Wednesday, January 26, 2011

John Chrysostom said...

John Chrysostom (ca. 349-407) was an early church preacher, a "Doctor of the Church" who was trained in rhetoric and who, it is said, had the entire Bible memorized.  I found the following quote while reading the wikipedia article on him. 

He said, "It is not possible for one to be wealthy and just at the same time.  Do you pay such honor to your excrements as to receive them into a silver chamber-pot when another man made in the image of God is perishing in the cold?"

We might say, "How can you spend so much money on your toilet when other people are starving?" BUT Chrysostom was bluntly stating much more than merely criticizing the amount of money you spend on your bed pan.  He was stating that a wealthy person cannot be just. 

What do you think?

Thursday, January 6, 2011

spiritual disciplines

Last night Jared began winter Cross Walk teaching times with an introduction to spiritual disciplines.  We will be talking and practicing a number of disciplines this quarter.  I look forward to learning with you all!

Jared mentioned that we should think of the disciplines (which he will enumerate in talks to come) as tools in our tool box that enable us to put ourselves before God--to grow in relationship with Him.  I like that.

I've also always appreciated the image of God as a potter.  There's a wonderful account in Jeremiah chapter 18 of God telling Jeremiah to go to the potter's house and watch it is:
1 This is the word that came to Jeremiah from the LORD: 2 “Go down to the potter’s house, and there I will give you my message.” 3 So I went down to the potter’s house, and I saw him working at the wheel. 4 But the pot he was shaping from the clay was marred in his hands; so the potter formed it into another pot, shaping it as seemed best to him.

5 Then the word of the LORD came to me. 6 He said, “Can I not do with you, Israel, as this potter does?” declares the LORD. “Like clay in the hand of the potter, so are you in my hand, Israel.
While this text is ultimately about judgment, the image of God being a potter stands.  God is able to shape us, make us into whatever he desires.  He is also able to reshape us when we become marred in His hands. 

What has this got to do with spiritual disciplines?  Think of the spiritual disciplines as ongoing practices that enable us to climb up on the potter's wheel so that the Master Potter might shape us into the vessel He desires us to be.  Don't think of prayer as a way of getting what you want or becoming a better person.  Rather think of it as a way of putting yourself in God's way, on the wheel, under His hands so that He might form you and shape you into a beautiful vessel of His choosing.  God's greatest work is done on surrendered hearts.  All the classic spiritual disciplines do this very same thing.  They all put us on God's potter's wheel so that He can do His amazing work in us.  Let's put ourselves on His wheel, in His path so that He can have free access to us to mold us into the image of His Son, Jesus.

I'm interested in what stories you have.  How has God used the spiritual disciplines of prayer, Bible reading/study, fasting, service, worship, journaling, etc., in your life to mold you?