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Realizing the presence, promise, and power of the Kingdom of God.

T.M. Moore

T. M. Moore is principal of The Fellowship of Ailbe, a spiritual fellowship in the Celtic Christian tradition. He and his wife, Susie, make their home in the Champlain Valley of Vermont.
Books by T. M. Moore

How much longer will we abide by the great unchallenged assumption of our day?

Not by Hearing Alone

November 24, 2010

Purity of heart and stoutness of Christian character were the real tests of learning.

Conveniently Secure

November 23, 2010

The TSA "patdown" flap reveals an aspect of the American character that our forebears would have scorned.

Study for the Heart

November 23, 2010

November/Learning

For of what use is the religion of the outward man, if there is not also shown an improvement of the inner? That person can be false and a thief, that person is false and a hypocrite, who displays one quality in his bearing and another in his character. Then let us not be like whited sepulchres, let us study to show ourselves splendid and adorned within and not without; for true religion resides in lowliness not of habit but of heart.

  - Columbanus, Sermon II (Irish, 7th century)

"Your eye is the lamp of your body. When your eye is healthy, your whole body is full of light, but when it is is bad, your body is full of darkness. Therefore be careful lest the light in you be darkness."

  - Luke 11.34, 35

There was nothing academic, showy, or otherwise merely fun or superficial about the Celtic Christian approach to learning. Study was for the reformation of the soul - for renewing the mind, firming up the heart's orientation to love God and man, and strengthening right priorities and virtues. They didn't study for degrees and didn't think about things like tenure or publications. They were concerned to be formed from the heart, and to form their students similiarly.

Such learning cannot be accomplished in classrooms or merely by reading books, writing papers, and taking tests. The leaders of the Celtic revival would not recognize what we typically do in the work of Christian education as having much of anything to do with forming people for Christ. Lives are changed in spiritual disciplines, through sacrificial service and self-denial, and by rigorous mutual accountability and edification. Without these, you cannot shape the soul.

Today we are the most Christian-educated generation of Christians that has ever lived. We have more classes, courses, degree programs, websites, seminars, workshops, books, DVD courses, and who knows what else than in all the combined history of the Christian movement up to the last couple of generations. And yet as a community we are more and more reticent and less and less influential in shaping the course of life in the 21st century.

When do we stop doing this? When do we decide that what we're doing is not making disciples but simply maintaining agreeable programs? When will we begin to insist that church members, who have vowed a public confession of faith in the Lord, should be committed to a disciplined life of knowing the Lord, boldness in bearing witness, self-denial in serving others, and determination in seeking the Kingdom of righteousness, peace, and joy in the Spirit in every arena and relationship of their lives? When?

Not until we are revived, that's for sure. We must begin in prayer, daily, fervent prayer that God would revive us, and that right soon. So let us seek the Lord for repentance, revival, and awakening, that we might truly study for our hearts and learn Jesus as He intends.

Today at The Fellowship

As I mentioned yesterday, our new mentoring series on evangelism is just about ready. We expect to offer it after the first of the year, so if you want to learn how to motivate, equip, and involve your people in the work of bearing witness for Christ, this series might be for you. Write me for more information or to discuss this opportunity.

The Pope has offered an opinion on the use of condoms, and the spin is flying in all directions. Maybe he should keep quiet about such things?

How's your spiritual life? Need a boost? Perhaps a Fellowship of Ailbe Mentor could help you get on a sounder and more fruitful track. Check out the opportunities available.

Browse our bookstore for some helpful resources to challenge your vision and practice of the Christian faith. The Legacy of Patrick, for example, can help you to see new ways that God can use your faith in Him to change the world around you.

As ever, thanks so much for your prayers and support of our ministry. You can make an end-of-the-year gift to The Fellowship by clicking the donate button on our home page or by sending your contribution to The Fellowship of Ailbe, 100 Lamplighter Ct., Hamilton, VA 20158.

Have a blessed Thanksgiving!

T. M. Moore, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Taught of God?

November 22, 2010

November/Learning

...human argument or skill or any vainglorious philosophy, which is unsound even on the nature of the world, cannot be our teacher about God, but is to be regarded as sacrilegious and impious to God.

- Columbanus, Sermon II (Irish, 7th century)

He answered them, "And why do you break the commandment of God for the sake of your tradition?"

  - Matthew 15.3

Christianity in any age is vulnerable to the influence of whatever may be the prevailing winds of doctrine. Early heresies grew out of Christian interaction with unbelieving worldviews and foreign religions. As Christian leaders sought to make the faith more "palatable" to their contemporaries, more "intellectually respectable" to the thinking crowd, or less at odds with the dominant worldview of the day, they compromised key areas of doctrine and opened the door to all manner of false teaching.

The problem with false teaching, of course, is that those who hold it can have no real communion with the living God - which is eternal life. They may feel really good about their beliefs and even convince themselves that these views are right for them. But if they aren't the truth of Scripture they will not lead to a real relationship with the living God. Instead, they may lead to the worst imaginable surprise on the Day of Judgment.

But this is true not only of great points of doctrine, but great issues in the practice of the faith as well. For example, Christians today have largely given up on the practice of personal evangelism. Why has this happened? For one, they have catered to the prevailing doctrine that insists that "intolerance" is not to be tolerated, and the supreme intolerance anyone can express is insist that he knows the Way, Truth, and Life.

For another, church leaders have sent the message to their members that they are better equipped to present the Good News; evangelism, such as it is, is best left to the professionals. See how we have done everything in our worship, our sanctuary, the tone and content of our preaching, and all our buildings and programs to make our unbelieving-but-"seeking" neighbors comfortable in our midst? You don't need to worry about proclaiming the Good News to them. You just love them into here, and we'll take it from there.

Neither of these common practices - or, alas, numerous others - can be supported from Scripture. We have let the spirit of the age, our own intuitions, and an overall atmosphere of marketing and entertainment teach us how to "do" Christianity. But such, of course, will never "do."

We must be taught of God in every aspect of the life of faith, or we will be taught falsely. To the Law and the Testimony, brethren, and lay aside all the trappings of fashion or success.

Today at The Fellowship

We're getting ready to introduce a new mentoring webinar on evangelism. Write me and I'll give you the advance scoop on how you can give your people the vision and training they need to reach out to the people around them.

The Pope has offered an opinion on the use of condoms, and the spin is flying in all directions. Maybe he should keep quiet about such things?

How's your spiritual life? Need a boost? Perhaps a Fellowship of Ailbe Mentor could help you get on a sounder and more fruitful track. Check out the opportunities available.

Browse our bookstore for some helpful resources to challenge your vision and practice of the Christian faith. The Legacy of Patrick, for example, can help you to see new ways that God can use your faith in Him to change the world around you.

As ever, thanks so much for your prayers and support of our ministry. You can make an end-of-the-year gift to The Fellowship by clicking the donate button on our home page or by sending your contribution to The Fellowship of Ailbe, 100 Lamplighter Ct., Hamilton, VA 20158.

Have a blessed Thanksgiving!

T. M. Moore, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Papal Spin

November 21, 2010

The Pope has spoken on condoms. Maybe he's wishing he hadn't.

The Sign of Jonah

November 21, 2010

We will not see many people in this generation coming to Jesus until we show them a sign.

Manslaughter

November 28, 2010

Manslaughter--Here is a case of what we call manslaughter.

The sixth commandment

Exodus 21.12-14

Whoever strikes a man so that he dies shall be put to death. But if he did not lie in wait for him, but God let him fall into his hand, then I will appoint for you a place to which he may flee. But if a man willfully attacks another to kill him by cunning, you shall take him from my altar, that he may die.”

Here is a case of what we call manslaughter. One person was responsible for the death of another, but there was not intent to kill and, apparently, no hatred toward his neighbor. Rather “God let him fall into his hand.” Why would God do that? Who can say?

Notice here the idea of taking a man away from the altar of God as punishment for murder. As we sometimes see in the Old Testament, those who know themselves to be guilty of murder would flee to the altar, hoping to find safety before the mercy seat of God. But God required that murderers be removed from His sight and then executed by the community. Is there in this a symbolic warning that murderers somehow forfeit any hope of eternal salvation? I don’t think so. Remember Saul of Tarsus. Rather, I think the community was being reminded that murder and the death penalty are the consequences of mankind’s fall into sin. Though just, the death penalty is not according to God’s original purpose for men. We should thus understand that this is a temporary measure. When the effects of sin are entirely behind us, such forms of justice will no longer be necessary.

This series of In the Gates we present a detailed explanation of the Law of God, beginning with the Ten Commandments, and working through the statutes and rules that accompany each commandment. For a practical guide to the role of God’s Law in the practice of ethics, get The Ground for Christian Ethics by going to www.ailbe.org and click on our Book Store.

Careful Deliberation

November 27, 2010

Careful Deliberation--We can imagine that, in a community where such laws as this were read over and over –

The sixth commandment

Numbers 35.16-21

But if he struck him down with an iron object, so that he died, he is a murderer. The murderer shall be put to death. And if he struck him down with a stone tool that could cause death, and he died, he is a murderer. The murderer shall be put to death. Or if he struck him down with a wooden tool that could cause death, and he died, he is a murderer. The murderer shall be put to death. The avenger of blood shall himself put the murderer to death; when he meets him, he shall put him to death. And if he pushed him out of hatred or hurled something at him, lying in wait, so that he died, or in enmity struck him down with his hand, so that he died, then he who struck the blow shall be put to death. He is a murderer. The avenger of blood shall put the murderer to death when he meets him.”

We can imagine that, in a community where such laws as this were read over and over – in homes, at gatherings for worship, and once each seven years as part of a national feast – people would be compelled to think about what they were considering when they took a club or stone or hammer in hand with anger in their hearts toward their neighbor.

This text further details facts in a case involving the death of a neighbor which judges would have to consider and prove: the instrument of death, the motive, and the intent to murder (lying in wait) would all have to be proved before the offender could be sentenced to death. Those conditions being satisfied, the convicted party would be turned over to the avenger of death and the rest of the community to carry out the punishment. The avenger would throw the first stone, then be joined by all his neighbors.

In our day the death penalty is carried out by professional executioners and witnessed by only a handful of people. We can imagine how this community-wide involvement in carrying out the death penalty must have further served to deter murder.

This series of In the Gates we present a detailed explanation of the Law of God, beginning with the Ten Commandments, and working through the statutes and rules that accompany each commandment. For a practical guide to the role of God’s Law in the practice of ethics, get The Ground for Christian Ethics by going to www.ailbe.org and click on our Book Store.

Motive and Intent

November 26, 2010

Motive and Intent--See how God Himself guards against hastily taking the life of one who is responsible for the death of another.

Life for Life

November 25, 2010

Life for Life--Retributive justice, including the death penalty, is required to restore righteousness and peace to the community and to quell inclinations to take revenge.

Guard Your Heart

November 24, 2010

Guard Your Heart--Murder begins in the heart, when men fail to guard their affections.

The sixth commandment

6.1 You shall not hate

We must not allow hate, in any form, to take root in our hearts or come to expression in our lives.

Leviticus 19.17, 18

You shall not hate your brother in your heart, but you shall reason frankly with your neighbor, lest you incur sin because of him. You shall not take vengeance or bear a grudge against the sons of your own people, but you shall love your neighbor as yourself: I am the LORD.”

Psalm 66.18; Matthew 5.21-24; Luke 6.27, 28; James 4.11, 12; 1 John 2.9-11; 1 John 3.15

Murder begins in the heart, when men fail to guard their affections. Hate is not a negative affection; it’s simply an affection, and has its proper place in the divine economy (Ps. 97.10). But we must not hate our neighbor. Hate can lead to holding a grudge, which, in turn, can lead to seeking vengeance and, in the worst case scenario, murder.

The way to combat hate is the “reason frankly” with our neighbors. When someone has offended against us, there is an appropriate recourse to take in seeking to make matters right. But at all times we must diligently guard our hearts against anger, hate, resentment, jealousy, or any other misguided affections. Out of the fullness of the heart the mouth speaks, and out of the fullness of the heart we act toward others according to the affections reigning there. Guard your heart.

This series of In the Gates we present a detailed explanation of the Law of God, beginning with the Ten Commandments, and working through the statutes and rules that accompany each commandment. For a practical guide to the role of God’s Law in the practice of ethics, get The Ground for Christian Ethics by going to www.ailbe.org and click on our Book Store.

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