Heroes & Heretics: The Desert Mothers and Fathers

Heroes & Heretics: The Desert Mothers and Fathers

Their story starts in the 3rd century. The Roman Empire was still in power, and it was still making life a little difficult for Christians, and it was still representing values that Christians didn’t. So a group of early Christians ran away to the deserts of Egypt and the Middle East. They ran to escape the heavy hand of Roman rule on top of them and to finally live free. They ran from their wealth toward a life of poverty, from comfort toward a life of wilderness wandering.

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Heroes & Heretics: Donatus Magnus

Heroes & Heretics: Donatus Magnus

This week, we’re going back to the fourth century to study a human who was given the label heretic. His name is Donatus Magnus, and he was the leader of the movement that has been given the name “The Donatist Heresy.” As I spent time with the story, it captivated me.  The Donatus story is a story of trauma, pain, bias, and politics. At its core, the Donatist Heresy asks the question, “How far does forgiveness reach? How far must we extend it?”  

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Heroes & Heretics: St. Catherine of Siena

Heroes & Heretics: St. Catherine of Siena

St. Catherine of Siena's story is one of God using the uneducated to stump the wise, and the weak to shame the strong. Her’s is the story of God using the lowly and powerless to nullify the high and mighty. But -- her’s is also a story of tragedy. A story of a debilitating eating disorder driven in large part by an unrelenting quest for perfection. She is a hero that the world couldn’t see coming, didn’t really know what to do with, and in the end, couldn’t be without. 

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Heroes & Heretics: Flannery O'Connor

Heroes & Heretics: Flannery O'Connor

Flannery O’Connor had a lot of the acerbic wit of Twain, and certainly wrestled with some of the same fears about the future. Being a devout Catholic, this writer wouldn’t abide me calling her a saint, and being humble and self-aware she wouldn’t abide me calling her a hero. But she offered something to me and many others that most great American authors couldn’t offer, something that repositioned her whole view of humanity and existence.

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Heroes and Heretics: Origen with an E

Heroes and Heretics: Origen with an E

Today I want to introduce you to a similar young man. Zealous and tenacious and, like Anne, familiar with tragedy from a young age. His name is Origen....with an E (05 Origen with an E). One of the greatest theologians in Christian history that perhaps is only rivaled by Augustine in genius and only by Anne Shirley in his imagination. More than anything what I love about Anne Shirley is that she is a learner. She and Origen share a ravenous love for learning and for books. And like Anne, his speculation got him into some trouble.
 

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Dietrich Bonhoeffer

Philippians 3:7-14

For all the best intentions we have in life, what sets us apart, what marks us as distinct, what gives our lives purpose and meaning is nothing more and nothing less than our faith in Jesus and our love for him put into action. To be unified to Jesus in heart, mind, soul and body.

So whether we’re wiping noses, or teaching classes, or treating patients, or forgiving our spouses, or helping our neighbor, what fills our life with meaning and purpose and value is nothing more and nothing less than living whole heartedly for the one who died to affirm our value.     

If we aspire to live like the saints, its as easy and as challenging as this: Forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead, we press on to reach the end of the race and receive the heavenly prize for which God, through Christ Jesus, is calling us.

Aaron Engler

Born and raised in rural Minnesota, Aaron studied finance at the University of Minnesota and then worked as a banker before attending Gordon-Conwell. Prior to planting Highrock North Shore in 2012, Aaron served on staff at Highrock Arlington since 2007, where he served as the Pastor to Young Adults.

In addition to planting Highrock North Shore, Aaron helped launch Open Door Immigration Services in 2017, and serves as the Chairman of the Board. He has gone through extensive immigration law training and is a partially accredited representative with the Board of Immigration Appeals.

Brennan Manning

“I am a bundle of paradoxes. I love and I hate,” he said.  “I get discouraged and I hope. I lie and I tell the truth. I’ve been a homeless drunk and a successful evangelist.  I’ve broken all the commandments six times Tuesday.  

Yet God loved me not because of any of this, but simply because he is the Creator; he is the source and author of love. And in loving me, God has made me lovable.” 

Contrary to how we love, God does not extol love on people in response to their good and put together lives; nor is it that only good and put together people are the ones he loves. 

Instead, God loves because he himself is already perfectly good and completely put together. And that's enough.

Aaron Engler

Born and raised in rural Minnesota, Aaron studied finance at the University of Minnesota and then worked as a banker before attending Gordon-Conwell. Prior to planting Highrock North Shore in 2012, Aaron served on staff at Highrock Arlington since 2007, where he served as the Pastor to Young Adults.

In addition to planting Highrock North Shore, Aaron helped launch Open Door Immigration Services in 2017, and serves as the Chairman of the Board. He has gone through extensive immigration law training and is a partially accredited representative with the Board of Immigration Appeals.