I’m normally not one for 365-day devotional books. Let’s just put that out there right away. I am, however, a fan of this one. Robert J. Morgan, pastor of the Donelson Fellowship in Nashville, TN, knows his history, and because of that this volume is deeply insightful. Though Morgan tends to favor modern history, nevertheless this work runs the gamut of Christian history, drawing from the Early and Medieval periods more than any other calendar-year devotional work I’ve seen. He does not even focus solely on major figures, but truly draws the reader into the breadth of Christian history. Furthermore, Morgan does not succumb to over-spiritualizing and attempting to draw out “life application” from each vignette, but rather allows the historical episodes speak for themselves in most cases. He does include a brief passage of Scripture at the bottom of each page, continually reminding the reader of the source and reason behind this history.
Though this book is not designed to be read in large chunks, I found myself being drawn into several days at a time whenever I picked it up. It is now a mainstay in my bathroom reading selection, an ironically high honor. I would highly recommend this book if you’re looking for something fresher than most dribble put out in these yearly devotional readers…and that’s not just because I’m a student of the history of the Church.
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Adapted from the Kübler-Ross model.
As you can see, it is a cycle of futility. I mean, do you know how much time I just wasted on this post when I should be working on a paper?
If you are alive and reading this right now, chances are you make decisions about to whom you will listen and like based on personality. For some, you will consciously ignore their personality because of the benefits he/she purveys to you; others, you will not tolerate, no matter what their message, stance, deal, whathaveyou. I’m not talking about the realm of legality; e.g., you will do as President Obama says because he, in the end, puts the rubber stamp to the laws, whether you like his personality or not.
But what about the church leaders with whom you agree, despite disliking their personalities? Or the professors whose books you enjoy reading, despite the fact that you wouldn’t be caught dead having coffee with them?
The interesting thing about history is that these lines are blurred very, very quickly. We know that MLK Jr. was a great guy, and combined with his message, hardly anyone would admit to not liking him. Probably the same is true for someone like Billy Graham or Abraham Lincoln. But what about people like Glenn Beck? I know plenty of people who ascribe to his political ideology without even realizing it, though they publicly decry his attitude and personality. They’d never in a million years say he was a good guy.
Reading about the life of Athanasius got me started on this. There is no doubt that his writings and his stances on the being, essence, and divinity of Christ and the Holy Spirit are monumental, utterly influential, and will continue standing the test of time as they already have for well over 1600 years. Recent (within the last 50 years or so) historiographical research, however, seems to be of the opinion that he might not have exactly been a model Christian. (Being embroiled in politics does that.) But does that seem to affect people’s reception of him? Not so much.
All that to say…time blurs lines between the things that last and the things that don’t, even if you think some of the things that don’t last might be more important. How will the public, or the Church, remember certain leaders 50-1000 years from now differently than we see them in this moment?
I tend not to post regularly when my life is irregular. ‘Tis a fact of nature. I could’ve been more disciplined this summer, but I wasn’t. Live and learn.
The summer progresses, and nothing is in stone yet. We are still short of the money needed for me to start this semester. The University of Toronto handles all the billing, and they charge the entire year’s tuition up front, unlike any US college I’ve ever heard of. This is not conducive to a happy life. We are still praying, and we are extremely grateful for what we have so far. Everything is just one big question mark.
Despite this, I went ahead and registered for courses, which blew my mind. I’ve registered for courses before, obviously, but this time it really hit home. “I’m almost done with my accursed academic journey.” So, if things align, I will be starting my doctoral journey with Readings in Augustine, Divine Oracles: Exegesis in the Early Church, and Athanasius. The fact that I’m finally in a place where I can register for such ridiculously awesome courses also blew my mind.
So, if you like details, here they are:
God is still faithful to us, even when we can’t see it. He’s at least more faithful than we are.
Does it take more faith to move to a city where my wife only has a part-time job, looking for something else part-time or even full-time, before hearing about other prospects, or to wait out and turn down an opportunity to get in the door in order to do more waiting for something more “perfect”?
My wife and I tend to differ a little bit on this. The answer to that question - which one takes more faith - doesn’t help us make the decisions. I’m not sure that, even as a Christian, we should be always holding out to make the decisions that take “more” faith. The classical paradigm of being someone of “great” faith, or putting “lots of” faith into a decision, I think, might be a little off. Is faith quantifiable? I’m not so sure about that either. I think anything we do with a degree of immediate uncertainty requires faith, and then when we put this decision before the Lord and ask him to help us use the discernment and wisdom with which he’s gifted us we enact that faith.
Maybe that’s where faith is quantifiable: how weighted must a decision become before we enact our faith? And why can’t we learn to enact our faith regardless of the weight of the decision?
Direct us, O Lord, in all our doings with your most gracious favor, and further us with your continual help; that in all our works begun, continued, and ended in you, we may glorify your holy Name, and finally, by your mercy, obtain everlasting life; through Jesus Christ our Lord, Amen.
~ Prayer for Guidance, BCP
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