LEAD! B.11 From Gluttony to Self-Control

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In Which We Deny Our Bodies to Nurture Our Souls

“Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” — Matthew 5:10

While gluttony primarily refers to the excessive consumption of food, here we will define it more broadly as “seeking to satisfy our souls by indulging the appetites of the flesh.” This is in contrast to self-control, which is the ability to align the actions of our body with the desires of the spirit.

Importantly, for a Christian self-control is ultimately about being controlled by God’s Spirit; in fact, God sometimes lets us fall into sins of the flesh to teach us not to trust in our own willpower!

This is also why those who undergo persecution are considered “blessed”, or “lucky”, as it is obvious to them that they can’t pursue physical comfort and the kingdom of heaven at the same time.

For the rest of us, alas, the temptation is far more subtle…

Assigned Reading
  1. Peter Kreeft: Back to Virtue

    • 13. Courage under Persecution vs. Self-indulgence
  2. Dick Hockett: Foundations of Wisdom
    • 3.1 (Self-control) Example: Proverbs about the Tongue

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LEAD! B.6 From Greed to Generosity

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In Which We Gain Power Over Money By Giving It Away

“Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy.” — Matthew 5:7

Even if we escape the pride of trusting completely in our own “name”, we still must guard against trusting in things instead of God. The purest form of this is greed or avarice, which can be defined as treating money as an “end” — i.e., an extension of the self. This is in contrast to generosity, which considers money primarily a “means” of showing mercy to others.   

Assigned Reading
  1. Peter Kreeft: Back to Virtue

    • 8. Giving Mercy vs. Getting Things (Avarice)
  2. Dick Hockett: Foundations of Wisdom
    • 3.3 (Righteous) Example: Proverbs about the Tongue

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LEAD! B.1 From Humanism to Wisdom

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In Which Our Character is Conformed to God’s Name, Via The Pursuit of Wisdom

In our first twelve-week series on Theological Foundations, we focused on what it means to be “baptized into the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit“, moving from sin to sanctification as the body of Christ entering into His Kingdom.

In this our second series, we focus on how we can appropriate that “name” in our own lives — as well as those of the people we lead and serve. This is the essence of Christian Character, the second leg of our “LEAD” tripod (the third and final one being “Skills for Service”, coming in Spring 2009).

The goal of character formation is to bring our “whole person” into alignment with the “whole name” of God — His identity, character, and purpose. We can define the whole person using the “triplet” model below, which has:

  1. Our Spirit at the center…
  2. … working through our Heart, Soul and Mind… (cf. Mark 12:30)
  3. … which together produce Emotions, Reasons, and Decisions…
  4. … that manifest in actions of our Body

person-new

While all models are imperfect, and there are many other ways to picture the human psyche, this diagram will help us understand the role of Wisdom in character formation — and how we fall short…

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Stoned, Part I: Three Stones

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5:30 AM, Sunday, March 11th, 2007

I am walking down a street of some kind, carrying  three stones I, um, excreted earlier. Semi-round, they are roughly the size of a quarter, nickel, and dime, respectively. Clean now, I juggle them in my hand, relieved to have them out, but not quite sure what to do with them.

It is night, but I am approaching a streetlight where i can finally examine them. They all have a fine texture, almost like a random-dot stereogram. More than almost — if I stare at each of them I can make out a word. Respectively, I see:

  1. Insecurity
  2. Pride
  3. Self

It is a bit surprising to see “Self” as the smallest pebble, but there you have it. Having named them, I understand why it was important to excrete them — so I could get them out into the open and deal with them. But, how to deal with them?

  • Jesus?
  • Hi Ernie.
  • What do you want from me?
  • Your sin.

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