Monthly Archives: November 2012

Six month review “A Justified Sinner”


Dear readers,

Six months ago, I started this blog – now 190 posts longs, with sermons and devotions.   I would really appreciate your input – and you should be able to put in other answers.

I am hoping the feedback will help this blog benefit you – and others, rather than just being a place for me to store my odd and different ideas.

Thanks for the input!

Spiritual Growth, commanded, compelled, or?


Devotional/Discussion thought of the day… and please discuss!

“You need interior life and doctrinal formation. Be demanding on yourself! As a Christian man or woman, you have to be the salt of the earth and the light of the world, for you are obliged to give good example with holy shamelessness. The charity of Christ should compel you. Feeling and knowing yourself to be another Christ from the moment you told him that you would follow him, you must not separate yourself from your equals—your relatives, friends and colleagues—any more than you would separate salt from the food it is seasoning. Your interior life and your formation include the piety and the principles a child of God must have, to give flavour to everything by his active presence there. Ask the Lord that you may always be that good seasoning in the lives of others.” (1)

Over the centuries, one of the great issues for the church is how to encourage spiritual growth in the people of God.  How to get encourage them to live lives filled with prayer and worship and both meditation on God’s word, and the indepth study of it.   There is no doubt to the benefit of such interaction with God and His word, yet how do we do it?  Add to this the theological discussion about the proper use of God’s law and gospel, and the issue gets further complicated.  We have been told – and can make the case for from scripture, that we aren’t supposed us Law (rules with threats of active or passive punishment/reward) to motivate behavior within the church, but rather – receiving the incredible grace of God should result in our actions changing – as God works the change in us.

This is true not only for private spiritual disciplines like prayer, meditation, devotional study, and being involved in gatherings with other believers, but also things like evangelism, serving the needy…

The above quote is walking on the fence – primarily because of how people read the word “obliged”.  If obliged is read as to mean you are blessed if you do, damned if you do not, then it becomes law.  THe problem with using the law to motivate the behavior that should be natural to a Christian is that compliance is achieved through fear or greed – the positive or negative reward is why the act is being done.  (Some would say – at least its being done – and the ends justify the means.)  That form of compliance is often short-lived as well – for the reward diminishes over time, and what was once done with enthusiasm and excitement fades.  (This btw is why I believe when the end result of becoming a Christian is the “reward of heaven”, people will soon lose interest – becoming a Christian is about Who we are in heaven with, and Who walks with us here)

But if obliged is something different – an inner compelling to love as a reaction to love, if Christ’s charity to us, to humanity is so overwhelming as it is, then we are compelled the same way a piece of wood is swept away by a river’s current – and the discipline is something internal, natural, the norm, not the goal.   The spiritual growth simply becomes part of us, as we are swept along in Christ – the disciplines become part of who we are, rather than what we do.

Yet that still begs the question – how do we introduce these things to the new believer, how do we encourage and train, guide and pastor people, and indeed fellow pastors, in such beneficial and grace filled things. And how do we encourage it in our “mature” believers, those who have done without for so long, yet see themselves as “faithful”.  How do we encourage and teach this to those who see no great need for indepth prayer and meditation?

How do we cause them to fall into the river of Christ’s charity and become swept into a life, lived fully in relationship, interacting with God, not just on Sunday morning (or the occaisonal Sunday Morning..) but as part of their life…

For that matter – how do leaders find the motivation to let Christ sweep us away..?

 

(1)  Escriva, Josemaria (2011-01-31). The Forge (Kindle Locations 1722-1730). Scepter Publishers. Kindle Edition.

The Advent of Hope


The Incarnation:

The Advent of Hope

 

† In Jesus Name †

 

My friends: Come and Adore Him, for there, it is well with our Souls!

There is a change that occurs in the midst of Advent, a change that is as dramatic as any we can even realize. It is a change we do not see, unless we look very clearly, not at what changes, but at who is causing and creating the change.  We have to see His promises, promises acted out, not just in our life as it changes, but in the lives of those who have gone before.  We can see it in the lives of martyrs, those whose lives died, yet testified of the change.  We can see it as well in the lives of those who celebrated the change in the words of hymns, and songs of praise.

As we wander through this advent, towards the celebration of Christ, we aren’t going to look at much at the journey towards the stable, as what that journey resulted in, in the lives of men, and is resulting in, in our lives.  That is why we just sang, “It is well”, for that song shows the effect of Christ’s first advent, of His birth and life, lived out for us.

We see a like cry to “it is well”, in the words of Isaiah, words that bear a promise that is beyond our comprehension – how can a man run and not be weary, how can he endure a lifetime’s journey and not feel faint?  It is the secret behind Mr. Spafford’s hymn, the truth that enabled him to not only go on, but to rejoice.  It is the miracle of Advent, the miracle of the Incarnation, the miracle that brings hope, and the expectation of God fulfilling His promises.

When we come and look at God, we look at God, lying in that manger, we need to see more than an adorable baby – we need to see God in such a way we adore Him.  We need to realize that coming and adoring Him is what renews our strength, what causes us to rise up with wings like eagles, what enables us, without hesitation, to cry out, “IT IS WELL WITH MY SOUL!”

The Incarnation is raw, it is harsh, and in it, we find the most incredible truth that changes our lives.  God comes to us when we are weak, when our burdens are overwhelming, when there is no room in the inn, when the stable and house and our lives are filthy, and changes it all.

It goes beyond words, but it is the truth we live in, now.  For we live after that blessed event.  We’ve seen the results of the cross and our baptism linking us to it, cleansing us, transforming us, giving us hope when the rest of the world would give up. That is the hope of Advent – that everything has changed…even as it will change again.

Mary’s child was born for that purpose, He came into the world for this reason, to cry out to us, to those who come to adore Him,  The baby is there so you can hear His plea..

Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” Matthew 11:28-30 (ESV)

My dearest friends, we need not wait for the second coming to come to Him, to adore Him, to obey His call, to be relieved of our burdens, to learn from Him, to find the rest our souls crave.

Advent is a different time for those in the faith, a time to remember, not to re-live the burdens, but to relive the release of those burdens.  This not the time to mourn, but the time to rejoice and to realize we’ve been brought into His presence, into His life. This is the time to pause and realize what we’ve been delivered from, so that we remember what we have been delivered into, the presence of God.

And to know we are safe here now, where it is well, for we are guarded the peace of God which passes all understanding, and guards us, our hearts and minds, located in the Incarnate Lord Jesus.  AMEN!

Use our scars to build Your Church O Lord…


Devotional thought of the day:

Listening randomly to the music on my computer, the last couple of days a song has played, and stuck in my brain.  The chorus includes these words,

use our hands to build your church o Lord, use our hands to build Your church.”

A very good friend recorded the song, and like me, went to a Bible College where we were taught to lead and minister in a manner consistent with Christ’s model.  We were called to serve, to sacrifice, not for our own glory, but simply to point people to Jesus.  It was held out to us as the way to build God’s church, to do as ROmans 12:1-9 talks so beautifully concerning.  Because of God’s incredible living kindness and mercy, present to Him your bodies, to be sacrificed spiritually – for this is the logical way to worship (parker’s paraphrase)

Last night, as Chris and I were side by side, facilitating the worship of our people, I was struggling.  A dear friend in our congregation received news that she would have to undergo chemotherapy, not just a course of treatment, but a long haul, to keep at bay cancer.  My childhood friend’s dad was in the hospital, possibly having a heart attack (his mom passed away recently) my dad had been taken to the ER. Another friend’s dad, extremely influential in helping me and so many other minister,  responded positively despite what most would see as a major setback.  As the evening progressed, I found out about others in crisis, and it began to become, well overwhelming.

It is hard to preach on Isaiah 40 when you are crushed. It is hard to preach on casting your cares on Christ, when you almost don’t have a chance for a breath as they come flooding in.  Then again, you can’t really know how much God will strengthen you, how much His power is displayed in our weakness, until you really need to know it.

So how does Chris’ song, and all of the suffering work into on theme in this blog?

I was thinking about his song, and our lessons on servant ministry/leadership and about a phrase the influential pastor wrote.  God can turn your scars into stars. When all of a sudden, the two morphed into one thought.

Use our scars to build YOUR church o Lord, use your scars to build Your church!

Use our scars to build YOUR church o Lord, use your scars to build Your church!

If we, in presenting our bodies to God to be living sacrifices, to serve and use our talents and abilities to accomplish His will (  2 Pet 3:9) then He can as well use  our anxieties, our illnesss, our setbacks, our crosses our scars.

It takes trust to lay those things down, far more trust than to volunteer to serve a dinner, or sing in the choir, or become a pastor or missionary, or even that incredible sacrifice – a children’s Sunday school teacher  ( I am not joking with that btw- I think they are among the greatest of God’s servants)   I hate my scars, I even hate more the scars and potential scars I see my people bearing.  I would do anything to see them freed from such burdens, and it bothers me when I cannot.

But I see something else at work, for I am seeing God using those scars.  I saw my friend, on the day she received such news, come to church and stay for the potluck, her strength an example of the very words from Isaiah.  Her husband was one of the men who served that meal, working besides others and encouraging them.  I see others, also dealing with issues and anxieties sharing in the same meal.  I see a church of broken people, whom God has brought together and lifted up as His church….

And I realized, what I was praying for in my morphing a song and a thought and a phrase, it was already happening…. here.. in our midst.  In a glorious-yet tragic-yet inspring-yet full of tears-yet beyond imagination way.

Lord – have mercy on us- bring healing to these lives… and help our unbelief…even as you give us strength, and cause us to rise up on wings as eagles..

AMEN

Morality and Adoration


Devotional thought of the day:

As I wander through the updates of Facebook, I see two basic reactions to immorality.

The first encourages and defends it, asserting that no one has the right to interfere with another’s choices.  It doesn’t matter what is immoral, whether it be greed, or lust, or envy.  Dare you challenge someone on an immoral act, and you will find great opposition, even to the extent that you will be demonized for opposing that which they have every right (incurring free speech) to do.  Result, immorality proposers.

The second is an attempt, rather than dealing with immorality on an individual basis, to legislate it, to prohibit and publicly protest it.  We see this all the time, as Christians attempt to sincerely make a difference, or at least try to appear like they are making a difference.  In trying to legislate the morality of a culture that is patently immoral, we easily become crusaders or compromisors, willing to give up on this issue, to make a stand on that issue,  Eventually, we simply make token stands, like the one church leaders made last year – protesting the requirement for mandated coverage for abortion for those whose work is affiliated with religious ministry.  ( Don’t we trust our own people enough that they won’t take advantage of such, but they will come to us for assistance in crisis?  For that matter, do we doubt the moral fiber of those we shepherd to not get “into trouble” in the first place?)

So what do we do about morality and immorality?  What will radically change the behavior of our country?  What will help people not only be able to distinguish what it moral and beneficial to themselves and society, but see a desire to live morally, and to seek remedy and assistance when one fails, (as we all do)

There is an easy answer.

Adoration.

Simply put, when we find ourselves in the midst of a Holy, Righteous, Perfect God, who welcomes us, cleanses us, loves us, we find ourselves in awe, and that awe transforms to joy and that joy into adoration and love.  And the more we fall in love with the God who loves us, and blesses us, and makes our life a masterpiece, that awe grows.  And as that awe grows, the more the moral fabric of our lives changes.

Look at the stories of the “big-time” saints.  St. Paul, St Augustine, St Francis, or the great revivals like the Great Awakening, or the Welsh Revival.  In each life, in each revivial, the moral fabric changes, even without being addressed.  Like Zacchaeus, an encounter with God leaves us wanting to change, and more than that – seeing the changes created inside us, impelling us, transforming us, renewing and re-creating us in all of His glory.

Some theologians will disagree with me, they will point to the natural law, and the “civil use” of the law.  I’ll deal with that some other time  – the answer is simple – found in Romans 2-8.  But you cannot deny, someone madly in love with God, who is responding to God’s love for them being revealed – they will be transformed, and the more they dwell, the more they live in the presence of His love, the more they will be unable to tolerate sin, and immorality.  Within themselves, they will rush to forgiveness, to the places it is promised.  They will meditate on their Baptism (see Titus 3:2-8), they will feast on the Body brokem and the Blood shed for the forgiveness of sins, they will confess their sins and hear that they are cleansed of them and all unrighteousness.   ANd they will see their brother, their neighbor, those those still fighting for freedom to sin, and they will fight to free them from sin, not simply restrict the ability to.

Adoration result in morality, not as a primary result, but simply as a side affect.

But if it is a moral society you really desire… desire instead the presence of the One who accounts us moral, and righteous, and beloved.

Adore


To avoid routine in your vocal prayers try to say them with the same ardour with which a person who has just fallen in love speaks… and as if it were the last chance you had to approach Our Lord. (1)

As I have been considering the approach of Advent, the theme of adoration keeps running through my mind.  And in the free-association sleeplessness that comes from a mixture of jetlag, going back to back long days and trying to live for a week in a country with a primary different language, I started thinking in french for some reason last night, picturing the shepherds kneeling by Mary and Joseph, peering into the feeding trough and looking at… God incarnate!  ( I know- picturing the manger scene with French speaking shepherds may be a little wierd… but)

The are looking, in awe, at the Messiah, the Son of God, God incarnate…. their Creator!

As the finally were able to speak, the only words that were uttered, softly and meekly, nous t’adorons.

We adore YOU!

Not said in the English idea, that the baby was just adorable…  (I doubt they pinched the Messiah’s cheek – but you never know)  But with the passion that is described in the quote taken from my morning devotions. With the ardour, with the passion, with the desire to never leave His side, to spend every moment thinking about our Lord and Deliverer.  It is by no means romantic, yet a similar kind of enthusiasm, a similar kind of joy exists.  The joy of discovering a love whose height and depth, breadth and width cries out to be discovered,  A love which needs to be explored – a love of the Creator, the One who has promised to fix and heal and make our lives the way they are meant to be – not just for this time, but for eternity.

We don’t just “follow Him”, we don’t just study His teachings, we don’t just honor what He has done at the cross and the empty tomb and all the miracles.

We Adore Him.  Nous T’adorons Jesus!

For He has come into our lives… and they will never be the same….

(1)Escriva, Josemaria (2011-01-31). The Forge (Kindle Locations 1665-1667). Scepter Publishers. Kindle Edition.

Adoration- is it part of your worship?


Devotional Discussion of the day:

In a few days, the strains of familiar music will fill your ears, if it hasn’t already.  The sounds of Christmas (even though it is not advent.)

But as I plan out our special services, one chorus keeps resounding in my mind, echoing louder and louder, as it does as we sing it on Christmas Eve.

Venite Adoreum – Come! Adore Him!  ( Or as we sing it, O Come let us Adore Him)

It brings a question to mind, how much of our music – whether traditional choir cantatas, or contemporary pieces spend time in adoration, in awe, in realizing that this isn’t just another holiday to be happy, but this in God. present, real, here.  God coming in weakness yet fully in glory, God whom the angels in heaven cannot but praise, God whose reflection carried by angels causes incredible fear, (why else are their first words – Be not Afraid?)

Do we adore – with every fiber of our being – God in our midst?  God incarnate?  Do we pause to consider the enormity of this event, the blessedness?  The beyond all imagination glory of a humble stable, a young lass, and her  fiance, lookng down and knowing beyond all doubt..that this was God?

Maybe we don’t want to.. because if we do… we have to realize how much we need Him, desperately need Him.

Not just then…. not just on the cross…. but now.

Come my friends, let us adore Him!

While we are waiting for His return….


While We are Waiting…

Jude 20-25

 

In Jesus Name

 

The Blessing of the Book of Jude:

To you who are called, to you who are dear to God the Father and kept safe for Jesus Christ, 2 mercy, peace and love be yours in abundance.

The Holy Stairs.,,

 

Luther had stood at the base of the steps we stood before, just about 500 years prior to Kay and I standing at them.  Even as Jesus has reportedly climbed those same stairs, as he approached Pilate, and the cross were He would embrace death, that you and I would know life.

At the top of the stairs, now with a church built around them, was a incredibly compassionate picture of Jesus, looking down the stairs, at those who would pray to Him as they climbed those stairs on their knees, humbly praying, as they have for hundreds of years.

One thing that struck me then, as it had all week, the incredible devotion showed to God, some in love, some in fear, that we saw in the pilgrims and in the many beautiful places dedicated to God.  Such testimonies to an incredible devotion to God that so touched the hearts of tourists; as well as those who were somewhere between tourist and pilgrim.

I am sure that God listens to prayers without our needing to make pilgrimages, or spending hours upon hours on our knees praying.  But there is something to be said for the devotion, for the focus, for the treasuring of God’s love, that would draw someone to such actions, or to build incredible basilicas that rival any other buildings in the world.  To sculpt or paint, or compose music, that would point to God’s glory.  It amazes me the work that man can accomplish, that testifies to God’s glory.  What amazes me more, is the work that God can accomplish through us, as He builds His people into His church.

As we celebrate the end of the church year… as we look to His return, and the celebration that will come, when God gathers all of us home… Jude encourages us to accomplish some things while we are waiting…

 

It is better to say… to let the Holy Spirit bring things to pass in our lives…

 

Building up in holy faith

I know that Michael last week talked about the things which last, that it is not the temples and basilicas and even the churches of today that will last eternally – but the people that God calls into being as His people.   For Jesus talked of that, as the disciples talked of the stones that built Herod’s temple – stones taken from the mountains that Jesus spoke into being.

Jude talks of building that up – the community of believers, the brothers and sisters united in Christ, as children of God – that which Jesus indicated would last, for He would guard and keep that church.

 

You, dear friends, must build each other up in your most holy faith, pray in the power of the Holy Spirit, 21

 

It is, I think, more of a challenge to build up each other in the most holy faith, than it is to paint the Sistine Chapel.  But that is the masterpiece we have been called to build up.  To point each other to Jesus, to help each other trust in Christ.  That includes, at times, the challenge of showing people their need for Jesus, for each one of us, from the greatest to the smallest, from the proudest to the meekest, from those who seem to have it all together, to those who can’t even remember which part needs repair the soonest.  We all need Jesus, we all need His healing, we all need His love…

It is given to us, to build up each other, not in building up egos, but in helping each other realizing our desperate need for Jesus, to encourage each other to turn to Him, to even walk beside each other, pointing each other to God, and His healing.  And to that, in prayer, listening to God, hearing the Holy Spirit.   I like what one pastor wrote about this..

..you realised that until now you had known that the Holy Spirit was dwelling in your soul, to sanctify it… But you hadn’t really grasped this truth about his presence. You needed that advice. Now you feel his Love within you, and you want to talk to him, to be his friend, to confide in him… You want to facilitate his work of polishing, uprooting, and enkindling…

I wouldn’t know how to set about it! you thought. Listen to him, I insist. He will give you strength. He will do everything, if you so want… And you do want! (Escriva, The Forge)

 

It is no mistake, in this tiny, last of the epistles, that the writer would encourage us to hear the Holy Spirit’s voice, to pray in His power, to realize His presence, even as we are awaiting the full revelation of Christ’s mercy upon His return.  For our task is not one merely of human creation, but one which requires all the strength and creativity of God.
Showing Mercy

         

Jude mentions two very similar ways of building each other up, ways in which we simple are to do this.

The first is to show mercy to those who are wavering, those who are struggling, those whose faith is fragile, even as they struggle.  Such weakness is never a cause for contempt, it is never our place to say – well if they can’t hack it – if they don’t have the strength on their own – then that is their own problem.  We are called, instead of judging or condemning them, to come alongside them, and encourage them.  Jude says this is not option – we must those mercy to those whose faith is wavering.

 

For indeed, in our own lives, we know that kind of mercy, or we need to know i!  We see it when we struggle, or doubt, or wonder.  Whatever you want to call it…we each go through it – no one in this sanctuary is strong enough on their own, no pastor that has ever stood before you, no elder, or Sunday school teacher, no board member, nor any child who comes into this place.  Each has been there, with their faith wavering, whether they wanted to admit it or not.  All of us need that love, that compassion, that care, the kind that Christ shows through His people. The kind Jude compels us to show.  There is no other option, and it is quite probable we need to repent for not obeying this.

 

Likewise in verse 25, we are commanded to 23 Rescue others by snatching them from the flames of judgment. Show mercy to still others, but do so with great caution, hating the sins that contaminate their lives.


You see, that is what we are doing when we share our faith, whether in a doctor’s office in Artesia, or in a café in Rome outside of Vatican city.  We aren’t just trying to convince people that our way is somehow better than theirs, that our God is better than the god of Islam, or Judaism, or Buddhism.  This isn’t like anything else than “snatching people from the flames of judgement”.

Is there anything more important that we do in our lives?  Is there any reward more incredible than seeing someone you’ve loved when no one else bothered to, baptized and cleansed and given a new life?  You could build a thousand Concordias! You could  paint a Sistine chapels day after day – every moment of your life creating artistic masterpeices, and none of it comes close to this work of showing mercy.  The most incredible thing you could ever do in life, is to lead someone to a baptismal font, or guide them to an altar where they are cleansed of their sin, or as they are struggling come to them –pointing them to Jesus as you carry them to His side in prayer and love.

Whether they are simply struggling in their faith, or… being swallowed by Hell…

This is our work, this is what the saints of God are called to do, even as we are called to walk with the Holy Spirit in prayer
Know God is powerful

         

The bottom line of Jude is found in the last few verses:

. 24 Now all glory to God, who is able to keep you from falling away and will bring you with great joy into his glorious presence without a single fault. 25 All glory to him who alone is God, our Savior through Jesus Christ our Lord. All glory, majesty, power, and authority are his before all time, and in the present, and beyond all time!

 

Note in the middle of the praises, there is a description of God’s action – that He is the One who keeps you from falling away – from being safe in God’s love as He mentioned.  It is His work to bring you into the Father’s glorious presence, more glorious than any painter or sculptor can imagine and create.

He brings us there without a single fault, not one, not even one little tiny fault.  He has promised us that, and died to make it so. That’s why he climbed the steps before Pilate and made good His promise to become our Savior. The steps that some climb, to pray for a friend, or a family member or themselves, he climbed for us all.  That is what we are to encourage each other to trust in, the Lord who climbed those steps, who endured that cross, looking forward to the joy of revealing how much He loves you. That is why we are to come alongside and support those whose faith wavers, and to rescue others from the fire.
And someday… instead of celebrating the end of the church year, we will celebrate the homecoming of all homecomings,

Until then, my friends, know this – even as you will see His glory face to face, you dwell in it now.  Even as you will sing praises to Him in all His glory, you dwell in that glory now…and even there, as His peace will reign in your life, it does so now.

For our Lord Jesus Christ has made it so, creating us as His people, cleansing us from sin, and keeping us from falling out of that peace.  AMEN?

 

The Holy Spirit… do we realize this treasure within us


“Don’t just talk to the Paraclete. Listen to him! When you pray, consider how the life of childhood, which enabled you to realise deeply that you are a son of God, filled you with a filial love for the Father. Think how, before that, you have gone (2) to Jesus, whom you adore as his friend, as his brother, as his lover, for that is what you are… After receiving this advice you realized that until now you had known that the Holy Spirit was dwelling in your soul, to sanctify it… But you hadn’t really grasped this truth about his presence. You needed that advice. Now you feel his Love within you, and you want to talk to him, to be his friend, to confide in him… You want to facilitate his work of polishing, uprooting, and enkindling… I wouldn’t know how to set about it!, you thought. Listen to him, I insist. He will give you strength. He will do everything, if you so want… And you do want! Pray to him: Divine Guest, Master, Light, Guide, Love, may I make you truly welcome inside me and listen to the lessons you teach me. Make me burn with eagerness for you, make me follow you and love you.” (1)

It was the last church we visited in Rome, literally next door to our hotel.  It doesn’t even show up on most google maps. San Salvatore, and yet only one place had as much an effect on me.  Tucked away, nothing to look at from the outside, we walked in.  An older man, wearing a stole but not clericals, handed us prayer cards and welcomed us there.

It was a special place to prayer, even more perhaps because of the story of this man, this shepherd, who would have God’s people united.  That seemed to be the focus of his ministry, as it was revealed on these simple prayer cards.

In all the discussions on unity in the church, I have often wondered why we do not spend as much time praying, as we do talking.  Why we don’t spend as much time listening, and even contemplating the Unity of the Trinity, as we do talking about theology and philosophy.  If by our own reason and strength we cannot come to know Christ, how do we expect unity to come without prayer, without grasping the work of the Holy Spirit, without even thinking about how God finds unity…in God.

I am writing to much, but perhaps on this, the last weekend of the church year…it is time to consider that we shall be one in scripture, and maybe it is time to start findng joy that oneness…. here.

(1)Escriva, Josemaria (2011-01-31). The Forge (Kindle Locations 1652-1663). Scepter Publishers. Kindle Edition.

(2) (excerpted through Mary)

Returning to… the Struggle of Peace!


“Holiness is attained with the help of the Holy Spirit, who comes to dwell in our souls, through grace given us by the sacraments and as a result of a constant ascetical struggle. My son, let us not have any false illusions about this. You and I—I will never tire of repeating it—will always have to struggle, always, until the end of our lives. So we will come to love peace, and we will spread peace around us, and we will receive our everlasting reward.” (1)

It’s time to get back to work, back to the grind of daily ministry, of seeing the list of prayer requests great me from being a week away.  Glad to see some praises there as well, glad to see what people are thankful for in their lives.  But it is time to get back to work.

It never really left of course.  There were those in Rome that struggled with life, and with issues.  There were people we met and talked to, who didn’t understand the magnificence of God’s glory, that was testified all around them in the artwork of mankind.   But now I am home, with my family, with my church family, the people that have bonded together while we have sought peace.

Holiness is a struggle, and as St Josemarie says, an ascetical struggle.  But I’ve come to realize ascetical isn’t about what you are giving up, it isn’t about sacrifice of things noble and good.  It is the sacrifice of things which distract us from God, from His love, His mercy, His glory… and yes, the peace that we come to love.   it is so counter-cultural to our world that we cannot grasp onto it easily.  The televisions and music blaring, the things that crave attention of our senses.  Each, if not focused on God, robs us of some of His peace.  Each, if focused on God, draws us into that peace, into that life where it makes sense.

It’s good to be back, it’s good to look at Jude and the passage on which I shall preach tomorrow… it’s good, because even more than standing in the Basilicas of Rome, in the chapels, and in the oratory, it is here that I will find peace…. among the people I have been called to share that peace with,

It is a struggle, but a very joyous one.  For God gathers us together, as His people, called and marked by His Name…into His presence… may we always recognize the glory that comes in such times.

It is good to be home!

(1)Escriva, Josemaria (2011-01-31). The Forge (Kindle Locations 1647-1651). Scepter Publishers. Kindle Edition.

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