Friday, April 28, 2023

A Prayer from Synesius of Cyrene

Lord Jesus, think on me,
and purge away my sin;
from earthbound passions set me free,
and make me pure within.

Lord Jesus, think on me
by care and woe oppressed;
let me your loving servant be,
and taste your promised rest.

Lord Jesus, think on me, 
amid the bitter strife;
through all my pain and misery
become my health and life.

Lord Jesus, think on me,
that, when the trial is past
I may your radiant glory see,
and share your joy at last.

Thursday, April 27, 2023

Apologetics Series

At this point, I've posted all the apologetics talks from the series I did in my church over the past couple years. The full series page contains all of the available posts, notes, and lectures, and can be reached by the link below:

This page will be permanently linked in the blog's "Resources" section in the header, as well as under the "Full Series" menu in the sidebar.

Wednesday, April 26, 2023

The Colobos Tree

With the marketing demands of having a new book out (a few podcast interviews--I'll link them here on the blog after they post), I haven't had the time this week to write a new section of my Evangeliad project. So in its place, here's a re-post of one of my favorite older poems, one of several which I've written to reflect on the lives of various heroes from church history. This one focuses on the story of John Colobos (a nickname meaning "the dwarf" or "the short"), one of the great desert fathers of fourth-century Egypt.

The Colobos Tree

The man who came to Scete that day,
To Egypt's crucible of faith,
Was dark of skin and small of size,
And bore love's courage in his eyes.
He came in poverty and peace
And laid himself at Pambo's feet--
Old Abba Pambo, bless'd and wise,
Who labored under desert skies
To fast and pray, to triumph in
The holy fight for discipline,
To win the war for Christ the King
Upon the battlefield within.
Old Pambo asked about his guest,
And there the little man confessed,
"I'm John by name, called Colobos,
'The Dwarf,' they say; I make no fuss
About such names--it's true, you see,
And I've no pretence e'er to be
     More than what God made of me."

"What seek you here, my honest son?"
Old Pambo asked the prostrate one.
John Colobos stood up, and then
He reached out for the Abba's hand.
"The words you spoke--you called me son.
That's what I want: to be a monk,
To have a holy father, you,
To train me in the path of truth,
That I might fast and pray and fight
For all that's good and all that's right."
Old Pambo knew what this man asked,
How long the road, how hard the task!
Not one man in a thousand could
Bear up beneath that cross's wood--
To crucify the flesh each day
In this uncompromising way.
Could this man truly give his best
Against the ragings of the flesh?
     Old Pambo opted for a test.

"To be a monk, you must obey
In every aspect, every way,
The words of Scripture and the church--
You must be last, Christ must be first;
You must rebuke the stubborn flesh
Yes, even when its way seems best.
So here I grant you your first task,
But for its purpose, do not ask.
Take thou this stick, it's dead and dry:
Water it till it comes to life.
For dead are we without God's love--
No joy below, no life above.
So now you'll prove your depth of faith,
To show that you can walk this way.
Rebuke the flesh's insurrection
Through your faith in resurrection.
Yes, take this stick, and water it;
Treat this command to tend for it
     As if it came from Holy Writ."

Then John the Dwarf, he took the stick;
He went outside, and planted it.
His hut in Scete was desert-bound,
With water nowhere to be found.
So twice each day he made the trek,
Long miles down and long miles back,
To a river, and there he found
Water to pour out on dry ground
Back at his hut, where stood the stick
In the lonely place he'd planted it.
Through the desert, with his pail,
He trudged that never-ending trail,
On every day, 'neath blazing sun,
Obeying till the job was done.
For three long years did he obey,
Then a miracle dawned one day:
The stick took root, and leafed, and bloomed,
Amid the lifeless, sandy dunes:
     It bore obedience's fruit.

In this dark world you're often taught
To fill each whim your body's got:
"Indulge in lust, in gluttony,
In any pleasure within reach,
For flesh is all we've got right now,
So feed its fire and live life loud.
Old morals only make you fret;
If it feels good, then just do it."
In such a brave new world as this,
We see a fool in Colobos.
When Christ would bid us tame our flesh,
To fight its fiercest drives to death,
To fast and pray, to live life chaste,
It seems a senseless, pointless waste.
Why fight the drives that make us all
Human, happy, natural?
Why deprive yourself of good,
Of entertainment, sex, and food,
     Just 'cause someone says you should?

Oh, when such thoughts strike you or me,
Let us recall the Colobos tree.
Our flesh is part of what we are,
But not the whole, no, not at all!
The grace of God grants discipline
To grow beyond what we have been,
To rise, surpass mere wants and drives,
To wake to resurrection's life.
And there much greater joy is found
Than when base nature holds us bound.
So walk in calm obedience
The path of Christ's own innocence,
Even if it easier seems
To give yourself to fleshly dreams--
Remember Saint John Colobos,
Think of him, and all of us,
Then turn from darkness into light,
Bow to the God whose way is right,
     And watch the desert spring to life.

Tuesday, April 25, 2023

Photo of the Week

Savior, I follow on,
Guided by thee,
Seeing not yet the hand
That leadeth me.
Constantly near thy side,
Quickened and purified,
Living for him who died
Freely for me.

- from a hymn by Charles S. Robinson

Monday, April 24, 2023

Quote of the Week

"Teach self-denial and make its practice pleasure, and you can create for the world a destiny more sublime that ever issued from the brain of the wildest dreamer."

- Sir Walter Scott

Friday, April 21, 2023

A Prayer from John Baillie

O Thou to whom I owe the gift of this day's life,
Give me also, I beseech Thee,
The spirit to use it as I ought. 
 Let Thy Holy Spirit breathe into my heart today
All pure and heavenly desires. 
 Let Thy truth inform my mind. 
 Let Thy justice and righteousness
Make a throne within me
And rule my errant will. 
 Let Christ be formed in me,
And let me learn of Him all lowliness of heart,
All gentleness of bearing,
All modesty of speech,
All helpfulness of action,
And promptness in the doing of my Father's will. 

Thursday, April 20, 2023

Apologetics: Does Christianity Even Make Sense?

Does the logic of the gospel actually hold up? For instance, how would one respond to the objection that God is not just, because punishing one's own Son for others' sins is not a good and just act, but rather the act of a moral monster and a child abuser?

     - First, one can respond by saying that this objection misunderstands the doctrine of the Trinity. The essential union of the divine nature means that God is not simply putting the weight of punishment on someone else's shoulders, but--in a very real way--taking it on his own shoulders.

     - Second, if one should object that Christ's substitution for us makes no legal sense (for what judge would accept the self-sacrifice of an innocent man in place of a guilty defendant?), we must remember that Jesus is not only fully God, but fully man, and thus he is able to represent all of us. Rather than a courtroom analogy, it might make better sense to conceive of it in a battlefield analogy, as a great general giving himself up to the enemy so that his captured soldiers can go free in his place. There is no logical contradiction here.

     - Third, it is important to remember the seriousness of sin in biblical teaching. It is not simply something that can be shrugged off, as one might imagine an offended king magnanimously shrugging off a small offense to his honor. Rather, sin actually cuts us from spiritual communion with God, who is the fountainhead of life itself, and so sin is something that needs to be dealt with. It cannot be ignored, lest we be left in perpetual death. Thus one cannot object that it doesn't make sense for God to make such a big deal about sin; the very nature of sin itself requires that it be addressed in the most serious manner--not because God is mean, but because he loves us and desires our salvation.

Tuesday, April 18, 2023

Photo of the Week

O Jesus, Savior, grow in me,
and all things else recede:
To you my heart would nearer be, from sin be daily freed.
Each day embrace my weakness, Lord, with your supporting might;
And let my death be lost in life, my darkness in your light.

- from a hymn by Johann Caspar Lavater

Monday, April 17, 2023

Quote of the Week

"I have a single burning desire: 
to change the world by changing a single person--

- Elder Sophrony

Wednesday, April 12, 2023

Book Release

Hello, friends! As this is the week of my new book's official release, I'm doing a bit of promotional work. My book, called Missionary Motivations: Challenges from the Early Church, has started out as the #1 New Release on Amazon for its category (see the screenshot picture below). Now, the category is "Christian Bible History & Culture," which sounds far too vague to be meaningful in any significant way, but it's still fun to see. Copies are available at, Amazon, other major sellers, and from me personally. I'm excited to see what the Lord might do with this study. I'll return to a regular blogging schedule as things settle down next week.