The Difference made…

Devotional Thought of the Day:

25 So, Ezekiel, tell them I am saying: How can you think the land is still yours? You eat meat with blood in it and worship idols. You commit murder 26 and spread violence throughout the land. Everything you do is wicked; you are even unfaithful in marriage. And you claim the land is yours! Ezekiel 33:25–26 (CEV)

2571 Because Abraham believed in God and walked in his presence and in covenant with him,10 the patriarch is ready to welcome a mysterious Guest into his tent. Abraham’s remarkable hospitality at Mamre foreshadows the annunciation of the true Son of the promise.11 After that, once God had confided his plan, Abraham’s heart is attuned to his Lord’s compassion for men and he dares to intercede for them with bold confidence.12

And what decides it is your love. “In the twilight of our lives, we will be judged on how we have loved”, says John of the Cross, one of the great Christian mystics and lovers. From the beginning to the end, love is the guiding thread that leads us through all the labyrinths of time and life and history.

I have to admit that Ezekiel’s words scare me.

I look around us these days, and we are not so far from the disobedience and idolatry that was prevalent then. The use of “we” there is intentional, these is as much idolatry and character assassination in church as is there is in the world. There is as much wickedness and narcissism found in the church as outside of it. We try to claim that we do the right thing, that we make all the right moves, but how can we know that, without the dependence on God, the willingness that dependence brings to let Him correct us?

We need to have a relationship with God, we need to welcome into our lives as Abraham welcomed him at Mamre. We need to know His love to the point where we trust Him to guide us through the labyrinths. St John of the cross is correct, our judgment will be based on how we have loved. Not because of our works, but because that love testifies to whether or not we’ve experienced His love for us, whether God is at work in us, transforming us. You see this in Abraham, as he welcome God to his habitation, and his annoyance at his nephew turns to concern, to trying to save his nephew’s city. This change in attitude can only occur when we realize God’s role in our life. It is not an act of our will but the transformation that happens when we know we are loved.

That has to be the solution for this time of racial unrest, for this time of bitter politics, for this time when everyone is on edge. That love of God will not only forgive that brokenness and sin, it will bring reconciliation and healing to us, and through us, to our time.

It is that simple… if you want to make a difference, spend time with the one who will make a difference for you.






Catholic Church, Catechism of the Catholic Church, 2nd Ed. (Vatican City: Libreria Editrice Vaticana, 1997), 617.

Peter Kreeft, The God Who Loves You (San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 2004), 135.


More Intimate than the Incarnation

Holy Spirit, You are welcome here!

Devotional Thought of the Day:
16  Then I will ask the Father to send you the Holy Spirit who will help you and always be with you. 17  The Spirit will show you what is true. The people of this world cannot accept the Spirit, because they don’t see or know him. But you know the Spirit, who is with you and will keep on living in you. 18  I won’t leave you like orphans. I will come back to you. John 14:16-18 (CEV)

The Incarnation was already a stupendous feat of intimacy. God did not just love us as an other but became one of us. Yet even this was not enough for Him, not enough intimacy. Jesus told His disciples that it would be better for them if He went away so that He could send His Spirit (Jn 16:7). Why is that better? Wouldn’t we all prefer to have Jesus still with us physically? Wouldn’t He draw a crowd of millions if it could be advertised that Jesus would appear in the flesh?

He had become incarnate. Jesus was born of Mary. John 1 tells us that He came and made life among us, and those who saw him beheld the very glory of God.

There are days I am jealous of Peter, and Matthew, and even James the lesser. They lived with Jesus, they camped out under the stars that were made through Him. What a relationship with God they must have had! How easy must have it been to just talk to God, and morning devotions must have been just… awesome!

3 years of walking with Jesus, of experiencing life in the presence of God! What a blessing, what an incredible blessing!

We are equally blessed, but we don’t often take the time to appreciate that our relationship with God is even more intense, even more intimate. For God did not just come and dwell among us, the Holy Spirit dwells in us.

God is us!

So intimate that our deepest, darkest thoughts are exposed, and as we pray, they are prayed for with groans that go beyond our hearing. (see Romans 8) Healing us, transforming us into the likeness of Christ, enabling us not only to do God’s will, but to desire to do it, because we know we are loved.

We need to think on this, so spend time getting to know that One who lifts us up, and carry’s us. We need to listen to the Spirit’s call and directions, even when we don’t like it. We need to even allow the Spirit to change our calendars, for there will be times the Spirit will minister to others beyond our imagination! Or times where we need to slow down, and let the Spirit minister to us.

This is the deepest for of intimacy we will know, until we have arrived before the throne of God.

I pray that we realize the presence, the intimate, transforming, comforting presence of the Holy Spirit more and more each day.





Peter Kreeft, The God Who Loves You (San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 2004), 132.

Seeing Things from a Different Perspective

can you laugh with Jesus?

Devotional Thought of the Day:
7  Let the wicked change their ways and banish the very thought of doing wrong. Let them turn to the LORD that he may have mercy on them. Yes, turn to our God, for he will forgive generously. 8  “My thoughts are nothing like your thoughts,” says the LORD. “And my ways are far beyond anything you could imagine. 9  For just as the heavens are higher than the earth, so my ways are higher than your ways and my thoughts higher than your thoughts. Isaiah 55:7-9 (NLT2)

We do not read anywhere that God delighteth in the cloud-capped mountains, or the sparkling stars, but we do read that he delighteth in the habitable parts of the earth, and that his delights are with the sons of men. We do not find it written that even angels give his soul delight; nor doth he say, concerning cherubim and seraphim, “Thou shalt be called Hephzibah, for the Lord delighteth in thee”; but he does say all that to poor fallen creatures like ourselves, debased and depraved by sin, but saved, exalted, and glorified by his grace. In what strong language he expresses his delight in his people! Who could have conceived of the eternal One as bursting forth into a song? Yet it is written, “He will rejoice over thee with joy, he will rest in his love, he will joy over thee with singing.”

2531 Purity of heart will enable us to see God: it enables us even now to see things according to God.

Though their good works are still imperfect and impure, they are acceptable to God through Christ because according to their inmost self they do what is pleasing to God not by coercion of the law but willingly and spontaneously from the heart by the renewal of the Holy Spirit

I am presently taking a class in pastoral counseling. For most, it is their first course in the subject, as it can be taken, and therefore it is good to see the first 3 hours of the course dedicated to helping the students develop listening skills.

But as I read these passages in my devotions, I wondered how developed our listening skills are, when it comes to God? If we don’t listen, how can we ever begin to realize how He sees us, how can we understand the love, and the mercy.

For instance, I have heard part of the quote from Isaiah in more sermons and lectures I can account for. Usually it is something like this, “God is so higher than you, you can never understand His mysteries, you just need to shut up and obey!” But I rarely, if ever, heard it in the context of the generous forgiveness of our sins! That is its context, there is focus of those thoughts that are beyond us! His desire that we turn to Him.

I think that is because we can’t see what the Lutheran Confessions, the Catholic Catechism and Spurgeon all encourage us to see, the way God sees us. If we believe He sees us as pure, we begin to realize that as our reality. Our works then, done to brink Him joy rather than “prove” our righteousness take on a different nature. Most important we bein to realize God rejoices in our lives, and invests in us His love in a way that transforms everything.

Not because we deserve it, love doesn’t give a rip about what is deserved… it instead desires the best for who it loves, and it does everything to help the beloved achieve that!

This is who we are… the beloved of God, the ones whom He sees as His people, and because of the cross as His righteous people, the ones He loves. We may not understand it compeltely, we may struggle to see it His way. But we can experience it, and that experience is strengthened through the hearing and meditating (not studying- meditating) on His word, receiving the sacraments and in prayer.

We need these things, for in them is revealed His thoughts, His mercy and His love.

C. H. Spurgeon, Morning and Evening: Daily Readings (London: Passmore & Alabaster, 1896).

Catholic Church, Catechism of the Catholic Church, 2nd Ed. (Vatican City: Libreria Editrice Vaticana, 1997), 605.

Theodore G. Tappert, ed., The Book of Concord the Confessions of the Evangelical Lutheran Church. (Philadelphia: Mühlenberg Press, 1959), 568.

Revival Realized Sermon 3: The Power of Focus: Now

Revival Realized
The Power of Focus: NOW!
Psalm 27:4-9

I.H.S.

May the grace of God our Father and our Lord Jesus Christ so mesmerize us, that His presence in our lives consumes and transforms all our thoughts!

Desire – but how do we?

There is no doubt in my mind, that the people of Concordia know what it means to joyfully adore God. I’ve seen you do it.

I’ve even seen it in the hardest of times, when God’s joy overwhelms everything else we encounter in life.

And that is one of the marks of revival, this joy that lifts us up, that incredible joy that comes as we realize that God is here, that God is at work.

He is at work here! 

In each of our lives, whether we are here in the courtyard, or watching it live right now, or watching it a year from now on YouTube, God is at work in our lives.

One of the challenges we face in realizing this revival is focus, and Psalm 27 is going to help us stay focused on the fact…

The Lord is with you! 

At He is at work!

That is why the Psalmist wrote,

The one thing I ask of the Lord— the thing I seek most— is to live in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, delighting in the Lord’s perfections and meditating in his Temple.

This is the attitude we have, when we realize God is at work, a  work we name revival – bringing life into the church. When we see that, we want more, we can’t help it, we want to see God at work in our lives, and the lives of those around us.

So how do we stay focused upon this work of God? Where do we look for it?

Well let’s keep looking at the psalmist, who knew this revival.

For he will conceal me there when troubles come; He will hide me in his sanctuary. He will place me out of reach on a high rock. Then I will hold my head high above my enemies who surround me. At his sanctuary I will offer sacrifices with shouts of joy, singing and praising the Lord with music.

David’s joy comes in the midst of troubles,

He tells us he realizes that not only is he in God’s presence during these times, but the reason why he does. He realizes that God is protecting him, that God has him, right in the midst of his holiness, for that is what it means to be in the sanctuary. 

The Apostle Paul taught this to the church when he wrote,

Focus on His Call

1  You have been raised to life with Christ, so set your hearts on the things that are in heaven, where Christ sits on his throne at the right side of God. 2  Keep your minds fixed on things there, not on things here on earth. 3  For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. 4  Your real life is Christ and when he appears, then you too will appear with him and share his glory!
Colossians 3:1-4 (TEV)

Paul and David agree – even as we live in this world, our real reality is found in the presence of God, that is where we belong, and Jesus will make sure we get there. Remember that, rejoice in it, whether in the midst of COVID, fires, heatwaves, earthquakes, even as we mourn, or get anxious because of the world.

You can shout for joy, and sing and praise God with music….

For He has promised that everything will work out for you, and nothing can separate us from God!

Focus on His Promise

How do we do that?  The psalmist helps us there as well!

Even in the midst of the Old Testament, here is the realization, we can hear God say, Come and Talk with Me!

Come and talk of your struggles, come and talk of the heartache, and pain. Come and talk of your dreams, asking God to bless them, to fine tune, them, even correct them, and our thoughts, come and talk to Him, here, even when we struggle with sin, or feel so ashamed that we can’t imagine Him calling to us.

The Lord God, creator of all, says, Tom, come and talk with me.  Bob, come and talk with me. Debbie and Cyndee, come… come and talk with me.

And our heart learns …. to respond… Lord, I am coming!

And revival has been realized!

This is so mind-blowing

To realize God wants us to come to Him, to talk to Him, as a child should talk to a Father,

That time with God is so powerful, so incredible, so reviving and resuscitating that we can’t imagine life without it. This is what our last words from the psalmist testifies to…as He pleads with God!

Do not turn your back on me. Do not reject your servant in anger. You have always been my helper. Don’t leave me now; don’t abandon me, O God of my salvation!

I don’t think this is really a fear, as much as it is a realization, hearing Him, hearing the invitation to come and talk with Him, knowing He will listen, knowing He will act brings such life to our lives, we have to ask, is this going to end….

And hear God’s answer.

And be sure of this: I am with you always, even to the end of the age!”

Matthew 28:20 (NLT2)

Assured of this, there is revival… and we realize it…

Let’s pray,

Holy Spirit, come open up our hearts, show us how you are reviving our lives, our church and the community in which we live. Re-kindle in our lives the joy of Your salvation!  And may the revival You are helping us realize, change the world!

The True Evangelical Life…

Devotional Thought of the Day:

26 Moses knew that the treasures of Egypt were not as wonderful as what he would receive from suffering for the Messiah, and he looked forward to his reward. Hebrews 11:26 CEV

Putting the saint’s observation in simple contemporary terms may help. Bernard was saying that there are more men who give up serious alienation from God, mortal sin, than there are people who give up small wrongs, willed venial sins. And there are even fewer who grow into heroic virtue and live as saints live. If we are not saddened by this realization, we ought to be.

1 The law of God serves (1) not only to maintain external discipline and decency against dissolute and disobedient people, (2) and to bring people to a knowledge of their sin through the law, (3) but those who have been born anew through the Holy Spirit, who have been converted to the Lord and from whom the veil of Moses has been taken away, learn from the law to7 live and walk in the law.

I love to tell the story, for those who know it best; seem hungering and thirsting to hear it like the rest!

Being and Evangelical should not be about a political perspective, To be honest, it shouldn’t even be a theological perspective, as in choosing to be more Reformed, more Arminian, even more Lutheran or Catholic, or catholic.

Being Evangelical is about life, and about our greatest need in life. After reading Dubay’s comments (purple) above, Jackson’s beloved evangelical hymn made more sense to me. I need to keep hearing the gospel, not to celebrate what Jesus has done, but in order to continually be evangelized, to continually be confronted with my guilt, not so I wallow in shame, but because I need the grace of God to be applied to my life today, in this moment.

I need to go from rejoicing and being satisfied that the cross saved me, to imitating Christ. Some might call this sainthood, Wesley would talk about a second infilling of grace. Lutheran theologians talk about it as the Third use of the Law. I prefer Luther’s view of living in the promises made to us in our baptism. Or living the Evangelical life. Letting the news of God’s love, of His mercy being applied and washing away our sin so affect us, that our lives are changed. Not by our actions, but by the power of the Holy Spirit.

We need to realize that God’s work isn’t done in us, yet. Paul would describe this in several ways in Romans. The battle with old Adam, the struggle with feeling like a wretch because we can’t seem to conquer temptation, even the attitude of some that others must eat the way they do, and worship n the way they do, because they’ve arrived and everyone else has not.

We can’t be passive in our conversion, as if just being saved is enough. Not that we active make ourselves holy, the Spirit does, as the word of God, law and gospel bring us healing. We need to learn to desire that, to rejoice in it, to welcome it, and more than anything else, to expect and look for it.

To become like Moses, who would learn to set aside the things of this world, to embrace the suffering that comes with following God. The suffering of having our hearts circumcised, as sin and its cohorts are cut away. Suffering as we share this incredible joy that is affecting our life with others.

That is what the evangelical life is really about…

Lord, help us to hear anew of Your love and mercy daily, and grant that we would never tire of seeing You at work in our lives… AMEN!

Thomas Dubay, Deep Conversion/Deep Prayer (San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 2006), 12.

Theodore G. Tappert, ed., The Book of Concord the Confessions of the Evangelical Lutheran Church. (Philadelphia: Mühlenberg Press, 1959), 563–564.

Alan Jackson, “I Love to Tell the Story”

Have you tried this simple thing yet?

God, who am I?

Devotional Thought of the Day:

When I bring you home from the places where you are now scattered, I will be pleased with you, just as I am pleased with the smell of the smoke from your sacrifices. Every nation on earth will see that I am holy, 42 and you will know that I, the LORD, am the one who brought you back to Israel, the land I promised your ancestors. 43 Then you will remember your wicked sins, and you will hate yourselves for doing such horrible things. They have made you unacceptable to me, 44 so you deserve to be punished. But I will treat you in a way that will bring honor to my name, and you will know that I am the LORD God. Ezekiel 20:41-44 CEV

My friends, the blood of Jesus gives us courage to enter the most holy place 20 by a new way that leads to life! And this way takes us through the curtain that is Christ himself. Hebrews 10:19-20

I thought that continence (sexual self-control) arose from one’s own powers, which I did not recognize in myself. I was foolish enough not to know … that no one can be continent unless you grant it. For you would surely have granted it if my inner groaning had reached your ears and I with firm faith had cast my cares on you. (quoted from Augustine’s Confessions)

The prophets are not progressives advocating a new order. Like the Church—which formulates creeds only to distinguish old orthodoxy from new heresies—the prophets hold God’s Word against the stream of the spirit of the times, against the world, the reigning era, the new human fashion.

I, on occasion, get to help people in their struggle with sin. I believe, as we realize that we are in the midst of God reviving people, it will be come more frequent. Enough so that it didn’t surprise me when these readings all came up today in my devotional time.

We all struggle with sin, whether we dwell in guilt and shame, beating ourselves up as if we can beat it out of ourselves, or whether we deny the power of temptation and its ability to cause us to submit.

As well, Satan, that foe of ours, would love for us to believe this is our battle. That we have to overcome temptation by our own strength, or we will never qualify to be God’s “good” people. That is a lie, straight from the Hell that has been prepared for the Devil and His angels.

Look at Augustine’s revelation to himself, he cannot, on his own control his desires, and he reminds himself of the grace and love of God that he should cry out to in those times.

Kreeft reminds us of the prophetic message God has sent, to help us deal with sin, to call us back into the covenant where God promises forgiveness, mercy and comfort to those broken.

Even more authoritative, because it is God’s holy word, are the verses from Hebrews, we enter God’s presence, the place of mercy, the place of His defending us, our safe sanctuary and fortress, by the blood of Christ. We have to depend on that, in time of temptation, in time of struggle, and in times where we fail…

And that is where Ezekiel comes in… go back and re-read it, slowly and carefully. God brings us back and we deserve to be punished. We realize that, even as many of us do now. Read the promise again….

But I will treat you in a way that will bring honor to my name, and you will know that I am the LORD God.

This doesn’t give us the permission to sin more.. but it tells us of His love for us, and His promise of grace.

So cry out, even as Augustine suggested we should. Cry out for help when temptation draws close, when the world is assisting temptaiton by making it seem ok. Cry out to God… He will be there… and will help redeem and restore you… and He will overcome it…

Cry out to Him….

Catholic Church, Catechism of the Catholic Church, 2nd Ed. (Vatican City: Libreria Editrice Vaticana, 1997), 604.

Peter Kreeft, The God Who Loves You (San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 2004), 126.


 

Think about this…

A Thought to encourage our devotion to Jesus

10 “But now I tell the people of Israel this is my new agreement: ‘The time will come when I, the Lord, will write my laws on their minds and hearts. I will be their God, and they will be my people. 11 Not one of them will have to teach another to know me, their Lord.’ “All of them will know me, no matter who they are. Hebrews 8:10–11 (CEV)

Oh! marvellous mystery! we look into it, but who shall understand it? One with Jesus—so one with him that the branch is not more one with the vine than we are a part of the Lord, our Saviour, and our Redeemer! While we rejoice in this, let us remember that those who are made partakers of the divine nature will manifest their high and holy relationship in their intercourse with others, and make it evident by their daily walk and conversation that they have escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust. O for more divine holiness of life!

I love reading some pastors and priests from generations past. It doesn’t have to be someone famous like Spurgeon, although there is a lot in his works.

They show a more natural awe of God’s work, a joy of being found in the presence of God that I would hope I transmit to my people, though there are days I doubt it. I wouldn’t call their work poetic, but there is an art in the way they used their words, a sense of language that envelops you in the thought. in reading it, the way in which they write has to be savored, you simply cannot rush through it.

In this care, the words explain a phenomenon that every revival is based upon, the unity, the communion we have with Christ! Being found welcome in the presence, not just tolerated, but that God wants us there! How incredible! How amazing!

It should be so amazing that this incredible relationship should be made manifest, it must be revealed as we relate to others, not a matter of force, not a matter of will, it just has to reveal itself !

That is what the love of God does, when we atually sit down and realize the Lord of the Universe, has done this, He has come to us, He has made us His people… we actually know Him. We intimately are known by Him, and He calls us His friends.

Think about that today… and rejoice, for the Lord is with you!

C. H. Spurgeon, Morning and Evening: Daily Readings (London: Passmore & Alabaster, 1896).

The Secret to Getting Close to God

Devotional Thought for our day:

We have run to God for safety. Now his promises should greatly encourage us to take hold of the hope that is right in front of us. 19 This hope is like a firm and steady anchor for our souls. In fact, hope reaches behind the curtain and into the most holy place. Hebrews 6:18b–19 (CEV)

969      We Catholics have to go through life being apostles, with God’s light and God’s salt. We should have no fear, and we should be quite natural; but with so deep an interior life and such close union with Our Lord that we may shine out, preserving ourselves from corruption and from darkness, and spread around us the fruits of serenity and the effectiveness of Christian doctrine.

Thus all the curses pronounced after the fall are a blessing in disguise. They direct us back to God. Like the curses in Hosea 2 (read it!), they are God’s whisperings of love to us in our wilderness exile, enticing us back to Him, our first and true love, by the hard way of suffering and death and the failure of our million little idols

I get a lot of advertisements, all telling me how to grow my church, or be a better pastor, or to be a more dynamic Christian. On occasion, I will look into them, even interact with them. On even fewer occasions, I manage to turn off my cynicism. You see, as I have done this, I have never asked how my church was spiritually. Whether people were reconciling with God, and with each other.

Never been asked whether my people were being drawn closer to God…

That is the key point… that is the question we need to be asking ourselves, are we being drawn closer to God, are we more aware of His presence, for then we can take a hold of His promises, confident of His faithfulness. This is the interior life that St. Josemaria speaks of, linking that life to the not only a less anxious life, but our ability to be seen as God’s special people.

The challenge is how God draws us to Himself. which Kreeft (in green) speaks clearly to, our being drawn closer is out of desperation. That is the unique benefit of the disciplinary curses God places on those who rebel, who sin, who worship and have faith in other things, rather than entrusting their lives to His care.

You want to be drawn closer to God? Then let Him remove the idols, let Him strip you of your sins, removing the grip they have on your life. It will not be easy, but these curses that we live under, when we turn from Him are there to drive us back to God. They are there to remind us of His care and His love.

These curses aren’t blessings, they are used to draw us closer to God, to help realize we need our Creator.

We need to be thankful for such discipline, for a God who loves us enough to call us to repentance. That is how He will preserve us from corruption, correcting us, burdening out consciousness so that we run to Him. The more mature we get in the faith, the less time it takes to start running back into His arms. The closer we draw to Him, the more His word, and His sacraments mean to us.

This flies in the face of most spiritual growth practices, where we are told what to do, and how to do it, and the promise is made that if we do, we will become holier, we will become stronger in our faith, because WE have exercised it. If it depends on you and I, our faith will not grow stronger, we won’t run to God, our pride and narcissism will prevent it.

Spend time with God, let Him call you to repentance, and delight in His mercy. And when you find yourselves being disciplined… don’t run and hide, unless it is running back to Him.

God is with you! Remember to let Him be God! AMEN


Escriva, Josemaria. The Forge . Scepter Publishers. Kindle Edition.

Peter Kreeft, The God Who Loves You (San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 2004), 120.

Be Real with God…

Devotional Thought of the Day:

1  Shout praises to the LORD! Praise God in his temple. Praise him in heaven, his mighty fortress. 2  Praise our God! His deeds are wonderful, too marvelous to describe. 3  Praise God with trumpets and all kinds of harps. 4  Praise him with tambourines and dancing, with stringed instruments and woodwinds. 5  Praise God with cymbals, with clashing cymbals. 6  Let every living creature praise the LORD. Shout praises to the LORD! Psalm 150:1-6 (CEV)

5  Your anger lasts a little while, but your kindness lasts for a lifetime. At night we may cry, but when morning comes we will celebrate. Psalm 30:5 (CEV)

965      I have been thinking of all the priests throughout the world. Help me to pray for the fruitfulness of their apostolates. ”My brother in the priesthood, please speak always about God and, when you really do belong to him, your conversations will never be monotonous.”

The individual’s interaction with God is never dull or routine. At least, it should not be.

There are going to be times of great joy, and times of sorrow and grief. There will be times were we lash out in pain and anger, and times were His comfort will be all we have, for we are crushed by despair. Every emotion that we feel can and should be revealed by us to God, for He knows how we feel.

He even knows how we feel when it becomes necessary for Him to correct us. The hurt and pain we feel, when we admit we have sinned, the grief and shame that comes with the guilt.

If this is true for the individual, it should be true for the church as well.. We are to laugh and cry together (see Romans 12:15), therefore our worship services should have true emotions in them.

That is why we should be emotional as we speak about God, the God we know, the God in whom we are not afraid to cry or laugh, for we know His love. That is why we plead with be to let Him reconcile them to Himself. Growing comfortable in His presence is not about taking God for granted, but letting Him see us as we are….

And knowing He loves us.

Allowing our emotions to show doesn’t mean putting on false displays, or manipulating the congregation. It means simply living life, comfortable in the presence of God.

Let’s be real with Him, and in our communities… Amen!

Escriva, Josemaria. The Forge . Scepter Publishers. Kindle Edition.

9/11, Peace, Nirvana and Heaven

Devotional Thoughts for 9/11:

14 We are people of flesh and blood. That is why Jesus became one of us. He died to destroy the devil, who had power over death. 15 But he also died to rescue all of us who live each day in fear of dying. Heb 2:14-15 CEV

We doubt God’s love when we see and feel all the sufferings that our freedom to sin has brought upon us. Like Dostoyevski’s Grand Inquisitor in The Brothers Karamazov, we prefer happiness to freedom. We wish God had given us less freedom and had guaranteed that we would stay in Eden forever. We wish that He had put up a sign saying “No snakes in the grass”, that He had given no law that we could ever have chosen to disobey.

I was in Del Taco, the one on 29 Palms Highway, the one from which you can see Yucca Valley High School. I had just placed my order, and heard people gasp. I rounded the corner. and froze.

And we, along with millions of others, watched as thousands died.

I don’t remember what I ordered, or if I ate it. I was supposed to go play golf on the base golf course, that would be cancelled. I drove to my church, threw open the doors, let 107.7 know people could come and pray…. and they did.

19 years later, the memories, along with many of the people I’ve stood by the bedside of, as they died. Many of those times are passing before me this morning. Some people were at peace, others not so much. All, along the journey, questioned God about the suffering that they, or the loved ones they cared for endured.

Why does it have to exist? Why couldn’t god just leave us in paradise, and make it impossible for us to sin? Impossible for us to suffer, impossible to…die. Why do we fall for temptation, again and again? Why do we have to suffer the consequences of the freedom God has given us all? Why did Adam and Eve fall for the lie that all freedom is good? Oh the power of that lie! Oh the damage that freedom can wreak… for freedom means that we often choose that which leads to death. Our death, or others.

Wouldn’t we be happier if God just programmed us perfect, and we knew no freedom, but only happiness? If we knew naive bliss, but not how love is still love in the midst of our brokenness? Would it not be nirvana if there was no war, no discrimination, no terrorism, no death?

Perhaps it would, but nirvana is but emptiness, it is the emptiness, the lack of self, and while this may seem peaceful, it misses out on what truly creates and sustains peace. It lacks the thing we need to know the most

Love.

The kind of love that brings peace in the midst of suffering and death. The kind of peace that has us give up control, but in order that God’s love may be revealed to be in control. The kind of love that rescues us from the fear of dying, by reminding us for the promise of heaven.

Kreeft finishes the paragraph above with this,

Mere kindness or compassion would keep us protected against suffering by denying us real freedom. That is the love we have for pets but not for persons, at least not persons we really respect. We are not meant to be God’s pets. He did not create us for that. We are to be God’s lovers.

We aren’t not God’s pets, His naive, companions. Who wants a scratch behind the years, or a treat when we behave right, and ask to go out rather than leaving a puddle on the kitchen floor. We are the bride who will cry on His shoulders, who will depend on His strength to get us through life,e who will sing His praises, for eternity is more than death… and even in the times of death, those who know Him, can know His peace. We need the Holy Spirit to come, and to comfort us, in the midst of terrorism, amid the brokenness of a country torn apart by disease, or sin, or natural disaster. We need to find something so amazing that we can leave the painful emptiness behind, in view of the amazing love.

That is why people ran into First Christian Church on 9/11. That is why they cried at the altar, and why they could leave… still distraught, still not believing, but knowing that God was with them, and therefore knowing peace on a horrendous day.



Peter Kreeft, The God Who Loves You (San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 2004), 116–117.

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