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Posts Tagged ‘Self Denial’

Our Father: It all begins with relationship

Our Father who art in Heaven

“And when you pray, do not heap up empty phrases as the Gentiles do, for they think that they will be heard for their many words. Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him. Pray then like this:

“Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name,
Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread,
and forgive us our debts,
as we also have forgiven our debtors.
And lead us not into temptation,
but deliver us from evil.

(Matt.6:7-13)

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My dear fellow pilgrims,

It all begins with relationship.

Only when we enter into the awareness that we are truly The Father’s Spiritual Children in Christ Jesus and enter into a personal relationship with the Divine can we begin to fully understand our inheritance in His Kingdom (cf., § Becoming Children of God). And that, through that understanding and the Divine Wisdom that comes with it, we may find our place and role in the here and now so that, through us, His Kingdom may indeed be manifested here on Earth as it is in Heaven.

For just like children of the flesh in this world who mature to fill distinct and varying roles and positions of responsibility, so too, we, God’s Spiritual Children, are purposed by Him to be His Arms of Love extended to the world – the world He created and redeemed so that He could manifest His Kingdom in their midst.

In His loving will He also has determined where and how are to serve Him and the spiritual gifts we will need to accomplish His will in this world.  That is why it is so important that we discern our individual calling and ask for His Holy Spirit to empower us to carry out that calling. But we cannot do this outside of a relationship with Jesus and the Father.

Lest we let this concept of being His instruments incorrectly exalt us, we must also be aware that this work is not to be accomplished by us, but by the Son of God who lives in us and works through us. He, and He alone, is the author and source of the work of the Kingdom. The only way we may participate in this work is through our complete surrender to Him and His Love. This surrender is not easy and is termed by Jesus as “ carrying your Cross”.  Believe me it is a difficult cup to drink from because requires us to die our own self-sufficient mentality and enter into a God-centered mentality – where we acknowledge to ourselves that, “without Him we can do nothing” (Jn.15:5)!

The Foundational Prayer for Discipleship  – The “Our Father”

That is why the prayer form that Jesus taught His disciples (cf., Matt.6:7-13) begins with the acknowledgement that God is “Our Father” and that we, as His Children, are totally dependent on Him and His Glory and power. A recognition that, although His Name, that is His Character and Person, is Holy and beyond the reach of any human rapprochement, He, through His Son, has breached the gap of holiness that separated us, so that we enter into a full and true relationship with him through His Son!

The prayer further states that, it is only through this relationship of obedience and love with Him, as Father, our source of life, provider, and sustainer, that we can be His instruments in bringing His Reign (Kingdom) into full manifestation in this world.

But of course, before we can be channels of His Love, His Reign must begin in us through our full surrender to Him and His Holy Spirit so that He might begin the work of His Kingdom in us!  The work of His Kingdom in us begins by His Spirit working in our lives to conform us to the image of His Son! Blessed be His Holy Name!

Recognizing that it is His work that must be accomplished, we ask for His daily sustenance and provision.  Although most of us take this request to mean “food for the table”, the reality is, that it is a request for His continual and daily spiritual empowerment, the infilling of His Spirit, to be able to carry out His Will. For us today, it refers to the living spiritual strength that is derived from communion with Christ in the Eucharist.

In the prayer we also recognize that our human failings against Love are a major impediment to the fulfillment of His Will and therefore ask for His forgiveness, in accord with our forgiveness of those who trespass against us.  In doing this we clear out anything in us that would impede His Will from being accomplished.

Recognizing, also, that the enemy will come against us through temptations to impede the Father’s Will from being completed, we also petition that He not permit any testing that goes beyond our ability to resist.

The reason this prayer, which we term “The Our Father”, is so important is because it is foundational to establishing the appropriate spiritual attitude of faith which underlies our ability to serve Him as His Children and fully committed disciples. That is why many have stated that this prayer really ought to have been named “The Disciples Prayer”.

If the problems of your life situation are creating impediments to your progress as a disciple, always keep in mind the admonition Jesus gave His disciples,

“Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more important than food, and the body more important than clothes? … [S]eek first the Kingdom of Heaven and His righteousness and all these things shall be added unto you”.  (cf., Mat. t6:25,33)

Or, put in today’s modern dialect, “ Do not let the worries and concerns of everyday life deter you … your first priority must be to let God reign in your life so that you are always faithful to accomplish His Righteous Will, then you will find that the worldly concerns in your life will be resolved appropriately”.

The Necessity of Prayer

Once, when through faith in His Word and Prayer, you have entered into an intimate relationship with the Father through Jesus and deeply desire to follow Jesus in discipleship, you will find that your need for a deeper continuing prayer life increases.  Just as Jesus, spent most of his evenings or early mornings in prayer, so to we who are following Him, must do the same.  We will do so, not so much as an imposed devotional practice, but instead to fill our awareness of the increased spiritual need for His presence in our renewed lives.

As we go deeper into discipleship we will find that we will not be able to adequately deal with the events and situations which we are called to handle without our daily prayer encounters with Jesus and the Father. Once we begin our prayer encounters and see the results in our everyday lives, we will willingly seek out these payer times on our own – for we begin to understand that our continuous need to tap into the source of LIFE without which we cannot function spiritually.

First of all we need to remember, that it is only through the intimacy of prayer that we receive from Him the wisdom, knowledge, empowerment, and Love we will need in preparation for the next day’s events. Secondly, it is through meditative  prayer in union with His Inspired Word, that we continue to be taught by the Holy Spirit in order to be formed and grow spiritually and learn from our experiences. St. Ignatius of Loyola tells us that “…there are very few people who realize what God would make of them if they abandoned themselves into his hands, and let themselves be formed by his grace.”

Once we have entered into true discipleship we will find that we can no more do without daily prayer than we can do without food or water.

The Need for Discernment

One of the problems we face as Lay Disciples of Jesus, is that the modern church is not structured to properly assist lay people, who are not part of the “religious establishment”, to follow the personal path of discipleship the Lord is calling them to follow.  The modern church establishment does not expect lay people to enter into such individual callings.  The establishment expects that any one who has such a call to either enter a seminary to become a priest, deacon, or minister or to join some religious order. It is difficult to overcome the prejudices of the past that have placed lay Christians as passive , un-empowered, servants of the clergy, having no understanding of things spiritual.

As a result, until the Lord works to change the situation we must seek the Lord intensely for personal discernment and guidance for what the Lord wants of us each day– a discernment that goes beyond that of our calling – a discernment that leads us to hear the voice of the Head Shepherd, Jesus Our Lord! (Cf., § Hearing and Obeying His Voice)

It is only through hearing and living His Word, inspired by the Holy Spirit that we will be able to distinguish between our fleshly-driven instincts and the spiritual directives and revelations from Our Heavenly Shepherd. Praised be His Holy name!

Now, I don’t discount our need of our earthly shepherds because they are still the dispensers of the sacraments, especially those of Reconciliation and the Eucharist. It is just that some of them cannot fully comprehend where we Charismatics are, spiritually, making it difficult for them to provide in-depth spiritual guidance for us when they themselves have never experienced the fullness and spiritual gifts of the Spirit and, in many cases, even resist them.

I try to maintain good relations with all members of the clergy, but I usually feel them out before going into spiritual issues until I sense they are on the same page with me and with the Holy Spirit. I know its not their fault, its just that the depth of their spirituality varies depending on their seminary and life experiences especially if they have not been introduced to the Baptism of the Holy Spirit.

By the way, I expect that this spiritual lethargy that is still evident with some of our clergy will all be changing in the church of the new era we are entering, where the Spirit of God will overwhelm all Christians with His Glory and many of those who are now holding back will be surprisingly renewed in the Spirit. It will be a very difficult era for Christians and He is preparing us for those times when we will need to draw upon His power and strength to manifest His Kingdom on this Earth!

I must also mention that If you are struggling with discerning the Lord’s Will in your life, obedience to the Father is of the essence. If you yoke yourself to the Lord He will bring you though the times when you are being tested because of the fleshly baggage we all have to contend with.

Even the very smallest thing that we allow in our lives that is not under the control of the Holy Spirit is completely sufficient to account for spiritual confusion, and spending all of our time thinking about it will still never make it clear. Spiritual confusion can only be conquered through obedience. As soon as we obey, we have discernment. This is humiliating; because when we are confused we know that the reason lies in the uncertain state of our mind. But when our natural power of sight is devoted and submitted in obedience to the Holy Spirit, it becomes the very power by which we perceive God’s will, and our entire life is kept in simplicity.

Relationship is Everything

Finally brethren, in order to make clear the importance of our relationship with Jesus and the Father, let us recall the words of  Our Teacher when he told His disciples to …

“Make every effort to enter through the narrow door, because many, I tell you, will try to enter and will not be able to. Once the owner of the house gets up and closes the door, you will stand outside knocking and pleading, ‘Sir, open the door for us.’ “But he will answer, ‘I don’t know you or where you come from.’  “Then you will say, ‘We ate and drank with you, and you taught in our streets.’  “But he will reply, ‘I don’t know you or where you come from. Away from me, all you evildoers!’  (Luke 13:24)

Yes, we also may claim a mundane familiarity with Him through your religious practice and even have worked signs and wonders in His name, but unless you personally “KNOW” Him, He will tell you when you come to His door: “depart from me you workers of iniquity, I do not KNOW you”.

Relationship, then, is everything, and without it our works for God become meaningless for entry into the Kingdom.

I pray brethren that the preceding discussion has been of help in encouraging you to move through the “narrow door” into a personal and private discipleship relationship with the Father through Jesus.  If you have that desire in your heart then you can be sure that the Holy Spirit placed it there. Pay heed, then, to that desire and seek the face of the Lord in prayer. If He placed it there He will confirm it and bring you to the open door to the Kingdom!

Baruch Ha Shem! Blessed be the Name!

Your Brother In Christ Jesus …. Bartimaeus

(© B.R.Timeo and Bartimaeus’ Quiet Place, [2008-2016])

Related Links

<> Sweet Yoke of Love

<> Husbands Love your Wives

<> Walking the Walk

<> Discerning the Spirit’s Call 

<>  Hearing God’s Voice and Obeying It

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Faith Comes By Hearing

Hearing-Gods-Voice

He who has Ears … Let Him Hear

“Now we have received not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit which is from God, that we might understand the gifts bestowed on us by God. And we impart this in words not taught by human wisdom but taught by the Spirit, interpreting spiritual truths to those who possess the Spirit. The unspiritual man does not receive the gifts of the Spirit of God, for they are folly to him, and he is not able to understand them because they are spiritually discerned. The spiritual man judges all things, but is himself to be judged by no one. For who has known the mind of the Lord so as to instruct him? But we have the mind of Christ.” (1 Cor. 2:12-16)

“My words are Spirit and they are Life” (Rom. 10:17 )

But how are men to call upon him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without a preacher? And how can men preach unless they are sent? As it is written, “How beautiful are the feet of those who preach good news! But they have not all obeyed the gospel; for Isaiah says, “Lord, who has believed what he has heard from us?” So faith comes from hearing, and hearing comes by the Word of God.” (Rom. !0: 8-17)

“He who has [spiritual] ears to hear let him hear” (Mark 4:9,Matt. 13:9 )

My dear brothers and sisters in Christ,

As a fellow Pilgrim it expedient for me to share my personal struggles along the way of discipleship so that my witness may, in some way, help you avoid some of the hindrances that I have encountered – hindrances which could cause one to stumble if the awareness of these were not brought to the fore.

Primary Hindrance – Hard of Hearing

Initially, in my Christian life, I was very spiritually disoriented. In fact, I was so disoriented I could not distinguish between religiosity and true spirituality.   I was a religiously compliant Catholic so I thought that that is all there was to being a good Christian. I was spiritually disabled but did not know it. I routinely heard God’s Word spoken every Sunday at mass but somehow it never reached the very depths of my spirit. I was a believer but most certainly I was also hard of hearing!

I was in a state comparable to what Jesus said of the Pharisees of His time…

‘… seeing they do not see, and hearing they do not hear, nor do they understand. With them indeed is fulfilled the prophecy of Isaiah which says: `You shall indeed hear but never understand, and you shall indeed see but never perceive. For this people’s heart has grown dull, and their ears are heavy of hearing, and their eyes they have closed, lest they should perceive with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and understand with their heart, and turn for me to heal them.’ (Matt 13:13-15)

I stumbled along with this spiritual disability for many years, keeping what faith I had, only by the Grace of God and my marriage to a wonderful Christian Lady – a woman who was the Lord’s instrument in permitting God to bring my spirit to life through His Word.

And, it was through the preaching of a Charismatic priest, whose meetings my wife had been attending, that was I delivered from my spiritual hearing disability and brought through the ‘narrow gate’ to an encounter with the person of the Living Christ! Thus began my transition to a truly fulfilling spiritual life.

“For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.”  (Heb. 4:12)

It is my intent to share my experiences of my transition to a true spirituality with you for your edification and to raise your level of awareness so that you may bypass my mistakes and progress more rapidly towards the holiness to which we have all have been called in Him.

Coming to Spiritual Awareness (and Hearing)

One of the first and greatest impediments I had to overcome was that I could not, out of my own human nature, or any one else’s, come to life in the spirit. And, being spiritually deaf, the Word of God could not take root in me. For, as Jesus told Nicodemus, “flesh begets flesh and Spirit begets spirit”. Only the Holy Spirit of God working through the inspired and empowered Word of God (Rhema) could bring me a to a new life in the Spirit.

St. Peter confirms this in his first epistle, where he tells the church, “You know that you were ransomed from the futile ways inherited from your fathers, not with perishable things such as silver or gold, but with the precious blood of Christ, like that of a lamb without blemish or spot. (Understanding that…) you have been born anew, not of perishable seed but of imperishable, through the living and abiding Word of God; for “All flesh is like grass and all its glory like the flower of grass. The grass withers, and the flower falls, but the word of the Lord abides for ever.” That word is the good news which was preached to you.”(1 Ptr. 18-18; 23-25)

When I, responded to the Word in faith, and became sensitive to the Life of the Spirit that was in me, I was able to spiritually “hear His Word” in my spirit and then, obeying the Word, I yielded myself to the Spirit so that through my willing cooperation He could begin the work of transformation in me – the work of conforming me to the image of Christ through His Word and empowering me to accomplish His Purposes in me for His Glory. Praised be His Holy Name!

In attempting to summarize my experience I can only say that, as a cultural Christian, I was roughly at the same intermediate stage of belief that the Samaritan villagers were when they heard the witness of the woman at the well (Jn. 4:39). That is, I believed the witness of the church in which I was raised based on the reasonable grounds on which the Good News of Jesus Christ was presented to me but not because the Word had reached my heart and enlivened me in the Spirit. Therefore, the Word did NOT have its full effect “because it was not mixed with faith”(Heb. 4:1-2).

Unlike the Samaritans, I was not motivated to seek out Jesus personally, because I was never presented with that option in my training. It was only later in my life that the Word of God reached me with power (as Rhema) and, then and only then, I sought out a personal relationship with Jesus who, through His Holy Spirit, empowered the Word of Salvation to enlighten my heart. It was only then, that I could say, as the Samaritans who sought out Jesus, told the woman at the well, “… now we believe not because of your testimony but because we have heard for ourselves and KNOW that this indeed is the Savior of the World!” (John 4:42)

Upon my spirit being reborn through the empowered Word, My spiritual ears were opened to truly Hear the Word of God clearly speaking to my heart so I could now also hear the voice of Jesus, my Shepherd, guiding me and leading along the narrow path of the spiritual journey. Within that first year, I was so excited in being able sense the Spirit of the Word that, in that first year, I read through the entire bible twice.

“The Word of God is a spiritual book written under the direction of the Holy Spirit. It was not written to our head but to the innermost part of our heart. This is why some people find the Bible so hard to understand. They are trying to comprehend it using only their mind. The Word of God has to inspire our heart before it can enlighten our mind.” (author unknown)

Secondary Hindrance: Not Understanding Discipleship

Once past my spiritual disability of not being sensitive to the Spirit of God within me, the Lord led me to understand that there was yet another hindrance keeping me from totally fulfilling His purposes for me. That hindrance was that of entering into a true and continuing discipleship with Him. Now that I could listen to the Lord through His Word, I began understanding spiritual things as I never had before. However, as I found out in my progress, there were still veils keeping me from a full awareness of the spiritual truths that are embedded in the Word. One of these is “discipleship”.

The veil that hindered me from understanding this truth was that of custom and culture. In our Christian culture we tend to form a world-view about Christianity that prevents us from seeing ourselves as God sees us. We tend to see ourselves as our religious culture sees us. In my case, I made the naïve assumption that now that I had been enlightened and begun a personal relationship with Jesus, my savior, that I was in fact also a disciple. So whenever I read the Gospels speaking of disciples, I assumed that I was one.

One night, while meditating on the scriptures about discipleship, I sensed the Holy Spirit putting the following thought in my mind: “when did you make a commitment to become a disciple and do you know what is involved in that commitment?”. As I pondered that thought, I began to realize that my becoming a true believer did not necessarily imply that I was a disciple. Yes, I not only believed who Jesus is and now have a relationship with Him, but just as the young ruler who came to Jesus ( cf., Lk. 18:18-25), His spirit in me was saying to me: “… yes, you also are very near to the Kingdom [being a disciple], you only lack one thing … you need to put aside your earthly attachments (including your own will) and come follow me”.

You see, what I had not realized because of my self-centered veil, was, that although I had been redeemed and cleansed by Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross, I had not yet freely given myself to Him in loving response. Instead I was attempting to live a holy life in obedience to the Word and My conscience, but doing it under my own will and effort. Because of the veil I had placed over myself, I did not realize that, in order to be a true disciple of Jesus, I needed to rend that veil of self-centeredness and become a living sacrifice to the Father, so that I would not just be trying to imitate Jesus, but so that Jesus Himself could manifest Himself in me and through me! Praised be His Holy Name.

St. Paul also came to this realization and exhorted his followers with the following words…

“I Beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God. For I say, through the grace given unto me, to every man that is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think; but to think soberly, according as God hath dealt to every man the measure of faith.” (Rom. 12: 1-3)

and …

“I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me; and the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.” (Gal. 2:20)

Jesus, himself told those following him that there was a cost to discipleship and they should assess the cost before making a commitment (Luke 14:28). Regarding this same matter, He also said, “… many are called, but few are chosen”. ( Matt. 22:14

Francis accepts his call to discipleship

Entering into discipleship (the Kingdom) requires us to make a decision in selfless agape Love – a decision to relinquish our right to our selves and giving ourselves totally to God. There is no condemnation if you decide not to but there is a cost if you do – you must deny your very self and give your “self will” to Christ because of the agape Love for Him welling up in your spirit.

It must be a decision made without any compulsion or coercion. It is a decision, apart from our decision to accept Jesus as our Savior so that it does not affect our salvation and thus is freely given, as all sacrifices must be! All of us are called to be His disciples but not all of us choose to do so.

That is the decision that the Holy Spirit confronted me with and a decision I freely made before God in the Spirit. And, this is the decision I now pose to you. Consult with the Holy Spirit in prayer, meditating on the Word deeply and sincerely before you make any decision, remembering there is NO condemnation whatsoever!

Whatever decision you make, I ask the God’s Peace and Blessings fall upon you as brothers and sisters in Christ Jesus – for He will still be your fortress and support in this life and we all are still united in Him as His Body!

Praised Be The Lord Forever!

Your Fellow Pilgrim … Bartimaeus

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Prayer of Commitment (revised):

              Lord Jesus, I believe that you, the Son of the Living God came down from heaven to reveal the Father’s Love to me by suffering and dying for my sins. I believe that through your death and resurrection you have brought redemption and life not only to me but also all else who believe in you. I further believe that it is only through knowing you in a loving personal relationship of discipleship that I can know the Father.

            It is because I have a burning desire to know you and abide in you that I now yield myself completely to you and your love. I open the door to my heart so you can come in and sup with me and thus begin the special relationship with you for which you died and for which I hunger.

            At this moment I also totally yield myself to your love by giving you the rights to my very self, in gratitude, so that you, and only you, will be the center of my life – and so that, through you, the Father’s Will shall be done in my life. With this declaration, I take your yoke of discipleship upon me; enter in and activate my spirit with your Holy Spirit so that I can go beyond just mere intellectual belief in you to a personal spiritual knowledge of you and the Father so that His Will may be accomplished in and through my life for His Glory.

           Lord, cleanse me from my sins and make me a fit vessel for your presence and your purposes. Permeate my entire being with your life and your love so that I can truly be your instrument in this world. Be my Lord, Be My God, Be my King to rule and to reign in me. In faith and by your grace, I receive you and I receive your Word. Abide in me just as you abide in the Father and the Father in you! Thank you for giving yourself  for me, now take me for yourself so that You may live in me and through me, I am yours forever for the Glory of the Father. Amen

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<> If you do not feel that you are ready to make this full commitment to discipleship, don’t worry the Lord will take you as you are as long as you are willing to enter into a relationship with Him and be empowered by His Spirit. Once you let him into Your Heart He will do the rest by His Grace. To that end, I refer you to the following links:

Prayer to Receive the Holy Spirit

Discipleship: Accepting the Challenge

Cast Your Net on the Other Side

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(© B.R.Timeo and Bartimaeus’ Quiet Place, [2008-2014])

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Has Jesus Arisen in Your Heart? (part 3)

— The Final Stage of our Transformation: Coming into Union with Christ

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Here are the Elemental Scriptures on which this Article is Based:

God’s Transforming Purpose for Believers –

For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the first-born among many brethren.” (Rom. 8:29)

 

Are you being Conformed to Christ's Image?

Are you being Conformed to Christ’s Image?

Paul’s Exhortation to Believers to Yield to God’s Transforming Purpose –

“I appeal to you therefore, brethren, 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 renewal of your mind, that you may prove what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.” (Rom:12:1-2)

Believer’s Commitment in Response to God’s Purpose-

“I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me; and the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.” (Gal.2:20)

God’s Graces Resulting from our Commitment –

“Now we have received not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit which is from God, that we might understand the gifts bestowed on us by God. And we impart this in words not taught by human wisdom but taught by the Spirit, interpreting spiritual truths to those who possess the Spirit. The unspiritual man does not receive the gifts of the Spirit of God, for they are folly to him, and he is not able to understand them because they are spiritually discerned. The spiritual man judges all things, but is himself to be judged by no one. For who has known the mind of the Lord so as to instruct him? But we have the mind of Christ.” (1 Cor. 2:12-16)

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My dear fellow pilgrims in Christ Jesus,

In my previous articles on this subject I indicated to you my contention that the work of the Holy Spirit in conforming us to the image of Christ (Rom. 8:29) in this life consists of at least three major stages or transitions of spiritual growth, namely,

Stage 1 – Unbelief to a Living Faith and Spiritual Awakening (Enlightenment)

Stage 2 – Spiritual Awakening to Spiritual Empowerment and Consecration

Stage 3 – Spiritual Consecration to Spiritual Union With Christ

In this article it is my intent to discuss my reflections on the final transition from our consecration as disciples to our spiritual union with Christ. This is a stage to which we are all called but to which few of us attain, mainly because, even though our hearts truly desires such a union, the struggle with our natural selves and the world obstructs us to the very end of our lives on earth.

Scripture clearly indicates that it is Jesus’ prayer to the Father that we all come into such a union so that we may all be one in the Spirit with the Father and the Son.

“Neither pray I for these alone, but for them also which shall believe on me through their word; That they all may be one; as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us: that the world may believe that thou hast sent me.” (Jn. 17:20-21)

Because of the weakness of our faith some take the words to merely indicate the destiny of the Church to be One In Christ, forgetting that the church is made up of us as individuals and in order for that unity to occur we must all, as individuals, come to that unity with the Godhead through the Spirit of Christ that is in us.

In the previous stages of our transition to this unity we discussed how our spirits needed to be renewed through conversion and baptism into Christ by the Holy Spirit so that we are identified with Christ and He with us. We also discussed that in order for the Holy Spirit to conform us to the image of Christ we needed to yield to the Spirit so that we could begin the transformation through a renewal of our minds (souls). In that yielding we also offered ourselves up as a living sacrifice so that the Holy Spirit could work in us and through us to manifest the works of Jesus in and through our lives. This of course, entailed an empowerment by the Spirit of God that has been termed, “the Baptism in the Spirit”.

This second stage, which progresses from our “new birth in Christ” is sometimes called the “discipleship” stage where we learn to follow Jesus by dying to self through the obedience of Love and carry this cross daily as part of our discipline.

The third stage which we are discussing in this article is the successful conclusion to carrying our cross to the point where we are crucified with Christ, and like Paul can state that, “… It is no longer I who lives but Christ who lives in me and through me.”

Those of us who are able to thus yield ourselves to the Spirit of Christ then come to a point of unity with the Spirit of Christ that all that they think, or say, or do comes not as from themselves but as an emanation of the Spirit of Christ that dwells in them. And actually, of course, He dwells in all who truly belong to Christ, but for reasons that are peculiar to each person, we are prevented from maturing sufficiently to reach this stage of Unity with the Divine here in this world.

Now all of us who belong to Christ will ultimately be one with Christ in our next life in the Kingdom. So our ultimate salvation is not at stake, it is only our ability to be fully His representatives in this world that will be diminished to the degree of lack of union with the Spirit of Christ that is in us.

It is the Father’s purpose for sending His Son to redeem us, not only to save us, but to multiply the presence of His Son in this world, through us so that we might be His Partners in continuing Christ’s ministry here on Earth, until He personally come for His Bride! Praised Be His Holy Name!

This is what the Scripture means when it says “… that He might be the First among many Brethren!”

Now I know, that you may have been stirred by what I just related to you – but you are saying to your self: “can this be true can the Lord really be asking us to yield to His Spirit in such away that we come to a place where we no longer represent ourselves but represent Him – after, we indeed, are formed to manifest His Image in us?”

I know because I not only asked myself this question, but I also asked it of the Lord.

Here is His answer, not only to me but all of you who are Seeking His Kingdom – a Kingdom that is only fully realized when we are united with the King in Spirit.

The Lord’s response

“My son, you have been seeking the Kingdom – you have desired to enter into my Kingdom. I am answering your prayer even now.

“Yes, there are obstacles in you that have been preventing the Kingdom from manifesting in your life. I am about to remove these obstacles, but I need your cooperation – your willingness. For you see these obstacles are self-inspired and removing them will cause you some discomfort. But I will give you the faith and strength you need to overcome these obstacles and cast them into the sea.

“I will reveal these obstacles to you one-by-one and together we will remove them from your life. As each one goes you will see more and more of the Kingdom manifested in you life. It is what I have always desired for you but you were not ready to receive this stage of manifestation.

“Through the work of my Spirit, you are now at the entry stage – only give yourself totally to me. Die completely to your own pretentions, ambitions, and self-congratulating desires. Learn to seek My Heart, My Love, My Desires, and my Compassion. Let My Spirit rule in your heart, then you will sense the River of My Love flowing through you. Then you will experience the true fervor of My Love – for all humanity. But in order to arrive to this point you must decrease so that I may increase in you and in your life! Then and only then will you truly enter into My Kingdom!

“Do this and LIVE my son, let your self be merged with mine! Do nothing on your own – seek Me in everything, be obedient to my leadings and you will no longer be your own. Then and only then, when you completely let go of your earthly self, will you enter into oneness with me – your God and Your Savior! “

For about a week I meditated on what the Lord had Just told me when, during a prayer time, a Word from scripture, suddenly came to mind, confirming the Word He have me and leading me as to the path that I needed to take for entry into the Kingdom. The path I needed overcome my first obstacle my ignorance that it is through the intimate person-to-person knowledge of Jesus and His Promises that we become partakers of His Divine Nature, thus granting us entry into His Kingdom. Read for yourselves, this writing from Peter, and understand!

Simon Peter, a servant and apostle of Jesus Christ,

To those who through the righteousness of our God and Savior Jesus Christ have received a faith as precious as ours: Grace and peace be yours in abundance through the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord.

His divine power has given us everything we need for a godly life through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness. Through these he has given us his very great and precious promises, so that through them you may participate in the divine nature, having escaped the corruption in the world caused by evil desires.

For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; and to godliness, mutual affection; and to mutual affection, love. For if you possess these qualities in increasing measure, they will keep you from being ineffective and unproductive in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. But whoever does not have them is nearsighted and blind, forgetting that they have been cleansed from their past sins.

Therefore, my brothers and sisters, make every effort to confirm your calling and election. For if you do these things, you will never stumble, 1and you will receive a rich welcome into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

(2 Ptr. 1: 1-11)

If anyone, other than Jesus, is capable of telling us about the keys to the Kingdom it would certainly be Peter, to whom Jesus granted the Keys to the Kingdom. And in this scripture He is telling me that one of these keys is the “Key of Knowledge”. I understood then that it was my ignorance of spiritual things that was one of the things holding me back. And here the Holy Spirit, speaking through Peter, clearly lays out the path, in faith, that I must follow to begin my entrance into the Kingdom! Praised be His Holy Name!

Through this understanding of the Word, I dedicated myself totally to Him and His Word, opening myself to the leadings of the Holy Spirit, so that in this manner I yoked myself to Him and began my walk into His Kingdom. And that is what I am encouraging all my brothers and sisters to do, who sincerely desire to come to an intimate union with their Lord and Savior, Jesus, the Anointed of the Father. To Him be Glory Forever! Amen and Amen!

I also was given the understanding that, through receiving the Eucharist in Faith, not only, I would re-affirm my commitment to Him, but I would also be strengthened in my Spirit by His Abiding Presence in Him which is one of the Promises, mentioned by Peter, that make us partakers of His Divinity.

Here are some of the related Promises made by Jesus Himself, regarding our partaking of His Divinity…

Unless you eat of my flesh and drink my blood...

Unless you eat of my flesh and drink my blood…

“… So Jesus said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you. Whoever feeds on my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day. For my flesh is true food, and my blood is true drink. Whoever feeds on my flesh and drinks my blood abides in me, and I in him. As the living Father sent me, and I live because of the Father, so whoever feeds on me, he also will live because of me. This is the bread that came down from heaven, not like the bread the fathers ate, and died. Whoever feeds on this bread will live forever.” (Jn. 6:53-58)

In His ultimate high-priestly prayer to the Father, Jesus also said … ‘I ask not only on behalf of these, but also on behalf of those who will believe in me through their word, that they may all be one. As you, Father, are in me and I am in you, may they also be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me. The glory that you have given me I have given them, so that they may be one, as we are one, I in them and you in me, that they may become completely one, so that the world may know that you have sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me”. (Jn. 17:20-23)

We are kept from manifesting this revelation of our conformance to the image of Christ by a self-imposed veil, similar to the one that Paul discusses with the Corinthians …

“… to this day whenever Moses is read a veil lies over their minds; but when a man turns to the Lord the veil is removed.Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being changed into his likeness from one degree of glory to another; for this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit.” (2 Cor. 3: 15-18)

“But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, to show that the transcendent power belongs to God and not to us. (2 Cor. 4:7)

“So we do not lose heart. Though our outer nature is wasting away, our inner nature is being renewed every day. (2Cor. 4: 16)

I urge you, then, brothers and sisters, if the Spirit is moving you heart, to avail yourself of this opportunity and commit yourself to Christ as a living sacrifice and let him begin the renewing of you minds and your partnership with His Ministry to this world!

But most of all brethren, I urge you to thank the Lord for all that He has done for you and the Holy Spirit for revealing Christ in you, our Hope of Glory, so that you can fulfill your calling and purpose. Give the Lord Praise and Worship as you come before His throne and bow down before Him, humbling yourself as you offer yourself to Him to become , in His Name,  an instrument of His Love in this world and in the world to come. May it be so for His Glory for ever and ever AMEN!

I only ask that you pray for me as I also walk along the path of spiritual Calvary.

Your Brother and fellow Pilgrim in Christ Jesus …. Bartimaeus

(© B.R.Timeo and Bartimaeus’ Quiet Place, [2008-2014])

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RC.net : Regarding Discipleship

 

 

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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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Pray to the Lord of the Harvest (Part 2)

Jesus Calls His Disciples

“When he saw the crowds, he had compassion for them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. Then he said to his disciples, “The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few; therefore ask the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest.”  (Matt. 36-38)

My dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

In my previous article with this ttile, I mentioned that waves of spiritual darkness are enveloping this world and that we need not to despair but to understand that this is also a time of harvest that the Lord is using to separate the wheat from the chaff. The peoples of the world are feeling harassed and helpless spiritually, sensing the need for a Shepherd and Savior. As our Chief Shepherd, Jesus is telling us to Pray to the Father to send out workers (disciples) into the Harvest to proclaim to them the Good News of the Cross and the arrival of the Shepherd they have been seeking! To that end, we need to pray that the Lord help us to make more “lay disciples” to help in the Harvest, by bringing more disciples to the front lines, freely proclaiming the Good News of the Cross of Christ to the whole world.

I also tried to make it clear that one of the reasons we don’t have more “lay disciples” is because our modern religious culture has not adequately provided for the making of lay disciples and, instead, it (our modern religious culture) prefers to place the laity in a role as “stewards of time, talent, and treasure” to help maintain the religious infrastructure of the church, thus “placing the cart before the horse”. In one case, a high ranking clergyman responding to a question as to what exactly was the role of the laity in the church, responded by saying that the laity’s only roles were to : “pay, pray, and obey”.

In this second article I wish to point out that due to this tradition of lay disenfranchisement, most the laity do not even know that they are called to the same discipleship as the clergy, and, even worse, they are not even sure as to what true discipleship entails and how they may enter into such a calling. I have, in all my previous articles on this topic, tried to inform my readers, about just what discipleship entails and its cost to those who respond to the call.

In summarizing my position in this matter, I will first begin by telling you that discipleship is NOT a self-willed program where we enlist in a variety of religiously commandeered activities or efforts to do something for God and His people, the church. It is also NOT merely the scheduling ourselves to participate in pietistic devotions and scripted group prayers as if somehow, our attempts at establishing our own “holiness” will enhance our standing as “disciples”.

No, dear family of God, true discipleship is NOT our work! It is the work of the Holy Spirit in us to conform us to the image of the Son! As such it is a spiritual work accomplished by the Spirit in us, so that the Spirit of Christ that is in us may manifest itself through us to bring forth fruit for the Kingdom to the Glory of the Father! It is the process whereby the world is crucified to us and we to the world (Gal. 6:14). The end result being, that it is no longer we who live but Christ who lives in us and through us! (Gal. 2:20)

Our only part in entering into true discipleship is cooperating with the Spirit through a decision of our will to surrender ALL of our selves to the Father and placing His will above ours in all that we do in our lives from that point on! When Jesus was asking His followers to follow Him, He was not asking them to perform works of religious piety – He was asking them to place themselves under the Reign of the Father, as He himself was, so that the Father Himself could use them (and us)  to manifest His Kingdom in this World for His Glory, not ours! That, of course, is what we are praying when we say, what we call the “Lord’s Prayer” (Matt. 6:9-13) but, is in fact, the “Disciple’s Prayer” of commitment and surrender to the Father’s Will. The sad part of this is that for today’s Christians the meaning of this prayer has been culturally obscured so that is merely repeated pietistically supposedly to honor the Father and ask for His sustenance and forgiveness.

No, it is more than that! It is a prayer of consecration where we are saying to the Father, that, in honoring Him as Creator and Father, we also recognize that, through His Sons’ Sacrifice on the Cross, we acknowledge that He has accepted us as His “children”, and therefore, because of faith in Him and His Love, we gratefully place our lives ENTIRELY under His Command (Kingdom) so that HIS WILL (and NOT ours) may be manifested on Earth as it is in Heaven!

The Apostle Paul similarly re-states what this entrance to “true discipleship” involves in his epistle to the Romans, where he states: “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” (Rom. 12:1-2)

So, unless you have made such a serious and intentional consecration of your self to God the Father, so that you yield your will completely to His in all things in your life, you are NOT a true disciple of Christ. This level of consecration of self to the Father is what Jesus did at His baptism and if you are truly “following” Him, it is a consecration that you must make also. Understand however, that, this decision must flow out of your personal and intimate relationship with Jesus or it will NOT be considered sincere. Remember what Jesus told those who said to him that they had done many mighty works in His Name. He told them: “… depart from me you workers of iniquity I never knew you” (Matt. 7:23).  For a deep intimate relationship with our Lord and Master must, of necessity, be at the core of our discipleship or else we are just deceiving ourselves.

Francis accepts his call to Lay Discipleship

Francis accepts his call to Lay Discipleship

Now, this consecration is merely the point at which the Holy Spirit can begin the process of conforming you to the image of the Son. The spiritual transformation involved will encompass your entire lifetime! This transformation is NOT your work or your effort, it is only accomplished by the Spirit in you and through you as you immerse yourself in the Word of God and activate that Word in you by acting on it and speaking it. In this way you let the Word rule in your life to bring the transformation about!  All you need to do is cooperate through your obedience in Love to let “His Kingdom Come” into you and through you!

It must also be clear that every believer is called to make such a commitment but is NOT obliged to do so!  In order for your dedication to be truly an act of Agape Love, your choice must be totally free and you must be acutely aware about its cost in order to make that decision without coercion. Because of this freedom, your salvation is NOT contingent on what you choose. That is why the Lord told his disciples that “many are called (to be disciples) but few are chosen”. If you sense the call of the Lord in your spirit and respond to this call by consecrating yourself as a “living sacrifice” then you have been chosen if you respond positively to His Call.

This call to discipleship is for ALL believers NOT just the clergy or religious. Unfortunately, due to the current culture, the laity are often not taught this and, mainly for that reason, we do not have all the workers that are needed for the Harvest at hand!

Once you have made your consecration, the Holy Spirit begins His work in your life regardless of what your situation is: married or single, student or professional, male or female. etc. All that matters is that you dedicate yourself, through prayer and meditation on the WORD to hear what God is asking you to do and be obedient to His directives. He will be your teacher, your guide, your helper, and He will empower you to accomplish that which He has directed you to do, In His NAME! That is all that He is asking you to do! That is what true discipleship is about!

If the circumstances you are currently in appear to be an impediment to your decision, just remember Jesus’ exhortation to His disciples:

“ Seek first to place yourselves firmly in obedience to God’s Reign in your lives, seeking always His approval in all that you do. If you do this then all the circumstances in your lives will fall in to place for you as you carry out His commission.” ………………(my understanding of Matt: 6:33)

Also keep in mind Pauls’s exhortation to the Colossians:

“So, if you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth, for you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God.  When Christ who is your life is revealed, then you also will be revealed with him in glory.”  (Col.3: 1-4)

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In order to inform the Body Of Christ as to the dire dearth of true lay discipleship and our need for  it, I am attaching to this writing with a paper written by a group of lay Catholics in a rural parish in Northern California, discussing the subject of lay discipleship. This paper summarizes the historical dissolution or diminishment of lay discipleship within the church over the centuries. The paper is presented by me in two separate posts. This being the second.

The first part dealt with the first thousand years of church history and this second part deals with the last thousand years. I will leave its message to your own discernment through prayer and meditation. And I pray that the Holy Spirit will work through what I am presenting to you to guide you in determining your response to the message.

But above all, pray that the Lord of Harvest will send forth workers into His fields!

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

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”

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

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The views presented in the following papers are those of the Issues Group and are not necessarily representative of the people of St. Aloysius Parish nor the Roman Catholic Church.

 (Copyright Pending; Elk Altar Society Inc., Elk, Ca.)

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Catholic Issues Series:  The Church Today

The Role of Clergy and Laity

Part II :  Cleric and Lay in the Second One Thousand Years of the Church

From the time of the Constantine emperors to the first centuries of the new millennium most people were uneducated and powerless. For this and other reasons, the breach between cleric and lay by the year one thousand was the widest in the two thousand year history of the Church. But it was also the turning point. Form the year one thousand to the year fifteen hundred, ordinary men and women began to play a more active part in the shaping of daily events. Power and wealth increased with a growing middle class, and the primitive beginnings of representative government in small towns and national assemblies began to take root and grow throughout Europe. Scholars, writers, artists, musicians, changed the world view. This was the age of Giotto, Chaucer, Dante, Boccaccio, da Vinci – all non clerics. Architecture redefined cities, and the sciences of medicine and law opened up new horizons. Universities were increasing in enrollment. A rich merchant class emerged. Papal and royal authorities were finding themselves more frequently challenged, not yet out of anger or dissatisfaction in this time of innocence, but out of an ever increasing knowledge and research. Because of this, but ever so slowly, lay progress was made in the church. The Franciscan movement, as well as others, helped define a new laity spirituality and encouraged lay teaching and scholarship. Thanks to the Crusades, knights gained new lay status in the Church’s structure. Women began to exercise roles within the Church not exercised since the fourth century, particularly in writing the renewal and reforms of western mysticism.

With these changes came an ever growing unease within the Church. On the one hand there was a sense that something was seriously wrong at the Church’s very core. Why was not this new lay voice more actively incorporated and listened to? Why was not power and authority shared? Why was it that only the cleric half of the Church seemed to share in the discipleship of Christ and not the whole Church? From the years one thousand to fifteen hundred, the theme was time and again reform, reform, reform. From the reforms of the Avignon papacy to the Gregorian reforms, to the Council of Trent, the Church struggled to come to terms with the new realities of emerging lay men and women in a changing world, but in terms of structure it also resisted. This new reality was not welcomed by Church leaders. To be equal to the constant challenges by the royal courts of Europe, the papacy in its view could not allow itself to be weakened by lay influences. In the centuries to follow, the results of this irony would be cataclysmic. Because of its rigidity the Church would be ever altered by the Protestant Reformation and what is called the Counter Reformation that followed.

Although the role of the lay person was not central to any of the Protestant reform movements at the beginning of the sixteenth century there is little doubt that the role of the lay person was greatly enhanced by these movements. Luther’s central issues of justification, good works, grace, as well as John Calvin’s views on women in the church and in society opened to thoughtful Catholics the prospect for new possible roles in the Church. Discipleship could be seen as something broader than simply one’s loyalty to the Church. It was once again seen as sharing in Christ’s mission of salvation to the world. Like Paul, one could be a disciple by being a tent maker, a non-cleric. The message was by baptism into Christ and sharing in the Eucharist of Christ we are disciples of Christ. We do not become disciples by virtue of ordination.

It cannot be said either that lay persons were a central focus of the Council of Trent (1545-1573), but they were affected. The bishops of the council hoped to enhance the lay person by focusing on better trained and more deeply spiritual clergy, something of a holy trickle down theory. The results were mixed. The council was further hampered by a continually defensive leadership and the fear of Protestant taint if a gospel rather than an ecclesiastical approach to the issues of lay men and women were adopted.

Yet the world continued to turn. Locked out of ecclesiastical power, lay men and women advanced in the secular world. Through the American and French revolutions they redefined western civilization. The concepts of unalienable rights, freedom of speech, freedom of assembly, government of the people, even freedom of religion, empowered every citizen. The divine right of kings had given way to the divine right of the common man. From now on it is the citizen who is the foundation of civil power, not the king or the emperor. Still the Church remained negative and defensive. This was true for many reasons. For one, there were strong anticlerical sentiments in the revolutionary movements. Also the Church was still connected to the falling nobility, not the emerging citizen. But now the old order was fading. Except for the Church, monarchical rule was by and large dead.

But even within the Church progress was made, no matter how grudgingly and indirect. By the nineteenth century Catholic lay groups and Catholic Action had become essential parts of the Church. As women advanced in the civil world they also advanced in the Church in fields of education, health, administration, and social welfare. Yes, in terms of status, the lay person was still on the bottom rung of the Church ladder. Yes, loyalty to the institution still largely defined lay discipleship. And yes, right up to today the Church is more understood as the hierarchical institution than the Christ centered faithful. For many still, Sunday Mass is the Church experience while the day-in-day-out challenges of the other six days are the real world.

Disconnected and authoritarian the Church moved into the turmoil of the twentieth century. And thanks to great lay men and women of vision who truly believed in the Church, men and women who pressed with all the perseverance of the widow before the judge, who used the education and talents and skills they had garnished from the world, the Church with time was brought to a new dawn. With their secular influences and powers, outstanding men and women guided the Church not from within the hierarchical structure but from without, yet as surely as anyone who sat upon the seat of Peter. Great lay and clerical voices spoke throughout the century, Jacques Maritain, Danielou, Teilhard de Chardin, Francois Mauriac, Graham Greene, Evelyn Waugh, Carol Houselander, Dorothy Day, Yves Congar, Leon Joseph Suenens, Karl Rahner, and so on. Their message was one and the same. We all share in the one discipleship, we are all the one Church. There is no within and without. There is no order of worth or status higher than the living faith of the Christian. And they were heard. John XXIII threw open the windows and launched the greatest reform in the history of the Catholic Church.

But thirty years after this council we may sadly ask for what? With all our advancements, with all our supposed education, both cleric and lay, we still for the greater part remain stuck in old precepts. We have dropped the ball. Those on the right with their dire warnings and those on the left with their ire and wounds both drink from the same muddy well. It is not enough for us to be defined by the past, we have been called to define the future. The Church is not a finished structure handed on from generation to generation, it is an unfinished structure that needs it artists and artisans. We owe our love and awe and respect to this often failed and imperfect institution, and owe to its future an awful responsibility.

In terms of opportunity and education no generation has received more than we. Future generations will rightly judge if we were wanting, and neither our fears nor our complaints nor whimpering will amount to much, I am sure, in their assessments. Where then are the great voices? Where are the heirs of the Mauriacs and Greenes and Rahners, those who shepherded the Church with Peter to the greatest of all councils and did so without fear of the future or resentment of the past? Where are the visionaries? The new millennium needs its prophets. If we today cannot accept the great gift given to us by the council and claim the Church as its true disciples, then it will not have been a council that failed us but we who failed a council. Without Christ there is no Church. Without discipleship fully shared, lay and cleric, there is also no Church. But striving together for the sheer glory of it in Christ, we can, after two thousand years of trying, finally be what the early Christians always knew themselves to be: together in Christ, the Church.

In the first paper we looked at the first one thousand years to see where we came from and how we grew. In this paper we  complete this process by looking at  the second thousand years and bring history to our own doorsteps. From here perhaps we will discern the parts we must play in launching the third one thousand years.

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We have done our best to credit our sources. Please forgive us if we have overlooked any.

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The Making of  a Disciple: Accepting the Challenge

Regarding Discipleship …

Where I am - there my disciple will be also ...

Where I am – there my disciple will be also …

Jesus said: “Very truly, I tell you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains just a single grain; but if it dies, it bears much fruit. Those who love their life lose it, and those who hate their life in this world will keep it for eternal life. Whoever serves me must follow me, and where I am, there will my servant be also. Whoever serves me, the Father will honor. (John 12:24-26)

Paul said: “I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but it is Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.”  (Gal 2:19-20)

And …  “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. (Rom. 12:1-2)

 And… “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; 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; let us live honorably as in the day, not in reveling and drunkenness, not in debauchery and licentiousness, not in quarreling and jealousy. Instead, put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to gratify its desires. (Rom. 13:11-14))

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ Jesus,

Coming into a True Discipleship Relationship with Jesus can only come by dying to one’s self-life so that the Christ-life that us in us through conversion and baptism can work through us to bring Forth the Father’s Kingdom in this world. The yielding of our very selves to Him as an act of Love enables us, who are nothing, to be His partners in bringing forth His eternal reign of Love, both in what remains of our life here on earth, and in the next life with Him in eternity.

This post is a sequel to my previous overview on discipleship.  In that discussion I gave an overview to the overall topic of what I believe Jesus meant by the term, “disciple” and what it should mean to us, in whom the Lord has placed a calling to be His disciples. I also made it clear that being a baptized believer does not automatically make you a “disciple”.

While every believer is called to be a disciple, not every believer responds to the call to discipleship. A call to discipleship is a call to yield ourselves to the Spirit of Jesus that is in us so that He can bring forth the Kingdom of God through us! It is a call to place our “old man” on the cross with Jesus and “put on the New Man” (Rom.12:14), the life of the resurrected Jesus, so that He may continue His ministry (service) to humanity directly through us – for the Glory of the Father and In His Name, NOT ours!

The Way of True Discipleship

Those of us, “wannabe” (want to be) disciples, who deep in our hearts, want to respond to the call – are faced with a life-changing challenge – in order for His Life to be manifested through our lives, we must willingly empty ourselves out so that the Holy Spirit may activate His Life in us.

The process of emptying of ourselves is the daily cross we are asked to bear. This is the process by which we die to “self”, that is, to living a self-centered life.! The Way of the Cross is the Way of Discipleship.

Right now, most of us who are sincerely trying to be disciples, are doing it out of our own fleshly zeal – attempting to emulate Christ in our lives. While, our intentions are to be admired, the manner with which we are carrying it out leaves something to be desired. You see, while attempting to imitate Christ with our own internal drive and ambition, we are actually frustrating the work of GRACE the Holy Spirit wishes to work in us and through us!  You cannot have Grace and Works operating at the same time. One excludes the other! You MUST deny your “self” for Grace to be operative!

Let us very clearly understand this: WE CANNOT IMITATE CHRIST! What we are being called to do is, out of “agape” Love, permit the very Life and Spirit of Christ to express itself in us and through us! The only manner that the Spirit Of Christ can be activated and manifest through us is if we willingly accede to Him and lovingly empty ourselves of all our personal ambitions (even though they be religiously motivated) so that His Spirit which is already in us through conversion and Baptism, may use us as earthen vessels to bring His Presence and His Gifts through us. But in order for our earthen vessel to be used by God we must first empty it of our self-willed motivations.  It is just as John the Baptist said:  “He must increase but I must decrease” (John 3:30)! The Holy Spirit can only use us to the degree that we empty our will of our own desires and ambitions. The process of emptying our earthen vessels takes time but it is the process the Spirit uses to conform us to Jesus (Rom.8:29).

This process by which the Holy Spirit conforms us to Christ is a transformation that involves the renewal of our minds. Our minds (and souls) must be cleared of all of our self-centered motivations and reactions to a God-centered and God-directed approach to living to the point where we no longer have to ask: “what would Jesus do” because our “new self” is, in fact, Jesus – for “we have the mind of Christ” (1 Cor.2:16).

The Father does not want us to be merely imitators of His Son, His desire is that the unique Life of His Only Begotten Son be manifested in us and through us so that the HOLY SEED that was planted at Calvary (Jn 12:24) may multiply and bring forth His Kingdom in this world. We are called, not to be imitators, but rather REAL EXPRESSIONS of the one and only living Christ in every part of the life of this world! This is how His Kingdom will come!

This is a hard concept for Modern Christians to accept, because it involves yielding control of our lives to God – yet this is the fundamental principle behind true discipleship.

At this point, in order to refresh yourselves as to Jesus’ teaching on the phases or steps in approaching discipleship I would recommend you review my articles on the Beatitudes, as this teaching by Jesus summarizes not only the process of transformation but the basic personal cost to those who would follow Jesus as His disciples. The following are links to those articles:

Reflections on the Beatitudes  (Part 1), (Part 2), (Part 3), and (Part 4)

Assessing the Cost

Now comes the even harder part – assessing the cost to you personally.

Francis accepts his call to dsicipleship

Aside from St. Paul, one of the most astounding stories of how the Holy Spirit working through the faith of one individual led him to not only assess the cost of discipleship but gave him the spiritual courage to accept the challenge and overcome the world and its attachments by giving himself totally to Jesus to the point where it was evident that many understood that Jesus Himself was living through this individual. I am, of course referring to St. Francis of Assisi who literally disrobed himself before the Bishop to emphasize the sincerity of his acceptance of the call to discipleship and his renunciation of the world ( cf., please read the biography of St. Francis in the Catholic Encyclopedia).

However, I do not want you to be discouraged if you feel overwhelmed by Francis’ story. In fact, the less worthy you feel, the more qualified you are to entering into such a commitment – “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the Kingdom of Heaven” (Matt. 5:3) . The Kingdom of Heaven, being the metaphor Jesus uses to describe His ministry here on earth and the discipleship for those who were called to operate under His Ministry. It is a truth that Francis understood and for which he gave up everything in order to enter in! It was a truth that Jesus offered to Nicodemus but who did not enter in because of His attachments to his position in the Jewish Sanhedrin.

In order that your decision be made lovingly and freely in Love, you need to understand that your salvation is NOT contingent on your decision. – The Free Gift of Salvation is solely based on Jesus’ atoning sacrifice on the cross while we were yet sinners (Rom.5:8) and not on any works or decisions of service that might be attributed to us, so that no man may boast (Eph 2:8-9). All that is needed to receive the gift of salvation is to repent and believe that Jesus, the Only Begotten Son, of the Father, freely and willingly gave His life on the cross as the atoning sacrifice not only for your sins but for the sins of the whole world.

The decision to enter into a discipleship relationship with Jesus is separate from your repentance upon accepting Jesus as your savior. It is basically your acceptance of giving yourself to Him to act as a stand-in for Him in this world, as your response to His loving sacrifice. The gift of yourself must be based solely on a deep desire to give yourself totally to God for the Love the Father demonstrated towards you in giving His Only Son as an offering for your sins.

To be a disciple you must make a choice ...

To be a disciple you must make a choice

In making this free decision you must be totally aware of the cost of your decision and your assessment, in faith, as to whether you can keep it (cf., Luke 14:28). You must determine, in Faith, whether the strength of God’s call on you is stronger than your attachments to the world, the flesh and the devil. You must determine whether you are willing to place Jesus and the Father’s will above your own and above your personal attachments to all interests in your life – including, family, relationships, job, hobbies, intellectual interests, and so on..

At the same time, don’t assume that the Lord, necessarily, wants to separate you from what you consider the primary, and moral, aspects of your life – He may, in fact, want to use you in exactly those things and circumstances which form the ambience of your life. He just wants you to surrender what you believe is your right to them – mainly your over-dependence and attachment to them. He wants you solely depend on HIM! He needs this yielding from you as evidence of your Love for HIM and so that, in whatever situation in Life, He has your total obedience and are completely receptive and free to do His Will in anything He asks. Anything that has a hold on your life beside God is in competition with God and you cannot other gods before HIM and still be faithful to your commitment.

Other fundamental teachings on the cost of Discipleship may be found in the following links:

Walking the Walk, Enter In by The Narrow Gate, The Cost of Discipleship, Yielding to the Kingdom Anointing.

Making the Commitment

I personally, recommend that you make your commitment in private, and not like St. Francis in the city square. There are exceptions, of course, but in general it is best not to call attention to ourselves or to how we intend to live for God. It is best to keep the deepest part of our spiritual development between our selves and God.

The minimal exceptions are those required by your state in life. For instance, before making this commitment, it is wise if you discuss your desire to make such a decision with your spouse, if you are married or, if not, with your parents. As the Lord has said,  “person’s greatest adversaries will be His Family and friends”. When you do so, and obtain their opinions, I guarantee that, like Francis, you will begin to understand the true “cost” of the decision you are proposing to make.

It is also important that you have a person close to you to partner with in making the decision – if married, your wife or husband would be the best choice. The reason for this is that we are all blind to our own mistakes and to the direction the Lord is guiding us. It is best to have someone close to us who can hold us accountable when we begin to deviate from our commitment. Note that when Jesus sent out “the Seventy” He sent them out two-by-two (Luke 10:1).  When we operate as a pair the Lord will work through both of us and permit us to check out our directives from Him with each other.

When you make a decision to enter into this “unofficial” type of discipleship, except for your similarly committed partners, keep your commitment between yourself and God. Do not look upon discipleship as a means of gaining favor or promoting yourself in the church, such motives go completely against the purity of heart you need to be a true disciple. You need to pray for a servant’s heart – heart that is ready to serve the Father in the most menial of daily tasks where you may get rejected and criticized rather than complemented and promoted. This self-denying type of Love is the kind of Love that is required to truly represent Jesus to the world (cf., 1 Cor.13 ff.).

When to make the Commitment

One of the best opportunities to make this commitment is when you receive the Baptism in the Holy Spirit in your church or parish.  Although your personal commitment to discipleship may be private, you may readily, and silently, incorporate your prayer of commitment at the time you attend a Life in the Spirit Seminar or Retreat, since all of the proceedings are very much oriented to entrance into a discipleship relationship, even though it may not be mentioned.

Jesus receives the Anointing

Jesus Baptized in the Spirit

One of the reasons for the appropriateness of this event to making your commitment is that “the Baptism in the Spirit” represents the time that Jesus Himself accepted His call to ministry in being baptized in water by John the Baptist and then receiving the empowerment of the Holy Spirit to carry out His Calling (John 1:32) !

Of course, if you feel reticent about receiving the Baptism in the Spirit, you should reconsider making a commitment at all. It is an indication that you have not yet surrendered your own self-consciousness and are not yet ready to give yourself totally to Jesus as His disciple.  If it is just an intellectual hang-up, that can be easily be cleared up by reading some of the following articles on the Sanctifying Gifts and the Empowerment Gifts as our legacy as disciples:

The Promise of the Father (Part 1) and (Part 2) ;

The Sanctifying Gifts (Part 1) and (Part 2) ;

The Empowerment Gifts (Part 1) and (Part 2) ;

Reclaiming Our Legacy In Christ

Building on the Rock

Living Out Our Commitment

Living as a true (yet hidden) disciple of Jesus begins right where we are in our lives at the time of our commitment.  Reflections on how one can carry out such a discipleship commitment in a marriage is given in the article: “Husbands Love Your Wives”. (My Postscript on Brother Lawrence and the Crucified Life [below] is another example)

You begin living for Christ as soon as you begin to live every event in your life “In His Name”, NOT in yours. In this way you acknowledge that He and He alone is working in you and through you in all that you do or say or think. Praised Be His Holy Name!

As for living out your commitment in the world I can personally attest that, If you have been sincere in your commitment to “enter into the Kingdom” and not as an ”ersatz disciple”, it will be difficult and, at times, even excruciating to the point of testing your faith. Remember Jesus’ exhortation to His Disciples …

“If the world hates you, be aware that it hated me before it hated you. If you belonged to the world, the world would love you as its own. Because you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world—therefore the world hates you. Remember the word that I said to you, ‘Servants are not greater than their master.’ If they persecuted me, they will persecute you; if they kept my word, they will keep yours also. But they will do all these things to you on account of my name, because they do not know him who sent me.” (John 15: 18-21)

Yes, even if you are living your commitment as a “hidden” disciple just obeying the Lord in your current state of life, you will find all these things: rejection, criticism, hatred, envy, and so on. Take these things to be a confirmation that the Life of Christ is coming through to the world and the world will not accept you because they sense the Spirit of Christ in you – stand firm in your faith and love your enemies, forgiving them so that His Love will flow through all the more to them!

The Key to carrying out our service to the Lord is “the obedience of Love” – even in the smallest things. It is to pray, listen to His Voice, and heed the leadings of His Holy Spirit with joy and courage knowing that, as long as you persist in obedient faith, the Lord will bring forth fruit from your labors for His Glory, in whatever task you have been given, no matter how small or insignificant it may be.

In conclusion I leave you with St. Paul’s exhortation to the Colossians:

“… if you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth, for you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ who is your life is revealed, then you also will be revealed with him in glory

“Put to death, therefore, whatever in you is earthly: fornication, impurity, passion, evil desire, and greed (which is idolatry). On account of these the wrath of God is coming on those who are disobedient. These are the ways you also once followed, when you were living that life. But now you must get rid of all such things—anger, wrath, malice, slander, and abusive language from your mouth.

“Do not lie to one another, seeing that you have stripped off the old self with its practices and have clothed yourselves with the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge according to the image of its creator. In that renewal there is no longer Greek and Jew, circumcised and uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave and free; but Christ is all and in all!

“As God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience. Bear with one another and, if anyone has a complaint against another, forgive each other; just as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. Above all, clothe yourselves with love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony. And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in the one body. And be thankful. Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly; teach and admonish one another in all wisdom; and with gratitude in your hearts sing psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs to God. And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.”  (Col. 3:1-17)

I pose the following Prayer of Commitment as something you might use to model your own prayer in your response to the “call” , of course, under the guidance of the Holy Spirit:

Prayer of Commitment:

Lord Jesus, I believe that you, the Son of the Living God came down from heaven to reveal the Father’s Love to me by suffering and dying for my sins. I believe that through your death and resurrection you have brought redemption and life not only to me but also all else who believe in you. I further believe that it is only through knowing you in a loving personal relationship of discipleship that I can know the Father.

    It is because I have a burning desire to know you and abide in you that I now yield myself completely to you and your love. I open the door to my heart so you can come in and sup with me and thus begin the special relationship with you for which you died and for which I hunger. At this moment I yield myself to your love. Enter in and activate my spirit with your Holy Spirit so that I can go beyond just mere intellectual belief in you to a personal spiritual knowledge of you and the Father.

    Lord, cleanse me from my sins and make me a fit vessel for your presence. Permeate my entire being with your life and your love so that I can truly be your instrument in this world. Be my Lord, Be My God, Be my King to rule and to reign in me. In faith and by your grace I receive you and I receive your word. Abide in me just as you abide in the Father and the Father in you! Thank you for giving yourself for me. Amen

(see also: Prayer to Receive the Holy Spirit)

My dear fellow pilgrims in Christ, in order to help you make a decision  I add a commentary regarding Dieterich Bonhoeffer,  pastor who was imprisoned by the Nazis for his Christian faith and criticism of their racism:

“Dieterich Bonhoeffer, a German pastor who died for his faith by opposing Nazism, contrasted cheap grace and costly grace: “Cheap grace is the grace we bestow on ourselves… the preaching of forgiveness without requiring repentance… grace without discipleship, grace without the cross, grace without Jesus Christ, living and incarnate… Costly grace is the gospel which must be sought again and again, the gift which must be asked for, the door at which a man must knock. Such grace is costly because it calls us to follow Jesus Christ. It is costly because it costs a man his life, and it is grace because it gives a man the only true life.”

May the Lord shine His Face upon you and fill you with His Peace …

Bartimeaus

(© B.R.Timeo and Bartimaeus’ Quiet Place, [2008-2012])

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Postscript: A Note from the Crucified Life

Aside from Jesus Himself, there are many saintly souls in the church who we can model ourselves to in living a crucified life. To name a few: St, Francis of Assisi, St. Ignatius Loyola, and St. Therese of Lisieux (etc.), however, I, personally, have taken to a humble monk named Brother Lawrence, because  he exemplified to me how you can take any basic work or service for making a living, such as kitchen work, and  use that as your entrance into the Kingdom of Heaven by living out the Crucified Life within its limited constraints.

The Booklet about Brother Lawrence’s spirituality: “The Practice of the Presence of God” was compiled by Father Joseph de Beaufort, later vicar general to the Archbishop of Paris, after Brother Lawrence died. It became popular among Catholics and Protestants alike, with John Wesley and A.W. Tozer recommending it to others.

To find our more about Brother Lawrence’s biography see:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Brother_Lawrence

The Booklet may be obtained at the official “Presence of God” web site:

http://www.practicegodspresence.com/

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“Then Elijah said to all the people, “Come closer to me”; and all the people came closer to him. First he repaired the altar of the LORD that had been thrown down;  Elijah took twelve stones, according to the number of the tribes of the sons of Jacob, to whom the word of the LORD came, saying, “Israel shall be your name”; with the stones he built an altar in the name of the LORD. Then he made a trench around the altar, large enough to contain two measures of seed. Next he put the wood in order, cut the bull in pieces, and laid it on the wood. He said, “Fill four jars with water and pour it on the burnt offering and on the wood.” Then he said, “Do it a second time”; and they did it a second time. Again he said, “Do it a third time”; and they did it a third time, so that the water ran all around the altar, and filled the trench also with water.

 

At the time of the offering of the oblation, the prophet Elijah came near and said, “O LORD, God of Abraham, Isaac, and Israel, let it be known this day that you are God in Israel, that I am your servant, and that I have done all these things at your bidding. Answer me, O LORD, answer me, so that this people may know that you, O LORD, are God, and that you have turned their hearts back.”

 

Elijah Contends Against ThePriests Of Baal

Elijah Contends Against ThePriests Of Baal

Then the fire of the LORD fell and consumed the burnt offering, the wood, the stones, and the dust, and even licked up the water that was in the trench. When all the people saw it, they fell on their faces and said, “The LORD indeed is God; the LORD indeed is God.” (1 Kings 18: 30-39)

After his confrontation with the priests of Baal (1 kings 18: 17-40), Elijah, the prophet, fled into the wilderness to avoid the wrath of Queen Jezebel who was in the process of executing all the prophets of Israel she could find  (cf., Kings 19). It is interesting to note Elijah’s very human response to the queen’s threats after he had experienced the power and Glory of God overcome the priests of Baal and thus overwhelmingly show the people that there is only one true God, the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.

His reaction shows that Elijah did not let the anointing the Lord had placed on him go to his head. He knew that he was only a channel and instrument through which the Lord was working and that all of the power manifested during his ministry originated with the Divine and he had nothing to do with it other than being His willing servant. He knew that he was a weak human being in need of God’s protection and blessing. So he cried to the Lord for help.

Elijah in despair

Elijah in despair

“Ahab told Jezebel all that Elijah had done, and how he had killed all the prophets with the sword. Then Jezebel sent a messenger to Elijah, saying, “So may the gods do to me, and more also, if I do not make your life like the life of one of them by this time tomorrow.” Then he was afraid; he got up and fled for his life, and came to Beer-sheba, which belongs to Judah; he left his servant there. But he himself went a day’s journey into the wilderness, and came and sat down under a solitary broom tree. He asked that he might die: “It is enough; now, O LORD, take away my life, for I am no better than my ancestors.” Then he lay down under the broom tree and fell asleep. Suddenly an angel touched him and said to him, “Get up and eat.” “(1 Kings 19: 1-5)

As the Lord led him to refuge at various locations Elijah kept complaining to the Lord saying, that he was the last of the prophets who was faithful to the God of Israel, until finally the lord rebuked him telling him that He had seven thousand more who “had not bowed the knee to Baal” (1Kings19:14-18), “Seven Thousand”, hidden ones, who, by implication were His reserve force against the forces of darkness. These, then, were the “hidden ones” of that epoch. They were hidden because they were under the protective cover of the Lord to be used by Him for His purposes in dealing with Israel.

Thy Hidden Ones

Thy Hidden Ones

These former “hidden ones” were “hidden” not only in the sense that they were under the covering of His wings (cf., Ps.91: 4) but also in the sense that they had no rank or status within Israel or the world of that day and thus were indistinguishable from the common people, the poor, the despised, the lay people of that time, sometimes referred to as the “Anawim”.

Yet, it is these simple ones that the Lord holds up to Elijah as his reserve force against the power of evil in the pagan culture into which Israel was being drawn; the term “Seven Thousand” being merely a cultural metaphor for a significant number.

The implication is that these “hidden ones” were the righteous praying ones whose prayers for the restoration of Israel was the reason the Lord was acting through Elijah to bring about the changes needed in the heart of the people so that Israel could once again be considered as “the people of God”.

Today's Golden Calf

Today's Golden Calf

Today, it appears, is no different from the times of Elijah. For we indeed live in a world that worships other “gods” – gods of their own making: money , sexual immorality, lust, power, ambition, greed, narcissism and so on – gods which pervade even our Christian communities and thus prevent the faithful from achieving the personal holiness and service to which they were called.

Today, we also have our “Elijahs”, God’s ministers and prophets who are being persecuted for their stand against the evil world culture through the proclamation of Word of God and His Kingdom! These Elijahs are also being sustained in prayer by God’s elect intercessors, today’s “Seven Thousand”.

These intercessors are also “hidden” in the sense that they attempt, as they ought, to keep in the background of our religious culture. Their relative anonymity provides them the degree of freedom needed to focus and practice the “charism of intercession” under the guidance of the Holy Spirit and apart from any influence that would quench the fire of the Holy Spirit that is working through them.

Because they operate “under the radar”, so to speak, these servants of the Lamb may not have come to your attention. You will find them in almost every Christian denomination eschewing any publicity, because their calling, their Charism, depends on their separation from the world and from the religious politics and worldly influences that surround them. Their great desire is to yield themselves totally to the Spirit of God so that He and He alone rules in their hearts, so that their prayers become the supplications of the Spirit of God for His people.

Each intercessor must be free to express what the Spirit places in his or her heart and thus the modes of prayer will vary form intercessor to intercessor. There will be some who pray and sing in tongues, some who fast and pray continually, some who praise and worship in Song, some who use the prayer of authority to bind the demonic spirits that they are challenging, some who specialize in silent contemplative prayer reaching deep into the Heart of the Divine. Most mainstream Christians would probably not understand the various and distinct modes of prayer and spiritual gifts which come into play when the Spirit of God is given full liberty to express Himself through these intercessors.

Such servants of God would not normally fit in to our over-structured and regimented religious culture where human tradition and formality rule the with regard to the accepted modes of prayer, where there is no liberty to express the true gifts of the Spirit, or to speak the oracles of the Lord as He gives them to us. So it is natural that they would want to congregate in their own small groups, while yet being dedicated to praying for the whole body of Christ.

Today, brothers and sisters, the Lord is calling out for us to pray and support these “hidden ones”, these intercessors of the Lamb. For because they are in fact our front-line prayer warriors against whom the Evil one is waging war against to “take them out”, so to speak, so that he and his evil spiritual companions may continue to disable the church from performing its commission. These “hidden ones” are sent to war against the Satanic powers and thus bring about the Victory of Kingdom of God into manifestation through the power of the charism of the deep prayer of intercession.

The reason the charism of intercession is such a threat to Satan is because it is not merely a human form of supplication but it is, in fact, Christ’s prayer of intercession through His elect servants who yield themselves to His Spirit. For you see, the charism of intercession is the Lord’s charism, for He and He alone, is the one mediator between God and Man (1Tim.2:5). Those who yield themselves to this charism are yielding themselves totally to the Intercessory Spirit of Christ in them so that through that spiritual union they may become His instruments of intercession for His people.

In the Catholic tradition, this type of prayer is not usually well understood because it does not usually follow the traditional forms of prayer but rather depends heavily on the unfettered work of the Holy Spirit through spiritual gifts and contemplative levels of prayer required to enter into spiritual union with the heart of Christ. It is for this reason that most of these type of intercessors usually do their praying inside of convent or monastery walls.

Recently, however, some intercessor communities are coming “out of the closet”, so to speak, but, in certain occasions, are not being welcomed into the mainstream Christian community as they ought. That is why I am asking you, my fellow pilgrims to enter into intercession for them.

In order to focus your prayers for the moment, I am asking that you lift up a specific group of brothers and sisters who have been “crucified with Christ”. Namely, the community of intercessors once called the “Intercessors of the Lamb”, but now, due to suppression by their Diocese [1], humbly call themselves the “Bellwether Lambs” or the “Companions of the Lamb”.  I have placed the links to this organization in my sidebar under the Label: “NEED PRAYER?”, so that you may frequent their prayer site when you also are I need.

Please ask for the Holy Spirit’s guidance as you enter into prayer for them. Ask to be joined in the spirit with them in unity with the Divine so that you may fully comprehend in the Spirit, the Father’s Love and desire for this group and their leader and foundress, M. Nadine Brown.

May the Lord empower you prayers and may He bring them to the place where He wants them for His Glory! Amen and Amen!

Your Brother In Christ Jesus  … Bartimaeus.

(© B.R.Timeo and Bartimaeus’ Quiet Place, [2008-2011])

Recommended Links:

Thy Hidden Ones at Bellwether

The Prayer of Intercession

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[1] Note: keep in mind the suppression of Padre Pio as reported below:

The Suppression of Padre Pio

(Excerpted from the  National Catholic register

http://www.ncregister.com/info/email-a-friend/his_friends_remember_padre_pio )

…  

It was on Sept. 20, 1918, that Padre Pio received the stigmata — the wounds of Christ’s crucifixion — while praying in the choir loft of the 16th-century church attached to the friary. After this event, his fame grew, and by 1922 he had attracted the attention of many people — including the Vatican’s Holy Office, which began an investigation. As a result of this investigation, which concluded that Padre Pio was not experiencing anything supernatural, the Holy Office attempted to transfer him to another monastery in 1923. An uprising of the people in San Giovanni prevented the move. Nevertheless, the friar was not allowed to say Mass publicly, or even to correspond with those who wrote him. In Terlizzi, a small town near Bari, about two hours from San Giovanni, another Capuchin who knew Padre Pio said of him, “Knowing Padre Pio was like knowing Jesus Christ,” he said. The key examples from Padre Pio’s life he says, are “silence and obedience.” Referring to the years when Padre Pio was suppressed, Padre Pancracio noted: “With one word he could have changed things, but he kept silent.”

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