Sunday, July 31, 2011

Battle For The Body: Part One

The average American will eat 15 cows, 24 hogs, 900 chickens, and 1,000 lbs. of assorted animals that either fly or swim over the course of their lifetime.  That is a great deal of flesh to consume for a body that was originally designed to digest fruit, nuts and vegetables. Then God said, "I give you every seed-bearing plant on the face of the whole earth and every tree that has fruit with seed in it. They will be yours for food."

The enemy of our souls is out to kill us (John 10:10). The ancient serpent known as Satan has been around long enough to know that if he cannot do it swiftly, then he we attempt to do it slowly and deceitfully. My friends, there is an epidemic not only in our nation, but in the Church; and it's called heart disease.  We have been duped and dumbed down as a culture and as a spiritual community as to the dangers of our diet!  We have made our bellies our god and have trusted in the advice of the Food and Drug Administration instead of the Sacred Scripture.  We have made jokes to ourselves that we are glad we're not Jewish while stuffing our faces with pork and all manner of unhealthy fair at the church potluck dinner.  We have smiled with satisfaction after piling it on at a buffet after worship service and praise our children when they eat like horses.  Yes, food has become an idol to the American Church, and we are dying for it!

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Classic Vows For The Now: Part Three - Obedience

Known among orthodox faiths as the chief of the three religious vows, the vow of obedience is one from which all  professing Christians could learn.  Saint Thomas Aquinas said that "Obedience is the chief of the vows, for liberty is dearer to man than anything else."  To us westernized believers, the term obedience can send shock waves through our democratized sensibilities.  After all, we are independent and free and no one is going to tell me what to do with my life right?

Well, therein lies the difference between those who may have obtained salvation through the grace of our Lord by faith, and those who have truly become (or are becoming) genuine followers of Christ.  There are many who profess to be Christians, or "little Christs", but there are few who submit their lives to the Lordship of Jesus Christ.  The Nazarene in whom we put our faith was the first man to flesh-out this vow of obedience long before it became one of the three counsels of Christian perfection, for it was he "...who being found in human form...humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross."  It was also he who said, "My food is to do the will of Him who sent me."  Jesus, emptied himself of self-will and chose to be an obedient, surrendered vessel for God's power and love to manifest itself to the human race.  My friends, we are called to that very task.

So what exactly is a vow of obedience?  To who or what does one commit to obey? And for what purpose? 

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Classic Vows For The Now: Part Two - Chastity

Have you ever stopped to consider why monks, nuns, and catholic priests take vows of chastity?  I mean, why in the world would anyone want to abstain from something that can be so pleasurable and fulfilling in the appropriate context?  And could the classic vow of chastity have relevance for us today?

As was mentioned in the previous two posts, the classic "trinity of vows" poverty, chastity, and obedience were implemented as a means of direction, discipline, and grace to combat, or counterbalance the three deadly sins mentioned in 1 John: the lust of the eyes, the lust of the flesh, and the pride of life.  In Part One - Poverty, we saw how taking vows of material poverty has been employed throughout Church history in order to combat covetousness (the lust of the eyes) that gives birth to greed and selfish ambition.  Now, we want to look at the classic vow of chastity as a means of warfare against the lust of the flesh, namely that which is perverted through our sexuality.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Classic Vows For The Now: Part One - Poverty

As we began to look at the triumvirate of holy vows in last week's post, we saw that the ancient vows of poverty, chastity, and obedience were employed as a channel of grace for monks and nuns to counterbalance the three most deceptive areas of the carnal nature: the lust of the eyes, the lust of the flesh, and the pride of life as mentioned in 1 John 2:16.    In this post, we will focus on the vow of poverty and how it can help safeguard us from the lust of the eyes (or greed, selfish ambition, and covetousness).

First off, we must ask ourselves why anyone in their right mind would want to voluntarily commit to being poor especially in light of 1 Corinthians 13:3 which states that if we "bestow all of our goods to feed the poor...but have not love, it profits nothing."  In other words, a vow of poverty for the ancients was in no way a means of salvation.  The vow of poverty was a guideline or safeguard to "keep oneself unspotted from the world", and to sort of hide oneself from the deceitfulness of riches.  To the ancients, it was an invitation into a deeper walk with God where trust, humility, and dependency was fostered. 

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Classic Vows For The Now: Introduction

For centuries, our monastic brethren have offered their strength, intellect, and physical bodies to be available for God's use.  The most classic and common offering generally came upon the inauguration of a monk or nun's vows, namely the vows of poverty, chastity, and obedience. Upon first glance, the list of untouchables makes us cringe with the thought of vowing to abstain from such things that seem so natural and good.  Why would we want be poor?  why would we want to abstain from sexual pleasure? And why on earth would I want to give up my autonomy, my independence?  after all, this is a democracy!

Friday, July 1, 2011

A New Re-Monk Cycle Approacheth

My wife and i returned from our trip to Northern Michigan last night.  After putting nearly 2,000 miles on our mini-van, we are home in good ole Tennessee!  Julie's grandmother passed away last week, so we loaded up the van with the two boys and the baby and made the 10 hour trek to Flint from Spring Hill for the funeral, and then drove another 3 hours or so up to Petoskey where Julie spent her childhood.  On the last day, we drove up to the Upper Peninsula (across the Mackinac Bridge) to stay the night in her late grandfather's cabin on Lake Michigan.  We also celebrated our one year anniversary while we were gone.  It was a beautiful time filled with beautiful scenery and beautiful people! 

July 7th begins our next "re-monk" cycle!  So if you want to join with others who are making small, incremental changes each month that are dramatically affecting their lives in God, then please check out our "re-monk urself" page and join the conversation!  What better time than NOW to begin shaping your future?