The “New Monasticism” and God’s “Back Up” Plan - Purity 933
Purity 933 01/05/2023 Purity 933 Podcast
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Today’s photo of a paddleboard following a sunshine
pathway reflected on the waters of Portsmouth Harbor in the United Kingdom
comes to us from a pastor friend who incorporates exercise, nature appreciation,
and prayer for an immersive spiritual practice that involves body, mind, and
spirit and who shared this view back in August of 2022.
Well, It’s Thursday, and as is my habit I share this
“water and sunshine pathway” as a visual representation of the pathway of
Christian Discipleship and invite all who read or hear this message to take the
true path less travelled by putting your faith in Jesus Christ and making the
daily decision to follow Him and to make your life an all encompassing immersive
expression of your faith.
I took 10 hours of Tuesday to do a retreat in my
home, fasting, praying, and absorbing John Eldredge’s book “Resilient” and am
currently on day 2 of his One Minute Pause App’s program “30 days to Resilience”
and am enjoying the process of renewing my intention to follow the Lord in all
things as I unwittingly “took a break” my morning prayer routine during my
recent holiday stay-cation.
One of the nuggets of wisdom that Eldredge shared in
“Resilient” was that the mistake that many people are making is trying to “figure
out how to fit a little more God into their crowded lives” and he suggest that
we do the opposite. We should start with God. We should center our lives on Him
and work outward from there. He suggests that we call this reorientation the “new
As someone who has had the intention to surrender to
God’s will and has increasingly done so over the last 12 years, I can relate to
this idea. After my divorce, I thought of and only half-jokingly referred to my
place “down by the River” as “Monk House” because I decided that since my faith
and decision to follow the Lord was a major factor in the dissolution of my
marriage, I wasn’t going to waver in my commitment to the Lord and I was prepared
to live the rest of my life alone. I
never dreamed that the Lord would bring a Christian woman into my life who
would accept me and the way of life that I have chosen by following the Christian
So what Eldredge calls the “new monasticism” is what
I call the path of Christian Discipleship.
In Resilient, Eldredge encourages his readers to “write
a prescription” for their new God centered life, to imagine what your life
would be like if you reoriented your life to follow your spiritual aspirations and
to actually implement them.
But Eldredge also recognizes the reality of life on
earth and the necessity to deal with our responsibilities and suggest that whatever
plan we decide to make to make our lives of faith an immersive experience, that
we make them REALISTIC, a plan that we could implement that would not disrupt
the needs to meet our responsibilities but that would change our “default
responses” from “worldly” to Godly.
So is this path all praying, fasting and Bible
No, although I believe I would be leading you astray
if I didn’t say that traditional spiritual practices, such as prayer, bible study,
worship, praise, thanksgiving, fasting, solitude, silence, meditation, service,
and mission are not important. These practices are proven to be used by the Lord
to transform our hearts and minds and cause us to know and love Him more.
But there are the normal activities of life and the
meeting of our physical needs and responsibilities that also to be met.
One day a way from my 10 hour retreat, I was excited
to consider the possibilities of what I could do with my evening hours as part
of this new intention to use that time as a part of this “new monastic”
But while certainly not perfectly spiritual, most of
my evenings over the past year have already been dedicated to the things of God
as I have had my schedule filled with different activities surrounding my overall
“ministry” of encouragement, activities at my local church, and the volunteer
work I do for Freedom in Christ ministries. My “dance card” was pretty much full
in 2022 and I already see that the calendar is filling up for this year.
The only shift that I will need to make is to make
the wise decision to use the few days that are not full to find my rest and
comfort in doing just that: resting. And when I feel the “need” for
entertainment, to remind myself of how the things of God renew the mind and
feed the soul where secular entertainment will either cause you to long for the
things of this world or prove to be unsatisfying.
But we have to keep our “prescription” to this “new
monastic” life realistic. We also have
to take care of our responsibilities around work, family, and the maintenance
of our home which really encompasses the spiritual practice of “good
So even though I imagined absorbing more Christian
teaching or entertainment, last night I felt the pressing need to “clean house”
in terms of the data on my laptop.
Producing 394 blog posts and the audio and video files for the mt4christ247
podcast and YouTube Channel creates quite an archive of media and with the new
year begun I decided to “back up” these data files to a hard drive to keep them
but to free them from my laptop’s memory.
So after dinner I sat down to clean house and it
took my well beyond my normal bed time to “get ‘er” done. So much for rest, but
it is finished and I am glad I completed what I thought as a responsibility, to
attempt to keep things running smoothly for another year of encouragement, and
to protect last years work from any unforeseen data disasters.
But as I was doing it, I had to wonder why I was
doing it. My exposure to eastern
mysticism, Buddhism, in my past
impressed upon me the idea of impermanence as that philosophy of suffering
looked unblinkingly at the harsh reality that this world was passing away every
If we look at history, we see entire civilizations have
passed away and only a few relics exist to tell us that they were even here. As
much as large temples and ruins can tell us of the society’s existence and the
artifacts can tell us who was ruling, what of the common people and their
stories. Very little evidence exists to tell us about them.
So I know this.
It is doubtful that even our descendant’s, our great great grandchildren
will remember us. And what if you don’t have
kids? Is our keeping photos, mementos, family heirlooms, or data files all just
In the natural world it very well may be pointless. My harddrive will probably become obsolete or
fail over time or just get tossed out in the trash at some future date. When we
think of that and the impermanent nature of the world its depressing, tragic.
But GOD… right?
HA Ha, Because of Christ, I’m gonna live forever, gonna live forever!
Yes, my keeping my files on a hard drive might prove
to be a silly waste of time in the grand scheme of things but even though that “back-up”
might fail me, God never will.
The word of God indicates that Christians will live
with the eternal one, forever.
And as for our memories and “files”, God’s is omniscient
– He knows everything, and while He won’t hold our sins against us, He remembers
So if we even get a small piece of God’s wisdom and
omniscient nature in eternity, we could not only be blessed with “total recall”
being able to remember all of the moments of our lives with a “photographic memory,
we will also be blessed with the ability to know what was worth remembering.
The things that we think are worthwhile or important now about our worldly lives
and our pasts may prove to something that is best forgotten.
And that’s why we should embrace Eldredge’s suggestion
to live a God centered life. God is the One that matters. His wisdom, His
knowledge, His ways, and His love are the things that will carry on forever.
Time is too short for me to share a Bible Verse from “The NLT Bible Promise Book for Men” but we will try to share one tomorrow.
As always, I invite all to go to mt4christ.org where I
always share insights from prominent Christian theologians and counselors to
assist my brothers and sisters in Christ with their walk.
Today we continue sharing from A.W. Pink’s “The
Sovereignty of God”
As always, I share this information for educational
purposes and encourage all to purchase Bonhoeffer’s books for your own
private study and to support his work. This resource is available on
many websites for less than $20.00.
SOVEREIGNTY OF GOD
By ARTHUR W. PINK
GOD’S SOVEREIGNTY DEFINED, concludes
sovereign in the exercise of His grace. This of necessity, for grace is favor shown
to the undeserving, yea, to the
Hell-deserving. Grace is the antithesis of justice. Justice demands the
impartial enforcement of law. Justice requires that each shall receive his
legitimate due, neither more nor less. Justice bestows no favors and is no
respecter of persons. Justice, as such, shows no pity and knows no mercy. But
after justice has been fully satisfied, grace flows forth. Divine grace is not
exercised at the expense of justice, but “grace reigns through righteousness”
(Rom. 5:21), and if grace “reigns,”
then is grace sovereign.
Grace has been
defined as the unmerited favor of God*; and if unmerited, then none can claim
it as their inalienable right. If
grace is unearned and undeserved, then none are entitled to it. If grace is a gift, then none can demand it. Therefore, as salvation is by
grace, the free gift of God, then He bestows it on whom He pleases. Because
salvation is by grace, the very chief of sinners is not beyond the reach of
Divine mercy. Because salvation is by grace, boasting is excluded and God gets
all the glory.
exercise of grace is illustrated on nearly every page of Scripture. The
Gentiles are left to walk in their own ways while Israel becomes the covenant
people of Jehovah. Ishmael the firstborn is cast out comparatively unblest,
while Isaac the son of his parents’ old age is made the child of promise. Esau
the generous-hearted and forgiving-spirited is denied the blessing, though he
sought it carefully with tears, while the worm Jacob receives the inheritance
and is fashioned into a vessel of honor. So in the New Testament. Divine truth
is hidden from the wise and prudent, but is revealed to babes. The Pharisees
and Sadducees are left to go their own way, while publicans and harlots are
drawn by the cords of love.
In a remarkable
manner Divine grace was exercised at the time of the Saviour’s birth. The
incarnation of God’s Son was one of the greatest events in the history of the
universe, and yet its actual occurrence was not made known to all mankind;
instead, it was specially revealed to the Bethlehem shepherds and wise men of
the East. And this was prophetic and indicative of the entire course of this
dispensation, for even today Christ is not made known to all. It would have
been an easy matter for God to have sent a company of angels to every nation and to have announced the
birth of His Son. But He did not. God could have readily attracted the
attention of all mankind to the “star;” but He did not. Why? Because God is
sovereign and dispenses His favors as He pleases. Note particularly the two classes
to whom the birth of the Saviour was
made known, namely, the most unlikely
classes—illiterate shepherds and heathen from a far country. No angel stood
before the Sanhedrin and announced the advent of Israel’s Messiah! No “star”
appeared unto the scribes and lawyers as they, in their pride and
self-righteousness, searched the Scriptures! They searched diligently to find
out where He should be born, and yet it was not made known to them when He was actually come. What a display of Divine
sovereignty—the illiterate shepherds singled out for peculiar honor, and the
learned and eminent passed by! And why was the birth of the Saviour revealed to
these foreigners, and not to those in whose midst He was born? See in this a
wonderful foreshadowing of God’s dealings with our race throughout the entire
Christian dispensation—sovereign in the exercise of His grace, bestowing His
favors on whom He pleases, often on the most unlikely and unworthy.
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Encouragement for the Path of Christian Discipleship