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Tag Archives: new monastacism

Our Greatest Longing and "Goal"

Most Christians are more focused on the here-and-now than on the then-and there, i.e., our future life that is anchored in heaven (Heb.6:19). Giovanni Lorenzo Bernini (1647-1652) and his sculpture of Teresa of Avila. and the angel with the spear, portrays the following episode from her autobiography where she describes her encounter with God. We see in her a picture of our greatest longing: I saw in his hand a long spear of gold, and at the iron’s point there seemed to be a little fire. He appeared to me to be thrusting it at times into my heart, and to pierce my very entrails; when he drew it out, he seemed to draw them out also, and to leave me all on fire with a great love of God. The pain was so great, that it made me moan; and yet so surpassing was the sweetness of this excessive pain, that I could. Read more.

Dietrich Bonhoeffer: Applications for Leadership

I recently finished Eric Metaxas’ Bonhoeffer: Pastor, Martyr, Prophet, Spy. It was, by far, the best biography on Bonhoeffer I have read. After pondering his life, the following were three key questions I asked myself: 1. Do I really have the courage to follow Jesus wherever He leads? Between his natural talents and upper-class, family connections, Bonhoeffer could have done anything with his life. Yet he became a pastor and theologian. When Hitler came to power in Germany, passing legislation that German Jews without Aryan blood be removed from the German Christian church, Bonhoeffer immediately saw the contradiction. He was one of the first to speak out: “Only he who cries out Jews can sing Gregorian chant.”  We must “speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves” (Proverbs 31).   As a result, he lost his position, his security, his reputation, his opportunity to marry the woman he loved, and his life out of. Read more.

Reflections on the Interior Life: A View from the Monastery

We recently hosted a Trappist monk at New Life Fellowship Church in Queens, NYC named Father Williams .  What made him such a gift to us was not his eloquence, his well-crafted sermons, his cleverness, or capacity as a leader. His prayer life, his walk with Jesus, his interior life with God built over many years pulled us toward Jesus in a very different way. It was transformative to be around him. He spoke as one “with authority,” (even though he uses an I-Pad!) The following are a few of my personal summary insights out of our time together that I have been reflecting on: There is no greater gift in the universe than to have a desire for the Triune God. Loving God for His own sake is God’s heart for us. God takes us where we are, not where we are not. Contemplation is awe and wonder in the face of God.. Read more.

The Pursuit of Humility

One of the topics God opened up to me on Sabbatical was related to the indispensability of growing in humility. I was struck at what a major theme this was for the early church, especially in her first 500 years. Their understanding was that humility is the face of a pure heart. It was considered the one, unmistakable quality of the Christian life. I recommend Humility Matters: For Practicing the Spiritual Life byMargaret Funk. Her work led me back to John Cassian and Benedict of Nursia’s excellent writings on humility. The following is my adaptation and applications for my own leadership. I am following their classic schematic of progressively climbing a ladder with rungs. (Please note that any of these can be easily abused without a framework of emotional health). Step 1 – Put to death all desires but God –  Application: Ensure I have ample time with God, balancing time alone with Him. Read more.

The Local Church and Monasticism… a Growing Learning Curve

We move our membership at NLF a few years ago to a Rule of Life in order to focus more clearly and succinctly on how we do spiritual formation. The commentary on our NLF Rule of Life can be read online.  The image of our need for a “trellis” or structure to provide rhythm to our days and order to our lives has been immensely helpful. At the same time, we continue to look for ways to communicate our DNA and clarify the pathways to help people in our community move towards greater Christlikeness. The following reflect, of course, our local church and context. Any feedback is greatly appreciated. We call them the 5 M’s.(the values and foundations of NLF) Monastic – slowing down to be with God.   Growth in this area includes learning about silence/solitude, Daily Offices/prayer, Sabbath-keeping, Scripture, the examen. Multiracial– bridging racial,cultural,  economic and gender barriers. Growth here includes learning about. Read more.

The Way to the Future is through the Past

In preparation for our Emotionally Healthy Leadership Conference I spent a lot of time reading of about the impact of social media/technology on our formation in Christ along with the importance of learning from other spiritual traditions outside of contemporary evangelicalism to root us deeply in Christ. What are the lessons I learned? 1. We need to learn from Roman Catholics, Orthodox churches and church history. Remember, Luther was anti-Semite. Calvin drowned an Anabaptist for believing in baptism by immersion. Jonathan Edwards had slaves. Azusa Street, in 1906, split on racism.  While my church historian friend, Dr. Scott Sunquist, reminds me that the roots of evangelicalism in the 18th and 19th century was marked by a generous spirit towards other traditions, that is not the case today.  We are often deeply judgmental and narrow. Our church family genogram since Pentecost has many riches and warts. By studying this history, we can see better what. Read more.