Living With the Saints

If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. Romans 12:18

Let’s face it, the saints aren’t always easy to live with.  If they were, St. Paul would not have to give us the instruction above from the book of Romans. They gossip and brag, complain and criticize (sins of the tongue are so easy to come by).  They can be stubborn, impatient, hypocritical and unreliable.  Some have personalities that just don’t jive with our own– maybe they seem blunt, controlling, demanding or unreasonable.  These things are all part of our “sinner” nature.

Funny, isn’t it, that Paul doesn’t tell us to change them  He also doesn’t tell us to give up and leave the church.  He tells us to be peaceful within ourselves. What does that mean?  Here are some ideas:

  1. Empathize with others as human beings.  You don’t always know what sort of day, or life, another person has been enduring.
  2. Give people the benefit of the doubt.  Something that offends you may not have been intended in the way you understood it.
  3. Don’t respond in anger.  You’ll probably regret it later.  Take time to cool down before you speak.
  4.  If you are truly upset by something another said or did, go and talk to them privately and nonconfrontationally.  You may be surprised at the results.
  5. Remember that everyone isn’t like you (my husband tells me this all the time!).  We all have different levels of spiritual maturity, different priorities, life experiences and interests.
  6. Remember your own sins.  I know I have my full share of irritating habits, so I should be willing to forgive as I have been forgiven, by other people and by God.
  7. Finally (and I should have put this first), pray.  Don’t ask God to change the person, but pray that they would be blessed, and that you will come to love and understand them.  Then leave them (and your hurt or anger) in God’s hands.

These are some things that have helped me, but I’d like to hear from others.  What are your strategies for living with the saints?

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Fanning the Flame #18 Things Are Changing

We had a congregational meeting last Sunday, and there was a difficult discussion.  Over the course of many years, people have designated part of their contribution to benevolence;  instead of giving this money away, it has been used as a cushion to help pay the daily expenses of running the church.  Worse than that, it became a crutch to allow ourselves deny the ugly truth that we’re not giving enough to sustain God’s church.  We need to repent and rectify this situation.

Fortunately we do now recognize this sin, and the council has a plan to wipe out our debt and give us a clean slate( a positive step).  This leaves us with the problem — how do we go forward without falling back into the same pattern?  We’d all like to pin the blame and the responsibility to fix the issue on somebody else.  If only EVERYONE would give more.  If only SOMEBODY would plan more fundraisers– etc., etc..

Then Beth Ann made a very good point.  FIRST we need to PRAY.  I have been at St. Paul’s for over thirteen years now, and I have never heard anyone say this in the midst of a meeting before.  This is a change.  I only wish we had taken it further and PRAYED right then and there.  It might have changed the whole tone of the meeting.  This morning God has put another conviction about this on my heart — we each need to pray, not for God to provide a miracle, or to make everyone else do the right thing;  we need to pray that God would show each one of us what we can do to nourish and sustain God’s church right here where we are.  I need to search my heart to see what God would have me do. I need to become a better steward, not just of my money, but of my spiritual gifts and my time.  I need to be like the little boy who trusted Christ with his few loaves and fishes.

Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who has no need to be ashamed, rightly handling the word of truth.  1 Timothy 2:15

I can’t change anyone else, but I can change myself.  I don’t want to stand before God, ashamed because I gave Him only the leftovers of my life.  I want to hear the words,

Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master’s happiness! Matthew 25:23

I’m convinced we’re changing and moving in the right direction.  This is a sign that God is at work.  My prayer is that He will continue to change us by first changing me.  Pray with me, friends and readers … I’ll keep you posted!

 

 

 

Another Saint Song

“Join with others in following my example, brothers, and take note of those who live according to the pattern we gave you.” Philippians 3:17

The text of this hymn was written by Reginald Heber (1783-1826). It was composed while he was Anglican archbishop of Calcutta, India, from 1823 to 1826 for St. Stephen’s Day, a religious holiday observed by the Anglican Church, and published posthumously in an 1827 collection of Heber’s poems entitled Hymns written and adapted to the Weekly Church Service of the Year. The tune (All Saints New) was composed for this text by Henry Stephen Cutler, who was born Oct. 13, 1825 in Boston, MA. After studying organ with A. U. Hayter in Boston, he went to Europe in 1844 to continue his studies in Frankfurt am Main.  While there, he visited many English cathedrals and became familiar with their style of music. Returning to Boston in 1846, he became music director at Grace Episcopal Church.

It speaks of the army of saints, past and present who follow Jesus.  I find it a powerful reminder that we are not alone in the Christian walk, we join our brothers and sisters, past and present, as well as Jesus Christ our head.

Two Favorite Saints

“As Jesus and his disciples were on their way, he came to a village where a woman named Martha opened her home to him.  She had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet listening to what he said.  But Martha was distracted by all the preparations that had to be made  She came to him and asked, ‘Lord, don’t you care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself?  Tell her to help me!’

‘Martha, Martha,’ the Lord answered.  ‘you are worried and upset by many things, but only one thing is needed.  Mary has chosen what is better and it will not be taken away from her.'”  Luke 10:38-41

Mary and Martha are probably my favorite biblical saints.  Why?  Well, in these two short paragraphs, their personalities shine forth so clearly.  Martha, the busy extrovert, Mary the quiet and studious introvert.  They are completely real in their interactions with Jesus–neither one is trying to put on a show of behaving the way one “ought” to in order to impress.  That must be because Jesus was completely accepting of them.  He didn’t try to put them in their place as women.  He didn’t tell Mary to get back to the kitchen, and he didn’t rebuke Martha for bothering him with household concerns.  He was their Lord, but also their friend.

I can identify with both of these sisters.  In personality, I’m most like Mary.  I’m much more likely to be found reading, studying or listening than bustling about.  Sometimes this makes me feel guilty because others (like Martha) may think I’m “lazy.”  However, I can be like Martha sometimes, too.  I let myself get carried away with what seems most pressing in the moment, and neglect the things that are really important.  How many times have I prayed with a distracted mind, or rushed away from worship, anxious to get on with the chores waiting at home?  How many times have I complained because I thought another member wasn’t doing their fair share of God’s work?  Yes, I can be just like Martha.

These two saints give us a realistic picture of life with Christ.  We can be ourselves with Him.  We can say the things we really think, not just mouth pious prayers.  He’ll listen and be gentle.  He’ll point us in the right direction.  He’ll look at us with love.  What a relief!

Now I want to hear from our authors and readers … who are your favorite saints of the Bible?

 

My Temple

1 Corinthians 6:19-20
19 Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, 20 for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body.

Pregnancy has changed many things for me, specifically in regards to what I put in my body. Of course, the usual suspects, alcohol and cigarettes, had to be immediately removed. But other things became very important as well. I find myself constantly researching the specifics of what to do to stay healthy during pregnancy. How much calcium do I need, how much iron?? Am I eating enough fruits and vegetables? Are the medicines that I take or the products that I am using safe for my new little baby?

How funny it is that this comes so easily when I have a little human inside of me. Isn’t this something I should have been doing for myself as well? Instead of measuring my health by numbers on the scale, shouldn’t I have been focused on what nutrients my body was taking in? And while I would never think of subjecting my baby to the harmful affects of cigarette smoke, why was I willing to subject my own body to this? It occurs to me that if we could only love our own bodies like we love those of our children we would certainly be better off.

It may help us to remember that our bodies are not our own. We were created in his image and it is our duty to care for and protect that which he has made. Easier said than done for sure, but it is certainly something I think is worth working on. It is my goal to try to consider my own health moving forward in the same way that I do when carrying my new little life. So stay healthy ladies!!!

 

Do You Have a Saintly Worldview?

In the sermon last Sunday, my husband talked about having a Christian worldview.  A study by Barna research revealed some disturbing results.  Only 9% of American adults answered the questions in a way that indicated they hold a biblical worldview– even sadder, only about 1 in 5 of the people who described themselves as “born again” hold such a outlook!

Well, you might be saying, what were those questions?  Maybe they were tricky, or too theological or difficult to understand.  I’m going to post them below.  They look pretty basic to me:

  1. Do absolute moral truths exist?
  2. Does the Bible define absolute truth?
  3. Did Jesus lead a sinless life?
  4. Is God an all powerful, all knowing creator of the universe and is He still active in the world today?
  5. Is salvation a gift that cannot be earned?
  6. Is Satan real?
  7. Do all Christians have a responsibility to share their faith with others?
  8. Is the Bible accurate in all of its’ teachings?

If you answered “no” to some of these questions, the culture may be influencing you more than your Bible.  If you said yes to all these questions, are you living as if you really believed them?  There can still be a gap between our intellectual assent and our actions.   As saints, we’re called to be Christ’s ambassadors, and an ambassador represents a different country than the one in which they live.

“Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.  Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is–his good, pleasing and perfect will.”  Romans 12:2

As sinners, we’ll often fall down.  Our transformation is incomplete. We say we believe one thing, then behave as if we don’t.  Every day we need to pray:

“I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief!” Mark 9:21

Ask God to give you a saintly worldview and the strength to live in its grace.

 

 

 

Bringing the Saints to Life — Play Review of ‘Jesus’

A few days ago my husband and I travelled to Lancaster, Pa., to see “Jesus” at the Sight and Sound Theatre.  This was a gift from our congregation for Pastor Appreciation Month.

See the source image

It’s hard to see how anyone could be disappointed in this performance.  It truly has everything one could wish for — singing, tears, comedy relief (in the form of banter between the ‘sons of thunder’ and their mother) and real animals (even a camel!).  The special effects are breathtaking– I was especially impressed by the storm on the Sea of Galilee.

For the most part the play is true to the biblical account of the ministry Jesus.  Some liberties are taken with the time line and dialogue, which is probably unavoidable when condensing years into a dramatic and cohesive two hour production.  The only really disturbing inaccuracy was the confounding of Mary Magdalene with the woman caught in adultery;  although many Christians persist in believing that Mary was a prostitute, there is no evidence to support this hypothesis.

This play will capture your attention and bring many biblical saints to life for you in a new way.  I recommend that every Christian visit Sight and Sound at least once if there are able.  More that just a play, it is an experience and would be especially interesting to children.

Here’s a quote from the director, Joshua Enck:

“What you are about to experience is not a history lesson the most famous person ever to walk the earth.  It is not ever necessarily a story of Jesus’ life.  It’s a story of Jesus’ love, which we believe, is life.”

At the end of the performance Sight and Sound employees are available for prayer and further conversation with anyone desiring to learn more about becoming a Christian.