Tag Archives: quest for holiness

Dry and thirsty

Several weeks ago I had the opportunity to drive along the Pacific Coast Highway from San Diego to San Francisco. For the most part, it was a gorgeous drive with the crashing waves of the Pacific on one side and the rugged coastline on the other.

The middle part of the journey was a different story. California is undergoing a serious drought. The landscape shows it. The land is so parched in areas that it’s cracked open. In other areas, I drove over bridges where there were once raging rivers and flowing streams. Now, there’s not so much as a mud puddle. Everything is brown.

The irony is that there is a vast ocean right next to this parched land – millions of gallons of water. Unusable water. Salty, briny water that cannot ease the pain of the extreme thirst.

Similar to us. We have a desperate need, a gaping hole in our hearts that can only be filled with the fresh, living water of Jesus Christ.

Yet humanity tries to fill that thirsty cavern with the salt water of the world. The world’s offering looks good, just as the ocean sparkles blue and appears to be so refreshing. At first, it may even feel good to dive into the cool water and drink huge gulps. But as any sea captain will tell you, in a survival situation, drinking ocean water will only hasten death.

We can drink in the world and all it has to offer, but it will only lead to death. Jesus has promised us eternal living water. While the world is dying of thirst, He dwells within us and causes us to never thirst again.

How many times though, do we forget? How many times do we see the sparkling, shiny attraction of the world and drink it in? It may satisfy at first, but in the end we’ll only be left drier than before.

All the while, Jesus is calling. He is holding out to us the true living water.

…whoever drinks of the water that I shall give him will never thirst. But the water that I shall give him will become in him a fountain of water springing up into everlasting life.” (‭John‬ ‭4‬:‭14‬ NKJV)


A Simple Prayer

Grant me, O Lord my God,
A mind to know You,
A heart to seek You,
Wisdom to find you,
Conduct pleasing to You,
Faithful perseverance in waiting for You,
And a hope of finally embracing You.
– St. Thomas Aquinas

What a prayer! I've had an affinity for Aquinas for quite some time, especially through his prayers and through the writings of Josef Pieper (German philosopher and translator of Aquinas). The above prayer says simply and eloquently the prayer of every Christian heart. We want to be pleasing to our Creator, to fulfill His will in our lives. It perfectly escalates from the mind to the heart and on through human contact with the Father to the final hope! the end of our race! the hope of our calling – finally resting in the embrace of our Lord.

Aquinas can be a bear – volumes and volumes of deep theological philosophy. But it's worth the effort to seek out the wisdom of those who have gone before. Early Christian fathers like Justin Martyr and Augustine and those who came later, but still centuries before our time, like Aquinas, they all give us insight into our Christian heritage. They bear witness to the same truth that we hold today. We can learn from them.


What if I stumble?

Do you remember that song by DC Talk?

What if I stumble
What if fall?
What if I lose my step
And I make fools of us all?
Will the love continue
When the walk becomes a crawl?
What if I stumble,
And what if I fall?

When I was a teen, I loved that song because it gave me a sense of purpose in trying so hard. These days I still like the song, but for different reasons.

I've quit trying so hard, sort of. In my love and study of philosophy. I've spent some time studying humility and pride. Often in our guilt after messing up, we come to God and tell him how awful we are and how horribly we've missed the mark. And in the process we beat ourselves up thinking we're being humble. Truthfully, that's just prideful. Believing that we can do it on our own is pride.

God knows we're human. He knows we will fall. On our own we can never make it. On our own we will never be worthy of Him. That's why He sent His Son.

On my own, I can't be holy. With Him, I can do anything. The key is how much I'm willing to give myself over to Him.

On my own, I can't resist temptation. Maybe I can for a little while, but eventually the enemy will wear me down, find a new soft point and beat me at my own game. But with Christ, oh man, with Him, I am an overcomer.

He is the One who resisted satan after 40 days of fasting. He is the One who resisted temptation to flee from the cup that God poured out on Him. He is the one who never quit, who never leaves, who never forsakes!

That is your God. He will sustain you if you are willing to give him everything that you are. I can't say that I succeed in that everyday, but I am willing to try. Are you?


ABC’s of Surrender

This Thursday, I’m starting a series of mini-posts on the ABC’s of Surrender. One of the chief aspects of this holiness journey is surrendering totally to Him, His guidance, His truth. Since most human beings are control freaks in one way or another, giving up oneself, even to the Creator of the universe, can be daunting.

To be honest, I don’t live in total surrender 100% of the time – it goes against the grain of the carnal mind. However, I do have moments when I’m able to yield completely to Him. It is the sweetest place to be. The contentment and joy in that place of total abandon is otherworldly.

But the world beckons. It can be amazingly difficult to hang onto that place of peace all of the time. So, every week for the next 26 weeks, I’m going to focus on a different aspect of surrendering to Him. That is six months of purposely setting aside time to focus on yielding my will to His is various areas of my life.

As I was meditating on the subject of surrender, I can’t help but recall the classic hymn, I Surrender All, lyrics by J.W. Van Deventer. It’s a simple message, but carries a prayer that the Savior longs to hear from His church.

All to Jesus I surrender;
All to Him I freely give;
I will ever love and trust Him;
In His presence daily live.

Refrain:
I surrender all, I surrender all,
All to Thee, my blesses Savior,
I surrender all.

All to Jesus I surrender;
Humbly at His feet I bow,
Worldly pleasures all forsaken;
Take, Jesus, take me now.

All to Jesus I surrender;
Make me, Savior, wholly thine;
Fill me with Thy love and power;
Truly know that Thou art mine.

All to Jesus I surrender;
Lord, I give myself to Thee;
Fill me with Thy love and power;
Let Thy blessing fall on me.

All to Jesus I surrender;
No I feel the sacred flame.
O the joy of full salvation!
Glory, glory to His name!


Daily Acts of Discipline: Writing

Monday starts the work week. It's a great time to set the tone for the whole week. So I like to focus on an act of discipline that calls my mind and body in line with Him and helps me on my path toward unsullied holiness.

For me, writing this blog is an act of discipline. God placed it on my heart almost a year ago. Since the beginning of this year, it has been like Jeremiah's words – a fire shut up in my bones. If you know me, you know I don't like to do anything halfway. So I put off starting this blog for a long time. It's a commitment. A commitment to write. A commitment to be real when I'm succeeding and when I fail. A commitment to actually follow the path of unsullied holiness – publicly. So here you have it, my commitment to you who read these words, my commitment to myself and most importantly, my commitment to God – to write. What has God asked you to do that you haven't done? I challenge you today to begin whatever it is in whatever way you can. He will meet you where you are and help you rise to the challenge.

 


I am on a quest

It’s a personal quest.  It’s also universal.

It is a quest for holiness – to live an unsullied life.

“Be holy, because I the Lord your God am holy.”  I Peter 1:16

“Be perfect as your heavenly Father is perfect.”  Matthew 5:48

What does that mean?  How am I, a flawed human being living in a flawed world, supposed to attain the holiness and perfection of the Father?  How can I, a flawed person who sometimes acts like a jerk, misses the mark or just generally falls down, be holy?

I don’t think it’s an idle or flippant command.  I believe that the inspired word of God is that – inspired and the Word of God.  One translation of First Peter says, “You SHALL BE holy, for I am holy.”  It doesn’t sound like an option to me.  

So how do you and I obey this commandment?  How do we live holy lives?  In an age of moral decline and relativity, how do modern Christians live in the world but not of the world?

The name of this blog “Unsullied Holiness” comes from the following quote:

“We put it as our most sober judgment that the great need of the church in this and all ages is men of such commanding faith, of such unsullied holiness, of such marked spiritual vigor and consuming zeal, that their prayers, faith, lives and ministries will be of such a radical and aggressive form as to work spiritual revolutions which will form eras in individual and church life.”
– E. M. Bounds, Power Through Prayer

That is the type of separated life that I seek through this quest.  One of revolutionary zeal.

I don’t claim to have all of the answers or even any of the answers.  That’s why it’s a quest.  One filled with adventure, adversity and amazing hope.

Some days feel like an easy sprint on a warm spring day.  Others take every ounce of strength just to hold ground and not move backwards.  And sometimes it seems that we’ve fallen off the path altogether.  What causes me to fall may not be what causes you to fall, but we can both turn to the same Father of mercy and grace and hope as we make our way.

My goal is to stay on the path more than I fall, to move forward more than I stand still and to chronicle the journey.

I love to write, study and ponder, so this blog will be a combination of my own thoughts and prayers as well as those of others that I find inspiring along the way. 

I hope that you will find here words of challenge and encouragement and that together we can become a generation that seeks the path of unsullied holiness.  


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