Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Monk Habits for Everyday People - The Book Review

If you read this blog regularly, you know that I attended a lecture entitled "Monk Habits for Everyday People" by Dennis Okholm. He has written a book by the same name, which I purchased at the end of the session. I was excited to read the book, to see what further insights would be contained within the covers.

I wanted to like this book. I really did. But I found it unfulfilling. It isn't nearly as good as the lecture I attended, and reads more like a commentary on the rule of St. Benedict, which I read prior to reading this book in preparation. Perhaps that was my mistake. This book is geared more towards convincing the reader that monasticism is still relevant and worthwhile, and I don't need convincing on that point. The commentary on the rule wasn't revolutionary either, but served to provide an introduction to the monastic life to protestants who have never read the rule or studied the monastic life at all. I have done quite a bit of study on Christian Mystics, so perhaps I'm just not the target for this book.

If you are looking for a protestant introduction to what the monastic life is all about, this is not a bad book. But I can't recommend it wholeheartedly like I expected to.


Sunday, March 2, 2008

The leading of the Spirit

From time to time I have the opportunity to preach to the seniors in our church. I love doing it because it gives me the opportunity to really dig into the word. The last time I taught, I went with Psalm 8 because there was a wedding that day and I wanted to set the mood as one of celebration and worship. This time I was struggling with what to teach on. I don't teach that often, so I have to do messages that stand on their own. I wrestled with it for a while, and nothing was coming to me. I talked with a friend of mine who suggested I talk about Paul and Silas, and how great God is. Great idea, great topic, but it just wasn't grabbing me. Finally I settled on Psalm 42-43 (really one psalm). I decided to keep working through Psalms and to use the opening of the second book.

It was an odd choice, and I kept asking myself if I really wanted to do this... But as I got into it I ended up creating the longest sermon I've ever delivered... Although many guys can preach for a very long time, I tend to be brief. I like to highlight the word of God and try to stay out of the way as much as possible. I'm sure there are guys who could go a lot longer on this topic, but I was happy with my result. Still, when it was all over, I was puzzled as to why God would put that psalm on my heart.

Two days later I found out. I went to the hospital to visit with a friend whose daughter was having surgery. I greeted everyone and then saw my friend's dad, who did not look good. I sat down to chat with him about how he was doing. Before I knew it, I was delivering an abbreviated version of my sermon on Psalms 42 to him. He was really struggling with his granddaughter being in the hospital, and was greatly encouraged by David's struggle and the example of how we are to work through tough times that is portrayed in Psalm 42.

As I drove out of the hospital parking lot after the surgery I marveled at God's timing and providence. If we listen to His leadings, He is faithful to provide. I didn't know why God gave me Psalm 42 to speak on until I went to the hospital that day. Often times God doesn't give us clarity that soon. It may be years later, or maybe we will never know why He did things that He did. When we are puzzled, when we are confused, we have to remember the promise made to us in Romans 8:28 - And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.

Let God lead, He knows what you need!