Monthly Archives: November 2012

Straight & Simple

Somewhere I read about a meeting of a group of software designers. They were using typical technical jargon to discuss a data exchange interface with a vendor.

One engineer said the programming that had been ordered was delayed because the vendor was suffering from a “severe nonlinear waterfowl issue.”

Curious, the team leader raised his eyebrows and asked, “What exactly is a severe nonlinear waterfowl issue?”

The engineer replied, “They don’t have all their ducks in a row.”

We live in a time when some people get a real thrill out of making the simple complicated. Life would be so much easier and fulfilling if we would learn to keep things straight and simple. I sometimes think of how simple life was when I was a child.  As a child I didn’t make up big explanations about my actions. I used simple words to explain what I was doing or what I wanted. Let’s try to just keep life straight and simple. It would make life so much better.

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Humbled Soul

English: Sfanta Melania Română: Sfanta Melania

English: Sfanta Melania Română: Sfanta Melania (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 Nothing humbles the soul more than the scarcity of bread and water. When the enemy wants to take a city, he first stops the food and water supplies, and they thus give themselves up even against their will. So is it for a monastic-unless he restrains his stomach with hunger and thirst, he cannot rid himself of evil thoughts


——Amma Sarah

There will always be a question of just how our souls are humbled. The advice of this Desert Mother is clear. If we can train our bodies to be disciplined we are able to withstand the assualt of the enemy. Our ability to willingly sacrifice in the name of God can make us strong.Prayer and fasting are the best disciplines to bring us to unity with God.



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Filed under Christian Living, contemplative, Desert Fathers, Missional Living, Monasticism

The Simple Life

I don’t know the original author of these “Great Truths about Life That Little Children Have Learned,” but they have become internet legend.

  • No matter how hard you try, you can’t baptize cats.
  • When your mom is mad at your dad, don’t let her brush your hair.
  • If your sister hits you, don’t hit her back. They always catch the second person.
  • Never ask your 3-year old brother to hold a tomato.
  • You can’t trust dogs to watch your food.
  • Reading what people write on desks can teach you a lot.
  • Don’t sneeze when someone is cutting your hair.
  • Puppies still have bad breath even after eating a tic tac.
  • Never hold a dustbuster and a cat at the same time.
  • School lunches stick to the wall.
  • You can’t hide a piece of broccoli in a glass of milk.
  • Don’t wear polka-dot underwear under white shorts.
  • The best place to be when you are sad is in Grandma’s lap.

All of these “truths” point to the simple life and yet simplicity eludes us in our complicated, fast paced lives. Our world yearns for simplicity. Not one among us would turn down the opportunity to have Grandma comfort us when we are sad. Jesus said:” Suffer little children to come unto me, and forbid them not: for of such is the kingdom of God.” It was the simplicity and innocence of a child that was the key to truth that Jesus brings to us. Our lives are complicated enough. Let us live in the simplicity of trusting Jesus.

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Filed under missional, Missional Living, Persistance

The Heart of Discernment

Abba Anthony said, ‘Some have afflicted their bodies by asceticism, but they lack discernment, and so they are far from God.’ He also said, ‘Our life and our death is with our neighbor. If we gain our brother, we have gained God, but if we scandalize our brother, we have sinned against Christ.’

—–Sayings of the Desert Fathers

Asceticism can be defined as the rejection of the pleasures of life. It does not really matter how much we deprive ourselves in the name of God, if we do not have the discernment to know that we must interact with all of our neighbors. Our true calling as Christ followers is to be at harmony with all who are around us .Our ultimate calling is to gain the trust and friendship of those around us. In this there is Godly living. To be destructive to our neighbor is a sin against God and man.

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Filed under Antony of Egypt, contemplative, Desert Fathers, Missional Living, Monasticism

When God Dies

Martin Luther once spent three days in a black depression over something that had gone wrong. On the third day his wife came downstairs dressed in mourning clothes. “Who’s dead?” he asked her. “God,” she replied. Luther rebuked her, saying, “What do you mean, God is dead? God cannot die.” “Well,” she replied, “the way you’ve been acting I was sure He had!”

Many of us have been caught in that trap. When things don’t go our way we act as though God were dead. If an election doesn’t go our way, we don’t get a raise at work, someone is unnecessarily rude to us, or we are just having a bad day, we can give the impression to others that God is dead. Ask yourself: Have I ever been in that kind of mood and why?

Like the great reformer Luther we will quickly say, “God cannot die”, but it would help if we acted as though we believed that to be true. We should be the people and hope and light that bring joy to the world. Try being that kind of person.

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Filed under Christian Living, Evil, Missional Living, Prayer, Sin

The Donkey Died

Some brothers came to find Abba Anthony to tell him about the visions they were having, and to find out from him if they were true or if they came from the demons.  They had a donkey, which died on the way.  When they reached the place where the old man was, he said to them before they could ask him anything, ‘How was it that the little donkey died on the way here?’ They said, ‘How do you know about that, Father?’ And he told them, ‘The demons showed me what happened.’ So they said, ‘That was what we came to question you about, for fear we were being deceived, for we have visions which often turn out to be true.’ Thus the old man convinced them, by the example of the donkey, that their visions came from the demons.

……sayings of the Desert Fathers

The age old question for us is: How does the devil lead us? In this somewhat complicated saying the Abba leads his followers to believe that they can be led by the evil one. Many people see “visions from God” that are not from God at all. Today, as it was then, we must be on our guard when with put God into our claim. When the scripture tells us to approach Him with “ fear and trembling” we are to take heed of those words. Our society is all too quick to assign things to God, or to the devil, when they are really just our own ramblings. Be very careful when you call on either that you have the discernment necessary to make such a decision.

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Filed under Antony of Egypt, Christian Living, Desert Fathers, Evil, Sin

Everybody Wants to Be Somebody

Everybody wants to be somebody. Since the beginning of time people have been trying to become more important. The words used by the serpent to tempt Adam and Eve were “when you eat of [the tree of good and evil], your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil” (Gen. 3:5). Henri Nouwen says that ever since then, we have been tempted to replace love with power. “The long painful history of the church is the history of people ever and again tempted to choose power over love, control over the cross, being a leader over being led.”

The real challenge for us is overcoming this attitude. As members of Christ’s community of faith we are called to be the light of the world. It is very difficult to be the light for others when we are centered on ourselves. Pray that God will guide you in a direction of selfless love that will allow you to be the beacon of love that he created you to be.

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Filed under missional, Missional Living, Sin