“For every century in the life of the Church, there have been places of persecution. In many instances, the persecution has included terrible, physical violence and even martyrdom. Rather than the world evolving into a more and more mellow environment, the persecution has actually accelerated. In the twentieth century, more Christians were martyred than in the previous nineteen centuries put together! Hopes that the world would mature and come to a more civilized and gracious demeanor have certainly not been realized. Increasingly, as the realities of Christendom have faded into a memory, there have been a number of forces assaulting Christians: Secularism, Radical Islam, and Paganism.”
Much, much more here. Must read material!
As a Christian, whether in leadership or not, it is right and necessary to know that ambition does have its place in support of Christ’s Church.
If all we Christians take God seriously, we shall “become ambitious for the spread of his kingdom and righteousness everywhere.” May this be our common goal, and may we “therefore pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest.” (Luke 10:2 – ESV) AND > May we be among the bold/ambitious laborers. Keeping in mind that though we are differently gifted, we can, should, and must be willing to say to our Lord Jesus, “Here I am send me”. He can and does use in countless wonderful ways whosoever will.
Let’s look at what the late John Stott has to say on rightly ordered ambition.
“Ambitions for self may be quite modest (enough to eat, to drink and to wear, as in the Sermon [on the Mount]) or they may be grandiose (a bigger house, a faster car, a higher salary, a wider reputation, more power). But whether modest or immodest, these are ambitions for myself – my comfort, my wealth, my status, my power.
“Ambitions for God, however, if they are to be worthy, can never be modest. There is something inherently inappropriate about cherishing small ambitions for God. How can we ever be content that he should acquire just a little more honour in the world? No. Once we are clear that God is King, then we long to see him crowned with glory and honour, and accorded his true place, which is the supreme place. We become ambitious for the spread of his kingdom and righteousness everywhere.”
- 172 -173 “The Message on the Sermon on the Mount” (Inter-Varsity Press)
You may or may not know that your blog host here spent 33 years in the Episcopal Church (TEC). From the Episcopal Church I have numerous fond and transforming remembrances of many of Christ’s bondservants I came to know and love and by whom I was influenced, most often in positive and sometimes profound ways.
From 2003 to 2009 (the latter year being my time of departure), TEC willfully took a path oriented to relativism, proclamation of different gospels (see II Corinthians 11:3-4 and Galatians 1:6-9, for example ), abandonment or specious reworking of vast sections of Holy Scripture (an unbiblical hermeneutic resulting), evisceration of the mission of the church to go and make disciples, and a whole host of other actions that demonstrate the truth of Richard Niebuhr’s critique of the so-called liberal gospel: “A God without wrath brought men without sin into a kingdom without judgment through the ministrations of a Christ without a cross.”
My breaking point came slowly and after much prayer and not a little separation anxiety. Thanks be to God for PEARUSA!
I must note that I know a good number of parishioners and clergy still in TEC who by grace have maintained their Christian orthodoxy and witness despite the increasingly negative and pernicious actions and influences of the relativist revisionists in positions of power within TEC and its governing structures.
When thinking upon the dominical declaration (ref. Matthew 16:13-19) of the Chief Architect, Foundation, and Bridegroom of the ecclesia, οἰκοδομήσω μου τὴν ἐκκλησίαν, I will build my church, it makes me blanch to apprehend how far afield TEC has walked away.
With that sad picture in view, I share a link to a timely article that ought to warn us all about making untenable compromises when it comes to matters concerning the faith once delivered to the saints.
Hie thee hence, praying before during and after reading.
Grace, mercy, and peace be multiplied to you and yours this Advent season,
In view of the come as you are/”contemporary” school of thought concerning Christian worship praxis, it may be of help to know that your blog curate has some past (and occasionally current) experiences of its calm, cool, counter cultural envelope of faith, hope and love. The “contemporary” form/style/manner/mode of the service of praise, adoration, thanksgiving, and petition directed toward God through actions and attitudesin this day and age demographically holds first place with traditional/liturgical forms coming in at an increasingly lower second place.
The winds of change appear to be blowing once again.
From Patheos blogger, Michael F. Bird, “Many hunger for something that is aesthetic in their worship, rather than just intellectual or emotional.” Please read the whole article here.
Now, for a tantalizing glimpse into the “high church” world, please take this jump.
Oh, and yes, I still have my organ shoes.
 Ralph Carmichael’s and Kurt Kaiser’s Natural High (1971) was the call to worship for me and several other young people in our church at the time.
 Donald. K. McKim, Westminster Dictionary of Theological Terms, Westminster John Knox Press: Louisville, 1996, p. 307.
Add this reminder of walking in our neighbors’ shoes to your methodology tool box:
Archbishop Michael Ramsey, “We state and commend the faith only in so far as we go out and put ourselves inside the doubts of the doubters, the questions of the questioners and the loneliness of those who have lost their way.”