Imitation of Christ Book 1 Chapter 21

The Imitation of Christ by Thomas a Kempis

Book 1 -Admonitions Profitable for the Spiritual Life

Chapter 19 Of Compunction of Heart

Compunction. I had to look it up in the dictionary.  Here’s what I found.

Compunction –  A pricking of heart; poignant grief or remorse proceeding from a consciousness of guilt; the pain of sorrow or regret for having offended God, and incurred his wrath; the sting of conscience proceeding from a conviction of having violated a moral duty. Synonyms: conscience, repentance, remorse. Antonyms: indifference or defiance

So compunction of heart would mean to take the time to think about my attitudes and actions and feel badly for my shortcomings.  Ahhh…now I see why I wasn’t familiar with the word.  While I have been a little uncomfortable with some of the strong stoic themes in The Imitation of Christ,  this chapter in particular caused me pause.  Have we lost something in the last 600 years?

Have we as a culture, in an effort to build self confidence thrown the baby out with the bath water?  Don’t get me wrong, I think Scripture has much to say about encouragement.

1 Thes. 5:11  “Therefore encourage one another and build one another up, just as you are doing.”

Eph. 4:29Let no unwholesome word proceed from your mouth, but only such a word as is good for edification according to the need of the moment, that it may give grace to those who hear.” 

Scripture also has much to say about sin and repentance.

2 Cor. 7:8-10 Paul says, “For even if I made you grieve with my letter, I do not regret it—though I did regret it, for I see that that letter grieved you, though only for a while.  As it is, I rejoice, not because you were grieved, but because you were grieved into repenting. For you felt a godly grief, so that you suffered no loss through us. For godly grief produces a repentance that leads to salvation without regret, whereas worldly grief produces death.”

There is good guilt and bad guilt.  Good guilt is understanding how your attitudes or actions have reduced the glory of God.  It leads to a change of ways.  Bad guilt is condemning yourself over and over with nothing ever changing. This type of guilt is not what we are talking about here and is not from God.

1 John 1:9 says, ” If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.

I’m so thankful for a God who provides a way for us to live in freedom and happiness.  My today prayer is:

Psalms 139:23-24 “Search me, O God, and know my heart!  Try me and know my thoughts! And see if there be any grievous way in me,  and lead me in the way everlasting!”


The beginning of compunction is the beginning of a new life. (George Eliot)

More George Eliot quotes at izquotes.com

Imitation of Christ Book 1 Chapter 20

The Imitation of Christ by Thomas a Kempis

Book 1 -Admonitions Profitable for the Spiritual Life

Chapter 20  Of the Love of Solitude and Silence

http://crossinthewilderness.blogspot.com/2012/11/now-it-begins.html

Quiet. Peaceful. Relaxed. Worshipful. Forgiving. Hopeful. Growing. Joyful.

OR

Hurried. Anxious. Stressful. Busy. Prickly. Frustrated. Tired. Drained. Replete.

What makes the difference? It can be found only in slowing down enough to have time to quietly spend alone with God. I know in my life when I’m busy doing good things I can still find myself worn out, grumpy and tense at the end of the day.  Every time, without fail, it’s a direct result of my rushing here and there and not hitting the pause button. But, when I do prioritize those still moments, I find I am full and energetic and my character is more like Christ. One thing I reflect on at the end of the day is what I accomplished. But, more importantly, I’ve recently begun to ask myself if the fruit was fruit of the Spirit was evident in my life today.  If I find myself answering no to that question, I know I need to reevaluate my priorities for the next day.  

How do I find the time?  Good question.  I often ask myself the same thing.  Kempis encourages us to eliminate trifle conversions, idle goings and gossip.  Since he probably wrote this in the 1400’s, I can only imagine his shock at the speed life goes in the 21st Century.  I don’t know what it is for you, but for me, I’ve found there is a fine line between facebook being a great means to encourage others and keep up with distant family and friends and being “idle goings” as Kempis would say.  Same thing with surfing the web.  I can jump on looking for one answer and find an hour slips away while I justify it in my mind as doing, “important research”.  Honestly, if either or those activities or many others that I face each day left me refreshed and recharged that would be one thing.  But, they don’t.

Ok.  So now we’ve established it is important and talked about how to find the time.  So, what does quiet time with God look like? It most certainly looks different for each person and even each time.  For me, I have a chair in my bedroom. Nothing fancy, just a place that I can go and close my door and shut out most of the noise of the day. Worship music, reading Psalms back to God, writing out prayers, journaling, reading and praying all fill me up and energize me.   I have a friend who years ago encouraged me to keep a log of all the verses in the Bible that talk about who God is.  That has been a tremendous source of blessing and encouragement to me over the years. Experiment, find out what works best for you.

If you are feeling stressed and overwhelmed, I encourage you to hit the pause button on your life for a few minutes, hours, days or even a week (a week at the beach is an awesome yearly recharge!)  You will find you get more done, more effectively and enjoy doing it more.

Imitation of Christ Book 1 Chapter 19

The Imitation of Christ by Thomas a Kempis

Book 1 -Admonitions Profitable for the Spiritual Life

Chapter 19  Of the Exercises of a Religious Man

1 Samuel 16:7 “For the Lord sees not as man sees: man looks on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart.”

Do you remember this song?

 

Makes sense, right?  If you want to be a healthy, strong individual you eat lots of whole foods and green leafy vegetables and do cardio and strength training most days.  The same thing is true if you want to be a healthy, strong Christ follower.  You need to read your Bible, pray every day and you’ll…..  Yes – you’ll –  grow, grow, grow.

But as easy as either of the above scenarios sound, both take hard work and resolution.  While growing in Christ most definitely includes the grace and work of the Holy Spirit, we need to daily do our part too.  Kempis says, “We ought daily to renew our vows, and to kindle our hearts to zeal, as if each day were the first day of our conversion, and to say, “Help me, O God, in my good resolutions, and in Thy holy service, and grant that this day I may make a good beginning, for hitherto I have done nothing!…For if he who resolveth bravely oftentimes falleth short, how shall it be with him who resolveth rarely or feebly?”

A good habit to get into is to make your resolutions in the morning and evaluate them in the evening.  Start each morning with a few quiet moments in pray and in the Word.  Ask God to help you today in what you need to do. Then, at the end of the day evaluate the day.  How were my thoughts, words, and actions today?

While daily Bible reading and prayer are excellent and most necessary for the Christian life, I think it is important to do it for the right reasons.  It’s not a duty or obligation I finish and check off my list like I would grocery shopping or laundry.

Rather, it ebbs and flows with the seasons of life.  Some days and seasons of my life have looked like Thanksgiving day with leisure hours with the Lord in quiet prayer, reading ,and meditation.  Other days and seasons of my life have looked more like a drive-thru McDonald’s meal.  And I’m ok with that.  The OpenBiblekey is to consistency.  I try, first thing most mornings to reach for my phone and open the Bible app instead of email or Facebook.  I’ve found if I open one of the others first, the short moments before my day officially begins slip quickly and quietly away.

Put your nose into the Bible every day.

It is your spiritual food.

And then share it.

Make a vow not to be a lukewarm Christian.

Kirk Cameron 

Imitation of Christ Book 1 Chapter 18

The Imitation of Christ by Thomas a Kempis

Book 1 -Admonitions Profitable for the Spiritual Life

Chapter 18 Of the Example of the Holy Fathers

 

Heb. 13:7 “Remember your leaders, those who spoke to you the word of God. Consider the outcome of their way of life, and imitate their faith.”

God has been gracious to us and not left us here on earth the fumble around and hope for the best. In His letter to us we can find many examples of men and women who lived lives that were pleasing to God.  Here’s the thing – when we are wholeheartedly committed to following Christ we aren’t promised an easy or perfect life.  For our faithful forefathers quiet the opposite was true.

King David says in Psalms 9:3  “O LORD, see how my enemies persecute me! Have mercy and lift me up from the gates of death” In 2 Cor. 12:10

Paul talks about his persecution this way, “That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties.”

Hebrews 11:36-38  talks about other various sufferings from men of old.  “Some faced jeers and flogging, while still others were chained and put in prison. They were stoned; they were sawed in two; they were put to death by the sword. They went about in sheepskins and goatskins, destitute, persecuted and mistreated- the world was not worthy of them. They wandered in deserts and mountains, and in caves and holes in the ground.”

Why did they endure hunger, thirst, cold, nakedness, tiredness and persecution? Because they had faith.  They believed God was GOD. His ways were not their ways and they trusted Him. Their perspective wasn’t on the comfort of the moment, but on the eternal consequences.

Hebrews 1:1-3  “Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen. 2 For by it the people of old received their commendation. 3 By faith we understand that the universe was created by the word of God, so that what is seen was not made out of things that are visible.”

So why do we so often make choices that lead to our comfort and ease?

Imitation of Christ Book 1 Chapter 17

The Imitation of Christ by Thomas a Kempis

Book 1 -Admonitions Profitable for the Spiritual Life

Chapter 17 Of a Religious Life

 This was the takeaway question from a Bible Study, Practical Christian Living, I comRocky Mountains from Airplanepleted two years ago. Do the choices I make today matter? Will they matter in a year – or how about ten years?  Maybe it’s middle age creeping up on me, but I am so overwhelmed with how short life is.  Psalm 90:10 speaks to the brevity of life – 70 or maybe 80 years.  In view of how long eternity is – that seems so short.

I remember when I was a child and thought I wouldpath never, ever, ever grow up.  Forget growing up, I didn’t think Christmas would ever get here!  Now, when I reflect back on my childhood and see how fleeting it was, it gives me pause to realize I will be thinking the same thing about my time here on earth when I’m in heaven.

Am I going to make choices today that I

think will bring me pleasure in the moment,

or will I make choices that have an eternal consequence?

Funny thing about the Christian life – the path you think you want to walk, the one you think will bring you happiness – well, it isn’t and it won’t.  Luke 9:23 says, “And he said to all, If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me.” We must choose to walk the narrow path. The path that means humbling yourself and living at peace and in harmony with others.  The path that is more worried about not losing character by being impatient, unkind, unforgiving or hurtful.  In being a servant you will find peace.

I know it sounds super weird.  You think that if you focus on the things that make you happy – outward appearances, doing what you want to do when you want to do it, putting yourself and your needs first, you will be happy.  But quite the opposite is true.  You will have many trials and sorrows.  God doesn’t promise us an easy life. But if we endure we will reap eternal rewards – as well as earthy ones like peace and joy.

There was a point in my life where I didn’t believe a word of what I’m writing.  I was looking out for #1. Take care me and let everyone else worry about their problems.  That was my motto.  And you know what?  I was depressed and anxious and just plain miserable.  It wasn’t until I stepped out in trust and started reading and obeying the Bible by putting others before me that I found real peace and joy.

Each day gives us many opportunities to choose which path we are going to take. 

Which path are you going to choose?