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Friday: Further Thought ~ The Shepherd’s Crucible — 6 Comments

  1. Most of us associate discipline with punishment and/or pain. And while that is part of the modern meaning, it actually has a long association with learning. Why do you think Jesus followers were called disciples? They were there to learn.

    In the academic world, we call areas of learning, disciplines. So, physics, literature, history, and so on are disciplines. Each discipline has three parts: knowledge, a framework or structure to organize that knowledge, and a methodology for adding or removing information to the framework. When you study a discipline, you probably start off learning the information, but you quickly need to understand the framework to give yourself a structure. Probably the hardest thing to learn is how to add or subtract information from the structure.

    I like to think of life as a discipline. We have knowledge, and most of us here have a structure called Christianity that provides a frame of reference to organize that knowledge. Then it comes to the tricky bit. How do we add to or take away knowledge from our discipline of life? Life's experiences challenge our knowledge and indeed some of our structure. And sometimes the only method we use to handle the challenge is to delete the structure.

    I think of the challenges that have faced the physics discipline; quantum theory and relativity. Both these ideas were radical shifts in the way we viewed our knowledge. The interesting thing is that while the knowledge changed, the structure and methodology remained intact.

    I wonder if this applies to our Christianity discipline. And I ask the question: are we "disciplined" enough to face the radical challenges thrown at us by life, or do we continue to walk in a valley of shadows?

    Prove all things; hold fast that which is good. 1 Thess 5:21

    • Maurice – you pose the question that everyone, in my opinion, needs to find an answer to: are we “disciplined” enough to face the radical challenges thrown at us by life”; or: “do we continue to walk in a valley of shadows?”
      As I see it, the ‘Christianity discipline’ is based on faith in God’s Word. If we do not understand God’s Word, or are disinterested in reaching an understanding of its Truth for our life, then we, the believer, is prone to constantly struggle with the balance of life – continuously ‘walking in a valley of shadows’!

      I think that many Christians know more about Jesus Christ the person then about what He taught us about true life and how to live it. Nothing can be ‘added’ or ‘taking away’ from the Truth and Light of God’s Word, but our understanding can increase to find it more and more applicable in the daily life we live as we place it by faith in the hands of the Creator Father of all things.
      So, no, the Christian discipline - ‘structure and methodology of the Word of God’ applied through faith has not and will never change. This is the ‘discipline of’ and the ‘discipline of how’ we establish and experience Faith in the Word of God.

  2. The fact that freewill is a reality, the wrongs that hit us from freewill agencies is not ALL God's doing, but the test in the crucible is how we #REACT# to people's freewill.

    We learn and grow by our mistakes, but we can mature spiritually by bringing every thought captive to Christ as to his examples in the scriptures, like the sermon on the mount, the moral law, as salt and light and praying for the aid of the Holy Spirit.

    We may not get everything right in our delivery and actions all the time, but if pure godly motivations are our mindset, it leads our actions to be considered righteous (like God was pleased that King David wanted to build a house for the ark of the covenant, God's presence)
    and when our minds are fully matured to the mind of Christ, perfectly righteous acts. The mindset (Spirit) controls the body.

    2 Corinthians 10:3-5 (CSB)
    3 For although we live in the flesh, we do not wage war according to the flesh,
    4 since the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh, but are powerful through God for the demolition of strongholds. We demolish arguments
    5 and every proud thing that is raised up against the knowledge of God, and we take #every thought captive to obey Christ#

    Matthew 15:11 (CSB) “It’s not what goes into the mouth that defiles a person, #but what comes out of the mouth# -- this defiles a person.”

    Ephesians 4:10-16 (CSB)
    10 The one who descended is also the one who ascended far above all the heavens, to fill all things.
    11 And he himself gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, some pastors and teachers,
    12 equipping the saints for the work of ministry, to build up the body of Christ,

    13 #until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of God’s Son, growing into maturity with a stature measured by Christ’s fullness.#

    14 Then we will no longer be little children, tossed by the waves and blown around by every wind of teaching, by human cunning with cleverness in the techniques of deceit.
    15 But speaking the truth in love, let us grow in every way into him who is the head -- Christ.
    16 From him the whole body, fitted and knit together by every supporting ligament, promotes the growth of the body for building up itself in love by the proper working of each individual part.


  3. A little off topic but Maurice’s commentary started me thinking. Because of the discovery of Quantum Physics and Relativity, it is now science that is on the run from religion and not the other way around like it had been for the one hundred years prior. These discoveries present a well understood problem for Science. The Universe had a beginning. Remember the Big Bang Theory (God speaking in our world view ). Prior to the Big Bang there were eons of time for evolutionary development. But after, knowing the Universe had a beginning, Science has a math problem of probability! Not enough time for enough accidents to get to where we are today. This has led to Science making stuff up to cover their rear end. The Muti-universe theory; universes spawning other universes so that there are enough (infinite in fact) universes that their probability problem magically disappears. Intelligent Design is rearing its head in the world of science.

    Praise God, science is proving Religion and it is now science that is on the run, making stuff up. ( see Stephen Meyer’s Book, “ Return of the God Hypothesis” )

  4. The longer I live, the more understanding I gain from the Word of God about life, about myself and my relationship with my heavenly Father and those I come in contact with – life in general and my life as a believer. I enjoy the theology of our religion of 'Faith in the Word of God'. I enjoy also the philosophy about the goodness and graciousness when living our life in light of the Word of God. What obviously is the most challenging, though rewarding, is the application of the Faith of Jesus Christ – the Word God the Father has given to us by His Son through the Holy Spirit.

    I often ask myself: ‘How can anyone live, even exist, trying to balance life without the understanding of and faith in the Word of God?’ How can we sort out life and all its ups and downs without the guidance of the Holy Spirit and the Word of God?
    There are those who think that the more selfish, self-serving they are, the more successful they will be. In the end, they will loose even that which was a gift to them - their life. Yes, slowly ‘the dross is being purged away’ and Life’s Light becomes brighter inside and out.

    God intended that they would seek Him and perhaps reach out for Him and find Him, though He is not far from each one of us. For in Him we live and move and have our being. As some of your own poets have said, We are His offspring.’ Therefore, being offspring of God, we should not think that the Divine Being is like gold or silver or stone, an image formed by man’s skill and imagination.
    And the times of this ignorance God winked at; but now commanded all men every where to repent: Because He has appointed a day in which He will judge the world in righteousness by that man whom He has ordained; whereof He has given assurance unto all men in that He has raised Him from the dead.

  5. Today's lesson states (in part) "Those who are finally victorious will have seasons of terrible perplexity and trial in their religious life..." Jesus reflected the same when he forewarned (John 14:29) us that in this world, we will inevitably have trouble but to keep hope and courage because, with Christ, we will be able to endure and make it through (John 16:33).

    Why are things so difficult at times? I would propose that it is due to unfortunate convergence of several key realities:

    1) When God created us, He wanted to give us the opportunity to have and therefore experience the highest possible form of life and living. God could have created us 'pre-programmed' to all do the right thing - but this would have resulted in us only being what Ellen White refers to as "automatons" (ie robots). Instead, God created us with the capacity to become individuals of our own designing. Hence we, as created beings, were given freedom to create/develop our own unique characters.

    2) Due to giving creation freedom to choose for or against the (only) way of life, there was an inherent risk that some would choose the way of non-life/death (ie 'sin'/lawlessness: 1 John 3:4) and inherently "perish" (Psalm 1:6; 2 Peter 3:9; John 3:16) as a direct consequence (Galatians 6:8; James 1:14-15; Romans 6:23).

    3) God could have left Satan, the first to choose non-life, to perish. But created beings would not have understood that this was the inherent result of separating from the only way of life. Unfortunately, all creation needed to see the inherent nature of 'sin'/lawlessness. Only in full knowledge of what sin inherently is could all creation live in eternal security via full trust in God. The only way this could happen was for God to intervene and artificially, temporarily restrain the inherent self-destruction process. However, this unfortunately inevitably further increased the risk of creation falling into rebellion - as per what happened in the Garden of Eden (Genesis 3:6).

    4) At the same time, because of God's nature and character as abundantly merciful and gracious, God also extended to all fallen creation an opportunity for a second chance. God is waiting until each person has made their choice under this second chance once again (2 Peter 3:9) - just like He did prior to the Flood (Genesis 6:9; 12-13).

    Due to the convergence of all of the above (and more), sin and evil are temporarily and 'artificially' allowed to exist and do what they do - create trouble. Thus, we are in the middle of the mother of all war-zones - the Cosmic Conflict - where we still need to develop our individual characters one way (the way of life) or the other (the way of non-life). Looking around at the world of late, trouble is brewing. But if we keep hold of God, asking God for strength to do so (1 Corinthians 10:13; Philippians 4:13; Acts 17:28), He will carry us through to the other side while we are seeking first His Kingdom through serving Him and others. His track-record is faithful. We can count on Him!


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