Saturday, April 3, 2010

Desert Fathers

A conversation found in the Sayings of the Desert Fathers:

Abba Lot went to see Abba Joseph and said to him, "Abba, as far as I can, I say my little office, I fast a little, I pray and meditate, I live in peace, and as far as I can, I purify my thoughts. What else can I do?" Then the old man stood up and stretched his hands toward heaven. His fingers became like ten lamps of fire and he said to him, "If you will, you can become all flame."

Thursday, April 1, 2010

St. Frank, God's juggler

I've always kind of been a church history buff. Nothing is better than sitting down with a cup of coffee and strolling through the centuries with friends that I have come to know and love. Monks, mystics, reformers and sages. I find myself returning to read the stories of some of these men and women over and over again. One of my favorites is St. Francis of Assisi. I smile just thinking of him. And I think that is the point of his life. His life was a demonstration of the wisdom of God. His father was a wealthy merchant whohauled him before a bishop because, following his conversion St. Francis began not only giving away all of his own possessions but those of his father's as well. He was reprimanded by the bishop for this and in response stripped naked, gave his clothes back to his father, told the bishop that now God was his father and turned and walked into the woods naked. I love that part. He lived in the freedom of simplicity and the joy of the Lord became his strength. That verse has been pulling on me lately, it's found in Nehemiah 8:4. It sticks out to me because it flies in the face of how I often view God. He is full of joy. Knowing that he is happy by nature and happy with me fills me with the strength to live life fully and without fear. In fact, all three persons of the trinity are mentioned as being joyful. The fruit of the Spirit is joy. Jesus Christ was anointed with the oil of joy above his companions because he loved righteousness and hated wickedness(Heb. 1:9) In that same hour he rejoiced greatly in the Holy Spirit and said, "I thank you Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that you have hidden these things from the wise and understanding(the bishop) and revealed them to little children(Francis); yes father, for so it pleased you well.(Luke 10:21) These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full.(John 15:11) Jesus is a man full of joy, and the joy he gives isn't like the joy of the world. The joy of the world is dependent of my circumstances, relationships, boredom and hunger level but the joy of heaven is anchored in knowing God's fool from Galilee. Tertullian once wrote to some believers who were being imprisoned for the faith that, "The legs don't feel the chains when the mind is in heaven".

When I read the lives of many of the early church fathers, desert fathers, monks, mystics, early reformers and those who followed, I am provoked to jealousy at their simplicity and purity of devotion to Christ. My life these days feels so cluttered. I often feel overwhelmed juggling school, work, family and church. Sometimes I feel like Bilbo Baggins when he said, "I'm old, Gandalf. I know I don't look it, but I'm beginning to feel it in my heart. I feel... thin. Sort of stretched, like... butter scraped over too much bread. I need a holiday. A very long holiday. And I don't expect I shall return. In fact I mean not to." Abiding in the joy of Jesus is the holiday that I am needing these days.

Part of growing in grace is learning to draw on the resources of joy in heaven regardless of our circumstances. As C.S. Lewis said, "All joy...emphasizes our pilgrim status; always reminds, beckons, awakens desire. Our best havings are wantings." And that "joy is the serious business of heaven". I think Francis had it right.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Discipling the nations, one child at a time

As my wife is at work today and I am at home trying to have my morning devotions with three screaming kids sword fighting around my head, I began to ponder how difficult it is to raise kids. What responsibility! Not only do I have to deal with my own sin nature, but the sin nature of three little boys. I want to present these little men mature in Christ at the end of the age. This will not happen by chance, but by my active discipling. Day in and day out, by word and by deed, your kids see who you really are and gradually become conformed to that image. We, by nature become what we behold. (2 Cor. 3:18) Biblically, the responsibility for teaching the children rests squarely on the father's shoulders.

Psalm 127

Unless the Lord builds the house, those who build it labor in vain.
Unless the Lord watches over the city, the watchman stays awake in vain.
It is in vain that you rise up early and go late to rest, eating the bread of anxious toil;
for he gives to his beloved sleep.
Behold, children are a heritage from the Lord, the fruit of the womb a reward.
Like arrows in the hand of a warrior are the children of one's youth.
Blessed is the man who fills his quiver with them!
He shall not be put to shame when he speaks with his enemies in the gate.

This psalm grips me because of the idea of your children being arrows. They go farther than we do and in the direction we are pointing. If my life is pointed toward Zion, theirs is more so. If the direction of my life is set on education, employment, wealth, entertainment or the myriad of "other things" that choke the word and make it unfruitful, most likely so will theirs. The law of creation is that everything multiplies after it's own kind.

My aim in parenting is that my fleshed out walk with Jesus will be an on ramp for my kids to grow in the knowledge of God and by standing on my shoulders to see farther than me and to run harder than me.

'May our sons in their youth be like plants full grown,
our daughters like corner pillars cut for the structure of a palace.' Psalm 144:12

Thursday, March 18, 2010

the genesis of rambling...

So I finally succumbed to the spirit of the age and started a blog. I found just the motivation I needed from They will send me a free book in exchange for writing a review. I hope that this will be an outlet that I can use to share what God is speaking to me these days.

To paraphrase Francis Bacon, "Reading makes a full man, speaking a fluent man and writing an exact man." I have been an avid reader for roughly 15 years and as my wife can attest, most of my free money goes to the acquiring and reading of books. Much of what I read and digest pours out of my heart in conversations with friends and from pulpits at churches, but very little pours out of my pen. This blog is an attempt to remedy that. I hope to use this blog to talk about the things that are most important to me; my love for Jesus, my love for my family and my attempt to present to God a life well lived.