The Wandering Desert Monk

The Wandering Desert Monk

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Respect the President!

What is the relationship between the church and the government? How should citizens of the kingdom of God (Philippians 3:20) relate to their citizenship in the country in which they lay their head? There have been various answers suggested over the history of the church. The two extremes in responses to these questions are complete involvement to no involvement. Whichever extreme one picks, there is one truth that lives large: God puts the government ruling over your nation there. Here is how St. Paul writes about this:

“Let everyone be subject to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God. Consequently, whoever rebels against the authority is rebelling against what God has instituted, and those who do so will bring judgment on themselves” (Romans 13:1-2).

Over the years I have met followers of Jesus who struggle respecting those God has put over them. I have met Democrat followers of Jesus who spoke with disdain of Republican presidents; I have met Republican followers of Jesus who spoke with scorn of Democratic presidents. Both of these groups will tell you they believe God is in charge and that God puts up kings and puts down kings (Daniel 2:21). It is time to act like we actually believe these words.

One final word, obey God’s command to pray for your leaders (I Timothy 2:1-2).

Ronald Friesen © 2015

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Give your enemy a cup of cold water!

If you call yourself a Christian, here is a list of characteristics that St. Paul thinks should mark every follower of Jesus in their interaction with those who do not share their worship of Jesus the Christ:

 “Bless your enemies; no cursing under your breath.
Laugh with your happy friends when they’re happy; share tears when they’re down.
Get along with each other; don’t be stuck-up.
Make friends with nobodies; don’t be the great somebody.
Don’t hit back; discover beauty in everyone.
If you’ve got it in you, get along with everybody.
Don’t insist on getting even; that’s not for you to do.
“I’ll do the judging,” says God. “I’ll take care of it.”
Our Scriptures tell us that if you see your enemy hungry, go buy that person lunch, or if he’s thirsty, get him a drink. Your generosity will surprise him with goodness.

Don’t let evil get the best of you; get the best of evil by doing good” (Romans 12:14-21 The Message)

How different would the world be if those who say they worship the Prince of Peace lived out these words?

Ronald Friesen © 2015

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Test of Character

If you call yourself a Christian, here is a list of characteristics that St. Paul thinks should mark ever follower of Jesus in their interaction with fellow Christians:

Love must be sincere.
Hate what is evil; cling to what is good.
Be devoted to one another in love.
Honor one another above yourselves.
Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord.
Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer. Share with the Lord’s people who are in need.
Practice hospitality” (Romans 12:9-13 New International Version)

Here is how Eugene Peterson renders the above text:

“Love from the center of who you are; don’t fake it.
Run for dear life from evil; hold on for dear life to good.
Be good friends who love deeply; practice playing second fiddle.
Don’t burn out; keep yourselves fueled and aflame.
Be alert servants of the Master, cheerfully expectant.
Don’t quit in hard times; pray all the harder.
Help needy Christians; be inventive in hospitality” (Romans 12:9-13 The Message)

In simple words, the lives of the followers of Jesus are marked by:

Servant- attitude

Here is a thought. Rate yourself in each of these attributes (1 -10 with 10 being being attaining). If you are courageous, invite someone who knows you well rate you as well. Then make a plan to increase each of these qualities in your life.

Ronald Friesen © 2015

Monday, July 20, 2015

Thought shaping

Who shapes your thinking? Where do you get the way you view the world from? Most Americans get their information from the media. They decide what car to buy, what ice cream to eat, where to vacation from the information they see in advertisements. They get their politics, their worldviews, their spirituality from their favorite talking head, their friends and from their latest guru. The world around us works hard to get us to buy their goods.

St. Paul addressed this reality in these words:

“Don’t let the world around you squeeze you into its own mould, but let God re-mould your minds from within, so that you may prove in practice that the plan of God for you is good, meets all his demands and moves towards the goal of true maturity” (Romans 12:1-2 J.B. Phillips translation).

Many years ago a friend told me about his son’s graduation ceremony from a very liberal, free-thinking university. The ceremony was held in the wood. My friend shared that each of the graduates told about how the university had helped them become free thinkers. He said, “I looked at the group of graduates. I was struck by how they all were dressed the same with identical jewelry and haircuts. There was no originality in the group.” These young people had allowed their world to squeeze them into its world.

What is shaping your thinking?

Ronald Friesen © 2015