The Who Prayer

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By Stephen W. Hiemstra

Heavenly Father,

I believe in Jesus Christ, the son of the living God, who died for our sins and was raised from the dead. Witness to me in my daily life.

Come into my life, help me to renounce and grieve the sin in my life that separates me from you. Define me.

Cleanse me of this sin, renew your Holy Spirit within me so that I will not sin any further. Make me holy.

Bring saints and a faithful church into my life to keep me honest with myself and draw me closer to you. Break any chains that bind me to the past—be they pains or sorrows or grievous temptations, that I might freely welcome God, the Father, into my life, who through Christ Jesus can bridge any gap and heal any affliction, now and always. Guide me.

Through the power of your Holy Spirit, grant me the strength, grace, and peace to share the Gospel with those around me so your kingdom would come and all might share in its glory together. 

In Jesus’ precious name, Amen.

The Who Prayer

Also see:

The Who Question

Preface to a Life in Tension

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Author site: http://www.StephenWHiemstra.net

Publisher site: http://www.T2Pneuma.com

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The Who Question

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By Stephen W. Hiemstra

The who question is surprisingly important.

When René Descartes (1596 –1650) wrote—I think therefore I am—he neglected to talk about the preconditions for his statement, which must have annoyed his parents. Why did he have time to consider the question? Where did he get the words to express the thought? Why did anyone else pay attention? Who is this guy anyway? 

While we might neglect to consider who Descartes was, his role in modern philosophy is undeniably critical in the development of the modern era and, by inference, the postmodern era. The who question is all about identity, something we obsess about. 

For the Christian, the who question is doubly important. Probably the most inconvenient verse in the Bible is this: “So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.” (Gen 1:27) We only participate in God’s eternal nature and reflect God’s image when we are joined with our spouses. Alone, we sin and perish. In ourselves, we are broken and quickly obsolete. What could be more inconvenient in this narcissistic age that we live in?

This inconvenient verse implies that we cannot answer the who question without considering the family. Because Descartes’ social position—who he was—is a precondition for all that followed, likewise Christian exploration of epistemology and ethics hangs on who God is and who we are together in his image. If Descartes had been an orphaned, penniless drunk in the sixteenth century and thought the same deep thoughts, the modern and postmodern eras may have been nipped in the bud.

Human Rights

For the Christian, the implication of being created in God’ image, setting aside our joint creation for a minute, imparts immense value to the lowest human being. 

Back in the Obama years, I used to ask my kids: How would your life change if the President of the United States set aside the affairs of state every Saturday morning just to play basketball with you? Would you tell your friends? How would they respond? How much more would your life change knowing that the creator of the universe, God makes himself available to you in prayer, anytime,  anywhere because he created and loves you?

This immense value of the human being arises precisely from God’s immense power. The observation that God created the heavens and the earth means that they belong to him by creative right. God’s social position is second to none. Because God values human beings, their life has intrinsic value—value that does not change with circumstances—and that value is enormous. The concept of human rights arises from the intrinsic value of being created in the image of God—a tiny fraction of infinity is still infinite.

Equality

Our joint creation with our spouses in the image of God is the root of gender equality. We cannot participate in God’s eternal nature without our spouses. The blessing that follows—“Be fruitful and multiply” (Gen 1:28)—is not a random act of kindness. It allows human beings to participate jointly in God’s eternal nature. This blessing is lost if we remain alone or pair up with anyone other than our spouse or try to compete with our spouses as if equality were equated with sameness.

Illumination

Being created in the image of God implies that we want to be like God. What is God first act of creation after creating the heavens and the earth?  The Bible reads: “And God said, a Let there be light, and there was light.” (Gen 1:3) Then, God declares the light to be good.  Goodness and light are equated as God begins by creating a moral universe. Imitating God implies that we should want to be moral, just like God. 

Being created in the image of God accordingly implies a moral mandate even before human beings are created. The who question and the primacy of relationships dominates the discussion even before the advent of sin, the introduction of community, and the giving of the law, but morality itself requires thinking and volition—you have to want to be good. God does not discount feelings and relationships, but feelings and thinking are inseparable. 

Heart and Mind

Hebrew anthropology (the theory of human beings) refuses to separate feelings and thinking. Heart and mind are inseparable. Greek anthropology separates the two, vacillating between giving priority to one or the other. Because Greek anthropology dominates the modern era (think about the division of labor among professionals), it is hard for modern people to understand Biblical writing—when Jesus talks about the heart, he means the whole person, not just the organ pumping blood or mere feelings. 

Sin and the Sacred History

Sin is hardwired into the human psyche. Original sin arises whenever you have two babies sharing one toy. No one is innocent, which is why Christ was unique.

Moses anticipated the course of human development in Deuteronomy 30:1-3. You (plural) will sin; be enslaved; and cry out to the Lord. God will send you a deliverer and restore your fortunes (Brueggemann 2016, 59). This framework outlines biblical history and with it the rise and fall of nations. The implication for postmoderns is that cultural progress—however defined—is temporary.

The question posed by scripture when we witness sin and societal decay, are we in the community of faith going to pray for sinners like Abraham witnessing Sodom and Gomorrah (Gen 18) or run away from our prophet duty like the Prophet Jonah (Jon 1)? Like Abraham and Jonah, we have been told in the Book of Revelation (Rev 20) that destruction of sinners is coming. How will we respond?

Return to Christian Spirituality

Anthropology is an important component of Christian spirituality. A complete spirituality addresses each of the four questions typically posed in philosophy:

1.Metaphysics—who is God?

2.Anthropology—who are we?

3.Epistemology—how do we know?

4.Ethics—what do we do about it? (Kreeft 2007, 6)

My first two books—A Christian Guide to Spirituality and Life in Tension—address the metaphysical question. My third book—Called Along the Way—explores the anthropological question in the first person. My fourth book, Simple Faith, examined the epistemological question. My fifth book, Living in Christ, explored the ethics question. Here in Image and Illumination I return to Christian anthropology from a community perspective.

I thought that I was done with Christian spirituality as a writer, but anthropology is at the heart of many of today’s deepest divisions and I have been repeatedly nudged for the past two years to write about it. It affects the other three components of our spirituality—metaphysics, epistemology, and ethics—so profoundly that skipping over a formal treatment leaves the other components wounded. So here we sit wounded as individuals and as a church.

Again, I take up a subject, not out of expertise, but out of obligation. Each of us must answer the who question, whether thoughtfully or not so thoughtfully. Please accept my reflections on Christian anthropology with ample grace.

Soli Deo Gloria.

References

Brueggemann, Walter. 2016. Money and Possessions. Interpretation series. Louisville: Westminster John Knox Press.

Kreeft, Peter. 2007. The Philosophy of Jesus. South Bend, IN: Saint Augustine Press.

The Who Question

Also see:

Preface to a Life in Tension

Other ways to engage online:

Author site: http://www.StephenWHiemstra.net

Publisher site: http://www.T2Pneuma.com

Newsletter: https://bit.ly/Priorities_2021

 

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Carson Revisits Niebuhr’s Christ and Culture, Part 2

Carson_01282015D.A. Carson. 2008. Christ & Culture Revisited. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans. [1] (Go to part 1)

Review by Stephen W. Hiemstra [2]

Carson’s own exploration of culture begins with defining what it means to be Christian, or deeply Christian, as he describes it. This definition hangs on the great turning points in salvation history (67). These turning points are:

  • The creation,
  • The fall,
  • The call of Abraham,
  • The exodus and giving of the law,
  • The rise of the monarchy and the prophets,
  • The exile,
  • The incarnation, and
  • The ministry, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ (81).

Carson observes that to deviate from these turning points introduces “massive distortions into one’s understanding of cultures and therefore of how to interact with them” (81). In this definition we hear an echo of Niebuhr’s most famous indictment of liberal theology:

“[They preach] A God without wrath brought men without sin into a kingdom without judgment through the ministrations of a Christ without a cross.” (Niebuhr 1959. 193)

The turning points in salvation history explain, for example, why the atonement (Christ died for our sins) is a fundamental Christian confession (1 Cor 15:3-5). In effect, the atonement of Christ reverses the fall and advances salvation history to demonstrate God’s new relationship with humanity through Christ’s death and resurrection (61-62). Salvation history is an old idea and is, for example, why western countries date the years from the birth of Christ.  Attempts to downplay or deny these great turning points in salvation history dilute the distinctiveness of the Christian message leaving it vulnerable to to syncreticism and making transformation of wayward souls difficult or impossible [3].  The church’s voice in defining culture is thereby muted.

Metanarrative

Postmodern critics of Christianity, like Francois Lyotard (87), actively dispute the idea of salvation history labeling it a meta-narrative. The term, meta-narrative, which means “above the narrative or grand narrative” is an apt description because it implicitly recognizes the dichotomy between a physical and a spiritual reality. As a meta-narrative, salvation history outlines the Bible itself and shows why prophesies of Christ’s coming are recognizable from the very beginning (e.g. Gen 3:15). By adopted salvation history as the defining idea of Christian culture, Carson is effectively using fire to fight fire in confronting postmodern philosophers.

Cultural Factors

Moving from a definition of Christianity, Carson turns his attention to the cultural landscape. Here he describes 4 “huge cultural forces”:

1. The seduction of secularism,
2. The mystique of democracy,
3. The worship of freedom, and
4. The lust for power (115).

Christianity collides with secular culture because: “Christianity does not claim to convey merely religious truth, but truth about all reality.” (120) Attempts to make Christianity a mere preference or to privaticize Christianity deny this fundamental point and form the core of the secular agenda—creating a world where the creator God is ignored, denied, and vilified.

Church and State

Carson rightly focuses a lot of attention on the issue of church and state. The privaticization of Christianity (131) necessarily creates a vacuum into which the secular state eagerly pours. We entered the 20th century believing that morality was the domain of the church and exited the 20th century believing that morality is an individual matter subject to legally imposed sanctions—in other words, who needs morality? [4] This shrinking of the role of the church relative to the state is reflected the 20th century confessions [5]. This transition was ushered in by the secular state.

Carson writes:

“Where countries have become deeply Christianized, Christianity itself becomes far less questing and far more conserving: in other words, it begins to think of itself as a ‘religion’ in the older, obsolete, pagan sense” (146).

Here pagan religion can be thought of as a religion that focuses on divine bribery. The focus of cultic activity is to appease the gods. The idea of the church as the community of those “called out” by God and that our spirituality begins with God (not us) distinguishes authentic Christianity. Carson’s notion of “deeply Christian” (81) based on salvation history and on being “authentically Christian” (formed on the historical confessions) both rely on the fundamental presumption that God acts sovereignly to call out his people and form his church in an historical context (Acts 2)—an inherently public activity. The defining pagan idea, by contrast, is that a physical or metaphorical tower can be built to heaven (Gen 11:1-9) to appease, bribe, manipulate, or force the gods to do our bidding—an inherently private activity because private benefits are sought. Paganism, not Christianity, is at the core of the modern and postmodern worldviews inasmuch as the authority of Christ is set aside and the cultural focus is on shaping the physical and social world in an image of our own making.

Common Treatments

Carson ends his discussion with “a handful of common treatments of Christ and culture” (208) but endorses none–each has its own limitation.

Anne Graham Lotz (2009, 1-2) recounts a conversation that her mother, Ruth Graham, had with the head of Scotland Yard. When her mother remarked that he must spend a lot of time studying counterfeit money, he responded: “On the contrary, Mrs. Graham, I spend all my time studying the genuine thing. That way, when I [see] a counterfeit, I [can] immediately detect it.” In the same way, knowing what true community looks like, as Christians, we know can recognize the dysfunctions of culture that we encounter every day and we can live with the tension that those dysfunctions create [6].

Assessment

In Christ & Culture Revisited Carson has done a splendid job of  making the counterfeit dysfunctions of postmodern culture more obvious.

Footnotes

[1] My own review is at:   Re-examining Niebuhr’s Christ and Culture (http://wp.me/p3Xeut-Po).

[2] Part 1 is:  Carson Revisits Niebuhr’s Christ and Culture, Part I (http://wp.me/p3Xeut-PZ).

[3] This point is easily observed.  While the mainline denominations spent the 20th century debating anthropology and lost half their members, the Pentecostal movement evangelized the world.  Ironically, the Azusa Street rivalry of 1906 started out more open to the participation of women and minorities than mainline denominations are even today (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Azusa_Street_Revival).

[4] Replacing Christian virtues and moral teaching with law is inherently biased against the poor and poor communities where funding for public services is woefully inadequate.  Even in the wealthiest of communities, the police cannot replace individual initiatives to be righteous.  In poor communities the police are under-paid, under-trained, under-equipped, and over-worked.  Is it any wonder that bad things happen?  The secular substitution of law for morality works to make freedom a reality only for those wealthy enough to enjoy the benefits.

[5] The 20th century confessions of the Presbyterian Church USA, for example,  are the Theological Declaration of Barman, the Confession of 1967, and the [1973] Brief Confession of Faith.  The Barman confession resists the incursion of the Nazi state into the German church; the 1967 confession codifies the civil rights legislation that proceeded it; the Brief Confession talks about unmasking idolatries in both the church and culture.  None of these confessions are a complete articulation of faith (like the reformation confessions); all of them highlight the influence of the state on the church suggesting the that the state, not the church, is defining (and should define) the agenda.

[6] These tensions are highlighted in my recent Friday posts, such as:  Bothersome Gaps:  Life in Tension (http://wp.me/p3Xeut-OT).

References

 Lotz, Anne Graham. 2009. Just Give Me Jesus. Nashville: Thomas Nelson.

Niebuhr, H. Richard. 1959. The Kingdom of God in America (Orig. pub. 1937). New York: Harper Torchbooks.

Niebuhr, H. Richard. 2001. Christ and Culture (Orig. pub. 1951). New York: HarperSanFrancisco.

Presbyterian Church in the United States of America (PC USA). 1999. The Constitution of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.)—Part I: Book of Confession. Louisville, KY: Office of the General Assembly.

Carson Revisits Niebuhr’s Christ and Culture, Part

Also see:

Niebuhr Examines American Christian Roots, Part 1 

Friedman Brings Healing by Shifting Focus from Individuals to the Family 

Books, Films, and Ministry

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Author site: http://www.StephenWHiemstra.net

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The Walk: Monday Monologues (podcast), November 8, 2021

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 By Stephen W. Hiemstra

This morning I will share a prayer and reflect on Nurturing our Walk of Faith. After listening, please click here to take a brief listener survey (10 questions).

To listen, click on this link.

Hear the words; Walk the steps; Experience the joy!

The Walk: Monday Monologues (podcast), November 8, 2021

Also see:

Monday Monologue On March 26, 2018 

Other ways to engage online:

Author site: http://www.StephenWHiemstra.net,

Publisher site: http://www.T2Pneuma.com.

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Prayer Day 50

Cover, A Christian Guide to Spirituality

By Stephen W. Hiemstra

Loving Father,

Thank you for forgiving us and accepting us back as sons and daughters.

Grant us teachable hearts, discerning minds, and strength for each new day.

In the power of your Holy Spirit, reveal to us the stumbling blocks that impede our progress as faithful servants.

In Jesus precious name, Amen.

Prayer Day 50

Also see:

Believer’s Prayer

Other ways to engage online:

Author site: http://www.StephenWHiemstra.net

Purchase Book: http://www.T2Pneuma.com

 

 

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Oración Dia 50

Disponible en Amazon.com

Por Stephen W. Hiemstra

Padre Amoroso,

Gracias por perdonar y aceptarnos como hijos e hijas de nuevo.

Concédenos corazones enseñables, mentes con discernimiento, y fuerza para cada día nuevo.

En el poder del Espíritu Santo, muéstranos las piedras de tropiezo que impiden nuestro progreso como siervos fieles.

En el precioso nombre de Jesús oramos. Amén.

Oración Dia 50

Ver también:

Prefacio de La Guía Cristiana a la Espiritualidad

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Sitio del autor: http://www.StephenWHiemstra.net

Comprar Libro: http://www.T2Pneuma.com

Boletín informativo:  https://bit.ly/Priorities_2021

 

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Gebetstag 50

Ein Christlicher Leitfaden zur Spiritualität, 20201014

Vor Stephen W. Hiemstra

Liebender Vater,

Danke, dass du uns vergebest und uns als Söhne und Töchter wieder aufgenommen hast.

Gewähre uns lehrfähig Herzen, verständigen Geist, und Kraft für jeden neuen Tag.

Enthülle uns in der Kraft deines Heiligen Geistes die Stolpersteine, die unseren Fortschritt als treue Diener behindern.

In Jesu kostbarem Namen, Amen.

Gebetstag 50

Siehe auch:

Einleitung auf Ein Christlicher Leitfaden zur Spiritualität 

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Herausgeber Seite: http://www.T2Pneuma.com

Mitteilungsblatt:   https://bit.ly/Priorities_2021

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How Do We Nurture our Walk with the Lord?

Cover, A Christian Guide to Spirituality

Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. (Col 3:12–13)

By Stephen W. Hiemstra

We must nurture our walk with the Lord, but control is not in our hands. “Discipleship means adherence to Christ” (Bonhoeffer 1995, 59).

Jesus tells the story of a man with two sons. The younger son came to him one day and asked for his inheritance in cash. He then took the money, left town, and began living in style. This reckless lifestyle did not last long and soon the young man had to get a job. Not being a planner, he had to accept degrading work. As the son’s mind began to wander, he remembered his good life at home and resolved to beg his father to take him back as a household servant. When the father saw that his son was coming, he went out to meet him and wrapped his arms around him. As the son began to apologize for his horrible behavior, his father would hear none of it. He took his son; cleaned him up; got him some new clothes [1]; and threw a party. Later, when his older brother came home and discovered the party, he became jealous and started behaving badly. But his father reminded him: “celebrate and be glad, for this your brother was dead, and is alive; he was lost, and is found.” (Luke 15:32)

The story of the Prodigal Son shows a young man going through a series of challenges—transitions—that enabled him to see his father with new eyes and to accept his father’s help [2]. Without these challenges, he would not have been able to bridge the gap between him and his father.

For us, hospital visits often pose such transitions. Hospital visits normally start with a health problem; lead to a confusing period of medical treatment; and end with a return to life outside. The twist is that the health problem itself is often a symptom, not the real cause, of the visit. The real problem may be grief over the death of a family member, unresolved trauma from the past, or a bad lifestyle choice. Because a solution to the real problem remains clouded by denial, many people needlessly die of preventable diseases and treatable ailments.

Clouds also cover our journey of faith. We all deny the need for God’s grace and have nasty stumbling blocks—especially pride, other sins, and our own mortality—that must be removed in order to deliver us from our focus on ourselves. It is only through accepting God’s grace that we are able to take the necessary steps of obedience.

The story of the Prodigal Son assures us that our heavenly Father is anxious to forgive, anxious for us to take steps of obedience, and anxious to bridge the gap that we cannot bridge ourselves.

Footnotes

[1]  As Christians, we share mostly just one thing in common: we are forgiven. It is our heavenly Father who clothes us with: “compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience.” (Col 3:12) But the clothes are a gift, we did not earn them!

[2] Turansky and Miller (2013, 4) observe: “Even in Old Testament times, God knew that kids learn best through life experiences.”

References

Bonhoeffer, Dietrich. 1995. The Cost of Discipleship (Orig. pub. 1937). New York: Simon and Schuster.

Turansky, Scott and Joanne Miller. 2013. The Christian Parenting Handbook: 50 Heart-Based Strategies for All the Stages of Your Child’s Life. Nashville: Thomas Nelson.

How Do We Nurture our Walk with the Lord?

Also see:

Preface to a Life in Tension

Other ways to engage online:

Author site: http://www.StephenWHiemstra.net

Publisher site: http://www.T2Pneuma.com

Newsletter: https://bit.ly/Priorities_2021

 

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¿Cómo Nutrimos Nuestro Camino con el Señor?

Cubierta por Una Guia Cristian a la Espiritualidad

Entonces, ustedes como escogidos de Dios, santos y amados, revístan se de tierna compasión, bondad, humildad, mansedumbre y paciencia (tolerancia); soportándose unos a otros y perdonándose unos a otros, si alguien tiene queja contra otro. Como Cristo los perdonó, así también háganlo ustedes. (Col 3:12-13 NBH)

Por Stephen W. Hiemstra

Debemos nutrir nuestro camino con el Señor, pero el control no está en nuestras manos. “El discipulado significa adhesión a Cristo” [1] (Bonhoeffer 1995, 59).

Jesús cuenta la historia de un hombre con dos hijos. El hijo mas joven se le acercó un día y pidió por su herencia en dinero en efectivo. A continuación, tomó el dinero, salió el pueblo, y comenzó a vivo en estilo. Este modo de la vida imprudente no duró mucho tiempo y pronto el joven tuvo que conseguir un trabajo. No estar un planificador, él tiene que aceptar trabajo degradante. Como la mente del hijo empezó a vagar, él acordó la vida buena a hogar y resolvió a pedir su padre a aceptar lo otra vez como un sirviente doméstico. Cuando el padre vi que su hijo que venía, él fue fuera a encontrarlo y envuelto su brazos alrededor de él. Como él hijo comienzo a disculparse por su comportamiento horrible, su padre no escuchó nada de ella. Él llevó a su hijo; él le limpió ; y le consiguió algo ropas nuevas [2]; y dio una fiesta. Más tarde, cuando su hermano más altero venia a casa y descubrió el partido, se convirtió en celoso, y comenzó a actuar malo. Pero su padre le recordó: “Pero era necesario hacer fiesta y regocijarnos, porque éste, tu hermano, estaba muerto y ha vuelto a la vida; estaba perdido y ha sido hallado.” (Luke 15:32 NBH)

El historia del Hijo Pródigo muestra un hombre joven que experiencia unas series de retos—transiciones—que lo empodera a ver su padre con ojos nuevos y a aceptar la ayuda de su padre [3]. Sino estos desafíos, él no habría sido capaz de cerrar la brecha entre él y su padre.

Para nosotros, los visitas del hospital suelen plantear tales transiciones. Los visitas del hospital comienzan normalmente con una problema de salud; seguía a un confuso periodo de tratamientos médicos; y ende con un retorno a la vida exterior. El giro es que la problema de salud si mismo es a menudo un síntoma, no la causa real de la visita. La problema real podría ser el dolor sobre la muerto de un miembro de la familia, la trauma no resuelto del pasado, o un estilo de la vida mala. Debido a que un solución de la problema real permanece nublada por la negación, muchas gente mueren innecesariamente de enfermedades prevenibles y dolencias tratables.

Nubes también cubren nuestro camino de fe. Todos de nosotros niegan la necesidad para la gracia de Dios y tener tropiezo desagradable bloques—especialmente orgullo, otros pecados, y nuestra propia mortalidad—que debe ser removida por razón de salvar nos de nuestros mismos. Sólo a través de aceptar la gracia de Dios que podemos tomar los pasos necesario de obediencia.

La historia del Hijo Prodigo asegura nos que nuestro Padre Celestial es ansioso de perdonar, ansioso de nosotros a tomar pasos de obediencia, y ansioso por cerrar la brecha que no podemos puente para nosotros mismo.

Notas

[1] [“Discipleship means adherence to Christ”]

[2] Como Cristianos, compartimos la mayoría sólo una cosa en común: somos perdonado. Esto es nuestro padre celestial quien nos vestimos con: “compasión, bondad, humildad, mansedumbre y paciencia” (Col 3:12 NBH). Pero las ropas son un regalo; no las ganamos!

[3] Turansky y Miller (2013, 4) observe: “Aun en los tiempos del Antiguo Testamento, Dios supo que los hijos aprender mayor a través de las experiencias en la vida” [“Even in Old Testament times, God knew that kids learn best through life experiences.”]

Referencias

Bonhoeffer, Dietrich. 1995. The Cost of Discipleship (Orig. pub. 1937). New York: Simon and Schuster.

Turansky, Scott and Joanne Miller. 2013. The Christian Parenting Handbook: 50 Heart-Based Strategies for All the Stages of Your Child’s Life. Nashville: Thomas Nelson.

¿Cómo Nutrimos Nuestro Camino con el Señor?

Ver también:

Prefacio de La Guía Cristiana a la Espiritualidad

Otras formas de participar en línea:

Sitio del autor: http://www.StephenWHiemstra.net

Comprar Libro: http://www.T2Pneuma.com

Boletín informativo:  https://bit.ly/Priorities_2021

 

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Wie nähren wir unseren Weg mit dem Herrn?

Ein Christlicher Leitfaden zur Spiritualität, 20201014

Vor Stephen W. Hiemstra

So zieht nun an als die Auserwählten Gottes, als die Heiligen und Geliebten, herzliches Erbarmen, Freundlichkeit, Demut, Sanftmut, Geduld; und ertrage einer den andern und vergebt euch untereinander, wenn jemand Klage hat gegen den andern; wie der Herr euch vergeben hat, so vergebt auch ihr! (Col. 3:12-13)

Wir müssen unseren Wandel mit dem Herrn nähren, aber die Kontrolle liegt nicht in unseren Händen. “Nachfolge bedeutet, an Christus festzuhalten” (Bonhoeffer 1995, 59).⁠1

Jesus erzählt die Geschichte eines Mannes mit zwei Söhnen. Der jüngere Sohn kam eines Tages zu ihm und bat um sein Erbe in bar. Dann nahm er das Geld, verließ die Stadt und begann, mit Stil zu leben. Dieser rücksichtslose Lebensstil hielt nicht lange an und bald musste der junge Mann einen Job finden. Da er kein Planer war, musste er erniedrigende Arbeit hinnehmen. Als die Gedanken des Sohnes abschweiften, erinnerte er sich an sein gutes Leben zu Hause und beschloss, seinen Vater zu bitten, ihn als Hausdiener zurückzunehmen. Als der Vater sah, dass sein Sohn kam, ging er ihm entgegen und schlang seine Arme um ihn. Als sich der Sohn für sein schreckliches Verhalten entschuldigte, wollte sein Vater nichts davon hören. Er nahm seinen Sohn; säuberte ihn; besorgte ihm neue Kleider; und eine Fete geschmissen. Als sein älterer Bruder später nach Hause kam und die Fete entdeckte, wurde er eifersüchtig und begann sich schlecht zu benehmen. Aber sein Vater erinnerte ihn: “Du solltest aber fröhlich und guten Mutes sein; denn dieser dein Bruder war tot und ist wieder lebendig geworden, er war verloren und ist wiedergefunden.” (Luke 15:32)

Die Geschichte vom verlorenen Sohn zeigt einen jungen Mann, der eine Reihe von Herausforderungen—Übergängen—durchlebt, die es ihm ermöglichten, seinen Vater mit neuen Augen zu sehen und die Hilfe seines Vaters anzunehmen (Turansky and Miller 2013, 4). Ohne diese Herausforderungen hätte er die Kluft zwischen ihm und seinem Vater nicht überbrücken können.

Für uns stellen Krankenhausbesuche oft solche Übergänge dar. Krankenhausbesuche beginnen normalerweise mit einem Gesundheitsproblem; zu einer verwirrenden medizinischen Behandlung führen; und endet mit einer Rückkehr zum Leben draußen. Die Wendung ist, dass das Gesundheitsproblem selbst oft ein Symptom und nicht die eigentliche Ursache des Besuchs ist. Das eigentliche Problem kann die Trauer über den Tod eines Familienmitglieds, ein ungelöstes Trauma aus der Vergangenheit, oder eine falsche Lebensführung Entscheidung sein. Da eine Lösung des eigentlichen Problems durch Verleugnung getrübt bleibt, sterben viele Menschen unnötigerweise an vermeidbaren Krankheiten und behandelbaren Beschwerden.

Wolken verdecken auch unseren Glaubensweg. Wir alle leugnen die Notwendigkeit der Gnade Gottes und haben böse Stolpersteine—insbesondere Stolz, andere Sünden und unsere eigene Sterblichkeit—die beseitigt werden müssen, um uns von unserer Konzentration auf uns selbst zu befreien. Nur wenn wir Gottes Gnade annehmen, können wir die notwendigen Schritte des Gehorsams unternehmen.

Die Geschichte vom verlorenen Sohn versichert uns, dass unser himmlischer Vater darauf bedacht ist zu vergeben, darauf bedacht ist, dass wir Schritte des Gehorsams unternehmen, und darauf bedacht die Kluft überbrücken, die wir selbst nicht überbrücken können.

Fußnoten

1 “Discipleship means adherence to Christ” (Bonhoeffer 1995, 59).

Vorweise

Bonhoeffer, Dietrich. 1995. The Cost of Discipleship (Orig. pub. 1937). New York: Simon and Schuster.

Turansky, Scott and Joanne Miller. 2013. The Christian Parenting Handbook: 50 Heart-Based Strategies for All the Stages of Your Child’s Life. Nashville: Thomas Nelson.

 

Wie nähren wir unseren Weg mit dem Herrn?

Siehe auch:

Einleitung auf Ein Christlicher Leitfaden zur Spiritualität 

Andere Möglichkeiten, sich online zu engagieren:

Autoren Seite: http://www.StephenWHiemstra.net

Herausgeber Seite: http://www.T2Pneuma.com

Mitteilungsblatt:   https://bit.ly/Priorities_2021

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