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Archive for March, 2019

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The Way of True Discipleship

Losing Your Life for His sake…

Then Jesus told His disciples, “If anyone wants to come after Me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow Me. For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it. What will it profit a man if he gains the whole world, yet forfeits his soul? Or what can a man give in exchange for his soul?… (Matt:16:24-26)

“If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me” (Mark 8:34).

My Fellow Pilgrims in Christ Jesus,

One of the greatest obstacles we christians face in living the true christian life is our own “persona” or “soul”. Yes, even the most dedicated and devoted believer has to struggle with his or her “persona” every day of their lives because our persona is essentially more responsive to our “flesh” than to the Spirit, and it is the “flesh” that keeps us from truly “walking” in the Spirit. This is the “cross” that we as disciples of Christ must carry daily. And especially during Lent.

With the help and graces of the Holy Spirit we can usually come to a level of self control that permits us to grow spiritually step by step in our walk with Jesus. This is the process of transformation the Holy Spirit uses to gradually conform us to the image of “Christ in us, the Hope of Glory”.

“And we know that God works all things together for the good of those who love Him, who are called according to His purpose. For those God foreknew, He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son, so that He would be the firstborn among many brothers. And those He predestined, He also called; those He called, He also justified; those He justified, He also glorified.…” (Rom. 8: 28-30)

It must be said, however, that cooperating with the Holy Spirit in our transformation is a continuous struggle throughout or lives. Our main problem is that our fleshly persona is drawn completely to the ways of the world from our very beginnings. The Church attempts to provide us, through our priests and our parents, the ambience of holiness and grace, derived from the Word, the sacraments and devotions, needed by families to draw us away from the temptations of the “world, the flesh and the devil”. But alas not all of us are open to respond or receive the graces provided and thus become conformed to the world and NOT to Jesus, Our Lord!

The Season of Lent evolved in the Church specifically to provide its members with a structured approach to strengthening its members spiritually to not only resist the “World the Flesh and the Devil”, but to restore the integrity and union of our spirits with that of Christ himself. For without His Spirit empowering us to holiness we can accomplish nothing spiritual out of our own zeal and energy. (see John 15:4-6).

In order to fully cooperate with the Spirit of God in our spiritual renewal it must be based on a full free will offering of ourselves to Almighty God.

The Apostle Paul who also went through a severe struggle with his own persona exhorts us as to the type of consecration required of us to cooperate with the Spirit of God in His desire to conform us to the Spirit of His Divine Son, who already dwells in us through Baptism.

Seek the Spirtual Renewal of Our Minds

Finding our True Self

This is what Paul proclaims to the new Roman Christians the path to consecrating ourselves to God’s Plan for us:

“I appeal to you therefore, brothers and sisters, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your minds, so that you may discern what is the will of God—what is good and acceptable and perfect.” (Romans 12:1-2)

As you read about Paul’s life in the New Testament writings you see that, as Saul (Paul’s original name) pursued Jesus’ followers to Damascus the Lord took him off his “high” horse and brought him to conversion at the hands of Ananias in Damascus. Saul was so impacted by his encounter with Jesus that he immediately began to preach and proclaim the Gospel in the Damascus area. However, because of his own “persona” he was basically operating under his own religious zeal (now converted). As a result he caused such a tumult in Damascus that the Christians there had to rescue him and take him out of the city for his own safety! (see Acts 9:9-23).

For this reason, as Paul later explains the Lord took him on a long “retreat” to Arabia (see Gal.1:15-17) where the Holy Spirit brought his conversion to a conclusion and gave him the revelations he needed to wholly surrender his hyper-self to Jesus and let Him be His Lord and His God! That is why Paul was later able say: “It is no longer I who lives but Christ who lives in me and through me” (Gal.2:20).

The same happens to some of us in order become fully Christian – we have to take retreat and empty ourselves of our old “persona” behind and let the Spirit fill us with the Spirit of Jesus through our consecration to Him.

It is as John the Baptist said, “I must decrease [so that] He may increase” (John 3:30). That is why in lent our main intent should be that through prayer and fasting we depose the control of our fleshly persona and ask the Spirit of Christ to take dominion of our hearts so that He may conform us to His Spirit.

Now some modernists place psychological objections to the terminology “denying our self” or losing our self”. What we believers need to understand is that we are NOT diminishing our mental health by denying our selves but, on the contrary, we are replacing our “old self” or “old man” with the “New Man” we are in Christ Jesus.

In Conclusion Brethren …

I leave you with the hope that this Lenten Season you heed St. Paul’s exhortation to the Romans to put on the Lord Jesus Christ and walk in His Spirit and with the strength of character which He alone can provide”!

“11 Besides this, you know what time it is, how it is now the moment for you to wake from sleep. For salvation is nearer to us now than when we became believers; 12 the night is far gone, the day is near. Let us then lay aside the works of darkness and put on the armor of light; 13 let us live honorably as in the day, not in reveling and drunkenness, not in debauchery and licentiousness, not in quarreling and jealousy. 14 Instead, put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to gratify its desires.” (Romans 13: 11-14)

May the Lord Bless you as you turn to Him for wisdom and strength …

Your Fellow Pilgrim In Christ Jesus … Bartimaeus

© B.R.Timeo and Bartimaeus’ Quiet Place, [2008-2019]

Related Links that will assist you…
as you turn to Him in Repentance & Faith this Lent….

<> A Heart Rending Experience

<> A Litany of Humility

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