The iMonk’s Sanity Verses

For your edification, I give you the iMonk’s Sanity Verses. Great stuff.

I particularly liked this one:

Philippians 3:12-16 If any passage deserves the title of “The Sanity Verses,” Paul’s words of determination to be free from the past through Christ certainly fit the bill. What strikes me about these familiar encouragements is the relation to “maturity.” If we are mature, we will think this way. Refusing to give the failures of the past- the ministry failures, the personal failures- to Christ is immaturity. It is the junior high boy who says he can handle everything himself. It is the twenty-something college student who believes his anger and brandishing words make a difference. It is the emotional immature Christian who lives off his personal dramas, forever portraying himself as a victim to manipulate the sympathies of his friends because he is afraid they really don’t like him.

The “mature” Christian moves on. He gives it to Christ- the mess, the garbage, the failure, the refusals to believe, the rejections of the Gospel- and goes to the next chapter. There is no maturity in punishing yourself. There is no maturity in burnout, broken health and divorce. There is no maturity in choosing to refight meaningless battles that amount to the raging of an undisciplined ego or a wasted war with fools. Listen to Christ. Move on, even if it’s hard. Even if it’s a strain. Listen to the voice of the Spirit telling you that God doesn’t hate you. He loves you. You aren’t garbage and you aren’t here on earth to waste your life in meaningless suffering. If there is to be suffering, let it be for joy, not for madness or bitterness.

Move on. Give Christ the mess and take the gift of another day, another chance.

And here we are, worrying about what Joe thinks . . .

The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, and the knowledge of the Holy One is insight.

– Proverbs 9:10

I’ve been thinking about fear lately.

I once gave a presentation at work, which entailed me speaking in front of several hundred people, spread over four sessions. As we were preparing for the first session, one of my co-workers asked me why I wasn’t nervous.

The fact is, I was nervous. But just a little, and not enough to show. But here’s what I told her:

“I am a parent. I know what fear is. And this isn’t it.”

I said it with a smile, and she, being a parent herself, laughed in recognition. But what I said, though it was entirely spontaneous, was the only answer to give, after seventeen years of being a parent. Because a big part of being a parent means experiencing worry and fear.

And I wouldn’t trade it for the world.

I have never been what I consider a brave person. I’m not a daredevil, I’ve never really enjoyed putting myself or those I love in dangerous situations. But I am beginning to appreciate fear.

For starters, fear is not necessarily a bad thing. This depends, of course, upon what the object of our fear is, but I am beginning to appreciate fear for its character-building attributes. Fear drives me to pray; it drives me to my knees. And I find, upon rising, that I am somewhat toughened by the experience of facing my fears, handing them to my Father, and receiving, in return, resolution, strength, and, at times, a single-minded and almost ferocious determination to persevere.

I find upon rising that I am braver, and that is a strange thing to experience for one like me who has never considered himself particularly brave.

Now, how this will translate to true bravery when the real test comes – and I don’t feel that I’ve yet been truly tested – only time will tell. But I feel God building me up, brick by brick, for that day, and I pray that I will withstand the fires that must surely come.

I daily observe, in the lives of other people and in my own life as well, actions and words driven by fear of what others might think, with hardly a thought given to the fear of God. And yet his word makes it clear that we are to fear him, and him alone. And, yes, of course, the fear of God is best described as an awe-filled reverence. Yet I believe there are times when stark terror is an appropriate response too! Our God is mighty, and jealous, and determined, and glorious, and beyond all we can comprehend. He laid the very foundation of the earth “when the morning stars sang together and all the sons of God shouted for joy”. He is the commander of the heavenly host, before which men fall dumb to the ground, and yet he stayed the attack of his grieving legions when the Incarnate Son suffered on the cross, for his fierce love of us and of his own glory.

And he has promised to build this same character in me: the bravery and determination and love of Christ that gave his own life as an offering of praise to the Father.

All of creation, from the smallest particle to the grandest galaxy, declares his glory! And here we are, worrying about what Joe thinks, and giving not a thought to the one we should truly fear.

I want to fear God. And in the working out of that fear, I want him to build into me the bravery of Jesus, to give my life for others as an offering to the Father.

In the fear of the Lord one has strong confidence, and his children will have a refuge.

– Proverbs 14:26

“A soldier has something else to think about”

Joshua Lawrence ChamberlainJoshua Lawrence Chamberlain is my favorite soldier of all time. He fought bravely for the union in the American Civil War and was a humble and educated Christian, a devoted husband and father, and just about the most man I've ever read about.

He survived some terrible battles. He was in the carnage before Marye's Heights at Fredricksburg and he held the line on Little Round Top at Gettysburg. He writes about fear below:

Curious people often ask the question whether in battle we are not affected by fear, so that our actions are influenced by it; and some are prompt to answer, "Yes, surely we are, and anybody who denies it is a braggart or a liar." I say to such, "Speak for yourselves." A soldier has something else to think about. Most men at the first, or [at] some tragic moment, are aware of the present peril, and sometimes flinch a little by the instinct of nature . . . But any action following the motive of fear is rare, – for sometimes I have seen men rushing to the front in a terrific fire, 'to have it over with.'

But, as a rule, men stand up from one motive of another – simple manhood, force of discipline, pride, love, or bond of comradeship – "Here is Bill; I will go or stay where he does." And an officer is so absorbed by the sense of responsibility for his men, for his cause, or for the fight that the thought of personal peril has no place whatever in governing his actions. The instinct to seek safety is overcome by the instinct of honor"

– Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain, The Passing of the Armies

Greater love has no one than this . . .

From BlackFive:

Fast forward to the final weeks of that deployment and Mike along with two fellow SEALs were occupying an overwatch position on a rooftop in the Mulab district of Ramadi which is basically the most dangerous neighborhood of the most dangerous city in Iraq. A hidden enemy managed to toss a grenade onto the rooftop near the three SEALs, and Mike without hesitation warned his comrades verbally before placing himself in a position to block the lethal blast of the grenade from killing his teammates. One of the SEALs he saved said that Mike’s countenance was completely calm and he showed no fear only resolve. No short timer’s disease infecting this man, he had only a couple of weeks remaining in the deployment and he did not flinch at the moment of truth.

On the rostrum, all three SEALs whose lives Mike personally saved hobbled up together to thank Michael and his family for their very existence and to show their family’s gratitude for sparing them the grief that Michael’s family is now experiencing. I have never witnessed something as special and inspiring in my entire life-I have never even heard of such a thing happening before. Michael’s sister Sara told of a vision that she had upon hearing the news that her brother had died a hero’s death saving his brothers. She said that she saw a puzzle missing its final piece being completed by an unseen hand and that its visage was that of her brother. His actions, his deeds, his sacrifice were the culmination of a lifetime of preparation to go forth into combat and distinguish himself above and beyond the call of duty.

“Greater love has no one than this, that someone lays down his life for his friends.”

John 15:13 (ESV)

Being a man

Phil over at Brandywine Books wrote the following about a gift he gave his wife:

When my wife thought we wouldn’t get a digital camera because she and I wanted conflicting things in one, I bought her the simple camera she wanted secretly. She cried after she opened it. I love making her cry like that.

I hope to post from time to time on quotes, actions, etc. I find that demonstrate an aspect of true manhood.

Phil – this is one of them. Well done!