Monthly Archives: May 2012

A Desire for the Supernatural


Discussion/Devotional thought of the day….

“I advised you to inject a great deal of supernatural outlook into every detail of your ordinary life.  And I added immediately that living with other people provided you with ample opportunity through the day!”  (Esciva, The Furrow)

My comments:

Having just finished about preaching about those whose faith and life are withered and, for all we can tell, extinct, this one hits home hard.  So often I see people writing off others as fallen, or congregations and parishes as “dead”.  Have to admit – I’ve been there as well.  Indeed, Sunday I quoted the lyrics of Casting Crowns song about Ezekiel’s experience….
A pastor stands before his congregation

Once a mighty army for the Lord

But now he stares into the lifeless eyes

Believers leading carnal lives

He wonders what they’re fighting for

But driven by a calling on his life

He spoke God’s word

Like he’d done a hundred times before

But this time he comes broken and weeping

With tears of a broken heart

And he cries out to the Lord

Oh Lord send Your wind into this valley

And breathe the breath of life into their souls

And raise them again a mighty army

For soon these arisen warriors will battle again

For they have been filled with the spirit wind

 

But a person’s spiritual life, or for that matter a congregations, is not measured by its faithfulness, but by God’s.  Our work in revitalizing congregations and parishes that appears lifeless is never successful if the call is fire them up, to get them to work – but rather – to cause them to see the supernatural that occurs.  Our work: to help them see the Spirit’s presence and promise in their lives, this will free them from the anxieties, guilt, and damage of their own sin, and that of the world.

It is then, as they see the Holy Spirit’s work and witness in their life, as they sense their lives changing that you see their desire to love God return, and then the desire to share the peace they know. You see more time in prayer, more hunger as they study the Bible. ( From my Lutheran/small “c” catholic perspective – even a greater desire for the Eucharist – the feast of Christ, the Lord’s Supper)  As the Spirit sweeps clear their lives (which He actually did at their baptism – they often just don’t realize it for years or decades…) this abundant love brings them a peace… and that peace must be shared.

The supernatural which causes us to love and have compassion on each other is present…the challenge for a person… realizing it, reveling in it… the challenge for pastor’s and priests… helping people to see it, even as we struggle to as well.

 

This day… look for the supernatural – the dry bones coming to life, as God’s word bubbles forth from you,… and rejoice- the Lord is with you!

The Community of Believers….welcomes all


(note to new readers, one of my favorite devotional readers was a Roman Catholic priest of the last century.  Don’t agree with everything he says, but much of it is profound and the discussions that come from quoting him and commenting on his quote can be beneficial. Such is today’s devotion!  Please comment away!)

“Take not of the words of that working man who commented so enthusiastically after he had attended a gathering you had organized.  “I had never heard people speak as they do here, about being noble, honest, kind and generous…”  And he concluded in amazement: “Compared to the materialism of the Left or the Right, this is the true revolution.”
Any soul can understand the brotherhood Christ has established.  Let us make a point of not adulterating that doctrine”  ( J. Escriva – Furrow)

My thoughts:
It may seem arrogant to claim that those who live in Christ are more radical, more revolutionary than the extremes in politics.  Until you realize that the revolutionary thought, the radical difference, is found in sacrifice, in having a mindset that means we embrace discomfort – it it will lighten another’s burdens, bring hope to those without hope, mercy to those who think they are past it, and joy in the midst of sorrow.

Let me be honest.. and blunt.  Christians are people of superior morals, or of some high caliber of character that shines brighter than everyone else.  We can be hypocrites, jerks, and yes, we still sin.  But what is revolutionary, radical even, is that as we place our confidence in Christ’s work, in His ability to fix, heal, forgive, love, that sacrifice of His, that work of His, becomes part of us.

That means we can be honest – and caring, as we confront the situations we find ourselves in – even those of sin.  1 John 1 tells us not to hide what we do wrong, but to bring it before God – let Him forgive it, let Him cleanse and heal us.  That brings relief, and peace, freedom from the anxieties of “getting caught” or what sin does to our understanding of who we are.  We see Him fix our brokeness, and then we learn to desire that He does so for others…

and that radically changes things… its a revolutionary concept…because we don’t promise to fix a broken world – but to bring healing to those in it – even while we heal ourselves.

On a Monday….err Tuesday Morning


Discussion/Devotional Thought for the Day:

It’s Monday, no, it Tuesday!  UGGGHHHH
I am a full day behind, and the anxiety could easily rise, as if being anxious would shift me into some superhuman turbo speed!
I don’t even have to write this devotional because, because… well, actually the purpose of this blog is to re-center myself – as the exercise my son is given to help him avoid melt down come to mind…

Breathe….. nice slow long breaths – to which I add a phrase… Lord have mercy…..

Shift… remembering the presence of the Holy Spirit – the one whose presence assures me of the mercy, peace and love I have been given….

Accept …  God’s in charge – let’s see how He will arrange the day!

Paul says something similar to the church in Thessalonika… but catch the promise at the end….

Always be joyful. 17 Never stop praying. 18 Be thankful in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you who belong to Christ Jesus. 19 Do not stifle the Holy Spirit. 20 Do not scoff at prophecies, 21 but test everything that is said. Hold on to what is good. 22 Stay away from every kind of evil. 23 Now may the God of peace make you holy in every way, and may your whole spirit and soul and body be kept blameless until our Lord Jesus Christ comes again. 24 God will make this happen, for he who calls you is faithful”    1 Thessalonians 5:16-24 (NLT)

Devotional Discussion… A Deep Look at Life


Quote of the Day:

” You find yourself in a position which seems rather strange: on the one hand, you feel fainthearted, as you look inwards; on the other, sure, encouraged, as you look upwards. Don’t worry: it is a sign that you are beginning to know yourself better and— more importantly!—that you are beginning to know Him better.”  Escriva “The Furrow”

My comments

St. Paul wrote:  “Each time he said, “My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness.” So now I am glad to boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ can work through me. 10 That’s why I take pleasure in my weaknesses, and in the insults, hardships, persecutions, and troubles that I suffer for Christ. For when I am weak, then I am strong!”   2 Corinthians 12:9-10 (NLT)

How true this is!  I have found so often it is the struggles in my life,  where I cannot depend on my own strength, where I have to depend on Jesus’ mercy, on the Holy Spirit’s guidance, on the hope that comes from the Father’s love… it is then and there I find peace and joy, even in the midst of trauma.  It is there where I find a strength to look past myself and see the brokenness that needs healing – healing only God’s love and mercy can provide.

Help us Lord, to see your strength, to rejoice in your word and in Your cleansing of our lives in Baptism, and in the Feast you welcome us to – where we again realize the relationship You have forged with us.

Who is the son of Man Ezekiel 37:1-14


Who is the Prophet, the Son of Man

Ezekiel 14:1-14

 

In His Name

 

Who is the Prophet, this Son of Man?

 

Come, Holy Spirit, fill the hearts of your faithful, and kindle in them the fire of your love!

That morning the entire church at that time gathered,  all 120 of them.  As they waited on God I am not sure they knew the prophecies that would be fulfilled that day.  As the ladies prepared and set up for the day, this incredible feast of Pentecost, did they realize that they would be hosting a few more than they anticipated?

Imagine if they knew they would seeing 3000 plus people baptized that day!  That the feast of Pentecost would have more than that – crashing it!  Imagine the logistics!

Imagine our fields, both of them – filled with people waiting to be baptized!  People crying in joy as they heard that God would never count their sins upon them!  People dancing with great joy, as water was poured over them, and the Holy Spirit fell on them, and took up residence in each one, now a Saint as well as Sinner, now claimed by God, and given life in a way that… is just beyond explanation….

I imagine even Matthew the apostle – the secretary of the group – the one who kept such careful notes – gave up on trying to write baptismal certificates and add people to the roster!

In heaven, with the great cloud of witnesses, I imagine one of them, a prophet whose vision pictured that Pentecost – and yet this day too, as the word of God went forth, as those broken and withered and dried up by sin – their sin and the injustice of the world, healed, restored to life, and given the Holy Spirit….

Ezekiel must have been as amazed at the reality of His vision!

But that Pentecost is not the only day that the vision was manifested in its fullness, Peter not the only one who would identified as the prophet, as the son of man!  He is not the only one who would cry over a valley of dry bones, and guided by the hand of God, would burst forth with words that would heal, that would cleanse, that would call the Holy Spirit into lives that are “dried up, without hope, and cut off”.

Who besides Peter, who else could be this “son of man?”  Who else is called by God, and who would witness such a miracle?

Three candidates today… two very obvious.. and one that might surprise you!

 

Is it every pastor?

 

The first answer – the first possible one who, like Ezekiel’s vision, like Peter on Pentecost, is every man who stands before a congregation, who has been called by God to speak the words of Christ, the words of life, to a people oppressed by the world, whose faith is challenged.  I love how one song explains it…

A pastor stands before his congregation

Once a mighty army for the Lord

But now he stares into the lifeless eyes

Believers leading carnal lives

He wonders what they’re fighting for

But driven by a calling on his life

He spoke God’s word

Like he’d done a hundred times before

But this time he comes broken and weeping

With tears of a broken heart

And he cries out to the Lord

Oh Lord send Your wind into this valley

And breathe the breath of life into their souls

And raise them again a mighty army

For soon these arisen warriors will battle again

For they have been filled with the spirit wind

Those words have burnt deeply within me – as I talk to many pastors,  as we talk about the people whom we minister to, who struggle as they think they are caught in the that point in Ezekiel’s vision where they have been given flesh and know they are healed, yet seem without the Spirit.  They are not – God never leaves the promise of baptism half done – yet – do we live…. In Christ?  Does the Spirit dwell in us?

Our churches aren’t as filled as they once were, we see the need to protect what we have, rather than respond to the work God has commissioned us – His people to the world.

That prayer  – Lord send you wind into this valley – breathe the breath of life into their souls… and raise them again a might army, for soon –perhaps as soon as this afternoon – we will venture into the battle that would see others delivered from sin, released from the bondages that injustice and unrighteousness bring..

 

And the incredible reminder!  We have – not will – have been filled with the Spirit’s wind…

Such is a pastor’s call – and yes, we see those who did not know the gift of life, come alive as God fulfills the promise through His word! Through His blessings of baptism which promises life! Through the supper which celebrates His sacrificial love, and assures us of His faithfulness to us!

 

Is it every son (and daughter of Man…)

 

The 2nd “son of man”, the 2nd candidate that is a fulfillment of Ezekiel’s experience, that witnesses the same kind of a miracle is the one that might seem less likely.  You each saw that prophet this morning when you looked into the mirror!

Now some of you… Debbie, Carol, Mac, Doug, …are going to tell me that you are not a prophet!  In the sense of an Old Testament prophet, who speaks for God, perhaps so.  Yet, I can make a simple case –God has given each of you the ability to speak for Him, to a world that is as dry, and broken, as the Valley in Ezekiel’s vision!

First requirement – do you look around you, in the place to where you are brought in life, and see it much as Zeke saw his valley?  Do you see the devastation that has occurred in people’s lives?  Do you know people who see themselves as hopeless, who realize that there is something not right in the world, who feel cut off – as God’s people confess in Ezekiel’s prophecy..

Second, the word prophecy means, at its base to speak a message that bubbles forth from you – about God, about something you cannot, as you consider it keep within you- you know you have to tell them, you know you have to pray for someone, because they need to know what you have, what you know.  You know that they need the Holy Spirit to bring them life! They need a life free and with great peace, a life that is sustained, a life like yours!.  Being a prophet is sort of like being a pregnant, sooner or later what is in you will burst forth – and there will be life.  This is what can burst from you – and you will, though a bit scared, will rejoice!

And in truth, as it does, as you see someone who God calls you to speak life to… as you see someone who God calls you to ask the Holy Spirit to fill and bring life to… the joy is very similar to seeing your child born, for indeed – the Holy Spirit has used you – to help someone be born again, to live.

 

 

Is it Jesus?

         

So pastors can be considered in a small way, of being the “son of man” from who God’s word goes forth and brings life to that which was withered and dead! Likewise, you, as your faith in God builds, as you become more intimate with Him, as you know His deep love for you; you will share the words of life, that will see people healed and restored and give life.

Yet there is the most obvious answer, for without His speaking the words of life, neither the pastor, nor the people would have any words to say to those in such need.  The  Son of Man who the Father sent to seek and save the lost, the Great Physician who seeks those who are sick!  This vision, this prophecy is fulfilled to the max when we see it as a conversation among the Trinity – the Father’s hand guiding the Son to Earth, where the question is asked – in this valley where sin massacred us, can theses bones live.  “Can these bones live” the Father asks?  Jesus replies, “Lord, You know”

For this was their plan, and in Christ, the damage of sin is reversed, that which was dead and dry, is cleansed and awakened, and even as John tells us, He sent the Holy Spirit as promised – who takes up residence in our lives.

 

We don’t meekly invite Jesus into our Heart, the preaching of Christ calls it to invade, to cleanse, to restore, to renew that which was dried up.   The Holy Spirit doesn’t just give hope, God rips us from our graves, from our complacency, from our sin!  He is the evidence and proof of our hope that we have been reconnected to the Father who loves us that He sent the Son, that we are loved by the Son who died to restore us in His resurrection to the Father!  The Holy Spirit – working through God’s promises, through the very action of baptism raises up that which was dead, oppressed,

 

And bring us life…. Life with Him… for there is no other kind of life.

From there, now alive – we share with Him this incredible vision, this incredible mission, this incredible answer to the question…

The Lord asks us…”Can this Los Angeles basin, filled with dried dead bones live?”
Lord, we answer.. you know… for it is your will…

Speak through us…

AMEN!

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