Believe, Belong, Become: Choice and Growth as a Christian
Presentation made for Wesley UMC Confirmation Class. May 3, 2015. Macomb IL
Some reflections. Wow, it’s been quite a wild ride already. Written 3/17/20.
Marilyn, I, Rachel, and Diane went to Washington, DC for spring break (March 7-12, 2020). The coronavirus (COVID-19) was already a big concern before we left home. Luke decided not go. Good decision.
We had a great 5 days, going to the (new) African American Museum of History and Culture, the (new) Museum of the Bible, a great Segway ride, Mount Vernon, and the Chart House restaurant.
We were scheduled to leave Thursday (March 12), so that I could attend a 2-day math conference in Chicago (which ended up being cancelled).
Wednesday (March 11) night, after we walked home from the Chart House, the Internet lit up. Things came crashing down and the snowball really started to roll. They cancelled the NCAA ‘Big Dance’ basketball tournament, the NBA, and on and on (I could list 50 more examples, but I won’t). Thursday morning, as we were getting ready to get on the plane for home, all the newspaper headlines were ’emergency,’ ‘panic button,’ ‘ring the bell,’ etc. As we sat in the airport, all my spring math conferences (for example) and everything was being cancelled. By the weekend they closed the Smithsonian museums (some 20 or so). So, we can say we were some of the last few hundred to go through the new African American Museum of History and Culture! For me, that Wednesday evening, 6 days ago, will stick in my memory.
We are so glad we had plane tickets to come home Thursday, rather than staying a whole week. The plane was only 2/3 full.
WIU will have no classes for an extra week after spring break and then we are to deliver our courses in an ‘alternative format.’ We/I have started the planning for that. I will not be turning Math 100 into an online course (for many reasons). The instruction will still be at the normal meeting time, MWF 11-11:50 am. We will use Google Hangouts Meet.
The Macomb HS students were on the Denmark trip. It was decided to have them come home early. It turned out, just in the nick of time. President Trump has now restricted planes coming in from Europe. (Again, more could be said. This is a news report. This is a reflection.)
We did have one Sunday of church worship (3/15). It was very settling for me. Pastor Scott Grulke had on the schedule (which was set months ago) the sermon topic of healing. He gave an excellent message on healing. I got to do the children’s sermon and also be the second adult in the youth SS class. I enjoyed it. Kathy Grulke is a wonderful teacher with a great personality and approach. OK, next Sunday, and for the foreseeable future we will not have the congregation in church but putting the services online.
Today I took a run. I’m glad I can still do that. I’m scheduled to run a half marathon at the Drake Relays. OK, that might not happen. I’m following Jeff Galloway’s half marathon prep plan. I’m thankful it’s going pretty well.
On my runs I’ve been listening to The Gospel In Life podcast sermons by Tim Keller. They are great. He is doing a lengthy series on sin. Wow, you’d think it would be a downer, but Pastor Keller is wonderful at teaching for understanding and showing that being rooted in God and trusting in Jesus is the good news. It is amazing to me how each sermon in the series is different and how he seems to take it to a higher (deeper) level as the series progresses. It is a good series for me. We need to continually humble ourselves and be rooted in God and trust in Jesus.
Walking back from my run I had two fairly long, driveway discussions with neighborhood men/friends. One (retired) neighbor was cleaning out his garage. We had a nice chat. He was actually getting rid of a couple old ball bats (no one in his family wants them). He gave them to me. Classics, Stan the Man (yes, with black, electrical tape, Mick Steiner) and Al Kaline Louisville Slugger wood bats. MLB greats from my childhood. So something positive came out of the Coronavirus pandemic.
Today’s newspaper had two sections (see pics). There is no Sport Section, but it is a section inside a section (starting on page B3). There is no Scoreboard page! There are no scores to report! It is just a bunch of reflections, for example, Bradley’s very good BB team, who had their dancing shoes taken off when the Big Dance was cancelled.
I’m thankful I have Marilyn. (Marilyn, BTW, got up at 5 am this morning to work at the Illinois Primary Election, so I’m reading the newspaper alone today).
OK, I need to wrap this up. I need to write emails to my students and get ready for the Communications Team meeting at Wesley Church (it will be done remotely) tomorrow.
I’ll end with some concluding reflections.
(I’ll close with the disclaimer I’ve mentioned already. This is a reflection and not a factual news report. The examples a mathematician gives are frequently abstract, with no claim that they are the best, or only, examples.)
May you experience Grace in Pilgrimage.
Jim Olsen, March 17, 2020
Father Almighty, Creator of heaven and earth:
Set up your kingdom in our midst.
Lord Jesus Christ, Son of the Living God:
Have mercy on us sinners.
Holy Spirit, Breath of the Living God:
Renew us and all the world.
– N.T. Wright
Closely related to my 5 breath prayer and the Trinity +1 (Lord).
N.T. Wright (1948- ) is an English New Testament scholar, Pauline theologian, and Anglican bishop.
There are two (different) Greek root words here.
The one in the Bible (at least 115 times) is (so, this is the meaning of church in the Bible)
Ecclesia – The Greek word “ecclesia” is correctly defined as: “The called-out (ones)” [ECC = out; KALEO = call]. Thus, you can see how this word was used to indicate a civil body of select (called, elected) people.
Quoting from the Oxford Universal English Dictionary on the word “ecclesia”:
Ecclesia [mediaeval Latin, and Greek – from : SUMMONED] -A regularly convoked assembly, especially the general assembly of Athenians. Later, the regular word for church. assembly
When the greeks (romans?) wanted to make an announcement, they would call people out of their homes to the street. ecclesea.
The English word ‘church’ is a different Greek word.
“Church” comes from the Old English and German word pronounced “kirche.” In Scotland, it was “kirk.”
In the earlier Greek It was pronounced “ku-ri-a-kos” or “ku-ri-a-kon.” As you can see, this word doesn’t even resemble the Greek word “ecclesia” whose place it has usurped. The meaning of “Ku-ri-a-kos” is understood by its root: “Ku- ri-os,” which means “lord.” Thus, “kuriakos” (i.e., “church”) means “pertaining to the lord.” It refers to something that pertains to, or belongs to, a lord. The Greek “kuriakos” eventually came to be used in Old English form as “cirice” (Kee-ree-ke), then “churche” (kerke), and eventually “church” in its traditional pronunciation. A church, then, is correctly something that “pertains to, or belongs to, a lord.” Lord’s house.
An interesting quote from the 1915 “Gospel Advocate” (Pg 589) says:
“The word ‘Church’ is really not a translation of any word that was used by either Christ or His Apostles, but is the Anglican form of a different word which Roman Catholicism substituted in place of the word used by Christ and His Apostles… It is in our english scriptures by order of King James, who instructed his translators of 1611 not to translate the word “Ecclesia” by either ‘Congregation’ or ‘Assembly’ but to use the word ‘Church’ instead of a translation.”
http://www.aggressivechristianity.net/articles/ecclesia.htm (has a negative tone)
— Jim Olsen (@DrOlsen314) December 16, 2019
Casting Crowns – Make Room (Official Music Video) ft. Matt Maher
But what nature does not love and cannot perform, grace will accomplish, and make to thee a life of joy and glory.
near The end of chapter 16 in Andrew Murray’s abide in Christ 16th day for staking all for him
Believe, Belong, Become: Choice and Growth as a Christian
Presentation made for Wesley UMC Confirmation Class. May 3, 2015. Macomb IL
For John Calvin, prayer cannot be accomplished without discipline. He writes, “Unless we fix certain hours in the day for prayer, it easily slips from our memory.” He goes on to prescribe several rules to guide believers in offering effectual, fervent prayer.
1. The first rule is a heartfelt sense of reverence.
In prayer, we must be “disposed in mind and heart as befits those who enter conversation with God.” Our prayers should arise from “the bottom of our heart.” Calvin calls for a disciplined mind and heart, asserting that “the only persons who duly and properly gird themselves to pray are those who are so moved by God’s majesty that, freed from earthly cares and affections, they come to it.”
2. The second rule is a heartfelt sense of need and repentance.
We must “pray from a sincere sense of want and with penitence,” maintaining “the disposition of a beggar.” Calvin does not mean that believers should pray for every whim that arises in their hearts, but that they must pray penitently in accord with God’s will, keeping His glory in focus, yearning for every request “with sincere affection of heart, and at the same time desiring to obtain it from him.”
3. The third rule is a heartfelt sense of humility and trust in God.
True prayer requires that “we yield all confidence in ourselves and humbly plead for pardon,” trusting in God’s mercy alone for blessings both spiritual and temporal, always remembering that the smallest drop of faith is more powerful than unbelief. Any other approach to God will only promote pride, which will be lethal: “If we claim for ourselves anything, even the least bit,” we will be in grave danger of destroying ourselves in God’s presence.
4. The final rule is to have a heartfelt sense of confident hope.
The confidence that our prayers will be answered does not arise from ourselves, but through the Holy Spirit working in us. In believers’ lives, faith and hope conquer fear so that we are able to “ask in faith, nothing wavering” (James 1:6, KJV). This means that true prayer is confident of success, owing to Christ and the covenant, “for the blood of our Lord Jesus Christ seals the pact which God has concluded with us.” Believers thus approach God boldly and cheerfully because such “confidence is necessary in true invocation… which becomes the key that opens to us the gate of the kingdom of heaven.”
These rules may seem overwhelming—even unattainable—in the face of a holy, omniscient God. Calvin acknowledges that our prayers are fraught with weakness and failure. “No one has ever carried this out with the uprightness that was due,” he writes. But God tolerates “even our stammering and pardons our ignorance,” allowing us to gain familiarity with Him in prayer, though it be in “a babbling manner.” In short, we will never feel like worthy petitioners. Our checkered prayer life is often attacked by doubts, but such struggles show us our ongoing need for prayer itself as a “lifting up of the spirit” and continually drive us to Jesus Christ, who alone will “change the throne of dreadful glory into the throne of grace.” Calvin concludes that “Christ is the only way, and the one access, by which it is granted us to come to God.”
An excerpt from Joel Beeke’s contribution in John Calvin: A Heart for Devotion, Doctrine, and Doxology.
It is no accident that this is reflected strongly in the Lord’s Prayer.
5 great ideas from Tim Price. The first one I hope I can use: Replace the word “but” with now.
E.g., “You made a good effort on this, now let’s see if we can add fractions with the common denominator.”
This emphasizes the growth mindset (as apposed to the fixed mindset)
“Now” is a simple word. But it can have so much power in our lives. Here are five ways to allow this word to help you live stronger:
When you are helping a child grow in skill and experience, replace the word “but” with now. Here’s an example:
Coach / Parent to a child: “You did a great job, but…[you didn’t do this or you need to do this or fill in the blank”
At the moment you insert “but” the child has forgotten everything you have said that was positive. Try replacing “but” with “now.”
Coach / Parent to a child: “You did a great job, now…[try this, add this, let’s see if you can, fill in the blank]”
You have just invited the child to accept the praise as you are adding in the helpful critique. You’re helping to raise the child to a new level, a new bar. You are critiquing and challenging at the same time.
This process works with adults as well.
“You are doing great work on this project, now I want to take a minute to show you the next step.”
It’s a wonderful word to bring about a positive change in people.
“Now” is very important in relationships. When you are in the present, the here and now, you are fully engaged. As the old saying goes, “the past is history, tomorrow’s a mystery, but today is a gift, that’s why it’s called the present.” A little trite, but so true. One of the best gifts you can give in your relationships in “now.” It will transform the way you interact with your team, your family, your coworkers, your spouse and in every aspect of life. Trust is the foundation of a great relationship and when those closest to you can trust you to act now, then you will keep building on it.
Do you have a desire for something? Is there something you’ve always wanted to do? “Now” can help you transform your dream and vision into a reality. Do something – today – that will move you closer to your dream. Take a step right now – this very moment. Make a decision. Read something about where your dream might take you. Call and set up lessons or tutoring. Take a risk. Exercise. Eat better right now. No matter how big your dream is, you can take one small step right now. Acting on it now is powerful.
Personal growth and discipline doesn’t always come natural for us. We typically have to be pretty determined to exercise, read, develop our gifts and stick with it. Procrastination creeps up on us so slowly, at times we don’t realize it. Want to grow in discipline – now is the time. Thinking about sending a note, calling a person, cleaning your desk? Do it now. If you have time to think about it, you probably have time to start it.
The key to living a content life can be found in Philippians 4:12. Paul writes that he has learned to be content in plenty and in want, rich or poor, hungry or well fed. The summary: Paul is totally fine with the here and now no matter what it brings. We must be grateful for what we have now and this brings us true contentment. This isn’t always easy, which is why he writes verse 13 – but I can do this through Christ who gives me strength.
Now is a a very powerful little word. Utilize it.
1. POSITION YOURSELF TO HEAR FROM GOD.
2. POUR OVER THE PASSAGE AND PARAPHRASE THE MAJOR POINTS.
3. PULL OUT THE SPIRITUAL PRINCIPLE(S).
4. POSE THE QUESTION (Pray – dialog)
5. PLAN OBEDIENCE AND PIN DOWN A DATE TO OBEY.
1 Timothy 1:5 Now the goal of our instruction is love that comes from a pure heart, a good conscience, and a sincere faith.
1 Timothy 1:18-19 18 Timothy, my son, I am giving you this instruction in keeping with the prophecies previously made about you, so that by them you may strongly engage in battle, 19 having faith and a good conscience.
1 Timothy 3:8-9 Deacons, likewise, should be worthy of respect, not hypocritical, not drinking a lot of wine, not greedy for money, 9 holding the mystery of the faith with a clear conscience.
Within a week of each other, in February 2015, the movie 50 Shades of Grey came out in theaters and 21 Christians we’re headed by terrorists.
It’s official*: All’s fair in love and war. And people are choosing to do whatever they wish, including inhumanity acts.
(*We knew this already, but now we are really sure.)
People are exercising their God-given choice to have free will.
Larry Moore in SS said Christians need to do a better job of bringing people into the faith.
Carolyn Grove in the Learn-Grow-Serve meeting said Christians are too complacent.
Sadly, but accurately, the title, 50 Shades of Grey, describes how people see the world. There is no black and white. No right and wrong. Everything is a shade of grey subject to situation ethics.