The Wandering Desert Monk

The Wandering Desert Monk

Sunday, June 30, 2013

More than this life...

Is this all there is: a few trips around the sun, then death? Or is there life after death? This question has been asked from the beginning. One of the contributions of the Hebrew faith to the discussion is the belief that there will be a time of resurrection into an eternal existence. Some people think that the idea of a resurrection grew out of the Christian faith. In fact, in Jesus’ day, there was a lively debate going on among his hearers about the teaching on the resurrection as found in their scriptures. One of the texts that would have supported the pro-resurrection camp was this one from the prophet Isaiah:

“But your dead will live, Lord; their bodies will rise —
let those who dwell in the dust wake up and shout for joy — your dew is like the dew of the morning; the earth will give birth to her dead.” (Isaiah 26:19)

Today for modern day followers of Jesus, these ancient words are words of hope: there is an eternal existence. Death does not have the final word! We will rise again and shout for joy! Ron Friesen

Saturday, June 29, 2013

The WHO of your focus....

One of the benefits for the followers of Jesus is that the trajectory of human history has an end goal. Human history is not meaningless. There is no reason to despair of the tornadoes of Moore, OK or the war inside of Syria because there is a grand scheme that is being worked out even if we cannot see it today. For the people, in Isaiah’s day, living through the horrors of a raping, pillaging army from Assyria, it may have seemed senseless, yet, the ancient prophet reminds that this is not the end of the story:

“In that day the Lord Almighty
 will be a glorious crown, a beautiful wreath for the remnant of his people. He will be a spirit of justice
 to the one who sits in judgment, a source of strength
 to those who turn back the battle at the gate.” (Isaiah 28:5-6)

We may be reduced to a few faithful followers; our numbers are not the issue. The issue is this: WHO is your focus today? – Ron Friesen

Friday, June 28, 2013

Make a choice...

It sounds trite to say it, yet it is true, life is about choices. Many days our lives seem to be made up of simple choices: will it be iced tea, coffee or a soda?  On other days life throws us more complicated choices that have a further reach: do I rent or buy a home? For people who take questions of faith seriously, the choices have even more consequential results. They are questions of life or death. The ancient prophet, Isaiah, speaking to his people reminds them that they can either run to God or away from God. If they run away from God they will be caught in a thicket of briers of their own making. Or they have this choice:

“Or else let them come to me (God) for refuge; let them make peace with me, yes, let them make peace with me.” (Isaiah 27:5)

Which choice will you and I make today? – Ron Friesen

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Searching for peace?

We are built to seek a place of balance, of homeostasis. We cannot live in chaos forever; we eventually find ourselves looking for calm, for peace. This is human cry is not a new yearning. The people of Isaiah’s day were undergoing a devastating experience of disruption as their lives were uprooted and they were hauled off to a foreign land. In the middle of this mess, the prophet, Isaiah, writes a number of psalms of praise. In the middle of the second psalm, he pens these words of peace:

“You (God) will keep in perfect peace those whose minds are steadfast, because they trust in you.” (Isaiah 26:4)

There are two conditions for the promise of peace: a steadfast mind and trusting God. If anything that major disruptions do this: they destabilize our minds and we are filled with confusion or cognitive disruption: the world does not make sense. Regaining a steady mind in the middle of such disruption is key to finding peace. How is a steady mind found? In taking our eyes off the confusion around us and lift them up to see God. We throw ourselves onto the God who is greater than our circumstances. Our world has nothing to offer us; God is our sure Rock in the storms of life. – Ron Friesen

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Are you on the way to victory?

Followers of Jesus are filled with a great hope about the future: we may live in a vale of tears; however, there will be a day when all tears will be gone. The ancient prophet, Isaiah, reminded his people that their present captivity in a foreign land would not be the end of their story:

“He (God) will swallow up death forever. The Sovereign Lord will wipe away the tears from all faces….” (Isaiah 25:8)

For those whose lives are filled with faith in the God of heaven and earth, there is a future hope that overrides all the trials and tribulations of this life. Whatever we are facing, we know that this current script is not the final edition. We know that the Author is writing an ending that will give us victory over death and sorrow. This hope has empowered billions of people over the years to endure much suffering. The old Negro Spiritual puts it this way:

“The Lord will see us through,
the Lord will see us through.
The lord will see us through some day 

Oh, deep in my heart, I do believe

The Lord will see us some day
We’re on to victory; we’re on to victory

We’re on to victory some day

Oh, deep in my heart, I do believe

We’re on to victory some day

Are you on the way to victory?

- Ron Friesen

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

When there is no safe place...

There is no feeling more desperate than knowing that there is no safe place to go to. The ancient prophet, Isaiah, predicts a time for one of Israel’s neighbors when her well-known harbor will no longer be a refuge for sailors. Here is his description of such loss:  

“Wail, you ships of Tarshish!
For Tyre is destroyed
and left without house or harbor.” (Isaiah 23:1)

What do you do when there is no place to go to for safety? Some people lose their minds. Others take their own lives. Still others give up. A few follow this guidance from the psalter:

“Then they cried out to the Lord in their trouble, and he brought them out of their distress. He stilled the storm to a whisper; the waves of the sea were hushed. They were glad when it grew calm, and he guided them to their desired haven.” (Psalm 107:28-30)

When troubles come you can sit and cry, or you can find your voice and cry out to the One who made the sea. Which will you do today? – Ron Friesen