They Stood There, in Disbelief and… (Our Easter Service with guest Bob Bennett)

(a special thanks to Bob Bennett, who did a couple of special pieces and played with our praise band. And to all the people who came and celebrated this blessed day with us

They Stood There in Disbelief
… Filled with Joy and Wonder
Luke 24: 36-49

† In Jesus Name †

May the grace of God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ fill you with awe, with wonder, and suspend your disbelief!

The Disbelief

You have to love these crazy, hard-headed apostles. 

No matter how many times they heard Jesus say he was going to rise on the third day, they just didn’t get it.  Over and over Jesus told them, He pointed out all the teachings about the Messiah in the Old Testament, about His death and resurrection.

And the first word we see describing their reaction to Jesus showing up was terror.

And the second was, oddly enough… disbelief. 

Or better translated – they didn’t have faith, they couldn’t trust their own eyes…or their ears, or their sense of touch.

Here it is, three days after Jesus died on the cross after a spear pierced His heart, and He’s standing before them asking for a few fish sticks.

The can’t believe it.

I am not sure I blame them.  It is hard to process, hard to wrap your mind around this thing called resurrection.  Dead – Alive?  Tortured and Beaten – Healthy? (well except for the holes in his hands, feet, and that gaping wound in his side…)

We’ll hear Jesus tell Thomas at some point – “hey, you see me and believe, blessed are those who believe me and don’t see.”  In response to which I must quote another man in the gospels.

“Lord I believe, help me in my unbelief”

Realizing that they struggled with the resurrection, there in the upper room helps a lot.  It enables me to deal with the times where despair brings doubt with it.  And when we forget or doubt that He is risen… (He is risen indeed, therefore, we are risen indeed!)

When we struggle with believing in the resurrection, when we struggle with depending on Christ’s resurrection, our resurrection with Him becomes in doubt as well.  For our resurrection, our life is intimately connected to Jesus’s death and resurrection.

Remember Colossians 2

12  For you were buried with Christ when you were baptized. And with him you were raised to new life because you trusted the mighty power of God, who raised Christ from the dead.   Colossians 2:12 (NLT2)

It shouldn’t be surprising that Satan would try to get us and get the apostles to be caught up in disbelief.  He had done a pretty good job…but you can’t last in Jesus presence long before things change.

Even while they are struggling with disbelief in the presence of God, they are finding themselves no longer empty, no longer hopeless, but filled with joy and wonder.

Something I think we could all use, right about now.

So let’s get past our struggles believing. and move on to the good stuff!

The Joy

They were filled with joy and wonder! 

I love how Jesus reminded them of what He had taught them, and as He does, He opens their minds to help them understand the scriptures. To see what the scriptures really focus on, this love of God, so immense, that is revealed throughout the scriptures.

Twenty-five years ago, Kay was in Siberia for 5 weeks, on a mission trip.  It was so amazing when she got off the plane and I was at the boarding gate. There is something amazing to being reunited to someone you care a lot about, whom you know cares about you.

And yet this man they all cared about, who invested himself in their lives, whom they gave up everything to follow, and who was brutally killed before their eyes…

He’s back…

Jesus then opens their eyes to the most amazing thing, that the Old Testament was all about this moment – about His death and resurrection. And therefore, our resurrection.

HE’s back, the last three years of their lives weren’t wasted, their hopes, they if anything just got an incredible boost. Their sorrow disappeared faster than cockroaches when you turn the light on. 

And yet this isn’t just their moment.  We need to realize it is ours as well.

The Wonder

And then the wonder sets in, an amazing thing as we realize what the resurrection means, and how it changes everything. 

Jesus even explains it, again.

47 It was also written that this message would be proclaimed in the authority of his name to all the nations,* beginning in Jerusalem: ‘There is forgiveness of sins for all who repent.’

There is forgiveness of sins for all who repent.  No matter how many hundreds of thousands of sins you have committed. No matter how dark those sins are. Everything is made new in our lives, that is the work of the Holy Spirit.  Because of Jesus, we have a new life! 

Remember, Alleluia He is Risen… and therefore! 

Every sin you have committed and will commit, has been nailed to the cross. 

Each and every one, dismissed because they were nailed to the cross with Jesus,

And while Jesus is risen, and you are risen, the sins are still there….dead, separated from you.


This is the work of the same Holy Spirit, the One who will empower His church.  Not just these apostles and the disciples hanging out with them, but all the church. 

You see, you have been entrusted with sharing that message with all people, every language, every ethnicity!  Sharing with them that their sins are forgiven because of Jesus, as the Holy Spirit changes their lives, as He grants to them repentance.  What is awesome, get this, the world is coming to us, and we can share it with them!

That is how much God has changed us, that is why we are filled with joy and wonder.

Because Alleluia He is Risen! 

And therefore… you are risen indeed!  AMEN!


The Greatest Identity Theft….ever!

Who is the MAN?

Devotional Thought of the Day:

5  David became very angry at the rich man and said, “I swear by the living LORD that the man who did this ought to die! 6  For having done such a cruel thing, he must pay back four times as much as he took.” 7 “You are that man,” Nathan said to David. “And this is what the LORD God of Israel says: ‘I made you the king of Israel and rescued you from Saul. 2 Samuel 12:5-7 (TEV)

So Jesus came out, wearing the crown of thorns and the purple robe. Pilate said to them, “Look! Here is the man!” John 19:5 GNT

Identities are stolen every day.

Some are as innocent as a wife seeing her husband’s Facebook page open and typing in, ” I have the most beautiful, precious wife in the world!” Others have a more evil intent, stealing money, credit, anything they can from their victims, their families, even their workplaces.

Identity theft is so prevalent that it is has created multiple industries to defend against it, from computer programs and special routers to wallets that protect the information on your credit and atm cards, to special companies that scan your information regularly and alert you, and insurance policies to compensate you while it all gets straightened out. It is a billion-dollar industry.

But the greatest identity theft we see happen in two Bible passages above.

David, full of sin, and not all that remorseful judges a sinner as being worthy of death (and paying back 4 to 1 what was stolen.) The sentence was right and just, it was what the man deserved, Without a doubt, without any hesitation.

And then David hears the harsh words, “David, you are the man”

Remorse sinks in faster than the realization of Nathan’s words. His contempt for God has been revealed, his sin is now known to all. He is broken, or perhaps one can say, the brokenness he lived with is finally brought to light.

And this is where the identity theft comes in, as another man hears similar words, “Here is the man”, and a death sentence is carried out.

The death sentence David deserved is taken by Jesus. He steals David’s identity as a sinner, as an adulterer, as a murderer, The death David deserved is given to the Lord, who steals his identity.

And leaves David with his own, as David will become known as a man after God’s own heart.

But David is not the only one whose Identity has been stolen on a Friday like this.

Your identity is stolen as well.

Maybe you didn’t actually have someone killed, Maybe just in anger, you wanted someone dead. Maybe you have committed adultery, being unfaithful to your spouse, or causing someone else to be unfaithful to theirs. Or maybe it was simply desiring someone you aren’t married to.

Or any of the millions of sins in thought, word or deed that you committed, or the sins you committed by doing nothing.

That identity you have, and the accompanying guilt and shame is something you’ve lived with, maybe so long you have grown hardened to, and indifferent.

Jesus comes along, nailed to the cross, and steals that identity. We lost our identity, it is no longer ours, It is nailed to the cross, all of its ugliness, all our painful brokenness.

We are free, that is no longer us.

As we realize this, as we explore this new identity we have, as children of God, as we explore the breadth and width, depth and height of God’s love for us as Jesus is there, hanging on the cross…

it is time to say thanks, time to adore Him, time to let that old identity completely go…and be healed.

Heavenly Father, thank you for sending Jesus to steal our identity. And thank you for the Holy Spirit who establishes our new identity. Help us to heal and live new lives, sharing this “theft” with the world. AMEN!



How God builds His Church/Kingdom

Devotional Thought of the Day:

2  The LORD builds up Jerusalem; he gathers the outcasts of Israel. 3  He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds.
Psalm 147:2-3 (ESV)

As I read this verse this morning, it resonated more than a little.

The PSalmist is describing, to borrow a phrase, how God will make His people great again.

He doesn’t do it by attracting the rich, or those who have it all together, or at least pretend to. He doesn’t gather the powerful, He doesn’t market His church with a mission statement that resonates to the successful,

He gathers the outcasts.

He finds those people that are so broken, so weary, so burned out by the world, and brings them together to share in the healing of their souls. They will find a home in the peace He provides, they will find joy in the glory of dwelling with God, they will find rest, even as God brings about their healing and comforts them.

This is how the church grows, as broken sinners are drawn to the love of God, so clearly demonstrated at the cross.

This is why we are here… this is the reason churches exist.

It may seem counter-intuitive, but then a lot of what God does is…. for His ways aren’t ours.

Lord jesus, help us welcome the outcast, the broken, those without hope. Lord help us learn to care for them well, encouraging them to explore Your love, and experience the healing of their souls. AMEN!

“And Therefore,” A New Easter Tradition…that I highly recommend!

Concordia Lutheran Church – Cerritos, Ca , at dawn on Easter Sunday

Devotional Thought of the Day”

51 Listen to this secret truth: we shall not all die, but when the last trumpet sounds, we shall all be changed in an instant, as quickly as the blinking of an eye. For when the trumpet sounds, the dead will be raised, never to die again, and we shall all be changed.
53 For what is mortal must be changed into what is immortal; what will die must be changed into what cannot die. 54  So when this takes place, and the mortal has been changed into the immortal, then the scripture will come true: “Death is destroyed; victory is complete!”
1 Corinthians 15:51-54 (TEV)

12 For when you were baptized, you were buried with Christ, and in baptism you were also raised with Christ through your faith in the active power of God, who raised him from death. Colossians 2:12 (TEV)

4 By our baptism, then, we were buried with him and shared his death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from death by the glorious power of the Father, so also we might live a new life. 5 For since we have become one with him in dying as he did, in the same way we shall be one with him by being raised to life as he was. Romans 6:4-5 (TEV)

Christ is risen! In old chronicles we read how the faithful in Russia used to embrace each other with this greeting. They had undergone tangible renunciation during the period of Lent, and now that this period was over, they experienced a real, immense overflowing of joy. By entering into the rhythm of the Church’s year they knew quite tangibly that life had triumphed and that life was beautiful. We still celebrate Easter today, of course, but the grey veil of doubt has spread over the heart of Christendom, robbing us of joy. So is Easter obsolete, a word powerless to inspire hope?

A few years ago, I wrote an Easter sermon called “So what”. And as I took the church through the Easter Acclimation, I asked them to respond one more time:

Pastor: Alleluia! Christ has Risen!
Church; HE IS RISEN INDEED! ALLELUIA!!!
Pastor: And therefore…
Church: WE ARE RISEN INDEED! ALLELUIA!

The concept worked well, and with Great energy, they responded. It worked so well, we used that call and response for the rest of Easter (which is celebrated for 7 weeks in our church)

But what I would have never expected happened the next year, when I was planning on only doing the traditional Acclimation, and one of my elders, seeing me pause, enthusiastically and loudly proclaimed the “And therefore” and the entire church responded with the “We are Risen Indeed!”

It is now tradition!

And some poor pastor 30 years from now will have to consider whether it is a tradition he is willing to pay the price of changing!

But I love it. It helps drive the meaning of Easter home. In a world where, as Pope Benedict notes, Easter has become obsolete ( You rarely see church attendance go up on Easter anymore, when it was once the only day some would show up) this little tradition is making a difference.

It makes people realize the Resurrection is personal, they have a major stake in it. THeir role in the Death, Burial, and Resurrection of Jesus is talked about throughout scripture, and especially in Paul’s writings (there are more than the ones above)

And what we now know as a promise, and see hints of here and there, it is guaranteed. We will be changed, we are immortal, and our bodies will one day resemble this. We dwell in the presence of God, and death’s defeat is sure.

Easter matters, and however it takes to make that something we realize, for ourselves and can teach with conviction to those who follow is a not a bad tradition to have.

With Christ, you have risen indeed. Alleluia! AMEN!


Ratzinger, J. (1992). Co-Workers of the Truth: Meditations for Every Day of the Year. (I. Grassl, Ed., M. F. McCarthy & L. Krauth, Trans.) (p. 126). San Francisco: Ignatius Press.

The Wonder of Faith

Devotional Thought of the Day:

27 Those who abandon you will certainly perish; you will destroy those who are unfaithful to you. 28 But as for me, how wonderful to be near God, to find protection with the Sovereign LORD and to proclaim all that he has done! Psalm 73:27-28 (TEV)

Faith is a godly work in us that changes us, makes us to be born anew of God (John 1:13), puts to death the old Adam, and turns us into completely new persons in heart, in soul, in mind, and in all our powers.

I’ve studied a few different languages, and while many of them take a while to learn, they have basic rules. There are more jokes about the exceptions in English that could be easily dealt with in this post. For example, you can put together a paragraph with all the exceptions of the “i before e except after c”.

We have words that are spelled the same but with a multiplicity of meanings. We have to look carefully sometimes to see whether the word is being used as a noun, an adjective or a verb in the sentence.

Faith is one of those words, is it a noun, a verb, a passive verb, an active verb, and how does the usage of the word shade its meaning, or completely change.

Is it a belief, or a group of beliefs, a belief in someone. Is that belief simply knowledge, a collection of data we learn and store away? When we talk of faith are we referring to a group of doctrines or a religion? Which definition goes where?

I like the definition above from a book of Luther’s Spirituality. It reminds us that faith has its origin, not in our heart, mind. or soul, but in the one that we are trusting in, the one we depend upon.

Faith is possible, it grows out of our realization that God is trustworthy, He is dependable. He will do exactly what is promised, including the transformation in our lives that sometimes seems excruciatingly slow. But it is His work, in His time, this transformation that we can see by faith.

It is why the Psalmist finds so moving, this idea of having God weave through every part of our lives, so integrated in them, so near. To realize that God is at work in us, creating that faith even as the work He does leaves us amazed. Even as we find ourselves safe.

This is where faith begins and grows, as we see God at work in us… not apart from those works, but because of them. It takes off as we realize we are in His presence, that He has drawn us here, to heal, comfort, encourage empower us. But mostly He gathers us to show us His love.

Lord, help us ot see Your work in our lives, and help us to grow to depend more and more on Your being involved. AMEN



Luther, M. (2007). Luther’s Spirituality. (P. D. W. Krey, B. McGinn, & P. D. S. Krey, Eds., P. D. S. Krey & P. D. W. Krey, Trans.) (pp. 104–105). New York; Mahwah, NJ: Paulist Press.

The Purpose of Real Power…

Devotional Thought for the Day:

3 Jesus knew that the Father had given him complete power; he knew that he had come from God and was going to God. 4 So he rose from the table, took off his outer garment, and tied a towel around his waist. 5 Then he poured some water into a washbasin and began to wash the disciples’ feet and dry them with the towel around his waist. John 13:3-5 GNT

860         As soon as you truly abandon yourself in the Lord, you will know how to be content with whatever happens. You will not lose your peace if your undertakings do not turn out the way you hoped, even if you have put everything into them, and used all the means necessary. For they will have “turned out” the way God wants them to.

There is a video going around of a basketball coach, who is seemingly striving to empower other women. While we have a long way to go to make sure opportunities and pay are equal for people of both genders, there is an underlying message that I struggle with.

The search and focus on gaining power and influence without knowing the direction that power will be used to achieve. Power can be used for good or bad, and we need to develop people as much on how to use power, as we do to encourage them to grab all they can. Will we look to develop people spiritually and morally (there is a difference) to use power properly, even as we teach them to seek it out?

I look to the reading from the Bible in red this morning, and something struck me that I hadn’t really noticed before. This is one of my favorite stories, it is the basis for one of my favorite songs (Michael Card’s “The Basin and the Towel”) I know it inside and out, and just like every year, it will be part of the reading on Maunday Thursday.

This year, I saw that beginning phrase, “Jesus knew that the Father had given Him all power.” It goes on to talk that Jesus knew where he was coming from, where He was going (the cross). SO …. he serves. He takes the role that is humiliating as any, even though he was the guest of honor.

That is what he does in the context of having just some power, but all of the power. He uses it to serve, to teach, to benefit others. Jesus uses what power He has not to avoid the cross but to embrace it, because of His love for them, because of His love for us.

This is what power is for, not to increase fame, or wealth, or personal standing. Not ot get a kick “playing” with those you have power over. Rather it is to benefit those people you have been made responsible for, for power is only a tool of responsibility.

So teach our daughters and sons to strive to do their best, to find places to serve in where they can make the greatest impact. Where they can affect many, helping them learn to love. Help them achieve things that would take great effort, but always remind them of why they are there.

To love their neighbors who they can see, empowered by the presence, the mercy and love of God they can’t see, but can perceive.

For in his presence, there is peace, and contentment… and we are safe there, our hearts nd minds protected by Jesus. AMEN!

Escriva, Josemaria. Furrow (Kindle Locations 3526-3528). Scepter Publishers. Kindle Edition.

The Great Actions of God? Does this Lady really know what She is talking about?

Devotional Thought of the Day:

46  Mary responded, “Oh, how my soul praises the Lord. 47 How my spirit rejoices in God my Savior! 48  For he took notice of his lowly servant girl, and from now on all generations will call me blessed. 49 For the Mighty One is holy, and he has done great things for me. 50 He shows mercy from generation to generation to all who fear him. 51 His mighty arm has done tremendous things! He has scattered the proud and haughty ones. 52 He has brought down princes from their thrones and exalted the humble. 53 He has filled the hungry with good things and sent the rich away with empty hands. 54 He has helped his servant Israel and remembered to be merciful. 55  For he made this promise to our ancestors, to Abraham and his children forever.”
Luke 1:46-55 (NLT2)

Thus Mary shows by using this word (Magnificat) what her canticle is about, namely, the great acts and works of God to strengthen our faith, to comfort the lowly, and to terrify those of high degree. To this threefold use and purpose of the canticle we should focus our attention and understanding, for she sang this not for herself but for all of us so that we would sing after her.1

Thining about Mary’s words and Luther’s commentary on this-this morning causes me to think a bit.

When most of us think about God’s incredible works, I doubt we create the same list as Mary and Luther. We probably would include the miracles, the Resurrection, the Splitting of the Red Sea, the feeding of thousands and the raising of dead people to life. (and no, not as Zombies!)

Rather than listing the miraculous and highly visible works of God, Mary lists things done in our lives, things we desperately need. These are the magnificent works of God! These are the things that make people sing aloud, and sing with all the power in their heart and soul.

So let’s look at them.

We start with God’s magnificent work of strengthening our faith. This is needed, for most of us struggle to trust those around us, never mind trusting God who we can’t see. This faith is nothing more (or less) than trusting God for what He has promised to do in our lives. But that isn’t easy, and so the Holy Spirit creates this dependence in our lives (not easy for either of us!) breaking through our jaded hearts and replacing them with souls that are alive, and resonate to the love of God.

Next is God’s magnificent work of comforting the lowly, the broken folk in our world. Both Jesus and the Holy Spirit share in the title “the comforter,” something that should never go overlooked. God is found the midst of our brokenness, even the brokenness we cause by our sin and idolatry of self, there to bring healing, and comfort as we just can’t deal with the pain.

He is there, carefully cutting away the parts of our lives that are dead, circumcising our hearts as the Apostle Paul describes, with the care described as so tender, that a bruised piece of grass will not be broken. There He is, doing what is necessary to restore to us a life that is described with the word “abundant”.

The last concerns me the most. God will terrify those of us who are “of high degree.” We may not think we are, but how often do we play the Pharisee, saying “Thank God, I am not like that politician, or that illegal alien/refugee, or that I am so better of than those Catholics/baptists, evangelicals, or “those” types of sinners, etc.

We play at being of high degree a lot more than we would admit, and it takes the love of God to do what seems so… harsh. To terrify us, to scare us by revealing the depth of our sin. God has to humble us to the point where we are ready to see Jesus the Messiah and find relief in His presence. Where we will seek Him, knowing that only in Him will we find relief. You see, God doesn’t terrify those of high degree to punish us, but to help us let Him enter our lives, to help us encounter the works above. This is true in all of scripture, as He works to see us all come to repentance, to return to our relationship with Him.

These are the magnificent works of God…

It is when we see them happening, even when God is terrifying us (remember His purpose) and it is when we encounter Him, seeing Him at work in this – that we praise Him, that we rejoice in God our savior, along with that young lady, who gave birth to Jesus our Savior, who gave birth, to God.

May we praise Him as she did… not from obligation, but because we realize the work He is doing in our lives. AMEN!

1  Luther, M. (2007). Luther’s Spirituality. (P. D. W. Krey, B. McGinn, & P. D. S. Krey, Eds., P. D. S. Krey & P. D. W. Krey, Trans.) (p. 101). New York; Mahwah, NJ: Paulist Press.

Broken Vase: The Writing of a Good Friend

Can we face our brokenness? Can we turn it over to God?

A friend of mine, who has endured a lot in life sent me this devotion she wrote for the staff at her church. It is a good devotion, one that resonates with much I write. But what is amazing to me is her ability to trust God enough to share these things that run so deep. Facing brokenness is never easy, and sharing it so others can heal… is beyond amazing!
For that, I am incredibly thankful to God and proud of my friend!
And so, for only the third time, I turn my blog over to someone else…. knowing there are others who need to hear T’s words.

Broken Vase

Last night I was driving home and the song You Say by Lauren Daigle came on. One of the lines in the song says, “I keep fighting voices in my mind that say I’m not enough, Every single lie that tells me I will never measure up”, spoke to me in a very profound way. One of my daily battles is fighting the tape in my head that tells me

• I am stupid
• I am fat
• I am ugly
• I am unworthy of love
• I will never be enough

I grew up being told all of these things and more, so my tape player is strong.

Imagine for a moment that you knock a priceless vase to the ground and it shatters. What do you do? Do you try to put the vase back together as it was? Do you collect the pieces and drop them in the trash, as the vase is a total loss? Or do you pick up the beautiful colored pieces and glue them back together?

I am like that broken vase, that has been glued back together. I still retain the shape of the vase, but I am fractured. For many years I believed that those cracks made me not only damaged but broken beyond repair. Then I met Jesus, and at the age of 26 I was baptized, reborn with the promise of salvation. In time I began to realize the tape in my head was a lie. It was someone else’s story, not mine.

This is not to say I don’t still struggle, but I am able to remind myself to look to God for the truth of who I am.

Lauren’s song continues with “You say I am loved when I can’t feel a thing, You say I am strong when I think I am weak, You say I am held when I am falling short, When I don’t belong, You say that I am Yours”.

And I know I am HIS!

We are all broken in some way, broken dreams, broken relationships, broken lives. So, what do we do with the broken pieces? Take those broken pieces and use them to make something new turn yourself into a colorful mosaic, reach to God and turn what is broken into beautiful, pieces, by sealing the cracks with lines of gold.

Jesus promises us that we as broken people will be better than new. Let that soak that in for a moment, WE WILL BE BETTER THAN NEW. 17 Anyone who is joined to Christ is a new being; the old is gone, the new has come. 2 Corinthians 5:16-19

Don’t let the lies that swirl around and whisper to you in the deepest parts of your soul in the weak moments define who you are When you feel like you have lost your grip, and things come crashing down reach for Jesus.

It is Jesus that tells us that we don’t need to hide our scars. Our brokenness has not rendered us useless in this life. God breaks through all of those lies. He tells us that we are never beyond healing or too broken for restoration.

Don’t be ashamed of your scars, of the deep crevices that line your soul, or the broken places of your life. They have an amazing story to tell. 10 For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago. Ephesians 2:10 (NLT2)

Let’s pray,

Dear Father, I pray that we remember each and every day that the only thing that matters is finding our worth in you. That we are able to lay everything at your feet knowing that we don’t have to carry it ourselves. AMEN!

Don’t say a little prayer before sharing your faith. Instead, try…

Devotional Thought of the Day:

They loved human approval rather than the approval of God. John 12:43 GNT

5 “I am the vine, and you are the branches. Those who remain in me, and I in them, will bear much fruit; for you can do nothing without me. John 15:5 GNT

The dynamic ‘from Adoration to Evangelization’ represents, in fact, the only real and possible path for an authentic witness which is capable of knowing how to ‘overcome the world’.
An Evangelization which is not born from an authentic, prolonged, faithful and intimate relationship with God will bear fruit only with difficulty. Even more difficult still will be its ability to captivate the men of this age.

For years, before I go and make a call, whether, in the hospital or someone’s home, I say a quick prayer. This was a practice drilled into me decades ago when I was a young Bible College student and my pastor and I were part of Evangelism Explosion. (we didn’t get great results… but we tried to be faithful!)

I am starting to think that is not a good and proper practice.

We shouldn’t pray before engaging in outreach.

We need to do more. We need to bathe ourselves in worship, in adoration, in meditating on the incredible dimensions of God’s love. We need to be in awe of His glorious mercy. We need to have given Him all of the challenges we are facing, entrusting to Him everything that causes us to take our eyes off of Him.

The priest whose words are recorded above in purple, could not have explained why evangelism efforts, whether formal or informal are successful or not. Simply put, if you haven’t spent significant, intimate, authentic time with God, and seen Him addressing your brokenness, how can you dare think you can share His love with others?

If we can’t reflect God, we are reduced to our own logic and strength, we omit the blessing of the Spirit, and what we are craving is human approval. We want to win people on the strength of our logic, on our ability to manipulate them into the Kingdom, rather than let them be drawn into the healing, cleansing glorious light of Jesus.

We don’t just need that intimacy to power our evangelism efforts. In truth, that effective empowering our sharing our dependence on God is a secondary effect, it is what happens as the Holy Spirit transforms us into the image of Jesus.

We need Him to change us, to reveal to us the work He is doing making us saints, making us the people of God. And the more we see that the more adoration becomes a reaction, and a necessity in our lives because of how amazing God is.

So take some time, be still, dwell in His peace, meditate on the cross, on the blessings of Baptism and the incredible gift of the body and blood of Christ Jesus, praising God with all your heart and soul, mind and strength; then go out and make disciples of all nations.

Lord, help us hear and rejoice in Your presence and love… and then let us shout it so loudly through our lives that the entire world knows! AMEN!

Piacenza, M. (2012). Homily for the Solemn Mass of St Aloysius Gonzaga. In A. Reid (Ed.), From Eucharistic Adoration to Evangelization (p. 68). London; New York: Burns & Oates.

The Apostle Paul and “Marie Condo’ing You Spiritual Life:

Decluttering Your Life
Philippians 3:4-14

† In Jesus Name †
\

May the grace of God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ so give you peace, that everything that at all the trash in your life would disappear.

Office Talk

When you work in the office, there is often interesting conversations going on.  One of them I heard about a month ago was about this lady named Marie Condo. She wrote a book and has a show focused on two things – “tidying up” and “the art of decluttering”

Her theory is that decluttering gets rid of all the things in life that bog you down, that consume time and space, and to be honest, make you life look like someone’s garage that doesn’t have enough room to park a bicycle in.

Not that I am thinking of anyone’s garage in particular!

I don’t know if the theory works in regards to our physical lives, but I know the Apostle Paul in the letter to the Philippians makes a case that our Spiritual lives need to be de-cluttered!

By the way, Marie Condo’s key phrase for decluttering, when you pick something up, is “Does this bring me joy”, and if it doesn’t, just place it in the back of Chuck’s truck!

Seriously, that is one of the considerations we will see Paul use, as He describes this to the church in Philippi, does this bring me joy?

Our Spiritual life is like our Garage.. it needs to be de-cluttered

How many of you have a garage that you can’t list the contents of in less than … three hours? How about that extra closet?  And if you have an attic? 

Oh my gosh, do we clutter up our lives.

We do that spiritually as well.

We need to declutter by getting rid of the common things that have brokenness us.  The sin, the resentments we build up, the judgments that crush us, the things that we have an inventory of, going all the way back to our youth!

Paul includes some other things, things we would normally count as positive! Our citizenship, our heritage, our lineage, even our religious practices and the holiness that people praise us as they witness our “goodness”.  Think about the stuff he is talking about tossing out!

Anything that demands we pledge our loyalty and depend on it, those things becomes our idols. those things we count on for security, to demonstrate that we are blessed, and that we are the people who are in the right,

Those are the things that clutter our lives…

Those are the things that Paul the Apostle called crap. 

Some translations clean it up, refuse, garbage, trash, but even the old King James called it dung.

They clutter our lives because they demand the attention we need to save, the attention we need to realize what God is doing in our lives.  They cause us to depend on them to prove we are good, and in the right, and even holy. 

Every time we said we are better than “they” are, that we are more blessed, that this is “God’s country” as if others aren’t, what we are doing is saying that being God’s child isn’t enough.

That our citizenship, that our heritage, that our culture is truly why God loves us, that we are blessed

And those things don’t matter.  They are crap

If it doesn’t bring us joy…

Marie Condo said it well, get rid of the clutter if it doesn’t bring us joy, ditch it.  Declutter your life, don’t count on those things.

Hear how Paul says it,

Yes, everything else is worthless when compared with the infinite value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have discarded everything else, counting it all as garbage, so that I could gain Christ and become one with him. I no longer count on my own righteousness through obeying the law; rather, I become righteous through faith in Christ. For God’s way of making us right with himself depends on faith. 10 I want to know Christ and experience the mighty power that raised him from the dead. I want to suffer with him, sharing in his death, 11 so that one way or another I will experience the resurrection from the dead!

There it is, what you can use to compare to, the joy of becoming one with Christ, the joy of being declared holy, trusting in God’s declaration that we are righteous, depending upon it….and knowing that while we suffer with Him, we will experience the resurrection from the dead!

Paul goes on to talk about trying to learn how to possess this incredible place in life, the place Christ has possessed.  This place of the greatest security, the greatest peace, knowing we are loved more than anything.

It’s not easy to achieve, but it is worth all our effort.

It is worth throwing away everything else, even the stuff we count on as defining us in a good way.

to know Him as intimately as He knows you. To be in awe of His mercy, to rejoice in His love.  

Time to declutter… spiritually!

The way it happens is this… you have to do so little.  Just realize how broad and wide, how high and deep God’s love for you is, revealed in the death and resurrection of Jesus… and all else will fade away…

(you can all come and declutter my garage later)

AMEN!

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