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 monasticism”.
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 Disciple’s path.
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 study?
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” lifestyle.
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 stewardship”.
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 moment.
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 pointless?
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 everything.
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.
And so keep walking and talking with God, and try to let go of the things that will not last and pursue the One who will cause us to prosper and thrive for all eternity.
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.
THE SOVEREIGNTY OF GOD
By ARTHUR W. PINK
GOD’S SOVEREIGNTY DEFINED, concludes
God is 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.
The sovereign 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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“The views, opinions, and commentary of this publication are those of the author, M.T. Clark, only, and do not purport to reflect the opinions or views of any of the photographers, artists, ministries, or other authors of the other works that may be included in this publication, and do not necessarily reflect the views or positions of any entities the author may represent.”
Encouragement for the Path of Christian Discipleship
 Arthur W. Pink, The Sovereignty of God (Swengel, PA: Bible Truth Depot, 1949), 32–33.