Discipleship, Spiritual Formation and the Mark of the Beast


TDevotional/Discussion Thought of the Week

17 so that no one could buy or sell except one who had the stamped image of the beast’s name or the number that stood for its name. 18 Wisdom is needed here; one who understands can calculate the number of the beast, for it is a number that stands for a person. His number is six hundred and sixty-six. (14)  1 Then I looked and there was the Lamb standing on Mount Zion,* and with him a hundred and forty-four thousand who had his name and his Father’s name written on their foreheads.  NAB-RE REV. 13:17-14:1

75 I know, O LORD, that your regulations are fair; you disciplined me because I needed it. 76 Now let your unfailing love comfort me, just as you promised me, your servant. 77 Surround me with your tender mercies so I may live, for your instructions are my delight.  NLT  Psalm 119:75-78

431    Don’t fear God’s justice. It is no less admirable and no less lovable than his mercy. Both are proofs of his love.  (1)

Looking at the three quotes above, it will at first seem like the first is not like the other two.

It is that passage that has people afraid of everything from Social Security Numbers, to Bar Codes, to Smart Chips and credit card smart chips.  Some preachers use that passage to cause a form a paranoia about the government, as if it can do what Romans 8 says cannot be done.  There in Romans it says that nothing can separate us from the love of God.


Not even the mark of the beast!  For as we see when we dispense with man-made chapter headings, we see two marks, not one.  The mark of the beast – and the mark of the Lamb and our Heavenly Father.

But this fear of the mark gets to the heart of Christian discipleship, to what they call spiritual formation. That is how the passage from Revelation and the quote from Psalms and a blip from Escriva tie together.

For when we understand that God’s discipline, that spiritual formation at the hands of God is about His love, that the differing marks make sense.

David’s words are simple and precise, “we need it.”

First, so that we correct our ways, that we get rid of the idols in our life, that we are freed from those things that would enslave us, as we trust in them, as we turn to them, rather than depending on God.  Forming us means that God is putting in place the barriers that protect us from falling. It is not punitive as much as protective.

We don’t always see God’s discipline as protective, but that is indeed what it is, because it originates in the same place as His mercy – the incredible longsuffering, sacrificial love He has for us; it comes from the desire He has to see us transformed rather than perish. Formation isn’t always comfortable, for we can’t simply go where we want – and trying to may mean running into a wall.  And that can hurt!

David experienced, and therefore knew that God’s discipline, (some translations use affliction ) is followed by comfort, by an outpouring of mercy, by healing and restoration.  It is this pattern, this characteristic; that reveals His love, his devoted benevolent care for us.

We are His people; We bear His name, given to us, marking us in our baptism.

The more we explore that love, its height, its depth, its breadth and width (and we can’t, in this life know it completely) the more convinced we are that God loves us.  The more we entrust ourselves to it, even to reveling in it.  Recipients of this love, this Godly intimate affection we can, with complete abandon praise and glorify Him, with our voices, and with our lives.

Even as He lovingly corrects us, even as we struggle with our brokenness, even as we question how God will make this work out for good.

Such is a disciplined life; such is one who’s been marked, not with some counterfeit mark, but with the name of Christ, and of the Father.

666?  Not afraid of that, for I know the love of God, a love that is willing to suffer, and Will even form me though I may perceive it as suffering.

Lord, have mercy!  (even when it means disciplining us!)

(1)  Escriva, Josemaria. The Way (Kindle Locations 1059-1060). Scepter Publishers. Kindle Edition.

Has the Church become a pathetic loser?


Devotional Thought fo the Day:
I know your works, your labor, and your endurance, and that you cannot tolerate the wicked; you have tested those who call themselves apostles but are not, and discovered that they are impostors.* 3 Moreover, you have endurance and have suffered for my name, and you have not grown weary. 4 Yet I hold this against you: you have lost the love you had at first! NAB-RE Rev. 2:2-4

414    How pathetic: a “man of God” who has fallen away! But how much more pathetic: a “man of God” who is lukewarm and worldly!

A lot of conversations I’ve been in recently have been about the church in decline.

One talked about how we need to start lots of new churches because old churches can’t grow.  

With another friend we talked about how three churches, healthy two decades ago, may share in the services of one pastor, rather than simply have someone come in every Sunday to preach.

A third conversation was about one of the largest of mega-churches, and how it, and its worship, are but a shadow of what they once were.

We look at the extremes of the church, and it is no less grievous.  One side wants to embrace society’s ills, setting aside the scripture that tells us to shine the light in the darkness.  They do such by just agreeing to live there.  The other extreme also avoids shining light in the darkness, by shining light where there is the brightness of day.  Like in the passage from the Revelation, they do all the good things, they detest the false teaching, they suffer abuse and endure.

What you don’t often hear anymore, is how in love the church is with God!

How head over heals we are, how much we are in awe and wonder, and how we adore God. How amazed we are to find ourselves counted as His loved ones.

The result of loving our love for God?  Lukewarmness, busyness, being focused more on what is going on around us, than being aware of His glorious presence in our life.  A church that focuses itself on outreach, or on maintaining a level of purity.

We need to remember this – we need to rekindle that love!  But how does that happen?

We need to spend time, resting in God’s presence, meditating on His love, hearing His voice which calls out to us. We need to hear of His love for us, His desire for us to be in His presence.  As we meditate on such things our love for Him grows, depending on Him, having faith in Him becomes easier, as does sharing that love with others.

Pastor  – you want you church to come alive, for people to grow in faith (and in a pure faith?)  Then fall in love with God, rejoice in His love for you.

The rest will fall in place.

Escriva, Josemaria. The Way (Kindle Locations 1033-1034). Scepter Publishers. Kindle Edition.

My thoughts on the election…




Devotional Thought of the Day:

“God is love, and whoever remains in love remains in God and God in him. 17 In this is love brought to perfection among us, that we have confidence on the day of judgment because as he is, so are we in this world.i 18 There is no fear in love, but perfect love drives out fear because fear has to do with punishment, and so one who fears is not yet perfect in love. 19 We love because he first loved us. 20 If anyone says, “I love God,” but hates his brother, he is a liar; for whoever does not love a brother whom he has seen cannot love God whom he has not seen. 21 This is the commandment we have from him: whoever loves God must also love his brother.”   NAB-RE 1 John 4:16-21

As i worked through my social media accounts last night I grew quite depressed.  Friends of mine, including pastors and priests, were commenting about the upcoming presidential elections.

Let me make it clear, I don’t mind people discussing the issues, or the candidates.  I think that is beneficial.  When the things discussed are not based in fear and anxiety, when they don’t spew hatred towards the candidates and those who support them.

I may never again talk to Mr. Trump, or ever talk to Mrs. Clinton.  Yet they still are neighbors, those we, who claim to love and follow Jesus, are called to love and not hate.  We are also called to love those who support them, and not insult them, or belittle them.  (see Matthew 5:22)

I am not saying this will be easy, we need to be on guard, whether we support or the other. There are many fears, there is much in the lives of those running for office that we cannot approve of, that may even cause us to recoil in disgust, or horror.  Yet their sin is no worse than ours, we have no right to stand before God and thank Him for our not being wretched sinners like them, apart from the grace of Christ.

We have to overcome our fears and anxieties, we have to get past the hatred, and there is only one way to do that.  To remain in Christ, to dwell in the love of God,.  We need to be focused on that which is revealed, the presence of God in which we dwell, safe there, welcome there because of the Cross of Jesus.   Because he died, we have been freed us from sin, and Satan, and even the fear of death.  Because we are united to that death, we are also united to Him in the resurrection, and nothing can separate us from His love.

Even having to vote.

So look to God, continually think about your Creator, who hasn’t abandoned you, and will not. Rejoice in His presence, and from that place of unsurpassed peace, pray for those running for office, not just president – but all those we elect.  Pray for them a lot, and even for yourself, that if you do get the chance to talk to them, you would show them love, the love of God reflected through your very being.

Lord Have Mercy on us, sinners all!  AMEN!

Why We Aren’t A Post Christian Society

Devotional Thought fo the Day:

9 *But you are “a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people of his own, so that you may announce the praises” of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light.10 Once you were “no people” but now you are God’s people; you “had not received mercy” but now you have received mercy!   1 Peter 2:9-10

A single hour of quiet listening to the word of God would often be more effective than whole days of sessions and discussions, and a moment of prayer would be more effective than whole stacks of paper, for it is not only what we do that makes us effective. Sometimes the impression arises that behind our hectic hyperactivity there lurks a paralysis of faith, since in the last analysis we have more confidence in what we ourselves contrive and accomplish.

47 For this reason, too, Paul asks, Since we are called according to the purpose of God, “who will separate us from the love of God in Christ?” (Rom. 8:35).
48 This doctrine will also give us the glorious comfort, in times of trial and affliction, that in his counsel before the foundation of the world God has determined and decreed that he will assist us in all our necessities, grant us patience, give us comfort, create hope, and bring everything to such an issue that we shall be saved

For a decade or more, I have the phrase post-modernism adapted and used to describe a weak church, and so developed phrases like “a post-Christian society” or living in a “post-church society.”

I will agree that the church seems to be less “effective” from a business perspective, at least in areas where it was thought to be very “effective” for decades.  Among those of European descent, among those who were upwardly mobile and driven to live life better than their parents did.

But calling us post-church or post-Christian is wrong, for it presumes that the society we are discussing knew the riches they had in Christ, that they were recipients of the grace and mercy, the peace and love of God our Father, and our Lord Jesus Christ, 

And then walked away… not just from the church, but from the love of Christ the church was there to help them explore, to be at their side as they in awe, encountered God revealed to them. 

To call this society “post-Christian” means they walked away from what St Peter describes as leaving the darkness for a wonderful light, that they abandoned being God’s people, and recipients of the mercy that would bring healing and hope to shattered souls. I don’t see people doing that; I see them walking away from meetings and discussions, from stacks of paper describing programs, and from a church that ministered only to their sense of logic, and couldn’t continually keep them in awe.

That which they may have walked away from, did it give them comfort in the midst of suffering, did it bring them a sense of God’s peace that goes beyond explanation and understand?  If so, why would they have walked away from it?

So what is the answer?  Perhaps it is to evangelize the church first, what is called the New Evangelization in some circles.   To teach people that God does answer a cry for mercy, that He hears their prayers, that he will offer them comfort and peace. As this is taught, as it is revealed through His word, and through His sacraments, then the church will naturally evangelize again.  

Teach them about Christ,God incarnate, God crucified and raised, God who comes near, and stays.  God who listens and comforts, who guides and gives meaning to life. Who walks beside them in this lonely life.

It may sound too simple, but simple doesn’t mean wrong, nor does it mean ineffective.  It means that we communicate and reveal the love of God to those who need it, in the church and presently outside it. 

It is time to give people the hope of sharing in the glory of Christ, in the presence of Jesus. 



Ratzinger, Joseph. Co-Workers of the Truth: Meditations for Every Day of the Year. Ed. Irene Grassl. Trans. Mary Frances McCarthy and Lothar Krauth. San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 1992. Print.

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


Raising Cain! A sermon on Genesis 4

Raising Cain
Gen 4:1-16

† In Jesus Name †

May the grace of God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ be heard in every part of you and transform your heart, your soul, your mind and your strength.

Raising Cain – What if….

As you look at this title and think back on the words from Genesis we heard read a few moments ago, I wonder what you are thinking.

I mean if I gave your “permission” to think about raising Cain, would you think I was encouraging you to do something evil?  To cause great trouble, to be rebellious, to behave ( as one person said) like loud protestors at some protest rally?

Or is there another option to raising Cain?

And what you do you think about Cain?  Is he another like Judas that is beyond redemption, that is condemned because of the evil he committed?  Do we write him off like Pharaoh, or like King Saul or Ahaz and that rotten women Jezebel?

Aren’t we glad that we certainly aren’t a sinner like that Cain…?

Or like that tax collector,

Are we more like that Pharisee than we want to admit, thanking God that we aren’t sinners like everyone else, picking our sins we are proud we didn’t commit and proud of the things we do that “prove we are righteous?”
Could it be that instead of encouraging riotous living, the idea of Raising Cain is about trying to see how God called Cain to repentance and offered him hope, and life?

When we can see God working in Cain’s life, it will give us hope, as we struggle in our brokenness, in the midst of this broken world?

Look at the chances!

One of the things I see in this passage is that God doesn’t easily give up on Cain.  Nor will he give up easily on us, and we need to know that.

But consider a few of these things.

As Cain is upset about the offerings, God comes to him and says,

“Why are you so angry?” the Lord asked Cain. “Why do you look so dejected? You will be accepted if you do what is right. But if you refuse to do what is right, then watch out! Sin is crouching at the door, eager to control you. But you must subdue it and be its master.”

And like Cain, God comes to us, as we are struggling and says similar things.  He tells us we are His, which we are accepted.  But Jesus also warned Peter about potential sin, and then Peter would describe Satan this way…

6  So humble yourselves under the mighty power of God, and at the right time he will lift you up in honor. 7  Give all your worries and cares to God, for he cares about you. 8  Stay alert! Watch out for your great enemy, the devil. He prowls around like a roaring lion, looking for someone to devour. 9  Stand firm against him, and be strong in your faith.. 1 Peter 5:6-9 (NLT)
Does that sound familiar?

God knows his heart, knows that Cain is being eaten up by the sin, by the jealousy, by the nature he inherited from his folks and made his own.

And as God prophesied – sin caught him, his anger and jealousy and attempted to devour him,

He killed his brother. He did something only God has the right to do, to take a life.

What happened next, he could never have foreseen.

Instead of God taking his life, he comes back to Cain, and calls him to repentance,

Afterward, the Lord asked Cain, “Where is your brother? Where is Abel?”

“I don’t know,” Cain responded. “Am I my brother’s guardian?”

10 But the Lord said, “What have you done? Listen! Your brother’s blood cries out to me from the ground!

As I read this, I had to ask, why does God ask where Abel is?  God is omniscient, isn’t He?  God asked the same question of Adam and Eve, where are you?  What have you done?

And of Peter on the beach, as Peter couldn’t get over denying Jesus three times, and three times Jesus asked, Simon Peter, “do you love me?”

We have to realize this; God didn’t give up on Cain.  He didn’t just take his life, as He should have. If God were only merciful and not just, he would have just taken Cain’s life.

But God cares for him, and for you and I when we fall into sin when we are trapped and in bondage.

Even when we realize we deserve to be punished for our sin and utter those words Cain did…

13 Cain replied to the Lord, “My punishment is too great for me to bear! 14 You have banished me from the land and from your presence; you have made me a homeless wanderer. Anyone who finds me will kill me!”

If we didn’t have a pharisaical bias towards Cain, would we hear this any differently? Would we notice that Cain added in something God didn’t say?

14 You have banished me from the land and from your presence;

God didn’t – he is still with Cain.  God is talking to Him.  God is with him, there, and Cain is in the very presence of God.

Whether we hear those words of Cain as complaining, or fear, or pleading for mercy, they are said to a God who is there, who is listening, who is both just and merciful…

Just as He heard us a few moments ago, when we confessed our sin, when we pleaded for God to show us grace…

Even as He did to Cain.

Look at the grace – and what it pictures

We don’t see it if we just skim the passage, but it is there,

15 The Lord replied, “No, for I will give a sevenfold punishment to anyone who kills you.” Then the Lord put a mark on Cain to warn anyone who might try to kill him.

 I think we usually see that mark as one of punishment – a stay away from this evil person.

But it is there to protect Cain, to let people know that he was under God’s protection, that (gulp) God was with him. That no one had the right to condemn him, no one had the right to punish him.  Just like the woman caught in adultery.

Just like the mark of our baptism,

3  Once we, too, were foolish and disobedient. We were misled and became slaves to many lusts and pleasures. Our lives were full of evil and envy, and we hated each other. 4  But—“When God our Savior revealed his kindness and love, 5  he saved us, not because of the righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. He washed away our sins, giving us a new birth and new life through the Holy Spirit. 6  He generously poured out the Spirit upon us through Jesus Christ our Savior.
Titus 3:3-6 (NLT)

You and I, we were no different than Cain, we were rebellious and sinned, despite God’s warning it devoured us.  God came to us again, and called on us it, showed us what we deserved, and then reminded us we are marked….. in our baptism, and no one has the ability to condemn us.  Nor will we ever be banished from His presence.

You are forgiven, just like the tax collector, and Peter, Paul, David, and me.

So go, and live in God’s peace, for Christ will guard your heart and mind in that incredible peace. AMEN!


“Do I have to pray, read the Bible, go to church, etc?”

devotional/discussion thought of the day?
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! 12  I don’t mean to say that I have already achieved these things or that I have already reached perfection. But I press on to possess that perfection for which Christ Jesus first possessed me. 13  No, dear brothers and sisters, I have not achieved it, but I focus on this one thing: Forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead, 14  I press on to reach the end of the race and receive the heavenly prize for which God, through Christ Jesus, is calling us. 15  Let all who are spiritually mature agree on these things. If you disagree on some point, I believe God will make it plain to you. 16  But we must hold on to the progress we have already made. 17  Dear brothers and sisters, pattern your lives after mine, and learn from those who follow our example.   Philippians 3:10-17 (NLT)

33 We should concern ourselves with this revealed will of God, follow it, and be diligent about it because the Holy Spirit gives grace, power, and ability through the Word by which he has called us. We should not explore the abyss of the hidden foreknowledge of God, even as Christ answered the question, “Lord, will those who are saved be few?” by saying, “Strive to enter by the narrow door” (Luke 13:23, 24)

325    Fight against the softness that makes you lazy and careless in your spiritual life. Remember that it might well be the beginning of tepidity … and, in the words of the Scripture, God will vomit out the lukewarm.

Sometimes the question is phrased as you see above, “Do I have to pray, read the Bible, go to church, etc. ?”.  Other times it is more a defensive statement, “I have a great relationship with God and therefore I don’t have to…”  Or perhaps the most dangerous version, “God will understand that I have other priorities….”

As a pastor such questions and statements are the horrific omens, they are the symptoms of life that will be soon going through a kind of spiritual cardiac arrest.  One that will be haunted by guilt and shame that will be easily tempted to some form of idolatry, to put faith in something else.  That idol will fail eventually, that dream and desire will not satisfy, and the comfort of a lukewarm faith will cause us to fall asleep.

I don’t say this simply as a diagnostician, or simple as a pastor who is tired of observing it and picking up the pieces.  I say it as one who struggles with it, as well. I who wants to pass on my morning devotions and get to “work.”  I so want to bypass my examination of my life and praying that God would help me not just repeatedly come to being sorry and apologetic, but to move from contrition to the transformation that is true repentance. I want to grow in overcoming the sin that so easily ensnares me, and I want to help you do the same.

All three quotes above talk about this – from the Lutheran Confessions which tell us to stop trying to probe the hidden mysteries of God, the things scripture doesn’t mention and theologians argue and write about.  We must instead focus on the love and mercy that God does reveal.  What a wondrous thing it is to know how deeply God loves you and me!  What an incredible thing to think of the cross, and how that love was revealed, in an act so merciful that it staggers the mind.  He died for us, and we live with Him!  There is our focus!

St. Josemaria echoes it in his plea that we all don’t get lazy and careless in our spiritual life, that with Paul we forget what is behind us, what is history, and try to possess, to understand, to hold onto the fact that Christ has united us to himself.  To begin to understand how much we are loved, and what it means to be united to God in Christ’s death and resurrection, to be the temple of the Holy Spirit.

The answer to an apathetic faith, to a personal or parish/congregational malaise, is quite simple.  We need to understand the wide, how long, how high and how deep His love is for us, experiencing the love of Christ which is too great to completely understand with our hearts and souls and mind.  Even so, as we begin to explore that love, we come alive, and the power of God is revealed in us.

So you and I, yes we need to pray, and to spend time contemplating what scripture reveals, we need to gather together to hear of this love, to receive the sacraments which are tangible gifts showing that love.

Not because it is law, not because if we don’t, we shall be punished, but because these things are what nourishes our spiritual life, and what makes us aware that God is with us!


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

Escriva, Josemaria. The Way (Kindle Locations 838-839). Scepter Publishers. Kindle Edition.

Where Do We Invest Ourselves?

Devotional Thought of the Day:

4  But when the kindness and generous love of God our savior appeared, 5  not because of any righteous deeds we had done but because of his mercy, he saved us through the bath of rebirth and renewal by the holy Spirit, 6  whom he richly poured out on us through Jesus Christ our savior, 7  so that we might be justified by his grace and become heirs in hope of eternal life. 8   This saying is trustworthy. I want you to insist on these points, that those who have believed in God be careful to devote themselves to good works; these are excellent and beneficial to others.    Titus 3:4-8 (NAB)

317    What zeal men put into their earthly affairs! Dreaming of honors, striving for riches, bent on sensuality! Men and women, rich and poor, old and middle-aged and young and even children: all of them alike. When you and I put the same zeal into the affairs of our souls, then we’ll have a living and working faith. And there will be no obstacle that we cannot overcome in our apostolic works.

As we get closer to November, I am receiving more and more programs geared to what people call “stewardship,” each with a promise to increase the giving of my congregation.  Some might even market themselves as being “different.”  That is, they aren’t just about money, but also about encouraging people to use their time and talents to benefit the church.

Some even talk about coming out and doing the program for you or sending audio and video.  One recently indicated that since it was the focus of the worship services, you didn’t have to ask people to come to any other meetings. I usually don’t use “canned” studies or sermons, so these go pretty much unopened, unperused.  The other reason is that I don’t agree with the goal, of increasing giving.as a primary focus of worship.

As I read the quote from St. Josemaria, I thought about this a little more, that we invest our zeal in so many things.  It might be “our” football team. It might be a hobby, such as hiking or fishing or sewing and quilting. We relish the time we spend doing those things, and the people that do them with them are among those who we count as our closest friends. We might even zealously invest ourselves in those friends, apart from the things that bring us together – even church.

But what if we were as zealous about our relationship with God?   What if we had that kind of attitude about spending time with Him? What if we pursued the means of grace – the scriptures, the sacraments, including prayer, because we treasured the precious peace, that reminder of His ever present love?

What if we understood these things Paul told Titus to be insistent about teaching the people of God entrusted to Him?

Paul indicated that this would result in Titus’s people (and therefore our people) devoting themselves to good works as well, works that are excellent and beneficial for others!

I think this is exactly what St. Josemaria was talking about as well – be zealous about the affairs of our souls, about trusting and depending on God in our lives, and then everything else ends up taking care of itself.  And nothing will hinder apostolic/missional efforts, the needs of the ministry will be met, and more will follow.

This is, living by faith, by dependence on God.  It takes a while to get used to, and a determination to preachChristt crucified, whether on the pulpits or in the streets. As it seems like crisis hit, there will be a temptation to go back to hyper-focusing on giving, but there will come a time where you realize God is at work, that He will provide, as the idols we fashion fall to the side – and our focus becomes the kind and generous love of God.

Deliver to them the message of Christ, give them the hope of sharing in His glory, and the rest… will care for itself. AMEN!

Escriva, Josemaria. The Way (Kindle Locations 820-823). Scepter Publishers. Kindle Edition.

Would You Give Up Your “Rights” for….

Devotional Thought fo the Day:

 So turn from youthful desires and pursue righteousness, faith, love, and peace, along with those who call on the Lord* with purity of heart.s 23 Avoid foolish and ignorant debates, for you know that they breed quarrels.t 24 A slave of the Lord should not quarrel, but should be gentle with everyone, able to teach, tolerant,u 25 correcting opponents with kindness. It may be that God will grant them repentance that leads to knowledge of the truth,v 26 *and that they may return to their senses out of the devil’s snare,w where they are entrapped by him, for his will.  NABRE 2 Tim 2:22-26

.299    Christ died for you. You …what should you do for Christ?

31 6. In line with the above, churches will not condemn each other because of a difference in ceremonies, when in Christian liberty one uses fewer or more of them, as long as they are otherwise agreed in doctrine and in all its articles and are also agreed concerning the right use of the holy sacraments, according to the well-known axiom, “Disagreement in fasting should not destroy agreement in faith.”

When we think of “doing” things for God, we tend to think of big things.  Things like becoming a missionary, or selling out prized possessions and moving into the inner city to run a rescue mission.  Becoming the next Billy Graham or Greg Laurie

In my devotions today, another option is given, one we could do for God if we dare accept the sacrifice called for, the painful self-denial that it will require.

Giving up our “right” to speak what we believe is right.

The right to quarrel.  The right to argue, the ability to prove we are “right.”

Instead of coming with guns loaded, reading to unload our intellect, our well thought out slogans and the meme’s we memorized because they destroy (or so we think ) our opponent, our adversaries, our enemies…..

Instead of being the victorious spiritual warrior, crushing those who mistakenly thought were our enemies, we are asked to remember we are humble slaves, tasked by God himself with loving them, not quarreling, but gently serving them.  

We are asked to love them, to teach and correct them with patient kindness, so that they come to Christ, that they are granted repentance, which His mercy and love be revealed to them, changing everything.

This whether they are of another religion, the Muslim, the Jew, the Mormon or Sikh, or whether they are simply a member of our denomination who stands on the other side of the worship wars

This is an area I need, desperately need transformation in, as do most of us.  Too often we consider our positions beyond question, our logic undefeatable.  

In Christ, we find not only the model for this, but we also find as we have been united to Him the passion, the desire and the power to subject our will, our pride and see the miracle of our transformation, our repentance, and prayerfully, theirs as well.  This is part of the impact of our baptism, and as we kneel and eat and drink of His sacrificed body and shed blood.

Lord Jesus, help us love them more than we love to be proved right.  Send your Spirit to heal our brokenness that we might see theirs healed as well.  † AMEN †


Escriva, Josemaria. The Way (Kindle Locations 780-781). Scepter Publishers. Kindle Edition.

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


As Unavoidable as Mondays…

Discussion Thought of the Day:
12  Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, heartfelt compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience, 13  bearing with one another and forgiving one another, if one has a grievance against another; as the Lord has forgiven you, so must you also do. 14  And over all these put on love, that is, the bond of perfection. 15  And let the peace of Christ control your hearts, the peace into which you were also called in one body. And be thankful. Colossians 3:12-15 (NAB)

The genuine sacraments, therefore, are Baptism, the Lord’s Supper, and absolution (which is the sacrament of penitence), for these rites have the commandment of God and the promise of grace, which is the heart of the New Testament. When we are baptized, when we eat the Lord’s body, when we are absolved, our hearts should firmly believe that God really forgives us for Christ’s sake

292    Your interior life has to be just that: to begin …and to begin again.

Mondays are unavoidable.  The next begins in less that 160 hours.

Two other things are as unavoidable.

The first is sin.  Or at least it seems to be. In thought word and deed, we fail.  We fail to love our brothers and our sisters.  We fail to love God, and we often live life without Him, going without His assistance, without calling on His name.

Sin is like Monday, it will happen, even if we don’t want it to happen!  (not that we should use this as an excuse!)

It is depressing, as Paul admits in the 7th chapter of Romans. What a wretch I am!

Given similar despair, the words of Saint Josemaria give us hope. It is time to begin again!  To approach God’s throne of mercy and ask for what seems impossible, to ask for forgiveness again!

But forgiveness is as ubiquitous, as omnipresent as Mondays!  ( Ubiquitous and omnipresent simply mean “always there” )

The Lutheran Confessions note this when they talk of the sacraments and urge us to firmly believe that God forgives us!  Because of Christ!  He does!  The one who told Peter to forgive Andrew 7 times 70 demonstrates it 1000 times over with you and me.  

He forgives us!

The cross was for you and me!  He did it for the joy He would know, as we are called

That is what St. Paul means when he says we are called into the Body of Christ.

Bring confident of this mercy of God, knowing He will forgive us is the evidence of Christ’s peace controlling our hearts, assured that guilt and shame do not have a place in our life   That we don’t have to keep a record of sins against us and let resentment eat away our soul.

It’s Monday.  You will probably sin, but you can begin again,

9  If we acknowledge our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive our sins and cleanse us from every wrongdoing.   1 John 1:9 (NAB)

So let us confess, and depending on the promise of God, begin again, dwelling in His peace!  AMEN!




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

Escriva, Josemaria. The Way (Kindle Location 765). Scepter Publishers. Kindle Edition.

Breathe on Me, Breath of God

Breathe on Me, Breath of God
2 Timothy 3:14-4:5


May the grace of God our Father and our Lord Jesus Christ, breathed out into you as the scriptures are read, remind you that you dwell in His peace!

 A Cute and False Statement about the Bible

Maybe 20 years ago I started seeing bumper stickers and tee-shirts with one of those cute Christian slogans on it.  The slogan is pretty popular, and somewhat cute, but it is wrong, and spiritually, it is not just false, it is deadly.



It is wrong because it reduces the exhaled words of God into a rule book, a guide by which we could live the perfect life.

Yet many of us, including me, have used the inaccurate acronym a time or two, not thinking that it could lead people to frustration, and turn them into either hypocrites, or worse, causing them to give up on the church.

First – if you look at it as a rule book, a guidebook, it is anything but “basic”.

I mean the Old Covenants has over 613 commandments, – that doesn’t sound, “basic”.

And the summary found in the New Covenant – Love God with every part of you – heart, soul, mind and body, and to love your neighbor, not the one you like, but the other one, as you love yourself.

Does that sound like easy, simple instructions?

And do you think you can achieve that level of maturity prior to leaving earth?

So I think we need to understand what it means that God gave us His word, and what He makes it useful for.

What Paul sees as an urgent need

In the second paragraph, Paul urges Timothy and all who read this letter to announce, to proclaim, to teach others the word of God. To bear witness to it, because of the hope it gives to those who will hear it.

He is insistent on it, he urges us to do so because the need to hear it is urgent.  We don’t urge people to do something that is common and simple.  We urge them to do something that is critical, that is needed.

And he urges us to be ready, whether it is convenient or not, even when it requires us to patiently correct people, to even rebuke them, and to encourage them with our teaching.

Not easy tasks, but ones we are urged to do, because this is why we have scripture, and it will make a difference in their life, and ours,

A difference that God wants to bring about urgently.

Because He loves us, and He wants us with Him, to know His love, to share in His glory.

By “us” I mean us all!

All, no matter what language we speak, no matter where we were born, our what languages we speak, or what political candidate we support or criticize.

God would have them hear of His love, and Paul reminds us of this and urges us to do it, for these are people Jesus died to save.

What scripture does – Gives specific wisdom

This is the message of scripture, the message that Timothy learned, the lesson that made him wise, and that wisdom was for a purpose –

to be saved.

Saved from, but more importantly saved into a relationship where we can believe in, trust, and depend on Jesus Christ.

This is what scripture teaches that we are to remain faithful to, the very things that were passed on to us, and o which we pass on to the next generations, even if it means we suffer in order to do it.

This isn’t basic, and it isn’t just some instructions – as if you have to assemble it.

It is revelation, an unveiling of reality, that affects our lives here and now, and from this point forward into all of eternity.  The Holy Spirit uses these God-breathed words to breath life into us, to give us faith.

This salvation is worth it, this being brought into the presence of God is that amazing.

Not just to be cleansed of all sin and shame
Not just to be freed from all guilt and resentment
To know we are loved
To know we will spend all eternity with our beloved Lord and Savior.
And that is guaranteed by the presence of the Holy Spirit, our comforter.

This is what scripture teaches us, this is what we rejoice in, this is the life which God reveals to us, as He breathed out the scriptures, and they breathed life into us.

This is where we remain faithful, depending on these promises.  This is where we stand, whether it is convenient or inconvenient, whether we prosper or suffer.
For in Him, we have found a peace that is beyond all understanding, and we are  guarded, our hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.


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