Cross Talk

 

DENNIS’ BLOG

02.05.2017

Three Kinds of People

 

There are three kinds of people in the world.  The first class is of those who live simply for their own sake and pleasure, regarding man and nature as so much raw material to be cut up into whatever shape may serve them. 

 

But the third class is of those who can say, like St. Paul, that for them to live is Christ. These people have rid themselves of the tiresome business of adjusting the rival claims of self and God by rejecting the claims of self altogether. The old egoistic will has been turned around, reconditioned, and made into a new thing. The will of Christ no longer limits theirs; it is theirs. All their time, in belonging to Him, belongs also to them, for they are His.

 

Because there are three classes, any merely twofold division of the world into good and bad is disastrous. It overlooks the fact that the members of the second class (to which most of us belong) are always and necessarily unhappy. The tax which moral conscience levies on our desires does not in fact leave us enough to live on. As long as we are in this class we must either feel guilty because we have not paid the tax or poverty because we have. The Christian doctrine that there is no salvation  by works done to the moral law is a fact of daily experience. Back or on we must go. But there is no going on simply by our own efforts. If the new Self, the new Will, does not come at His own good pleasure to be born in us, we cannot produce Him synthetically.

 

The price of Christ is to want Him. It is true that the wanting itself would be beyond our power but for one fact. The world is so built that, to help us desert our own satisfactions, they desert us. War and trouble and finally old age take from us one by one all those things that the natural Self hoped for at its setting out. Begging is our only wisdom, and want in the end makes it easier for us to be beggars. Even on those terms the Mercy will receive us.  

C.S. Lewis’s short essay, “Three Kinds of Men,” from, Present Concerns (pp. 9-10).

 



01.15.2017

Who am I? 

This is a question many people ask in a time of crisis.  It is a question we should be able to answer at any time.   A healthy Christian has a strong sense of identity.  Out of that, we learn how to live appropriately in this world. Having a strong sense of identity allows us to stand out as individuals and live successfully in the Church.  It contributes to our sense of peace and underlines how important people of faith are in our country.

 

You may mistakenly identify who you are as the same as what you do, or the role you play.  You may think of yourself as an expression of your ethnicity. You may identify yourself as a soldier, parent, husband, wife, child, aunt, uncle, employee, CEO, minister, foreman, attorney, paramedic, construction worker, president, or doctor. You might have thought of yourself as rich, poor, healthy or sick, important and valuable or unimportant and unworthy.  These are never a good way to identify yourself, because these descriptors are momentary. Mistakes on how you see yourself inevitably lead to personal crisis… an identity crisis.  At this point we often ask,

Who am I?

 

When humans identify themselves in ways that ignore biblical descriptors, the result can be a loss of contentment or even worse.  Tielhard De Chardin helped us understand why when he wrote, “We are not physical beings having a spiritual experience. We are spiritual beings creating a physical experience.”  That is why what Paul wrote in 2 Corinthians 1:22 is so important in developing our identity.  “He has also sealed us and given us the Spirit as a down payment in our hearts.”  He wants us to know that when God sealed us, He identified and described who we are.  That descriptor has to come first as you think about how you create your physical experience.

 

The Church has been going through an identity crisis.  As culture presses in, we are tempted to change who we are in order to be more acceptable.  The church of Christ in America has a unique history and we have forgotten how we got here.  Political correctness has tried to change the language and so change the identity.  We live in a society that wants Christianity to conform to its image.

 

All of these facts force us to double down on biblical descriptors to define who we are.  This year we have to dig deeper into God’s Word to discover the truths that define who we are, what we are and what we should be doing.  May we all have a deeper commitment to the habits of spiritual formation, discipleship and fellowship.  May our worship truly be in spirit and in truth and may it that tell others,

Who I Am

.

-Dennis

 

 



Gentleness

A fellowship of believers is important if we seek to have churches that are healthy. One opportunity for fellowship in the big picture will take place in July. This opportunity is the Faith Builders Workshop. It is a spiritual growth workshop intended to encourage Christians from all over the Pacific Northwest. This year’s workshop will be hosted on the PLU Campus in the Eastvold Auditorium. It will take place on July 7 – 9, 2016 (Thursday to Saturday). The 3-day workshop is presented by the Elders of the Puyallup and Springbrook congregations, as an effort to create unity and equip the Churches of Christ in the Northwest. Several essential topics will be taught by preachers from all over the country. Topics will include building families, reaching today’s world, missions, women’s ministry and how to edify the local congregation. There will also be a childcare program for kids ages 2 to 12, as well as a youth program on the last day of the conference.

There are details on the Faith Builders website. The web address is FaithBuildersnw.com. Go to the Workshops tab and click on Workshop Information. This will bring up a PDF of the schedule.

If you plan to attend, click on the Contact and Register tab. It will open up a registration form that you can submit online. There is no charge for the Workshop but they will accept donations and they will take up a contribution on Friday night. Between the contribution and the funds given by the supporting congregations, the costs of the workshop are covered.

Housing and food are available. See website for rates.

 

Gentleness Self-Examination Quiz

1. Was I gentle in the situations I faced today? If not, why? Were my rationalizations prideful?

2. Do I exhibit the same gentleness to others that God exhibits to me every day? How?

3. Do people describe me as gentle? Or do they describe me as critical or brash? Why?

4. Do I gently encourage people to “sin no more”? Or do I self-righteously cast the first stone?

Dennis Baker