OFFENCE . . . To whom is it given?

And he said: “I tell you the truth, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Therefore, whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. “And whoever welcomes a little child like this in my name welcomes me. But if anyone causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him to have a large millstone hung around his neck and to be drowned in the depths of the sea. “Woe to the world because of the things that cause people to sin! Such things must come, but woe to the man through whom they come!” (Reference: Matthew 18:3-7)

 

Some interesting connections being made by the historic Anabaptist (Menno Simons) being quoted today. Simons has appropriated these verse on behalf of “ . . . the poor, reckless people. . .” who are being encouraged and strengthened “in their idolatry and unbelief” by “all founders of sects and their erring spirits, who cloak their refusal to bear the cross and their ease and hypocrisy under the semblance of the Word of God . . “ It may seem, beloved, that I am piecing together quotes to make it sound like I want to, but I tell you truthfully, this is an accurate reconstruction of what Simons said! He also said of the founders of sects and their erring spirits, “They grieve the pious unto death, weaken and cause to stumble the poor wavering souls . . “ But no where, beloved, does Simons mention that this protection should be afforded children!

 

I had made a comment yesterday that Anabaptists/Mennonites of many eras appropriate and use texts for many purposes. But we try (at least my colleagues and contemporaries) to stay faithful to the intent of the verses. What Simons has passed over is that Jesus is talking about the young and innocent who believe in Jesus and God. Young innocent faith is not necessarily wavering faith nor reckless in nature. And most certainly not idolatrous!

 

Beloved, let us set aside Simons usage of these verses – indeed you might ask why I quote him at all! While Simons might have missed the mark on who these verses exhort us to protect and shield, his vehemence for protection and care is quite appropriate. I agree completely with his final question, “Tell us, dear friends, how can men [and women] include in Christian liberty that which is committed so evidently against so many passages in the Scriptures, against brotherly [and sisterly love] and universal love, and contrary to the example of so many saints?”

 

May you beloved not cause one innocent to sin! And may you as a child of God be protected from others. Selah!

Advertisements

OFFENCE . . . To whom is it given?

And he said: “I tell you the truth, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Therefore, whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. “And whoever welcomes a little child like this in my name welcomes me. But if anyone causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him to have a large millstone hung around his neck and to be drowned in the depths of the sea. “Woe to the world because of the things that cause people to sin! Such things must come, but woe to the man through whom they come!” (Reference: Matthew 18:3-7)

 

Some interesting connections being made by the historic Anabaptist (Menno Simons) being quoted today. Simons has appropriated these verse on behalf of “ . . . the poor, reckless people. . .” who are being encouraged and strengthened “in their idolatry and unbelief” by “all founders of sects and their erring spirits, who cloak their refusal to bear the cross and their ease and hypocrisy under the semblance of the Word of God . . “ It may seem, beloved, that I am piecing together quotes to make it sound like I want to, but I tell you truthfully, this is an accurate reconstruction of what Simons said! He also said of the founders of sects and their erring spirits, “They grieve the pious unto death, weaken and cause to stumble the poor wavering souls . . “ But no where, beloved, does Simons mention that this protection should be afforded children!

 

I had made a comment yesterday that Anabaptists/Mennonites of many eras appropriate and use texts for many purposes. But we try (at least my colleagues and contemporaries) to stay faithful to the intent of the verses. What Simons has passed over is that Jesus is talking about the young and innocent who believe in Jesus and God. Young innocent faith is not necessarily wavering faith nor reckless in nature. And most certainly not idolatrous!

 

Beloved, let us set aside Simons usage of these verses – indeed you might ask why I quote him at all! While Simons might have missed the mark on who these verses exhort us to protect and shield, his vehemence for protection and care is quite appropriate. I agree completely with his final question, “Tell us, dear friends, how can men [and women] include in Christian liberty that which is committed so evidently against so many passages in the Scriptures, against brotherly [and sisterly love] and universal love, and contrary to the example of so many saints?”

 

May you beloved not cause one innocent to sin! And may you as a child of God be protected from others. Selah!

OFFENCE . . . To whom is it given?

And he said: “I tell you the truth, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Therefore, whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. “And whoever welcomes a little child like this in my name welcomes me. But if anyone causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him to have a large millstone hung around his neck and to be drowned in the depths of the sea. “Woe to the world because of the things that cause people to sin! Such things must come, but woe to the man through whom they come!” (Reference: Matthew 18:3-7)

 

Some interesting connections being made by the historic Anabaptist (Menno Simons) being quoted today. Simons has appropriated these verse on behalf of “ . . . the poor, reckless people. . .” who are being encouraged and strengthened “in their idolatry and unbelief” by “all founders of sects and their erring spirits, who cloak their refusal to bear the cross and their ease and hypocrisy under the semblance of the Word of God . . “ It may seem, beloved, that I am piecing together quotes to make it sound like I want to, but I tell you truthfully, this is an accurate reconstruction of what Simons said! He also said of the founders of sects and their erring spirits, “They grieve the pious unto death, weaken and cause to stumble the poor wavering souls . . “ But no where, beloved, does Simons mention that this protection should be afforded children!

 

I had made a comment yesterday that Anabaptists/Mennonites of many eras appropriate and use texts for many purposes. But we try (at least my colleagues and contemporaries) to stay faithful to the intent of the verses. What Simons has passed over is that Jesus is talking about the young and innocent who believe in Jesus and God. Young innocent faith is not necessarily wavering faith nor reckless in nature. And most certainly not idolatrous!

 

Beloved, let us set aside Simons usage of these verses – indeed you might ask why I quote him at all! While Simons might have missed the mark on who these verses exhort us to protect and shield, his vehemence for protection and care is quite appropriate. I agree completely with his final question, “Tell us, dear friends, how can men [and women] include in Christian liberty that which is committed so evidently against so many passages in the Scriptures, against brotherly [and sisterly love] and universal love, and contrary to the example of so many saints?”

 

May you beloved not cause one innocent to sin! And may you as a child of God be protected from others. Selah!

SIN . . . Right and wrong paths

Anyone who runs ahead and does not continue in the teaching of Christ does not have God; whoever continues in the teaching has both the Father and the Son.” (Reference: 2 John 1:9 )

I am not going to write about or quote what the historic Anabaptist quoted this day wrote. It is a letter from a mother to her son, her young son. It exhorts him in his faith and asks him how he feels/thinks about his faith. The editors suggest that he was young enough that he was just learning to write. I can image him laboring over a letter to his mother, expressing what sort of faith I do not know. But what child of the age that h e/she is learning to write is concerned about anything other than the fact that his mother is not with him, and that perhaps his father has already been put to death. No beloved, I could not and would not use it. It comes to close to the current modern situation of Christian children or at least children of Christian parents who have been put to death in the most horrific way. And disrespected after death. No beloved, I will not use that letter.

I firmly believe that until a child is of the age of accountability that being naughty is not sin but just misbehaving. Jesus said let the children come to him. And they came. And I believe that children who suffer unto death in this world are most warmly welcomed and comforted when they arrive in heaven.

Have you ever seen a child “run ahead”? My middle child/oldest son would run ahead, or try to run ahead, just about everywhere we went. It was a challenge to make sure he was save and that he was running ahead to the right place. That is how I think this verse best applies; making sure our children are save and introducing them to Jesus so they can run to meet him in their own time. Teach a child in his/her youth and they will not stray from it when they are older. But let us not burden a child with sin; neither with the harsh realities of this world. Time enough when they are older.

And may you, beloved, be children of God, running ahead of all other things to meet Jesus. Selah!

NO MURMURING OR ARGUING . . . Silence before the Holy Child

“Do all things without murmuring and arguing, so that you may be blameless and innocent, children of God without blemish in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation.” (Philippians 2:14-15b from Philippians 2:12-18 )

More often in the past few days I have looked back to see what I wrote five years ago. I have done this somewhat with an eye to make sure I did not go “off course” in my interpretation and exegesis. Fortunately I did not. But when I re-read what I wrote for Christmas day five years ago [ “Christmas in the midst of fallen generations” ] I had to wonder how I was going to improve on that.

But what caught my eye this year was something different than five years ago; the writer of Philippians tells us to be “ blameless and innocent, children of God without blemish.” Well, that reminds me of baby Jesus. And all other babies I have seen – not just my own! Who cannot wonder and marvel at a baby. All the possibilities in the world rest in a baby. And none as much as baby Jesus.

With all that goes into the Christmas season, I have to remind myself to still myself and imagine baby Jesus at peace and sleeping. It reminds me that God that did not want to be at a distance from creation and humanity, but wanted to be a part of it and in the midst of it. What better way to do that then to merge with humanity and walk that earth that the Divine created.

May you gentle reader take time from your busy schedule to breathe in the wonder of the Christ child, silencing all the noise and distraction so that you might focus on the purity and innocence of the season. Selah! And shalom for your day!

Deja Vu Deja Vu-ed . . . or . . . . Thanksgiving Leftovers

“How great is the love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are! The reason the world does not know us is that it did not know him.” (1 John 3: 1)

Five years ago when “A Simple Desire” first commented on the scriptures found in the Confession, a scripture passage for November 23rd was not supplied, and so we commentators/bloggers commented again on the 1 John 3:1. Five years hence, we have the same dilemma. What to say that has not been said before, or before that. I wish I had some original thoughts. Or a new perspective on this passage, or on the theme of salvation.

But all the comes to mind is the same thing, like another Thanksgiving table groaning under the same feast for the eye and the taste buds. But then, would we want something original or unusual for Thanksgiving? Or do we crave the same tastes and smells of years gone by? Who would not give precious resources for the chance to sit at their mother’s table and eat her cooking? Who would not travel most any distance to be reunited with relatives long gone and sometimes forgotten? Who would not weep at the chance to have another hug from a favorite relative? We yearn and sigh for the familiar sights and sounds. We wax poetic about family, forgetting how they can drive us crazy with habits and attitudes that grate on the nerves.

But consider this gentle reader; what if we could have a family that is all of the warmth and glow of the good times without the strain and aggravation of the not so good. That, gentle reader, is what it means to belong to the family of God. To be close to one another that there is never any separation or loss of time together – that every day is like Thanksgiving. That is what being called children of God means, that we are in such close community with one another that there is never ever any feeling of being apart. One would pity any person who does not have such a close and loving family; that in fact they have no idea what it is like to belong to such a family. No wonder they do not recognize it when they see it.

Well, I see I have found something to say after all. But I have said enough, and you have spent enough time in front of this screen. Go, be with your family because today is a grace day for most, if you did not have to work. Or you did have to work on this post-Thanksgiving day and now you should enjoy the leisure hours. Or, you are just at the beginning of your day, and it stretches out before you. Go, and remember gentle reader, you are not in this world alone. Shalom!

The Holy Spirit – Undertaking for the human spirit

“For all who are being led by the Spirit of God, these are children of God. For you have not received a spirit of slavery leading to fear again, but you have received a spirit of adoption as children by which we cry out, “Abba! Father!” The Spirit Himself testifies with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, heirs also, heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, if indeed we suffer with Him so that we may also be glorified with Him.” (Romans 8:14-17)

I am sitting here trying to decide what to say – or more precisely, what to reveal. Just like most other people I have fears and concerns. But due to a medical diagnosis my fears and concerns can sometimes get the better of me. They often do. That is kind of hard to admit.

I would like to believe that I have my life under control. Sometimes I do . . . . and sometimes I don’t. The interesting thing is, I have been trying to have control for so long that it may look like I do . . . when I don’t. That’s kind of hard to admit too.

Over the years I have learned what the signs are that I am coming to a rough point; not that life has become rougher, but my feelings are starting to get out of control – panicky. So I go through the mental exercises and reassurances that help me cope and keep me moving. And I pray a lot. An awful lot. Moment by moment until a few moments go by and I know that the next five minutes will be alright. It is sometimes like that. And that is very hard to admit.

You would think that having Christian faith would inoculate you from such things. But that’s not the case. While one’s Christian walk may be strong and sure, the body and/or the brain that is walking it may be plagued with all sorts of things. God NEVER promised us perfection on earth. What the Divine promised is that we would NEVER be alone. And I can testify to you gentle reader, even at the deepest depth of my despair, I have never been alone. [Okay, my mom is going be officially freaked out by now. It’s okay mom, really, I am alright. Between the Holy Spirit undertaking for me, and my education/experience, I manage it.]

I can sit here and type/tell you about this because God’s strength carries me through. I wish I could say that God has given me the strength, but then you would wonder why I would still have problems. It is the metaphor of footsteps in the sand; one set of footsteps does not mean one was alone, but that was the time when God carried us. If you would look at the footsteps in my past you would see stretches of time when it was just God’s footsteps.

Paul called himself “the chief of sinners” and so claimed that God’s grace was vitally important to him. Well, I have already talked about my perspective on how I see sin in my life, so there is no need go over that. But I would say that I am one of the leading contenders for being chief of the anxious and panicky (you know, its getting a little easier to talk about this). And so if Paul counts on God’s grace, forgiveness and mercy, then I can depend on God’s strength and fortitude. I just would not make it on my own, and would not want to try. So to hear that I need not fear (again) but can be assured as a child of God, is very important to me – vital! I know that when the “demons” of fear and anxiety swarm around me, I can call on “Abba Father” to come to me, reassure me, and wrap Divine arms around me.

May you gentle reader receive from our God those things that nurture your soul and spirit, and help you in your Christian journey. Selah!