Tuesday, November 13, 2012


I wrote my first book, Wild Hero, at age 13 after having just read the classic, Heidi. Heidi became my hero and I wanted to duplicate her in my own, feeble way. When my children were young, I tried to be the perfect homemaker—just like my neighbor. I had many other heroes during my life, as you no doubt have. I finally learned, however, that the real heroes are those who live with integrity and grace. How futile it is to place someone on our mental pedestal based on their accomplishments, looks, or showmanship. In God’s Word we have countless examples of true heroes—imperfect men and women who believed and obeyed Him through thick and thin. Many more heroes followed in their steps. I consider Thomas of Kempen one of them. Who are your heroes?


An Avid Disciple

November 11, 1897, marks the day a monument was dedicated at St. Michael's Church in Zwolle, Holland, to the memory of Thomas Hemerken. No doubt many of you have never heard of this man. Born about 1380, Thomas of Kempen, Germany, led a life of poverty, obscurity, and quietness. But his was a life of great accomplishment within the Christian church as a whole. He wrote The Imitation of Christ, a best-seller that has remained on the charts for over 400 years.

Thomas's parents, though poor, were able to send him to Holland to be educated by the Brethren of the Common Life. This group stressed spiritual conversion, practical holiness, and meditation on Christ. Their teachings impacted Thomas's life so much that he became an avid disciple of Christ. He eventually became a monk and preached, copied manuscripts, counseled, and wrote books until he died at age 90.

The Imitation of Christ became popular among Protestants and Catholics alike, an unusual phenomenon for that time. By the end of the fifteenth century it reached its 99th printing. Today it is considered one of the greatest devotional classics ever and still is widely distributed. Here is an excerpt from Thomas of Kempen's book:

"Strive to turn your heart from loving things that are seen, and to set it upon things that are not seen … How much better is a lowly peasant who serves God than a proud philosopher who watches the stars and neglects knowing himself … We must not trust every word of others or feeling within ourselves, but cautiously and patiently try the matter, whether it be of God. The more humble a man is in himself, and the more obedient toward God, the wiser will he be in all things, and the more shall his soul be at peace."

Thomas's words are taken from Colossians 3:1-3. "Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God."

Heavenly Father, we pray these verses today. Help us to set our hearts and our minds on the eternal things of heaven rather than on the corruptible, unreliable, and temporary things in this world. In Jesus' name, amen.

No comments: