive.  It distracts and diverts people from seeking and knowing God.  It prevents them from finding and living the fulfilled life God has planned for them.  Friends … any of us can respond to God’s call in either of two ways.  We can follow a path of faith and commitment as Paul described in his letter to the Colossians “And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him.” Or we can devote ourselves to religious, regulations and practices that mark us as “A good Christian” who does “Christian” things.  Those who take this path do not understand the role of God’s grace in the lives of those who are in a relationship with Him.

More to follow