May God Be Our All-Consuming Passion

Dear Friends:

It seems like every day someone gives me a book to read written by a modern writer on some “new” way of understanding what Jesus or Paul or the prophets really meant (but we have failed to grasp) until the one writing the book discovered the real truth. I admit that I am a cynical toward most modern Christian authors. Not because they don’t speak the truth, but because all that they have “discovered” was revealed by the Holy Spirit 2000 to 4000 years ago in a book called “The Bible”.

I read the Bible each morning along with a chapter or two in at least three other devotional books. But what strikes me is how the authors of most contemporary Christian devotions are the heroes of their own stories and are constantly encouraging you to read their next (or the previous book) he or she wrote so that you can really understand what you have been missing your whole life! They suggest that the abundant life Christ offered can’t be yours and you could never understand some surreptitious teachings from the Bible by reading the Bible by yourself.

If you have given me a book in the past, please continue to give me the books because I do read them and appreciate both the gift and the giver! But it is the lack of humility that causes me to have such a deaf ear to the common books about God you find at or Barnes and Nobles.

The ancient men and women of God seemed to have such a more profound and simple understanding of what matters in the Kingdom of God — as well as what worked in a Christian community. Hence I am drawn to the saints of the middle ages that seem so advanced spiritually when compared to the mega-church pastors and millionaire apologists today. (I am very tempted to mention names of those preachers, but I will keep my mouth shut for once).

Consider for example Giles of Assisi. He was a companion Saint Francis of Assisi, but I would wager that most people have never heard of him and no one ever quotes him. But he said:

Blessed is he who loves and does not therefore desire to be loved;
Blessed is he who fears and does not therefore desire to be feared;
Blessed is he who serves and does not therefore desire to be served;
Blessed is he who behaves well toward others and does not desire that others behave well toward him;
And because these are great things, the foolish do not rise to them.

Praise God for the truth these kind of men passed on to us! What a sermon — or series of sermons — these five lines hold, and yet neither Giles nor Francis were known to talk of their childhood, their disadvantages, their struggles, their children, their wives, how successful they were in business, how many thousands of people they had preached to, or even the miracles that occurred because of their teaching or prayers! These men forget themselves as they shared eternal truths!!! THAT is what we lack so much in our contemporary “worship centers”, mega-churches, and New York Times best seller devotionals and auto-biographies! The world is hungry for the Savior, not my war stories, or examples of how lucky God is to have me on his side!

Forgive me for venting, but how I wish I would come across more men and women in love with God, and with a passion for His children, rather than their own agendas, plans, services, books, and ministries.

Dean Barley

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