Posts Tagged ‘Religion’


“My son, thou art not yet strong and prudent in thy love.”

“Wherefore O my Lord?”

“Because for a little opposition thou fallest away from thy undertakings, and too eagerly seekest after consolation. The strong lover standeth fast in temptations, and believeth not the evil persuasions of the enemy. As in prosperity I please him, so in adversity I do not displease.”

“The prudent lover considerest not the gift of the lover so much as the love of the giver. He looketh for the affection more than the value, and setteth all gifts lower than the Beloved. The noble lover resteth not in the gift, but in Me above every gift.”

Thomas a Kempis, The Imitation of Christ


1.belonging to a hereditary class with high social or political status; aristocratic.
“the Duchess of Kent and other noble ladies”
synonyms: aristocratic, patrician, blue-blooded, high-born, titled; archaic: gentle
“a noble family”

2.having or showing fine personal qualities or high moral principles and ideals.
“the promotion of human rights was a noble aspiration”
synonyms: righteous, virtuous, good, honorable, upright, decent, worthy, moral, ethical, reputable

Strong, prudent and noble, Kempis offers these as the attributes of one who loves well as spoken by God to one who has not achieved the status of a strong and prudent lover.  He defines the first two attributes in terms of action.  The strong lover stands fast in the face of opposition.  The prudent lover looks past the gifts and sees the value of the lover/beloved behind them.  However when I look at the noble lover, the definition is not in action, but in position.

Kempis wrote The Imitation of Christ as a series of booklets in the early 1400’s.  When he wrote this, the concept of nobility was much more defined and important in the daily life of almost everyone than it is now.  It was widely believed that nobility was a matter of birth and that noble birth predicated a higher standard of behavior.  In Christian nations nobility was given a foundation in the will of God.  History reveals the flaw in this thinking (stemming from the basic flaw in humanity, sin).  Kempis himself was the son of blacksmith who apparently entered monastic life under the influence of his older brother.  Still this idea of “noble” was a very real one to him and to the readers of his writings.  It was an idea of position.

Kempis proposes a position in his description of the noble lover.  It is a position of stillness.  Originally written in Latin, Kempis chose the word quiescere.

Nobilis amator non quiescit in dono, sed in Me super omne donum.

A Roman would have used this word to say, “good night” ( bene valeas et quiecas).  God is calling us into a position of rest in Him.  Kempis recognizes that we tend to rest in the gifts or the positive circumstances that we find ourselves, and not in the being of the lover who gives us these gifts.  I find a cool parallel in the periodic table.  The noble gases sit at one side of the table.  They are called such because at one time they were considered to be completely non-reactive to their environment.  This quality in nitrogen is why it is used to preserve foods in sealed containers and used as a replacement for compressed air in filling tires.  The nitrogen will not react to the food or to the rubber of the tires in the way that oxygen in particular does.

Our love for God should not be reactive to the things around us or the circumstances of our life.  It should rest in Him above all those things… “in Me super omne donum”  Matthew records an exchange between Jesus and an “expert in the law”.  We pick up the exchange in verse 36.

“Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?” 
Jesus replied: “ ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ 
This is the first and greatest commandment. 
And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’
The first and greatest is to love God and he sets the standard of that love.
But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. Romans 5:8
The flawless demonstrated his love for the flawed.  It is not based on anything we have to give or offer.
For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.  Romans 8:38-39
The intrinsic focus of God’s love begets it’s noble nature, completely unaffected by circumstance as God is completely unaffected by circumstance.  This is both the great example of noble love and the measure of the noble lover.  It is in this love that we find rest not in the many gifts that He gives but in who He is.



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I still remember clearly. Particularly vivid are those moments before even the OB office’s technologist realized there was a problem.  As she continued to move the probe looking for a heart beat I watched the realization dawn on her face.  I looked to my beautiful bride my heart aching, knowing it would be only moments before the joy of motherhood would be replaced with the pain of loss.  What was supposed to be, was not.  There had been miscarriages before, but this was different.  We had seen him, watched him move.  She had been sick for 3 months.  This was all supposed to end with a baby in our arms.  The grief and anger was a dull roar in my ears.  As the tech put down the probe and said, “I am going to get the doctor”, Allana looked at me and saw the tears welling in my eyes and her world crashed down.

Twelve years later, 7 more losses, a move into full-time ministry, a miraculous birth and walk through cancer, and I still remember those moments.  I remember the silent heartbeat.  2000ish years ago a group of men scattered through Jerusalem.  What was supposed to be, was not.  A few stayed close, one failing (as foretold by Jesus) in his grief and despair as he realized the likely outcome of events.  Another clung to caring for a shattered mother, bringing her to the base of the cross to bid farewell to her son.  I can imagine the dull roar of grief and anger echoing in their ears.  The end of the messiah, was not as it should be.  The heartbeat of the savior of the world was silent.

The days that followed the shattering moment, the silent heartbeat, are taken up with the business of death.  Preparation for burial and burial.  The well-meaning words of friends and family, some kind some judgmental.  The Monday morning quarterbacks try to parse what went wrong.  We cloister ourselves, not wanting to be pointed out as that couple, not wanting to be pointed out as the followers of that man.  Even now the silent heartbeat is loud in our ears.

Then everything changes.

11 Now Mary stood outside the tomb crying. As she wept, she bent over to look into the tomb 12 and saw two angels in white, seated where Jesus’ body had been, one at the head and the other at the foot. 13 They asked her, “Woman, why are you crying?” “They have taken my Lord away,” she said, “and I don’t know where they have put him.” 14 At this, she turned around and saw Jesus standing there, but she did not realize that it was Jesus. 15 He asked her, “Woman, why are you crying? Who is it you are looking for?”Thinking he was the gardener, she said, “Sir, if you have carried him away, tell me where you have put him, and I will get him.” 16 Jesus said to her, “Mary.”She turned toward him and cried out in Aramaic, “Rabboni!” (which means “Teacher”). 17 Jesus said, “Do not hold on to me, for I have not yet ascended to the Father. Go instead to my brothers and tell them, ‘I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.’ ” 18 Mary Magdalene went to the disciples with the news: “I have seen the Lord!” And she told them that he had said these things to her.  John 20:11-18

Here is where our stories converge.  The truth of the resurrection of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ brought a new ending both to those shattered followers 2000 hears ago and to grieving parents just 12 years ago.  The reality of a living savior and the guidance of the Holy Spirit set a group of men and women on a path to what was always to be as defined by an omniscient, almighty God.  The same savior, the same Spirit and the same God brought truth and light to the silent heartbeat for Allana and I, setting us on a path to healing and to service.  The way continued to be full of pitfalls, disappointments and most importantly maturing faith. The silent heartbeat will be with us forever, however now even in the remembered grief and pain it is a sound full of hope and promise.

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HeartCross“My son, thou art not yet strong and prudent in thy love.”

“Wherefore O my Lord?”

“Because for a little opposition thou fallest away from thy undertakings, and too eagerly seekest after consolation. The strong lover standeth fast in temptations, and believeth not the evil persuasions of the enemy. As in prosperity I please him, so in adversity I do not displease.”

“The prudent lover considerest not the gift of the lover so much as the love of the giver. He looketh for the affection more than the value, and setteth all gifts lower than the Beloved. The noble lover resteth not in the gift, but in Me above every gift.”

Thomas a Kempis, The Imitation of Christ

I briefly touched on love and the Hupomone life (sounds like a bad comedy form the 70’s…but it’s not) in an earlier piece. When I read this paragraph from The Imitation of Christ, I thought it time to open the topic again. Thomas a Kempis in his dialogue with his Lord and Savior examines the quality of Hupomone love. Though written in the 15th century it stands as a challenging definition of love.

“Wherefore O my Lord?” protests our protagonist. It is perhaps our arrogance in self-reflection that most aptly defines our lack of prudent love. We are like the unprepared virgins, not realizing our lack of oil until it is too late….or until the Lord Himself calls us out and we stop our frantic efforts to listen carefully to His words. Kempis utilizes this conversation milieu throughout this work. It is more than a literary it device. Kempis highlights the need for us to be in constant communication with God. It is only when we accept conversation with Him as a lifestyle that we move forward in our imitation of Christ. This is more than Sunday mornings and perhaps Wednesday nights. It is even more than daily devotions and scheduled times of prayer. These are not bad but perhaps consider them disciplines of faith as opposed to conversations of love. We often do them out of a sense of duty not a heart of love. A discipline can become mechanical and void of meaning. A loving relationship and the conversations that must accompany it are filled with meaning and actually feed life into the disciplines. We are called to be in relationship with God 7 days a week, 24 hours a day. When do that we are well on our way to imitating Christ.

Hupomone Love listens to the Words of our Lord and recognizes the truth of His assessment. It is an everyday, every hour, every minute relationship.

“for a little opposition” The Lord uncovers our instability in love. The word circumstance comes up again and again in our Hupomone discussion. Whether it is our love for God or our love for those around us when a little opposition raises it head, how quickly we fall away. Interestingly enough Kempis says “little opposition”. When the sky is falling and disaster raises its ugly head we tend to cling to our Lord and Savior and band together to battle the incoming doom. It is the “little oppositions” that send us running, too often to places we should not be. We drop the armor of God for the tranquilizing pillows of consolation. When we take our eyes off of Jesus and begin to look at the circumstances of our lives as guides then we forfeit the effectiveness of His promise to be with us always (notice I said effectiveness, the promise stands and the truth of it is eternal). It is when we have fled in the face of these little things that we are to crash and burn when the world throws its weight against us.

Hupomone Love does not fall down or drop its armor at the first sign of trouble.

Having expressed His assessment of the writers love, God moves on to the qualities of prudent love. Join me next week as I continue to consider this conversation with God and The Proving of a True Lover.

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Good Morning.

This is just a little note to say that I will be posting the entire “Nineteen Days” series today.  It was 5 years ago that we were rejoicing over the birth of our Nisa Faith.  19 days later the world would come crashing down on us, changing our lives forever.

The Nineteen Days posts are reflections on this time in our lives.


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TLH Steps and Walkway

They sure look pretty!

I hope many of you have had a chance to see the new steps put in by Bill H. and Stevenson Building and Supply.  We are so very grateful for them.  Of course I have had more than just an opportunity to look at them.  I have walked up and down on them.  I have sat on them.  I have even dropped things on them and I can tell you that they are solid.

However the pretty white color that makes them look so new and beautiful is deceiving.  While it is great to spray the new concrete with this beautiful sealer, it is not the sealer that gives the stairs their strength and makes them sturdy and safe.  If the concrete under the white sealer is bad, the stairs are going to crumble.  It is the quality of the concrete that determines whether the steps and walkways will endure the tests of time, weather and abuse that is sure to come.

Our Christian lives are like those steps.  We can apply all of the sealer that we want but if it is not being applied over the solid rock of faith in Jesus Christ our Lord and Savior then eventually our lives will crumble because the sealer will not be enough to hold us together.  We can attend every church service there is, serve our community and behave in every way like the ideal christian man or woman but without the rock of Jesus and power of the Holy Spirit underpinning all of those “do’s” it is like a foolish man building his house on a pile of sand (Matthew 7:24-29).  Matthew ends Jesus’  illustration with this statement:

When Jesus had finished saying these things, the crowds were amazed at his teaching, because he taught as one who had authority, and not as their teachers of the law. (Matthew 7:28-29)

It is Jesus that gives our Christian lives authority.  This is the authority that gives substance to all the things that we do.  Without it all the doings collapse under the weight of eternity just as our steps and walkways would collapse if the concrete was faulty, or if say we tried to build the steps from sand or clay.

However there is a reason that Bill sprayed a 5 gallon bucket of concrete sealer on his work.  I don’t want you to think that all the things that we are called to do as followers of Christ are meaningless.  If we do not take care to seal our relationship with Christ, over time we will be worn down.  This is perhaps more insidious and destructive than the collapse of poorly constructed steps. It begins with the best intentions and then is slowly worn away because we accepted Christ into our lives and made him the base of our steps but then we don’t follow his guidance.  We do not apply the sealing works of His Word, of prayer, of fellowship with other believers, of love, of discipline.  Without these we will soon succumb to the lies of the enemy and he will destroy our effectiveness as children of God.

Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power.  Put on the full armor of God so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes.  For our struggle is not against flesh and blood but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything to stand.  (Galatians 6:10-13)

If we lay steps of the Solid Rock and then apply the seals of the Word, prayer and obedience then I am confident “that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 1:6)

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