From the Christianity.com website.
St. Ephrem the Syrian was born about 306 at Nisibis in Mesopotamia. When the Persians forced Emperor Jovianus to relinquish Nisibis, Ephrem and many other Christians migrated to Edessa. Ephrem was already a famed teacher. In Edessa he either joined or founded a school of Bible interpretation which was neither as literal as that of Antioch nor as devoted to finding types in every Scripture as was that of Alexandria. He was the school’s foremost representative.
During his years at Edessa, Ephrem lived in a cave, eating only barley bread and vegetables. Bald, short, without a beard, shriveled in his skin, he was a true ascetic. Nonetheless he took an active part in the affairs of the city where his dirty, patched robe must have made him a comical sight.
What we think and believe about ourselves has tremendous impact on soooo much of our lives. What I allow to wander through my cranial cavity can determine much more than I realize. The health of my body, soul, and spirit has much to do with what I think and believe.
In yesterday’s sermon at Castle Rock Bible Church, we looked at a hunchback woman who had been so for 18 years. Think about it, much of her daily view was the ground. Jesus in his compassionate state said, “this woman, our sister, a relative in the promise of Abraham, one of our family, needs to be free from this oppression.” He even pinpointed the reason for the influence. Satan and his wily kingdom had set up camp in her body causing tremendous damage. In his empathetic state, Jesus sidestepped the built-up rules of Sabbath to provide relief to this woman. In the process, revealed the hearts of the crowd into two definite camps.
One of the many points in discussing her ailment was that in our western world, the general mindset is that our bodies are our bodies and sickness or disease or difficulty is strictly the result of poor diet, lack of excercise, hereditary, or pumping our bodies with toxins. Western thinking precludes any demonic spiritual influence on our body, soul, and spirit. Not so in the eastern world, of which Jesus is a part. They have no problem understanding how the spiritual world has a significant impact on the physical world.
One day a short bit ago, I decided to make some hot cocoa in the microwave. I am not quite sure what I did differently this time, however, it bubbled and flowed all over the place. As soon as I saw it I thought about the verse in Psalm 23 regarding a cup running over. The obvious analogy is that whatever is big inside of us is going to come out when the conditions are just right. Here the heat and pressure of the microwave caused stress on the wonderful drink to the point of spillage.
In typical pastoral fashion, my mind immediately went introspective to my life. What is it that when heat and pressure is exuded on my life makes things come out? And what are those things? Is it something for me to be embarrassed of? Or is it something which my words and actions glorify Father? Is it something to be proud of? Or is it something to hide or shy away from?
Have you ever thought about what you are full of? What about when the heat and pressure is brought upon you, what do we get to see?
Brokenness? Not something to be desired. Yet, something required.
What is the road to brokenness? Someone who is honest enough to tell you the truth about yourself. Deep, deep introspection at the mercy of a loving heavenly Father and the Word. A mistake made which reveals the nastiness of ones heart. Being face to face with such deception that the only place to turn is quiet solitude.
I have heard that when eagles molt and work at becoming stronger, they have to totally rid themselves of the things that protect them and give them their terror. They chew off their talons, smash their beaks on rocks, and pull out their flying feathers so that all can grow back stronger than ever. I wonder what that looks like for humans?
I just saw a quote on Facebook today from a pastor friend of mine, Chris Hodges, as RT’d by my friend Layne Schranz, “If you don’t get better at what you do, you will criticize those who are.”
Socrates at his trial for heresy as found in Apology 38a said, “The unexamined life is not worth living as a human being.”
The first quote set me on a course to think about how humans work symbiotically either for growth and healing or desecration and decay. It is easy to be critical just for the sake of criticism. After all it is our right as Americans, I think some call it ‘free-speech.’ It is harder to be critical for the sake of wanting things to be better. Judgmentalism to damage another takes no character, honoring each other enough to look for ways to grow and improve takes wisdom and love.
As we go through life, are we cruising aimlessly or are we finding out our purpose and explioting it to the fullest? Are we looking at the ways we do things and asking if it is Father’s will or something for our own glory? Are we asking if what we are saying passes the “Who Cares Test?” Are we looking in God’s Word to see if we are continually working at conforming ourselves into the image of the Son? Are we honest and courageous enough to receive information, no matter how difficult it may be to hear, in order for us to grow?