St. Francis of Assisi
The Church recently celebrated the life of St. Francis of Assisi and in a recent sermon I had the privilege to speak about the things I find so inspiring about him. He was a man who deeply desired to be faithful to Jesus and to live the Gospel. As a result he helped the Western Church find it's true love again and, I would argue, started a reformation of sorts that preceeded the Protestant Reformation by about 300 years. He's most commonly remembered for his love of creation which I find unfortunate because this pales in comparison to his passion for deep communion with His Lord and living a life of obedience. Another little known fact is his desire to share the love of Jesus with Muslims, evidenced by his crossing enemy lines during the fifth crusade to preach the Gospel to the Sultan who was so impressed with St. Francis that he sent him away with gifts of fruit and ice! St. Francis' Prayer becomes more meaningful to me the more I pray it over the years.
Somone who had a profound impact on me in college was Jim Elliot. I read the books Through Gates of Splendor and Shadow of the Almighty, which are accounts of his life and include entries from his journal. He, like St. Francis; had a deep passion for Jesus Christ, living a life in obedience to him and sharing Him with others. He was a missionary in Ecuador and one of the first to ever make contact with a then-feared tribe of aborigines known as the Aucas. He and his five companions were martyred by them on January 8, 1956; and that story was popularized in the movie End of the Spear. A quote of his which has resonated with me throughout my life is, "Wherever you are, be all there. Live to the hilt every situation that you believe to be the will of God. Another is, "Saturate me with the oil of Thy Spirit, that I may ve aflame. Make me Thy fuel O flame of God."
Ahhh...the KAIZ. He has been a huge influence on me spiritually. He is a pastor at JPUSA as well as an incredible musician. And as a musician he has produced some of the finest worship music on the planet because, more than anyone else I've heard except Keith Green (below) he gets what worship is all about. As a straight up guitar-slinger he's fantastic too, he can boogie on a Dobro just as well as he can plug his Les Paul into a Marshall stack and tear the top of your head off with some screamin' blues...and all in Jesus' Name (ha ha). And while I love his music I love his message even more...holiness. Living a godly life. Being holy because God is holy. Being hallmarked by a life of repentance and gratitude for the incredible love of Jesus. Like the other saints listed here Kaiz is intense, and his intensity is JESUS.
This is another saint I discovered in college through reading his biography No Compromise. He was an incredible musician whose spiritual search for Truth in the '70's lead him through eastern religions and drugs and ended when he found the only real "guru"...Jesus. Like myself, Keith Green didn't discover Jesus from anyone "witnessing" to him or the result of evangelism but from simply reading the Bible. His zeal to completely yield every part of his life to Lord was incredible. And he produced some powerful Christian music that, much like St. Francis, called the Church into account for having forgotten their first love. He also had an incredible passion for the missions. He was intense, about Jesus, about missions and about becoming more like Jesus. I encourage you to check out some of his music.
No Compromise is what the whole Gospel of Jesus is all about...'For I tell you...no man can serve two masters...' In a day when believers seem to be trying to please both the world and the Lord (which is an impossible thing), when people are far more concerned about offending their friends than offending God, there is only one answer...Deny yourself, take up your cross and follow Him!