A Calvinist from a Southern Baptist church befriended a member of the local Church of Christ (independent.) They met through the local PTA where both their wives were active members.
Oddly enough, both lost their ministers the same week through moral failures. The Southern Baptist pastor ran away with the church secretary. The Church of Christ preacher ran off with the wife of an elder.
They met for their weekly cup of coffee and Bible reading. Due to their friendship they agreed to disagree on certain concepts and get on with Bible study.
But today they read Hebrews 10:19-39.
“See,” the Arminian could not help pointing out. “You can lose your salvation.”
“Nonsense. According to John 10:28 ‘and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand.'”
“Hmph. They can still leave of their own free will.”
The Arminian went on, “The Lord ‘is not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.’ 2 Peter 3:9.”
“Hmph. None of the elect should perish.”
Just then the ex-preacher of the Church of Christ walked in with his new mistress.
The Arminian muttered, “He needs to repent or his soul will be lost.”
The Calvinist shook his head. “You’re totally wrong. Your theology is way off. He needs to repent and become a Christian or his soul will be lost.
“This is a horrible misapplication of theology. Because of your heretical, crazy, incorrect readings of Scripture leading to dangerous misapplications we can no longer be friends. Good day! Enjoy your stay in Hell!”
He ended up shouting the last sentences and left with the other cafe patrons staring. The Arminian sighed and finished his coffee alone.
But knowledge puffs up while love builds up. 1 Corinthians 8:1a
It has been a while since I read A Sincere Call to a Devout and Holy Life by William Law. I love the book. Along with The Imitation of Christ by Kempis and The Practice of the Presence of God by Br. Laurence these books have really inspired me to a deeper Christian walk.
Law offers valuable advice to the “idle rich.” Instead of wasting time in idle frivolities he recommends praying the hours. And he suggests themes for each prayer session.
Early morning: No later than 6 am. Thanksgiving and praise.
Mid morning: 9 am. Prayer for humility.
Noon: 12 pm. Intercession.
Mid afternoon: 3 pm. Prayer of surrender to God’s will.
Evening: 6 pm. Confession of daily sins.
Night: Before bed. 9 or 10 pm. Prayer for protection through the night.
Some now, would call him an economic threat because he said if you had enough money you should A. give away the excess freely to those in need or B. spend the extra time in prayer, study, and helping the unfortunate.
Law’s masterpiece contains entertaining, humorous sketches worthy of Swift himself. C.S. Lewis wrote the book made him laugh and wince at the same time.
John Wesley rated it as one of his three favorite books. (Not counting the Bible.)
The good news is it’s in public domain. It was written in the 17th century so the language is a little less familiar than–say Jane Austen or Dickens. But Law employs a plain, readable style.
You can get the paperback on Amazon for $7.99. Or here it is in PDF for free.
I have only mentioned this occasionally, but due to a really bad reaction to an SSRI drug in 1993 when I was twenty, followed by years of treatments with the same class of drug which produced the reaction I’m chronically ill today. Diagnosed with two autoimmune disorders.
(Microscopic Colitis–a less common Inflammatory Bowel Disease–and map-dot-fingerprint-eye-dystrophy. This latter causes my cornea to flake off irregularly and sometimes tear off my eye.)
Lots of people deal with chronic illness. Pain is a universal part of the human experience.
I find the pain more bearable when I ask myself questions such as “What would be the Christian response to this suffering?”
Sadly I cannot work for a living now. I live in a garage apartment my parents own and rent to me for $300 a month since my disability won’t cover normal rentals and there is a real shortage in HUD apartments everywhere. Even Indiana.
For complicated reasons I can’t drive either. I live out in the country.
It’s stressful on all of us. I pray every morning that I will be just and charitable to those I interact with. Whether online or the few people I interact with in person.
It’s hard to keep sweet tempered when you are in horrible pain and feel guilty for burdening loved ones as well. But if it’s more blessed to give than to receive, I am actually blessing those I allow to give to me.
Expressing gratitude goes a long way I find.
To God Who blesses me every day. Now with a sunrise. Now with the sound of Abby’s gentle purr. Now with a decrease in my painful symptoms and the ability to enjoy a good book.
To the people in my life. My parents who kindly took me in when my last apartment became untenable. And countless others. In my church. Online.
I also live in hope. A hope that will not disappoint.
Since the Madman was a child They had been there. A herd. Then many herds. Functioning nicely as a unit as they bullied him. Hundreds–thousands of them roaring in his head.
He had never known his father. He doubted his mother knew either. But she went from husband to husband. When too old for another marriage offer she could still find enough men to ply a filthy trade.
Often she would hit and curse him. “Life has been unfair to me. But the worst lot I drew was giving birth to you!”
The first of the Unclean visited him that night. He promised to be his friend. Scared as he was he let him in.
More sneaked in. Some came from lies he told. Or a theft he performed. And the abuses of others let more in.
He tried to argue them away but they were far, far older and more cunning. They repeated things his mother said and railed against him for sins he had committed. Often moments after convincing him to perform the deed.
At age 10 he was befriended by a soldier who visited his mother. A foreigner nobody liked, but he had money to spend. The local pork industry thrived on foreign soldiers who missed the cuisine of home.
He thought the soldier was his friend. But he did things to him that troubled him.
One day a new Unclean Voice roared in his ear, “Remember the Law? You let him lie with you as a man lies with a woman. Shame!” A mirthless laugh from hundreds of the Unclean followed. “You are one damned soul.”
He was at the fireside of his mother. He started to tremble and smacked his head to silence them.
“What’s wrong with you?” His mother scowled. “Are you mad? You’re going to wind up a raving madman just like your father.”
He thought of how the heavy make up added to her ugliness. Later he realized that was the first time she mentioned his father.
Things grew worse. He had no way of furthering his education so he became an assistant to one of the swine herds.
He took to strong drink to quell the pain of his aching heart. But it made the Unclean worse than ever. Often it strengthened their voices.
One day he attacked his supervisor. He lost total control. Many were hurt. He was a Madman.
They dragged him out to the tombs. Thick chains bound him. But when the Unclean seized control he would shriek and rip the iron apart like strips of rotten cloth. He tore off any clothes too.
He maintained enough control to avoid the town. Fear of what they might make him do to the innocent made him stay alone.
Occasionally a pig would die nearby. He would eat its unclean flesh. Or he would chase away the mourners at the tomb of a loved one. Vile food for a vile man. Outcast from truth and love.
One night there was a storm. He hid in the shelter of a sepulcher, weeping and mutilating his flesh.
Head Voice–the worst bully–said, “Our Enemy is coming tomorrow. He will destroy you. Send you into the abyss where unclean wretches like you belong.”
“Please go away,” he whispered. That voice was sickening. He would have made himself deaf to silence it and the others. But they didn’t talk through his ears like physical creatures.
“You just stay away from Him. You hear? He will hurt you worse than you can imagine!”
They mocked him with tales of what the Enemy would love to do to him. Like them. Only stronger and therefore worse.
By the first light of morning the Madman saw the little boat arrive from across the lake. A dozen disheveled men got off.
It occurred to him that even if the Enemy killed him He could be no crueler than his tormenters.
Ordinary and unimpressive as He looked, the Madman knew him by the chorus of shrieks the Unclean sent up in his soul.
The Madman dashed toward the Holy One. They screamed through his mouth. But he was sick of life and determined to die at the hand of the Holy One.
The other men fled. But He remained. He looked at the Madman with compassion.
“Why have You come to send us away before our time? We know who you are! The Holy One sent by God!”
The Holy One grew angry, but not at the Madman. He forced all of them out, arguing and screaming.
The pigs ran away to drown themselves in the sea. The former Madman had always known they were intelligent.
He sat clothed and in his right mind for the first time in years at the feet of Jesus of Nazareth.