Archive for August 2013

HAHA 21

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Part 21

Rising Opposition

G’day and welcome to Partakers and to our series, HAHA – Heroes and Heretics Abound. Together we are looking at the story of the church from its origins through to the Age of Reasoning in the 18th century. Last time we continued our look at the Middle Ages by looking at the man Thomas Aquinas before going on to see the Eastern and Western Churches separate spectacularly! Today we see rising opposition to the Roman Catholic Church – from outside it and from within!

Persecution & Inquisition.

In the 12th century, a number of groups started questioning important Church doctrines. Itinerant and wandering monks preached to the imagination and consciences of people. People were starting to read the Bible for themselves and also pray to God without relying on the prayers of the Clergy. Which Jesus are people to follow was in a lot of people’s minds. “Do we look to – the all-conquering ascended Christ who is ruling earth through his vicar, the Pope or do we look to the opposite of this image – the Jesus who said “Foxes have holes, and birds have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to sleep.” (Matthew 8:20)

Asking questions as to why the church hierarchy feast while the common people starved? Where is the church people started questioning – is it in the sacramental institution or is it in the people? People such as Robert Grosseteste, the Bishop of Lincoln, who decried the laziness, greed and immorality of the Roman Catholic clergy. To question the Pope and the Roman Catholic church was regarded then as heresy. These people, baptized members of the church, who were questioning the Church, were seen to be turning their back on the Church. What was the church to do?

The Church responded by means to purify the Church of heresy. This was conducted through trials and the Inquisition. There was some conflict within the Church itself. How can the Church, employ violence to ensure peace within society and maintain a heresy-free Church? A pure church was the Will of God – reigning through His representative on earth, the Pope. Innocent III labelled heresy, as treason in 1199. He made the Dominicans the main order to search out heresy.

At the time, faith was not a private matter but a public faith upon which the whole of society was built. To commit any heresy was therefore also to commit treason against the State. Disobedience therefore against the State, was therefore also heresy. Hence a dark time in Church history with the Inquisition, which involved the deliberate and prolonged torture of both heretics and infidels. This was as a means to eliminate the heretics and maintain strict doctrine, teaching and practise.

In 1224, execution by secular authorities became papal policy. Innocent IV condoned torture (1252) to 'help people find the truth'. A court went from town to town searching for heretics. An opportunity was given for confession and recantation, but the resistant were often burned at the stake. The Inquisition was extensive in Italy, Spain & France for several centuries.

Arise Arnold!

However, questions were starting to be raised about how far the Church had strayed from the clear Apostolic teachings of the Bible – particularly in regard to non-violence and poverty. Arnold, an Italian churchman urged the Church to sell its riches and give the proceeds to the poor – helping return the Church to its New Testament roots.
He was also at the forefront of movements to overthrow the Pope. When Pope Innocent II was on tour for the Second Crusade, Arnold seized his chance and with the help of the Romans took power. Romans dreaming of a return to the glories of the Roman Empire! Arnold decreed that clergy were to live in poverty. This lasted about 10 years until Pope Hadrian IV overthrew Arnold and Arnold was executed for heresy.

But his voice wasn’t alone! There were more to come.

Arise Waldo!

Peter Waldo of Lyons, France, was a rich merchant and converted to Christianity in 1175-1176. Soon after he gave away his wealth in order to follow Christ with a lifestyle of simplicity, poverty and preaching. He gained a large following and was approved by the Pope in 1179. A group we now call the Waldensians grew from this with a mission to the poor. Waldo sent out Christians, two by two, in order to teach and explain the Scriptures to people. Once when ordered to stop, Waldo quoted the Apostle Peter in rebuttal “We must obey God rather than men.” (Acts 5:29). These were laymen – not trained by the Church and therefore not allowed to go about preaching and speaking without invitation by Bishops and church hierarchy.

They were a living condemnation of the Church and in 1181 they were condemned. In the year 1184 they were excommunicated. Pope Lucius III ordered their elimination by inquisition and secular punishment. They formed their 'own true' church which spread throughout most of Europe except Britain. The main objections of the Church to the Waldensians, was that they engaged in unauthorised preaching of the Bible; rejection of the intermediary role of the clergy; and the rejection of purgatory. Reformation had not yet come to the Church, particularly in matters of salvation by grace alone through faith alone. The Waldensians didn’t teach this but reformation of the Church and of Church teaching was coming. But not yet…

That’s it for this time! Next time in our series HAHA, we will continue looking at the growing unrest as steps toward Reformation gather apace. Thanks for listening! Come back to Partakers, where every day there is something new to encourage your walk as a Christian in the 21st century.

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Thursday Ponderings

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Pauline_Ponderings

29th August 2013

Pauline's Ponderings!


I love the honesty of children. I remember knocking on a next door neighbours house, after moving to Dorset. The front door opened to reveal a young boy, “ Why are you so small?” he inquired. I was slightly taken aback, to say the least, as this was the first thing he had uttered.

As adults, we learn to say the right thing. We wear masks sometimes with God, we are not honest with him about how we are feeling about the person at homegroup who is driving us mad, or about our disappointment that we did not get that job we just applied for. God wants us to be honest with Him. Psalm 34:5 says Never hide your feelings from Him... Psalm 62:8 says Trust in him at all times, you people; pour out your hearts to him, for God is our refuge. (NIV)

This verse brings me on to the next quality I admire in children. That is the absolute trust, young children have in their parents to look after them, to do the right thing for them at all times. It’s that sort of trust our heavenly father wants us to have in Him :-And Jesus said: “Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. (Matthew 18:3 NIV)

No matter what the circumstances seem to be suggesting, we should believe that He is working behind the scenes and that from a heavenly point of view, it will work out in our best interests. And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him (Romans 8:28 NIV)



When I say a heavenly point of view, I mean, that we might end up with, a bit more compassion for people with health problems, more understanding of how hard it is to face redundancy,once we’ve suffered ill health or lost a job ourselves. We sometimes mistakenly assume that if God is working in our best interests that means we will get our dream job or be healed immediately! That is not always the case!

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WOW Word 31

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WOW Word 31

Sovereignty of God


Although I am less than the least of all the Lord’s people, this grace was given me: to preach to the Gentiles the boundless riches of Christ, and to make plain to everyone the administration of this mystery, which for ages past was kept hidden in God, who created all things. His intent was that now, through the church, the manifold wisdom of God should be made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly realms, according to his eternal purpose that he accomplished in Christ Jesus our Lord. Ephesians 3:8-11

The WOW Word today is Sovereignty! The sovereignty of God means that God is in control at all times and nothing can occur outside of His control and will. God loves His creation and cares for it. He won’t deny people their humanity when dealing with them.

Decrees – a part of Sovereignty

Sovereign decree: When God says “Eternal life is available for all - you may choose to accept or reject it. Those that accept it, I will call my children.” Your own reaction as a Christian Disciple is that you have taken up God’s offer and are trusting and obeying.



Conditional decree: When God says “I am willing to give you my opinion and help when you ask.” Our reaction should be to read the Bible, and pray and talk to God about the situation!

Natural decree: When God has created a lemon tree, that lemon tree will not produce potatoes.” Our reaction should be to plan in view of that.



But...

Play or download the video below to hear Alphy the WOWChurch Cat explain more!

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Think Spot

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Think Spot - 26th August 2013

G'day and welcome to Partakers! We have the start of a new week! Its Monday! How and in what circumstances are you trusting God? How did Jesus Christ trust in the Father? Jesus knew that the Father was going to bring Him back to life after his death on the cross. Jesus trusted the Father in this area of His life, just as he did in all aspects of his life. How are you doing? Do you have concerns and areas of your life where you need an assurance that God the Father will help you?



Here are some simple steps which may help you maintain a trust in God.

  1. Pray, casting all anxiety on God. He cares for you because you are His personal concern (The great apostle Peter, one of Jesus' closest friends wrote this in 1 Peter 5:7 "Give all your worries and cares to God, for he cares about you.")
  2. Accept and thank God that His peace has filled that area (Another great apostle, Paul, wrote this in Philippians 4:7 "Then you will experience God's peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.")
  3. Learn to be content whatever your circumstances are, resting in God (Paul goes on in Philippians 4:11-12 "Not that I was ever in need, for I have learned how to be content with whatever I have. I know how to live on almost nothing or with everything. I have learned the secret of living in every situation, whether it is with a full stomach or empty, with plenty or little.")
  4. Allow the Spirit to control your mind for life and peace (and again from the pen of the apostle Paul, this time in Romans 8:6 "So letting your sinful nature control your mind leads to death. But letting the Spirit control your mind leads to life and peace.")
  5. Trust God to fulfil your every need (Matthew records these words of Jesus in Matthew 6:32-33 "but your heavenly Father already knows all your needs. Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and he will give you everything you need." )
  6. Obey and follow God's commands to love God and love others (Jesus is recorded in Matthew 22:37-40 "You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind.' This is the first and greatest commandment. A second is equally important: ‘Love your neighbour as yourself.' The entire law and all the demands of the prophets are based on these two commandments.")
  7. Finally, be prepared to be obedient to the Father, in supplying the needs of others you meet and therefore showing you love God and other people!

One way to show you are trusting and loving God is to be the answer to the prayers of somebody else and showing that love to them! Ask God to show you, how you can help somebody else in need this week and showing your love.

Go in peace this Monday, into this week, knowing God is worthy of your trust! God will take care of you, but not always in the way you expect! Expect Him to allow circumstances and situations to arise where you are to trust Him fully! He will help you if you ask! After all, He knows you better than anybody! And don't be afraid to help somebody else because by doing that, you show you are loving and trusting in God!



Father, I pray that You would help us to trust in You and that You would supply our needs, calm our concerns and help us to love You and others more fully. I ask this through the Prince of Peace, Jesus Christ and in the power of the Holy Spirit who lives inside all those who have peace with you. Amen

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Sunday Worship

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Be Thou My Vision

performed by Julie McMinn

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This song, "Be Thou My Vision" is a traditional hymn from Ireland, which is commonly attributed to Dallán Forgaill.


Be Thou my Vision, O Lord of my heart;
Naught be all else to me, save that Thou art.
Thou my best Thought, by day or by night!
Waking or sleeping, Thy presence my light.

Play and/or download the video - Come and worship the King of all Kings!


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HAHA 20

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Part 20

Church in the Middle Ages 3



G’day and welcome to Partakers and to our series, HAHA – Heroes and Heretics Abound. Together we are looking at the story of the church from its origins through to the Age of Reasoning in the 18th century. Last time we continued our look at the Middle Ages – with the Scholastics, Anselm and Thomas Beckett! Today we continue looking there by looking at the man Thomas Aquinas before going on to see the Eastern and Western Churches fall apart spectacularly.

Thomas Aquinas (1225-1274)


Thomas Aquinas was born in Italy in 1225. Starting his clerical career with the Dominicans, he quickly established himself as a theologian and philosopher of note. Indeed, he is perhaps the greatest theologian of this period. Aquinas was well noted for being an orator and debater, renowned for having a keen and quick intellect. With his intellect, he continued to attempt to reconcile faith with reason and the Scriptures. He also sought to prove the existence of God and developed the 'Five Ways', a system of natural theology.

Here is a very crude summary of the “Five Ways” taken from his work “Summa Theologica”.

1. The first way is an argument from motion. It is certain, and in accordance with sense experience, that some things in this world are moved. He concludes with this section with: We are therefore bound to arrive at a first mover which is not moved by anything, and all men understand that this is God.
2. The second way is from the nature of an efficient cause. We find that there is a sequence of efficient causes in sensible things. He concludes this section with: We are therefore bound to suppose that there is a first efficient cause. And all men call this God.
3. The third way is from the nature of possibility and necessity. There are some things which may either exist or not exist, since some things come to be and pass away, and may therefore be or not be. He concludes this section with: We are therefore bound to suppose something necessary in itself, which does not owe its necessity to anything else, but which is the cause of the necessity of other things. And all men call this God.
4. The fourth way is from the degrees that occur in things, which are found to be more and less good, true, noble, and so on. He concludes this section with: There is therefore something which is the cause of the being of all things that are, as well as of their goodness and their every perfection. This we call God.
5. The fifth way is from the governance of things. We see how some things, like natural bodies, work for an end even though they have no knowledge. He concludes this section with: There is therefore an intelligent being by whom all natural things are directed to their end. This we call God.

Thomism (Aquinas theology) was declared eternally valid by the Pope in 1879. You can download a copy of perhaps Aquinas’ greatest work, 'Summa Theologica' freely at Christian Classics Ethereal Library


Here is one of his prayers. You will see the richness of his theology and faith – much of which formed our theology today! Perhaps you can pray it, even now!

A prayer of Thomas Aquinas


O Almighty and all-knowing God,
Who is without beginning or end!
Who is the giver, preserver, and rewarder of all virtue!

Grant me to stand firm on the solid foundation of faith,
be protected by the invincible shield of hope,
and be adorned by the nuptial garment of charity.

Grant me by justice to obey you,
by prudence to resist the crafts of the Devil,
by temperance to hold to moderation,
by fortitude to bear adversity with patience.

Grant that the goods I have I may share liberally
with those who have not,
and the goods which I do not have I may seek with
humility from those who have.

Grant that I may truly recognise the guilt of the evil I have done,
and bear with equanimity the punishments I have deserved;
that I may never lust after the goods of my neighbour,
but always give thanks to you for all thy good gifts.

Plant in me, O Lord, all thy virtues,
that in divine matters I might be devout,
in human affairs wise,
and in the proper needs of the flesh onerous to no one.

And grant that I may never rush to do things hastily,
nor balk to do things demanding,
so that I neither yearn for things too soon,
nor desert things before they are finished.

Eastern Orthodox Church

During this time there was also upheaval coming in the Eastern church. The Slavic nations of Eastern Europe were Christianised during the 10th & 12th centuries. Christianity spread to Russia in the 10th century. According to legend, the prince Vladimir sent envoys to investigate Islam, Judaism & Christianity. They were so impressed with Christianity in Constantinople, that Vladimir ordered a mass baptism of Russians.

We saw earlier in this series, how the Eastern and Western churches were moving apart. Now we approach the official parting of ways. In the year 1054, papal representatives of Pope Leo XV entered the Church of Holy Wisdom in Constantinople. Cardinal Humbert was sent initially to work out a conciliatory agreement with the Eastern Orthodox leadership.

However, while the Russian emperor was willing, the Patriarch Michael Cerularius was intractable. With similar personalities and intolerance, Ceralarius and Humbert clashed. The clash provoked Humber to issue an official document which excommunicated the Eastern Church from the Roman Catholic Church. Humber and his colleagues marched into Constantinople’s Church of Holy Wisdom and issued a Papal document excommunicating the Eastern Church. The impact of this is still felt even today. But a great chasmer was to come again to the Roman Catholic church, and we will see that later in our series.

That’s it for this time! Next time in our series HAHA, we will start to look at the rising opposition to the Roman Catholic Church. Thanks for listening! Come back to Partakers, where every day there is something new to encourage your walk as a Christian in the 21st century.

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