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Archive for August 5th, 2013

Discipleship at Work: A Personal Testimony

fix-your-eyes

“Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God. When Christ, who is your life, appears, then you also will appear with him in glory. Put to death, therefore, whatever belongs to your earthly nature: sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires and greed, which is idolatry.” (Col. 3:1-5)

Dear Fellow Pilgrims in Christ Jesus,

There is NO “single-template” approach to true discipleship – or putting it another way there is NO “one size fits all” model for following Jesus. The Holy Spirit “tailors” each of our discipleship life stories to accomplish His purposes in us to the Glory of the Father. The basic underlying principle in true discipleship with Jesus lies in  rendering ourselves, out of “agape” love, as a living sacrifice to His Glory (Rom:12:1-2) – a decision of the heart, where we yield our entire life: body soul and spirit to Him who died for us so that He may live in us and through us to the Glory of His Name!

Once we have committed ourselves to follow Him along the “Narrow Way” (Matt. 7:13-14) of self-denial and have “set our minds on things above”, we compare notes with other fellow pilgims, we will find that each of our paths, though bearing some similarity in the gospel principles operating in our lives, nonetheless exhibit a great deal of unique differences in the details of our walk. The reason for this is that Jesus works at a very intimate, individual level with each of us in forming us into His Image in a way that is tailored to our own distinctive person-hood to achieve His purposes NOT ours. Because His purpose is to mold us like clay, He accepts us to walk with Him regardless of ur status in life. He takes us from where we are to where He wants us to be – but ONLY if we let Him! That is what True Discipleship is all about, “letting” Him do what he wants with us without any pre-condtions on our part.

Because He knows each of us intimately He knows that we are affected distincly by the circumstances and relationships in our lives as we wander through this fallen world. He, however, uses the flow of our life’s story to achieve His ends with us. That is why we cannot enter the way of true discipleship unless we have an intimate, transparent, working, and conversational relationship with Him! It is only within such a relationship that He can direct us along all the twists and turns of our lives.  Yes, it is His Word in Scripture that keeps us within bounds, but also His inspired Word working within us is what we must also rely on to work our our salvation in the everyday details of our daily existence. That us why daily prayer and meditation on His Word are essential to our walk with Him! Praised be His Holy Name!

My failure as an example

The other day, for example, I responded dishonestly to a business form I was requested to fill out. I, without thinking, I made a false statement that would let me look good in a particular business situation. As soon as I had sent that statement off, the Lord, speaking in the spirit, brought my dishonesty to my attention.  I stopped all that I was doing and concentrated on the strong awareness of my wrongdoing that His incisive judgement had made on me. I immediately repented, knowing that I had sinned and had tripped over a pot hole in my walk with the Lord.

I asked for forgiveness and that He restore me to our walk together, by the washing of His Blood. He only said: “Yes my son, I have forgiven you, even at the Cross I forgave you, but now you have understood that you cannot take what I have done for you for granted. You have to keep yourself constantly aware that you are still human and have a strong tendency to sin. You have to use the Grace I am providing you daily in the Eucharist to discern and fend off these temptations so that you will not fall into another hole along the way. It is through such an exercise of your conscience, based on my Word, that your spiritual formation will proceed.”

This event in my walk with the Lord is still resonating in me. I keep asking myself how could I have done this? I certainly receive His forgiveness but I began to see that I had become spiritually overconfident and prideful, such that I blinded myself to my own shortfalls and pride. I believe that if I had truly kept His Word in my heart for everything I do in my life, I would have reacted appropriately to the temptation and would not have fallen.

But I also realized that without the intimate personal relation I have with my Lord, I would have completely been blinded to my failure and deeply damaged the purity of my walk with Him! Thank you Jesus, for your Mercy and Grace! Thank you for letting me see where I failed so that I can ask the Holy Spirit to keep me from such a failure again!

I pass my experiences on to you my fellow pilgrims so that you may profit from them in you walk with the Lord and, that my witness, may incite you to  keep your heart pure every step of the way as you grow closer to Him.

Another example of the Lord using my transitions in life to teach me

During my daily prayer time, the Lord also reminded me that my spiritual formation will involve several transition periods which will also test my ability to remain faithful to my walk with Him and remain open to His Spirit in me.

The reason that this reminder came is that my wife and I are currently in the midst of  a “transition” whereby we are downsizing and moving to a smaller residence as we have become “empty nesters”.  In preparing for this transition, my wife and I both find ourselves being tested spiritually because we are being confronted directly with our attachment to “things” – things, like clothing, books, paintings, hobbies, etc., that, becuse of our attachments, we find difficulty in donating or discarding these objects.

It became clear to me that these attachments were drawing me away from my resolve to walk in the spirit with Jesus. This challenge, of course, also made me realize that my fleshly weakness would only lead to sin if I did not follow through in my intent to follow Him.  This tension within me prompted me to ask the Lord for His help in disconnecting from such worldly attachments. So I am dedicating daily prayer time for the Lord to grant me the grace and courage I need to be true to my desire to be His entirely, discarding all my worldly attachments..

Again, as I prayed about my down-sizing” problems, the Spirit brought to my mind the story of the rich young man, who was drawn to Jesus and approached Him asking,

“Master what good thing must I do to obtain eternal Life?’

“And He said to him,  “Why are you asking Me about what is good? There is only One who is good; but if you wish to enter into life, keep the commandments.”

He said to Him,  “Which ones?”

And Jesus said,  “You shall not commit murder; You shall not commit adultery; You shall not steal; You shall not bear false witness; Honor your father and mother; and You shall love your neighbor as yourself.”

The young man said to Him,  “All these things I have kept; what am I still lacking?”

Jesus said to him,  “If you wish to be complete, go and sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you shall have treasure in heaven; and come, follow Me.”

But when the young man heard this statement, he went away grieved; for he was one who owned much property.” 

(Matt. 19:16-22)

Note that Jesus only mentioned the commandments regarding interpersonal relations – He intentionally left out the commandments regarding our relationship to God and covetousness (which is a form of idolatry). He did not mention them, because He knew this young man had undue attachments to his wealth – attachments which mean that his wealth was his god and He wanted the young man to come to that realization and repent of it in order to be able to be His disciple.

In going over this story in my mind, I realized that, in bringing this scripture to my attention, the Holy Spirit was trying to tell me that the young man’s problem was my problem also. In my Lord’s view I was like this rich young man who was desiring to follow Him but was unable to separate Himself from his wealth and his belongings.

Yes, I too was being drawn to Jesus, and yes I too was being asked to disconnect from my belongings so that I could truly be yoked to my Lord and Master. It was then, that I realized that my “belongings” were aslo controlling me and that I could not truly be yielded to Jesus as my Lord as long as I remained connected to my “things”.

As a result, I have made the decision to donate or discard whatever is needed to downsize without giving regard to any attachment I may have. I am drawing up the plans to do so and I pray that the Lord will strengthen me as I proceed to carry out my plans. Praised be His Holy Name!

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My dear family in God, the main reason telling you about these personal circumstances in my walk with Him, is to give you a feel about how the Lord Jesus will interact with you to teach you and guide you in even the small details of your life. It is the way that He merges His life with ours so that, with our willing cooperation, He may bring forth the Reign of God the Father in our lives. And, as He accomplishes His work in us He will also use us to influence those around us to draw other into the Kingdom as well. This is what happens when we yoke ourselves to Jesus. I can testify that if you are carrying a heavy burden, such yoking to HIm will bring rest for your soul (I refer you to my article on “The Sweet Yoke of Love”).

When you Yoke yourself to Jesus, you have submitted yourself to the Father’s Reign in your lives and from then on, you are a participant in His Kingdom – you are truly a Disciple!

Praised be His Holy Name!

May the Lord Bless you and Keep you. May the Lord be gracious to you and Shine His Face upon you and Bring you His Peace!

Your Brother in Christ and fellow pilgrim …. Bartimaeus

(© B.R.Timeo and Bartimaeus’ Quiet Place, [2008-2013])

For Further Information on “Intentional Discipleship” please Click on:

1]  “Cast your Net on the Other Side

2] “Build your Spiritual House on The Rock”

3) “Prayer of Commitment”

4)  “Forming Lay Disciples”

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