What Does it Mean that the Righteous Shall Live by Faith (Habakkuk 2:4)?

by Got Questions | When Habakkuk wrote, “The righteous shall live by his faith,” he was echoing a timeless truth first modeled in Abraham’s life Genesis 15:6. (Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay) 

Habakkuk 2:4 includes the well-known statement “the righteous will live by faith.” What does this mean? The context helps us to understand God’s intent in this passage. The whole verse reads, “Behold, his soul is puffed up; it is not upright within him, but the righteous shall live by his faith.” “His soul” is a symbolic reference to Babylonia. This nation had become proud or “puffed up.” As a result, they were unrighteous and facing God’s judgment. In contrast, the righteous (or the “just”) would live by faith in God. By contrast, the righteous are humble in God’s eyes and will never face God’s judgment.

Habakkuk 2:4 is quoted three times in the New Testament. Paul quotes it in Romans 1:17, emphasizing the idea that righteousness by faith is for both Jews and Gentiles: “For in the gospel a righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith, just as it is written, ‘The righteous will live by faith.’”

Then, in Galatians 3:11, we read, “Now it is evident that no one is justified before God by the law, for ‘The righteous shall live by faith.’” Here, Paul stresses that we are justified or made right before God by faith. The Law has no ability to justify anyone. As Habakkuk had recorded, people have always been saved by faith, not by works. Habakkuk 2:4 is also quoted in Hebrews 10:38.

In the third century, Rabbi Simla noted that Moses gave 365 prohibitions and 248 positive commands. David reduced them to eleven commands in Psalm 15; Isaiah made them six (33:14-15); Micah bound them into three (6:8); and Habakkuk condensed them all to one, namely—“The righteous shall live by faith” (from P. L. Tan, Encyclopedia of 7700 illustrations. Garland, TX: Bible Communications, #1495).

Christians are saved by grace through faith (Ephesians 2:8-9), and we walk in faith (2 Corinthians 5:7). Only by faith in Christ are we made righteous (Romans 5:19). Paul further expounds on this truth in Galatians 2:16, saying, “We know that a person is not justified by works of the law but through faith in Jesus Christ, so we also have believed in Christ Jesus, in order to be justified by faith in Christ and not by works of the law, because by works of the law no one will be justified.” It is Christ’s righteousness that saves us, and the only way to receive that gift is to trust in Him. “Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life” (John 3:36).

When Habakkuk wrote, “The righteous shall live by his faith,” he was echoing a timeless truth first modeled in Abraham’s life (Genesis 15:6). The righteous man will “live” in that he will not face God’s judgment; rather, in return for his faith in God, he has been given eternal life



What Matters Most: Seeking God’s Glory

by Andrew Kerr | You also need to remember that, whenever you are bent on the Glory of God, every help will be given to those who ask, seek and knock.  (Image of Praying man by Pexels from Pixabay)

Over the last week or two, I’ve been taking some time out to study John’s Gospel in more depth. My particular concern and focus has been to get a better handle on the relationship that exists between Jesus and the Father.

This morning I was looking at John Chapter 7.10-24. This section narrates the doctrinal head-to-head between Jesus and the Jews, both the masses and their masters. The debate took place in the precincts of the Temple. Christ had come in cognito, resisting the pressure of his relatives. Now, constrained by the duties of His office, He stands in God’s House to declare divine doctrine in order to decimate human tradition.

What is apparent, throughout this account, is the commitment of the Son to the glory of His Father. This, in fact, is the thing, above all, that distinguishes Jesus Christ clearly from His Judean teachers and hearers. The central section of the passage is found in the statement recounted by John in Chapter 7 Verse 18:

“He who speaks from himself seeks his own glory; but he who seeks the glory of the one who sent him is true, and no unrighteousness is in him” (NKJV).

This portion of the 4th Gospel raises many searching questions that we need to regularly answer as professors, lecturers, ministers, elders, deacons, members, adherents, or covenant children:

What Matters Most To Me – My Own Personal Kudos, Reputation, Prestige, Honor OR The Honor, Praise and Glory of God?

By way of reply to the question posed by Jesus through His beloved disciple John, let me make a number of points: my aim is to stress the benefits of fruitful meditation on and consideration of the challenge this passage faces us with:

If what matters most to you is the Glory of God then the following facts flow from this passage (no doubt there are many others):

You will (according to the measure of grace and faith granted in Christ) be…..

enabled to BE TIMELY v14
enabled to TEACH TRUTHFULLY v15-16
enabled to RECEIVE CHRIST v17a
**enabled **to DISCERN ERROR v17b
enabled to ENDURE SLANDER v20
enabled to RESPOND KINDLY v21
enabled to DISCUSS THEOLOGY v22
enabled to EXPOSE TRADITION v23
enabled to JUDGE RIGHTLY v24

….Of course, on the other hand, if you are self-seeking, or man-pleasing, you are going, as His disciple, to be seriously deficient or defective, in your character, walk, and service of the Gospel. None of these things are possible while you are motivated by carnal, anthropocentric, thinking.

You also need to remember that, whenever you are bent on the Glory of God, every help will be given to those who ask, seek and knock. The Father, in the Son, by the Spirit of Grace, will reward you passion for conformity to His Son: your heart will be aligned to, and constrained by, His most holy, pleasing and perfect, will. The Jesus who sought God’s glory, and never wearied or deviated from doing so, is a cascading fountain of God-glorifying life, from whom you may obtain abundant grace.

As you seek His power to concentrate your Christianity on God’s glory, expect to see the overflow of His wisdom being worked out in your life. Of course it means you’ll divide opinion (v12), make theologians scratch their heads (v15), collide head-on with tradition (21), and be called a child of the devil (v20) – nobody ever claimed that seeking God’s glory was easy! But, as by the work of the God-glorifying Spirit, in the Grace of the Gospel, faith leads you into ever-closer communion, your relationship with the Father, will be revealed through the Son: your desire to seek God first will be evident in your life, as your mouth and manner are filled with the truth of the Gospel like Jesus.

God grant us grace each day to be God’s Glory Seekers more and more.

Andrew KerrAndrew Kerr is Pastor of Knockbracken in Belfast – Husband of Hazel, Dad to Rebekah, Paul and Andrew, Lover of Skiing, Walker of Lucy (our Bernese Mountain Dog), with a Passion for OT – in Deep Need of Grace. Connect with Andrew via gentlereformation.com

 



Technicolor: Inspiring Your Church to Embrace Multicultural Ministry

by Joel Kurz | By the year 2050, the United States will no longer have a majority ethnic group. The nation’s population will be majority-minority. This future nationwide reality has already been a present reality in several cities, including many in the urban south, for nearly a decade. In a 2011 State of the City Address, the mayor of pastor and author Mark Hearn’s city said there were fifty-seven languages spoken at the local high school.

Title: Technicolor: Inspiring Your Church to Embrace Multicultural Ministry.
Author: Mark Hearn
ISBN-13: 978-1433691737
ISBN-10: 1433691736
Publisher: B&H Publishing Group
Publication date: 06/01/2017
Pages: 224
Product dimensions: 5.70(w) x 8.80(h) x 1.00(d)

Mark Hearn accepted the call to pastor First Baptist Church in Duluth, GA, and quickly discovered his new community was the one of most diverse counties in the United States. His immediate neighbors hailed from India, Korea, and Zimbabwe.

His new church, however, was almost entirely white. Over the next few years, Hearn led his church to reach the many ethnic groups surrounding them. His new surroundings reminded him of the movie “Wizard of Oz” as Dorothy awakes in Oz and the movie changes from a black-and-white film to a technicolor film––at which point Dorothy exclaims, “Toto, I’ve a feeling we’re not in Kansas anymore.”

The story of this transition is retold in Hearn’s new book, Technicolor.

A Changing America
For Hearn, Dorothy’s phrase could just as easily describe a changing America and its explosion of diversity. The author points out that according to the International Mission Board, there are 11,695 people groups in the United States. This isn’t something to fear, Hearn says, but rather is an opportunity to reach the nations.

Many monolithic churches find themselves in changing neighborhoods; unfortunately, some are content to remain monolithic. Appealing to Matthew 28:18-20, Hearn argues that Christians are called to make disciples of all nations; therefore, Christians must be willing to transition churches from mono-cultural to cross-cultural communities. Churches must seek to reach the many different ethnicities and language groups surrounding them.

First Baptist of Duluth’s Story
For Hearn’s First Baptist Church, the transition came with a mixture of enthusiasm and difficulty. After he discovered that 57 different language groups resided in Duluth (Gwinnett County has the 25th largest undocumented immigrant population), he knew things had to change.

Fueled by the Great Commission, Hearn wanted his new church to become a welcoming home for all. The transition began with a creative sermon series and tirelessly progressed from there. Hearn even learned Spanish and, one Sunday, surprised his congregation by preaching an entire sermon in Spanish. Since then, motivated by the language-inclusive school system, First Baptist has begun a translation ministry that merges various language groups into one gathering. The church currently translates each service into three different languages with live professional translators.

First Baptist has also formally recognized each country represented through their membership by placing that particular country’s flag in the sanctuary; currently, 26 flags hang in their auditorium.

The congregation also utilizes mission trips to build familiarity with their neighbors’ home countries. “Celebration days” from around the world have been added into the church calendar—including Indian Independence Day, Three Kings Day, and the Chinese/Korean New Year. Hearn writes, “These events have galvanized the entire congregation into a genuine cross-cultural team that is ready and willing to invite people of all ethnicities to ‘my church’” (116).

Strong in the Celebration of Diversity
Technicolor achieves its purpose in that it inspires transition toward a multi-cultural church. Filled with examples of lives changed from around the world, First Baptist is indeed a unique congregation that’s experienced a remarkable shift.

As a result, Technicolor has a number of strengths. First, Hearn is clear that the book is a motivation, not a model. I appreciate his humility when he states that the book is “not intended for emulation but for inspiration” (4).

Second, the primary thrust behind Hearn’s passion is the gospel of Jesus Christ. He’s clear that their new multi-cultural community is something “Jesus has accomplished . . . on our behalf” (42). Hearn knows: the call for cross-cultural and multi-ethnic churches is a call to look more like the body of Christ, which we already are. In other words, it’s not dependent on us but is a gift from God. Hearn writes, “We have one thing in common: our faith” (37).

Third, Hearn presents basic ecclesiology as the primary method of creating this cross-cultural family, namely baptism into the local church. It’s not about creating a group of cross-cultural friends, Hearn argues, but developing a sense of spiritual community through baptism.

Fourth, Hearn makes a strong case for partnership in the work. First Baptist partners with the International Mission Board, North American Mission Board, and Mosaix in creating a cross-cultural missions awareness.

Lastly, Hearn’s resilience in the midst of backlash and negativity is encouraging. He knew where he wanted to go and was convinced that it was right in spite of the hostility.

Limited in Scope
While the book is strong in inspiring the reader toward diversity, Technicolor is somewhat limited in scope. First Baptist Church’s diversity is primarily international. Debunking the fear of the foreigner, this is a wonderful picture of Gospel ministry. Yet, as a result of the international focus, the book doesn’t address other racial issues. Hearn is silent on the African American struggle and on issues of white superiority. Churches who are trying to bring together white and black communities may still be inspired by Hearn’s story, yet discover this book simply has a different purpose.

Second, smaller churches who don’t have the ability to provide professional translation services may be discouraged and unsure of next steps. Language-based church plants are subtly discouraged in favor of live-translated services. That’s unfortunate, because planting language-specific churches is always a viable choice. The question never occurs to Hearn if translation is even a wise idea. Yes, you can translate services, but can you translate life together for the congregation all week? If not, has church become a once-a-week service?

Third, the transition at First Baptist seems very senior pastor-driven. While it worked for First Baptist, this approach could be devastating in other contexts and churches. I could see a pastor moving too quickly or too strong and splitting his church due to his good intentions.

Conclusion
I thank God for Mark Hearn and the work at First Baptist Church in Duluth. Hearn’s desire for evangelism and commitment to the gospel is evident throughout. While there are a few weaknesses, this book offers a unique and much-needed contribution to American evangelicalism, especially as demographics change. I pray many churches will experience the kind of explosive diversity that’s recently been experienced and celebrated at First Baptist Church in Duluth, GA.

Joel KurzJoel Kurz is the lead pastor of The Garden Church in Baltimore, Maryland. You can find him on Twitter at @joelkurz.



What is Lent?

Lent is traditionally described as lasting for 40 days, in commemoration of the 40 days Jesus spent fasting in the desert, according to the Gospels of Matthew, Mark and Luke, before beginning his public ministry, during which he endured temptation by Satan. (image, Jesus Tempted in the Wilderness (Jésus tenté dans le désert), James Tissot, Brooklyn Museum)

Lent this year started on Wednesday, March 6, 2019 and ends on Saturday, April 20th 2019. In short, Lent begins on Ash Wednesday and ends approximately six weeks later, before Easter Sunday. It always lasts for 40 days, mirroring the 40 days that Jesus spent fasting in the wilderness before starting his ministry. It can also be seen to mirror the 40 hours that Jesus spent in the tomb prior to his resurrection. This event is observed in the Anglican, Eastern Orthodox, Oriental Orthodox, Lutheran, Methodist, and Catholic Churches. Some Anabaptist and evangelical churches also observe the Lenten season.

During Lent many Christians commit to fasting or giving up certain foods, habits or luxuries – for example sweets, alcohol, smoking – for its duration (the money saved is often then donated to charity). This is done both as a form of penitence and as a spiritual tool to tame the body and ‘sharpen the spirit’ for prayer, reflection and contemplation in preparation for the celebration of Easter.

Purple is the color most associated with Lent – during this period purple church vestments (altar cloths and the priests’ liturgical garments) are used. The purple is symbolic in two ways: it is the traditional color of mourning (recalling Jesus’ death) and also symbolic of royalty (celebrating Christ’s coming as King).

The Gloria in excelsis Deo, which is usually sung on Sundays at Mass (or Communion) of the Roman and Anglican rites, is omitted on the Sundays of Lent, but continues in use on during special solemn celebrations like on Maundy Thursday. The Lutheran Divine Service, the Roman Rite of the Catholic Church, the Anglican Churches, and the Presbyterian service of worship associate the Alleluia are omitted entirely during Lent in the canonical hours and outside the liturgy.

The sixth Sunday in Lent, commonly called Palm Sunday, marks the beginning of Holy Week, the final week of Lent immediately preceding Easter. Holy Week and the season of Lent, depending on denomination and local custom, end with Easter Vigil at sundown on Holy Saturday or on the morning of Easter Sunday. It is custom for some churches to hold sunrise services which include open air celebrations in some places.



7 Tips For Keeping the Spark Alive in Your Marriage

by David Peach | That word communicate is a fancy word for talk. Remember when you used to do that without having to raise your voice? Pay attention to your spouse. Intentionally put your book down when they are speaking. Listen to what they have to say.

Thinking about when you were dating should bring a smile to your face. You were young (at least younger than you are now). You had fewer pressures in your life and you could focus more time on the one you loved. If there were other important things going on, they only seemed to get in the way of your dating relationship.

Now, a few (or several) years later, it seems that everything is turned around. You have more pressures with work, hobbies, social activities and less time to spend with your spouse. Your marriage seems like it gets in the way of everything else you have to, or want to do.

Ignite a flame in your relationship again. If a flame seems a little too ambitious to you, start with just a spark. After implementing these tips I hope you remember what attracted you to one another back those many years ago.

Respect

When you first got married did you ever think that you would treat your spouse as poorly as you treat your own brothers or sisters—those people you were forced to live with and knew every fault they had? Yet here you are a few years down the road and find that you treat your own siblings with more respect than you have for your spouse.

Your siblings come to visit and you offer to get them something to drink. You hold in your bodily noises when they are around. You call just to chat. What about your relationship with your spouse? Do you still show them the respect you did when you were dating? If not, get back to those days when you valued your spouse more than your own family.

Dress nicely when you go out. Let other people know it is an honor for you to be with the one you love. Speak kindly. Listen to one another again.

Spontaneity

Do things just for fun. Be random. Play. You don’t always have to act your age. When was the last time you invited your spouse to the back seat of your car to kiss in the mall parking lot? As a complete surprise you can arrange with your friends to take the kids for a night and you sweep your spouse off to a hotel across town.

Communication

That word communicate is a fancy word for talk. Remember when you used to do that without having to raise your voice? Pay attention to your spouse. Intentionally put your book down when they are speaking. Listen to what they have to say.

Compliment one another. Find something nice to say to your spouse. Then find nice things to say about them to other people. This honors them and communicates to others your affection for the one you love.

Public Display of Affection

It is perfectly acceptable to hold hands in most cultures. But have you held hands lately? When my wife and I were dating we were in an environment that did not allow dating couples to hold hands. How thrilling it was each time we did get a chance to sneak in a little squeeze. Sometimes we recreate that feeling by acting like it is taboo as we hold hands underneath our Bible during church.

Why do we think it is cute for teenagers to act like a married couple out in public, but somehow think it is disgusting for a married couple to act like teenagers? There should certainly be limits to what is done in public as a sign of respect to other people, but maybe a little bit of public affection would do your marriage good.

Dating Again

Plan some time alone with your spouse. A date doesn’t need to be expensive, but it does need to be intentional. If you just go out to eat at the same place you go every Thursday evening, that wouldn’t necessarily be a date. But if you would ramp up your wardrobe, show obvious respect to your spouse and throw in a little PDA (public display of affection) you could be surprised as to how exciting the local fast food joint can be once again.

Gift Giving

Gifts don’t have to be elaborate. It could even be as simple as a random card with a nice note about how you are thinking about them. My wife was cleaning out some files yesterday when she found some cards that we had given each other years ago. Though these gifts didn’t have monetary value, they still brought a smile to our faces as she told about some of the things we wrote to one another.

A gift can be something simple, but it should be well thought out and given with purpose.

Studying One Another

I was around an older couple recently and witnessed a hilarious conversation. The wife said something about her husband liking a certain food. He said to me that he really didn’t like it, but he tolerated it for her sake because he thought she liked it so much. She was shocked and was genuinely surprised by this revelation. She hated the food but only made it because she thought he liked it.

What things are you doing because you think your spouse likes it, but you never took the time to find out the truth? Of course you can’t know until you ask them and start studying them like you did when you first met. In fact, it can be a fun game to go to an event and pretend you don’t know one another. Ask each other questions like you are meeting for the first time. You might be surprised that what you thought was true, or what may have been true 20 years ago, isn’t the case any more.

I hope these 7 tips for keeping the spark alive in your marriage will inspire you to spend some quality time with the one you love this week and for many years to come.

David PeachDavid Peach has been in full time missions work with the Deaf since 1994. He has started several deaf ministries in various countries and established a deaf church in Mexico. David now works as Director of Deaf Ministries for his mission board. David has written numerous articles on What Christians Want To Know! Read some of them in RSS feed here.



Why Do We Celebrate Transfiguration Sunday?

by Don S. Armentrout and Robert Boak Slocum | The transfiguration of Jesus is when Jesus is transfigured and becomes radiant in glory upon a mountain, (Matthew 17:1–8, Mark 9:2–8, Luke 9:28–36, 2 Peter 1:16–18). Jesus and three of his apostles, Peter, James, John, go to a mountain (the Mount of Transfiguration) to pray. On the mountain, Jesus begins to shine with bright rays of light (Image by CCXpistiavos on Pixabay).

Many denominations in North America schedule the observance of the Transfiguration on the Sunday before Lent. Celebration of the Transfiguration began in the eastern church in the late fourth century. The feast is celebrated on Aug. 6. This was the date of the dedication of the first church built on Mount Tabor, which is traditionally considered to be the “high mountain” of the Transfiguration. Others locate the Transfiguration on Mount Hermon or the Mount of Olives. Celebration of the feast was not common in the western church until the ninth century. It was declared a universal feast of the western church by Pope Callistus III in 1457. The feast was first included in the English Prayer Book as a black letter day in the 1561 revision of the calendar of the church year. It was included as a red letter day with proper collect and readings in the American Prayer Book of 1892. Its inclusion reflects the efforts of William Reed Huntington, who wrote the BCP collect for the Transfiguration.

This collect prays, “O God, who on the holy mount revealed to chosen witnesses your well-beloved Son, wonderfully transfigured, in raiment white and glistening: Mercifully grant that we, being delivered from the disquietude of this world, may by faith behold the king in his beauty. . . .” (BCP, p. 243). The Transfiguration is listed among the holy days of the church year as a Feast of our Lord. Other provinces of the Anglican Communion followed the lead of the Episcopal Church in celebrating the Transfiguration as a major feast. The Transfiguration gospel is used on the Last Sunday after the Epiphany in all three years of the BCP eucharistic lectionary. As an Epiphany story, the Transfiguration provides one of the most distinctive and dramatic showings of Jesus’ divinity.

We celebrate the revelation of Christ’s glory “before the passion” so that we may “be strengthened to bear our cross and be changed into his likeness.” The focus of the Lenten season is renewed discipline in walking in the way of the cross and rediscovery of the baptismal renunciation of evil and sin and our daily adherence to Christ. At Easter, which reveals the fullness of Christ’s glory (foreshadowed in the Transfiguration), Christians give themselves anew to the gospel at the Easter Vigil where they share the dying and rising of Christ.

In the biblical context, the synoptic gospels narrate the Transfiguration as a bridge between Jesus’ public ministry and his passion. From the time of the Transfiguration, Jesus sets his face to go to Jerusalem and the cross.

Feast that celebrates Jesus’ radical change of appearance while in the presence of Peter, James, and John, on a high mountain (Mt 17:1-8; Mk 9:2-8; Lk 9:28-36). The Gospel of Matthew records that “he was transfigured before them, and his face shone like the sun, and his garments became white as light.” At this moment Moses and Elijah appeared, and they were talking with Jesus. Peter, misunderstanding the meaning of this manifestation, offered to “make three booths” for Jesus, Moses, and Elijah. A bright cloud overshadowed them and a voice from the cloud stated, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased; listen to him.” The disciples fell on their faces in awe, but Jesus encouraged them to arise and “have no fear.” They saw only Jesus. This event is alluded to in 2 Pt 1:16-18, which records that “we were eyewitnesses of his majesty” and “we were with him on the holy mountain.” The Transfiguration revealed Christ’s glory prior to the crucifixion, and it anticipated his resurrection and ascension. It may have given strength and comfort to his disciples in the difficult times that followed. It also prefigures the glorification of human nature in Christ.

Donald Armentrout is a professor emeritus of church history and historical theology, the Charles Quintard Professor of Dogmatic Theology, and director of the Advanced Degrees Program at the University of the South School of Theology. Robert Slocum is the rector of Trinity Church in Danville, KY and the author of many books, including The Theology of William Porcher Dubose and Prophet of Justice, Prophet of Life: Essays on William Stringfellow.

Robert Boak Slocum is distinguished lecturer in the department of philosophy and religious studies at St. Catharine College in Kentucky. He has served as president of the Society of Anglican and Lutheran Theologians and is on the editorial board of the Anglican Theological Review. He also co-wrote An Episcopal Dictionary of the Church with Donald S. Armentrout for Morehouse Publishing.



The Conversion of Russia to Byzantine Christianity (988)

Jesus Christ Savior | The Byzantine missionaries Saints Cyril and Methodius brought Christianity to Moravia, and Cyril created the Cyrillic alphabet for their liturgy, which became the basis of the Slavic languages, including Russian. (Image, St. Sophia Cathedral – Kiev, Ukraine).

The Byzantine Empire of the East, with its capital in Constantinople, flourished for a thousand years. The Emperor Theodosius the Great proclaimed Christianity as the official state religion of the Roman Empire in 380. The Empire reached its zenith under Emperor Justinian, the author of the Justinian Code of Law, who ruled from 527 to 565. Justinian built the beautiful Church of Hagia Sophia in Constantinople in 539, which became a center of religious thought.

The writings of the Greek Fathers of the Church such as Saints Basil, John Chrysostom, and Maximus the Confessor influenced the spiritual formation of early Christianity. The Byzantine or Greek liturgy is based on the tradition of St. Basil and the subsequent reform of St. John Chrysostom. The Byzantine missionaries Saints Cyril and Methodius brought Christianity to Moravia, and Cyril created the Cyrillic alphabet for their liturgy, which became the basis of the Slavic languages, including Russian.

Kiev was once the capital of the country of Kievan Rus, which comprised the modern nations of Russia, Ukraine, and Belarus. Influenced by his grandmother Olga, Prince Vladimir of Kiev adopted Byzantine Christianity in 988, converting Russia to the Byzantine Orthodox faith. In the sixteenth century, a Russian mystic Philotheus of Pskof noted that Rome and Constantinople, the second Rome, had fallen, but “Moscow, the third Rome,” stands. The Russian Orthodox Church today is the largest Eastern Orthodox faith with over 110 million members.

Our anonymous author is a physician and a Masters graduate in Theology and Christian Ministry from Franciscan University, Steubenville, Ohio. He teaches Sunday Bible Class at St. James Catholic Church and serves both Pastoral Care and the Medical Staff at St. Joseph’s Hospital.



Do Christians Need to Speak in Tongues?

by Christianity.net.au | Don’t get me wrong, tongues are still a gift from God and still good, but the exact problem the Christians in Corinth had was that they played a game of one-up-manship based on who had the better gift, and who followed the ‘better’ Apostle – and that’s why Paul hammers them in I Cor 3:1 as “mere infants in Christ”.  Don’t let whether you speak in tongues or not shake your confidence in Christ! (image, Pixabay)

 

I am wondering about ‘speaking in tongues’. A friend of mine has just given me a book called ‘Heaven is so Real’ by a woman called Choo Nam. In this book, she claims Jesus has taken her to heaven many times and she tells the reader that Jesus tells her she must pray in tongues. Are we Christians who don’t speak in tongues missing something or are we not good enough Christians for God to give us tongues to use? I have found many mentions of speaking in tongues in the Bible and just am quite confused about the whole thing. – Anonymous

Regarding speaking in tongues, the Bible never tells us that we must speak in tongues.  A good passage is 1 Cor 12:27-31:

“Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it. 28And in the church God has appointed first of all apostles, second prophets, third teachers, then workers of miracles, also those having gifts of healing, those able to help others, those with gifts of administration, and those speaking in different kinds of tongues. 29Are all apostles? Are all prophets? Are all teachers? Do all work miracles? 30Do all have gifts of healing? Do all speak in tongues[a]? Do all interpret? 31But eagerly desire the greater gifts”.

The obvious answer to his rhetorical question (in bold) “No, of course they don’t!”.  This idea is picked up earlier in 1 Cor 12:7-11, where different gifts are given to different people as the Spirit determines.  This is a really clear answer from the Bible (yay!), the Bible doesn’t tell us that we must speak in tongues.

Which brings us to the second part of your question about whether Christians who speak in tongues are some how superior to those who don’t, or whether we’re missing something.  Back in the first passage the last verse says that we are to “eagerly desire the greater gifts” (V31).  But V28 tells us that they are more like the gifts of apostleship (which you and I aren’t!), prophecy, teaching etc…  In fact, tongues are last on the list!  The gift of administration is even above tongues in this ordered list.  Sometimes it’s easy to over-emphasise tongues because they look impressive, when really God values other things more highly.

Don’t get me wrong, tongues are still a gift from God and still good, but the exact problem the Christians in Corinth had was that they played a game of one-up-manship based on who had the better gift, and who followed the ‘better’ Apostle – and that’s why Paul hammers them in 3:1 as “mere infants in Christ”.  Don’t let whether you speak in tongues or not shake your confidence in Christ!

Finally, I think it’d be really good to be encouraged by what Christianity is all about.  Have a read of this:

“Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in CHRIST”.  (Eph 1:3)

If you have Christ, you have it all!!  That’s worth remembering I think.

Christianity.net.au is an Anglican Media Sydney production, started in 2005. Sydneyanglicans.net is the official website of the Sydney Diocese of the Anglican Church and a division of Anglican Media Sydney. Click here to learn more about Anglican Media Sydney.



We Are Saved by Grace Through Faith in Jesus Christ

by Michael Bradley | Eternal salvation is received direct from the Lord as a free gift and it can only be received by grace through our personal faith in Jesus Christ and His sacrificial death on the cross. Salvation is simply just a matter of believing – and then accepting Jesus Christ as your personal Lord and Savior once you are ready to admit that you are truly a sinner in need of a personal Savior to save you from your sins. (image, Pinterest)

These first 16 verses all have to do with our own personal salvation in the Lord. Each one of these are major power verses and they all have to do with the first definition of grace – which is that grace is the unmerited favor and mercy of God towards mankind.
In these verses are complete and full revelation on exactly what our eternal salvation in the Lord is really all about. If you can grasp what the Lord is trying to tell you in these specific verses, you will then be able to walk away with a much better and clearer understanding as to who you really are in your Lord and Savior Jesus Christ and exactly how you were saved in the first place.
I will go ahead and run all of these verses together, and then point out key words and phrases in these verses so you can see exactly what God is trying to show you.

  • For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone boast.” (Ephesians 2:8)
  • “… who has saved us and called us with a holy calling, not according to our works, but according to His own purpose and grace which was given to us in Christ Jesus before time began.” (2 Timothy 1:9)
  • And if by grace, then it is no longer of works; otherwise grace is no longer grace. But if it is of works, it is no longer grace; otherwise work is no longer work.” (Romans 11:6)
  • “Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom also we have access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God.” (Romans 5:1-2)
  • For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men …” (Titus 2:11)
  • But we believe that through the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ we shall be saved in the same manner as they.” (Acts 15:11)
  • “But God, who is rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in trespasses, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), and raised us up together, and made us sit together in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, that in the ages to come He might show the exceeding riches of His grace in His kindness toward us in Christ Jesus.” (Ephesians 2:4-7)
  • “… that having been justified by His grace we should become heirs according to the hope of eternal life.” (Titus 3:7)
  • “… for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, being justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus …” (Romans 3:23-24)
  • “For the law was given through Moses, but grace and truth came through Jesus Christ.” (John 1:17)
  • “Now may our Lord Jesus Christ Himself, and our God and Father, who has loved us and given us everlasting consolation and good hope by grace …” (2 Thessalonians 2:16)
  • In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of His grace which He made to abound toward us in all wisdom and prudence …” (Ephesians 1:7-8)
  • “For if by the one man’s offense, many died, much more the grace of God and the gift by the grace of the one Man, Jesus Christ, abounded to many.” (Romans 5:15)
  • “… having predestined us to adoption as sons by Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the good pleasure of His will, to the praise of the glory of His grace, by which He has made us accepted in the Beloved.” (Ephesians 1:6)
  • But where sin abounded, grace abounded much more, so that as sin reigned in death, even so grace might reign through righteousness to eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.” (Romans 5:20)
  • I do not set aside the grace of God; for if righteousness comes through the law, then Christ died in vain.” (Galatians 2:21)

The first thing to pick up from these verses is that our personal salvation in the Lord is not earned by any type of good works that we can do in this life – no matter how many good works we may end up doing, and no matter how good and holy those works may end up being. The quantity and quality of our works for the Lord do not matter to Him.

The very first verse listed above is the absolute number one power verse on exactly how we are to receive eternal salvation from the Lord. This verse specifically tells us, without any other possible spin or interpretation you can possibly put on it, that our individual personal salvation in the Lord can only be received by “grace” through our personal faith in Jesus Christ.

This first verse, and the two that follow right after it, specifically state that our eternal salvation is simply received by grace through faith – not by any type of works. The first verse tells us that our eternal salvation is a direct, free gift from God and “not of works.” The second verse once again says that God has saved us through His grace and not “according to our works.”

The third verse then really hammers this point home when it literally shouts out that we cannot be saved by both grace and works. It says if we are saved by grace, then works has no part in our salvation whatsoever. You cannot have this revelation both ways. If we are saved by grace, which we are, then works has absolute no part in our personal salvation with the Lord. It’s all Him and none of us. The first verse says that being saved by grace through our faith in Jesus all comes direct from God and that it is “not from ourselves.”

As simple as this revelation is to fully grasp and understand, there are still some Christians who are walking around thinking that they still have to try and earn their way into heaven by doing as many good and holy works as they possibly can.

As a result, they spend most of their life in misery and torment as they never know for sure if they will make it into heaven after they die and cross over. These first set of verses are absolute top priority for any newborn who has just been saved or any unbeliever you may be witnessing to.

Bottom line – eternal salvation is received direct from the Lord as a free gift and it can only be received by grace through our personal faith in Jesus Christ and His sacrificial death on the cross. Salvation is simply just a matter of believing – and then accepting Jesus Christ as your personal Lord and Savior once you are ready to admit that you are truly a sinner in need of a personal Savior to save you from your sins.

I am going to highlight some of the key phrases in the above verses so you can see how the Lord is really trying to drive home the point that we can only be saved by and through His grace.

  • For by grace you have been saved through faith
  • Who has saved us … according to His own purpose and grace
  • We have access by faith into this grace
  • For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men
  • Through the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ we shall be saved
  • By grace you have been saved
  • Having been justified by His grace
  • Being justified freely by His grace
  • Grace and truth came through Jesus Christ
  • Given us everlasting consolation and good hope by grace
  • In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of His grace

Notice in every single one of these key phrases the word “grace” is specifically being used in reference to our own personal salvation in the Lord.

With the basic definition of the word “grace” being “unmerited favor,” there can be no question that our own personal salvation in the Lord can only be received by God’s grace through our faith in His Son Jesus.

No amount of works, no matter how good and holy we think those works may be, will ever be good enough to get us back in the good graces of our Lord and Savior.

Ritualism, legalism, and works are out the door!

They have no place in our personal salvation with the Lord – and they have absolutely no place when working with an unsaved person in an effort to try and get them saved. God has made accepting His free gift of eternal salvation through His Son Jesus Christ as easy as He possibly could.

Michael & Chris Bradley

Michael & Chris Bradley

Michael Bradley was very intelligent and gifted with an ability to break down topics and easily explain and lead by a step by step as to really help people grow with their walk with the Lord. My brother Chris and I decided to start an online ministry in the summer of 2004 and officially went live in Jan of 2005. It started with us answering peoples questions via email and they became excellent teaching articles and with the feedback and fruit we were receiving, we felt led by the Lord to take these teachings to the world.



Weekly Spiritual Digest: Is Jesus Really God?

by Rev. Sunday Bwanhot | Only God is the omnipresent Spirit who can hear and answer prayer, but Jesus said in John 14:13, “If you shall ask anything in my name I will do it.”

The question, if Jesus is really God has caused different reactions ranging from excitement, confusion, anger and outright rejection by Christians and non-Christians alike. The existence of Jesus Christ is a no contest. He lived here on earth; His genealogy is known. Where and when He was born and the life He lived have all been documented by historians. The claim that He is God is the bone of contention. Here are four reasons to aid our understanding in believing that Jesus is God.

  1. Testimonies that Jesus is God.
    1. The Prophets: Isaiah & John the Baptist: Isa 9:6; 7:14; Jh. 1:1-3
    2. God the Father: Heb. 1:8 & Ps. 45:6.
    3. Jesus Himself: Jh. 8:58, 10:30.
    4. Jesus’ Disciples Jh. 20:28.
  2. Jesus has all the attributes of God – A few will suffice:

    1. Self-existing Jh. 5:26;
    2. Eternal Is. 9:6; and Is 46:9
    3. Holy Jh. 8:46;
    4. Omnipotent Phi 3:21;
    5. Omniscient Jh. 16:30;
    6. Omnipresent Matt. 18:20; Judge. 2 Tim 4:1.
  3. Jesus did things only God can do.
    1. Created the world. Jh. 1:3; Col.1:16.
    2. Raised the dead and Himself too. Lk 7:14, 24:7
    3. Forgave sins. Lk 5:20;
    4. Promises eternal life. John 3:16; Lk 23:43
  4. Jesus Accepts worship – due only to God.
    1. Disciples worshiped Him Matt. 28: 9;
    2. Every knee will bow in worship Ph. 2:9-11
    3. Saints, Angels, 24 Elders, 4 Living Creatures worship Jesus. Rev. 5

Every religion admits that Jesus was a prophet, righteous and sinless but reject His deity. He did not leave us that option. We either voluntarily worship Him now or involuntarily do so when it is too late.

Rev. Sunday BwanhotRev. Sunday Bwanhot is EMS/SIM Missionary. He serves as Team leader of SIM Culture Connexions; Pastors of ECWA Chicago.



How to Share Your Faith This Week

by Chris Russell | Research indicates that the majority of unchurched people would attend a church if they were simply invited. Don’t be bashful. Send a few text messages out to some friends right now to invite them to church!

Jesus said in the John 4:35, “Do you not say, ‘There are still four months and then comes the harvest’? Behold, I say to you, lift up your eyes and look at the fields, for they are already white for harvest!” If you are a follower of Christ, I hope you realize how important it is for us to actively be a part of the harvest of souls in our generation. It is absolutely essential that we put our finest efforts into rescuing lives from destruction.

But as I mention this subject, I realize many readers begin to tremble with fear. We worry about rejection or not being able to give an answer for those tough questions. Some do not even know where to begin with this mission.

Let me suggest five simple ways you can begin to share your faith this week:

1. Begin by living your life consistently with what God has said in His Word.

Many people get tripped up in sharing their faith because they know their lifestyle is not what it needs to be. The solution to this is very simple: turn your entire life over to God completely. Do it now.

2. Begin to publicly identify yourself with Christ through social media.

Social media can provide a subtle approach to sharing your faith. Change your “religious views” on your profile to “Christian.” Once or twice a week consider posting a Bible verse on your timeline. Link to your church’s website or to other Christian websites on your timeline. Let friends know you are praying for them when they express a need.

3. Volunteer to serve in a ministry at your church on Sunday mornings.

God’s strategic plan for evangelizing this generation is through His Church. When you serve in any of the weekend church ministries, you are becoming a part of the evangelistic machine that changes lives forever. Don’t underestimate the value of changing diapers in the nursery at your church. By serving you are opening up opportunities for people to hear the Word and surrender to Christ. That is a big deal!

4. Keep something on your desk or counter at work that identifies you as a Christian.

I had a dear friend (who has now gone on to be with the Lord in Heaven) who kept his Bible on his desk even though he never read it during business hours. And he told me often of how that symbol brought many people to his office asking questions about his faith and asking for prayer for needs in their lives. I would suggest you do something like this to identify yourself in your office as a follower of Christ. This could mean putting a Bible on your desk or something as simple as setting a coffee mug with your church’s logo in some visible part of your office. Better yet, put candy in the mug for coworkers to swipe when they stop in to talk to you!

5. Invite someone to church this Sunday.

Research indicates that the majority of unchurched people would attend a church if they were simply invited. Don’t be bashful. Send a few text messages out to some friends right now to invite them to church! Then you can allow the entire church body to be a part of bringing them to Christ! I would suggest that you invite them to church and lunch right afterward. This will turn it into more of a relational event, and you can have a chance to see how they felt about the church service.

Some of Jesus’s last words are found in Matthew 28:19-20. In this passage we are commanded to go out and make disciples. And in Acts 1:8, Jesus promises us the dynamic power of the Holy Spirit to help us in that mission.

So then, in the power of the Holy Spirit, let’s tell the world of the joy we have in knowing Christ!

Chris Russell has spent the past 25 years actively involved in ministry through pastoring, church planting, writing, Christian radio, and special speaking around the country and in seven different countries. He is passionate about communicating the truths of God’s Word in a creative, highly-relevant way.

Chris has three kids and happens to be married to his best friend, Leigh. He currently pastors a church on the north side of Cincinnati. For more, visit Sensible Faith



Weekly Spiritual Digest: Is Christianity too Narrow?

by Rev. Sunday Bwanhot | Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” John 14:6

The assertion here is that Christianity has many restrictions and is not inclusive. People want a borderless Christianity. The fact is that every institution that is worth its salt has restrictions and is inclusive only under certain conditions. Christianity is not different. We generally view God’s laws as restrictions from enjoying something good. Which is not true! God’s laws are barriers to protect us from hurting ourselves while enjoying all the good God has made available to us.

Christianity is a relationship with Christ and everyone irrespective of race, age, gender, abilities/inabilities, sinners, etc. are accepted unconditionally. All roads may lead to Rome, but only one Road leads to God – Jesus Christ. Religion is humanity’s attempt to reach God while Christianity is God’s attempt to reach humanity. God is the initiator and not man and He says “Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it.” Matt. 7:13 Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” John 14:6. Those who argue that Christianity is narrow are not sincere. They willingly accept restrictions in other areas of life. They only know about Christianity and have never experienced the true freedom that being in Christ brings.

Regardless of how Christianity is viewed, the question remains,  are you ready for a committed relationship with Christ knowing God personally came down to look for you and bring you into His Kingdom? So, what is the point of this argument?

Rev. Sunday BwanhotRev. Sunday Bwanhot is EMS/SIM Missionary. He serves as Team leader of SIM Culture Connexions; Pastors of ECWA Chicago.



Teaching Teens Christ Honored Romance

by Rhonda Stoppe | Telling our kids how not to feel will do nothing to guide their hearts. But exposing them to real, Christ-honoring romance will kindle a spark of hope that God really is sovereign over romance and love.

In 18 years of youth ministry, my husband and I learned a lot about teens falling in love. In fact, I’ve enjoyed watching countless couples fall in love. I consider it a perk of being in ministry! I especially loved observing God’s blessing on those who honored Christ in their romance. I can honestly attest to the value of exposing our children to real-life love stories that glorified Christ. Our children’s idea of godly romance was strongly influenced by watching couples who loved God and obeyed His plan for their love lives.

In a generation where the culture has stolen real romance, and when it comes to sex, anything goes, we must look for opportunities to talk to our teens and model for them love that brings glory to God. How can we expose them to romance that honors Christ? As a parent, you must realize that teaching your kids a biblical view of romance is so much more than just having “the talk.”

1. Acknowledge their longing to be in love. It’s tempting to tell your pimply-faced adolescent, “You’re too young to have those feelings.” But a wise parent will listen to them share their heart. If you shut them down, they’ll still have those feelings, they just won’t tell you about it. You’ll also forfeit the opportunity to guide their thinking toward purity and biblical romance.

2. Talk plainly to them about sex. Equip them for purity. How far is too far? Bottom line: It’s all sex. Short of intercourse, everything that couples attempt to do outside of marriage is foreplay. There’s no way around it. Your kids are naive when they’re are messing around in the back seat of a car, telling themselves, I’ll know when to stop. I can handle this. Help them understand they are engaged in foreplay, their minds are preparing their bodies for intercourse, and eventually they will give in to sex before marriage.

  • Sex is Amazing. In an attempt to defer your child’s interest in sex, to sidestep the idea of how pleasurable sex can be will only serve to frustrate them. Rather, acknowledge how intercourse and all that leads up to the act is extremely enjoyable and sanctioned by God for married couples to enjoy. Equipping your teen to understand how God made their bodies to enjoy sex (within the safety of His plan) will keep them from one day being surprised by how much they long for physical intimacy with a person they come to have feelings for.
  • Pornography is sex. Jesus said it’s as much a sin to engage in premarital sex as lusting over it. Help your teens realize how porn will bring long term consequences that will steal their sexual enjoyment in the marriage bed. In Real Life Romance, I share one man’s story. Chuck was raised in a Christian home, but he fooled himself to think looking at pornography would keep him from having sex until he got married. What Chuck failed to realize was viewing porn became an addiction that would not let go of him once he married.
  • You can be pure again. God promises, “Though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow” (Isa. 1:18b). If your child has been sexually active, hold out the hope of Jesus and the purity He offers to all who cry out to Him in repentance and turn from their sin.
  • It is possible to wait although culture says everyone is having sex. God’s remnant is remaining pure until marriage, and He is blessing a whole new generation for their obedience. Exposing your kids to godly young adults who are waiting until marriage will speak more to them than your words.

3. Expose them to real romance. Beginning with your own marriage, show your kids how romance in marriage is the norm, rather than the exception. Expose your kids to couples in your church who are courting in a way that honors Christ. This helps them believe purity really is possible, contrary to what the world would have them think.

If you’re a divorced or single parent, don’t point out all the ways your ex-spouse/their other parent failed you in the relationship. Instead, expose your kids to marriages that have grown more deeply in love over the years. The best place to find these godly examples of happy marriages is when you become a part of a church family. This requires regularly attending church, not just popping in on Sundays from time to time.

4. Celebrate true love. Telling your kids stories of how God sovereignly brought two people together to fall in love in a Christ honoring way gives them hope that God is also interested in their happily-ever-after. When they believe that letting God write their love story will guide them to romance with no regrets, they’ll be more likely to trust Him and wait on His timing when looking for a spouse.

5. Help them realize their longing to feel loved is normal. God created each of us with a longing to find our worth in who loves us. The problem lies when we look to find our worth in how well a significant other treats us. The aching we have to feel treasured can only be satisfied when we realize that God loves us so much that He sent His Son to purchase us for Himself. The intimacy with the Creator was stolen away when mankind sinned in the garden. From then on, we all search for love in the wrong places. God is the only answer to the longing of our hearts.

6. Find someone who loves God more than they love you, and they’ll be able to love you with His selfless love. The Bible instructs believers not to marry unbelievers. While it’s easy to tell our kids, “just don’t marry a non-believer,” it’s more valuable to explain to them why. One very important reason is that the only people who have the capacity to love others with Christ’s selfless love are those whose hearts have been transformed by the Holy Spirit.

We regularly told our own children as well as our youth ministry kids, “Marry someone who loves Jesus more than they love you, and you’re on the right track to a marriage that will last a lifetime.”

Telling our kids how not to feel will do nothing to guide their hearts. But exposing them to real, Christ-honoring romance will kindle a spark of hope that God really is sovereign over romance and love.

Rhonda Stoppe is the No Regrets Woman. With more than 30 years of experience as a marriage mentor, pastor’s wife, author and speaker, Stoppe leads women of all ages to live lives of no regrets.



7 Tips for Living Together Happily 

by Kat Kennedy | Treat each other to little simple things you know will be loved. Living together has shined a light on each of our strengths and weaknesses, bad habits and destructive behaviors but also allowed us to gain a new kind of closeness that we wouldn’t have experienced otherwise.

I’m no relationship guru by any stretch of the imagination but rather a regular girl who’s compiled a list of seven savvy tips for keeping cohabitation with my significant other light-hearted and fun.

Generally speaking, we find a positive correlation between length of relationship and the more serious it becomes. Somehow time makes us prioritise other things over fun, laughter, and dreams, and we wind up bitter, resentful, and neglected before we know it. This isn’t necessarily across the board – it hasn’t been in my relationship, for example – but it is possible that as the two of you sink into routines, you will edge further and further away from those spontaneous little moments that you had when you initially kindled your romance.

Living together has been a whimsical journey, but it has also been eye-opening and challenging. It has shined a light on each of our strengths and weaknesses, bad habits and destructive behaviours but also allowed us to gain a new kind of closeness that we wouldn’t have experienced otherwise. Every couple is unique, but I’ve got seven solid tips for you today that can give you a strong foundation upon which to build a dream life together. Just like a pizza: if the base is good, you don’t have to worry about much else.

1. Spend quality time together 1 or 2 nights a week. When we first decided to share our space, we were worried we might get bored with seeing each other so much, but in fact the opposite occurred. We fell into the trap of co-existing without spending any quality time together. We’d return from work, eat dinner at the same time and then part ways, us each working or studying solo for the duration of the evening. By the time we’d climb into bed, all energy had been sapped, and we realized we were never getting the best of each other. Now, we make it a point to put work aside a couple nights a week and linger at the table after dinner, prioritising catching up on life.

2. Monthly dining indulgence. Before we lived under the same roof, our date nights would often revolve around cooking for one another or going out for a bite to eat. While it’s great to have our own kitchen now, we still make a point to indulge once a month by planning an evening out at a favourite or new restaurant and treating ourselves to some delicious food and ambience.

3. Alternate cooking for each other throughout the work week. After a long day, coming home to dinner ready and waiting is like a warm embrace. Cooking for your partner infuses your meal with love and care, and there’s no simpler way to spark a smile or appreciation than to help each other out.

4. Keep communal areas clean. It is inevitable that you will get, ahem, closer when living together; It’s a lot less difficult to hide bad habits! But while you should, of course, be able to feel at home, we make it paramount in our house to keep joint areas like the bedroom, kitchen, bathroom and living room clean. The dining room is pretty much mine, stacked with notes and books for working, and Jonny has his music room filled with his medley of instruments. In these spaces, we know we can delve into our own realms and be free to live how we want. But in the joint areas, we maintain strict no-clutter and no-dirt policies. If you live dirty, you feel dirty, and for us, we are both in the best head space when we are keeping on top of the chores. This translates into our relationship. I mean, think about it; it’s not particularly alluring cooking up a romantic meal together in a crusty kitchen, is it? Or climbing into a bed piled up with clothes, food wrappers and whatever else!

5. Treat each other to little simple things you know will be loved. Once you live under the same roof, you’re both involved with the bills, the necessities, and the chores. Treating each other to little surprises reminds one another that you care. This can be a funny note, a baked good, a plant, or whatever brings an instant smile on your partner’s face. It doesn’t have to cost a penny, and it can still be heartfelt.

6. Have a joint pot of money for shared resources and share the job of doing them. While talking money is anything but sexy, being respectful of each other’s resources is. There is nothing worse than feeling that you’ve been taken for a ride, so it’s important from the get-go that you’re on the same page. Split your bills in a way that both parties are happy with, and have a shared pot for food money. Set a budget and stick to it, saving the need for any disagreements or hard feelings. We’ve also found that it works best when we both split the food shopping; this way it feels as though both of you are getting to make choices about what to eat. It’s a simple thing that makes a big difference.

7. Have monthly reviews. We joked about having a monthly review around about 30 days after we moved in but actually found it to be really useful. It gave us a chance to reflect on what we had enjoyed for the previous month, as well as any concerns that had been brought up and were worrying either of us. We now find it really easy to express how we’re feeling about things, remembering the importance of affirming positive experiences to the other party as well as being honest about what isn’t making us so happy. Practicing this each month makes it easier to be comfortable with being open and honest without sparking conflict.

Kat Kennedy is an explorative writer and advocate for sustainable living. She’s a proud ‘third culture kid’ who is passionate about houseplants, vegan baking and outdoor adventures. You can read more of her articles on her blog, Sphynx Kennedy, or keep up with her on Instagram @sphynxkennedy.


Pope Leo the Great (440-461)

Jesus Christ Savior | The Council of Chalcedon in 451 was the Fourth Ecumenical Council, which supported Leo’s stance that Christ had two natures, Divine and human in perfect harmony, in one Person or hypostasis.

Pope Leo entered the Papacy at a difficult time. Alaric had sacked Rome in 410, and the Huns and the Visigoths were gaining strength. However the Pope proved to be a master statesman and history has deservedly accorded him the title of Pope Leo the Great.

One of his first actions in 441 was to bless the missionary efforts of St. Patrick and to ordain him as Bishop of Ireland.

A tension in Church authority between papal leadership and collegiality of the bishops was developing over theological questions. Rome was the place of martyrdom for Saints Peter and Paul. Rome’s position as the capital of the Roman Empire was also supportive of a leadership role for the Bishop of Rome. The Bishop of Rome as successor to St. Peter was the Pastor and Shepherd of the whole Church, as seen with St. Clement of Rome in his First Letter to the Corinthians in 96 AD, and with Pope Leo the Great.

The Council of Ephesus, the Third Ecumenical Council, in 431 recognized Mary as the Mother of God, which was intrinsic to the human nature (ϕύσις – physis = nature) of Christ. The independent Church of the East in Persia believed in two distinct natures (dyophysite) in Christ and did not accept the wording. Pope Leo synthesized the thought of the differing Schools of Antioch and Alexandria in a letter known as the Tome. The Council of Chalcedon in 451 was the Fourth Ecumenical Council, which supported Leo’s stance that Christ had two natures, Divine and human in perfect harmony, in one Person or hypostasis. This set the theology for Roman and Byzantine theology and was important for European unity. However, Eastern Christians in Armenia, Syria, Egypt, Ethiopia, and India who still believed that Christ was one incarnate nature (monophysite) of the Word of God objected to Chalcedon and formed the Oriental Orthodox Churches.

Just one year later (452), Attila and the Huns were threatening outside the walls of Rome. Pope Leo met Attila, who decided to call off the invasion!

Our anonymous author is a physician and a Masters graduate in Theology and Christian Ministry from Franciscan University, Steubenville, Ohio. He teaches Sunday Bible Class at St. James Catholic Church and serves both Pastoral Care and the Medical Staff at St. Joseph’s Hospital.