Wednesday, June 28, 2017

If You're Looking For Solid, Practical Theology, Look No Further Than...




here.

{insert ha ha, eye roll, and lol here}

I'm looking for a solid faith... but where do I go?

I'm not going to tell you I have the corner on the truth, because honestly, I don't.

I think that honor goes to gifted teachers like...:

Father Robert Barron

Scott Hahn

Peter Kreeft

and

R.C. Sproul

(maybe also the very gifted and wise Tim Keller)

There are so many!!! :)

I think one of the things that is hardest about parenting are the times when I am at a loss. It is when I come up short in knowing how to guide my children. Perhaps it is not having the correct answer when they ask me something, particularly theologically speaking. Perhaps it is the fact that my anger, selfishness, and arrogance are obviously setting a very bad example for the them, but I'm not quite sure how to go about correcting those things.

If you are looking for some tips to deepen your faith, and make your faith more practical, and to just plain help you live it, I'm here for my top ten.  Because, honestly, I've been wondering that same thing myself. And the answer isn't easy. It definitely isn't on a silver platter.  But... here's my attempt. :)

Top Ten Ways to Know You're on Solid Ground:

You know you're in good company when...

1. Your theology gives you peace.

If you struggle with insecurity or apathy in your faith, that should be a red flag or a warning sign to you. What's the point... if you don't have good answers to the tough questions? But even deeper in our hearts, if we are living unchanged lives, the faith we profess isn't able to bear enough weight in our day-to-day lives.

Acedia (sloth) can lead to depression. Obviously if you struggle with perpetual sadness, anger, or jealousy, you are getting some misinformation or you are being misguided somewhere. I start here because this resonates with my own experience. If I'm hearing wrong teaching- such as no absolute truth- it will lead to a breakdown in the home.  We need solid advice from teachers who are living a peaceful, prayerful life themselves!

2. Your theology causes you to love.

If you have solid teaching, but your arrogance so blinds you that you aren't reaching out to the people who need you the most (perhaps milennials and that crowd, who are looking for advice in the realm of sexuality, but don't seem to be getting any clear guidance as to how to live their faith practitcally during that phase of their life?)... then you have a hole in your theology that needs repair. Badly. ;-)

We absolutely need to be loving, at all times. But should we tolerate sin? No and no. Love never fails. :)

3. You are in line with the Holy Spirit.

The Spirit moves through people, writers, teachers, and theologians. God is at work, and as the world changes, our hearts and minds constantly seek renewal. This should be evident and at work in our churches. The Word of God is living and active, and so is God.

Do you depend on the Scriptures for guidance each and every day? If not, then something is amiss or awry.

4. You understand the Scriptures.

I included some non-Catholic theologians up above even though I am Catholic, because I think the Catholic church today needs a deeper understanding of the Scriptures.  No, you shouldn't be a Bible thumper. Honestly, it's intense, and it can come across as very intimidating to the younger set! But also, you can't live out your faith if you don't know who Noah is. You can't deepen your faith and watch it blossom and grow if you're not sure what the H the Davidic covenant is. haha. You won't desire to teach your children the Scriptures if you don't know how to explain the Abrahamic promise to them. :)

Knowing the Bible brings peace and clarity! Don't undermine or dismiss this doctrine: "The Scriptures are helping for teaching, reproving, and correcting in righteousness." After hearing this verse, Molly said "Mommy that means you have to correct in righteousness, too." (wow!!!!!!) aaaand that leads me to my next point.

5. You walk in humility.

If you're Catholic and you think you already know the Scriptures, you might fall into another error, and that's self-righteousness or know-it-all-ism.  Do you often correct in anger? May your arrogance come to a head, and may it all come crashing down.

For your own good of course. #nicerug

I am truly guilty of self-righteousness and arrogance. I fail my children. But I do depend on friends and family members to regularly bring me down from my pedestal. :)

6. You are growing.

If you're really seeking, then you see the fruit of faith. You regularly come into contact with that feeling, "I know what God may be/ is teaching me right now!"

That is an amazing feeling, my friends. And that is GROWTH. Because we can find community when we're really growing! :) Praise God!

7. You have clear guidance for the questions of your everyday life.

If you're regularly experiencing despair, depression, or just deep confusion, you probably have been given some misinformation.  Theological confusion can lead to depression. On many fronts... so many fronts. Despair might come because you see your own hypocrisy, but have no clue how to correct it.
In that case, pray.

8. You rely on Scripture daily.

Maybe you are not in despair, but you're...

lazy
lost
confused
slothful
depressed
acedia-ridden

I can guarantee that daily Bible reading and prayer will be the cure that ails you, in that case! Let's practice the presence of God. And in so doing, we can disagree on the finer points of faith, fine. But when we're living in prayer, it is hard to be so blind to the moving and leading of the whims of the Holy Spirit. Rely on Scripture and his voice (your conscience) reminding you and urging you to obey his Word! :) Every little step or mistep done in love or selfishness is witnessed and absorbed by our children. We can set an example one way or another!

9. Your prayer life is vivid, active, and full.

Just do it. Pray. Start somewhere. Start today. Start with a prayer of "Help." Anne Lamott says you need three prayers: "Help, Thanks, and Wow." That gives me chills because it is so true. We ask, we receive, and we give him all the credit/praise/glory. Beyond that, start with 15 hail marys or a decade of the rosary. Build up to the whole thing, like building up to a mile run.

10. You have community and that community is growing and thriving.

Do you have friends who you can carry out this verse with?
"Confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed."
If not, then you're not living in "true" community. You have to have humility which heals the blindness of the blind and the lameness of the lame and the deafness of the deaf.

Don't try to hide from your sin or your mental illness. Without honesty, and brokenness, there are no true friends to be had. There is no true community to enjoy! I've been there, and it is a lonely place. Bitterness is a horrific cycle. Get out of the cave and find like-minded people.... in a support group, or a small group, or a Bible study.

Now, I'm going to say that if you have all of those things, most likely, you're headed to Heaven. If you're missing anything, pray about it.  Jesus is present in the Eucharist, and the Church Fathers' wisdom leads us to the keys of the Kingdom. Communion with him is real and personal.  If you claim the name of Christ and you're on shaky ground, now is the time to seek out the teachings of the true Church. :)  If you're living in communion with the Holy Spirit, have no fear. I'm thinking you're heading in the right direction and I honestly don't judge you for that. (Although I may wish that you come into the fullness of the faith!)  Keep growing and keep on humbly seeking him! May God bless you richly!!!

There is also something to be said for God's will for your life. I humbly accept that God has different paths for us, and we cannot grasp the depth of that truth this side of heaven! We will never completely grasp his plan for diversity on this earth, as earthly beings!


cross-posting with the ACWB

1 comment:

Justine Y @ Little Dove said...

I love these 10 points you make!