“For every century in the life of the Church, there have been places of persecution. In many instances, the persecution has included terrible, physical violence and even martyrdom. Rather than the world evolving into a more and more mellow environment, the persecution has actually accelerated. In the twentieth century, more Christians were martyred than in the previous nineteen centuries put together! Hopes that the world would mature and come to a more civilized and gracious demeanor have certainly not been realized. Increasingly, as the realities of Christendom have faded into a memory, there have been a number of forces assaulting Christians: Secularism, Radical Islam, and Paganism.”
Much, much more here. Must read material!
Nouwen was an extraordinarily gifted spiritual writer. Here’s a passage from his Out of Solitude, Conclusion that provides some very powerful reasoning for prayer by means of withdrawal to the lonely place.
(Mark 1:35) ” ‘In the morning, long before dawn, he got up and left the house, and went off to a lonely place and prayed there. When Simon and his companions found him, Jesus said: “Let us go—to the neighboring country towns, so that I can preach there too, because that is why I came.”
The words which Jesus spoke in these neighboring country towns were born in the intimacy with the Father. They were words of comfort and of condemnation, words of hope and of warning, words of unity and of division. He dared to speak these challenging words because he did not seek his own glory: “If I were to seek my own glory,” he says, “that would be no glory at all; my glory is conferred by the Father, by the one of whom you say, ‘He is our God,’ although you do not know him” (John 8:54). Within a few years Jesus’ words brought about his rejection and death. But the one who had spoken to him in the lonely place raised him up as a sign of hope and new life.
When you are able to create a lonely place in the middle of your actions and concerns, your successes and failures slowly can lose some of their power over you. For then your love for this world can merge with a compassionate understanding of its illusions. The your serious engagement can merge with an unmasking smile. Then your concern for others can be motivated more by their needs than your own. In short: then you can care. Let us therefore live our lives to the fullest but let us not forget to once in a while get up long before dawn to leave the house and go to a lonely place.”
From Christian Today website. Recommended.
In what appears below, please note the use of the koine Greek word ἀγαπήσεις translated shall love. Because of the ambiguities that profligate from 21st century notions/concepts/applications of the English word love, I use the Greek to convey the overwhelming richness of the source of love who shows us the vastness, depth, height, breadth, and enveloping quality of the wholeness and holiness of Godly love. See 1 John 4: 7-12.
Mark 12:30 (ESV) > And you ἀγαπήσεις (shall love) the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.
It is a glory-filled privilege to pray. With that in mind, and with a focus upon how much we involve ourselves in the ἀγαπήσεις of the Lord our God, the following came to me during what I would call a personal episode of contemplative habitude.
with a heart filled with devotion, mind replete with wisdom from God’s Holy Word, spirit abounding in the Holy Spirit, a soul full of joy! Pray with all that makes you you. ~the Reverend Michael Trent Shaw
Grace, mercy and peace,
As a Christian, whether in leadership or not, it is right and necessary to know that ambition does have its place in support of Christ’s Church.
If all we Christians take God seriously, we shall “become ambitious for the spread of his kingdom and righteousness everywhere.” May this be our common goal, and may we “therefore pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest.” (Luke 10:2 – ESV) AND > May we be among the bold/ambitious laborers. Keeping in mind that though we are differently gifted, we can, should, and must be willing to say to our Lord Jesus, “Here I am send me”. He can and does use in countless wonderful ways whosoever will.
Let’s look at what the late John Stott has to say on rightly ordered ambition.
“Ambitions for self may be quite modest (enough to eat, to drink and to wear, as in the Sermon [on the Mount]) or they may be grandiose (a bigger house, a faster car, a higher salary, a wider reputation, more power). But whether modest or immodest, these are ambitions for myself – my comfort, my wealth, my status, my power.
“Ambitions for God, however, if they are to be worthy, can never be modest. There is something inherently inappropriate about cherishing small ambitions for God. How can we ever be content that he should acquire just a little more honour in the world? No. Once we are clear that God is King, then we long to see him crowned with glory and honour, and accorded his true place, which is the supreme place. We become ambitious for the spread of his kingdom and righteousness everywhere.”
- 172 -173 “The Message on the Sermon on the Mount” (Inter-Varsity Press)
The answer to this question probably will surprise you. Worth noting and sharing and praying!
From the article: “We can pray for gospel rootedness in the Middle East, and we can pray to light up their world like the Fourth of July, at the same time.”