Thursday, July 2, 2009

Three Simple Rules

I have said earlier that we will study on Sundays Reuben Job's book: Three Simple Rules.. The first rule will be dealt with on July 12th: Do NO Harm.

Below is a study guide for Do no harm. Use it as you will to enhance your daily devotions, for Sunday School class sessions, for family reflections.

Three Simple Rules / Reuben Job (All Scripture taken from New Revised Standard Version)

Open session with the “ Prayer at the Beginning of the Day ” found on pages 69-70.

Close session with the “ Prayer at Midday ” found on pages 71-72. Sing the hymn: “Stay in Love with God ” (p77) as a benediction – It is short enough to be repeated 3-4 times or more.

Read the chapters in the week before discussion. You may want to substitute any of the other listed scriptures for the “ Consider this scripture. ”

Session I Charting a New Course-

Even as people of faith, we find our lives can be messy, filled with addiction, fretfulness, and fears. John Wesley believed that living a holy and good life required help from a caring community, commitment to the practice of spiritual discipline, and ongoing instruction. For him, the Great Commandment (see below) superseded all others as “ a guide to the highest form of faithfulness ” (p.9).

Wesley gave the Methodist movement General Rules which were the practical application of what it meant to follow Christ – they were outlined and the people were instructed on them within the class structure. Accountability for practice was centered in the classes that formed the United Societies (pg. 17 & Discipline ¶103).

Thus, the General Rules became distilled into this behavioral trinity – “ Do No Harm, Do Good, Stay in Love with God . ” These three simple rules gave new life to the movement (p.17). Living in a new way, becoming a new creation is risky business.

It requires sacrifice - the willingness to undergo a radical transformation – it requires creating a way through the wilderness where there was no way before.

Consider this scripture: Mark 12:29-31. Jesus answered, “ The first is, ‘ Hear, O Israel: the Lord our God, the Lord is one; you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength. ’ The second is this, ‘ You shall love your neighbor as yourself. ’ There is no other commandment greater than these. ”

Read: Preface / Introduction (pp. 7-17) Questions:

1. Lack of reconciliation in our world makes our faithfulness to Christ seem inauthentic. How can we say we are Christians when we behave toward one another the way we do?

2. How are we to listen to Jesus? How are we to live our lives? Is there a better way to practice our faith that includes and is open to others?

3. Do we look at one another and see ourselves becoming one in Christ? Can others look at us and see God at work in our lives? Do we have life-giving lives?

4. What is the path to radical faithfulness for you? What does this mean for you? What would it take for you to be on that road?

5. My desire to “do good” is not limited by the thoughts and actions of others, nor is it controlled by that of others, for I have decided to follow Jesus! This is also a song that Christians of the Garo tribe in India sang. Although the author is anonymous, it was translated into the English language prior to the 1950’s. The hymn tune is from an Indian Folk Melody. The words are:

“I have decided to follow Jesus; I have decided to follow Jesus;
I have decided to follow Jesus; No turning back, no turning back.
(2) Though I may wonder, I still will follow…;
(3) The world behind me, the cross before me…;
(4) Though none go with me, still I will follow…;
(5) Will you decide now to follow Jesus?...:”1

How does this song speak to you and your experience? How does it relate to what you just read?

Additional Scriptures

1 Corinthians 13:11-13. When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child; when I became an adult, I put an end to childish ways. For now we see in a mirror, dimly, but then we will see face to face. Now I know only in part; then I will know fully, even as I have been fully known. And now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; and the greatest of these is love.

John 17: 11. And now I am no longer in the world, but they are in the world, and I am coming to you. Holy Father, protect them in your name that you have given me, so that they may be one, as we are one. (Jesus’ prayer)

Colossians 3:12-17. As God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience. Bear with one another and, if anyone has a complaint against another, forgive each other; just as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. Above all, clothe yourselves with love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony. And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in the one body. And be thankful.
Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly; teach and admonish one another in all wisdom; and with gratitude in your hearts sing psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs to God. And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.

Galatians 5:22-26. By contrast, the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against such things. And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. If we live by the Spirit, let us also be guided by the Spirit. Let us not become conceited, competing against one another, envying one another.

1 More information about this tune can be found at
www.ajoyfulnoise.net/followJesus.htm.

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Welcome

Thanks for checking out my blog. I'm new to this, as you can probably see. But, I, like you, have convictions and ideas worth sharing. I hope this will be an opportunity to connect with others who are Christian and/or religious. I am happily United Methodist. I am committed to the basic teachings of our church, and to the compassionate outreach to the world.

I hope these pastoral ponderings will generate something in you that is hopeful.
Blessings!
Dave

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A graduate of Newberry College and Duke University Divinity School.  I have served as a pastor in the United Methodist Church since 1975.

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