Today, November 1st, is All-Saints Day. This is a high holiday observed by liturgical churches all over the world. While differing denominations have different criteria for sainthood (and I’m not going to get into that discussion), the definition I have for saint is simply “one who has been set apart by God.” At the root of “saint” is the word “holy”; and “holy” in its foundational context means “set apart.”
Today, I want to recognize my top ten “saints”: people whose faith in Christ has made significant impact in my life. Some of these are Biblical. Some are historical. Some are personal. But all have passed on from this life and are now in the greater realm of eternal glory.
1. Jacob – I love this Old Testament saint! His story is told in the Bible without reservation. He was born as a deceiver and was transformed into godly authenticity by the guiding hand of God through events, trials, and epiphanies. If there’s hope for him, there is hope for me!
2. John – Of all the Gospel writers, I relate to John the best. The “disciple whom Jesus loved” is right where I want to be. The teachings of Jesus in John’s Gospel speak to me about intimacy: hearing the Shepherd’s voice, doing what the Father does, serving and loving as the great Teacher exemplifies.
3. Francis of Assisi – Francis “radically” belonged to Jesus long before the word became popular. Francis’ decisive actions (whether to leave earthly possessions – including his clothes – behind or rebuild a church with his own hands or challenge the Papacy) demonstrate the fearless courage of one who knows the God of Righteousness, Love and Truth.
4. Martin Luther – I’ve already given Luther quite a bit of press yesterday, but he inspires me. He loved God ferociously and with reckless abandon. He was a true Whole Life Worshiper. Plus, I share his birthday (November 10) and we both like beer.
5. Teresa of Avila – There are many female saints who have touched my life, but this 16th century Carmelite contemplative has taught me more about spiritual formation than any other. While her book “The Interior Castle” is hard to comprehend, I relate to her experiences and, especially, her humble (and humorous) demeanor. God continuously meets me powerfully through the Silent Prayer model I learned from her.
6. Robert Munger – This man wrote the most profound book (actually, it’s a booklet) I have ever read outside of the Bible: “My Heart, Christ’s Home.” This simple metaphor has done more to define my relationship with Christ than anything else I’ve read or heard. I got to meet him in person at Fuller Seminary in 1990. He gave the blessing at the meal of a luncheon for author, Larry Lea. I wept during his prayer because the presence of God was so powerful in those few words.
7. Bob Puckett – You probably don’t know Bob but he was a man who mentored me in Systematic Theology while I was being licensed into ministry. At the time, he was a layman who loved theology and he infected me with that love. I called him, “Rabbi Bob,” because he truly was my teacher and my greatest supporter in ministry during my early years.
8. Ted Lyons – As well, Ted is probably unknown to you. Ted was the Executive director at Calvin Crest Christian Camp in the high Sierras. When I was one of the camp lifeguards, I came to Ted asking him to mentor me spiritually (I was 18 years old). He met with me throughout that summer and introduced me to some of the “masters” like Thomas a Kempis and Andrew Murray. He was also one of the pastors who married me to my beautiful wife, Letty.
9. Sareum Lee – I wrote about my “Papa,” my dad’s father, in a blog on Oct 7th. When I was a kid, I didn’t know he was a great patriot in Korea during the Japanese occupation. Nor did I know he was a pastor of a Korean Presbyterian Church in Central California during the Great Depression. But I do know that he pulled me around in my wagon and that he taught me about my “Heavenly Father” until he died when I was 8 years old. Those were the first spiritual seeds planted in my life. You should see the “tree” you planted, Papa!
10. Lewis Lee – You also met my dad in that same blog. I became a Christian decades before he ever came to a real faith in Christ. But it goes to show that it’s not “when” you meet Jesus that’s important, but “what you do” when you meet Jesus. Dad was my real life “Francis of Assisi” demonstrating to me that God’s love does not become love until it becomes an action. In the last 30 years of his life, he loved prisoners, homeless, diseased and disenfranchised people (many of whom lived with us). His example still urges me to press outward with my spiritual life.
It was hard to keep the list to ten. There are certainly more saints who have greatly touched my life for Christ, but I had to have a cut-off point. I just wanted to give kind of a cross-section representation of the type of saints who have been used by God to move His Kingdom forward in my life.
Who is on your top ten “saints” list? Let’s remember them and all the saints today as we press on into our lives as Whole Life Worshipers. Who knows, maybe someday we’ll be on someone’s top ten list when Christ calls us home?