Thursday, January 13, 2011

Monk Habits for Everyday People

Last week I completed reading my first book this year. I didn't buy it but picked it up from Public Library. When I saw the title i.e. - Monk Habits for Everyday People: Benedictine Spirituality for Protestants by Dennis Okholm, I was curious. I started reading it and I can tell you that after a long time I found a book which was so interesting to me that I finished reading it in a few days. I am not a bibliophile or bookworm. I can't read all books and can see it to completion only if its awakens my interest.

I just thought of writing few things about it here. Firstly, if you are a person who gets scared or maybe you feel old fashioned with the word "Monk" then this book is definitely for you! The book is very good in making a person understand what Benedictine Spirituality is and other things which is practiced in monasteries. You will get a very good idea about why monks do certain things. The intent and the reason behind many things can be understood easily.

Evangelical theologian and educator Dennis Okholm offers this spiritual memoir of his pilgrimage into monastic culture in an era when a chorus of evangelical voices are crying out for changes in their branch of the church. Various evangelical writers are arguing: The movement's become stale. It's been hijacked by political operatives. It's turned Christianity into an easy-bake recipe for prosperity. And, where many of these writers wind up trying to take us is back into centuries-old Christian traditions that once were considered exclusively "Catholic." And, when evangelicals said that word in the past, they often sneered.

Don't mistake Okholm's book for one of those angry evangelical books trying to shake up the movement from its foundations, but not offering much of a pathway through the resulting rubble. No, this is a thoughtful, careful, mature memoir. He admits that, at that time, he suspected monastic life was a tired old "relic of the Middle Ages."

He suggests how Benedictine spirituality can overcome the star-power trend he sees in many Protestant churches. He suggests that if more pastors held obedience, balance, and listening at the heart of their ministries, the dissent that strikes many congregations could be kept at bay, and the Gospel of Christ better served in our mission fields.

He has chapters on listening, poverty, obedience, humility, hospitality, stability, and balance; he gives Protestant readers a perspective on the values of Catholic spirituality. I especially liked and appreciate a final chapter on why the Protestant reformers, made a break from monasticism, as it can help to set Protestant perspectives on monasticism in historical perspective.

Who was Benedict? Born around 480 C.E, he was first a hermit (A hermit is a person who lives, to some degree, in seclusion from society) who later gathered a community of followers. He apparently didn’t intend to establish a community but when he did, he developed his Rule.

If you ask me if I learned anything from it then YES! It helped me to evaluate my life with many teachings of the Bible and if I am it following in the right sense.

If you are a person who comes from a protestant or evangelical or Pentecostal background then you should read it. I don't think it will encourage you to become a monk but it will definitely help you to evaluate and understand many things in your own lives which you are supposed to do but don’t. It will help you in looking at your own life if you don't read it from a critical view.

As humans we can always learn from different people and culture. Monk habits have lot of things for a Christian to learn from. You may think I am impressed by Monk habits. Yes I am by the intention behind many things they do as they correspond to what Jesus taught us. I don't want to mention more here. I want to conclude this post by saying that if you get a copy of this book or get a Chance to read it then go for it. You will learn a lot.

After writing about it I found this link which has a presentation about this book. If you don't read the book then at least read this Monk Habit Presentation .

God Bless You!

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Happy New Year 2011 and Message

Happy New Year 2011!

I wish you all a blessed new year. Another year has gone by and we are in a new year.
Whenever a New Year starts, people take decisions and we see fresh energy as people hope to do things in a new way. Sometimes it is the decision to read the Bible or pray regularly. Sometimes it is about giving more to charity or going to church regularly. It could also be things like exercising regularly. But if we are not disciplined then the enthusiasm dies in 2-3 weeks and we get back to our previous lifestyle. But the New Year always presents us with an opportunity to start or plan things in a new way. It
encourages us to take some new decisions.

At our church (Minnesota Pentecostal Assembly), on New Year eve, I spoke about getting genuine or real in this New Year. Getting real is important to have a consistent relationship with God. Many times people are either thinking or acting below what God has given to them or where God has placed them; sometimes they are thinking above what God has given to them. Either way it prevents us from fully realizing God’s primary call and purpose in our life. Few important points I shared during the message was -
1. Phil 3:16: “Let us live up to what we have already attained.” – Know the purpose of your life, forget the past, and live in reality

2. Acting below what one is could be in the form of underestimating God’s primary purpose and call in one’s life, pride in the form of false humility, making excuses about having to learn more, to name a few.

3. Acting above what one is or where God has placed them could be in the form of fake spirituality, not realizing the reality, acting out when one is actually struggling, to name
some.

You can listen to this message at MPA Website http://www.mnpassembly.org/Resources.aspx

May God Bless You!