Patience: a Form of Suffering

The main reason I am writing this blog is because I want you to read something that I read today that really hit my heart.

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When you read the list of the nine fruits of the Spirit in Galatians 5:22-23, some translations use the word “longsuffering” rather than “patience” (e.g. The New King James Version). If you have ever thought about patience, prayed for patience, or actually tried to be patient, then you understand why the words are sometimes used interchangably.

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The main reason I am writing this blog is because I want you to read something that I read today that really hit my heart. In my PhD work, I sometimes like to return to more basic, introductory texts about ethics and Christian ethics to be reminded what it is really all about. Introductory texts often do a great job communicating why the subject is important. In addition, these texts usually do a good job relating the subject to questions that we are all asking. The book I am currently reading is Happiness and the Christian Moral Life by Paul Wadell. In my reading today, he discusses the virtue (what he refers to as a “skill”; I might add that I am not particularly fond of framing the fruits of the spirit, or virtues as a skill, though they no doubt make us more skilled at living the life to which we are called) of patience. What he had to say was simply striking. The text is below.

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May we long for Christ. May we cry out for holiness from the bottom of our hearts. May we settle for nothing less. May we realize that these are not mere virtues that will make us better humans. They are, above all else, the means by which we can glorify God as well as embody Christ in a broken world (an incarnate eucharist) and thereby offer people living bread.

The Veritas Forum: An Amazing Source for Thinking Christians and Non-Christians Alike

We all need help, and the help we need takes different forms throughout the various seasons of our life.

avatars-000304975045-5n2u7d-originalI am currently writing a course for Enlightium Academy titled, “The Works of C.S. Lewis.” I am having a ton of fun writing this course though at times it has been a bit challenging. In the unit requiring students to read the majority of Lewis’ book, The Problem of Pain, they are required to watch a video where Oxford Mathematician John Lennox, my absolutely favorite Christian apologist, delivers both a sophisticated and compassionate response to the question, “Where is God amidst suffering and evil?” You can find the video by clicking here.

I watched this video in its entirety this morning and built the assignment. After doing so, I felt inspired to do something new with my website. If you now look at the homepage in the upper right, you will see “Links.” I want to help other Christians find the amazing online sources that are available to us all. We all need help, and the help we need takes different forms throughout the various seasons of our life. The video I mentioned earlier was originally posted on The Veritas Forum, a website dedicated to Christians and non-Christians alike who are asking difficult questions in relation to the Christian faith and what is revealed in the Bible. You can find the following description on the Veritas website:

How can we mend a broken world? How should we seek justice? What is the good life?

The Veritas Forum helps students and faculty ask life’s hardest questions. Many of the world’s leading universities were founded to answer the big “why” questions. Our mission is to help them confront these questions anew. The first Veritas Forum was planned by students, faculty and chaplains at Harvard University in 1992. Since then, over 200 universities in North America and Europe have hosted over 2,000 Forums.

The Veritas Forum is committed to courageous conversations. We place the historic Christian faith in dialogue with other beliefs and invite participants from all backgrounds to pursue Truth together.

The material on this website is stunning. Some of the top intellectuals in the world are asked to address certain topics related to Christianity in a way that is understandable for us all. Keep an eye out in the weeks and months to come as I continue to add to the list of links that I believe can help you and I fulfill the two greatest commandments (Matthew 22:36-40).

 

If you have any recommendations, send me a message.

Teacher’s Appreciation Speech

This last Tuesday, May 8th, I had the privilege of giving a 10-15 minute talk (via Zoom) to celebrate teachers and what we do.

Teacher-Appreciation-Main-300x200If you have read some of my blogs over the past year, you know that I currently work for Enlightium Academy. Considering the fact that I am a full-time PhD candidate, this online job has been a HUGE blessing for my family. I am so thankful.

This last Tuesday, May 8th, I had the privilege of giving a 10-15 minute talk (via Zoom) to celebrate teachers and what we do. Building the talk was somewhat challenging because I did not want it to be boring or cliche. I mean, what can be said that hasn’t been said to teachers one hundred times? Anyway, I did my best and enjoyed the opportunity and privilege. I have included the manuscript in case you are utterly bored in life and want something to read. Also, I hope the words stir and inspire your heart if you teach in any capacity.

Click on this link to read: EA TALK

An Article of Mine Recently Posted on Enlightium Academy’s Website

If interested, a recent article that I wrote has been posted on Enlightium Academy’s website and is now available for reading. I have worked for this private, online school for two years. It has been a wonderful experience.

The company gave me the opportunity to blog about my book, “Breaking Ground.” The title of the article is, “The Value of a Strong Biblical Foundation.”

Martin Luther and the Motive With Which Christians Should Work

Essentially, Luther is encouraging Christians to work with trust.

sujan1-e1436882444965.jpgIt is no secret that for most people, including Christians, work comprises a significant portion of our life. Over the past few years, it is safe to say that I spend more time working every day than I do sleeping, or eating, or anything else that I can think of. The good news is that work is not antithetical to loving and serving God. Matter of fact, Protestants for centuries have viewed work as a very important part of lifestyle worship. Let’s face it: Anyone can attend a church service, drink coffee, listen to a message, and sing a few songs. But how many of us really worship in our work? How many of us even know how to do this or what it would look like?

In response to these questions, I came across some really helpful material written centuries ago by Martin Luther. In the passage below, Luther addresses the Christian who works and the motive with which he/she should work. Granted, this is only one select passage in Luther’s writings (I may post more over the next few days). Yet, it is powerful and quite convicting if you as a Christian are working with the temporal mindset that it is up to you and you alone to provide for yourself (and your family). Luther writes:

We are not to understand from this that God forbids us to work. Man must and ought to work, ascribing his sustenance and the fulness of his house, however, not to his own labor but solely to the goodness and blessing of God. For where men ascribe these things to their own labor, there covetousness and anxiety quickly arise … He does not say, “The Lord builds the house, so no one need labor at it.” He does say, “Unless the Lord builds the house, those who build it labor in vain” (Psalms 127:1a). This is as if he were to say: Man must work, but that work is in vain if it stands alone and thinks it can sustain itself. Work cannot do this; God must do it. Therefore work in such a manner that your labor is not in vain. Your labor is in vain when you worry, and rely on your own efforts to sustain yourself. God will that man should work, and without work He will give him nothing. Conversely, God will not give him anything because of his labor, but solely out of His own goodness and blessing.

Luther affirms that work is good, but work done without an eye toward God’s hand of provision in and through our work is not. As with any particular behavior or set of behaviors in Christianity, motive counts. You can get all of your ducks in a row externally but completely miss the mark. This phrase “miss the mark” is what the word “sin” means in the original Greek.

3665656db9252ed649dcc6530b698e9eWe work because, as children of God and partners with Christ, it is one of the wonderful ways that God has given us to cultivate the earth (both literally and metaphorically), share God’s love with those we help in and through our occupation, and honor God. Essentially, Luther is encouraging Christians to work with trust. As you work hard, do so in such a manner that you see God’s providing hand through the work.

Daddy God is provider. Your work not only keeps you busy, but is the way through which God often provides as well as the means through which He will touch people’s lives. Work with all of your heart while remembering that he clothes the grass of the field and feeds the sparrows.

*Above excerpt taken from Luther’s “Exposition of Psalms 127” in Luther’s Works, Volume 45, edited by Walther I. Brandt, 1962.

 

God, Our Local Church, and My Weakness

If you really want to know how skipping my time with the Lord affects me, just ask my wife. 

Two Mondays ago, I had a horrible day. I was overwhelmed with the responsibilities on my plate between full-time PhD work and working the max amount of hours that my UK visa will allow. Some weeks, the demands take a toll and I feel it more than others. We currently attend a new Vineyard church plant in Edinburgh and our group (there are two) meets in a home on Monday nights (we don’t yet have a building). It has truly been a blessing. How the Lord led us to this church is a story in itself (that for another time).

On this particular Monday, I was so stressed that I simply felt angry. Men and women most often process stress in different ways. Women tend to get depressed and men tend to get angry. This is not true across the board, but I do find that there is some merit to the notion. By the time the afternoon rolled around, I did not want to go to church. I didn’t even care about the fact that I didn’t want to go. This just wasn’t the day for it. Surely the Lord understands. Another important factor is that Tuesdays are our family grocery day. Here in Edinburgh, if you spend a certain amount online, the groceries can be delivered to your doorstep for no additional fee. Amazing, right?!

Since it was Monday and we buy so many fresh fruits and vegetables, our fridge was not exactly overflowing with food. Our meal plan for the week actually included the Monday night meal at the church, so by this time in the week, we did not have much to make a meal with. So, in a very human moment, I decided that my family and I would go to church simply because I didn’t want to go to the store and buy more groceries.

Then God proved faithful. It feels almost impossible at times to distinguish between human weakness and demonic attack. Where is the line? I definitely am no expert. However, hindsight is 20/20. The Lord met me in such a wonderful way that night that I could not help but think after everything was said and done that maybe it was the enemy trying to keep me away. First of all,  a young man shared a word that God had laid on his heart regarding a man in the room. It was for me. Wow, was it for me. Secondly, our pastor showed the video, Bill Hybels – Coffee with God, and it absolutely cut through to my heart. I really hope you will take ten minutes to watch the video. The video was all about having a predetermined time and place with the Lord. 26331-ThinkstockPhotos-122563300.1200w.tnDue to the load I had been feeling as of late, it had become all too easy to skip my time with the Lord for one, two, even three days at a time. If you really want to know how skipping my time with the Lord affects me, just ask my wife.

I went to church that night because of the meal that was provided. That is it. I didn’t expect anything from God. The church was in position to meet a basic need for my family that evening. So, we went. However, Daddy God is merciful, “for he knows how we are formed, he remembers that we are dust” (Psalms 103:14). The older I get, the more convinced I am that people who care nothing for the church are going to miss out on so much of what God has for them (both to receive and give). I am to the point now that if a person doesn’t care much about the church, I view it as strong evidence in most cases that something is seriously flawed in that individual’s self-proclaimed relationship with Christ. 

We need each other. We need others to help us touch God when we feel all-too-human. And then we need to return the favor…on a daily, weekly, monthly basis.