Monthly Archives: October 2012

Wednesday… will this week ever end!


Devotional thought of the day:

Idou Ego meth umon eimi pasas hemeras heas tes suntelias tou aionos.

It’s Wednesday, and already a hard one.  My cousin back east is in ICU after a crash, my friend’s father passed away, another friend’s grandmother is seriously ill – and the prayer list of my church of 100 or so people is two pages long.  Pm top of that there are the Bible studies to prepare, a new confirmation class starting Sunday, a wedding to prep the music and bulletin for, all sorts of other issues going on.  As the president of my congregation is known for saying… Sigh… Prayers!

Some people call Wednesday the hump day, that things speed up from this point on.  I am not so sure I want them this week to speed up – or intensify.  It seems like this week will never end… and even if it does, what happens next week?  There are days… weeks and maybe even a year..(or two) when everything seems to pile up – work, obligations, trauma, natural disasters,…sigh. It is overwhelming…

The Greek transliteration above is from the end of the Gospel of Matthew, and it is where I find my “optimistic” attitude in the face of such weeks. (someone said that to me the other day… I’m like..uhm… okay?)  I put it there in the Greek – not to show off – but because the English translations.. well – I think they don’t express it as well as the Greek does.  Here it is, in English

Look!  I with you AM – all the days until the completion of the time!

That is the message we need, that is what we need to realize on Wednesdays, (and every other day) EVERY day – He is here, we live in the presence of God who is with us, for us, caring for us, guarding and securing us in His peace, because He loves us.  That whether it is Hurricane Sandy, or personal trauma, or watching the people we love suffer, we know God is here with us.

That gets us through the trauma.  It beings us the expectation of eternity, an eternity beyond our ability to imagine.  I used this quote earlier this week – it still strikes me as needing to be heard:

(God’s) Covenant blessings are not meant to be looked at only, but to be appropriated. Even our Lord Jesus is given to us for our present use. Believer, thou dost not make use of Christ as thou oughtest to do. When thou art in trouble, why dost thou not tell him all thy grief? Has he not a sympathizing heart, and can he not comfort and relieve thee? No, thou art going about to all thy friends, save thy best Friend, and telling thy tale everywhere except into the bosom of thy Lord. Art thou burdened with this day’s sins? Here is a fountain filled with blood: use it, saint, use it. Has a sense of guilt returned upon thee? The pardoning grace of Jesus may be proved again and again. Come to him at once for cleansing. Dost thou deplore thy weakness? He is thy strength: why not lean upon him? Dost thou feel naked? Come hither, soul; put on the robe of Jesus’ righteousness. Stand not looking at it, but wear it. Strip off thine own righteousness, and thine own fears too: put on the fair white linen, for it was meant to wear. Dost thou feel thyself sick? Pull the night-bell of prayer, and call up the Beloved Physician! He will give the cordial that will revive thee. Thou art poor, but then thou hast “a kinsman, a mighty man of wealth.” What! wilt thou not go to him, and ask him to give thee of his abundance, when he has given thee this promise, that thou shalt be joint heir with him, and has made over all that he is and all that he has to be thine? There is nothing Christ dislikes more than for his people to make a show-thing of him, and not to use him. He loves to be employed by us. The more burdens we put on his shoulders, the more precious will he be to us. [i]

Know He is with you – let Him be God and let God care for you – one of His own.  Rest well this Wednesday, as you live bt trusting in Jesus.  Knowing the Lord has, is having and will have mercy on you and I.


[i] Spurgeon, C. H. (2006). Morning and evening: Daily readings (Complete and unabridged; New modern edition.). Peabody, MA: Hendrickson Publishers.

A Long Week to Endure? That’s not always a bad thing!


Today’s devotional though”

“Allow God to lead you. He will lead you along “his path”, making use of innumerable adversities… possibly including your own sluggishness, so that it may clearly be seen that your work is being carried out by him.”  (1)

It’s only Tuesday, my mind tells me as I enter the office.  Maybe a ten hour day today, interrupted by a quick check in at the ophthalmologist.  Lots of things to do on the to do list, planning services for the next three weeks, framing up plans for Advent series, maybe squeezing in a visit or two, and some fun with the couple I am doing pre-marital counseling with this evening.  (that’s always kinda fun for me.. for them)  Already four more names added to the prayer list- including a cousin back east who was in a accident when a tree fell on his car while he was driving by, another parishioner’s recovery from surgery, and a coupe of serous things that are serious, but cannot discuss.

Sometimes I feel like life is one adversity after another – and sometimes they come in pairs and trios.  It is as if everyday is like another Monday, that there is little time to rest, and too many things that cannot get done.

I used to think it was about depending on God when I felt overwhelmed – at some point I would finally realize that He is there, and that I need to depend on Him if I am to survive.  It’s like the footprints in the sand poem, and I get too proud of the times where I didn’t need to be carried, where I could walk on my own.

If I am honest, though, I can’t walk on my own strength. I need Him to not just walk with me, but to let me lean on him constantly, to let Him carry me, to know His support, His presence, His love.

Paul explain it this way:  “2:19 For when I tried to keep the law, it condemned me. So I died to the law—I stopped trying to meet all its requirements—so that I might live for God. 20 My old self has been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me. So I live in this earthly body by trusting in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.   Galatians 2:19-20 (NLT)  

I fear I am not phrasing this well, but the idea is simple – it is not just when I am weak that I require His strength… it is constantly.  He’s there – He’s promised to get us though for being united to Him, we find our lives take a shift in meaning.  The sooner we realize that, the more we can enjoy the trials we endure.

Lord, may our lives cry out for, and receive Your mercy..

(1)Escriva, Josemaria (2011-01-31). The Forge (Kindle Locations 1339-1341). Scepter Publishers. Kindle Edition.

On Surviving Mondays…


Devotional Thought of the Day:

“By yourself, if you don’t count on grace, you can do nothing worthwhile, for you would be cutting the link which connects you with God. With grace, on the other hand, you can do all things” (1)

Peter, James and John were on a short side trip with Jesus when the man came, looking for help.  Desperate he was, to find some comfort, some rest, some refuge for his tormented son.

The apostles tried, but to no avail, what they had done before wasn’t working, for some reason they couldn’t help, they couldn’t find the power, the “dunamis” to cast out those oppressive spirits.

Mondays can be like that, as we come back to “reality”, to the grind of another week.  Maybe the weekend was not a restful one, maybe it wasn’t what we expected, or maybe it was too much – and we need to recover from it!  Either way, back on the job on Mondays is always difficult, even oppressive.  I wouldn’t go so far as saying demonic… (well there have been some Mondays… )

But where do we find the strength for them.  In the same place that Jesus instructed his men to find their strength.

“his disciples asked him privately, “Why could we not cast it out?” 29 And he said to them, “This kind cannot be driven out by anything but prayer.”
Mark 9:28-29 (ESV) 

We were reminded on Sunday about this rtuth – that we must depend on Jesus, that we must entrust ourselves into God’s hands, to recognize that the Holy Spirit dwells in us.  Yet on Mondays, so often we forget this, so often we fail to remember this.  We let the situations get the best of us, we look at everything with a darkened, pessimistic view, we approach life, if not paranoid, then at least a little hesitant – wondering which trauma, which challenge, which confrontation will next pop up to bash us like a storm.

Yesterday in Sunday School I used a long quote from another pastor.  Not my usual thing – but this one – despite it’s somewhat archaic language rings so true.  Even though it will extend this devotion out – it is good for us to read:

” ( God’s ) Covenant blessings are not meant to be looked at only, but to be appropriated. Even our Lord Jesus is given to us for our present use. Believer, thou dost not make use of Christ as thou oughtest to do. When thou art in trouble, why dost thou not tell him all thy grief? Has he not a sympathizing heart, and can he not comfort and relieve thee? No, thou art going about to all thy friends, save thy best Friend, and telling thy tale everywhere except into the bosom of thy Lord. Art thou burdened with this day’s sins? Here is a fountain filled with blood: use it, saint, use it. Has a sense of guilt returned upon thee? The pardoning grace of Jesus may be proved again and again. Come to him at once for cleansing. Dost thou deplore thy weakness? He is thy strength: why not lean upon him? Dost thou feel naked? Come hither, soul; put on the robe of Jesus’ righteousness. Stand not looking at it, but wear it. Strip off thine own righteousness, and thine own fears too: put on the fair white linen, for it was meant to wear. Dost thou feel thyself sick? Pull the night-bell of prayer, and call up the Beloved Physician! He will give the cordial that will revive thee. Thou art poor, but then thou hast “a kinsman, a mighty man of wealth.” What! wilt thou not go to him, and ask him to give thee of his abundance, when he has given thee this promise, that thou shalt be joint heir with him, and has made over all that he is and all that he has to be thine? There is nothing Christ dislikes more than for his people to make a show-thing of him, and not to use him. He loves to be employed by us. The more burdens we put on his shoulders, the more precious will he be to us. “(2)


In closing consider this – you look at Catholic Saints like St Josemarie Escriva, you look at protestant preachers like Spurgeon, or hymn writers like Wimber or Newton or Wesley and Luther – the one common thread they have – is that we have to trust – we have to depend on God’s presence in our life.  Not just to get into heaven, but to enjoy the life eternal that starts when God makes us his…

Cry out Lord have mercy my friends, and know He has, He is, and He will…

 

 

(1)  Escriva, Josemaria (2011-01-31). The Forge (Kindle Locations 1282-1285). Scepter Publishers. Kindle Edition.
(2)  Spurgeon, C. H. (2006). Morning and evening: Daily readings (Complete and unabridged; New modern edition.). Peabody, MA: Hendrickson Publishers.

The Reformation is only about this: The Lord Almighty Is With Us!


The Reformation is only about this: 

The Lord Almighty Is With Us!

Psalm 46:1-11

 

 † In His Name

 

May the peace of God, the peace which comforted Martin Luther and so many others who struggled with their own sin, and the sin of their time, bring you comfort and peace and stillness….

 

Luther’s Nightmares… do we have such?
Are our dragons… less?

It doesn’t matter which movie about Martin Luther’s life that you watch. There is always a scene which people find troubling,

Luther, not long after his ordination, is in his monk’s cell.  It is late at night and time to sleep.  Even though his confessor tells him there is nothing interesting in his confessions, Martin is tormented spiritually and emotionally.  He rages against satan, and in grief and shame, against his own weakness.

The scene is violent, as Luther storms around the room, flailing and yelling, screaming at Satan, weeping over his own brokenness. He feels God’s wrath for the existence of sin in his life. In the movie made a little less than a decade ago, as Luther faces his own inability to overcome sin, he questions God.  How can a just God create us so weak that we cannot overcome sin in our lives? Luther only saw God as just at the time, for that is how he was taught.

His mentor, His confessor, tries to share with Martin that God is love.  The Augustinian Abbot sends Luther to Wittenberg specifically to study the New Testament, hoping that as Martin does find God’s mercy and love, and when he does, that which torments him will be replaced with peace.

It is the reading from Romans today, that Fr. Martin Luther finally realizes God’s love, and that Luther’s life has been entrusted to God, and therefore he can live in that trust.

Later, coming across the Psalm we chanted, in awe of the incredible grace and providence of God, Luther writes the incredibly Hymn, A Mighty Fortress is our God.

I think there are days, where I am much like Luther, I look at the challenges people face, in life, the challenges of lives hampered and damaged by sin, the anxiety, the suffering there are days where for a moment, the despair that Luther knew seems all to real.

Our hope is the same as Luther’s this Mighty Fortress, this incredible Lord of Heaven’s Hosts is with us.  We will grasp

God is our refuge and strength, a helper who is always found in times of trouble.

Therefore we will not be afraid,

 

As the Psalm moves on from that crucial first phrase into the second verse, I am reminded of a conversation this week.  I had commented, “it’s simple – if you can’t run from your problems, you also can’t run from the One willing to bear those burdens.”

The response was that my comment was beautiful, but I wonder, if in thinking of the beauty of such thoughts, we reduce them to something not real, not practical, not for us.

I think we do this with Psalm 46, as well – we know we need to stop – give pause to the anxiety the world tosses at us, yet we find such a pause… disturbing, and we fill the silence, rather than stop… and stop our fighting God…and know peace.

The World is being tossed aside.
But Compare that to the Heavens streams

 

As I was saying the Psalmist moves from this brash statement, that because God is that refuge and strength, we need not fear – he has something in mind.  He doesn’t get to it directly. He talks of a world devastated by natural disasters, of earthquakes and floods that we should have no fear of, of the disasters that make prior disasters we have seen look like summer rain showers, and 2.0 tumblers.

Even as violent as these storms are, as much as the world shakes, as the mountains collapse, the Psalmist calls our attention to a different body of water, instead of disaster though, this other seen is pastoral, peaceful, glorious.

There is a river— its streams delight the city of God!

the holy dwelling place of the Most High!

God is within her; she will not be toppled!

God will help her when the morning dawns!
Given the pause, the “selah” the break in the meter and psalm, the shift goes from the traumatic, the terrifying, to the peaceful, to the pastoral, to that which is kept and protected by the power of Almighty God – for it is where He dwells.  That is the purpose of the Selah – a time and moment to pause…

To realize what this means  – that God dwells in a place of peace, a place that cannot be toppled, a place that cannot be moved….

Could the Psalmist, looking forward to the promises of God, realize what God would have Paul write to the church in Corinth?

3:16 Do you not know that you are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit dwells in you? 17 If anyone destroys God’s temple, God will destroy him. For God’s temple is holy, and you are that temple.  1 Corinthians 3:16-17 (ESV)

As we deal with the pause, the Selah, the interlude, can we realize that it is there – to help us transition from the trauma, from the pain, from the brokenness of the world that would send an overwhelming flood into our lives?

 

It is there the psalmist goes next, to reveal that the shaking and storms aren’t caused in the physical world, but in people, and in their lives.


The Nations Rage, and are tossed aside….
But like the world, all is shattered,

          It’s time to be quiet, to stop fighting..it’s time to be still

Nations rage, kingdoms topple;

It is here that we begin to see the truth, it is not the mountains and oceans that cause us to be shaken, but people and kingdoms  – whether we are talking about kingdoms as in nations, or the kingdoms of our homes.

It is therein we find our greatest shaking, our greatest pains, the greatest storms, and the storms that make us question life … and make us struggle – even as Luther would struggle in his cell.

How do we deal with our sin, with our failing when tempted, with our humanity, and the humanity and sin of others…as our earth quakes, …as they are shattered, even as the evil seems to surround us, to even drown us…

Not just evil as in slavery and murder..

But the evil of gossip and hated, of wanting to get revenge, of the pains of being betrayed, never mind the pain that comes from suffering from the overall weight of sin – even the things we are sure are sin, yet we feel guilt and shame as we endure them…
We might question our hope, our life, our salvation, we might even despair or fight God – accusing Him of unfairness because of what we must endure.

Luther knew this…feeling, this despair…


It is why Romans 3, and the concept of our living, trusting in God was such a revelation – it is not up to us to become the solution to our sin, to the brokenness of the world.

You see the context of that favorite beautiful sentiment, “Be still and know” is not just about being calm in the middle of external struggles, but our struggle with God.

Hear another couple of other translations….

46:10 “Cease striving and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.” Psalm 46:10 (NASB)

46:10 “Stop fighting,” he says, “and know that I am God, supreme among the nations, supreme over the world.”   Psalm 46:10 (TEV)

and I love what the great English pastor wrote n this..

That is the great theme of Psalm 46. The nations and their princes are all being addressed; these people who are arguing against God and querying whether there is such a God. ‘And listen’ says the Psalmist, ‘here is the God who makes wars to cease; this is the God who arises and vindicates himself.’ Then, having displayed his case, he says, ‘Be still,’ give up, give in, admit, ‘that I am God.’[i]

Be still, become, look, here is Almighty God!  Here is the Lord of the Heavenly Host!  He is here in all His power, in all His glory! Realize this with awe, even as He feeds you His broken body, and you drink His blood,

He is here for you, to protect you, to keep you, to guard your hearts and minds… for He dwells, not in a city made of hands, but among His people.

And therefore – we do not fear, we live in His peace….AMEN

 

 


[i] Lloyd-Jones, D. M. (1987). Revival (120). Westchester, IL: Crossway Books.

Reformation Day!


“This Is Eternal Life!!”

John 17:1–12

In Jesus Name

May the grace, mercy and peace of God envelop you, for you have been entrusted into Christ’s care!

Regret the Necessity

In a novel about the formation of the Green Beret, the commandant of the Special Warfare Center says the following to an officer applying to the program.  “That could be our motto here, that we do a lot of things we regret are necessary.”

I think it is a good description of the Reformation as well. Picture Luther, standing before a trial which called him to recant from that which he found so comforting, which brought so much peace to his tormented soul.  His words are not so much bravado, he knew he was testifying before those who could take his life.  Yet, without any contradiction from the scriptures and clear reason, he had to stand, there was nothing he could do otherwise.

It was something he regretted was necessary.

Not just for his own peace, but that the people of God could have revealed to them the love of God, the desire of God that not one should perish, but that all should come to repentance.  For that, for the moment was hidden,
Hear again the words from Jesus high priestly prayer from our gospel reading:

17:1 When Jesus had spoken these words, he lifted up his eyes to heaven, and said, “Father, the hour has come; glorify your Son that the Son may glorify you, 2 since you have given him authority over all flesh, to give eternal life to all whom you have given him. 3 And this is eternal life, that they know you the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent. John 17:1-3 (ESV)

On this day, as we remember the faithfulness of God, who revealed to us the name by which we are saved – may we realize why we regret the reformation, and why it was necessary.
Regret

During this prayer of Jesus, what is known as the high priestly prayer, there are a number of recurring themes – recurring phrases that are incredibly powerful.  As we hear one of them, we find our reason to regret the necessity of the reformation.

Jesus prayered, “Holy Father, keep them in your name, which you have given me, that they may be one, even as we are one.   John 17:11-12 (ESV)

The saddest of the unforeseen consequences of the Reformation is that today the one holy church is fractured  into some 40,000 pieces.  The church isn’t one, and perhaps because of it, we’ve lost focus on what makes her holy, what makes her praises pure, what makes her orthodox.

As we battle, Lutherans against Catholics, Methodists against Presbyterians, Baptists against Baptists and everyone else while they are at it, we’ve become a spiritual football conference, all excited by the baptisms here, but not the baptisms next door. It has become to easy in this day, if we don’t like what the pastor says, if we don’t like how close the sermon comes to calling us to repentance, to move to the church down the street.  Our faith is fractured, because we’ve lost sight of Christ, and that our unity is found in our baptism, our unity is found in the Name above all other names, not the name on the outside of our church.

And even as we hear the cry for unity, we understand that there is a time for a stand like Martin Luther’s, or like the families who left Germany to come to Misery in order to keep the focus on Jesus, and on His work.  But we also acknowledge that many of our divisions are for lesser reasons, reasons that don’t bring comfort and peace to those horrified by the consequences of sin.

We regret that it was necessary, this reformation, for the division it causes. Even as we rejoice that God is with us, that His church will prevail against the very gates of Hell.

 

The Necessity,


The reason that it was necessary to see the church reformed is also found in this same passage.

17:1 When Jesus had spoken these words, he lifted up his eyes to heaven, and said, “Father, the hour has come; glorify your Son that the Son may glorify you, 2 since you have given him authority over all flesh, to give eternal life to all whom you have given him. 3 And this is eternal life, that they know you the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent. John 17:1-3 (ESV)

We trust in God, we have faith alone in Christ for this very thing.   That in Christ we have been given eternal life, which is that we know, intimately know the only true God, our Father.  The one whom we live with forever and ever.  Not just in heaven, but even now.

That nothing can separate us from Him and His love, shown to us in Christ.  That it has been given to us, not conditionally, not with certain requirements for us to meet prior to our entrance.  We don’t have to merit it, it is not our work that will get us there. It is Christ’s, it is the Father’s.  Later in this prayer, Jesus prays

17:20 “I do not ask for these only, but also for those who will believe in me through their word, 21 that they may all be one, just as you, Father, are in me, and I in you, that they also may be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me. 22 The glory that you have given me I have given to them, that they may be one even as we are one, 23 I in them and you in me, that they may become perfectly one, so that the world may know that you sent me and loved them even as you loved me. 24 Father, I desire that they also, whom you have given me, may be with me where I am, to see my glory that you have given me because you loved me before the foundation of the world.   John 17:20-24 (ESV)

That is the message that is so necessary to get out – so necessary for people to hear, because it changes everything.  It gives us hope for today, and for eternity,

It is what we are about. It’s about eternal life.  It’s about trusting in God, it’s about knowing Him, having a relationship with Him.  Believing in Him for the impossible.

Even if that means we have to do what we regret is necessary.

The Hope

In preparing for this sermon, I came across this quote, as you hear it think about what it says, and what church they pastor:

The upcoming Year of Faith is a “summons to an authentic and renewed conversion to the Lord, the One Savior of the world” (Porta Fidei 6). In other words, the Year of Faith is an opportunity for Catholics (the church) to experience a conversion – to turn back to Jesus and enter into a deeper relationship with him. The “door of faith” is opened at one’s baptism, but during this year Catholics (the church is) are called to open it again, walk through it and rediscover and renew their relationship with Christ and his Church.

If a Lutheran wrote it, I wouldn’t be surprised – but it was written by another German – a Catholic one – Pope Benedict XVI.  As I read this, I think I heard a smile and perhaps a giggle from Luther.  The church, not just the Lutheran church, and not just Rome, but also among the Anglicans, the Presbyterians, even the Baptists, in these anxiety ridden days is being brought back to Jesus, is being reformed.  We are starting to remember that this is about Jesus.

Maybe there is hope – but if wasn’t for a young pastor in Germany a half minute ago in God’s timing – it might not have happened.

He did what He regretted was necessary, and people found grace and peace because of it.   A grace and peace we need to bring to the world, for they need to know this as well as we do – that we’ve been brought into the love of God, the love

That’s what it’s about – this eternal life in Christ.

For we are His…

And in Him we have peace, peace that passes all understanding, that guards our hearts and minds, in Christ Jesus.  AMEN.

A Hope for Re-union as the church is Reformed


In this month, as Lutherans celebrate the 495th anniversary of the start of the reformation, it is good to read this, coming from our brothers in the Roman Catholic Church:

“The upcoming Year of Faith is a “summons to an authentic and renewed conversion to the Lord, the One Savior of the world” (Porta Fidei 6). In other words, the Year of Faith is an opportunity for Catholics to experience a conversion – to turn back to Jesus and enter into a deeper relationship with him. The “door of faith” is opened at one’s baptism, but during this year Catholics are called to open it again, walk through it and rediscover and renew their relationship with Christ and his Church.” (from the USCCB website)

May our prayer not just be one of thanks, that the gospel has prevailed, but may we as well pray that God would continue to reform us all, that we would indeed be one, even as Jesus and the Father are One.

A Hymn of Surrender… A Mighty Fortress…


Devotional Thought of the Day:

Tomorrow, Lutheran Churches around the world will sing “A Mighty Fortress”, the hymn written by Martin Luther.

I’ve heard it called the Battle Hymn of the Reformation, a rally cry to do battle…. As I look at the words, and at Psalm 46 which it is drawn from, and look at Luther’s life, I am not so sure.

I think it is a hymn of surrender, and let me use a medieval village (think like Robin Hood’s era) as a parabolic example.

The village is constantly raided by bandits. Those who would try to stand and fight, are instead overwhelmed, beaten and battered into submission.  Those who are too weak simply give in, and compromise, and let the bandits steal what they want.  The village is crushed, there is no joy left, no hope, nothing but the bondage thrust on them by the  Until a messenger comes from a nearby castle, offering protection, and more importantly, a place in the King’s family.  People struggle with the decision, for it means they have to give up what they know and what will it be like to be no longer free.

Such is the life that Luther knew, in bondage to his own sin, oppressed by Satan and by the thoughts of death.  The church at his time didn’t help – it held hostage the very thing that would give any hope.  Forgiveness, redemption, restoration, the hope received by those who believe and are baptised, hidden behind indulgences merited..by paying a hefty price.

It is as Luther realizes the breadth, the width, the height and depth of the Father’s love shown to us in Christ, that grace – the mercy and peace of God is revealed.   Our freedom, which was but an illusion is traded in for security, protection, peace…forgiveness, adoption.  Nothing, absolutely nothing, St Paul wrote – can seperate us from that love in Christ.

I picture then, using my parable, the people of the village, being pursued by their enemies, running to the Fortress, encouraged by the One who came to bring them to their real home.  The hymn not a cry to do battle, but a realization that true safety is found there, in Christ, who brings us home.  For He is not just a messenger, but the Lord God Almighty, come to bring His people home.  A favorite Catholic priest/writer wrote:

“Doubts assail you, temptations, with that gloss of elegance about them. I love to hear you say how this shows that the devil considers you his enemy, and that God’s grace will never leave you unprotected. Keep up the struggle!” (1)

It is not our battle, this battle against sin, and satan and death… it is Jesus’ battle.  One of the translations of A Mighty Fortress says this so well:

With might of ours can naught be done, soon were our loss effected;
But for us fights the Valiant One, whom God Himself elected.
Ask ye, who is this? Jesus Christ it is.
Of Sabbath Lord, and there’s none other God;
He holds the field forever.

Indeed He does, as we scurry into His fortress, as we tend to those wounded and broken, as we go out, not to do battle, but on rescue missions, to bring home  those who need the refuge we have found.

May we indeed live by faith, by trusting in the One who sets captives free, and then guards their hearts and minds, in the peace that abiding in Christ brings.

AMEN!

 

 

(1) Escriva, Josemaria (2011-01-31). The Forge (Kindle Locations 1247-1250). Scepter Publishers. Kindle Edition.

An Incredible Prayer, Disguised as a Camp Song


Devotion of the Day

My first reaction was to wonder when he learned the song that was being sung with the enthusiasm that can only be generated within the heart of a five year old.

KUMMM BY  YAAAAAA my Lord… KKKKKKKKKumn by YAAAAAAA

My immediate reaction was to think ill thoughts of whoever taught him that camp song!  And I thought of all who mocked the song, at first agreeing with them in my mind.  Especially as I heard my five year old – feeling much better after two days of being sick, sing it with all of his might. (and if you know him…. well – you can picture this.)

I eventually thought back to my youth, to when the song was actually popular and not mocked, and I remembered the translation of the song.  Someone’s singing/crying/working/praying LORD BE WITH US. ( or literally Come by hear!)

As I thought of these words, it became apparent to me, this simple song, once written by a simple people who knew desperation, who knew anxiety, who knew pain, is truly a very deep hymn – one of great comfort and deep spiritual truth.  For no matter the vocation, no matter the action, it is always appropriate to cling to the One who is here – to cry out to Him, asking Him to reveal Himself – for He is always here… always ready to respond always ready to care and bring mercy and peace.

Kumbaya is simply another way of praying the Kyrie – another way of reaching out and realizing we were not alone..for He is with us.

May we cry out both, in sincerity and in recognition of our need, and may we know we have been heard….

Abandoned to God


Devotional thought of the day:

“Put your head frequently round the oratory door to say to Jesus… I abandon myself into your arms. Leave everything you have—your wretchedness!—at his feet. In this way, in spite of the welter of things you carry along behind you, you will never lose your peace.”   (1)

As I review some of my history, in preparing for the remembrance of the Reformation, I dare wonder what would happen if Martin Luther and St. Josemarie Escriva would meet.  (Some Lutherans and some Roman Catholics could not see this occur, yet I wonder)  For both seem driven in their lives –  to connect people to Chrsit, to reveal to them the love of God, that they may live and love Him in return.

Among all the things that they have in common, from being called beasts of burdens, to their dedication to connect people to Christ, to these incredible words – this idea of being abandoned to God, to be stripped of all that isn’t of Christ. It is not an obligation, bu an invitation to an incredible blessing!

It sounds painful, yet Escriva would tell us that can we be released of all that would constrain us, we would know peace.  The words of Hebrews 12 encourage the same…

“With so many witnesses in a great cloud all around us, we too, then, should throw off everything that weighs us down and the sin that clings so closely, and with perseverance keep running in the race which lies ahead of us. 2 Let us keep our eyes fixed on Jesus, who leads us in our faith and brings it to perfection: for the sake of the joy which lay ahead of him, he endured the cross, disregarding the shame of it, and has taken his seat at the right of God’s throne.”

Hebrews 12:1-2 (NJB) 

He has taken his seat there, our Advocate, our Paraclete, given us the Holy Spirit, and is our Lord, our Master. Not to reign over us like a dictator, but to care and provide for us, the head of our family, the Spirit being the “giver of life” and that life the one acquired for us.

My friends, abandon yourself to His mercy, to His grace, to His work redeeming and restoring us to the Father, to His work so beautifully described in Ephesians 2,

2:10 We are God’s work of art, created in Christ Jesus for the good works which God has already designated to make up our way of life.
Ephesians 2:10 (NJB) 

Let Jesus strip you of that which causes anxiety, that which causes shame and guilt and despair,the sin and idolatry, including self idolatry….. and know His peace and joy, as yourself in His presence.

AMEN

(1)Escriva, Josemaria (2011-01-31). The Forge (Kindle Locations 1235-1238). Scepter Publishers. Kindle Edition.

Overlooking The Gift….


Devotional/Discussion thought of the day:  (why do I write discussion – in the hope someday this is discussed, of course)

“If all those people became so enthusiastic and were ready to acclaim you over a piece of bread, even though the multiplication was a very great miracle, shouldn’t we be doing much more for all the many gifts you have granted us, and especially for giving us your very self unreservedly in the Eucharist?” (1)

In view of these days, when we are arguing and doing battle over what the government can, can’t, should or shouldn’t do for those it governs, this quote by St. Josemarie seems incredibly important.  For indeed we get excited about what is physically/financially provided for us, and because of the similarities of those running, the only real argument I can see is about whether people are given to, or have taken from them, money and that which it can buy.

It is never miraculous, the government cannot turn 5 loaves and 2 fishes into enough to feed 12,000 people.   And we applaud or crucify those who promise to do something about it, based on its perceived short term affect on us.  Yet we waste more time contemplating politics than the ministry of Jesus in our midst.  We get more excited about a juicy bit of gossip that we can copy and paste to bash “the other guy” than we do about the word of God which reveals to us that we aren’t alone, that we are loved, that this world isn’t a random and without a purpose.

We aren’t alone.

We are loved…

A little bit of bread, a small sip of wine, a gift that changes everything, that fulfills a promise, that indeed reminds us of the greatest gift, and is a gift that is worth more than any thing,.

Celebrate it, think about what is given you there, as you Take and Eat the Body Broken for you, and you take and drink, the blood outpoured for the forgiveness of sin.  All sin.

And may you live, as those God would call to His feast…

(1)Escriva, Josemaria (2011-01-31). The Forge (Kindle Locations 1228-1231). Scepter Publishers. Kindle Edition.

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